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Showing posts from July, 2017

Happy birthday, Tokyo! :)

I saw this message on the Twitter feed of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government: Happy #TokyoDay! #OnThisDay in 1868, the city of Edo changed its name to Tokyo, opening a new chapter in the city’s history.

So, Tokyo was born on 17 July 1868. Which makes it a Cancer. Same as Benedict Cumberbatch, whose birthday is on the 19th. Yup, OK, I can live with that! :p Happy birthday, Tokyo!

Hōzuki Ichi (Chinese lantern plant market)

I've written about this market before; this time I'm shamelessly copying an old post. The photos are new, though. ;)

Every year on 9 and 10 July a Chinese lantern market is held at Sensō-ji. "Chinese lantern" is a plant: scientific name Physalis alkekengi, Japanese namehōzuki. They have translucent orange pods that might remind you of Chinese lanterns, and they were used as a medicine for fever, gout and just about any ailment you can think of.
The temple's precinct is packed with 200 hōzuki vendors selling plants for ¥2000 to ¥2500, and wind chimes (fūrin). This year my visit was brief, because Sensō-ji has become a rather unpleasant experience. Too many tourists. Sigh.

London, city of horses

Faith, hope, and the love of money

Nihonbashi is Tokyo’s financial district: arguably the engine that keeps the biggest metropolis in the world going. It’s home to the Bank of Japan, the Tokyo Stock Exchange and several financial institutions’ head offices. Yet here, in the heart of capitalism, hides a shrine with a long history, Fukutoku Jinja (福徳神社). It’s believed to date back to the Jōgan era (859–876). The shrine was one of few authorized to conduct lotteries in the Edo era and is still visited by many Tokyoites who hope to win the takarakuji lotteries.

The shrine has been moved many times, but is currently located in a square behind Coredo Muromachi close to Mitsukoshimae Station. From the shrine’s website:
The second shogun Tokugawa Hidetada visited the shrine in January  1614. At that time, upon one of the sawtooth oak shrine gates made customarily with the bark still attached, he saw a new spring sprout emerging from it, so the shrine’s alternative name became Mebuki (the Japanese word for “sprouting”) Inari.

If y…

You really don't want to do non-touristy things. No, really, you don't.

Why do tourists always say “I don’t want to do touristy things”? You want to do what ordinary plebs in Tokyo do? Right. Follow these steps: Get up at 6. Breakfast is vending machine coffee and melon pan, eaten on your way to the station. Force yourself into a train that’s at 200% capacity. Commute for 2 hours. Enjoy being groped if you’re young. Spend 14 hours working for a boss you despise. Print emails and fax responses. Do paper filing. Make green tea. Once your boss has finally left and you can stop working, go to an izakaya. Get plastered. Vomit. Catch the last train. Stagger home. Repeat. Die. Enjoy your trip!

Tribute to Knysna

I visited Knysna in South Africa in February this year, a few months before the area was devastated by a veld fire. A few photos: