Saturday, 30 April 2011
Well, we even got caught up in the Royal Wedding fever over here in Japan and last night a group of us met at a friend's place to drink tea and watch the event on BBC World, followed by champagne and English chocolate. It was a lot of fun seeing it from afar and watching the day's events unfold. The weather amazingly held out, even though rain was forecast, and I think we all agreed that Kate's dress was rather lovely!
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Yesterday my friend Jane took me to a lovely little kimono store in the middle of nowhere. From outside, it looked like nothing and I would have walked straight past it. Inside, it was a treasure trove of beautiful fabrics and kimonos of all hues and colours and absolute heaven for any fabric junkie. When we got there, the shop owner beckoned us over to the the corner of the shop and asked us to contribute to a quilt they were making to send to the earthquake disaster victims. We each had to sew 5 squares of silk together which would then be added to this beautiful quilt. Even though it was a small gesture, it was really lovely to be involved with something like that. Needless to say, I also came home with a bag of gorgeous fabrics to play with...
Monday, 25 April 2011
Yesterday we went to Kichijoji, a lovely suburb of Tokyo and only a 20 minute train ride out of Shibuya. Saturday had been a horrendously wet and windy day, but sunday couldn't have been more different. The sun was shining and the sky was blue and everyone emerged to enjoy the day. We ended up in Kichijoji park, which really is lovely. There were people busking, boaters on the lake and everyone was soaking up the wonderful atmosphere.
Sunday, 24 April 2011
It was a really horrid wet and windy day yesterday, and perfect for scoffing okonomiyaki - a savoury Japanese pancake containing a number of ingredients, that is grilled on a hot plate. You can sit at the bar and watch the chefs make them, or sit at a table with your own hotplate and the pancake is brought to you here it sizzles away until it's scoffed! We went with our friend Tatsuya who recommended it, and then on to Krispy Kreme to wash it down with heavily frosted doughnuts.........
Every month I take a photo of the morality posters that are posted up around the subway stops in Tokyo, warning passengers to be considerate of others around them. I grew quite fond of the gooly-eyed people that were used to demonstrate each no-no and I am actually very sad to say that they have been binned! In it's place is this rather smug puss who's taking up more than his fare share of room on the seat.
This guy has obviously not taken heed of the warning!
Thursday, 21 April 2011
I often feel like a giant in the land of small people here in Toyko - hitting my head on low-slung doorways and squeezing myself into tiny train seats. Yesterday was no exception. I had lunch with my friend Suzy at a lovely little local restaurant run by some very friendly Japanese ladies. After squeezing my long, hefty legs under a stupidly small table, we ordered a coffee each and we were brought these doll-sized jugs of milk. I couldn't resist taking a photo of them.
Monday, 18 April 2011
There's a great vintage clothing store near where we live in Daikanyama which has been interestingly styled using old wood and quirky American iconic images, an old boot has become a flower pot and tin cans made into windmills. They have always had a bandana-clad lizard chained up outside the store. I have to admit, when I first saw it, I thought it was alive - it's not! They have now added a family of critters made ingeniously from found objects. I love the turtle with his toenails, bandana and stereo-sound shell.
It was Neil's birthday yesterday and a perfect day to head out and about round Tokyo, soaking up the sunshine and blue sky. I decided to take him for lunch at Petit Tonneau, a French restaurant in Azabu Juban that had been recommended by a friend of mine. It was the perfect choice and felt like a little corner of Paris. We sat upstairs and overlooked a little tree-lined square where we could watch the world go by. The food was scrumptious, as was the wine, which was adapted depending on what we had chosen to eat. We then walked it off by wandering through the back streets and home for a cup of tea!
Thursday, 14 April 2011
The Japanese have many festivals. They have one for boys and one for girls and the boy's festival is celebrated on the 5th of May. Families pray for the health and future success of their sons by hanging up carp streamers and displaying samurai dolls. These both symbolise strength, power and success in life and you can see many of them around at the mo. The Tokyo American Club has some stunning carp streamers hanging up and the shops are full of samurai dolls.
Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Tremors/quakes seem to be quite a regular part of our lives now and we are trying to deal with it as calmly as possible. Last thursday a big one hit at about 11.30pm (I was reading in bed and felt like I was on a boat) and since then we have had a few more. There was a biggish one yesterday at about 5pm. I was home alone and saw the book shelves rocking from side to side. I was just about to jump under the table when it stopped. We felt another biggish one this morning, and I was on the subway earlier when the train ground to a halt as the ground was shaking - it wasn't a big one, but I didn't like the idea of being underground when it happened......
Someone was telling me today that there have recently been, on average, about 45 tremors a day! Luckily, we don't feel most of these, but it would explain why I constantly feel like I'm on a boat, or have just got off a boat and am still rocking, if you get my meaning.
On sunday we decided to head to Shinjuku park, one of the most popular places to view blossom on the most popular day of the year. We prepared ourselves for mayhem, but still weren't quite prepared for the sheer volume of people all heading to the park to see the blossom and have a picnic. There were traffic police controlling the flow of people and once you got to the park, it was v hard to find a space to lay our rug. Having said that, there was a jolly atmosphere and people were enjoying themselves after a rather stressful month for everyone.
On saturday evening we went on a fab boat trip up the Sumida river, organised by the St Andrew's Society. It was a jolly time bobbing along, drinking whiskey and ginger ale whilst scoffing scrumptiously fresh sushi and crispy tempura. We moored up near Asakusa where the blossom was stunning and the backdrop was the awesome Sky Tree - a new tower to rival Tokyo Tower, quite stunning, but not somewhere I'd necessarily want to be during an earthquake......
Anyway, we were serenaded by a Japanese bagpipe player, and then headed back to port singing karaoke at the tops of our voices. I sang my fave - Mamma Mia. We must have been quite a sight charging up the river - there were a few kilt-wearers too!
All the boats were long and low in the water and decorated with these lovely orange lanterns.
The fresh sashimi was brought to us in a little wooden boat and was washed down with whiskey and ginger ale, my favourite new tipple....
The bagpiper had to kneel down so that his pipes didn't hit the roof of the boat.
It was obviously a popular night to be cruising up the river and I loved the lights from all the boats. Many of them pulled up next to us so that they could hear the dulcet tones of the bagpipes.
The Sky Tree looked quite eery as it disappeared into the low clouds.
The ladies belting out Mamma Mia.
Junko getting int the spirit of a Japanese song.
Thursday, 7 April 2011
I am shamelessly going to post a random selection of blossom shots taken over the last few days. It's at its height at the mo and looking stunning. All long the Meguro river, near where we live, the trees are alive with blooms and it almost looks like heavy snow covering the trees. This morning I did my morning trot down to the station to see Neil off to work - I'm a good wifey! We walk along the river to get to the station and many people were heading off to work too, but most people can't walk by without stopping to take it in as it really is stunning. I couldn't resist taking a photo of a line-up of men with their cameras out, waiting to get that perfect shot.
Monday, 4 April 2011
I realised it's been a while since I've put a cute dog on my blog. I saw this perky little chappie yesterday, donning his best neckerchief and looking very proud of himself as he trotted along the street. He was out with his owners who were collecting rubbish along the Meguro river. You often see locals happily volunteering to go out and collect rubbish to help keep their local areas clean.
Sunday, 3 April 2011
Yesterday was a beautifully balmy day where the sun was shining, the air was warm and there was no need to wear a jacket. The blossom along the Meguro river, near where we live, was starting to bloom and everyone was out enjoying the gorgeous day. Today however, we woke up to grey skies and freezing weather! Very confusing.
I decided to head up to the International Forum to forage around a monthly outdoor antique fair that is held there. The International Forum is a spectacular building that looks like a humungous, space-age ship that has decided to dock in the centre of Tokyo. There was a lovely juxtaposition of this awesome new, glass building, surrounded by little stalls selling ancient artefacts from the past of Japan as well as some European finds. This is so typical of Tokyo where old is constantly butting up against the new. Many of the stalls were beautifully presented, some in the typical simple Japanese aesthetic, others in a melange of colour and mish mash. The atmosphere was calm and relaxed and it was a lovely (albeit freezing) way to spend a few hours in Tokyo.