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Xmas Sky Tree

24 Dec

It’s クリスマス・イヴ (Xmas Eve) in Japan now.
My wife and I went to the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest tower, which was illuminated in green for Xmas.

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メリー・クリスマス (Merry Xmas).

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Hanami

24 Mar

Yesterday, we went to 上野公園 (Ueno Park) for 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing). 桜 (Cherry Blossom) season has just begun. Having a picnic under the trees in bloom is a popular pasttime in Japan. Ueno Park is a very popular place for Cherry Blossom Viewing in Tokyo … so it was very crowded yesterday when we went. Here are some photos I took:

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Let me introduce you to…

13 Nov

I have written a number of posts about interesting people. Most of whose stories are related to Japan in some way.
Maybe you haven’t seen many of them…so I decided to put links to all of them on a new page that I titled “Who’s Who?“.

Please check them out and leave comments to let me know what you think.

The new page is here.

Rainy day in Nezu

23 May

It was forecast to rain today but my wife and I decided to go to 根津神社 (Nezu Shrine).

I’ve written posts about this shrine before when we’ve gone there on sunny days and during festivals.

When we left our house the weather was sunny and warm. It was hard to believe that the TV weatherman said it would rain in the afternoon.

At lunchtime the weather was still nice, so we stopped at a convenience store and bought some beer and sandwiches and ate lunch in a park not far from the shrine.

After lunch we headed to 根津神社 (Nezu Shrine) as the sky was turning dark and the temperature began to drop.
It was a good thing that we brought our umbrellas because it began to rain hard as we were leaving the shrine.

Here are the photos that I took:

These turtles were cute…but our turtle is cuter! 😉

I think this bird was a type of 「白鷺」 (Egret).

The torii at the entrance to 根津神社 (Nezu Shrine).

Japanese lamp.

Sign says 「根津神社」 ("Nezu Shrine")

A row of over 150 "torii".

Click here to see my post with a video I took while walking through these.

Mother Nature wants to be sure we haven’t forgotten who’s boss

11 Apr

花見 (“Cherry Blossom Viewing“) is a centuries-old Japanese tradition. Every spring, Japanese people have a picnic with friends and family under the 桜 (Cherry Blossom) trees.

Japanese people have always loved the pink Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), as can be seen in many things in Japan such as haiku poems, ukiyoe (woodblock prints), paintings, Sakura-flavored snacks, tea and 日本酒 (Japanese sake rice-wine).

I wrote a post last year explaining a bit about Japan’s love of 桜 (Sakura flowers) and 花見 (“Cherry-Blossom Viewing”).

Basically, the Sakura are beautiful and fragile and they are in bloom for only a short time before they fall to the ground in a way that looks like beautiful, gentle pink snowfall…it’s called 「桜吹雪」 (“Sakura-fubuki” (Sakura snowfall)).
They symbolize the beauty, fragility and brevity of life itself.

But this year, due to the disaster last month, the Japanese government has asked people to use 自粛 (self-restraint) this “Cherry Blossom Viewing” season.

Does it seem odd to you that the government would ask that of people in Japan?
I have heard that many people from other countries were surprised to learn that the Japanese government would request people to refrain from Cherry Blossom Viewing or at least to do it quietly and reverently this year.

But in Japan we have no problem with such a request. In fact, even if the government hadn’t asked, most people in Japan probably would have done so anyways.
In many cases 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing) leads people to drink excessively and sometimes become a bit loud. But this year, so soon after the huge disaster in the 東北地方 (Tohoku Region) and with so many up there still trying to recover from it, no one is in the mood to celebrate.
Many people are electing to skip Cherry Blossom Viewing this year, and those who are doing it this year are doing so quietly and with more reflection.

Today my wife and I went to a temple with a small lunch to enjoy a quiet 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing).
Here are some photos that I took:

Some junior high school students walking to school. The school year has just begun in Japan.

Can you see the Sakura petals falling in 桜吹雪 ("Sakura snowfall")?

Many Sakura petals on the ground.

Back of 大仏 (Buddah)

Not long after we returned home, our house shook pretty hard from a big aftershock that was a 振動 5 (Level 5 of the Japanese earthquake scale (with goes to “7”))! It was a 振動 6 (level 6 (out of 7)) at it’s epi-center in the Sendai area! It was then that I realized today is the one-month anniversary of the 2011 March 11 Sendai Earthquake!

Mu-sa-shi

18 Mar

On the news today they said that the construction of the 東京スカイツリー (Tokyo Sky Tree) reached a height of 634 meters tall at 1:34PM this afternoon.

That means that they are finished building it upwards because it was designed to stand at 634 meters tall.
This height was decided upon for two reasons…first, it is now the world’s tallest free-standing tower, and also in Japanese “6-3-4” can be pronounced as “Mu-sa-shi” which sounds like 「武蔵の国」 (“Musashi“) which is the old name for the area of Tokyo that the towers stands in.

Even though the Tokyo Sky Tree now stands at it’s full height, there is still construction yet to be completed on the tower which isn’t scheduled to be completed until sometime in 2011 December.

The tower is due to open to the public in the spring of 2012.

Last October, they did a test of the tower’s lighting, so we had a preview of what the Tokyo Sky Tree will look like when it’s illuminated every evening.
It’s quite beautiful.
Click here to see the post I wrote with a few photos of the lighting test and a preview of what it’s expected to look like completed and illuminated.

Japan’s first train station

10 Feb

Outside of the JR新橋駅 (JR Shinbashi train station) in Tokyo there is a steam locomotive.

This is because Shinbashi Station was the first train station in Japan. It was built in 1872 and at that time trains were powered by steam.

The steam locomotive is outside of JR新橋駅 (JR Shinbashi train station) but that’s not where the first station stood. It’s near the same site…but not exactly.

A ukiyoe painting of the first train station in Japan by Hiroshige

In April 2003 a replica of the original Shinbashi Station was built as a monument and also as a small museum of the history of Japan’s rail service.

It’s called 「旧新橋停車場」 (“Former Shinbashi Train Depot”).

We went there last Sunday because the 「旧新橋停車場」 (“Former Shinbashi Train Depot” (or “Old Shinbashi Station”)) is currently exhibiting photos taken of Tokyo decades ago by Koyo Ishibashi.

Click here to read a post that I wrote about that exhibition.

 

「旧新橋停車場」 ("Old Shinbashi Station")

It’s an interesting place to see if you’re in Tokyo. Admission is free and if you go before 2011 March 21 you can see Mr. Ishikawa’s excellent photos there too.

After we left 「旧新橋停車場」 (“Old Shinbashi Station”) we walked around the 新橋 (Shinbashi) area of Tokyo.

Tokyo utilizes all space available...restaurants and shops can often be found under train overpasses. This one has a street sign telling cars that the clearance of this narrow road is 2.1 meters

More restaurants under the train overpass

I've never eaten at the "Budweiser Carnaval", but supposedly the waitresses there wear tight "Budweiser" mini-dresses.