Showing posts from September, 2008

Opera City

Day 28 (-2) Tea and coffee. While I love the iced tea, hot tea, green tea, coffee in its varied forms it is important to keep an eye on the price.Today was the first time I got caught out with a price (must have been the distraction of Celia's company,) Celia and I stopped for a break and shared a lovely fruit topped slice (428y) and two iced teas When we left the bill was 1,728y!! Turns out the iced tea were 650y each!! Usually they are 400y at their most excessive.

We did some shopping today, having a great time in the stationery store buying all sorts of Japanese design post-it notes, cards and Celia got a new diary; their designs are so pretty and appealing. The Artre Centre at Meguro station is a collection of stores in an open space and has some nice clothes, shops as well as the the stationery,book shop, records, bakery and cosmetics.
We went on to the Tokyo Opera City building to see a Photography exhibition of Japanese and Australian stuff. It was fascinating, but a bit too…


Day 28 (-4) PETS.
In Japan pets seem to be substitute children. They are indulged pampered and whole shops dealing with food treats and clothes, including rain wear and ear muffs. The most popular dog is the Chihuahua, and all other breeds of small dogs including the Papillon of which I have never heard. Cocker spaniels are large! but I have seen a few golden retrievers. A popular purchase is a carrier sling or pram for pooch, and this parlor at Mid-town for the pampered pooch was what was called a "Hotel,Short Stay"

Today it started to rain and predicted to continue for the next 3 days!, and temperature down to 18 degrees. Definitely cool!
So we went to Tokyo Mid Town to check out the shops and the outdoor art space. The place is full of brand named stuff, I'm not a brand name person myself (bargain shops rather) but a lot of Japanese seem to be brand name slaves. The centre is very luxurious and a shop, that I thought was a cafe, and I hesitated to take a photo, as I coul…


Day 27 (-5) The Buzz.
It can be an amazing experience to be in the midst of the crowds at the busy areas of Tokyo. Shibuya crossing is a mass of people at any time you are there, and looking at the crowd heading for you can be intimidating. It is noisy with the screens on the building running advertisements for concerts, CD releases or just products, but all noise and raucous sounds. I'm not sure that they actually turn off. Not a place I'd like to live next to! But then I'm nearly 60!!

Celia arrived to day, so I was in the Shinagawa area to meet her and went to a flea market at the City space, but it was mainly clothes new and used, with nothing of appeal to me. The building was lots of wide open spaces with fountains and a stage. Kids were having a great time jumping and climbing around.
When I went back to the station area there was a music ensemble playing 30 minute concert X 4 times between 3.30 and 6pm. So I stopped to listen to them for a while. The second group was…

Itabashi and Hokusai

Day 26 (-6) Ukiyoe which means "pictures of the floating world", is the name for Japanese woodblock prints woodcut and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre and pleasure quarters of Edo. Ukiyo-e were affordable because they could be mass produced. They were meant for mainly townsmen, not wealthy enough to afford an original painting. The original subject of ukiyo-e was city life, in particular activities and scenes from the entertainment district. Beautiful courtesans bulky sumo wrestlers and popular actors would be portrayed while engaged in appealing activities. Later on landscape also became popular. The most well known is probably Hiroshige and his 53 stations of the Tokaido (road from Kyoto to Edo) and Hokusai and his 36 Views of Mt Fuji.
Discovered by the west in the late 1800's originals are now worth a small fortune ,a far cry form the day to day production of 100 years ago.
My f…

Azabu Juban

Day 24 (-7) Drain access coversYou may have seen my photos of these over the years, but I love the decoration of this mundane item. The photos I took initially were ones where the cover denotes some logo or historic aspect of the town. And each new city had a different one, my photo file grew. This one is in Shinagawa and denotes the local fire brigade which was at the street corner.

Azabu Juban is prime rental area with many embassies in the area, hence lots of foreign residents. They must be on living allowances I think to live there! Monasteries are traditional places of hospitality so it is not surprising that the first Europeans and Americans who came to Japan to establish diplomatic relations, were housed in temples. The first American Consul General Townsend Harris, took up residence in Zenoukuji temple in Azabu when the first diplomatic representatives moved to Edo (Tokyo).
1859 was not a nice time to be in Japan as a foreigner. Because of the unequal treaties the foreign power…


Day 23 (-8) Pachinko is the Japanese game machine, a cross between pinball and a slot machine. Players buy metal balls, at 4 yen per ball that's 250 balls for every 1000 yen. These balls are then shot into the machine from a ball tray with the purpose of attempting to win more balls. Sounds riveting eh? Under Japanese law, cash cannot be paid out directly for pachinko balls, rather they get prizes, but there is usually a small exchange center located nearby where players can conveniently exchange their winnings for cash. Winning strategies abound, same as poker machines in OZ. Stay at the same machine , find ones that pay out more etc. As a gambling activity, pachinko is widely held to have links to organised crime (specifically the Yakusa)."Official" figures put the sum of remittances from the parlours at 3 billion to 10 billion yen.
The pachinko parlors share the reputation of slot machine dens and casinos the world over — garish decoration; over-the-top architectur…


Day 22 (-9) A kōban is a police box. In addition to central police stations, Japanese uniformed police work is done from small buildings located within the community, a form of community policing. The box is literally that; a small room with a desk and room for the two men to work. Police officers in these buildings can keep watch, respond to emergencies, give directions, and otherwise interact with citizens on a more intimate basis than they could from a more distant station. There are usually two men there (never seen women) and I have used them for directions. This is a busy job as addresses in Japan are an art form that would appeal to the greatest puzzle creators!
This one (taken in March) looks like a choice posting with your own personal cherry tree in front!
I have never not been able to see one nearby when I needed it.

Today was PERFECT weather, 27 degrees, light breeze and some fluffy clouds. So I spent most of it outside, after getting my hair cut. I went down to Tokyo Mid tow…

Salt and Tobacco

Day 21 (-10) JaplishI'm sure I make mistakes in my Japanese language, but I love seeing the interpretation of things English into quaint Japanese. As well as this shop (good cheap household products, hopefully giving you more than 3 minutes of happiness), my hair salon advertises "hair make" (cuts and make up).
I'm not sure what smell is about, but the store looked OK.

Today I went to an unusual Museum that originally I had not thought of visiting . At an exhibit of leisure time in old Edo, they had some beautiful exhibits that were listed as being at the Salt and Tobacco Museum so I headed there today near Shibuya Station.
The combination of the two products is related to the huge commerce and tax on these over the years.Though I must admit I have never really thought about where salt came from the process I mean. Japan had no natural source of salt, no rock salt or salt plains, but this deficit led to innovative technology.
Japan Tobacco, (company) 50% of whose stock …


Day 20 (-11) StationeryWandering around a card shop or other stationery shop in Japan is a treat. The detail of the cards is a reflection of the paper folding design and skills of the Japanese.
Behold this simple card!
Some of the most interesting racks of cards are the style of envelope called Goshugifukuro that is used to give a gift of money to an individual, couple or family. There are envelopes for happy occasions, such as the birth of a new child, or for sad occasions, such as funerals (in Japan you give money for a funeral). The money is placed inside an envelope that is then wrapped in a decorative “envelope” or piece of paper folded in a certain way around the inner (money bearing) envelope. The final touch is a bow or decoration wrapped around the outer paper.

I was up early to see Gerry off. We avoided rain on our 5 minute walk to the station, and managed to get on to the full train at Meguro with suitcase and bag. Thankfully some people got off as we waited to board, but w…


19 (-12)
Not everything I love about Japan is ancient history. I love it's modern look as well, especially some of the stunning architecture. My favourite building is the Tokyo International Forum. Designed by Rafael Vinoly it was the winning design for a conference and exhibition centre, and built in 1996, and been poetically described as a ship ploughing the urban waters of Tokyo!! It is a glass and steel structure that does look like a ship.

Today was my last day with Gerry so we did a range of things that we had on a short list. we started off on the Yamanote train line (circular) to Nippori. Gerry by now knows her way round the route and is a fan of the ticketing system. It started to spit rain as we left and we foolishly did not return for our big umbrellas; small fold up ones were not up to the downpours we experienced.
Nippori is the stop in the Yanaka district of Tokyo (see blog Temples and Jizo) and as we left the station there were dozens of people streaming out we though…