Wednesday, 31 August 2011


I saw this fetching item in our local supermarket here in Tokyo the other day and am intrigued to know what it's for! It was nestled in with all the summer items - fans, cooler bags etc. I have to say, it's not the first thing I would reach for on a steaming hot summer's day. If anyone could shed some light on this, I would be very grateful.....

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Omotesando Dance-off

On sunday we went to what I can only call a dance-off! It is actually a style of dancing called yosakoi and is a traditional summer dance. It is highly energetic and combines traditional Japanese dance movements with modern music. The choreographed dances are performed in large teams with a "caller" shouting out prompts on a microphone. I have to say, it was pretty spectacular and team after team took their turn to dance the length of Omotesando dori in beautiful costumes in the sweltering heat, without breaking their smiles once.
Everyone was out to view it, including yukata-clad youths (yukatas are cotton kimonos worn in the summer by both men and women).

I love these beautiful traditional hats
A team preparing to dance. Each team consisted of men and women and some even had tiny children joining in.

Most dance teams had a flag waver that followed up the rear. It was quite an amazing sight to see their massive flags being whipped around dramatically.

Friday, 26 August 2011


I have to say, it's taken me a while of being in Japan to embrace the whole noodle thing, but I finally have and yesterday I think I had one of the best dishes yet. It was just a local place, but very busy (always a good sign) and luckily the friend I was with knew what to order, otherwise I would have been lost. It came in a massive steaming bowl and smelt divine as we sucked it down with vigour, enjoying every spicey, meaty mouthful. I have to say, I am still in awe of the volume that some of the slurping gets to in these little restaurants. The tables and chairs are all very close to each other and there's no avoiding the "glorious" sounds that emanate as people suck up the noodles. I have tried to embrace the slurp action, but years of being told it's rude to slurp, makes it pretty impossible for me to do!

I am ashamed to say that Neil and I then went out for dinner last night and chose an Italian restaurant where we had divine spaghetti. It was still being slurped by the locals with the same vigour as with any noodle dish - love it!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

August Morality poster

The subway "morality posters" are still using the animal theme to convey their messages and this cute little chappie is August's pin-up. The sign reads "Please keep the volume low to prevent sound leaking from your earphones".

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Shimoda - White Beach

Last weekend we decided to take off to the beach and headed for White Beach in Shimoda. We took the Shinkansen from Shinagawa and then the scenic train from Atami to Shimoda. As we headed out of the city an almighty rainstorm blew in.
We stayed at the White Beach hotel, a nice little place at the far end of the beach, that served good food in a relaxed setting.
If you didn't feel like lying on the beach, there were nice areas to laze around the hotel.
We were bemused by how small the doors were. On entering, it felt like you were disappearing into munchkin land. To our relief, the room was perfectly normal on the other side, and we had a view of the beach.
There were some nice walks to do along the beach that we did after breakfast and before dinner. The weather wasn't great, but probably a relief for our delicate English skin.....
The area is scattered with rocky outcrops which makes the scenery quite dramatic.
It was wonderful to be by the sea and away from the hustle and bustle (and humidity) of the city. Hopefully we'll head back there soon.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Vending mind reader

We came across this vending machine the other day that reads your mind and decides what you want to drink. We couldn't resist it so gave it a go. You stand in front of the machine and it reads your face and deduces from that what it thinks you want. Neil's was right and gave him a bottle of water. Mine, not so good and offered a fruity option.......

Monday, 15 August 2011

Summer Sonic

On sunday we went to one of the massive music festivals that are held here. I'm afraid I'm not a camper, so we opted for the more urban version that is Summer Sonic. I'm used to hearing stories of mud soaked fields and rancid toilets at most festivals, but this was like nothing else I'd experienced. The whole festival was held in a convention centre! In true Japanese fashion, it was highly organised, and after getting over the shock of watching the bands in a concrete environment, I really enjoyed myself. I always find it amazing how you can see so many bands, from so many different genres under one roof. We went from pop (Two Door Cinema Club and Friendly Fires) to hip hop (House of Pain) to funk (Bootsy Collins) to Britpop (Suede), with a bit of Johnny Rotten thrown in - now looking a tad older, but still gave an amazing performance.
We popped our heads into the main stadium to watch "X Japan", one of the biggest bands here. I'm embarrassed to say I've never heard of them but it was intriguing seeing them play and watching the crowd get into them. Apparently they were quite hard core when they first started, but now they look like a big hair band from the 1980s....
Bootsy Collins gave a great performance on the beach, with the waves crashing on the shore.
A rather amazing sunset on the beach.
Johnny Rotten, still going strong.


On saturday we found ourselves becoming fans of the Hiroshima Carps. Our friends had two free tickets to a baseball game at the awesome Tokyo Dome and had invited us along to partake. The chance of watching some baseball in an air conditioned space whilst troughing hotdogs and quaffing beer was just too tempting to pass up, so we trotted off to meet them there. What we didn't realise was that we were going to be in the away team section and suddenly found ourselves supporting the Hiroshima Carps rather than the Tokyo Giants. I have to say, it was a lot of fun. There were special songs/chants for each of the players and they's brought along trumpeters, drummers, flag wavers and even a coach to help them chant! Sadly the carps lost, but the fans remained upbeat to the end.
The Tokyo dome is quite an awesome building although, considering the recent cut down on power outage here, not sure how pc it is....
Being a Hiroshima carps fan is a serious business

We love the beer girls that come around selling beer from a back pack with a hose attached, and a wad of notes in their hands.

Foodie delights

There are always some weird and wonderful foods to try here in Japan and our friend Tatsuya is very happy to introduce us to some of them. On friday night he came round for dinner - he and Neil were the guinea pigs to my new vegetarian Indian meal, learnt last week at my cookery class. I think their faces dropped a tad when they realised it was all vegetarian, and also looked way too healthy, but it seemed to go down well. As a dessert, Tatsuya kindly brought along some Japanese "sweets" in beautiful shapes. They are not as sweet as desserts we're used to and the filling in some of them was bean paste....
One looked like a peach, whilst another looked like a carp fish pond with fish swimming around in a jelly. It even had decorative "rocks" made from a bean with gold leaf on top.
On sunday, Tatsuya introduced us to some egg desserts that were much sweeter and rather like creme caramel. They came in an egg carton and were beautifully presented in their shells, with the top cut off to reveal the cream.

Thursday, 11 August 2011


I couldn't resist taking a photo of this bar sign on my way home last night. I'm not sure they should be advertising an unquestionable hangover before you've even gone in there........

Evening swim

Yesterday was a hot one! It was one of those days when you find you are dripping in sweat two minutes after leaving the house and it's difficult to think, let alone walk far. The perfect antidote to that is a dip in a cool pool, so I headed to the Tokyo American Club where they have a pool on the roof. When I got there, the sun was just about to disappear and the sky was a stunning shade of pinks and purples. By the time I left, all the lights were on and Tokyo Tower was standing over us in all its glory.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Hot and spicey!

Today I went to a cookery lesson where I learnt how to cook hot and spicey food. The class was taught by Hema, a Mumbai native who has lived in Tokyo for over 20 years. She taught us in her home and showed us how to make some beautiful Indian vegetarian dishes from northern India. We then we got to sit down and sample them all. Heaven!
The meal!
Sizzling Aloo Vada
Chana Masala
Beuatifully coloured aromatic spices sizzling
Chickpeas - before and after soaking
Just some of the ingredients needed for our feast