30 August 2012

Keep off the grass!

These tiles, called onigawara or "demon tiles", are usually placed on roofs to ward off evil. You often seen them on temples. These two, however, chose a less elevated dwelling: a lawn in a small cemetery in Matsugaya (a neighbourhood in Asakusa). 

26 August 2012

This one's for Dru

Fellow blogger Dru wants to go to a temple for writers. I haven't found one yet, just a temple for storytellers, but I discovered a statue that's exactly what every writer needs. It's in the garden of the Four Seasons Hotel Chinzan-so.

Dru, may it dawn and may the life be sent to your pen!

22 August 2012

Cheesy shot

I know, it's a cheesy banal unoriginal shot, but ... I love it. I took it this morning at Ōkunitama Jinja in Fuchū. Today it was 34 degrees, so of course I went walkabout again. I'll do a full post about the shrine (one of the five major shrines in Tokyo) over at my stories blog. Eventually.

21 August 2012

More green curtains!

I think I should rename this The Green Curtain Blog, but ... who needs air con? Go natural! I start with what could be a new champion. It's not the most luxuriant, but it certainly gets first prize for the high jump. Or should that be the pole vault? Look how high it's climbed! I'll give a close-up and then a faraway shot to put it into perspective:

Next, a creeper in Takadanobaba that's already swallowed a house, and is now stealthily creeping along the electrical wires to overwhelm its next victim ...

Next, a goya green curtain at a shop called Sugiyama (杉山) in Motoasakusa. It's a bow and arrow shop that belongs to the Sugiyama family, who's lived in this area for several generations.

Finally, sudare or bamboo curtains in the shitamachi:

19 August 2012


Koma-inu (lion-dog) at Bishamonten Temple in Kagurazaka, plus the temple's ema (a wooden tablet on which you write your wishes to the gods).

18 August 2012

Trains and stuff

I'm doing this post mostly as an excuse to publish the last photo of the train's interior for Elena.

The first photo shows you how quiet Tokyo is during Bon, when many Tokyoites return to their hometowns or go on summer holiday. It was taken on Monday 13 August at 16:30.

The second photo is Tokyo Station, which is currently undergoing renovations and will soon be restored to its former glory. It's a beautiful old building that dates back to 1914.

The third photo wasn't taken by me, and I can't even remember exactly where I found it on the internet. It shows the interior of a Yamanote Line train during the London Olympics. Cute.

10 August 2012

Look at the colour of the sky!

Within a few minutes, the colour palette of the sky changes completely.

6 August, 05:11

6 August,  05:18

6 August, 05:22

7 August 2012

Olé! Rule, Britannia!

I spotted these two shops only a few meters apart in Takadanobaba's back streets. Heh, and you thought Tokyo was a Japanese city! Unfortunately my mental fuzziness struck again, and I didn't think "Marmite!" until I got home. Now I can kick myself for not checking if British Life sells Marmite. I love the stuff, and though it's available in Tokyo, you can't exactly get it at your local konbini.

5 August 2012

New green curtain champion!

This blog is turning into a green curtain blog, but ... I've discovered a new champion! This house is in Azabu-Jūban, which I find quite amusing, since it's a rather chichi, upmarket, trendy-with-great-determination neighbourhood where apartment buildings aren't apartment buildings, but castles. (See last photo.) When I was Googling for information about this neighbourhood, I came across a website that claims it "exudes traditional Japanese downtown atmosphere". I thought of Azabu-Jūban's cobbled streets, designer houses and French restaurants. Then I thought of the shitamachi's tiny alleys, wooden shacks and ramen joints. Then I grinned.

I think this is an abandoned house, which means somebody, somewhere, is in possession of unused real estate worth a fortune. Or ... perhaps the late owner's offspring cannot afford Japan's high inheritance tax? Incidentally, if this were South Africa, the house would've been overrun by squatters by now.

Nowadays castles just aren't what they used to be. Sigh.

4 August 2012

There's more to life than beer

I grew up in the winelands of the Cape. Here in Japan I'll drink beer under duress, shōchū without grimacing, sake happily, umeshu ecstatically. Yet there is nothing, nothing!, that beats champagne. Especially cold champagne on a sultry summer's day. Kanpai!

Takadanobaba in August. Too hot to sit outside? Piffle. Don't be a sissy.

Shangri-La Hotel next to Tokyo Station in July

Hongō-sanchōme in June

2 August 2012

Overzealous green curtain

A while ago I explained about "green curtains" or creepers that are planted to keep shitamachi houses cool. Here's another slightly overzealous green curtain, size XXXL.