A Very Asian Day in San Jose……

A Very Asian Day in San Jose……

Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley

Not that I planned it that way… I did start looking (for cherry blossoms) in two of San Jose’s Japanese landmarks, Japantown and the Japanese Friendship Garden. But the Japanese Friendship garden turned out to be closed, perhaps due to the recent flooding. And turns out the beautiful pink blossoms that are blooming in my neighborhood were plum trees, not cherry. I’ll have to return in a month or two.

Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley

So I walked around San Jose’s Japantown looking for stuff to photograph. I’d been meaning to add a few photos of the newish Japanese Museum. And I couldn’t help but get a few shots of the already well covered Buddhist Church. And as I do whenever I can, I stopped at an old familiar restaurant I’ve visited since my childhood: Kazoo.

And while thinking of gardens and trees in bloom, I thought of another place from my childhood. Right next to my high school, Independence HS on the East Side, there’s a park. I took a few photos there a few months ago, and it was really, really brown and dry due to the drought. Now it’s flooding in SJ, so I figured it would look a bit different, perhaps with some plum trees in blossom if I was lucky.

Overfelt Gardens Park, San Jose, Silicon Valley

Well I was lucky- to some degree at least. There were a few pink blossoming trees next to an arch commemorating the Chinese Garden. The gardens themselves seemed kinda shabby. The main pavilion was still barricaded like the last time I visited months ago. And one big surprise for me was that the pond around the Confucius statue was completely empty. I assumed the last time I visited it was because of the drought, but alas there must be another reason.

Overfelt Gardens Park, San Jose, Silicon Valley

Onward on my Asian journey, I made a stop to a favorite suburban gem that was built when I was growing up in the neighborhood: the Pao-Hua Buddhist Temple. I think this is mainly used by ethnic Chinese Vietnamese folks. I really like the walls of Buddhas especially. And the people there are so nice, a monk came up to me and encouraged me to continue photographing pointing out some details I should pay closer attention to.

Buddhist Temple in East San Jose, California

Buddhist Temple in East San Jose, California

Buddhist Temple in East San Jose, California

All in all, it was a nice visit. I do know the way to San Jose, and enjoy taking that route.

 

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

Spring has sprung….or at least that’s what I thought. The cherry blossoms are blooming in my neighborhood. So I figured it was a good time to go and get some photos in Japantowns and Japanese gardens in the Bay Area.

Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

I’ve been meaning to visit Hayward’s Japanese Garden for a while. So it was first on my list for today. What a surprise! Hayward’s Japanese garden was delightful. You’ll have to forgive me that I am so surprised…. It’s just Hayward isn’t high on any list of must visit sites. The garden was pretty large and quite pleasant indeed.

Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

In addition to the koi fish I expected to see there were also plenty of turtles too. Unfortunately the cherry trees weren’t in bloom there. The bonsai trees were numerous and well groomed, I don’t regret having gone.

Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

Next I drove on to Japantown in San Jose, the third remaining Japantown in the US. And once again, no blooming cherry blossoms. Ok, well I’ll visit San Jose’s Japanese Friendship Garden in Kelley Park. I drove into the parking lot and strike three….I’m out.

Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)
Japanese Gardens, Hayward, CA (Michael Halberstadt)

Guess I’ll try again in a couple weeks.

(on another note)

Intel Santa Clara (Michael Halberstadt)
Intel Santa Clara (Michael Halberstadt)

Some other business brought me to Sunnyvale. Returning to my car I noticed a street sign that read: Altair. For those not familiar with computer history, Altair is generally considered to be the first personal computer (PC.) The Altair was assembled by the purchaser and was extraordinarily primitive by today’s standards, inputs were made by switches and outputs were displayed on LED lights (if memory serves).

Altair Way Sign (Michael Halberstadt)
Altair Way Sign (Michael Halberstadt)

Since I actively seek out computer related signs for my photo library, I assumed that the street sign was honoring the historic computer- until I noticed the cross street sign is Aries. Bummer.

Farmland in Silicon Valley- Sunnyvale (Michael Halberstadt)
Farmland in Silicon Valley- Sunnyvale (Michael Halberstadt)

I also stumbled upon a tiny orchard in Sunnyvale, complete with old farm hardware. I remember when much of Silicon Valley was orchards and greenhouses, until about the 1990’s.

Looking Down on Religion & Multiculturalism

Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.

Looking Down on Religion & Multiculturalism

It’s true I am an atheist. Most folks who know me realize that I hold a rather negative view of religion in general. But don’t get your panties in a bunch yet. This is yet another intentionally provocative title desperately trying to get attention. And if you read this and you’re not my dad (hey pop!) it worked!

The looking down is referring to the use of the 15’ (4.5m) pole I used for the photos. In the interest of a unifying theme I chose to combine a few photos of temples in Silicon Valley.

The suburbs can be more interesting than folks think. Particularly in Silicon Valley. Large waves of immigrants have left a colourful mark on the otherwise beige stucco and cement that makes up most of the area between urban and rural in North America. Exhibit A is Wat Buddashorn in Fremont. It’s a Buddhist temple wedged between otherwise indistinguishable tract houses near Niles, a surprisingly interesting district in its own right. Another plus of hanging out around Buddhist temples in my experience is that people tend to be quite nice and photo friendly. A 6’2” white guy dangling a little camera 15’ over their temple didn’t prompt any reaction.

Exhibit B the Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose. San Jose is unique in having one of the few remaining Japantowns in North America. They also sport a nice garden next door. Unfortunately they store their orange cones and no parking sign in the front, so head on shots are kinda not so pretty. But it’s a handsome structure none-the-less.

Having dealt with a stock request for Japantown last month I figured I’d see what I could do with the two block commercial street too. I really love the place. I eat semi-regularly at Kazoo and grab coffee and pastries at Roy’s Station. But it’s visually not the most interesting of places. The elevated perspective did add something, but only so much. Another akweird side to the pole aerial photo shtick is catching lots of people looking at me or the camera with a  WTF look on their faces.

Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
Wat Buddhanusorn, is a Buddhist temple, of the Theravadan tradition, in Fremont, California, United States.
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin in San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley
Japantown San Jose, Silicon Valley