Wednesday, 1 June 2011


This is a *very* special postcard to me. Not so much because of the images although they are very nice as well, but because it's my very first private swap postcard received via Postcrossing back in November 2007. It's also slightly before I discovered the forum. I still remember the excitement when I received this card, it was something very special.

Here you can see four traditional views from Japan:

Top left: Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto
Bottom left: Shopping square, Asakusa Temple, Tokyo
Top right: Mt. Fuji and cherry blossoms
Bottom left: Himeji-jo Castle, Himeji

Kinkaku-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. The garden complex is an excellent example of Muromachi period garden design. It is designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, and it is one of 17 locations comprising the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. It is also one of the most popular buildings in Japan, attracting a large number of visitors annually.

During the Onin war in 1950, all of the buildings in the complex aside from the pavilion were burned down. The present pavilion structure dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt. The reconstruction is said to be an exact copy of the original, although some doubt such an extensive gold-leaf coating was used on the original structure. In 1984, the coating of Japanese lacquer was found a little decayed, and a new coating as well as gilding with gold-leaf, much thicker than the original coatings, was completed in 1987. Additionally, the interior of the building, including the paintings and Yoshimitsu's statue, were also restored. Finally, the roof was restored in 2003.

If you want to read more about the temple, I can heartily recommend 'The Temple of the Golden Pavilion' by Yukio Mishima. It is a fictionalized version of the historical events leading to the destruction of the original temple, and very well written, too.

Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex located in Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 buildings with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period.

Himeji Castle dates to 1333, when Akamatsu Norimura built a fort on top of Himeyama hill. The fort was dismantled and rebuilt as Himeyama Castle in 1346, and then remodeled into Himeji Castle two centuries later. Himeji Castle was then significantly remodeled in 1581 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who added a three-story castle keep. In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded the castle to Ikeda Terumasa for his help in the Battle of Sekigahara, and Ikeda completely rebuilt the castle from 1601 to 1609, expanding it into a large castle complex. Several buildings were later added to the castle complex by Honda Tadamasa from 1617 to 1618.For over 400 years, Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the extensive bombing of Himeji in World War II, and natural disasters such as the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.

Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and it was registered in 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.

The stamp on the left is a definitive issued in 1997 in a set of 3, and probably the most common Japanese stamp on my mail from there.. The stamp on the right is from a set of 10 'Winter Greetings' stamps issued in 2005.

No comments: