Floating Torii (Gate) to the Itsukumisha Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

As a gate to the Itsukumisha Shrine, this red torii (gate) is an iconic image of Japan. As soon as we got to the Hiroshima train station from Kyoto, we saw signs leading us to Miyajima. We just couldn't resist, so we followed the directions and took a 30-minute train ride to the ferry port, where we took a 10 minute ride to the island of Miyajima. Since it was at high tide, it seemed as if the gate was floating on water. When it's low tide, the area around it is muddy sand, so that you can even walk to it. It was lovely!

Dotonbori River, Osaka, Japan

Running just parallel to the main street of the Dotonbori area, is this river with busy bridges crossing it. We walked along the river and saw these great reflections, continued on and made a left to go to an amazing nightlife area in the city of Osaka. A thirty minute ride from Kyoto, I was glad we stayed until night because I saw the bright lights and active nightlife that the Japanese partake in. Wonderfully lively part of Japan!

Back in Los Angeles now. I loved Japan!

Buddha Statue, Sensoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

This was a Buddha statue outside of the Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon) Temple within Tokyo. To walk to this statue, we went through a long street of vendors and stores and through a large red torii gate. It was definitely a packed area with people swirling throughout the Asakusa area.

Within the Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan

I have seen photos of this before, but didn't realize we had walked right past it on the way to the Tokyo Imperial Palace until I took a second glance. Went inside the building, and it had this amazing intricate architecture. We walked up a couple levels and I took this shot with reflections of the roof on a glass ledge. It is a concert and exhibition hall. This building was completed in 1996 by Rafael Vinoly, an architect born in Uruguay, but currently living in the United States. The inside is a design of glass and metal, representating the shape of a ship.

Day 8: Tokyo, Japan to Vancouver, Canada, to Los Angeles, California, USA

Oh, how I appreciate a great public transportation system! Throughout Japan, the network of shinkansen (bullet trains), local subways and local buses are a great way to get basically anywhere. Moving between cities, it took me the initial few minutes to understand the system for each city, but after that, getting around was a breeze. Sure, I had to constantly hold a little rail map, but it worked out for us and we got around just fine.

This is a photo of the Yamanote Loop Line going throughout central Tokyo, stopping at familiar stops like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Tokyo, and Ueno.

At Vancouver waiting to take the flight to Los Angeles!

Day 7: Tokyo, Japan

Woke up at the crack of dawn (well, it was actually still dark out when we left the apartment) and made our way to the Tsukiji Fish Market. They start early and by the time we got there, we missed out on the auction but were still able to peruse the selection from the fishermen. There were fish (HUGE ones as seen in the picture), crabs, lobster, clams, oysters, shrimp and anything else you can think of that falls into the seafood category.

This is a photo of one of the fisherman (pointing at me?) and the MASSIVE frozen fish. Right across the street, we had sushi - can't get more fresh than that!

For the rest of the day, we took a ferry to Akasuka, going under all the bridges in the Tokyo Bay, walked through the Harajuku district, and to Shibuya where we actually saw the craziness that is the Shibuya crossing by night. Headed back to Ageo and had dinner and drinks with friends and newly met friends. What a day!

Day 6: Kyoto, Japan

On day 6, we explored Kyoto since we had been staying there but mostly taking day trips to other cities. It was a bit harder to get around Kyoto, just because most of their local trains are not JR(Japan Railways) and we had a Japan Railway Pass that allowed for unlimited usage on all JR lines. We ended up taking buses and local metro and were able to see several parts of Kyoto including Arashimaya, Kyoto Station area, and downtown. Left Kyoto to go back to Tokyo that evening.

Outside of the Imperial Palace area were some of the most beautiful red and orange leaves I've ever seen. Autumn is beautiful in Japan!

Day 5: Kyoto to Osaka, Japan

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! I have left Japan and am on my way to Los Angeles. Spent some time in Japan this morning (to afternoon) on Sunday there and gained time heading back East.

Posting a photo from Osaka. We took a day trip there and on the way back from the Osaka castle, we saw this fat cat and a cute little Japanese boy making eye contact.

Lantern by Night, Kyoto, Japan

Took this photo as we were heading back to our hostel from the Kyoto train station.

Hiroshima Castle, Hiroshima, Japan

This is a photo from the outside of the entrance to the Hiroshima Castle. Because the castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb, it was rebuilt several years later.

By the way, I've been told that there are issues with commenting on my posts, that I've yet to have time to troubleshoot. If you are interested in commenting and are stuck on the part that asks you to type in words to verify your post, just highlight some part of the text of the comment box and drag it down. Not sure if that makes sense, but basically, there's just no scrollbar on the right - but the submit button is there...

Day 4: Kyoto to Hiroshima to Miyajima, Japan

It is now Thursday morning here in Japan and we are getting ready to head out for another fun-filled day! Yesterday, we took a day trip from Kyoto to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Hiroshima was a very educational experience, and to actually be there to see the destruction of the first atomic bomb ever dropped on mankind was an eye-opening event. I've learned plenty about it, but to be in the Memorial Museum and to watch videos of survivors retell their stories was quite saddening. I'm definitely glad I got to see the Peace Park, and feel personally, more inspired to learn about the history of the world and to make some sort of positive difference (I'm an idealist, I know).

Anyway, this was a photo of the A-Bomb dome, remnants of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall. They have been rebuilding, and besides memorials like this, its hard to tell that a nuclear weapon devastated and destroyed a couple mile radius area, instantly killing all the people in its way.

Within Hiroshima, we also went to the Hiroshima Castle and walked down Hidori Street. In the morning we took a train and ferry to Miyajima, the island known for the red Torii gate in the water. Japan is so beautiful! Off to another day of adventure. I think we are going to surrounding cities today - Osaka, Nara, and Kobe.

Day 3: Tokyo, Japan to Kyoto, Japan via the Shinkansen

The itinerary for today included the bullet train ride to Kyoto, southwest of Tokyo. Since we weren't able to get the earliest train ride out to Kyoto, we ended up heading to the Tokyo Tower. On the way there, we came across the Zojo-Ji Shrine, where we found rows and rows of these small concrete statues. I later found out that these are called Jizo statues, typically adorned with bibs and red knit caps and are put there by parents of children that died young because Jizo is regarded as the guardian of children.

After we meandered through the shrine, we got to the tower, returned to the train station, and made a quick stop in Harajuku before going back to Tokyo station to catch the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. After arriving in Kyoto, we found our hostel and started exploring a temple close by. Rain drops came falling as we walked to find food and visit the Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Train Station. I loved the train station there - its huge and beautiful!

Day 2: Tokyo, Japan

Yesterday, we woke up bright and early, planning to head to Tokyo for the famous fish market. But, since we were informed that it was Labor Day in Japan (a national holiday), I checked online and the market was closed for the day. We ended up just heading to Tokyo from Ageo early anyways. One of our first stops was Shibuya (photo) - known for the large intersection that goes horizontally, vertically and horizontally. Since we were there early, there weren't as many people as there usually are during rush hour, but I can definitely imagine how it'd be. We then headed to the Imperial Palace and walked around the Ginza upscale shopping area and the Akhabara entertainment district where we were entertained by the interactive Sony store. It was indeed a very long day, and I'm sure we did much more, but I'm drawing a blank right now. Tokyo has so much to see!

Currently in Kyoto! Another post to come after.

Day 1: Los Angeles to Vancouver, Canada to Narita Airport to Aego City, Japan

What a long day of traveling, but well worth it because we are now in Japan! We had a stopover in Vancouver, Canada where I met up with Bonny and Cynthia (who were flying from SFO) and then proceeded on our 10-hour flight to Narita Airport outside of Tokyo! Val picked us up from the airport and we took a train through Tokyo and to Ageo, a "suburb" outside of Tokyo. We met up with some locals and headed to a restaurant/bar where we had everything from raw salmon to raw chicken to yakisoba. The food was delicious, especially after a day of fast food and airplane food. After the meal and drinks, we headed to a Karoake place and sang classics from TLC, Celine Dion, NSYNC, Green Day, Oasis, among others. And yes, I sang! The people are really nice! The first day was great - we are going to get about 1 hour of sleep right now (its about 3:30am) and wake up and head to the fish markets in Tokyo. Sleeping is optional on this trip. More to come soon!

Pauley Pavilion, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA

Losses are never fun to watch, but at least you know that you can only go up from there. This is a photo of the famed Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, while UCLA was still leading. Two overtimes later, and a loss to Cal State Fullerton and I wasn't so happy anymore. At least tonight's game against Cal State Bakersfield was a win. Let's hope the bruins practice hard, put their hearts into it and can improve as a team. I'm not used to seeing losses like this!

Last post for a few days - I'm traveling again! Will post once I have internet and have photos to upload. Where in the world is Victoria? You shall see in my next post. :)

Wyoming State Capital, Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA

On my past trip to Colorado, we decided to take a side trip to Wyoming. Bison and emptiness greeted us across the Wyoming border. I mean, maybe that can be attributed to the fact that it was Sunday - but I'm thinking other days aren't much different. Snow still covered the road (and also caused delays going into Wyoming), but made for some great scenery. The State Capital building had a gold-plated dome over it, and was surrounded by pure white snow. Brrrr...

Window, Liverpool Train Station, London, United Kingdom

From within the Liverpool Train Station, the wide glass windows brought views of downtown buildings. That day, I walked around the station, taking photos of the tourists exploring the area and the locals on their way to work. The design of this window stood out.

Red Truck, Sarchi, Costa Rica

In the town known for ox carts of all sizes beautifully hand-painted in an assortment of colors, Sarchi was a nice side trip from San Jose. The town is known as an artisan community, full of stores displaying souvenirs of their famous hand-crafted ox carts. Before heading back out to San Jose, we stopped at a gas station and as we were filling up, this red truck left the station and went on its way.

H&M, The Americana, Glendale, California, USA

The H&M at the Americana had a cool set-up on display upon entering the store. Just thought I'd take a photo...

Holiday Decorations at the Americana, Glendale, California, USA

The holiday season is just around the corner and the Americana has begun its decorating. These ornaments and wreath hung from a lightpost. Behind it is the intricately designed elevator taking visitors to the different levels of parking. Can't wait for the holidays to come!

Hand Cut Frites, Cafe Gutenberg, Richmond, Virginia, USA

I must admit, I have an addiction to fries in all shapes and forms. After arriving in Richmond, we went in search for food and ended up at the Cafe Gutenberg. I saw these on the menu and just had to order them. They were the hand cut frites with herbs, parmesan and truffle honey. Wow, they were just a perfect level of crispiness and were covered in all kinds of goodness! Oh, how I love good food!

Tiffany Hoang, Venice High School, Los Angeles, California, USA

At Venice High School, the school made famous for Grease, we walked around and spotted rows of blue, rusted lockers towards the front of campus. This is my cousin, Tiffany, who agreed to be my model for the high school locker shot! Thanks Tiffany! :)

Doorway, Norfolk, Virginia

I did a photo series on doors while walking through the quaint housing community in Norfolk. Each door was a different color and different design. This door in particular was a wooden door behind a layer of glass. As a took this photo, conveniently, a bus full of school children drove by and made it into the photo.

My Photo Featured as Photo of the Day on discoverlosangeles.com, Official Guide to Los Angeles!

Exciting! Within a few weeks of each other, two of my photos were chosen as a photo of the day on discoverlosangeles.com, the Official Guide to Los Angeles sponsored by the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau - today, November 10th and October 27th. I go to the website often, so it was cool/weird seeing my picture as the photo of the day! It's the little things like this that have made my day, especially because a large amount of my photos are of sights around LA. I enjoy looking for new places around the greater LA area to photograph and show to the world. The one for today was of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro and the one on October 27th was of Film Strip USA in Culver City, both which I've posted on my photo diary previously.

Photos of the day can be seen here: http://discoverlosangeles.com/play/photo-of-the-day.jsp
The discoverLA facebook page also posts the photo, with comments, "likes" and all: http://www.facebook.com/losangelesfan

Red Bow, Fayetteville Street, Downtown, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

These wreaths adorned with large bright red bows were in the process of being put onto the light posts in downtown Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. From the capital building, we walked along the wide Fayetteville Street, one of the main streets downtown. Its November and that means the holiday and winter season is just around the corner!

Seagull in Flight, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

We walked along the waterfront of Norfolk and I came across a white seagull perched on this wooden block. Of course, as I approached, the seagull took flight and this is the photo I was able to take!

Autumn Leaves, Tree-Lined Walkways, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

At over 8,000 acres, strolling through Duke University was an adventure. Surprisingly warm weather greeted us. Gothic buildings define the campus and just stepping a short way from the dorms were tree-lined walkways like this one. Leaves were scattered on the concrete and the trees were a multitude of vibrant colors. I know about Duke most because of my familiarity with college basketball, so I had no idea of how the campus would look. I must say, the architecture throughout campus was beautiful and the areas surrounding campus were expansive woods filled with trees of all colors.

USS Wisconsin, Nauticus, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Norfolk, Virginia is home to the world's largest naval base and its history lies in being a strategic military and transportation site. This is the USS Wisconsin - the second Navy ship to be named after the state of Wisconsin. Built in Philadelphia, the ship was launched on December 7, 1943. She has served during World War II, the Korean War and Operation Desert Storm and is now on display at Nauticus, the National Maritime Center. As we walked along the Cannonball route through Norfolk after breakfast, we passed by this massive ship. The moon can still be seen faintly in the sky as well. The streets of Norfolk are lined with cute houses and apartments, along with buildings built years and years ago - a true mixture of old and new.

Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

On our way from Richmond to Norfolk, we stopped in the charming city of Williamsburg where we got out first chance to experience fall on the East Coast. Where seasons actually exist (unlike California), we saw streets lined with trees in beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges, in addition to fresh fallen leaves on the ground - perfect for jumping in and creating sounds of crunching leaves. Colonial Williamsburg is an area of the town set in colonial times, with horse carriages and people in character throughout the town. This is a photo of us via shadows!

Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA

Miles and miles of beautiful coastline grace the western coast of Oregon. At Cannon Beach, huge monoliths are scattered throughout the beach and tree trunks lie all around the sand.

Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

We could see the Grand Canyon for miles far into the horizon. We began the hike in the morning, and were greeted with deep blue skies. As we hiked down into the canyon, it got cooler, but the walking certainly made it seem a lot warmer. Carved by the Colorado River throughout the course of millions of years, the Grand Canyon is layered with a multitude of colors - red, orange, brown, and was sprinkled on some parts with green trees. Amazing views!

High Rise Building Next to LA Live Complex, Downtown, Los Angeles, California, USA

Just next to the LA Live complex in downtown Los Angeles is this purple-glass high rise building soaring high into the sky.
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Fountain by the Swimming Pool, The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Have I mentioned how much I love fountains? This was a fountain outside in the courtyard of the Venetian suites, just by the swimming pools. It was getting darker, so it was turned on and was glowing this pretty blue color. :)

Orange Flowers, Bellagio Garden, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

These beautiful orange flowers were on display at the Bellagio Garden. :)