Blogs from Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda March 12th 2014

Today I set out upon an ominous quest, a quest that thus far on and off has taken me some 7 years. Back in 2007 on a 2 week stint in Japan with my friend Smithy we spent an afternoon trying to find a mythical beast, we failed. Again in 2009 as a solo effort I mooched long and hard for several minutes to find a monster that some may describe as a reptilian home wrecker. Again I was encumbered in failure. These were far from testing times as I mostly wasn’t that bothered, about anything. But upon my 3rdreckoning to this vast Japanese metropolis I felt it high time I lured the beast out into the open, I am of course talking about Gojira aka Godzilla, ‘pure muthafuckin' filler’ as quoted by lyrical master Zach ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda February 23rd 2014

Kabuki (歌舞伎) is the best-known traditional theatre of Japan, with all male casts. Stories are traditional musical dramas with distinctive music, elaborate costumes and makeup, black clothed puppeteers who make magic swords fly and actors who specialize in female roles. Noh (能楽) is an older style of theatre, also with all male musicians and actors, highly stylized masks, elaborate costumes, and trancelike movements and music. Takarazuka Revue (宝塚歌劇団) is an all female theatre began 100 years ago to boost sales of train tickets to a small resort town near Osaka. The first Takarazuka season of 2014 in Tokyo proved to be sold out. To get tickets required three visits to the box office, including a 9am start with a one-hour wait in the queue. The ticket office carefully monitored the queue for the 90 ‘on the ... read more
Takarazuka Celebrate 100 Years
Noh Chorus rehearsals
National Noh Theatre

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda February 12th 2014

Arrived at Nirata Airport yesterday evening, very tired, but successfully picked up by the Green Tomato taxi service (complete with white lace coverings on the seats - wouldn't survive on the farm for long!). A wonderful comfortable welcoming hotel complete with authentic bedroom and Japanese pyjamas! Everyone said we were lucky not to have arrived the day before as they had such heavy snow all flights had to be redirected. However, with typical Japanese efficiency all roads and pathways have all been cleared. Today we went to the Imperial Palace Gardens (which had been closed on our last visit). Fabulous gardens even at this time of the year - lessons to be learnt on how to prune trees(!) and the winter blossom really showed up against the snow. We then took a train to a very ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda February 10th 2014

Baseball and soccer are popular sports in Japan. Every high school oval rings to the sound of teams practicing, and students dream of becoming famous players. Sumo no longer holds great attraction for students. It is the sport of their grandparents. Most wrestlers are now foreigners. However, Sumo remains the traditional sport associated with Japan. Every year, a season of Sumo is held in Japan in several rounds. The competions are broadcast on television every night for 15 days. News broadcasts include the daily highlights, advertising sponsorship supplements the prize money and the rikishi (sumo wrestlers) hold celebrity status. Tokyo sumo competitions are held in a purpose built hall, with a suspended straw roof, and a raised sand platform. Judges and attendants wear elaborate traditional costumes, and there is symbolic meaning in all objects and actions. ... read more
Judges decision if final.
Synchronized Sweeping
Ritual Objects

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda February 7th 2014

Welcome to the next travel episode. While my Australian friends have been dripping in over 40 degree heat I have been showing pictures of bush fires and talking about air pollution to some of my students who can say and understand what a bushfire is. Many students want to know why we can’t stop them!? ! My excitement has been through my lifestyle coordinator. She wore me out the week before last with deciding between two contract jobs – one in a company that is teaching uni students in Tokyo and one in an immersion primary school where she’d be a year level teacher (teaming with a bilingual teacher) in Okinawa. After a lot of discussion, walking in cold barren parks as its winter here, and checking on things like visa requirements, tax levels, air travel ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda January 26th 2014

Who would have thought that renting a futon was possible, or that it was so easy? Bookings are made on line (website entirely in Japanese). Delivery and pickup is made within a three hour slot in the mornings. The futon couriers walk their cargo through the streets of Chiyoda on rolling delivery boards. Futon and all bedding comes in a neat blue bag, with freshly laundered linen, plastic wrapped inside. Making up and packing up the futon takes less than five minutes for the experienced, and a little longer for rank amateurs. The apartment floor is covered entirely by two futons at night, and then tucked away during the day time. Three people can sleep comfortably in this one person apartment. A good time was had by all.... read more
Plastic Wrapping
Sleeps Three
Expert Day Storage

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda January 21st 2014

Police officers in Tokyo have shining white Bridgestone bicycles, with reflector bedecked white document carriers, a baton slung on left hip and a walkie-talkie. Koban (police boxes) range in size from telephone boxes (think glass TARDIS) to three-desk offices. They often have a small stable of white bikes lined up outside them. The police officers are unfailingly polite and helpful. They patiently show foreigners where the unlocate-able building is, i.e. across the road and 50 metres to the left. When presented with a punctured tyre, the older officer kindly pumped it up for me, while the younger one quizzed me to ascertain if I really was the owner of the bike. The fact that the tyre needed proper repairs was overlooked and after gracious thanks and bows all round, I walked off in search of a ... read more
Koban (Police Box)
Walking the bikes
Jogging Track

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda January 8th 2014

Greater Tokyo has a population of 37 million people, and Tokyo City 13 million people. Tokyo is listed high in the worlds most liveable, richest and safest cities, depending on which list is consulted. Tokyo is definitely the largest city I have spent time in, beating: Istanbul 13.5 million, San Francisco 5.8 million, Zhengzhou 4.4 million and Sydney 3.7 million. Kanda (my current residence) is a district in Chiyoda, the centre of Tokyo. The Tokyo Imperial Palace (home of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko) is 5 minutes bike ride away. On 2 January I dropped by for the annual New Years Greetings (with 70 thousand others) in a well-managed and well-behaved crowd. For four flag waving, photo-snapping minutes, the Imperial Family stood and waved behind glass, and the Emperor delivered a 43 second greeting for peace. ... read more
Tokyo Tsukiji Temple
Apartment looking north
Looking south

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda January 3rd 2014

Some very big things have happened since I penned my last blog: Firstly I have to pay tribute to Rex, my father, who died on Christmas Eve. It was a relief for him to cease to suffer the indignity of being so ill when lucid and to be elsewhere and in pain for so much of his last days. I also want to pay tribute to my youngest brother Casey. He has lived nearby and cared on a daily basis for my sister, then my mother and father since they joined him in Queensland. He has had the joy of their living and the difficulty of their dying, right in his backyard. A constant for over 15 years. He has never waivered in his care and attention to domestic and personal details and ensuring life is ... read more
visitor accommodation!
tokyo dome illuminated
illuminations

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda September 13th 2013

Tokyu hands notebooks Muji - lunch and model home for $200,000 usd Imperial Palace - but could only see the outside Yasukuni Shrine - controversial shrine Italian for dinner at a place nearby the station in Ikebukuro Namja - crazy ice cream flavors (salt vinella, plumb, double mango, ramen, crab and Dracula (garlic)) Gyoza Alley After dinner Robyn and I hit the town. East of the Ikebukuro station seemed to be the happening nightlife spot, but also pretty seedy. We had trouble finding a place to drink that wasn't a strip club or "girls bar". Lots of men in suits with walkie talkies on the street approaching single men or groups of men. We thought at first they were pimps that would radio for a girl??? but in retrospect we think they were trying to get ... read more
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