30 Mar 2015

The Best Aspect of Japan

If I was asked about the best aspect of Japan, I would say 'seasons'. It's not only because the four seasons are very distinct, but Japan provides service appropriate to seasons. Since ancient times, Japanese people have valued symbiosis with nature, and been aware of the different seasons. Spring, summer, autumn and winter. Through a year, we have appreciated natural blessings and found pleasure in the transient nature. That's why Japanese people eat seasonally. That's why each traditional Japanese colour has a name from nature. That's why there are seasonal Japanese-style confectioneries.

In this season, Japan is covered with pink cherry blossoms. I bought a representative spring confectionery; Sakura-mochi at a local and historical Japanese-style confection store. Sakuramochi is a rice cake filled with sweet azuki bean paste wrapped in a pickled cherry leaf.

Every month or season, you can find a different Japanese sweets at a shop. I prefer Japanese-style confection rather than cake with whipped cream. They are always a feast for the eyes and the stomach.

29 Mar 2015

Hiroshige

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) was a famous Japanese ukiyo-e artist. His series 'The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido', 'The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Kaido' and 'One Hundred Famous Views of Edo' are best known. Not only Hokusai, but also Western artists such as van Gogh and Monet are influenced his compositions.

The other day, I was watching on TV about his art. The interesting thing was one of 'One Hundred Famous Views of Edo', Fukagawa Susaki and Jumantsubo. Because it was described as a bird's-eye view in 1857. It's one of my favourites, but I'd never thought about this composition deeply. It was an impossible technique at that time, because there was no airplane. How could he know the view from the sky?

source; wikipedia

The bird is looking down at the tub on the water. TV presenter said that this was depicted after the 1855 Edo earthquake (aka the Great Ansei Earthquake). It caused considerable damage in Edo (now Tokyo) with shaking and fires, with a death toll of about 7,000 people. And the tub could be a coffin of a victim.

He should had seen damage and people's suffering. The earthquake effected Hiroshige's feelings toward arts, and he left behind a lot of landscapes' artworks after that. When I knew the background of this art, I evoked a double image of the 2011 great earthquake. This art may be having a message of yearning for peace. I thought the bird is watching over our lives.

Sakura 3


28 Mar 2015

2k540

The other day, I went to the place which had been on my mind. That is '2k540 Aki-Oka Artisan'. It's a sort of shopping mall of craftsmen, includings small galleries, studios, cafes, shops and so on. It's located underneath the elevated railway tracks in Okachi-machi between Ueno and Akihabara, Tokyo. If you are a craft lover, or want to get Japanese high quality products, I am sure you will not to be disappointed. 

I popped in one of the shops, Kiriyatanaka, which deals in merchandise of Paulownia wood products, mainly funitures. Ah, I wanted to get their cutting board...  

27 Mar 2015

Sakura 2

 It's a warm spring day. It makes people excited:)

 

26 Mar 2015

Spring's Temptation

The temperature in Tokyo has been up and down. I am at a loss as to what to wear every day. Most of my clothes in my luggage are for winter, and I don't have many things to get bugged about though...


I decided on a birthday present for my sister. It's a spring stole. I also bought the same stole in a different colour for me, because they are my cup of tea very much. Hahaha... I need to keep a tight hold of the purse strings.

24 Mar 2015

Sakura

The Japan Meteorological Agency announced on 23 March that cherry blossom in Tokyo has started to bloom. In the case of Tokyo, this announcement is issued when the benchmark cherry blossom tree in Yasukuni shrine has 5-6 blooming flowers. 

Most Japanese people herald this glimpse of spring. Ueno station was a party with pink sakura (cherry blossoms) decorations.


The trees are not in full bloom yet, but many people were carried away by the fine April weather.


In this season, all generations look up trees and take pictures.


I look forward to seeing full bloom cherry blossoms this weekend:)


23 Mar 2015

Kiyosumi Gardens

We visited Kiyosumi Garden. It's a traditional Japanese garden located in Fukagawa, Tokyo. It's peaceful and one of the oases in Tokyo. The admission fee was only 150 yen per (adult) person, but I think it was of considerable value.


Some cherry blossoms are starting to bloom in Tokyo. I am happy to be here, in Tokyo during a beautiful cherry blossoms' season.



Now that you look closer, you can see a crane and a turtle on stone. The crane was staring carefully at something in the pond, and hunting down its prey patiently.



There are some beautiful gardens in Tokyo, but it was the first time to visit a garden.


A few gardeners were trimming pine trees, and volunteer guides were explaining to visitors about trees and stones in the garden.




It was interesting to cross monolithic stone bridge and to walk on stone steps in the pond, and also to explore around the garden watching nature, birds, fishes and turtles. We also heard a singing of the Japanese bush warbler (Horornis diphone). It is said that it's a messenger to tell of the arrival of spring in Japan. It was a nice weekend.

21 Mar 2015

Hasty Shopping

A new year came. Girls' Day finished. What's next? Christmas is still a long way off, but when I popped in a wooden dolls' shop in Ginza, I suddenly fell in love with this calabash Santa Claus, which was made in Peru. There were a lot of lovely wooden items in the shop, including matrioshka. They were colourful and the shop was like a dreamland. Definitely, it will hang on our Christmas tree this year!


i-ADNES Recommendation

19 Mar 2015

Fragrance

My friend gave me AUX PARADIS' hand cream. AUX PARADIS is a Japanese brand of fragrance. Designs are a French style, and their products' fragrance are based on rose, citron, fleur and savon. It smells good:) Thank you!
 

17 Mar 2015

Tsukiji Hongwanji

We passed Tsukiji Hongwanji. It's a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temple. Originally, the temple was located in Asakusa in 1617. After it was burned down by the Great Fire of 1657, it was moved to today's Tsukiji, because the shogunate didn't allow to rebuilding at the original site due to a prior project there. The present temple was built between 1931 and 1934, and this unique design was influenced by old temples in India.

When we passed there, a event was held. Mmm... there was a yellow and green creature... It seemed vaguely familiar something... Have I seen it before or not...? I was not sure... A local mascot,so called 'Yuru-kyara' (unsophisticated character) is popular in Japan, which is usually promoting a region, event and so on.

I checked the website of Tsukiji Hongwanji. It said that a creature is called 'Karuran', it's their local mascot.

16 Mar 2015

Sumida River

Metropolis and civilization in the world had developed near the river. The Sumida River is a river which flows through Tokyo, Japan.


It reminded me of a little bit of the River Thames in London.

15 Mar 2015

Tombodama

I got these. What are they? These are Tombodama and a hair stick. Tombodama are Japanese glass beads.


From thousands of unique beads, you can choose your favourite colours and designs. So many choices. I selected two, a orange round bead and a green rectangular bead. They are so lovely.


Ta-dah! Only take a screw type cap out, and insert a bead. The small ring is an adjuster, because each size of handmade bead is slightly different. Then you can make a completely unique hair stick. You can change a bead in accordance with your mood or fashion. Shop staff advised me that it's better to use manicure on the screw cap, so that it would not to come off (but it's removable).


Easy and quick Tombodama hair stick. If you have a time, you can create your own Tombodama at a shop as well. It's not a new style, but I think it's useful and lovely because my hair is getting long. I am really satisfied with these.


★i-ADNES Recommendation★

Kinari
2-14-3 Yanagibashi, Daito-ku, Tokyo 111-0052
tel.03-5822-2518
Open;10:00-19:00(Sat, Sun, Holidy; 10:00-17:00)
a couple mins from the east exit of the JR Sobu-line or A6 exit of the Asakusa-line, Asakusabashi station

14 Mar 2015

Nihonbashi-Ningyocho

Have you ever heard "Yoshiwara" or "Yukaku"? It was a red-light district in Edo (currently Tokyo). Tokugawa Hidetada of the Tokugawa shogunate restricted prostitution to designated city districts; Shimabara for Kyoto, Shinmachi for Osaka, and Yoshiwara for Edo. I've known about Yoshiwara, but I didn't know where exactly it was. It was in Nihonbashi-ningyocho. Once the old Yoshiwara district burned down in the fire of 1657, and it was rebuilt in the new location near Asakusa.

I strolled around Nihonbashi-ningyocho. It's an interesting area.



I bought a small package of Ningyo-yaki. Ningyo-yaki is a small snack cake in many shapes. It was named after its origin, the Nihonbashi-ningyocho area. I bought shapes of shichifuujin (seven gods of good luck), which are traditional shapes. This snack is a popular Tokyo souvenir.


I also popped in a local tofu shop. If I was a tourist, it's unlikely I would buy it, but I thought it would be nice for a dinner. It's a unique tofu, which was in a real bamboo cylinder. It was rich taste and so nice.

13 Mar 2015

Kamakura

We took a day trip to Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, which is located south-south-west of Tokyo. It's not a big city, but a historically important place. It was a former de facto capital of Japan as the seat of the Shogunate and of the Regency duinrg Kamakura Period (1185-1333). And now it's one of the popular sightseeing destinations.

There are many historically significant Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Kamakura. Most famous of all are, I think, Tsurugaoka Hachimangū (Shinto shrine) and the Great Buddha. Now, there are a lot of shops, cafes and restaurants around there.

Unfortunately it was a rainy day, but it was busy with people as usual as a tourist site. I think it was the third time to visit there. We walked through a shopping street, headed to Tsurugaoka Hachimangū first.


This shrine never gets old. It has great dignity.



A Japanese wedding ceremony was held there. They were an international couple like us. It reminded me of our simple wedding, which finished in about '10 minutes'. Luckly we could listen to rare Shinto live music.





There was a huge 800-1,000-year-old ginkgo tree as a symbol of Tsurugaoka Hachimangū. But it fell down by strong wind on 10 March, 2010. I had completely forgotten about this news, but this foot of a tree was trigger recall.



After we browsed some shops and had a break at a cafe, we went to see the Great Buddha by bus.

Gee, a giant Buddha and a giant sandals... Do you know that you can get inside the Buddha by paying 20 yen? Nothing really inside though...








On a way back to the station, we walked around and enjoyed window shopping. There are a lot of high spots in Kamakura, but we enjoyed our day trip.