April 26, 2012

A Shrine Out of Obligation

A shrine near Hatchobori Station. I'm constantly surprised by how shrines in Japan literally are of all shapes and sizes.

Perhaps it's the thought that counts, but this must be one of the least spiritual locations for a shrine that I have ever seen.

I've also never seen anyone go up the stairs.

Kanten / Agar

(In Suitengumae.)

The stuff in the buckets reminds me of the pit of a peach -- both in color and stringiness -- but it's actually red algae. Red algae is the basis for agar, a jelly-like substance used in sweets.

If I had seen them anywhere else, I would have thought they were garbage, but the sign on the door says kanten, Japanese for agar.

DIY Pest Control

(In Monzen-nakacho.)

Yet another effort to discourage cats from entering certain spaces. I find it amusing how people completely ignore aesthetic appeal in order to achieve this. 

(In Kayabacho.)

Check out the very center of the photo.

At least this isn't for cats. I'm guessing this would be for crows, although they're probably too smart to be deterred.

April 25, 2012

Doctoring My Marimo, Part 2

My marimo ball wasn't doing so well, so I separated it into two about four months ago. I also placed it in the shade instead of letting it sit under the sun.

Before, I was wondering if the marimo was even alive, but you can see that the color has returned to the vivid green of a healthy marimo.

I doubt it will retain its round shape though.

April 24, 2012

Where Towed Bicycles End Up

If you leave your bicycle around Edogawabashi Station and are unlucky enough to have it towed away, it ends up at the Bike Warehouse close to the station, underneath the highway near Megurozakashita. It could be worse -- if your bike is towed away near Iidabashi Station, you have to go all the way to Yotsuya Station.

It's right past the exercise area that runs underneath the highway, and before the parking lot/unofficial cat habitat

These drawings have been made by local elementary school kids.

There are so many bikes here, you'd think it was a parking lot.

It costs 2000 yen to get your bike back.

The nice old man in charge gives your bike seat and handlebars a wipe with his rag before letting you go.

Rickshaw Sighting

A disused rickshaw sits in front of Tokyo YMCA Yamanote Community Center in Takatanobaba.

I can sort of understand why it would be there, but it's still a little baffling. Although the word rickshaw comes from the Japanese name (jin-riki-sha), they went out of everyday use around 80 years ago. The were most likely used in some cultural event hosted by the YMCA, years ago.

April 17, 2012

Where Cherry Blossom Petals Go

(In front of Gakushuin Women's College.)

What looked like this only last week...

...soon turns into hazakura (sakura with leaves, ha, showing)...

...and we see very clearly where petals used to be.

Only the stamen are left behind.

Where do all the petals go?

This is Kanda River, positively marbled with petals even though this was taken almost 2 kilometers away from the thick of sakura trees near Edogawabashi Station.

Making everyone feel one last twinge of sadness as they go.

Don't Forget These Flowers

Amidst all the fuss during sakura season, it's easy to overlook all the other flowers also in bloom.

Koubai (literally red plum blossoms), exactly the kind of flowers you see on hanafuda cards.

A loropetalum bush. I'd seen magenta blooms before, but I didn't know they also come in white. Here, the petals are still uncurling.

The look like small streamers.

A ladybug, miraculously in focus though shot on my camera phone.

Harimazaka by Night

Harimazaka (Harima hill), about a 10-minute walk from Myogadani Station. This street was restructured after World War II, and in the 1960s, 150 sakura trees were planted to beautify the area.

I was surprised that it takes only 50 years for a sakura tree to grow this large. Multiply this tree by 150 and you can imagine how beautiful this lane is. It's certainly one of the best places to visit during hanami season.

When I was here last week, it was the tail end of hanami season. The street is quite long, so there must have been a couple hundred people, enjoying their dinner while sakura petals drifted down.

There were a fair number of work get-togethers as well.

The streetlights hit the sakura just so, making them incandescent in places.

Restaurants and cafes line both sides of the street, so customers there were able to enjoy the view as well.

April 13, 2012

Hyankuna Garan Okinawa

Hyankuna Garan Okinawa, a resort hotel in Nanjo City, Okinawa.

Views from the main lounge room.

April 11, 2012

Panorama Views of Okinawa

The pool at Kafuu Resort Hotel on the west beach of the main island of Okinawa.

The view from the eighth floor restaurant of Laguna Garden Hotel in Ginowan.

Taken from the lounge of the Hyankuna Garan Okinawa.

From the bathroom of the Moon Ocean Ginowan.

Panorama photos created with the Photaf app on Android.

The Beach in "Unmei no hito"

Onna Village on the main island of Okinawa. The rocky hills leading to the water were recently immortalized in the television series, "Unmei no hito", a 10-part drama which took place in 1971, the year before Okinawa was returned to Japan.

Snorkelers in the shallow water.

The sea cucumber were plentiful, and invariably black. Many were shrivelled up when the tide receded.

Okinawa beaches seem to be full of broken coral, which makes me wonder if people are taught how fragile they are.

The bottom of the rocks, eaten away by the waves over time.

A tiny slab or coral, whose spores (?) reveal pretty flower-shaped indentations.