Bart Vander Sanden

Freelance web developer/graphic designer in Leuven, Belgium

Posts about Japan

Every post I've written about Japan on this blog.

Hiroshima and the aftermath of the atomic bomb - Japan

Looking over the Motoyasu river, with the Atomic Bomb Dome on the right.
Looking over the Motoyasu river, with the Atomic Bomb Dome on the right.

Hiroshima is one of those cities that symbolise a key moment in the history of our world: it was the first city to be attacked with an atomic bomb, which was a turning point at the end of the Second World War, but at a significant human cost of more than 100,000 casualties. It had a profound effect on both Japan and the world at large, of which we still feel the results to this day.

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A few notes on Kobe, wagyu beef, and ropeways - Japan

A bridge near the Meriken Park in Kobe.
A bridge near the Meriken Park in Kobe.

After finding our way through the maze that is Osaka Station (seriously, it’s a gigantic and confusing underground labyrinth) we took a short train ride to Kobe, a port town to the west of Osaka, and world famous for its local speciality dish: Kobe beef.

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Attending a sumo honbasho in Osaka - Japan

Sumo wrestlers in action at the Edion Arena in Osaka.
Sumo wrestlers in action at the Edion Arena in Osaka.

Osaka is the second largest city in Japan, and a central hub to quite a few important cities in the area, like Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. We went to Osaka via a short 30 minute train ride from Nara. The city is probably best known for its wide variety of high quality food, but we went there to attend the yearly Sumo competition, the honbasho, in the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (also called the Edion Arena).

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Burning torches in Nara - Japan

Sunset at the Todaiji temple.
Sunset at the Todaiji temple.

Nara used to be the old capital of Japan, and nowadays it’s mostly known for its shrines (which are also part of the UNESCO World Heritage, like the ones in Nikko and Kyoto) and its hundreds of tame deer which roam the area freely. It’s a 50 minute train ride from Kyoto, so it’s easy to just hop on a train to get there.

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The ancient history of Kyoto - Japan

A couple of torii gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
A couple of torii gates at the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Kyoto is probably the second most popular destination in Japan after Tokyo, and it’s seen as one of the most important historic centers of Japan.

It’s easy to get there by using the Ihari Shinkansen line, a ride that takes a few hours. Unfortunately, the trip to the freezing shrines of Nikko caught me off guard and got me a cold. I had to wear a mouth mask to keep my illness contained, as is usual in the country.

It also didn’t help that it was pouring outside, and our room in the ryokan wasn’t ready yet, so we had to find another place to kill a few hours.

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Half a day in Nikko - Japan

Arriving in Nikko
Arriving in Nikko

A few days into our trip to Japan we went on a quick outing from Tokyo to Nikko, a small village north of the huge busy metropolis. Nikko is mostly known for its numerous shrines, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritages.

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Exploring Tokyo - Japan

Tsukiji Fish Market as seen from the bridge.
Tsukiji Fish Market as seen from the bridge.

Japan is a fascinating country: for centuries it was nearly fully isolated from other countries, creating a culture that’s vastly different from the rest of the world.

We wanted to travel to the country for ages, and last year (after careful budgeting and planning) we finally took an 11 hour plane ride to the other side of the world and discovered their beautiful nature, great food and amazing culture for ourselves. Our first stop: Tokyo.

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Our trip to Japan (video)

A few months ago we spend around three weeks in Japan to discover their nature, culture and food. With our phones in hand we documented this trip, in which we traveled to Tokyo, Nikko, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Okayama and then back to Tokyo.

We filmed this footage with an iPhone 8, a Samsung Galaxy S5 and a Sony RX100 Mark III. Editing was done in Premiere Pro on a Macbook Pro 13” (2017), but the .hevc files out of the iPhone were nearly impossibly slow to work with, so they were first converted to a bunch of low resolution proxy files to make them usable in Premiere. Apparently Final Cut Pro X is a lot better for these (4k60) files, but oh well.

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