28 Feb 2015

Kasajizou

'Kasajizou' is a Japanese folk tale about the event which happened on the New Year's eve to a kindhearted old couple. 'Kasa' means umbrella, but also means a traditional straw hat in old times. And 'Jizou' means a bodhisattva.

I feel we have little opportunity to see bodhisattva along a street, but I saw this lovely bodhisattva in Tokyo. Seemed like he doesn't need a kasa even when there is rain or snow. Every time I see a bodhisattva, I think of the Japanese folk tale 'Kasajizou'.

 
Long time ago, there lived an old couple who made 'kasa' to sell in the town. They wanted to sell them and buy rice cakes for New Year. So the old man headed to the town with carrying five 'kasa'. Shortly after he left home, it started to snow, and it got wilder and wilder. When he came outside the village, he saw six Jizo were lined up along a street, which were worshiped and prayed to by locals. They were covered with deep snow, and the old man couldn't pass them with doing nothing. A kindhearted old man gave them all hats which would been sold at the town market. But he had only five hats, although they were six. So, he took off his own hat, put it for the last jizou and returned home.

His wife got surprised because he came home early but she didn't complain, rather she said 'Poor jizou, you did good thing for them. I don't mind about rice cakes. We have something to eat.' with warm smile.

Late that night, they heard a strange song outside. The voice came closer and closer, and then there was a big thud in front of their door. The couple carefully opened the door. What they saw was a lot of gifts of rice cakes and treats for the New Year in front of the house, and the 6 figures with straw hats were going back in the dark.

27 Feb 2015

Tsukiji

Tsukiji is famous for the site of the fish market. Literally meaning 'reclaimed land' near the Sumida River. It's still unknown territory for me, but I saw old buildings on the back street. That's nice!

25 Feb 2015

LaLaport Toyosu

I went to Lalaport Toyosu, one of the largest shopping malls in Tokyo, located by the waterfront. It reminded me of Westfield Stratford in London. It took about only 15 minutes from the place I stay.


Nice lunch with myself at a bakery cafe. It's OK sometimes, isn't it?


The huge shopping mall usually makes me feel tired. But the ocean-front space is spacious and good for relaxing in sunny days.



The Tokyo Cruise runs from here, and shows you a lot of nice spots along the Sumida river (it said). I haven't tried yet though...

24 Feb 2015

Eating Horse!?

The other day, I walked around Bakurocho. In Chinese characters '馬喰町' literally means 'eating horse'. I thought it's quite interesting and was curious about it. According to websites, this area was home to the horse/cattle traders for the Tokugawa shogunate. People who had responsibility for managing horse/cattle were called 'bakuro' in Japanese. That's why it is called bakuro town. Phew, good, it was not the place horses were eaten...

23 Feb 2015

Ryōgoku

Finally, we moved to Chūō-ku from Chiyoda-ku. And at the first weekend in Chūō-ku , we went to Ryōgoku, where is most famous for sumo stadium: Kokugikan. Our purpose was not sumo, but Edo Tokyo Museum, which is adjacent to the Kokugikan.


It's a museum of the history of Tokyo during the Edo period. The museum building is quite unique, which is modelled after an old storehouse in the Kurazukuri style.

In the museum, a big Kumade welcomed us. Kumade (the bamboo rake) is a good luck symbol, which is decorated with replicas of gold coins, seven gods etc. 


Unfortunately, the permanent exhibitions are closed due to repair works. But we enjoyed the special exhibit 'Explore! Experience! Edo-Tokyo'. After we walked around several areas in Tokyo, it was nice to know about old Tokyo in the Edo period. 

We had a tea at a cafe in the museum. The big mouse had a swiss roll and coffee, and I had warabimochi and hojicha.



There are some spots to visit in Ryogoku. We got a map and visited Nominosukune shrine. It's a shrine which is dedicated to Nomi-no-Sukune, a Japanese legendary sumo wrestler. Different from the image of big wrestler, this shrine is small and lovely.



Also, there is a birthplace of Katsushika Hokusai(1760-1849), a famous Japanese ukiyo-e artist. Nothing really remains, but this information board.


We bought Arare near there; a type of bite-sized Japanese cracker made from glutinous rice. Yummy...



We enjoyed strolling around the Ryogoku area. It was the day of 'Tokyo Marathon 2015'. We witnessed runners.


21 Feb 2015

Strawberry Late

The Big Mouse likes this strawberry late:)
 

18 Feb 2015

Nagomi

I ate a Nagomi-anpan. Anpan is a Japanese sweet roll which is usually filled with red bean paste. Suddenly I was eager to eat anpan. I found this roll, which was called Nagomi-anpan at a bakery. Nagomi means calm and feeling easy. In my opinion, this red bean paste was ranked in the top 3 in my life. This roll gave me peace of mind as its name suggested:)

17 Feb 2015

Yaesu

If you walk around Tokyo, you realise that there are interesting place names, especially around the Imperial Palace. That is because the town was planned and developed by the Tokugawa shogunate. So the names around the Imperial Palace are related to the Edo castle.

The other day, we walked Yaesu area and found this memorial tablet. It was obviously related to Europe, but I didn't think about it at that time. It was the memorial tablet of Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn (or simply Jan Joosten; c.1560-1623), a native of Delft and one of the first Dutchmen in Japan in 1600.


According to Wikipedia, 5 ships departed from Rotterdam for a long journey. He and  other survivors were received by future Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, who questioned them at length on European politics and foreign affairs. He was selected to be one of confidants of the Shogun on foreign and military affairs, and he contributed to the development of relations between the Netherlands and Japan.

The interesting thing is that the place name Yaesu derives it's name from him. Yaesu (current Marunouchi area) was used to be called 'Yayosu Quay' after him. His Japanese name was 'Yayōsu'. It changed into Yaesu with changing of the times. Later, the east side area of Tokyo station was renamed as Yaesu.

Another famous person was William Adams (1564-1620), known in Japanese as Anjin Miura. He was the first Englishman to become a Western Samurai. As with Jan Joosten, he became a key advisor to Tokugawa Ieyasu. But here, it's another story.

Jan Joosten was not allowed to return to the Netherlands. Instead, he was allow to take a Japanese wife. I searched about his Japanese wife, but I couldn't find who she was, even her name. In 1623, he drowned in the South China Sea when his ship sank as he was returning to Japan from Batavia (current Jakarta)...

Perhaps, there may be some information or resources, but their presences were became vague and lost to history. Their experience must had been beyond my wildest imagination. But it's a fascinating that his name remains in our lives. It's a distinct proof of past existence of this Dutchman.

16 Feb 2015

Butasute's Beef Bowl

We went to a beef meat restaurant 'Butasute' in 'KITTE' building next to the Tokyo Station. It's  famous for Sukiyaki, Shabushabu and beef bowl using beef meat. Having a beef bowl on a Valentine's Day sounds not romantic, rather the image of being loud.


Before we entered the restaurant, we visited the viewing deck of the building. You can see the Tokyo Station which had its 100 year anniversary from there. That viewing deck reminded me of the deck of the One New Change building in London, from where we enjoyed seeing St. Paul's.


The interesting thing was the name of restaurant. 'Buta Sute' means literally 'Dumping Pork', specializing in beef dishes. It means beef in the restaurant is greater than pork.
In old time, a swineherd who was named 'Sutekichi' started a butcher shop business. He was nicknamed 'Buta Sute'. And also it is said that customers dumped pork because beef in the shop was so good.

An English menu is also available, it was helpful for the big mouse. I ordered a beef bowl. Once you taste the beef, you can enjoy the tenderness and the freshness of the meat with special sauce. 

They offer Ise branded beef. The quality of the meat is similar to the high class beef; Kobe Matsuzaka beef. That's why the price is a slightly high, but an acceptable and affordable price considering the quality.

15 Feb 2015

Today's Sky


Kiritanpo Nabe

We have a Nabe-culture. Nabe is known as Japanese hot pot cuisine. It's very popular especially during the winter. It makes you feel warm. Many ingredients such as vegetables, fish and meat are put into the clay casserole, which is called donabe. And it place in the centre of the table to cook and share foods with people.

I visited my sister's house after 3 years and had dinner together. It was a Kiritanpo-nabe, which was contained kiritanpo, chicken, and more ingredients. Kiritanpo is a moulded and grilled rice stick. It soak soup and become soft and yummy. It was so nice. Yummy...

12 Feb 2015

Tempura-soba

I went to a local soba restaurant with my family, which is my favourite. This place has a traditional atmosphere, because there are antiques and folk objects. Staff members are very friendly.



I ordered Tempura Soba (Tensoba). Yummy yummy Tempura Soba! A lunch set is also available. I used to have it. It's a reasonable and an i-ADNES recommendation.:) It is said that mochi is nice as well.


★i-ADNES Recommendation★
     Tsutsumian
     1-27-24 Tsutsumi, Asahigaoka, Izumi-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi 981-8004
     022-233-5241

10 Feb 2015

Snow

It's been snowing like crazy across the country, especially to areas along the Sea of Japan. It has been cold, but there is not heavy snow in Sendai.
 

7 Feb 2015

Sendai

I have returned to my home after long absence! That brings me back some memories.
 

6 Feb 2015

Hometown

Now I am in my hometown. The view from the window of  the bullet train was nice. Hometown is always nice:)
 

3 Feb 2015

Yasukuni Shrine & Spacious Cafe

We walked towards a new area for us; Kudanshita. Kudanshita means the 9-steps-bottom. Actually it's on the bottom of the hill and there was the 9 levels hill in Edo period. 

There is Yasukuni Shrine. It is dedicated to the spirits of the soldiers and others (including war criminals) who died in the wars. It's a very controversial shrine, because the Japanese prime minister and Diet cabinet members visit to the shrine. Because I am pacifist, I consider that their visit is to remind us NOT to forget about the past error and pray for peace.

It was the first visit to Yasukuni Shrine. I was surprised that there is a massive metal Torii gate. The Shrine was originally built in 1869. I thought the shrine has an air of dignity, courtesy and respect, I felt that it was not friendly very much. But it was nice to visit.


We moved to Ochanomizu area to have a lunch. Ocha-no-mizu literally means 'tea water, after the nearby Kanda River from which water was extracted to make the shogun's tea during the Edo period. The other day, we came to in front of this cafe, but the big mouse got called to the office on Sunday... It was a nice cafe. We like it very much.