30 April 2013

Watch out for these scam artists at Sensō-ji

Watch out for these guys at Sensō-ji! They're all dressed in similar grey outfits. They're scam artists who pretend to be Buddhist monks. They hand out some cheap trinket (it looks like a golden bookmark in the shape of a temple). As soon as you accept it, simply curious or assuming it's a present, they demand a "donation" to their "temple" in some unspecified country. I've watched them, and they clearly target non-Asian tourists. They use sign language and mumbled English, never address you in Japanese and don't respond to Japanese questions, though this guy scurried off when I snapped "yamete!" (stop; buzz off) at him. I tried to take a photo of his face, but he was too sneaky for that. 

Edit added a few hours later: You can read more about it in this Japan Probe post.

29 April 2013

For even the humblest among us ...

Japan tends to focus on its famous flowers – plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, wisteria, iris, hydrangea, morning glory, lotus, chrysanthemum, etc – yet there is so much more that is so beautiful. Even weeds, humble pesky weeds that we tread on without thinking or pull out with irritation, even weeds are pretty. This post is for Lina and Dru, who recently insulted me most grievously when they claimed that I'd lost interest in flowers and only obsessed about temples. Ha! See? Revenge! Quod erat demonstrandum! 

NS: You ain't seen nothing yet. You just wait. Hmph.

27 April 2013


I have a phobia about women with a sun phobia, so what would that be called? Photophobophobia? It's not even summer yet, and the parasols have already been released. When I took this photo (earlier this week), it was 17 degrees on a cool, hazy, partly cloudy day. You could lie newly-born-naked in that sun for a week and you'd turn blue with cold, not pink with warmth. Sigh.

24 April 2013

Another cute roof tile

This one's for Sarah. See? The tile is ever so slightly flattened, so it won't sommer roll over. Methinks.

16 April 2013

Rooftop demons at Yushima Seidō

Ru loves roofs, and Yushima Seidō in Kanda has a few beauties on its roofs. These demons are not on the main temple's roof, but on a smaller building behind the main temple.

Open wide!

Super-scary ... a headless demon!

15 April 2013

Buckets at graveyard

Graveyards in Japan have buckets and ladles with which visitors can clean graves (墓 haka) during a visit (墓参り hakamairi). This is a common practice during death anniversaries (命日 meinichi), equinox days (お彼岸 Ohigan) and the festival of the dead (お盆 Obon) in August. I took these photos at a temple in Saitama, where each bucket is decorated with a different family crest (紋 mon).

12 April 2013

New life

Spring. Everywhere new life, from tiny ferns on a forest floor to new growth on pine trees.

11 April 2013

The sun is moving north

When I look at my personal planetarium, it's clear that the sun is moving north. Summer is coming. Dankie tog. (Thank heavens.) When mid-summer arrives, the sun will be behind Sky Tree.

7 April 2013

Torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto has thousands of red torii. I think I have a photo of every single torii, but let's start with these three pictures:


5 April 2013

Ghostlike falling snow

I recently read a poem that reminded me of photos I'd taken just a few days earlier. The poem, by Fujiwara no Kintsune (藤原公経), was translated by Tall Gary. If you enjoy poetry and woodblock prints, his website is highly recommended.
Evocative of a ghostlike falling snow
The storm-scattered cherry blossom petals
Whirl to their little graves in the soil of my garden 
But as for finding repose in the earth
At this age my own grave cannot be far off


hana sasofu
arashi no niha no
yuki narade
furi-yuku mono ha
wa ga mi narikeri

The photos were taken at Kandagawa.

3 April 2013

Buddha and blossoms

I've written my last story about this year's cherry blossom season (on my blog Rurousha; link here), but I can still publish photos on my photo blog, can't I? These photos were taken at Gotoku-ji.

2 April 2013

Edogawabashi Jizō-dori

I've told you about Sugamo's Jizō-dori (link), but I've discovered a second gem tucked away in Edogawabashi. It's even more charming because it's smaller, more intimate and has a real village atmosphere. It's also called Jizō-dori (地蔵道り), and you'll find it between Yamabukichō and Sekiguchi, close to Edogawabashi.

Jizō banner and cherry blossoms

Jizō shopping street in Edogawabashi. It was early in the morning and many shops were still closed.

Jizō temple at the start of the street

Jizō statue in the temple

The street is both traditional and upmarket enough to have a bonsai shop.

An organic cafe? It's clearly closer to upmarket Kagurazaka than to my blue-collar neighourhood in Taitō.

Soy milk and American waffles = definitely not shitamachi.
PS: It's a curse to be a former copy-editor. It's soy milk, two words. It's American with a capital A and the w in waffle should be lower case. I see mistakes like this and I want to launch an attack with a red marker pen. Sigh.
PPS: Stop being such a grouch, Ru! English isn't even their first language! Can you do half as well in Japanese? No. So shut up. Sigh x 2.

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