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Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Ginza May 5th 2020

This year, Children's Day is May 5. Of all the children-centric holidays, I miss Children's Day the most. Why? I felt it was special, for Japanese American children, in a culture that cherishes tradition, family, and outright spoiling of children. (Written in 2009) Many of you think of May 5 as Cinco de Mayo. But May 5 is a big day in Japan as well, for it is an annual event, now called Children's Day, or originally Kodomo no Hi. It is set aside to respect children's personalities and to celebrate their happiness. It became a national holiday in Japan in 1948. It was always a special day when my son was a little guy. And of course, like most Asian families, the boys are favored with ... read more
Grandma and daughter Sarah

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shibuya April 25th 2020

When dining with neophytes at a Japanese noodle bar, the question always comes up. What are the various types of noodles, and which one will I like? The short answer, try them all. Or just order what I order! So, basic flour and water, like most pasta, right? But in Japanese noodle cooking, the broth is the key. Stories abound, as some Japanese artisans trace their secret recipes back a century or more. And noodle apprenticeships can last decades! In Japan, there is a fellow who travels around the entire country, doing nothing but reviewing ramen! As I recall, he averages about two bowls of ramen each day. You can find his story in "Rice, Noodle, Fish", a great read for those of you who love Japanese food. I use the book as a reference quite ... read more
Noodle soup
Shirataki noodles
The mighty ramen

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Harajuku April 7th 2020

I found this on one of my favorite websites: url=https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/news/make-your-own-face-mask-with-these-simple-step-by-step-guides-032620?mc_cid=b627418c6c&mc_eid=5f781646f3https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/news/make-your-own-face-mask-with-these-simple-step-by-step-guides-032620?mc_cid=b627418c6c&mc_eid=5f781646f3url=https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/news/make-your-own-face-mask-with-these-simple-step-by-step-guides-032620?mc_cid=b627418c6c&mc_eid=5f781646f3img=https://media.timeout.com/images/105628314/image... read more
Creative!

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinjuku February 10th 2020

The article on MSN Travel Voices featured a young African American woman, traveling in Japan. Here are some of her thoughts and observations: url=https://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/How-Travel-While-Working-44457039?utm_source=msn&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=feed&utm_content=link_4When I go abroad, I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders to be a good example of a black woman so negative stereotypes don't continue, especially in homogeneous cultures where there is a lack of diversity. The media doesn't exactly portray black people incredibly well, and people watch it and make assumptions about what we're like based on the color of our skin. In some places, they've rarely even seen a black person in real life. I am constantly aware of every move I make when I step outside of the United States. There is not a single moment when I am not c... read more
Where are you from?
What are you?
Tell me the truth!

Asia » Japan » Tokyo November 14th 2019

(https://youtu.be/CYRENWT8lz8 ) Day 2 and 3 in Tokyo have started the same way: in our activewear (see title/link above) and running around the Imperial Palace. It’s one of the most popular running routes in Tokyo and it’s not hard to see why; the moat, complete with pelicans and swans, and the perfectly manicured palace gardens are on one side and the sprawling metropolis of the city on the other. The etiquette is that runners must travel anti-clockwise around the palace, keeping it on your left hand side and staying tucked into the left side of the path, to prevent collisions and allow other runners to overtake - yet another example of Japanese thoughtfulness and good manners. It’s a 5km route with markers with cherry blossom motifs set into the tree-lined pathway at ever 100m, and it’s ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Tokyo November 13th 2019

We arrived in Tokyo after an uneventful 11 hour flight, featuring lots of films and no sleep. Getting through the airport is a testament to Japanese efficiency and politeness; with gentle directions and lots of bowing (and with the chance to test out our first few tentative “konichiwa”s and “arigatou”s), the hordes of people are ushered through and we are out past customs in record time - and with both of our bags having made the trip, thankfully. Charlie had pre-booked our own personal WiFi box, apparently something that people commonly have here as surprisingly the mobile internet is not very good, and which we will be using with GoogleMaps and Translate whilst we are here. It’s an interesting service - we picked it up from the post office at the airport and it came with ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Tokyo November 8th 2019

Our last day in Tokyo we visited Meiji-jingu Shrine, Tokyo’s grandest Shintō shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken. Constructed in 1920, the shrine was destroyed in WWII air raids and rebuilt in 1958. There is an iris garden in the area as well, designed by the Meiji emperor himself to please the empress, which is supposed to be lovely in June. Despite the lack of antiquity this shrine has lots of atmosphere and many visitors, and we were fortunate to be visiting at the same time as a lovely chrysanthemum exhibition, which gave me a new appreciation for the flower. The sprawling forested grounds and the forested path leading to the shrine is a big draw after the hustle and bustle in this part of Tokyo, which admittedly was not our favorite. Clement ... read more
Ramen Nagi
Ramen Nagi
Torii Gate at Entrance to Meiji-jingu

Asia » Japan » Tokyo November 3rd 2019

Tokyo, modern yet traditional, so large, so busy, so easy to navigate. All that they tell you about this bustling metropolis is true. Our first stop in the city was the National Museum of Western Art in Ueno, so low key that it wasn't even featured in the Lonely Planet guidebook. I love art museums, though, so I had to go. Worth an hour of your time, and you get to walk through the lovely Ueno Park nearby. Nearby the neighborhood of Yanaka also deserves a bit of attention for snacks and perhaps a drink at the Yanaka Beer Hall For this leg of the trip we stayed at the wonderful Guesthouse toco (https://backpackersjapan.co.jp/toco/english.html), which I highly recommend. Located in a 100-year-old traditional Japanese house with a tiny garden in a quiet but convenient area of ... read more
Main Hall, Sensō-ji
Purification Fountain, Sensō-ji
Main Hall, Sensō-ji

Asia » Japan » Tokyo October 6th 2019

Tokyo! This city is pretty amazing. We kicked off our travels with a week here because I like, LIKE cities. Protip: sumimasin is the best word ever. Learn it and use it. We flew in separately (Susan from Bali and myself from NYC) to Narita. I had purchased an orange for good tidings for our trip intending to share with Susan, but we forgot to eat it before she left so I brought it with me to Japan. It was confiscated and quarantined. I didn't know citrus was such a contentious fruit. Turning in our vouchers for our JR Pass and ticket on the Narita Express was a breeze. Line was longish but moved quickly. There are several 7-11 ATMs at the airport, I suggest pulling out cash immediately. The pasmo card (for Tokyo Metro) can ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Nakano October 1st 2019

With Typhoon Faxai hitting Tokyo just prior to our return from Matsuyamo we were lucky that by the time we said our goodbyes to Sappi, Masako and Kento - after enjoying breakfast together at a café along the way - the trains were back on track. We said our thanks and farewells to Takaya before he headed off to work. Sincere thanks once again to Sappi, Takaya and Masako for the wonderful hospitality we were shown and for the great fun we had together. It was around 6pm by the time we arrived at Shinagowa station where we were met by Ross on what was a very steamy hot evening. From there we headed off to one of the many restaurants which are part of Shinagowa Station where Natsumi and Atsushi met us. Lots more to ... read more
The little temple we visited with Natsumi
Michelle ringing the bell at the temple
Natsumi rinsing her hands at purification fountain at the temple's entrance




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