Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wrapped In Vines

Is it just me or do vines make anything and everything romantic?

This was just a locked gate on the side of the road. You can see the lock isn't even fancy or anything. It's just a regular lock. But I really liked how the vines are intertwined here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Waiting Their Turn

Summer is almost over but our matsuri (festivals) are still going strong.

All you have to do is follow the sound of drums, which I seem to hear everywhere I go. There are large festivals that many people come to watch from near and far, and there are other smaller local festivals that the whole neighborhood looks forward to.

This looks like a smaller festival but every bit as lively. There was a lot of bon-odori (traditional Obon dance) here. And these men and women dressed in traditional matsuri wear were the enthusiastic drummers, waiting their turn on the big wadaiko (Japanese drums).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Falling Out of Summer

Purple is my favorite color so of course I had to snap a shot of these pretty flowers.

This morning it felt like autumn. A very very hot autumn, but still autumn none the less. You may think that would just be summer...but there was something in the air.

Can you feel autumn just around the corner, too?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Beer Run

For some reason this advertisement appeals to me and I don't even drink beer.

Kirin Brewery is one of our major brewery companies here in Japan. Some of their warehouses in the Tohoku area were damaged by the tsunami following the 3.11 Earthquake. One of the major worries among my co-workers when they heard of this was whether we would have enough beer for everyone this summer. I think they were more worried about the lack of beer than water or food.

But it seems we have plenty this summer. Kampai! (That's "cheers" in Japanese)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Key Notes

Sometimes I have this sudden urge to play the piano.

I took lessons in grade school, although I cried through most of it. Never could play well in front of people. But I always loved the feel of the keys and the music it produced. So whenever I get the urge, I stop by the Shimamura Music store inside the Seibu Shinjuku Station building to play around with thier keyboards.

And I can still play a mean version of the chopsticks.

See other wonderful reflections from around the world
at Weekend Reflections hosted by James.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ba Da Boom

I almost forgot all about my Shinjuku Eisa Festival photos but this one was too cute not to post.

While the older boys are doing their moves and drumming the Odaiko (big drums), the little boys are playing the smaller drums called the Shime-daiko.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Globe Trotting

I've always liked looking at the globe. Seeing how close or far we all are.

This one was turned so we could see North America (北アメリカ). Most of the country or city names are written in the Japanese Katakana writing, which is often used to transcribe foreign words. I think it's funny how you almost can't see the border because the area is packed with katakana writing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hanging On

How awesome is this.

The sound of cicada is a sign of summer here in Japan. And believe me, they can get pretty loud. You can also find their discarded skins, like this one, in the trees and bushes during this season.

I bet little boys still use these to chase after girls during recess. 

Spice Up Your Life

Soup Curry is one of my absolutely favorite dishes.

It's a dish that became popular in the Sapporo area and soon spread to various parts of Japan. Like the name says, it's a curry soup filled with vegetables, chicken, and/or pork, which you eat with rice.

Dominica is a soup curry specialty restaurant in Sapporo and they opened this branch in Shinjuku this spring. Actually, they opened this store on March 11, which was the day of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. I read somewhere that they had to close the store down for a couple of days after, but have since resumed their regular hours.

They have 3 different soup to choose from: the original Yellow soup, the tomato base Red soup, and the pork base Black soup. You can also choose if you want vegetables, chicken mix, or pork mix.

Since I'm a vegetarian I got the yellow soup with the vegetables. You can also specify how spicy you want the soup to be. The scale ranges from 1 to 10, which is mild to I-don't-want-to-feel-anything-in-my-mouth hot. I'm a wimp so I got a 3. It was the perfect blend of curry spice and vegetable sweetness and I was beyond full at the end of the meal.

Have you ever had soup curry before? If you're ever in Shinjuku, you should definitely stop by!

Look for more delicious food in Japan at J-Festa.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy Feet

Sometimes my feet simply crave the grass, which is something we have very little of here in the city.

But Shinjuku if blessed with Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, a gorgeous park in the middle of the city, and I always head here when I have an afternoon off to be lazy. Hope you all enjoy a wonderfully lazy afternoon this weekend! Happy friday!

Enjoy looking at more beautiful skies all around the world here.
(In memory of Klaus Peter)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This sweet little bee just worked itself into my shot while I was trying to take it. But I liked it better with bee there so I thought I'd post this today!

Also, this is actually a  long overdue post that I've wanted to do as an answer to Dimitri's Perspective post. He asked us what we were doing 1, 5, 10 years ago and where we see ourselves in the next 1, 5, 10 years.

I  am not the most goal oriented person around but I thought even a go-with-the-flow girl sometimes needs to take the time to reflect and plan. But since you know I really don't write very well, I'm using snapshots. What better way for you to get the picture?

So here it goes...

[10 years ago (2001)]

Just out of high school, fresh as can be. I'd gone to high school in a very rural area of Hiroshima and my university was smack in the middle of one of the biggest cities in Tokyo. Everything was new and exciting. Also, college for me was an oasis...after almost 5 years of constantly challenging my brain to relearn my native language after coming back from growing up in the US, I was able to relax into my English literature classes and really learn. And it was wonderful. 

[5 years ago (2006)]

Just changed jobs for the first time. For me, it was one of the biggest steps I'd ever taken. I've always been stuck between the need for change and the need for stability...and usually stability wins. But sometimes even I surprise myself by randomly making a change. This was one of them. And the minute I started working at my new company, I knew I had made the right choice. They made me feel that I was needed there and I learned that that is one of the biggest motivations for me.

[1 year ago (2010)]

At this point, I'd been living on my own for a few years in Tokorozawa. In between work, I had joined the CityDailyPhoto community and was taking pictures left and right, and also rushing back and forth to my hula lessons, which I'd been taking for about five years. Summer is the peak season for hula performances and that led to even more lessons and practices. It was a challenge to keep up with, both physically and mentally, but it was also a really wonderful thing to find something I could be passionate about. For me, it was sharing snapshots and hula.

[Today (2011)]

Today I am living in Shinjuku. The commute to work was getting a little ridiculous so I moved a little closer. And although I'm taking a little hiatus from hula, it has given me a chance to spend more time with family and friends, and I'm still loving sharing my new city with everyone. There are so many places to see and so many people to meet. I really love living in this city.

[1 year in the future (2012)]

Hmmm...I even have a hard time figuring out where I'll be a year from now. But by this time, I'm hoping to have gotten back to my hula again. Maybe take a few photography classes, too. I've always wanted to. Also hoping to have a more flexible work schedule so I can go visit family more often.

[5 years in the future (2016)]

If I ever were to change jobs, it would probably be around this time. I guess I also wouldn't mind settling down a bit and getting married. But, of course, that really isn't up to me so I can only keep my fingers crossed. (And maybe you all can keep your fingers crossed for me, too. hehe.)

[10 years in the future (2021)]

This is just too far ahead for me. 2021 sounds like a title of a futuristic movie and by that time I could be a nun in the mountains of Scotland or a barista at a Starbucks in Shinjuku. But where ever I am, I hope that I am happy and safe. That's really all I can ask for!

So there you have attempt to put things in perspective. Thanks for reading this long long looong post. The 14th was actually my birthday and I thought there was no time like the present for a post like this. It's made me realize that I'm ready to embrace what ever life has install for me! about you?

*I will hopefully be back to regular postings by the end of the week. So very sorry I haven't been by to comment :(

Friday, August 12, 2011

Below the Clouds

The clouds were all fluffy above Shinjuku.

And I was melting on one of the streets below it today. Although this is what I was still hits me as a shock how hot and humid a place can become.

I hope you are all having a wonderful Friday and have a nice and cool weekend scheduled ahead!

Enjoy looking at more beautiful skies all around the world here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spirited Away

This is another photo of the Shinjuku Eisa Festival we had near Shinjuku Station.

This group came all the way from Okinawa to perform here. Eisa, a traditional Okinawan dance, is a type of dance we do during the Obon season (like the Awa dance).

Obon is a Buddhist holiday here in Japan, where we welcome the spirits of our ancestors back into our homes during that period. Okinawa Prefecture, formerly the Ryukyu Kingdom, previously followed the old Chinese calendar and so the Eisa dance is done on July 15th in the Chinese calendar, which is the day we send back the spirits of our ancestors to their world again. In Okinawa we call this day "Ooh-kui (ウークイ)." This year the Obon in the Chinese calendar is from August 12 to 14.

It's said that the Eisa originally was danced on the last day of Obon because when the spirits of our ancestors came down on the 13th, the had such a fun time with the family that they didn't want to leave. So the drums and the shouts were a way to scare the spirits back to their own world. I thought that was funny!

I'm so sorry but work and house guests have been keeping me busy lately. I won't be able to comment back on every one's blogs but will catch up you all early next week. Hopefully, I'll at least be able to post some photos here for you. Thank you so much for always dropping by :-)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sound the Drums

For those of you who read my last it is!

The crowds around Shinjuku Station were gathered for the Shinjuku Eisa Festival, which has become an annual festival that I look forward to. (Someone guessed correctly in yesterday's comments!)

Eisa is another type of traditional Japanese dance done during the Obon season that is unique to the people of Okinawa Prefecture. Some of you may have heard of Okinawa, but it a very small island and the most southern prefecture in Japan. I could go on and on about Okinawa, since not only was I born there but also have roots there, as my mothers side of the family can be traced back to before Okinawa was part of Japan.

So you can understand why I like to get a dose of Okinawan culture now and then. It's a really popular festival in Shinjuku and many people came out to see it!

Tomorrow I'll post another photo and explain about the Eisa dance.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Crowd

Shinjuku is a very crowded city, especially around Shinjuku Station.

Just for the JR train lines, an average of 736,715 people a day got on at Shinjuku Station last year. And Shinjuku Station also has the Odakyu, Keio, Toei, and Tokyo Metro lines, too. If you've ever been here, especially on a weekend, you know what it's like.

But it was actually even more crowded last weekend. Can you guess why?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Let It Shine

The sky was magnificent.

I thought it was a fabulous way to end this work week. So was learning that my friend Dimitri, who just completed his Project Biwa fundraiser for the earthquake relief here in Japan, has joined Skywatch Friday with his photos taken during his project! Hope you'll go see here!

And I just realized that Cafe Pasadena, who always has humorous posts with amazing amounts of information regarding the city of Pasadena in California, has joined Skywatch Friday, too! Hope you'll go see here, too!

Wishing you all a fabulous weekend with friends and family!

Enjoy looking at more beautiful skies all around the world here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fan Fan Fan Away

These crafted round fans are called Uchiwa (pronounced Ooh-chi-wah).

This is a must in our office these days. When the temperature rises our office gets quite stuffy. And with the air conditioning set at 28C, these uchiwas are in full use in the afternoon!

This is a small cafe that only had these Uchiwa and a fan sitting on the floor, but with the windows opened, it was surprisingly breezy and felt great. Wish our office could open our windows, too!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sushi So Good

Do you have a favorite sushi?

I sadly don't eat meat or any kind of seafood so I don't go to eat sushi very often. But I love tagging along with friends and don't feel as bad when I continue to order egg, cucumber, and okura sushi. Sometimes even my foreign friends shake their heads at me when I ask for sushi without the Wasabi. (I can tell some of you are already shaking your heads at me, too. haha.)

But despite all that, I really adore sushi restaurants.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Theme Day: Postcard Worthy

These were taken with my cellphone, thus the grainy blurry photos. But there was something about these grainy blurry photos that I liked.

The men were doing this complicated step while dancing with lanterns or uchiwa (Japanese fans) in their hands. And although everyone tends to watch the hands and expression on their faces, they're feet and the steps were also a big part of the Awa-Odori (Awa dance). So I'm posting these as my last photos of the Kagurazaka festival, which I think would make fun postcards.

I totally forgot today was theme day and squeezed in that "postcard" part in the last paragraph. hehe.