Around Tokyo

Cultural Day November 3rd

Cultural Day is actually the birthday of emperor Meji and is also celebrated on this day. Last years Culture Day experience was joining my Aikido club for their annual potato dig followed by a BBQ, no ordinary fare of sangas and chops! This year we went Meji jingu (shrine and park surrounds) and got a flavour of what the Meji birthday celebrations are. There were many sporting demonstrations, martial arts, yabusame, etc though with significant emphasis on rituals to cleanse the grounds. At the shrine there were some other ceremonies with the receiving of offerings from the Imperial envoy - in the past the Emperor was considered a god. We particularly enjoyed seeing the traditional dress or the young boys and girls that often go to the shrine on this day.
Young boy watching sporting demonstrationsYoung boy watching sporting demonstrations
Yabusame rider in the pre event ritualYabusame rider in the pre event ritual
Young girl at Meji shrineYoung girl at Meji shrine

An very un-Tokyo building

Two good things have come of my bad left knee:
1. Finding a very good knee surgeon, Dr. Toyoda.
2. Discovering this fantastic art nouveau style building on the way to his clinic in Waseda.

I didn't expect to find this building in Tokyo, and if felt like I was back in Brussels! I'm now keen to find who the architect is and some of the history behind this building as it is most unlike Tokyo buildings.

Kite festival

On Childrens Day, 5th of May we went to the Great Kite festival at Sagami.

Azalas, Weddings and Noh

We found some fantastic places for viewing azaleas, the only problems was we visited them about a week too late!
We also went to Meji-jingu to see the festive activities, particularly the Noh performance which to our un-training eyes was a slow and labourious performance. We were greatly indebted to a visiting Assistant Professor (a chance meeting) who explained more of the Noh style and later sent us a copy of the play script.
A traditional wedding procession, often seen at the shrine.

Yabusame

Simon went to see a Yabusame festival which features archery on horse back.

Crowds and processionsCrowds and processions Rider with weaponRider with weapon
Releasing the arrowReleasing the arrow Judges sitting perilously next to the target!Judges sitting perilously next to the target!

Ready...Ready... Aim...Aim... Fire......Scored!Fire......Scored!

Mid flightMid flight DepartureDeparture

Sakura Photos

Some of Simons favourite sakura photos:

Ome for ume again

Simon was very pleased that we arrived back from Okinawa just in time to catch the plum (ume) blossom at it's peak. Once again returning to the orchard spread arcoss the hillside near Ome city (west of Tokyo).

Sumo January Tournament

This's now the second tournament we've attended and this time Caleb was alot more interested and even started to copy their leg lifting and body slapping ceremony!
It is very useful to have the English commentary radio and hear about the history between each pair of fighters that meets. During a tournament they battle for 15days straight, each day the bouts start at 10am and finish at 6pm, so in many ways it is a long drawn out event. Although on one day each fighter will only have one fight and that is a once only attempt to force their opponent to touch the ground (with any other part of their body other than their feet) or to step outside the rope ring. Generally it is over in 10 seconds!

Autumn gone - but not forgotten

During autumn I was planning on changing the colours and theme of this site with the seasons but somehow time has escaped me (now it is past and plum blossom season has almost started)! However, the colours were amazing and are worth revisiting...
Contrasting red against blue sky and lakeContrasting red against blue sky and lake The path leading to the bridgeThe path leading to the bridge

The Japanese pay a great deal of attention to the seasons and it is popular just to go out "viewing". Indeed the maple season rivals that of the cherry blossoms, although all through the year there are so many different flowers and colours that if you're attentive there is some beautiful nature to see at almost anytime.

EmergingEmerging Full to lateFull to late

Like the "hanami" (flower viewing during cherry blossom season) the autumn colours do not come all at once. In any one park there may be leaves still green whilst others are bright shades of red and yellow. In general the maple leaves turn at a later time than other deciduous trees.
Stepping stonesStepping stones Brilliant illumination from behindBrilliant illumination from behind

Tsukiji auction now closed to public!

Getting up at 4am to catch the first train at 4:28 from Toyoda station was quite a strain. Some of Simon’s uni colleagues joining us, decided it would be easier to stay up all night although the 1hour trip to downtown Tokyo took its toll with a few shut eyes. We arrived in time to see the tuna auctions in enormous sheds (separate fresh and frozen sections), and the hive of activity that surrounds this. I would say you have to see it for yourself, but it seems the morning we went was the last time it is open to public, so it was definitely worth the effort of an early morning rise! After the auctions we visited the tightly compacted markets which are perhaps more interesting with the incredible variety of seafood and to see the care with which the large fresh tuna are portioned up. Then for breakfast we ate sushi at the tiny nearby Daiwa Sushi, which is also quite a famous requiring us to wait in queue (for nearly an hour). Log on and click here to see more photos…

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