Tag Archives: 上野

Summer Festivals

29 Aug

Earlier this month, I participated in one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals.
(Click here to read that post.)

There are many great festivals all year round…but especially so in the summer.
(Click here to see a list I made of some of Tokyo’s best festivals.)

I like Japan’s festivals a lot…and I go to many of them.

In early August, my family and I went to watch a summer 花火大会 (fireworks show) near our house that we usually go to every year.
The 花火大会 (fireworks shows) in Japan are excellent! If you have a chance, you should see one!
(Here is a list of some of Tokyo’s biggest fireworks shows.)

It’s not easy to photograph fireworks with the camera I have…but here are a few that I took:

花火 (“hanabi”)…literally “flower (of) fire”, is the Japanese word for “fireworks”.

We also went to a festival at a temple not far from the Tokyo Sky Tree.

After that, we went to 上野公園 (Ueno Park):

(Click here to see some other photos I took in Ueno a couple of years ago.)

If you have any questions about festivals in Tokyo, things to do in this city, or whatever…feel free to contact me.

Mr. Panda Postman

1 Aug

To celebrate the new pandas that came to 上野動物園 (Ueno Zoo) in Tokyo last February, the design of the public mailbox just outside the zoo has been changed to resemble a panda starting today.

The mailbox even has "panda ears" and a "panda tail".

To publicize the new 「パンダポスト」 (panda mailbox), the zoo had a ceremony with children from a nearby 幼稚園 (pre-school) drop postcards into the mailbox after which a “panda postman” came to collect the cards.

The "Panda Postman".

Many Tokyo TV stations had news crews there to film the ceremony.
Here is Tokyo Broadcasting Station (TBS)‘s news report about the 「パンダポスト」 (Panda mailbox):

You can see the kids from the pre-school putting their postcards into the mailbox. But, as is Japanese manners, the first child says 「パンダポストマンさんよろしくお願いします!」…which isn’t easy to translate into English, but it’s close to “Thank you, Mr. Panda Postman!“.

All mail deposited into this “panda mailbox” will be delivered with a special panda postal cancellation mark over the stamp.

The zoo is hoping that many people will make a special trip to mail letters from this mailbox…and then visit the zoo.
It is now summer vacation in Japan. Many people, especially families and couples, like to visit places such as amusement parks and zoos during this time. And also, many people in Japan send 「かもメール」 (summer postcards) to friends and relatives…and I’m sure many people will use the panda mailbox to send them from now.

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.

World’s oldest orangutan died in Tokyo

1 May

In 1955, 上野動物園 (Ueno Zoo) in Tokyo was given a three-year-old オランウータン (orangutan) named 「モリー」 (“Molly“).

We first saw her at that zoo in the ’90s, when Molly was in her forties. For an orangutan, that age is already elderly.
By the time we first saw Molly she had gone blind in her left eye and she had to use her hand to hold her right eye open in order to see.

My family and I really liked Molly and we visited her every time that we went to the zoo.

But then in 2005 when we went to Ueno Zoo, we were sad to find that Molly‘s cage was empty. As Molly was quite old for an orangutan at that point, we suspected the worst and thought that she had passed away…until we noticed a sign that said Molly had been transferred to 「多摩動物公園」 (“Tama Zoo”).

Tama Zoo is also in Tokyo but it’s in rural western Tokyo where there’s more room, so Tama Zoo is much larger that metropolitan Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo.

We hadn’t been to Tama Zoo for awhile and we like that zoo a lot. So during 2005’s Golden Week (which, coincidentally, is the week-long holiday period in Japan that happens to started two days ago) we went to Tama Zoo and saw Molly looking happy in the zoo’s large orangutan enclosure.

Well, it was announced in the news that Molly, who was the world’s oldest orangutan, died yesterday (2011 March 30) from old age (she was 59 years and 4 months old).

Rest in peace, Molly.

Here are some photos that I took of her at Tama Zoo in May 2005:

A visitor to my site named Jean Adams emailed me this wonderful picture of Molly that she drew after seeing a photo of Molly in her local newspaper in England:

Since Molly has passed away, now the current oldest orangutan in the world is now a 57 year old female named “Gypsy” who also lives at Tama Zoo in Tokyo.
She likes to look through fashion magazines! 🙂

Winter’s back

7 Mar

Yesterday (Sunday, March 6th) was a nice day and it was pretty warm. My wife and I went to 上野 (Ueno, Tokyo) and walked around (my kids stayed home and studied for their final exams this week).

Ueno train station (Tokyo, Japan)

It was so warm that I began to think that spring has come. But this morning I saw the weather forecast on TV that said it would be a cold and rainy day today…and from about 9:00AM – lunchtime, it would snow!

Tokyo's weather forecast for 2011 March 7 - 14.

The weather forecast was exactly right. It was quite cold today and it snowed all morning starting at about 9:00AM.

I’m happy to see that it’s not forecast to rain or snow anymore for the rest of the week. It’s be sunny most days…and start getting warmer again. Next Monday is forecast to have a high temperature of 16°C (about 61°F).

How’s the weather in your city now?

Pandas: goodwill ambassadors

23 Feb

I wrote a post just over a year ago about Tokyo’s plan to get new ジャイアントパンダ (“Giant pandas”) to replace the one that died in 2008.

Well, now after nearly three years without a panda, Tokyo’s 上野動物園 (Ueno Zoo) has two five-year-old pandas.
Japan welcomed the male 「比力」 (Bili) and female 「仙女」 (Xiannu) the day before yesterday (Monday, 21 February). Those names, by the way, are the pandas’ Chinese names…Ueno Zoo will rename them shortly from a long list of potential new names submitted by people all around Japan.

 

Photos of the new pandas' "publicity shots" and the "welcome ceremony". (These photos: ©Tokyo Metropolitan Zoo)

The pandas were flown to Tokyo from China via Japan’s “All Nippon Airways” on a special “Panda plane”.

©ANA

This plane actually wasn’t painted to look like a panda for this occasion…All Nippon Airways (ANA) had this plane designed like this to commemorate the carrier’s twentieth anniversary from it’s first flight connecting Japan and China.

It took so long for Ueno Zoo to get new pandas after the previous panda died because initially Tokyo declined China’s offer for new pandas because of the steep rental that China charges zoos around the world for a panda.
But there are a number of zoos in the Tokyo area and each one has a signature animal that is a major draw for visitors. Ueno Zoo has been well-known for the panda since it first acquired one in the ’70s.
Without a panda the zoo was losing money…so Tokyo agreed to pay the ¥80,000,000 per year (about US$966,000) for the pair of pandas.

In addition to attracting more visitors to Ueno Zoo, it is expected that the arrival of the new pandas from China will help improve the image of China among Japanese people…and thus help improve Japan-China relations. So, in a way, they are unofficial ambassadors to China in Japan.

It was announced that the two pandas have recovered fine from the stress of their trip. They will be given time to get accustomed to their new surroundings before they make a debut for the public in Japan…which is expected sometime in March (2011).

(“Giant Panda“, by the way, is written as 「大熊猫」 in Chinese…which would translate literally to “Big (or ‘giant’) bear-cat”. But in Japanese, it’s written as 「ジャイアントパンダ」 (simply “Giant panda”), or more commonly as just 「パンダ」 (“Panda”).)

Does your city’s zoo have pandas…or another unique animal?

Gorillas and cigarettes

2 Oct

Yesterday (October 1) was 「都民の日」 (“Tokyo Residents’ Day“).
So, schools in Tokyo were closed. My kids had the day off.
Also, 「都民の日」 (“Tokyo Residents’ Day“) is one of the three days every year that the zoos in Tokyo have free admission. So, since a new baby gorilla was recently born in 「上野動物園」 (Ueno Zoo), my wife and daughters went to that zoo yesterday.

They told me that the new baby gorilla (named “Komomo“) is very cute.

Gorillas at Ueno Zoo (top). Mother, Momoko, and new baby Komomo (bottom pic)

Also, yesterday a hefty new cigarette tax went into effect across Japan.
The price of cigarettes just went up 40%! They were ¥300 (about US $3.60) for a pack…now they’re ¥410 (about US $4.95) per pack.

From the day it was announced about a month ago that there would be a 40% increase on tobacco tax on October 1st until one day before the tax took effect, there was a huge increase on sales of cartons of cigarettes all across Japan as smokers stockpiled cigarettes while they were still (relatively) cheap.

The Japanese government’s idea behind this tax hike is to try to motivate more people to quit smoking.

I hope it works. I don’t like cigarettes at all.
If an adult decides to smoke, even with the health dangers being well-known (and warnings printed on cigarette packs), that’s their decision.
But I hate “second-hand smoke”. I don’t smoke so I don’t like inhaling someone else’s “exhaust fumes”.

What do you think? Do you smoke? Do many people smoke in your country? How much do cigarettes cost where you live?