The night before my departure from Tokyo I spied a glass exhibition around the corner from my hotel. Sadly it was closed the day I was leaving and all I was able to see was the items in the window display.
I also tried my first can of SLAT, a Japanese low alcohol drink. Would have been very refreshing on a hot day.
The day of my departure I checked out and with hours to spare I trekked over to visit Meiji-Jingu, a regular departure day event for me. This year I was interested to see how work had progressed on redoing the copper roofs of the shrine precincts. I also like to pay my respects and say a little prayer to return to Tokyo. It was amazing to see how the copper that had been placed when Mum and I visited in 2016 had weathered.
Meiji-Jingu roof replaced in 2016 and weathered
Fresh copper roof Meiji-Jingu
And that was my quick visit to Tokyo.
Two days after arriving back in Sydney it was time to move out. Most of my packing had been done, I had moved what I could over previous months and it was mainly the big things left in the house. Mum and Dad came down to help me move up to their place.
Work has finally started on the estate where I will be building and hopefully I will be able to start building in October.
In the mean time I have another trip planned to Tokyo leaving on Thursday. A little longer this time and I am hoping to head out for a day of hiking around Mt Takao, 55 minutes from Tokyo.
So pop back to see where my feet and the Tokyo trains take me.
I have a Facebook friend that I have known since our days on a beading forum. Rie was on holiday visiting her father at the same time I was in Tokyo so we decided to finally meet in person.
We spent the first part of our day at Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum located in Musashi-Koganei. This was a fabulous Museum showing pre Meiji era architecture and architectural styles that developed later as more western influences crept in to the Japanese vernacular. Everything from farmhouses, mansions and your average house was covered. There is even a whole street that was taken down and reassembled including the sento. One building even bears scars from the WWII, shrapnel marks from the bombing of Tokyo.
Copper clad building damaged by shrapnel
Copper clad building damaged by shrapnel. Close up you can see the damage more clearly.
Inside a traditional farmhouse. We were fortunate to find a delightful lady who worked at the Museum while we walked around the farmhouse. She was very informative. You may notice there is no ceiling and that the rafters are all blackened from smoke. The farmhouses were forbidden to have ceilings as the farmers could have hidden weapons in the space between ceiling and roof. The bamboo, even though blackened by smoke, heat and soot, actually becomes harder over time. Insects find the roofing material unappealing because of the smoke that has infused the roof.
Irori with blackened bamboo chain cover
Inside a sento. This one is not in use but has been maintained and stocked as it would have been found in the 40’s/50’s. Male and female bathing areas in this one are seperated by a wall that they could have talked over if they wanted. Baskets were on shelves to store personal belongings, stools and buckets for for washing before entering the baths. The tiled mosaics decorating the walls were most impressive and featured allegorical tales.
Exterior of sento (white wall)
Mosaic decoration, taps for washing prior to bathing
Baskets for personal belongings
Stools and buckets for washing
The baths with different areas for different temperatures
A house that formerly belonged to a member of the illustrious Mitsui family was also on display and certainly showed the combining of western and Japanese architecture. While most of the house held to a more traditional style, the kitchen was pure 1930’s/1940’s western design. So many beautiful artistic touches in this fabulous house. Everything from painting on doors, silk panels in ceilings, art deco glass lampshades, timber carving and more.
Mon, familial insignia
Silk paneled ceiling
Art deco glass light fitting
Artfully arranged wood ceiling
Heavy duty storage chests for family valuables
No nails, Japanese carpentry at its best
Strong room/vault door
Of course it was a hot day so we needed to cool down. One of the larger houses has an area fitted out as a very elegant cafe. Rie and I had a shaved ice treat with matcha. The ice was cold and the matcha strong, and a dollop of sweet bean.
after pouring our matcha on
After a bit more looking around it was time for a late lunch, sushi at a fabulous and popular sushi train a short walk away. Ok I know sushi trains are pretty common and not usually exciting. This one was. While the normal things came around on the track there was also the option to order other items from the tablet menu. These were whizzed out on a separate track. Sadly no photos
We then headed to a huge second hand fashion store before having a quick look around Kichijoji.
After a very full day it was time to say good bye and head our separate ways.
A short trip back to Saitama prefecture saw me visit the town of Kawagoe. While there is the modern part of the town the best bit is the old town with many buildings showing the way towns used to look before the 1900’s.
The first place I visited in Kawagoe was Hikawa Shrine. It wasn’t until after I left the shrine that I read that it was a shrine dedicated to relationships and matchmaking. Perhaps I should return there this year and offer a prayer.
The rest of my visit was fascinating but so many tourists. LOL. I tried my first sweet potato ice cream in the Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Lane). I really wanted the purple one but they were out so I settled for the orange sweet potato ice cream. interesting and delicious!!
Sweet potato ice cream
Even though it was a very hot day and quite crowded it was well worth the trip out. There are plenty of signs in English near famous landmarks, and there are things you come across such as the moat fortifications that are quite interesting and informative.
Description of how the moat fortification works. The illustration helps.
Part of the old moat fortifications of Kawagoe
A great day out all round and heading back to the station I stopped for a bite to eat at a funky chain store diner. Nothing exotic just delicious noodles and gyoza.
Stay tuned for more of my adventures from last years visit to Tokyo….
Sunday in Tokyo saw me have a bit of a sleep in and lazy morning. It was just after 12 when I finally got to Shimbashi Station via Starbucks. My itinerary for the day was to visit Akihabara, Koishikawa Korakuen Garden and Rikugien Garden. This meant I got to travel on some new (to me) subway lines and suburbs. I am always up for adventure!
First stop was to be Akihabara. In all the trips to Tokyo I have not been to Akihabara, so it was time to venture there. I was on the hunt for an adaptor as I had forgotten to pack one and seeing as Akiba is nicknamed Electric Town I figured it might be a good place to get one for a reasonable price.
I got sidetracked in one building with 10 floors of anime, electronics, models, toys, games and all sorts of geekery. Then some time in little alleys where there were probably enough electronics components to fit out a space station. Saw several Maid Cafe girls trying to get customers in, a sprinkling of Cosplayers too. No luck with an adaptor so it was time to hit the subway again.
After arriving at Koishikawa Station I popped in to a Lawson Store and picked up enough things for a little picnic and continued on. Koishikawa Korakuen Garden is located next to Tokyo Dome, however the entrance is about 10 minutes walk from Tokyo Dome as the garden is over 70,000sqm.
After having my lunch I strolled through this fabulous garden with the sounds of the crowd cheering on the Yomiura Giants who were playing at Tokyo Dome.
A good hour and a half later I was back on the train for my next stop Rikugien.
Another fabulous garden from feudal times. I love reading the stories of the gardens and how they developed, and were altered over the centuries.
My visit to Rikugien was short as I arrived in the last hour of opening, but it was sufficient time to enjoy the beauty it held with in its walls.
Thanks for dropping by and come back again for the next (delayed) update on my visit to Tokyo last year.
Waking early I headed down stairs for a Japanese style breakfast buffet, checked the weather forecast, partly cloudy, high of 33 Celsius with high humidity expected. Back in the room I made sure my cameras were in order(empty memory card and fully charged) then it was out in to the wilds of Ginza and a short walk to Shimbashi Station via Doutor Coffee Shop. Even though I had a coffee at breakfast I really needed a cappucino…oh and a Mont Blanc while I was at it.
Over breakfast I had decided I really wanted to revisit Omiya to see the Bonsai Village again. Platform 6 at Shimbashi is the one required for the JR Keihin Tohoku line. Takes close to an hour, but it is fascinating watching the city go by and then before you know it you have left Tokyo Prefecture and crossed in to Saitama Prefecture. At Omiya you need to change trains for the Tohoku Main Line and go two stops to Toro station. When changing at Omiya you can go to the information booth for a map and guide pamphlets before getting onto the next train.
First stop was the Omiya Bonsai Museum.
Each season sees a change of displays inside and out. This time I saw a fascinating display of Bonseki, the art of creating landscapes on black enamel trays using sand, pebbles and small rocks. Unfortunately unable to take photographs but here is a link (Wiki Bonseki ) for more information. Suffice to say for me it was something new to discover. Out side the display had changed from my last visit and I was able to get photos and video of the whole outside display from the up stairs viewing balcony.
Some of these bonsai are very old and a lot larger than what we generally expect bonsai to be.
Then it was off to the bonsai nurseries, fairly easy to find when you have the guide map. there are 5 all up and none allow photographs when you visit. Below are the entrances to two that I visited.
Seiko-en, Shoto-en, Fuyo-en all sell bonsai supplies as well as bonsai of all different sizes. I was looking for some planters this year and even though there was a great range of new and used planters nothing really grabbed my eye.
I also stopped in to the second hand shop I found last year and had lunch at the little restaurant across from it, having the same meal as last year, kari raisu (カレーライス). Delicious lunch again. I also bought some more tea related items: wooden natsume (tea caddy), chawan (tea bowl) and a futaoki which has dual purpose, to rest a lid on or to rest the hishaku (bamboo water ladle) on.
Then it was a short walk to Omiya Koen Station and the journey back to Tokyo. I decided to pop in to Kappabashi Dōgugai and do a little kitchen ware shopping. On my list were some plates to add to ones I bought last year, some glasses to match one I bought last year and what ever else caught my eye. I have been to Kappabashi Dōgugai many times now but some how managed to miss this statue of a Kappa.
Then it was back to the hotel via a noodle shop and an early night after all that walking.
Stay tuned for day two where I visit (quelle surprise!) two historic gardens, Koishikawa Kōrakuen and Rikugien.
Monday was my last day of work before moving. I was keeping an eye on all the travel and airline sites watching airfares to Tokyo. Wednesday I was able to get a price I was happy with so bit the bullet and booked myself for a couple of days away.
This trip I flew JAL. Good flight and service. I shed a few happy tears as we landed, bit silly but Tokyo is one of my happy places. Very quick through immigration and customs, around half an hour, which was a pleasant experience for a change. Bought my ticket for the Airport Limousine Bus which got me to the Mitsui Garden Ginza Premier hotel and then a short walk to where I am staying. Nice weather with a temperature of 32C when we landed.
This trip I am staying right in the heart of Ginza. A small hotel, Sotetsu Fresa Inn, two blocks back from the main street but still close to Shimbashi station. In fact I dare say it may be a shorter walk than from Shiodome. The room is small by western standards but for one person it is adequate and very comfortable.
After checking in it was time for a walk and dinner. I felt like tempura so headed to a regular restaurant I go to, Ginza Tenkuni. Only a 5 minute walk from the hotel so very handy.
Perusing the menu I decided on a tempura don set. 2 tempura ebi(prawns), tempura whiting, tempura renkon(lotus root), tempura nasu(eggplant) and kakiage(small pieces of squid cooked in tempura batter) served on rice with sauce then poured over. This was accompanied by miso soup and pickles. A cup of hot green tea was also bought out. I ordered a glass of plum sake/umueshu on the rocks. This one wasn’t too sweet and was quite refreshing.
Funny how I am not keen on miso soup back in Australia, but when I am in Tokyo I love it! This one was nice and dark with lots of flavour
After my delicious dinner, I took a walk around some regular spots in Ginza checking prices at the bottle shops, deciding what to get to take home. Quite surprised to see one of my favourite Japanese Whiskey’s not available at all. No Yamazaki anywhere! And the Hibiki limited to 1 per person.
A glass of Chassagne Montrachet at Ginza Felice, then back to the air conditioned comfort of my room.
Tomorrow I am contemplating Meiji Jingu and Yaskuni Jinja or a trip out to Omiya. Will decide over breakfast.
And so as Friday has slipped in to Saturday it is now auction day. The end of an era. I have lived in this house now for almost 19 years, the longest I have ever lived in one place. September 28th would have marked not only my parents anniversary, my brother’s birthday but also the day we purchased this house.
After the auction I can start the next chapter of my life story. I have put a deposit on a block of land in the Hunter Valley close to my parents and have plans to build a house for myself and Miss Juno Kunappi my cat. In fact I should be able to have a gate put in my back fence so that I can take a 10 minute walk to their place.
I have started looking for a job and have already applied for some. I am feeling a little sad but the excitement of the changes that will be happening in my life is far outweighing the sadness. My mind has many ideas for what I want to do to my almost 1 acre of land. Too many ideas, I just have to start prioritising them.
The past year has been a strange blend of sadness and excitement. Divorce, stepping way out of my comfort zone (mentally and physically) and joining a great bunch of people to tackle the Kokoda Trail, getting used to being on my own, spending a fabulous week with my Mum in Tokyo, planning MY future, the passing of my grandmother, and much more. I know it will be tough but I will be closer to family which will be a great help.
So though I haven’t posted for some time, stay tuned for my next adventures. I will be moving in with my parents for a while so Mum and I will probably end up cooking and gardening a lot. I hear that my Atherton raspberries (Aussie native) are flowering so by the time I get up there they should have some fruit.
In January my Uncles came to visit for a catch up and so I could show them photos from the trip to Tokyo that I took with Mum, and photos from when I went on the Kokoda Trek last August.
I decided to do a Japanese style lunch to match the photo display.
Entree was Gyoza with ponzu sauce, Tamago-yaki(rolled omelet) and Konnyaku with a large red shiso leaf from my garden. It was my first attempt making tamago-yaki and I used my tamago-yaki pan I bought in Tokyo last year. They weren’t too bad for a first attempt.
Main was Kare raisu with chicken, miso soup, green salad (lettuce,chrysanthemum greens, shiso and beans picked from my garden, sadly I had to buy the cucumber), frilly tomatoes(scored, quickly blanched and the skin peeled back), and pickled cucumber. Sesame dressing for the salad and furikake rice seasoning.
Dessert was definitely not Japanese but I have had ones like it in Tokyo. Rosewater and vanilla pannacotta, almond praline, raspberry fluid gel, raspberries, flowers and herbs from my garden(heartsease, native violet, nasturtium, apple mint and chocolate mint).
After that it was time to sit through HUNDREDS of photos. Thank goodness we were able to sit in comfort and look at the photos on the television.