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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cabo San Lucas "Heaven and high-end holiday destination"

Cabo San Lucas (popularly known as just 'Los Cabos' - along with San José del Cabo - in Mexico and 'Cabo' in the United States) is a city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula at the municipality of Los Cabos in the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico. As of the 2005 census, the population was 56,811 people. It is the largest community in Los Cabos municipality, and the second-largest in Baja California Sur, after La Paz.

Cabo San Lucas is quickly becoming a high-end holiday destination with a number of resorts and timeshare clubs appearing along the coast between San Lucas and San José del Cabo.

The bay of Cabo San Lucas, at the southernmost tip of Baja, was once a base for pirate ships waiting to pounce on Spanish treasure ships. Even fifteen years ago, it was little more than a fishing and canning village occasionally visited by adventurous sports fishermen with the means to sail in or fly down, but it quickly earned a reputation for the marlin that could be caught here, and the once-quiet place found itself inundated with fishermen in search of El Marlin Azul, home to sleek, radar-equipped fishing yachts.

In recent years, it has rapidly become the focal point of Los Cabos: million-dollar condos have sprung up, palms have been transplanted, golf courses have been laid, water has been piped in from San José and everywhere is kept pristine. More like an enclave of the US than part of Mexico, preserving almost nothing that is not geared to tourism, it can be fun for a day or two, unless, of course, you want to fish or dive. Though prices are higher than in neighbouring San José, there's more of a party atmosphere, with a younger crowd. Currently there are some 3000 rooms for rent, and the local feeling is that 10,000 is the next feasible "goal" that would equate the town with the long-established resorts such as Mazatlán or Acapulco. Upcoming developments include an enormous mall that will comprise a convention centre, a theatre complex, a bowling alley, a huge parking outlet and condos, and there are even plans for an artificial island to sit in the bay, complete with restaurants and bars.

Land's End

At the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula, lies one of Cabo's most famous landmarks. This area is comprised of a large cluster of rock formations that were carved into fantastic shapes by wind and sea. During low tide, many visitors like to walk here along Playa del Amante (Lover's Beach) because it allows for a better view of an eroded passageway called the Arch of Poseidon. You can also observe Los Frailes, two rock islets that are frequented by sea lions.

Playa Solmar

This long, relatively secluded beach is on the Pacific Ocean side of Land's End . Access is limited to those willing to try the strenuous climb over the rocks from Playa del Amante (Lover's Beach), or to guests of the three peninsula resorts, the Hotel Finisterra , Terra Sol Beach Resort and Solmar Suites . The beach, however, is federal property and its use is open to anyone. Always less busy than the main Cabo beach, Medano Beach , it is only for sunning because of the extremely strong undercurrent.

Playa del Amante

Frequently pictured in brochures of Cabo, this is the beach next to the famous rock arch formation, Arch of Poseidon, at Land's End . Water taxis wait for your signal to deliver you to this famous beach. Just a rock wall (and a matter of yards) from the Pacific Ocean, this area is sheltered from the pounding waves. Named for its romantic and semi-remote area, it's rarely unpopulated enough to feel particularly romantic. Snorkelers tend to prefer the viewing at the eastern end of the beach.

Ex Hacienda La Gavia

This delightful store displays the work of artisans from across Mexico. Both American and Spanish influences may be seen in the fine quality furniture. Whether you seek a fine dinette set, a one-of-a-kind wet bar, charming bedroom sets, chests, cutting boards or other kitchen pieces, this is an excellent place to look. Several different kinds of wood are offered in a variety of finishes. In addition, it offers a multitude of fabric items including draperies, linens, pillows and bedding. Speak with the bilingual owners about special orders, if you wish to have a piece designed.

Amigos del Mar

If you have never been scuba diving or snorkeling, you might consider this day trip that takes you out into the Sea of Cortez aboard a private charter. The staff can train and certify you in the use of scuba equipment, so you can get an underwater view of indigenous flora and fauna (such as sea turtles, playful dolphins and brightly colored tropical fish). But, if you would rather focus on the above water view, simply sit back and relax in a deck recliner with a beer in hand. All boats are fully equipped for both day and evening cruises.

Pisces 20

You have the choice to arrange a private fishing charter or private yacht charter. This fishing charter has received the Conservation Award from the International Game Fish Association for its catch and release policies. The staff knows these waters well, and they can provide excellent charter service or private yacht cruises. Imagine sailing around the bay of Cabo on an 86-foot yacht! It also offers a wide range of activities and rentals from Medano Beach

Faro Viejo

Not much more than a base remains of this lighthouse, built in 1890, but the view is spectacular from 500 feet above the water. In addition to the lighthouse it also has the remains of a shipwreck below. Turtles use this beach to lay their eggs. To get there, go north of town on Highway 19; at Km 2, take a left turn on the dirt road that leads to Cabo Falso.

Playa el Medano

More than a swimming beach, this is where parasailers depart, sunbathers bask, water taxis head to Playa del Amante (Lover's Beach) and jet skis are rented. Access to the beach is either through the properties of the many hotels that line this public beach or by walking south from downtown, along the water's edge. A favorite beach for many tourists who choose to lounge around in umbrella-covered beach chairs. Visitors brave the swarm of trinket sellers to enjoy the beachside cantinas.

Chileno Beach

Just west of the Hotel Cabo San Lucas , this beach offers protected swimming, snorkeling and diving areas. Clear water and a natural coral reef make this a great place to enjoy underwater views. The beach is typically not too crowded, and it has an onsite rental shop in case you decide to snorkel at the last minute. Owned by Cabo Acuadeportes , it has a small shack here with rental equipment, umbrellas, beach blankets and a few other essential beach items. To get there, turn right just before the hotel.

Playa Santa Maria

Come early for this prime snorkeling location. Playa Santa Maria is well-known as one of the best beaches near Cabo for underwater wildlife. Its curved north wall shelters a reef where tropical fish live and eat. Most of the tour operators offering snorkeling tours will be bringing tourists to this beach around 10a. Beat the crowds (and the blanket and jewelry sellers) and have the beach to yourself by arriving earlier.

Los Cabos Horse Back Ride Tour

The rare mixture of golden beaches and desert make the perfect blend to form a unique experience to last a lifetime. An expert guide will take you to a place that is unique and found only in Baja. Expert's riders as well beginners are welcome to join us in this adventure.

Here is an unhurried nature tour designed for those who enjoy soft adventure with a high degree of service. Unusual and diverse natural beauty rise above rugged rock canyons to tranquil vistas of the Sea of Cortez, let the sea breeze bring a smile to your face.

Explore the surroundings on a Los Cabos Horseback riding adventure, a unique and memorable time, immersed in a fabulous mix of gorgeous scenery, turquoise waters of Sea of Cortez and desert plants that are not found in other parts of the peninsula, if you never horseback ride before - Great ! You'll find that our guides are entertaining and very skilled at patiently explaining exactly what you need to know. This tour is for those who want fun, great opportunity for memorable photos.

Baja Desert Expedition - Visit Cabo's Waterfalls and Canyons

Hike the canyons of sierra La Laguna traversed by Indians hundreds of years ago where increased rainfall creates a unique biosphere. Swim in these natural springs and waterfalls surrounded by incredible granite formations and impressive wild life.

Baja California is a unique place in natural wonders. It has around 70% of the cacti's in Mexico and Mexico has 80% of the existing cacti's of the world. Exotic vegetation with great desert canyons carpeted with giant cactus. In the middle of the desert, you can find oasis, like palm trees and rivers across the desert that goes all the way to the seas, since Baja is surrounded by two seas, the Sea of Cortez in the east side is well known for its crystal clear waters and desert island with amazing rock formations and white sandy beaches. Accompanied by a professional bilingual guide, this trip will enrich your knowledge and understanding of the natural history and culture of our beautiful surrounding desert and sea. Journey to the past as you learn wonderful history of Baja in locals Ranchos and explore the fossils around. The tour will start by meeting you at the main lobby of your hotel, then will head to Santiago town to visit the La Zorra Canyon - natural spring water, after this we will visit the fossils and a local ranch, where you will see native people a delicious lunch is included as well water and energetic bar•s along the trip.

Inclusions: round trip transportation, fresh fruit, energy bars, local bakery in the morning, bilingual expert guide, all necessary equipment, lunch at local restaurant (drinks included, sodas, waters and juices), purified bottled water

Majestic Whale Watching Adventure

VISITING THE WORLD FAMOUS WHALE SANCTUARY MAGDALENA BAY WATCH them, FEEL them and TOUCH them, a unique experience for a lifetime! Traveling thousands and thousands of miles from Alaska, The Gray Whales arrive to Magdalena Bay, located a few hours north of Los Cabos.
Gray Line Los Cabos takes you there to have a chance at a closer encounter with these wonderful creatures. So don•t miss this exceptional opportunity to see the marvelous Gray Whales! A fascinating once in a lifetime experience!
After their 6000-mile journey from the Chukchi and Bering Seas between Alaska and Siberia, these majestic giants arrive to the warm waters of Baja California Each year hundreds of these very beautiful whales journey to our bay to mate and then give birth to their calves.
Our knowledgeable captains, crew and office staff strive to make your whale watching experience as fun, safe and interesting, they take care of you, making sure you have a wonderful time and that•s priceless.
After the pick up at the lobby of your hotel we drive to Magdalena Bay or Puerto San Carlos ( 5 hours drive approx.) once we arrive at the Bay the Pangas ( 24• or 26• boat ) are ready to take us for 3 hours ride to watch the Whales, after the ride we go to a local restaurant to enjoy a delicious lunch, we rest for a while and then is time to come back to your hotel.

Cabo San Lucas Pez Gato

  • The Snorkel Tour sails to beautiful Santa Maria Bay, where you will swim in tropical waters with abundant sea life.
    Includes all snorkel gear, beverages and a gourmet lunch of club sandwiches, fruit, guacamole, chips and Mexican salsa is served on the return voyage. The boat departs at 10:00am and returns at 2:00pm. $49 a person (children under 12 are half price)
  • The Sunset Cruise departs at 5:00pm and returns 2 hours later. You will tour by Playa de Amore, The Famous Arch, The Sea Lion Colony, Land’s End and into the Pacific for a gorgeous Cabo sunset. $39.00 a person (children under 12 are half).
  • Whale Watching (begins December 15th, 2008). There are two departures daily (10am and another at 2:00pm), sailing into the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez in search of Baja’s gentle giants. Includes sodas, juices, bottled water and chips & salsa. $35 per person (children under 12 are half price).

Pez Gato's Tropicat is Cabo’s newest and most luxurious 65' sailboat. “The Jazz and Wine Tour”, features fine wines, international bar and appetizers. Boards at 4:30pm (winter) and 5:30pm (summer), 7 days a week. The price is $50 a person.

The Cabo Mar sailboat hosts the "Salsa, Salsa & Sunset Dinner Cruise." Motor by Lover's Beach, the Famous Arch, and Land's End and then tour the coast of Cabo San Lucas. Return to the bay to anchor up for an "all you can eat" taco and Salsa bar with steak and chicken tacos served with various salsas from the different regions of Mexico. Grilled vegetables and a jicama salad will also accompany the dinner. The bar will serve tropical fruit cocktails along with an international selection of beer, wine and liquors, as well as mixers, sodas, and bottled water. You can dance to Latin rhythms of salsa, meringue, and cumbias. The boat departs at 5:00pm and returns 2 1/2 hours later. The price is $59usd per person (children under 12 are half price), available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Cabo San Lucas Cabo Dolphins

Is the first and only dolphin center in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Owned and operated by Cabo Adventures the state of the art facility is home to a family of ten bottlenosed dolphins that are professionally trained and ready to show off for all.The company offers many different levels of programs to cater to any person of any age. Check out their website for more info.

Their prices ranges from $79 (for kids) up to $399 (Trainer for a Day)

El Squid Roe Nightclub

No.1 place to visit while in Cabo, some of the regulars that love El Squid Roe are,Bono (U2), Lil John, Beyonce, Lance Armstrong, Enrique Iglesias, Criss Angel, Jay Z, Michael Jordan and many More, Come in, Relax early night while having Chips and fresh salsa made right at your table, While the hours go by, the Energy starts pumping harder and harder, dance on top of the chairs or tables, walk around the 4 Levels of entertainment, see and be Seen, a definite MUST!

Cabo Pulmo Cabo Pulmo Marine Preserve

Water entry is gradual. The coral begins about 20 feet from dry sand and lies in parallel strips running north to south out about 1/2 mile. Depth runs from 15 feet to about 40 feet. Visability is a good 70 feet. If you know Pacific coral reefs you will find this reef a little different. These coral are round heads clinging to large rocks. The large fans, sponge and tree like corals of the Pacific are not here. Between the rocks are thousands of cracks and open spaces where you can search for ocean life. The fish are mostly coral feeders but Eel and other species abound. There were feeder stations where you could see literally hundreds of fish sharing a single space. Each specie keeping with its kind but still belonging the the whole. Sharks are plentiful outside the reef in deeper water as are Rays and larger Ocean Bass.

If you are staying in Cabo or San Jose you have a good two hour drive over two lane highway. About seven miles from Pulmo you are rewarded with a dirt/sand road that specializes in washboard surface. There are Arroyos along the way so when it rains in the mountains you can face a rushing torrent of water,sand and rock. The resorts are resort in name only. There isn't any shopping, grocery stores or pharmacies. Accomadations are small Casitas (huts). A few have A/C but most are open. Food and drink are available but the menue is pretty basic. As you find in rural Mexico you run a good chance of getting Aztec 's revenge so pack Lomotil or Imodium. Dive equipment seemed in good quality and in repair. Dive masters are a mixture of American and Mexican folk. There isn't a night life unless you consider going to bed by 9pm. Restrooms are availble but are basic. Be careful - you may have to share one with beautiful 5' orange and yellow snake. If you have $$ you can take a van tour from Cabo for $170. Or rent a car, no buses.

Note, there is an alternate and shorter road from San Jose, but it could be a three hour excursion over sand, ruts and washboard to reach Pulmo. There are small towns north and south of Pulmo with questionable accomodations. Tent camping is allowed.

Cabo Pulmo is a fantastic place but it's for those adventursome folks who are willing to give up the comforts of living in the US. Don't take small children, people with low frustration tolerence or those who want the Cabo San Lucas beach enviornment of parties, shopping and lots of folks.

Los Cabos ATV Adventure

If you seek adventure in the beautiful nature that surrounds Los Cabos, this ATV ride is the tour for you! This ATV adventure will take you off the beaten track to explore secluded beaches, ride over sand dunes and challenge yourself to difficult terrain! Finally an adventurous vacation you have been looking for!

ATV 4 wheel bike tours are the most talked about adventures that Los Cabos has to offer. They can go just about anywhere and offer a ton of fun! You'll be exploring sand dunes and wild secret trails where the spectacular views will leave you in awe.

You'll find large open spaces and feel as free as a bird while driving your ATV. The guide will provide you with information concerning vehicle safety. In the event that you don't know how to drive these four wheel vehicles, there will be special lessons for beginners!

Los Cabos Sunset Dinner Cruise

Experience paradise at its best! What better way to unwind after a day in paradise than to sail the Pacific under the magnificent sunset skies! Then, spoil yourself at the Mexican buffet and open bar! This cruise is a great way to finish an already fantastic day in Los Cabos!

When the sun begins the set, the people of Los Cabos stop to take in the beautiful colors and tranquility of the sunset! For an even more spectacular sunset, witness the beauty whilst cruising the seas on a 60 foot (18 meter) vessel. Complete paradise!

Watch from an open-air upper deck as the sun disappears into the Pacific Ocean, leaving a breathtakingly colorful sunset! Get a closer look at the famous arch, the sea lion colony and the rock formations as you sail under the fading skies!

Afterwards, go inside the air-conditioned, 60 foot (18 meter) vessel and enjoy an all you can eat Mexican buffet with open bar.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Moscow with Kremlin Chambers and Great Cathedrals

Moscow is the capital and the largest city of Russia. It is also the largest metropolitan area in Europe, and ranks among the largest urban areas in the world. Moscow is a major political, economic, cultural, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the world, a global city. It is also the seventh largest city proper in the world, a megacity. Population of Moscow (as of 1 March 2009) is 10,514,400.

It is located on the Moscow River in the Central Federal District, in the European part of Russia. Historically, it was the capital of the former Soviet Union, Russian Empire, Tsardom of Russia and the Grand Duchy of Moscow. It is the site of the Moscow Kremlin, one of the World Heritage Sites in city, which serves as the residence of the President of Russia. The Russian parliament (the State Duma and the Federation Council) and the Government of Russia also sit in Moscow.

Moscow is a major economic centre and is home to one of the largest numbers of billionaires in the world; in 2008 Moscow was named the world's most expensive city for foreign employees for the third year in a row. However, in 2009, Moscow moved to third after Tokyo and Osaka came in first and second, respectively.

It is home to many scientific and educational institutions, as well as numerous sport facilities. It possesses a complex transport system, that includes 3 international airports, 9 railroad terminals, and the world's second busiest (after Tokyo) metro system which is famous for its architecture and artwork. Its metro is the busiest single-operator subway in the world.

Over time, the city has earned a variety of nicknames, most referring to its pre-eminent status in the nation: The Third Rome (ТретийРим), Whitestone (Белокаменная), The First Throne (Первопрестольная), The Forty Forties (Сорок Сороков.)

A person from Moscow is called a Muscovite in English, Moskvich in Russian


For centuries of its existence the Moscow Kremlin has been witness of many famous and tragic events of our history. Enemy guns rattled at its walls, celebrations and revolts took place. Now the Moscow Kremlin is one of the biggest museums of the world. State regalia of Russia, invaluable icons, treasures of Russian tsars are stored in the Kremlin chambers and cathedrals.

Spasskaya Tower is considered to be the most beautiful and most harmonious tower of the Kremlin. It was constructed by architect Pietro Antonio Solari in 1491. From time immemorial the Spasskaya gate was the main smart entrance to the Kremlin. It was especially esteemed among people and was considered to be sacred. It was forbidden to pass astride through the Spasskaya gate.

For more than 150 years a unique monument of Russian art moulding of XVIII century - a well-known Emperor Bell has been standing on the white -stone pedestal at the bottom of the Bell Tower of Ivan the Great. Large bells were cast in the Gun Court in Moscow in 16-17 th centuries, but they did not remain to these days. Sometimes they broke from time, from too strong impacts, but more often were damaged by fires. During a great fire in Moscow in 1701 the Bell fell down and broke into pieces.

The Emperor Cannon, cast by Andrey Shchokhov is the oldest and the largest cannon in the world. It was cast in 1586 in the Gun Court in Moscow during the reign of Fyodor - son of Ivan the Terrible. The appearance of such unique work was a natural result of the development of the oldest branch of Russian craft - foundry business, which was known in Russia from X century. The length of this huge gun makes 5 meters 34 centimeters. The external diameter of the barrel is 120 centimeters, diameter of the barrel pattern zone is 134 centimeters, calibre is 890 millimeters.

For 400 years of its existence the Emperor Cannon changed its location for several times. In 18th century it was displaced to the Moscow Kremlin and at the beginning was located in a court yard of the Arsenal building and then at its main gate. In 1835 iron gun carriages, decorated with splendid ornaments, were cast at St. Petersburg Berd Factory under sketch of architect A.P.Brullov and drawings of engineer P.Y. de Vitte. Now the Emperor Cannon, placed on a gun carriage, was established opposite the Arsenal. Four iron decorative cannon - balls, each 1000 kgs, were placed by the cannon side. In 1960, following the construction of the Kremlin Palace of Congresses, the Emperor Cannon have been solemnly moved to the Ivanovskaya Square to the Cathedral of Twelve Apostles, where it stands until now.

Red Square

As ancient chronicles assert, the Red Square appeared at the end of 15th century, when Ivan III ordered to ruin all wooden buildings, surrounding the Kremlin and threatening with the fire, and to allot this area for a market. That's how the first name of the square - Trade Square ("Torgovaya") appeared. However, in 16th century the Square was renamed into "Troitskaya (Trinity) Square" after the Church of Saint Trinity. Later the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed was erected at the place of St. Trinity Church.

In Russia the same object might have several names. Thus, The Red Square was officially given its modern name in 19th century, though the name was mentioned in the documents of 17th century. Different centuries left their traces:15th century gave the Kremlin's Wall with Spasskaya, Senatskaya and Nikolskaya towers; 16th - Place of execution. (Lobnoe mesto), and the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed; 19th century - the monument to Minin and Pozharsky, the building of Historical museum and Upper Trade Rows (GUM), 20th century - Lenin's Mausoleum.

Poklonnaja mountain

Poklonnaja mountain is the most significant monument constructed in honour of victory in the Great Patriotic War. Solemn opening of the Victory Memorial in Moscow was held in May, 9, 1995. In February, 23, 1958 on Poklonnaya mountain a memorable granite sign was established with the inscription: " Here there will be a monument to the Victory of Soviet people in Great Patriotic War". Trees were planted around the place, park was layed named the Victory Park. In 70-80s 194 million roubles were collected. For the whole complex a site of 135 hectares was allocated. A great work on designing, discussion and choosing the best project of the main monument to freedom began. At that time, however, the question remained unsolved as none of the projects submitted was accepted. Everything remained without changes until the general management of the construction of the Memorial was undertaken by the mayor of Moscow J.M.Luzhkov. And the construction, threatened to be broken, was completed for three years.

St. Basil's Cathedral

In 16th century a stone church of the Trinity with a small cemetery was situated on this place. The Blessed Vasily, who has dyed in August 2, 1555, considered to be foolish, was buried near this stone church. In October 2, 1552, Russian troops took Kazan - the capital of the Kazan khanate. In commemoration of this event tsar Ivan the Terrible ordered to construct 7 wooden temples on the Red Square, where in 1555-1561 a stone temple, named after the Feast of the Protective veil, was erected (the assault on Kazan began the day of the holiday of the Protective veil, after two months siege). The church, situated in the central tower, was devoted to this holiday. Four towers-churches are located on different sides of the world. The northern - in the name of St. Kiprian and Ustina; that was the day of the complete capture of Kazan. In 1786 under petition of rich investor Natalia Hruscheva the church was consecrated in the name of St. Adrian and Natalia. The southern church is consecrated in the name of Nicola Velikoretsky, that is also connected with the Kazan campaign. The western church is consecrated in the name of the Input to Jerusalem, it is connected with solemn returning of the army to Moscow. Eastern church is consecrated in the name of Trinity, that is, the church, which was before situated at the cathedral place, was transferred into it.

The towers, located along the diagonals, are devoted to various events of the Kazan campaign: north - west church of the Grigory Armyansky (day of capture of the Arskaya tower). South - east church of Alexander Svirsky (rout of 30-thousand group tatar cavalry under the command of the tatar prince Japanchi); north -east church of the Three patriarchs of Alexandria - the memory day of these saints is marked the same day as the memory day of Alexander Svirsky. South - west church of Varlaam Hutynsky is the only church, which is not connected with the events of the campaign.

The central temple consists of tetrahedron, octahedron and is completed by an octahedral light drum with gilded head. There is a covered promenade (gallery) around the bottom circle. Vaults of the promenade lean on the massive columns with decorative pediments on the top. Transition from the octahedron to a tent is decorated with the set of kokoshniks. Four towers - churches, located on the sides of the world, consist each of three octahedrons, narrowed by ledges, and a drum with the figured head. Four small churches on diagonals are tetrahedrons, transition to a drum is made out by three rows of semicircular kokoshniks. The building has no expressed main facade and is designed for an all-round viewing, for circular detour. Interiors of churches are simple. The cathedral is interesting in its appearance. As though it represents the fantastic "paradise town". The temple is fairly considered to be a monument of architecture and construction art of world value. Till now the cathedral is a branch of the State Historical museum. The first divine service was held in October, 14, 1991, however regular divine services are not made.

The Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour

The temple was constructed on a vow given by sovereign Alexander I in gratitude for saving fatherland "from the Gauls invasion". The temple was supposed to be built on Vorobyovy mountains under the project of architect Vitberg. Subsequently "on intrigues against the builder" the project of a temple and a place of construction were changed. The new place was chosen not so close to the Kremlin, so that the temple was dissonant to its ensemble, but at the same time so that connection of the temple with ancient constructions of the Kremlin and the Red Square was felt.

September, 10, 1839 the solemn laying of the present temple in Russian-Byzantian style took place. It was constructed under the project of architect K.A.Ton, at the expense of treasury with attraction of people's donations. Two cemeteries and mammoth remnants were found during digging a foundation ditch. The temple was consecrated in April, 10, 1883 during the days of crowning of the emperor Nikolay I. Side - chapels were consecrated later: in June, 12 - the side-chapel of St.Nikolay Chudotvorets and in July, 8 - of St. Alexander Nevsky. K.A.Ton has created the project of a five-domed temple with big central and four angular turrets with 14 bells.

The banners and keys of the conquered cities were transferred to the temple. 640 candlesticks were built in a dome for illumination, and 600 more around the lattice on choruses. First electric street lamps in Moscow appeared on the square in front of the temple. The height of the temple was 103 m. In December, 5 1931ã. the temple was blown up. Subsequently the foundation ditch was used for the construction of swimming - pool " Moscow ". In 1994ã. the pool was closed. In January, 1995, the solemn laying of the revived temple took place. Now the construction is completed. The temple has active museum, excursions are held and the viewing platform is arranged.

Novodevichy Convent

One of the most beautiful Moscow convents, founded at the beginning of 16th century, for 400 years the Novodevichy Convent was the witness and the participant of important historical events, connected with the names of Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Sofia and Peter I. The architectural ensemble of the convent was formed by the end of 17th century and till now remains one of the best in Russia. In the main, Smolensk Cathedral, there is a valuable wall fresco of 16th century and a magnificent carved iconostasis with icons of famous imperial masters of that time. Representatives of noble families and tsar relatives, the hero of the Patriotic war of 1812 D.V.Davydov, the writer I.I.Lazhechnikov, the historian S.M. Solovyev and others are buried on the convent territory.

The construction of the convent was a result of a large military and diplomatic victory of Russia. The founder of the convent, grand duke Vasily III, his son Ivan the Terrible, other tsars and boyars showed a great interest in the Novodevichy convent, rendering it all possible financial and legal support.

Its nuns were, as a rule, representatives of the supreme feudal nobility. Among them - members of families of Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Peter I. The architectural ensemble of the Novodevichy convent, existing nowadays, began to develop in 16th century, and got the further development and completion in 80s of 17th century.

The Mausoleum

The composite centre of the Red Square - the Mausoleum - is a monument-tomb, in a Mourning hall of which there is a crystal sarcophagus with V.I.Lenin's body. When it became known about his death it was decided to build a Mausoleum by the Kremlin wall. The project was carried out by architect A. Shchusev. By January 27, 1924 a temporary Mausoleum was erected. It was a cube, crowned with three-level pyramid. In spring of the same year it was replaced by another temporary Mausoleum, also wooden.

The modern stone Mausoleum was constructed in 1930, also designed by A. Shchusev. It is a grand scale building tiled with dark-red granite, porphyry and black labradorite. Red and black shades give the Mausoleum distinct and sad austerity. Over the entrance, on black labradorite the name "Lenin" is inscribed in red porphyry. At the same time at both sides of the building along the Kremlin wall guest tribunes for 10 thousand people were constructed.

Bolshoi Theater

The foundation of Bolshoi Theater traditionally dates back to the 6th of January of 1825, when a fine classical building with 8-columned portico crowned by the carriage of Apollon appeared in the Theater's Square. The new theatre is considered to be the second largest of Europe after the famous "La Scala" Theater of Milan. However, the theatrical company had already existed for a half of century. And in honor of the inauguration of the theatre this company performed "The triumph of Muses".

The company was created by a province public prosecutor Petr Vasilievich Ursov in 1772. Later the company was headed by his partner energetic and enterprising Englishman Michael Medox. Thanks to him on the abandoned ground regularly flooded by Neglinka river the new theatre was built. The second half of the 19th century is a period of national originality of Russian Art and Moscow Theater. The creative activity of such composers and directors as Alexis Verstovsky and Alexander Varlamov contributed to the unusual raising of the theatre. They formed Russian Opera repertoire. The most favorite operas of that time were works by Michael Glinka "The Life for the Czar" and "Ruslan and Lioudmila", which could survive and win the italianomania tendency of that time. And till now traditionally every Theater season begins one of the operas of Glinka.

As for the Ballet the performances based on Russian themes were replaced by Western romantic themes in the middle of the 19th century. "Sylphide", "Gizel", "Esmeralda" were performed in Russia very soon after premieres in Europe. In 1853 the building of the Theater was badly damaged by fire. In May of 1855 the construction works based on the sketch of the architect Albert Cavos began. And already in August of 1856 the inauguration of the new theatre was celebrated by the premiere of the opera Bellini. The Italian performance was symbolic, because the real holder of the Bolshoi Theater became Merelli who brought from Italy a very gifted theatrical company. Russian public admired the Italian troupe very much.

The season usually began in September and lasted till the end of May (as now). However, the performances used to be presented twice a week. And only in the middle of the winter when all the nobility came back to Moscow, the operas and ballets were put on the stage more often. That was also a time of masked balls. Today the ballet and opera fans attend the theatre every night. The radical turn of the tastes of public happened in 1870, when gradually appeared the Russian operas "Demon" by Rubenstein (1881), "Eugeny Onegin" by Chaikovsky (1881), "Boris Godunov" by Mysorgsky (1888), "The Prince Igor" by Borodin (1893) and other. In 1899 Fedor Shaliapin, great Russian singer, became a member of the company. Great Russian Opera Theaters are not only musical cultural centers, but also academies of professional acting technique. Trainees' group of Bolshoi Theater is still existing to crown the joy of young singers, conductors, directors, leaders of a chorus.

It is situated on two territories, separated from each other by several city districts. It gives the opportunity to represent the whole history of Russian art from the ancient period to our contemporaries. Besides, the structure of the Tretyakov Gallery includes memorial museums: A. Vasnetsov's flat, V. Vasnetsov's

State Tretyakov Gallery

State Tretyakov Gallery is the national museum of Russian fine arts of X -XX centuries. It is situated in Moscow and bears name of its founder - Moscow merchant and textile manufacturer Pavel Tretyakov.

It is situated on two territories, separated from each other by several city districts. It gives the opportunity to represent the whole history of Russian art from the ancient period to our contemporaries. Besides, the structure of the Tretyakov Gallery includes memorial museums: A. Vasnetsov's flat, V. Vasnetsov's

Museum Panorama
The museum building was constructed at the historic place. Here had once been the village of Fili (suburb of Moscow) where on September 13, 1812, in a wooden log hut belonging to a peasant (Frolov by name), the council of war was held, and the fate not only of Moscow but also of entire Russia was at stake.

Since then this house which was named "Kutuzov's hut" by people became the historical relic. In front of it one can see a bronze bust of M.I.Kutuzov. Nearby there is a building of the former museum-chapel of Kutuzov that was built in commemoration of the Centennial of the Patriotic War, as well as an obelisk marking the common grave of 300 Russian warriors. Not far from our museum, on the Kutuzov Avenue, there is the Arc of Triumph erected in 1834. It was restored next to the Poklonnaya Gora (Hill of Respectful Salutation) where Napoleon had vainly expected to be met by a deputation of the city elders, bearing the municipal keys. In 1973 a huge monument heroes of the War of 1812 was erected in front of the museum, topped with an equestrian statue of Kutuzov. So, the above mentioned monuments composed single historical-memorial complex dedicated to the glory of Rusia in battles.

The focal point of this complea is the Panorama-Museum. First, museum was intended for demonstration of the only exponent. That is panorama "The Battle of Borodino", created in 1912 by Franz Roubaut, academician of painting (1856, Odessa - 1928, Munich). This outstanding masterpiece of battle-painting can be rightfully called a monument to the feat of arms accomplished by Russian warriors who had wiped out the invaders and liberated their Homeland.

Gradually, a vast collection of different materials had been gathered. And nowadays' exposition represent the prehistory of the war, the course of campaign of 1812, from the very beginning of hostilities up to the collapse of Napoleonic army. The genuine works of painting, drawing, sculpture created both by the contemporaries of the war and artists belonging to the later period, as well as uniforms, banners, weapons recount the past, reflect the heroism of the Russian army and people. Rich funds make it possible, apart from constant exposition, to organize temporary exibitions. But the panorama remains the main exponent. A huge canvas (115 m x 15 m) presents the height of battle on the field of Borodino (The French called it "Moscow battle").

Kuskovo Palace

Kuskovo Estate or Palace was created in full conformity with tastes and rules of Russian nobiliary life and art of 18 th century. It is the composite centre of the "Kuskovo" ensemble, one of the earliest samples of summer country residences of Russia.

According to a plan of the owner count Pyotr Borisovich Sheremetev, "Kuskovo" should be larger and more beautiful than manors of other grandees and must compare well with imperial residences. Construction of a manor was carried out in 30-90ss of 18th century, its territory covers an area of more than 300 hectares, including three parks - French regular, English landscape and Zaprudny, system of ponds and channels, small and big architectural - park ensembles.

"The summer country house of count Sheremetev", the former name of Kuskovo, was intended specially for receptions, smart assemblies, festivals with fireworks, populous celebrations. The most solemn receptions were carried out in the Palace.

Moscow International Business Center , informally referred to as Moscow-City

(Russian: Москва-Сити) is a commercial district of central Moscow, Russia. Located near the Third Ring in Presnensky District of western Moscow, the Moscow-City area is currently under intense development.

The Moscow IBC is expected to become the first zone in Russia to combine business activity, living space and entertainment in one single development. The Moscow government first conceived the project in 1992.

The construction of Moscow IBC is taking place on the Presnenskaya embankment. The entire project takes up 1 square kilometer, and the territory chosen is the only area in downtown Moscow that can accommodate such a project. Before construction began, most of the buildings in the area were old factories and industrial complexes that had been closed or abandoned. The total cost of the project is estimated at $12 billion.

Ostankino Tower

Ostankino Tower is a free-standing television and radio tower in Moscow, Russia. Standing 540 metres (1772 ft) tall, Ostankino was designed by Nikolai Nikitin. It is a member of the World Federation of Great Towers. The tower was the first free-standing structure to exceed 500 m (1640 ft) in height. The tower was constructed to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution. It is named after the Ostankino district of Moscow in which it is located.

Construction began in 1963 and was completed in 1967. It surpassed the Empire State Building to become the tallest free-standing structure in the world. It held this record for nine years until the CN Tower was completed in Toronto, Canada in 1976, which surpassed its height by 13 metres (43 ft). The Ostankino Tower remained the second-tallest freestanding structure in the world for another 31 years until the Burj Dubai surpassed both it and the CN Tower in height in 2007.

The tower created a desire for other large cities in the Soviet dominated countries to build high towers. Towers taller that 300 metres were built in Kiev, Tashkent, Almaty, Riga, Berlin, Vilnius, Tallinn, Jerevan, St Petersburg and Baku. No one is taller than the Ostankino Tower however.

The Ostankino Tower has remained the tallest free-standing structure in Europe for 42 years. The Russia Tower, a proposed 612-metre (2,010 ft) mixed-use skyscraper planned for the Moscow International Business Centre, was originally expected to exceed the Ostankino Tower's height when completed. However, the project has been suspended due to financial difficulties and it remains unclear if construction will resume.

A 1994 plan to increase the tower's height to 561 meters by adding an antenna was not implemented for lack of funding.



There are five primary commercial airports serving Moscow: Sheremetyevo International Airport, Domodedovo International Airport, Bykovo Airport, Ostafyevo International Airport and Vnukovo International Airport. Sheremetyevo International Airport is the most common entry point for foreign passengers, handling sixty percent of all international flights. Domodedovo International Airport is the leading airport in Russia in terms of passenger throughput, and is the primary gateway to long-haul domestic and CIS destinations and its international traffic rivals Sheremetyevo's. The three other airports particularly offer flights within Russia and to and from states from the former Soviet Union. Moscow's airports vary in distances from MKAD beltway: Bykovo is the farthest, at 35 kilometres (21 mi); Domodedovo is next at 22 kilometres (13.7 mi); Vnukovo is 11 kilometres (6.8 mi); Sheremetyevo is 10 kilometres (6.25 mi); and Ostafievo, the nearest, is about 8 kilometers (5 mi) from MKAD.

There are also several smaller airports near Moscow, such as Airport Myachkovo, intended for private aircraft, helicopters and charters.

Moscow also has two passenger terminals, (South River Terminal and North River Terminal or Rechnoy vokzal), on the river and regular ship routes and cruises along Moskva and Oka rivers, which are used mostly for entertainment. The North River Terminal, built in 1937, is also the main hub for long-range river routes. There are also three freight ports serving Moscow.


Moscow employs several train stations to serve the city. Moscow's nine rail terminals (or vokzals) are:

    1. Belorussky Rail Terminal
    2. Kazansky Rail Terminal
    3. Kiyevsky Rail Terminal
    4. Kursky Rail Terminal
    5. Leningradsky Rail Terminal
    6. Paveletsky Rail Terminal
    7. Rizhsky Rail Terminal
    8. Savyolovsky Rail Terminal
    9. Yaroslavsky Rail Terminal

They are located close to the city centre, but each handles trains from different parts of Europe and Asia. There are also many smaller railway stations in Moscow. As train tickets are relatively cheap, they are the mode of preference for travelling Russians, especially when departing to Saint Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city. Moscow is also the western terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway, which traverses nearly 9,300 kilometres (5,800 mi) of Russian territory to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast.

Suburbs and satellite cities are also connected by commuter elektrichka (electric rail) network. Elektrichkas depart from each of these terminals to the nearby (up to 140 kilometres (87 mi)) large railway stations.

Local transport includes the Moscow Metro, a metro system famous for its art, murals, mosaics, and ornate chandeliers. When it first opened in 1935, the system had just one line. Today, the Moscow Metro contains twelve lines, mostly underground with a total of 177 stations. The Metro is one of the deepest subway systems in the world; for instance the Park Pobedy station, completed in 2003, at 84 metres (280 ft) underground, has the longest escalators in Europe. The Moscow Metro is one of world's busiest metro systems, serving more than nine million passengers daily. Facing serious transportation problems, Moscow has wide plans of expansion of Moscow Metro.

There is also a short monorail line, operated by the Moscow Metro company. The line connects station near Timiryazevskaya Metro station and station near tram depot at Sergeya Eyzenshteyna str., close to AREC. The line opened in 2004

Bus & Trolleybus

As Metro stations outside the city centre are far apart in comparison to other cities, up to 4 kilometres (2.5 mi), an extensive bus network radiates from each station to the surrounding residential zones. Also Moscow has a bus terminal for long-range and intercity passenger buses (Central Bus Terminal) with daily turnover of about 25 thousand passengers serving about 40% of long-range bus routes in Moscow.

Every large street in the city is served by at least one bus route. Many of these routes are doubled by a trolleybus routes. Also every large street of Moscow has trolley wires over it.


Moscow has an extensive tram system which first opened in 1899. Its daily usage by Muscovites is low (approx. 5%) although it still remains vital in some districts for those who need to get to the nearby Metro station.


In Russia and Moscow, the difference between hailing a cab and simply hitchhiking is blurry. It's an old Russian tradition for drivers to offer rides to strangers, for a fee. Generally, wherever you are, at any time of day or night, you can get a 'cab' in a matter of minutes or seconds by holding out your hand. Hold your hand out low by your hip, not up high as they hail cabs in American films. Normally, you tell the driver where you're going and negotiate an amount with you naming the first price. For many locations, giving the closest Metro stop is the best plan of attack. If you don't like the amount one guy is charging, you'll doubtlessly find another driver in a minute or two. Sometimes when you tell the driver where you're going, he'll decide he's not going in that direction and drive off. Keep in mind, though, that very few drivers will speak English. If you not good in Russian, there are several english speaking taxi services operating in Moscow for example Lentaxi. The cars are Fords, Hondas or Volgas (Russian car brand).


There are over 2.6 million cars in the city on a daily basis. Recent years have seen the growth in the number of cars, which have caused traffic jams and the lack of parking space to become major problems.

The MKAD, along with the Third Transport Ring and the future Fourth Transport Ring, is one of only three freeways that run within Moscow city limits. However, as one can easily observe from a map of Moscow area, there are several other roadway systems that form concentric circles around the city.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tokyo "The world's most populous metropolitan area"

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and is located on the eastern side of the main island Honshū. The twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, each governed as a city, cover the area that was once the city of Tokyo in the eastern part of the prefecture, totaling over 8 million people. The population of the prefecture exceeds 12 million. The prefecture is the centre of the Greater Tokyo Area, the world's most populous metropolitan area with 35 million people and the world's largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US$1.191 trillion at purchasing power parity in 2005.

Tokyo was described by Saskia Sassen as one of the three "command centres" for the world economy, along with London and New York City . This city is considered an alpha+ world city, listed by the GaWC's 2008 inventory and ranked fourth among global cities (first in the eastern world) by Foreign Policy's 2008 Global Cities Index. In 2009 Tokyo was named the world's most expensive city for expatriate employees, according to the Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Economist Intelligence Unit cost-of-living surveys and named the third Most Liveable City and the World’s Most Livable Megalopolis by international lifestyle magazine Monocle.

Tokyo is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family.

Ueno Park
Ueno Park is one of the most popular attractions in the city of Tokyo. It is criss-crossed by gravel paths. On the reed-fringed Shinobazu Pond Boats can be hired for trips around a little island with its Bentendo Temple. Hot-dog sellers advertise their wares with loudspeakers, and there are many cinemas and amusement centers in the vicinity.

It is the largest park in Tokyo (212ac; 85ha). With its zoo and aquarium it is a real park for the people, but it is also a cultural center with a number of museums, many temples, shrines and pagodas and some important public buildings. Once part of a Daimyo's residence, the park came into the possession of the Tokugawa in the early 17th C. In 1924 it was handed over to public ownership

In 1868 Kannei-ji, which had been built by the Tokugawa as a domestic temple, was the last stronghold of the troops remaining loyal to the Shogun. In the course of the fighting everything was destroyed except for a five-story pagoda. There is a memorial to the fallen who fought for the Emperor and a bronze statue of Saigo Takamori (1827-77), one of the leaders of the Meiji Restoration. As a general of Emperor Maiji's troops he conducted the war against Korea, but came into conflict with the central government. Consequently he became a leader of the Kagoshima Rebellion. When it was put down he committed "Seppuku"(ritual suicide) in accord with the Samurai code of honor. Nowadays he is, however, revered as a national hero. A flight of stone steps with many cherry trees on either side leads up to the memorial and inscriptions. (The cherry trees are in blossom in early April.)

On the left-hand side lies the Kiyomizu Temple, modeled on the temple of the same name in Kyoto.

Tsukiji Fishmarket

In Japan much fish is eaten. But where does it come from? Much of it is imported. But whether deep-frozen or freshly caught, together with oysters, crayfish, ink-fish and crabs, all this mouth-watering food ends up being displayed on Tokyo's famous fishmarket.

The market covers an area of 50ac (20ha). It lies 210yd (200m) south of the Tsukiji-Honganji Temple. Sales on this wholesale market commence at four in the morning every day. Accordingly it is best to visit the market between 4:30am and 8pm. Wear watertight shoes and don't forget to take spare film for your camera.

Imperial Palace

The chief attraction of the Marunouchi district is undoubtedly the Imperial Palace with its parks surrounded by walls and moats (which date from 1613). It is the residence of the Imperial family. The Imperial Palace stands on the site where in 1457 the Feudal Lord Ota Dokan built a first fortress, which served as the focal point from which the city of Tokyo (or Edo, as it was then) gradually spread outwards. After capturing the fortress in 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu rebuilt it, making it the strongest in the land. Subsequently it was burnt down in a disastrous fire in 1657 and only partially restored. Until 1868 the splendid palace was the residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns. With the restoration of Imperial authority and the transfer of the
seat of government from Kyoto to the city which had now been renamed Tokyo, it became the Imperial residence. After destruction in 1873 and again in 1945, the palace has been rebuilt in traditional "flat" style.

The Nijubashi Bridge leads into the interior. Its name, meaning "double bridge", refers to its appearance as reflected in the water. The wall surrounding the palace, which is 7ft (2m) thick, is pierced by gates. Of these the S Sakurda-mon was formerly the main Chamberlain's Office, and the Ote-mon, Kirakawa-mon the Kita-Hanebashi-mon are three gates which give access to the East Garden of the Imperial Palace which is open to the public.

Up until the end of the last war it was customary for all passengers on buses passing the palace walls to obey the conductor's order "Kyojo ni!" (Bow!)

The individual buildings of the Palace are the Main Building (Kyuden), the Residential Building (fukiage-gosho) and the three Palace Buildings (Kashikodore, Koreiden and Shinden). Within the Palace are to be found a hospital, an air-raid shelter, tennis courts, stables for horses, a cemetery, a paddy field, a kitchen garden, a hen house and a silk-worm farm. Emperor Hirohito also has had a large laboratory installed here for his own research and experiments. The 245 families, which make up the Imperial household, live in the Palace. Incidentally Hirohito is pronounced "Hero-heeto"but by the Japanese he is also called tenno heika and the Emperor's name is never used. The Palace is not open to the public; the Palace Gardens are open to the public only on two days in the year, on 2 January and on 29 April (the Emperor's birthday). On these days people flock past in order to catch sight of the Emperor - who lets himself be seen several times in the course of the day - and to wish him good fortune. On other days permission for a visit must be obtained from the Imperial Chamberlain's Office (Kunaicho).

The East Higashi-Gyo-en Garden (or Imperial Palace East Garden) can however be visited regularly. It has a few old buildings, which are worth seeing.

Formerly the Kinomaru Park formed part of the Palace grounds. It is now cut off by the motorway.

In April and October the Togakudo (Music Room) of the Palace is open to the public for the Bunraku and Gagaku performances. To obtain an entry ticket a postcard, with a stamped reply envelope, must be sent to the Imperial Chamberlain's Office (Kunaicho), which is housed in the Sakashita-mon Gate. The exact dates of performances are announced in the newspapers.

Rikugien Park

This entrancingly beautiful park is only eight minutes' walk from the Railway Station. It is a characteristic example of 18th C landscaping, with a knoll, called Tsukiyama, a lake and an island. What is unusual is the fact that the various landscape features are all connected with literary themes. The park was laid out for a counselor of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Since 1938 it has been in the ownership of the City of Tokyo. Nearby is the Gokukuji Temple.

Tokyo National Museum

(Local Name: Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan) The National Museum of Tokyo houses more than 100,000 works of Japanese, Chinese and Indian art, including more than 100 of Japan's National Treasures. Its main building comprises 25 exhibition galleries (of which 20 are normally open to the public). It was built between 1932 and 1938 to replace the Imperial Museum, which was seriously damaged in the 1923 earthquake, and presented to the Imperial House. The latter ceded all proprietary rights over the building and its artistic treasures to the state in 1947. Until 1868 the Kan-eiji Temple stood here; it was at the time the most important

Buddhist temple in Edo. In 1875 the temple was rebuilt close by, just outside the

On the right hand side of the main building lies the Museum for East Asiatic Art, with 15 exhibition galleries. It was opened in October 1968. The objects on display are changed from time to time.

Rooms 1-3: Buddhist sculptures from the Asuka period (552-645) to the present, as well as examples from China.

Room 4: Old textiles, especially valuable examples from the Asuka period.

Room 5: Metalwork, especially Buddhist sacred vessels, etc. (6th-16th C.)

Room 6: Historical weapons and military equipment.

Room 7: The art of the swordsmith is illustrated with exhibits from different centuries.

Room 8: Historic Japanese clothing. Ceramics from Japan, China and Korea.

Room 9 and 10: Japanese, Korean and Chinese pottery from various periods.

Room 11: Japanese painting from the Nara Period (645-794) to the kamakura Period (1192-1336).

Room 12: Japanese painting from the Muromachi Period (1392-1573) including masterpieces by the monks, Josetsu, Shubun and Sesshu.

Room 13: Japanese painting from the Momoyama (1573-1603) and Tokugawa (1603-1868) periods, including works of the Kano, Tosa, Sumiyoshi, Korin and Maruyama schools.

Room 14: Coloured xylographs from the Tokugawa Period.

Rooms 15 and 16: Japanese and Chinese masterpieces of lacquer-work of various centuries, including examples of lacquer-carving, gold lacquer, lacquer with mother of pearl.

Rooms 17 and 18: Japanese painting of the Meiji Period.

Rooms 19 and 20: Masterpieces of Japanese calligraphy, examples from the nara Period to the Tokugawa Period.

There are two other galleries near the main building: Hyokeikan: objects excavated from graves, settlements, etc., reveal the prehistory of Japan. The so-called Haniwa, pottery figures which were buried with the dead, are especially worthy of note. Toyokan: objects from China and Korea.

Behind the main building there is a typical Japanese landscape garden. Three pavilions have been brought here, and they give it the character of an open-air museum. The Tein Teahouse (Rokuso-an) dates from the 17th C. In the Okyo Pavilion (Okyo-kan) pictures with plant motives by the famous landscape artist Maruyama Okyo (1735-95) are on show, while pictures by Kano School painters are displayed in the Kujo Pavilion. There is also a storehouse from the Kamakura Period.

Horyuji-homotsukan, the Treasure of the Horyuji Temple near Nara which was completed in 1964, lies nearby. It is, however, open only on Thursdays when the weather is good.

Kabuki-za Theatre

Kabuki is traditional Japanese theatre. It is well worth going to see this medieval, highly skilled and often burlesque theatrical form even if you do not understand one word of what is said. The greatest Kabuki theatre is in Ginza. Performances are given throughout the year.

Inside the theatre the scene resembles some enormous family get-together; many of the 2,500 spectators bring something to eat, although there are some restaurants around the great auditorium, because the performances last for hours. The spectators stay just as long as they wish - or as long as they bear to sit - and it is not considered rude to come at any time or to go away when you feel like it.

The word "Kabuki" means roughly "song and
dance". In magnificent sets and splendid, valuable costumes the actors perform every sort of emotion with total expression. The stage is often transformed into a cauldron of unbridled passions. After seeing the passers-by on Tokyo streets who bow pleasantly and also seem so restrained, visitors can hardly imagine what explosive forces lie hidden beneath the polite masks. The public shares every emotion, weeping, laughing and applauding its heroes thunderously. Shouts of encouragement are forever ringing out. In times gone by the Kabuki theatre served for the up and coming middle classes as a sort of newspaper and gossip-sheet. Scandals and murders were enacted here in epic grandeur. The actors often performed even without a script, with the result that the plot often departed considerably from the reality that had been envisaged. Even nowadays the women's roles are all played by men. Kabuki has nothing in common with the bourgeois culture of European theatre.

In 1645, women were prohibited from performing in the theatres. However, it was reputedly a priestess who made Kabuki popular by her comic improvisation.


Ginza is Tokyo's most famous shopping center. Lined by exclusive shops and imposing palatial stores which sell literally everything that can be obtained anywhere in the world, in the area there are many tea and coffee shops, cáfes, bars and restaurants. At weekends, when everything is open, it is a shopper's paradise because traffic is barred. Gigantic advertising panels on many buildings bathe Ginza in bright light in the evenings. The crowds of moving people carry the visitor along with them, and the din is almost frightening.

Here lie - within the precinct of the shopping street - the Kabuki-za Theatre in which Kabuki performances take place, as well as the Shimbashi Embujo Theatre in which the traditional Azuma-odori dances or
Bunraku performances may be seen. The Ginza district was the commercial center of the country in the Edo period. It was here that the Chonin, craftsmen and merchants lived. In 1612 Tokugawa Ieyasu had the silver mint (in Japanese "ginza") moved to Edo. At that time Nihombashi was the point where five highways led out into the countryside - the Oshu Road to Sendai, the Nikko Road to Nikko, the Tokaido Road to Kyoto, the Koshu Road to Kofu and the Nakasendao Road to Nagano.

Asakusa Kannon Templea

The temple is dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. It has been here since the foundation of the city. Although the buildings have been destroyed several times, they still retain their original appearance because they have been restored authentically after each catastrophe. Examples of this are the main hall and the scarlet pagoda. According to legend the Temple was founded in 628 (or more likely in 645) by three fishermen who had found a statuette of the goddess in their nets when they hauled them. In its honor they founded the Temple.

The main entrance is the Kaminari-mon Gate, with a 10ft (3.3m) high red paper lantern, weighing 220lb (100kg), with an inscription on it meaning "Thunder Gate"

The Asakusa Shrine, known as Sanja-sa-me, was founded by Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-51) in memory of the three fishermen. In the courtyard in front of the main temple stands the famous and much-loved Incense Vat, which is reputed to drive away ailments. Sick people need only to cup their hands around the smoke and apply it to the part of their body, which is unwell.

The temple doves are considered to be Kannon's sacred messengers. Nowadays they also tell fortunes if that is what the visitor desires. With its beak a dove pulls out from a heap of cards the one which foretells the enquirer's future.

Asakusa Kannon Temple is one of the most popular in Tokyo. Accordingly the annual festival of Sanji Matsuri (19 and 20 May) is the largest in the city, others being the Sanno Matsuri at the Hie Shrine and the Kanda Matsuri at the Kanda Myojin Shrine.

Tokyo's City Hall

Tokyo's City Hall stands just a few minutes' walk away from the Main Railway Station. Built by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, it is the seat of Tokyo's municipal government. In front of the building there stands a bronze statue of the feudal Lord Dokan Ota (1432-86) who built Chiyoda (Edo) Castle, now the Imperial Palace, and who is considered the founder of Tokyo.

The Yasukuni Shrine

The Yasukuni Shrine is in the Marunouchi District northwest of Mizugami Park. It was built in the Shinto style in 1869 and is dedicated to Japan's war dead. The entry to the outer precinct is through two immense Torii. At the south entrance stands a 39ft (12m) high granite Torii, and at the entry to the inner precinct there is a bronze Torii 74ft (22m) high. Both of these were put up in 1933.

The bronze statue on the left hand side of the entry represents Shinagawa Yajiro (1843-1900), a leading political figure of the Meiji period.

The grounds of the Temple are beautiful with gingko trees and ornamental cherries. This gave rise to the usual farewell of soldier departing for the war: "We'll meet again under the cherries on
Kudan Hill."

The spring festival at the shrine takes place between 21 and 23 April, the autumn festival from 17 to 19 October.

Yasukuni Shrine, in as much as it is a sanctuary for state Shintoism, still gives rise to political contention. It was here that with great secrecy the urns containing the remains of the men condemned to death by the International Military Court in 1948 as war criminals were laid to rest. By this act of burial they acquired the status of "hotoke", that is beings who were god-like and deserving of reverence. For some time now the ministers of the right-liberal government have been visiting the Shrine.

Shinjuku Park

Japanese garden design, with what strikes foreigners as a completely different style of artistic arrangement, is an unfailing source of delight. The Shinjuku-Gyoen National Garden is a park that combines everything which is expected of Japanese gardening. It is situated only five minutes' walk from Shinjuku Railway Station.

The grounds of the Park cover some 145ac (58.5ha). Formerly most of it belonged to the Naito family of Daimyos. Towards the end of the 19th C it came into the possession of the Imperial house which transferred ownership to the state after the Second World War.

As the Park is also a botanical garden, with botanical specimens from all over the world, it is divided into two main sections, one European and
the other Japanese. The models for the European section were the French parks and the English landscaped garden. The Japanese section, with its pretty pavilion in the Chinese style, attracts crowds of visitors particularly in April when the cherry trees are covered in blossom. At that time of year 1,100 trees comprising 34 different varieties may be seen in all their glory. Those who prefer chrysanthemums wait for November when chrysanthemum shows are held in the Park.

Ueno Park Zoo

Near the Shinobazu Pond lie the extensive grounds of the zoo; another section of it is to be found between the Toshugo Shrine and the Tokyo Arts University, and the two parts are linked by a monorail. The zoo was opened in 1882, which makes it Japan's oldest zoo. It cannot perhaps be said to come up to the highest international standards, but it has two famous pandas. These are the gift of the People's Republic of China. When from time to time one of them dies, a replacement is sent over from China as a gesture of friendship. The death of a panda is always a matter for great sadness among school children, but then there is great rejoicing when the new mascot arrives.
The Aqua-Zoo on the north shore is one of the largest
aquaria in the Far East.

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland, opened in April 1983, has behind it the proven expertise of more than 28 years of Disney experience in the theme park industry. Many of the most popular Disneyland attractions and restaurants found in the USA are incorporated into the Tokyo project, as well as several entirely new attractions, such as "Pinocchio's Daring Journey", "The Eternal Seas" and "Meet the World". In addition, there are up to 300 entertainers appearing daily in stage shows, musical performances and parades; an of course Mickey Mouse and all the other Disney characters can be found greeting visitors and signing autographs. There are more than 27 places to eat ranging from snack bars to elaborate gourmet restaurants.

In contrast to
"Main Street USA"of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland has a "World Bazaar", which is totally under cover and fully protected from the weather. It features a main street, courtyards, shops, boutiques, restaurants and entertainment - all reminiscent of America at the turn of the century. Visitors will pass through the World Bazaar on their way to other attractions: Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Westernland, Toontown and Critter Country.

Adventureland has a mixture of attractions based on Disney's Academy Award winning "True-life Adventure" films; the "Jungle Cruise" is a trip along a winding river amid lush vegetation. Visitors sail past a safari camp, the ruins of an ancient temple guarded by monkeys, through the rain forests of the Amazon and into the Congo along the rapids of the Nile complete with hippos and crocodiles. It is a trip far from civilization, in the remote jungles of Asia and Africa, using the "wonderland of nature's design."

One of the most popular Disney attractions, the "Pirates of the Caribbean" is also here. It is a twenty-minute trip through a pirate raid on a Caribbean seaport, including singing, rowdy sailors and the firing of cannon to port and the splashing of water off the starboard bow.

Westernland has Americana and the "wild west" themes with adventures designed to give visitors a feeling of having lived during the pioneer days of America. The "Mark Twain Riverboat" lets visitors sail on the waters of the Rivers of America in a sternwheel paddle steamer, or if they prefer a more primitive way, they can conquer the river in an authentic Indian war canoe.

The Rivers of America surround an authentic "Tom Sawyer Island" complete with Injun Joe's Cove, Tom Sawyer's Treehouse, Fort Sam Clemens and suspension and barrel bridges.

Visitors will encounter cowboys, cancan dancers, gold miners and other inhabitants of the Old West.

Fantasyland is where one will become part of the famous Disney stories and films. Visitors will ride through "Snow White's Adventure" in the Seven Dwarfs' mining car; fly through the air with Peter Pan to Never Never Land; and experience "Pinocchio's Daring Journey."

"It's a Small World" is an enclosed water cruise through a hundred nations, represented by some five hundred dolls with songs in their native language.

Another attraction of note is the "Haunted Mansion" complete with leaded windows, mahogany paneling and inhabited by "999 ghosts and goblins." Visitors' board specially designed omnicars of the Mansion incorporating special lighting effects, details of which are unbelievably real.

Tomorrowland gives a glimpse into the future and explores the possibilities of progress. "Space Mountain" is a simulated ride through space, complete with multi-colored strobe lights and holographic asteroid shower. This realistic space trip is housed in a cone shaped superstructure which can be seen from the heart of Tokyo. If visitors prefer to experience a more "down to earth" flight, they can board "Star Jets" and control their own altitude.

Also in Tomorrowland are two original attractions one is called "Meet the World", a unique presentation covering Japan's history and the impact in the world; the other "The Eternal Sea", enables visitors to explore man's newest frontier through Disney's unique 200° theater.

Tokyo Disneyland will never be complete; Critter Country is one of the newer areas. It is a land of small animals inspired by the Disney film Song of the South. The critters have built fanciful homes throughout the area. Their homes can also be seen on the banks of the Rivers of America and the slopes of Splash Mountain. The other is Toontown, where Disney characters live, work and play. Attractions include Mickey and Minnie's House, Chip and Dale's Treehouse, Donald's Boat and Goofy's Bounce House.

Toshogu Shrine

The Toshogu Shrine is situated in the southwest portion of the Park. A pathway with 256 bronze and stone lanterns on either side leads up to it. These were the gifts of various Daimyos. The Shrine was founded in 1627 in memory of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The present buildings date back to 1651.

The most important things to see here are the richly decorated Main Shrine and the five-story pagoda of the Kannei-ji Temple. The latter was transferred here as the only building to survive the fighting which has been mentioned above. The Kara-mon Gate in front of the Main Shrine is said to have carvings by the famous sculptor Hidari Jingoro (17th C.)

The National Museum of Western Art

(Local Name: Kokuritsu Seiyo Bijutsukan) The National Museum of Western Art is found in Ueno Park just three minutes' walk from Ueno Station. It was built in 1959, to plans by the famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The exhibits - works of French artists for the most part - come mainly from the collection made by Kojiro Matsukata during his visit to Europe early in the present C.

In the courtyard works by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin are on show, together with canvases by the Impressionists Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas. Visitors who have already visited the great art collections in either the capital cities of Europe or in the United States will not need to visit this
exhibition of Western art in Tokyo, they will be disappointed, for masterpieces are not represented here.


Tokyo, as the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, is Japan's largest domestic and international hub for rail, ground, and air transportation. Public transportation within Tokyo is dominated by an extensive network of clean and efficient trains and subways run by a variety of operators, with buses, monorails and trams playing a secondary feeder role.

Within Ōta, one of the 23 special wards, Tokyo International Airport ("Haneda") offers mainly domestic flights. Outside Tokyo, Narita International Airport, in Chiba Prefecture, is the major gateway for international travelers.

Various islands governed by Tokyo have their own airports. Hachijōjima (Hachijojima Airport), Miyakejima (Miyakejima Airport), and Izu Ōshima (Oshima Airport) have service to Tokyo International and other airports.

Rail is the primary mode of transportation in Tokyo, which has the most extensive urban railway network in the world and an equally extensive network of surface lines. JR East operates Tokyo's largest railway network, including the Yamanote Line loop that circles the center of downtown Tokyo. Two organizations operate the subway network: the private Tokyo Metro and the governmental Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation. The metropolitan government and private carriers operate bus routes. Local, regional, and national services are available, with major terminals at the giant railroad stations, including Tokyo and Shinjuku.

Expressways link the capital to other points in the Greater Tokyo area, the Kantō region, and the islands of Kyūshū and Shikoku.

Other transportation includes taxis operating in the special wards and the cities and towns. Also long-distance ferries serve the islands of Tokyo and carry passengers and cargo to domestic and foreign ports.

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