Last Saturday night, I went out with my friends Mami, Yuki, Keiko, Eri, Shiggy and Kaoru to a restaurant in Shinjuku for a leaving party. I had a great night but it was all a little bit sad having to say goodbye to everyone.
In fact the whole week has been somewhat tinged with sadness with having to say goodbye to all my friends and students. I've had a wonderful time in Japan and I'm going to miss it so much. I've been to so many places, seen so much and met so many people I will definitely treasure the experience for the rest of my life.
This is my final entry from Japan and I'd like to thank everybody who has taken out a little bit of their time to have a look at what I'm up to. I'm flying from Narita airport on Saturday morning and arrive back in England on Saturday night. Then on Sunday it's beans on toast, Eastenders omnibus and down the pub for a few swift beers.
Hopefully my next port of call after England will be South Korea and then it's onward to China for more exciting adventures in Asia.
You can see all of the photos here.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Posted by steve at 7:24 am
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. It comes from the Japanese words 'oru', meaning folding, and 'kami', meaning paper.
Originally from China where early techniques were developed, it was introduced into Japanese culture in the early seventh century by Buddhist monks.
At first origami was something that only the rich or powerful could do, due to the expense of paper. New production methods resulted in the greater availability of cheap mass produced paper in the Edo period(1600-1868). This opened origami up to the masses, allowing the artform to blossom.
Akira Yoshizawa helped to develop modern origami in the 1930s and created thousands of different techniques and patterns. He is also responsible for developing the the pictures and patterns in origami instruction books, that are still used today.
One of the easiest and most popular things to make is the crane(some examples of which I made with my own fair hands can be seen in the picture above). It is believed that if you make a thousand in a year you will have good luck for the rest of your life.
Next week I will be making a full scale model of the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, using a squeezy bottle, some double sided sticky tape and an egg carton.
Click here for a really good origami website which has got many interesting and beautiful examples on it.Here is the site for the Official Japanese Origami Society.
Click here for the British Origami Society.
Posted by steve at 4:47 am
Sunday, September 14, 2008
No Sex Strike
I've seen many strange things in Shibuya and on my final weekend in Japan I saw what is probably one of the strangest. The women in the above photo are all members of the Japanese Raelien Movement, attempting to spread the word of peace in a 'No Sex Strike'.
You might remember that the Raeliens received a lot of media coverage last year regarding their attempts at cloning, with their company Clonaid. They are a worldwide organisation with a membership of 60000 and the Japanese branch is the largest with 6000 members. They believe that all life on Earth was created created by extra terrestrials called the Elohim and in 1973 they contacted the leader of the organisation, who is called Rael. The Elohim gave him two conditions for their return. One is that an embassy be built to welcome them officially and two, is the attainment of world peace.
The women have decided to refuse all sexual contact with men who support violence to solve problems and wars. They believe this will that by refusing to have sex with men like this, they will be forced to change their ways. This will lead to world peace and ultimately allow the Elohim to return to Earth.
You can see the official website here.
Posted by steve at 10:29 am
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Meganebashi Bridge(Imperial Palace, Tokyo)
Posted by steve at 10:33 am
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tsukiji Fish Market
Japanese people love fish and the place to go and see fish is Tsukiji Fish Market, which is the biggest fish market in the world.
It's one of Tokyo's most interesting and unusual tourist attractions, luring people from all over the world and since the action mostly takes place in the early hours of the morning, it's a great destination for the jet lagged weary traveller.
In total there are over 450 different types of fish for sale and around 2300 tonnes are delivered each day. It's open every day, except for Sundays and bank holidays and it's always really busy, which is half the fun. I spent most of the time gambling with my life, dodging motorized trucks which move all the fish around.
The market opens very early and the best time to catch everything is probably between five and nine. If you get there early you can get to see the auctions and most impressive of all are definitely the huge tuna fish which are worth up to a million yen.
Its history can be traced back to the 17th century. Originally Tsukiji was wasteland along the edge of Tokyo Bay and was reclaimed due to the city's need for space.
When foreigners began to arrive during the Meiji era in the latter half of the 19th century, it was declared the foreign residents quarters and all foreigners were required to live there.
By the 1920s it had pretty much become abandoned and after the great Kanto earthquake of 1923, the market was relocated here from Nihonbashi, to become this huge mecca for seafood fans everywhere.
You can see all the pictures here.
Posted by steve at 7:24 am
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
It is said that proverbs provide a good insight into how the people of a country think.
Many proverbs in Japan are related to agricultural practices and customs because of the ties between Japanese culture and agriculture. Others are from Buddhism and some refer to women and nature.
I've included a few examples below, along with the translations and their equivalent in English.
Saru mo ki kara ochiru.
Even monkeys fall from trees.
(Anyone can make a mistake.)
Go ni itte wa go si shitagae.
Obey the customs of the village.
(When in Rome do as the Romans.)
Hstake kara hamaguri wa torenu.
You can't get clams from a field.
(You can't get blood from a stone.)
Sendo uko shite fune yama ni noboru.
Too many skippers bring the boat to the mountain.
(Too many cooks spoil the broth.)
Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru.
Even dust amassed will grow into a mountain.
(Great oaks from little acorns grow.)
Koi to seki to wa kakusarenu.
Love and a cough cannot be hidden.
(Love conquers all.)
Yanagi ni kaze.
A will before the wind.
(Follow the path of least resistance.)
Nana korobi ya oki.
Fall down seven times, get up eight.
(If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.)
Heso o kamedomo oyobanu.
It's no good trying to bite off your navel.
(Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.)
Posted by steve at 4:16 am
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Posted by steve at 4:27 am
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Every year in August, the streets of Asakusa come alive in the samba festival, so last Saturday I decided to get into the carnival spirit and see what it was all about.
Asakusa's Samba Festival first started in 1981, when the mayor of Taito City(one of the central 23 cities of Tokyo) invited the winning group from that year's Rio Carnival in Brazil. Now teams from all over Japan come to compete as well as some from Brazil.
There really was a great latin vibe with all of the beautiful costumes, music and dancing and it was a spectacular feast for the eyes.
My weekend of dance continued the following day on Sunday when I went to the Super Yosakoi Festival in Harajuku.
The Yosakoi Festival originated in the Kochi Prefecture in 1954, as a means to boost morale and spirit in a community that was experiencing a long standing economic depression. The dancing and music is a fusion of the old and the new, with performances ranging from traditional yosakoi to samba, rock and hip-hop.
The music comes from an old folk song called 'Yosakoi Bushi' and forms the basis of what most teams use to accompany their dance. Even if the dancing and song is a modern update, it must still include a line from this song.
In total there were 6000 dancers over the two days of the festival and it was an amazing site to see all the dancers in their costumes, banging their naruko(clappers) in time to the music.
You can all of the photos here.
The official site for the Asakusa Samba Carnival is here.
The official site for the Super Yosakoi Festival is here.
Posted by steve at 7:42 am
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
On Sunday, I had a great time with my friends Kaoru and Yukiko in Shibuya. First of all we went to an isakaya for a lovely meal(the guy in the picture above is a random chef who wanted to be in the photo) which was followed by karaoke. Highlight of the evening for everyone(or maybe it was just the highlight for me) was my rendition of 'That's Amore' by Dean Martin.
The sad thing is that I've got just over a couple of weeks left until I go and I'm now in the process of saying goodbye to everyone. I really can't believe that I've been living here nearly a year now and that my Japanese adventure will soon be coming to an end.
You can see all of the phtos here.
Posted by steve at 7:35 am