Friday, November 13, 2009

live band karaoke!

Terry singing Rock Around the Clock at Jan Ken Pon in Ebisu

so I was at the supermarket buying apples...

The bright red flesh of this dragon fruit - it's magenta, really -- belies its rather bland flavor. Closest thing to it is probably a kiwi. Whole, though, it made a nice centerpiece on our table for awhile. Then it stained my fingers.

autumn, chrysanthemum season

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Sat. Nov.9.09

festival day at Meiji shrine

Shichi-go-san (Japanese for 7-5-3) is an annual event here, when kids of said ages don their finest kimono and visit a Shinto shrine with their families to be celebrated and prayed for -- "to express their thanks to the tutelary deities" for their good health and to pray for future blessings, according to one official website.

We witnessed a bit of this last Saturday at the Meiji Shrine, one of three major Shinto shrines in Tokyo that see most of the action. (The festival date is actually Nov. 15, so I presume there will be more Shichi-go-san outings this weekend -- unless the weather is truly awful, and things have turned a bit cold and gray here...)

This young honoree really stood out, especially next to her mother and older sister who stuck with a more modern look. In other family groups, everybody was in traditional formal wear.

We didn't expect to see any wedding processions that day, but there they were: the happy couple walking under the big red umbrella, behind Shinto priestesses (in the bright orange bottoms) with Shinto priests out front.

the courtyard in late afternoon

A mother makes final adjustments before her daughter has her picture taken in front of some enormous chrysanthemums. (I wasn't the only shutterbug of no relation, horning in on the action.) Click on the image to enlarge it and you should be able to see just how high this little girl's sandals are. Fancy geta, with their fabric thongs and elevated -- and sometimes elaborately painted -- wooden soles (gold dragons covered the sides of one girl's pair), are particularly difficult to walk in, as they are sharply angled in the front.

Another wedding party, the bride in traditional white kimono and hood. The guy in the blue uniform, at left, keeps the path clear. My understanding is that couples are wed not in the main Meiji shrine building but in one of the smaller shrines off to the side. (The ceremonies here are private, unlike at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, where our friends Jen and Bill exchanged vows in front of family, friends and hundreds of strangers). The main shrine is blocked but not hidden; you can get as close as the coin boxes and the big taiko drum to wish for good health, happiness, fertility and fortune.

My favorite feature in the whole 200-acre compound, though, is this giant torii, a shrine gate made of 1,500-year-old cypress.

Our friends James and Dorothy from Boston lead the way out through the entrance by Harajuku station.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deck the halls with... purple, pink, turquoise and chartreuse?

Here at Tokyu ("Play Home!") Hands, the Creative Life Store, you don't have to go all red and green and gold.

I'm not.

The Gap is ready.
The new Gap across from Harajuku station is a bright and cheery monstrosity featuring baby clothes designed by Stella McCartney, plus the usual piles of jeans, a good number of them in a size 0. And studded...

something old, something new

Fortune Cat with the girl from Big Love, outside Opening Ceremony, a department store in Udagawa-cho (Shibuya shopping district)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tokyo Metro: please put your face on at home

powder puffs as public nuisance

keeping Tokyo tidy

I've seen workers in this city scrape gum off the sidewalk, empty -- then polish -- the ash bins in public smoking areas, and wipe the handrails on metro station escalators (they just stand at the bottom holding a cloth to the thing as it loops around). Of course every fallen leaf or bit of litter is swept up forthwith...

Shibuya station, Hachiko exit

Monday, November 9, 2009

life's essentials

Saw Franz Ferdinand tonight (they were great!) with Mark and Claire; then it was on to Andy's Shin Hinomoto, a well-known izakaya tucked under the JR tracks in Yurakucho, for sashimi and tempura, grilled John Dory, sauteed asparagus and mushrooms and a glimpse of this fine T-shirt.
"Beer, Sex, Chips 'N' Gravy"