Tuesday, 29 May 2012
On sunday we ventured out in the sun to Ueno area to go and see one of my favourite summer events in Tokyo. Each neighbourhood has a day where a procession of locals join in in carrying around portable shrines and blessing local buildings. They happen all through the summer and are lively events where people get to be involved with their neighbourhood as well as have some fun.
Saturday, 26 May 2012
Last night I went to a wonderful event held by Asia Initiatives. This is a non-profit organisation that supports projects of poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and environmental preservation in South Asia. We were given a talk by two amazing speakers who are involved with the cause, and learnt that something as simple as having bikes donated to enable them to get to school, or desks for school children to sit at, can make a major difference. On top of this, Asia Initiatives funds micro-credit banks to provide interest-free loans to groups of entrepreneurs, as well as providing used computers for education.
To find out more or donate money, please got to their website here.
Wednesday, 23 May 2012
The other day I ventured out into the rain to go and see a wonderful exhibition held at the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum in Maranouchi. It was an exhibition that focused on the influence of Japanese katagami (paper stencils used for dyeing fabric) on Western art of the late 19th century.
It was wonderful to see the traditional stencils in the flesh, so laboriously cut out in beautifully intricate patterns, yet also to see the western fabrics influenced by these designs. Companies such as William Morris and Liberty took the traditional designs and incorporated them into a western aesthetic to create something new. There were some amazingly preserved pieces, including wallpaper, fabric and carpet designs, as well as pottery and home wares.
You can learn more on the website here.
Sunday, 20 May 2012
My friend Tony recently told me about a short film by Philip Bloom and I wanted to share it. It's a beautifully evocative piece, showing every day life in Tokyo with vivid colour and an atmospheric soundtrack by Air. Some of the film is sped up, some is slowed down, merging different areas of the city to create a beautifully moody piece.
You can check it out here.
Since I've been back, the weather has been gorgeous here, and so on saturday we decided to head out of Tokyo and go for a hike. We ended up at the end of the Chuo line in Okutama, about 70 miles out of Tokyo. It was a stunning walk, gently uphill and surrounded by luscious foliage and a scattering of waterfalls! It's a perfect time of year as all the leaves are vibrantly new and green and a wonderful way to spend the day.
Saturday, 19 May 2012
Last night we went to a Manic Street Preachers concert. They've been around for a long time and I wasn't sure what to expect, but they were fab! They did an hour and a half of full on rock and did an amazing show which included many songs I'd never heard of before! They also came across as a really nice bunch of Welsh lads.
Thursday, 17 May 2012
Last night I had another random Tokyo experience. I went to 'Fantasy Dining', an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant in Ginza. It was fully kitted out with playing card tables, Alice-clothed waitresses and teacups hanging from the ceiling. We were mightily impressed when we were taken to our table which was inside a massive teacup - how fab!
Waiting to be seated in the 'swathed' waiting area.
The menu was brought to us in a mini Alice-inspired diorama.
The waitresses wore mini Alice dresses and had clock-shaped bags.
A rather disconcerting chicken dish dressed like the March hare.....
The tables were made out of massive playing cards.
Playing cards also decorated the ceiling.
Each table had a little bell to summon the waitress.
One of the private rooms had an array of teapots and teacups suspended from the ceiling.
Our own private teacup booth!
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
Yesterday we decided to celebrate Bob and Tom's first birthday. We'd been told by ARK, the rescue shelter that we got them from, that they were born in May last year, so the 15th felt as good a day as any! I bought them a random array of prezzies - cat nip for the pleasure element, glasses and a necklace for the novetly element, and a remote control car as a present. I'm not sure what they thought of the car, but Neil and I had a lot of fun playing with it!
Bob refused to lower himself to wearing the novelty glasses.......
Tom reluctantly wore the "Happy Birthday" necklace before trying to bite it off....
There was much bemusement regarding the remote control car.
Monday, 14 May 2012
Well, I am now safely back in Tokyo and the weather is gorgeous! When I left in mid April, the blossom was still in full force along the Meguro river. The blossom has now been replaced by luscious leafy trees that create shade from the sun.
Needless to say, I was very excited to see Bob and Tom again, as well as Neil of course! Today they had their first taste of the big wide world....well, out on our balcony actually.