Click on any photo to see a larger version
Cincinnati's sister city, Gifu, is near the central mountains of Japan.  Aiko and her new husband, Kakuyuki, drove us 30 minutes out of town to a beautiful small park.  An old farmhouse was moved to a site on the edge of a small lake. The farmhouse has the typical steep roof covered with a thick covering of reeeds.  Our private dining room overlooked the lake and a nearby garden.  We enjoyed the sounds of birds and a small waterfall. Later we walked around the lake.  Anytime we were near the shore, we were greeted by a school of fat carp who hoped we would feed them.  We couldn't help them - we'd eaten every delicious mouthful of our lunch. We drove out along the highway that follows the old route of the Nakasendo, the national road that connected Edo and Kyoto through the mountains.  During the Tokugawa period, the road was marked every "ri" (2.44 miles) with a small hill like this topped by trees.  Unfortunately, pressures for more housing and farm land have destroyed all but two along the old route. Aiko knows all the great temples and shrines in the area.  This was the first time for us to see a traditional dance pavilion, where sacred court music and dances are performed at festivals.  It is in the center of a large courtyard totally enclosed by covered walkways or temple buildings and gates. The dragon fountain was especially fine.  The walkway behind made a superb background.  This is one of my favorite photos from the trip. I couldn't resist this fine composition, the priests' sandals waiting outside the temple for them to return.