30 Apr 2016

St. Paul Cathedral

My memory of London from my first visit and current images of London are huge different. The roads were full of more black and red. I mean old-typed Double Deckers and no-advertisement black taxis were on roads. Almost 10 years later, when I came back to London, London had dramatically changed as with other metropolises. There were more modern buildings such as the Gherkin. Still now, constructions are undertaken everywhere.
  

I climbed up to the golden gallery of St. Paul Cathedral after over 20 years. This is the place where I realised I am scared of heights. It's 85 metres from the Cathedral floor and there are 528 steps up. But the view from the top was magnificent. I can't remember clearly what the view was like 20 years ago, but at least there weren't the Shard, London Eye and Millennium Bridge etc.


I don't remember if I paid for entrance fee, but I paid a few pounds for go up to the galleries. But now you need to pay £18 to enter the cathedral. Also you are not allowed to take photos inside now. It was ok about 20 years ago. I have some photos of inside, but I left them in Japan. They were not so clear because there weren't digital cameras like today.

Every time I see the mosaic ceiling of the cathedral, I think it's stunning, so beautiful. This time, I joined in a free guided tour (90 mins). I've already visited St. Paul Cathedral a few times, but I had some new discoveries from the guide's story and a lot of things to learn. It was really nice to come back there.


25 Apr 2016

Today's Sky


Layer Marney Tower

I visited Layer Marney Tower with my friend. It's Britain's tallest Tudor Gatehouse, where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I visited in the past. The best part of this building is the view from the tower. It has 99 steps to the top with eight floors.


The view from the top was magnificent. I could see a part of huge Abberton Reservoir in a distance. I wonder what people in old times thought by climbing the tower and watching this view?


23 Apr 2016

Spring Has Arrived

Bluebells are bell-like vibrant blue-purple flowers with up-rolled tips. It is known they are a sure sign that spring has arrived in the UK. I knew about it, but I hadn't had an opportunity to go to see until this year. It's said there are two types of bluebell found in the UK, native and Spanish bluebells. They were so beautiful.


Perception Gap

Not only the case of the earthquakes, but always there is perception gap between victims and others. Nobody can help it. The victims, people who lost family or house in Kumamoto, have a bigger problem. Now I can understand that they have a despairing nameless sense of loss, fear and anxiety because I was in the same situation. In utter confusion, they struggle to stay alive, to get tomorrow's food and water for family and others.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Japanese social ethics and their manner in dealing with queueing to receive food and water supply were on the news in other countries. That news made us proud. But on the other hand, it was true that there were problems swirling around as well, such as thieves, abuse on the internet, attacking against 'unscrupulous behaviour' or 'inconsiderate behaviour' more than usual... It seems like such cover-up problems have escalated. People become more nervous and sensitive about everything and feel pressures from others. I feel it's an abnormal situation. For example, Japanese celebrities, whenever they give a donation to Kumamoto, or make a comment on it, or whatever they do, they become a target to be beat up as hypocrite, in some of the thoughtless public opinion. Since when did Japan become such a crazy country? With my deepest condolence to the victims.

17 Apr 2016

Kumamon

I probably mentioned this before, we have an age-old phrase describing four scary disasters 'Earthquake, thunder, fire and father'. The last word is uncertain, but unlike nowadays, 'father' had an air of dignity. And it may have another possible origin of typhoon. A likely explanation is that old Japanese ooyamaji (typhoon) changed into the word oyaji (father) because it sounds similar. In fact, earthquake has been the most scary disaster for Japanese people.

The hometown of Kumamon (http://kumamon-official.jp/; a very popular local mascot character of Kumamoto prefecture) was struck by the powerful earthquakes. And Ecuador as well... Every time I see many damages and people's face filling with sorrow, I feel a lump in my throat... I feel helpless against natural threats.

16 Apr 2016

Essex Way

The other day, I walked a part of the Essex Way with my friend. Different from Cotswolds and Lake District, Essex is not a popular destination for Japanese tourists,  but there are a lot of beautiful places.


One and half months ago, I walked partly the same path, but I was surprised because many plants have grown so quickly.



It's a relatively easy way because the path is maintained. But one should avoid complacency. We were too busy chatting, we wandered from the right path... It often happens! Chatting, taking photos and having breaks, we are always have a freewheeling and slow walk.



13 Apr 2016

Flower Arrangements

My aunt is a teacher of flower arrangement. I haven't seen her for a while, but she has been busy travelling around Japan. This is her arrangement. It's so beautiful. My mother also has a license to teach flower arrangements, but has never taught anyone. She has just been satisfied with decorating a house beautifully. My sister used to learn flower arrangements as well, but me, I don't have any beauty sense of flowers like them.


12 Apr 2016

The Season Of Acute Alcoholic Intoxication

Cherry blossom season has arrived in my hometown. My mother sent me a picture. As you can see, it's very common to have a picnic/party under the cherry blossom trees, but also ′dumplings rather than flowers' is a well-known saying. That means eating and drinking are the first and enjoying view comes next. Many people like alcohol-fueled debauchery under the pink-spring scene! This party sometimes plays a role meeting new people or building communication links, because this season usually comes after joining a new company or school. Every year, some people are taken to the hospital or a few go into death, because of acute alcoholic intoxication... This year, at least in Tokyo, 104 people were sent to the hospital. It's so crazy...

Sky


10 Apr 2016

Black Birds

I couldn't find a nice place to hung a bird feeder in our garden, and I just left it on the edge of the gazebo. Many black birds started to visit there and peck food every day.
 

Make Hair Accessories

I found a nice hair elastic with pottery biscuit at a department store in Tokyo, but it was expensive. So I made it! After I came back to the UK, I found ideal buttons and bought them (3 set) at a sale.
 
 
As you can see, I just passed an elastic band into the button holes and tied the edge. It's very simple, but unique and lovely, isn't it?


6 Apr 2016

Today's Sky


A Secret Box

I've owned this wooden box since I was a child. I still don't know who it belonged to or how I got it. Perhaps it was my grandfather's. I don't know. When I became aware of it, it was already old in my toy box. Actually it was so mysterious because I had no idea how long it had existed and slept in the toy box. One day, I notices it, I got hooked to open it, as if it was like a treasure box in a fairy tale. Without an explanatory leaflet nor key, it was difficult to open for a kid.


I figured out later that it is called a 'Yosegi puzzle box', which is a traditional Japanese parquetry. Looks so beautiful, doesn't it? The puzzle box was originated from Edo Period (around 1830) and this type of boxes was designed and created by a craftsman in Hakone, Japan in 1893.

To open a box, you need to slid pieces of its surface in a correct order. Sizes and number of moves to open are varied. Unfortunately, it was empty inside, but I was so excited when I opened it.

If you are interested in this box, you can see;

1 Apr 2016

Today's Sky

Today's cloud looks like cat's paw. Meow...:)


Blackwater Rail Trail 3

Once we walked the Blackwater Rail Trail from Witham to Maldon, which used to be a railway. But we got a wrong path in the golf course and got lost. We made a course correction at some point, consequently we missed to see one of the big features of this walking course, the wooden bridge. What idiots...

The other day, I walked Wickham Bishops with my friend. Luckily and accidentally I came across this wooden bridge. The path along the river around this area was narrow, muddy and slippy. You had better to be aware of your steps when you walk after the rain. 




I passed the Wickham Place, which was once had a mill attached to it. There are still sluice gates.


I always feel regret that the railway service between Witham and Maldon has closed. When I was born, it didn't exist anymore. But I'm very happy that I could see the area we skipped before.

April

Most of Japanese calendars' April has a cherry blossoms' image. My mother said that there was an official announcement that the cherry trees start to bloom in Sendai, which is a week earlier than usual. It will be in full bloom around 10th April there. Yes, I remember that, because we travelled to Sendai from Tokyo last year on this day. Times pass by like a flash.