Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Making a Shrine

Weekly, structures around my apartment are demolished while others are being replaced. Older structures are torn down because they are old, earthquake-non-safe and the land they sit on is much more valuable. Typically after something is torn-down, it will sit as a lot for two months before something else new starts being built. Typically when something starts to get built it takes about two months to finish and occupied in three. Since I moved into my apartment in early 2009, well over 25 structures within five blocks of my apartment have been replaced. One day in February 2009, the building above, across the street from my apartment and easy to see from the 7th floor was removed to clear a corner lot. And, that-was-it till November 2009.Boom, scaffolding everywhere, foundation being laid, large crane, what could it be?Two days later, it became obvious, they were making a shrine (or maybe a temple, I'm still not really sure). And I was excited because I never had the opportunity to watch someone make a shrine.Within five days of starting the overall shape was roughed in. Although modern power tools were being used to make the structure, traditional methods of construction were also being used. For example, no nails.By day six, this shrine was covered in plastic (everything under construction in Japan is covered - ASAP), it seem they were ready to go full bore, make a shrine, then nothing. Everyone left.Then one day three months later, late February 2010 the construction workers came back, started working details on the shrine.Five days later from the re-start, still working. Luckily I'm at work when most of this is being built. I usually just see the final daily results and this week work seem to be unstoppable....Until it stopped. Again another long pause for three months, partial shrine just sat there covered in plastic, until May 2010.May 2010 the workers showed back up and laid down the room sub-structure. The roof structure went on fast and again a pause for another month till this past week when tiles were put on the roof. If you look at the photo above you see a gray tile building behind the red brick building. The gray tile building is where I think the monks who are making the shrine live.This is where we are today... work idle...The theory the monks can't raise money fast enough to make this logically. So during time of no-work on the shrine, the monks are out working the streets trying to make some cash to pay for this. It has been over a year since the foundation was laid, I guessing it will be another 6 months before it is finished. I'm hoping the monks throw a big party when they finish, but don't worry, this is part 1 and I will update.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Seoul Revisited

I made my second visit to Seoul this past weekend, again it's a really easy place to get to from Japan. Again on this trip I visited some historical places and ate good food.This time visited was Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, listed in 1997. It is beautifully restored and preserved place.This palace also had really colorful roof trim, I can't imagine trying to paint this stuff.Another view:The attention to detail is amazing:Here is some of the good food enjoyed, Korean seafood pancake:And of course this guys BBQ:A random place visited was this graffiti covered outdoor shopping mall, which is something you would never find in Japan...... As you can see, I need to lose some weight before my trip back to the US next month. Whale graffiti too:I also saw a Airbus A380 for the first time at ICN airport, I need to take a flight on one of these things:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Seattle Update

Seattle is doing good! Space Needle, still there.Above is actually the view from my hotel room. This might be the first time I stayed in Seattle with a view like this. Typically something is blocking the Space Needle. The Alaskan Way Viaduct is also still there.Everyone is still talking about what to do, the current plan seems to be replace it with a tunnel.Vegetables are still generally cheaper at Pikes Place Market then in Japan.

Since the last time I visited Seattle, the big change is there is now light rail, from the Airport to downtown, called the central link.And it turns out, it is really easy to use, takes about 45 minutes to go from the airport to downtown, and makes 12 stops during the trip.Trains are clean, but the people checking your ticket look less like train operators and more like security guards.I did not have a car over the weekend, so I did some research, trying to find places other then the airport you could visit on the train. Number one among them is Safeco Field. The other good place to go to is Columbia City, home of Jones Barbecue.A good place in Seattle to go for BBQ.