Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Well, I'm off to London again tomorrow morning! These last three months have whizzed by and I've had a fab time in Tokyo, despite the heat. I'll miss Neil so much, but am really looking forward to catching up with family and friends, as well as fitting in a trip to New York - woo hoo! I'll be back on the 27th october, so see you then.....
I was coming out of my local supermarket yesterday and was greeted by this happy bunch. They were carrying a portable shrine and working their way around the neighbourhood, blessing local buildings. One guy seems to have forgotten to put his trousers on.....
On sunday night we went to a baseball game. I am embarrassed to say that I lived in America for 12 years, only went to one baseball game the whole time I was there, and have no idea of the rules. Luckily Neil was clued up on that, so was able to explain what was going on. I'm still not completely sure what was happening, but had a fab time soaking up the atmosphere - mini cheerleaders, breakdancing mascots, cheering, singing crowds, beer girls selling beer from backpacks through a hose, flag-waving fans. The game was between the Yakult Swallows (a local team) and the Chunichi Dragons, from Nagoya. We had great seats with a fab view, but soon after we arrived there, we realised we were in the opposing team's seats - oh dear. It wasn't long into the game however, that the opposing team started doing very well, so then we were glad to be there and cheered along (and attempted to sing) with the rest of them. My only fear, was being hit in the face by a ball! There were several near misses when the ball came speeding towards us and hit the crowd somewhere behind. I didn't fancy heading back to England with a broken nose....
Sunday, 19 September 2010
I went to my first shrine sale yesterday and it was heaven! They are basically Japanese versions of flea markets/antique markets, usually held around a shrine, although this one didn't seem to have a shrine anywhere nearby. They sell all kinds of things from kimonos and obi to old scrolls and baskets, often at discounted prices if you are willing to forage. There was an endless amount of juicy stalls selling the most amazing Japanese artefacts and fabrics and it was heaven. Becky and I went a bit wild, but came back with some amazing finds.
Friday, 17 September 2010
This month's subway poster illustrates something that I am very familiar with, living here in Tokyo and the joys of being a gaijin on the subway. I feel two feet taller than most people and as wide as a bus, so you are often aware of people over compensating the space needed for you to sit next to them, or they just don't sit next to you at all! At first this upset me, but now I relish in having the extra room.....
Here is the latest update on the pottery classes. I got these pieces back the other day and am amazed the handles didn't fall off! And you can actually drink from them, even if they are a tad heavy... I also practiced my sumi-e painting on some of the cylindrical pots - all the different classes are coming together in their own weird and wonderful way!
Well, the cicadas have now passed on and their frenzied noise has been replaced by the dulcet tones of the crickets - a very summery, romantic sound. With them, some cooler air has come and it's rather pleasant now. This little blighter passed away on our balcony, so I decided to take a photo of him the other day - he's not that small at 8cm long! In fact, he is still there as neither of us have been brave enough to scoop him up....
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
This morning I went to a stunning exhibition showing the works of Uemura Shoen. She was a Japanese artist who died in 1949 and her works were inspired by "Bijinga" drawings which are portraits that show beautiful women in a realistic, yet refined style. She decided to take this style a step further and work the sketches up into beautifully intricate paintings and apparently her work has no equal in this class of artwork. Her style is actually very modern and her paintings are heaven for anyone interested in printed fabrics and surface pattern. Each painting uses beautiful colours and patterns, paired with an ethereal style of painting.
It's been a cultural few days for me so far. Yesterday I went to an exhibition at the Bunkamura centre and in the evening I went to my book group.
The exhibition was called "Lights of Flanders" and focused on Belgian artists in the 19th century who had set up an artist colony in flemish rural villages. Here, they captured the countryside and people of Flanders doing everyday things, but in idyllic settings where the sun is always shining and the life is relaxed. I had never really been aware of these artists' works before and was transfixed by the beauty of some of them. Perhaps it's because I hadn't seen them before, but they seemed fresh to me. Many were done in an Impressionistic style which is something that I don't usually like. Maybe this is because we have seen their work so often - such as Renoir, Monet etc - that it becomes too familiar. Anyway, I was very glad I went!
In the evening I went to my book group and we discussed "The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver. The story is told from the point of view of a boy who works in the house of Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I had been excited about reading it as the writer is very good and the subject matter interested me. It took a long time to get into and if it weren't for the book group I probably would have given up, but I'm glad I stuck with it as it grew into an interesting, juicy historical novel.
Monday, 13 September 2010
Yesterday we went to a lovely park, just 7 minutes walk from Meguro station. I have been calling it Meguro Park, but apparently it's real name is the Institute for Nature Study. Most Japanese parks are extremely manicured and although they are beautiful, can be quite sterile. This one is definitely more like a nature reserve where the flora and fauna has been left to their own devices. It was almost like walking through a tropical forest in the heart of Tokyo, with crickets chirruping, birds singing and the "residents" basically loving their little haven in the city. There were also many big spiders in webs, which I tried to avoid as much as possible.........
If you look at the website, they have a great view of the park from above.
On saturday we went to the most gorgeous, sandy, empty beach! Chris and Becky had been the week before and raved about it, so the four of us headed off early on saturday morning, for a day of playing in the sea and lying in the sand. The beach is in Shimoda and takes about 2.5 hours to get to. We took the shinkansen for part of it and then a very scenic train journey along the coast. They kindly make the train seats facing outwards towards the window so that you can enjoy the view, and it is stunning! At Shimoda station, it was a short taxi ride out to what they call White Beach, a lovely little haven with white sands, clear water and little beach shacks selling food and drink. It was heaven and we couldn't quite believe we were so close to Tokyo! We'll definitely be heading back again.
Friday, 10 September 2010
Becky and I went to some gorgeous shops in Meguro yesterday. It's a whole street full of modern/retro furniture shops, all beautifully styled and maddeningly expensive. Some of them included Acme that sells mainly reclaimed furniture, and Brunch which makes a lot from scratch in beautiful woods. We also stumbled across the Claska hotel which has a beautifully styled shop and bar, as well as a roof terrace. We went up there and soaked in the view of Tokyo in the breezy, balmy afternoon air.
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
I went to a stunning exhibition the other day at the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum in Shinjuku. It is a small museum, but full of beautiful textiles. This one mostly showed a selection of sarasas as well as wood block prints and tie dye from around the world.
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
There is a lovely shop near where we live in Nakameguro called Green Scape that sells Kokedama. They have been know as the poor man's bonsai, but I think they are a totally different thing and, in a way, have more beauty than a bonsai. It basically consists of a ball of soil covered in moss, with a plant arrangement "growing" out of it. They are like living sculptures and each one is beautifully arranged. Because of the small size of the ball, the plant will typically remain small and the inside of the ball allows the roots to develop. I thought these were temporary pieces as I couldn't imagine the ball being enough sustainment, but it seems that they can last for quite a while and even if the outside moss goes brown, you can replace it with new moss and it rejuvenates. I'm still not sure about my ability to keep something so delicate alive though....
Monday, 6 September 2010
Yesterday we headed up to the International Forum as we had heard that there was an antique fair on. Sadly it wasn't on as there was a jazz festival on instead. It was really nice and we hung out under the trees for a bit and soaked up the atmosphere. We then strolled to Hibya park and had a drink.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
I met up with my gallery group yesterday and we went to an interesting exhibition showing Buddha statues from Nara. Afterwards we all went for shaved ice at a nearby restaurant which is very old and has been there a long time. The shaved ice was fab and I chose green tea and black beans. It looks a bit scarey but was v tasty and great in this hot weather.
Friday, 3 September 2010
While I was taking a photo of the sunflowers, I suddenly realised my nose was a whisker away from this ugly blighter! They make an amazing sound, but aren't so nice to look at. My immediate reaction was to run away as quickly as possible, but I summoned up the courage to take a photo. He was about 2.5 inches long and looked like he could pounce at any point. I know they fly, but I'm pretty sure they don't jump! We've started to see their little dead carcasses lying on the pavement - I guess this is their time to start leaving this world. I'll miss their chatter.....