Saturday

Walking in residential districts in Tokyo

 There are many…) 

1 Chome-26-6 Mishuku, Setagaya City, Tokyo 154-0005

Mishiku & Taishido areas

 

A true heaven for walk enthusiasts who enjoy strolling amongst the flowery promenades, especially in mid-spring, is a place in Setagaya Ward.   Between Sangenjaya city and Meguro Ward is a promenade called the Green Beltway which stretches all the way to Sangenjaya city from Meguro - It’s actually much longer than that.   On your way in either direction, you will find the aforementioned places above. 

 

After you work your way through the  Meguro River Green Belt, which by the way is very beautiful in Spring, you will connect to another open space called  Fuji Da Na  Open Space & Karasuyamagawa Ryokudo Promenade ( Organized by the Rakudou Club )  This area is part of both Mishuku and Taishido - tiny residential blocks - known for having gorgeous flower beds and cherry blossoms.

 

There are some benches where you can sit down for tea or a snack, but there are no dustbins.   It’s nice walking through here or even sitting down to read a book. During Spring equinox festivals are held here and there is a famous shrine nearby called Mishuku Shrine. 

 

Tokyo is a true walker's paradise replete with gardens and historical places. You can discover a treasure trove of amazing shops and boutiques along with gourmet eateries. 

 












 

Wet Shibuya

 

This is a great place to visit even on rainy days. Sundays and Mondays could be good for taking photos since typically these days are not good times to visit. Sundays, many fish markets are closed, and on Mondays, many government buildings are closed…i.e. museums. Rainy days are also not good for touring the city unless you plan to carry an umbrella around, but if you have a smartphone and you don’t mind a little rain, Shibuya can be rather enjoyable.

Shibuya is regarded as a special ward and a major commercial and financial center. Two of the busiest railway stations in the world are here; Shibuya and Shinjuku. I love to visit this city for the cafes and endless photogenic structures and people.







I recommend visiting the Shibuya Scramble, a newly built shopping center with good access points.  Bridges allow for crossing the main intersection for good views fo the cityscape. 

Friday

Ishigaki Islands, the last southern frontier of Japan

The soul of Japan has  evolved into an old blog from  an old fogy man-baby with a young soul.  This blog has evolved…Did I just say that?...   At any rate, I’ve sown seeds folks. No one knows the hand that planted those trees.   I’m an old foggy fogy….man. ( clearing my throat)


In this post: I will cover one  tropical island, some food, and one Japanese sake.  And maybe a little lore. So let's get down to business....



What is sake, again?   => It's called "nihonshu" and it's a drink that has been infused in almost every aspect of Japanese culture and tradition for thousands of years!   The very essence of this drink is considered "divine" here in Japan. It is the balance of water, rice, and koji that gives it its vibe. Then it's bringing these 3 elements together to create the perfect drink.   




The sake I will introduce to you is made by Taikokushuzo, an Okinawa Prefecture brewed sake called "Rei - Mei no Aki Agari" 黎明の秋あがり.  The dawn of a new era Autumn version and she is a Junmai-shu. . Nihonshu do + 4 acid 1.9 and alcohol is 16.4, so a little strong. This sake is best enjoyed with baked fish and salty dishes, very consistent with Okinawan style food.  Expect clean snappy notes with a small tail at the end.


( " Okinawa is not well-known for its nihonshu, and neither is Tokyo but both places brew decent sake.    The axiom is that all food and drinks are good in Japan is true.")



So now that you are setting down with that  nice sake in your imagination we can safely move to the island for tonight's topic.   Ishigaki Island. Just as a side note, Japan has almost 7000 islands, and this island in tonight's post is the most southerly inhabited island in Japan. About a 100km from Taiwan!

A decade ago the prolific Tokyo Governor, Shintaro Ishihara dove into the abyss off the coast of the Yaeyama Island chains to proclaim Japan's territoriality.  A moment I was particularly proud of this moment.    It showed the world Japanese men had balls / kindama!    I too am a nationalist and did the same.



These aren't worth protecting?  The beautiful corals that provide sanctuary for millions of fish and sea creatures...

We rented a boat and rode out to this spot to enjoy the deep of the sea.  I dove 5 times during this last trip and was blessed with beauty every single time.   This is a free diving paradise!



I have to always show my respects to the ancestors of the Japanese at the shrine.   There is a presence here, a deeply profound one.  I can sense the souls that toiled in the fields and in the sands for food and beauty, like a timeless struggle.

And the food, how can I forget about that!  Fresh chilled goya salad with homemade pineapple dressing and pork fried eggs.



Theme music below


End of Winter




Goodbye winter.  I loved you - Ice sicles hanging from your sweet trellises.    I remember you, hot onsen, and how you kissed me..  Coldly with wet lips and sulfur breath.    I am sake blooded, so I am naturally warm and convivial.   Except for the wet cold nose of that wolf  and its thousand yard stare.    The growling shaky throat murmurs bellowing and snorting breathing  exhaling  icy icy cold air...     One  line of fine snot fell upon my shoulder...oooh ....so cold.     But, I guess this is love.  


My Niigata Bitch has a cold nose....But she smelt good on the pot.  I always made sure she ate premium Japanese rice.    The toilet bowl was warmer than her heart at times, but... she loves me.   Winter is like this.    From one extreme to the next.   



Goodnight My Sweet....See you next season.

Monday

Tamagawa-daishi Temple 玉眞院(玉川大師)

 You should play this music on stereo headphones on your way to and from this temple: 



Tamagawa-daishi Temple

玉眞院(玉川大師)


Sacred Underground Tensho Kongoden


8 minute walk from  Futako - Tamagawa Station.   Just follow Google Maps and it’ll be easy to find.    Once you get there, you’ll see a sign that says hats and cameras are forbidden.   



You’ll also need to remove your shoes before entering the main hall.    Tamagawa - daishi Temple is one  of the oldest and most venerated  temples I have ever seen, and I have been to many.   There are 8 seated Buddhas along the back of the alter and  you should pray to each of them, making sure your thumb knuckle touches your forehead  when you pray.  A prayer typically means introducing yourself in Japanese to each God.   Not material prayers.




This is an old and blessed temple of the Shingon Sect of Buddhist.   There is a beautiful orb of energy here that I can’t describe.    Thick ferns and trees with ancient Buddhas tucked behind them and so green back behind the temple.   This temple is extremely famous for having an underground sacred Buddha hall with over 88 Buddhas, and it is called the Tensho Kongoden.     You enter into the dark and merge into the light.   A deep hall with narrow passageways.   You literally descend into pitch blackness.   If you are  a claustrophobic do not go down there.    In the pitch blackness you will come across various patches of soft lighting showcasing old Buddha statues.   Then there is a very narrow, dark, and dank passage that is pitch black and you cannot see anything.    You feel your way through by guiding yourself along the cold concrete wall.    A tiny sparsely lit room appears just ahead of you.


According to your age, you touch the head of each Buddha gently until you reach the Buddha with your age.   Stay there and pray to it.    The experience down there in the darkness is surreal, especially if you love historical relics and ancient Buddhist culture.   The entire design and inspiration for this temple was taken from Shikoku's 88 pilgrimages.  

Saturday

Beauty of the Islands of Japan

Ama Beach
Beauty of the Islands of Japan



The soul of Japan is an old blog, and I have been showcasing the beauty of this country longer than almost any traveller in the world. I will resume today with island hopping. In this post I will talk a little about our recent trip. As you may, or may not know, Japan is comprised of over 6000 islands! It would be impossible to visit all of these islands in one’s lifetime, so I will introduce a few and give you a little information on them. Maybe even inspire you a little.



From Naha Airport you catch a bus to the to the ferry terminal. It’s about a 15 to 20 minute ride. There you board the Zamami Ferry. It’ll take a little over an hour to reach Zamami Islands. The reason for selecting this island is because it’s a good base point for all other islands to hop from. Smaller ferries arrive and depart from this island more frequently than the other tinier islands. 



Zamami has the tiniest village I have ever visited in my life with only one police officer and one stop light on the whole island. There is only one supermarket which is open from 7:30am to 11pm everyday. You will not see any major convenience stores here. This supermarket services all the needs of the island, but has a strict entry requirement - you MUST wear masks.



Lion dog is considered a god in Okinawa



Accommodations are limited, but are reasonably priced. You should be able to find something under $100 a night, or less. I suggest using Trip Advisor or Jalan websites for that. There is only one ATM on the island and it is located at the Japan Post Office near the ferry terminal. There are no taxis and buses run every hour to only two beach locations; Ama Beach and Furuzamami Beach. Ama Beach to me is the pride of Zamami Island. What seems like miles of soft sandy white beaches; beautiful corals; and tiny marine life is like a real paradise.  

Beautiful sea turtles and fish can be seen here.



Island food, my favorite subject.   It goes without saying that the seafood is excellent; I don't need to post a gazillion photos here about that.   However, I will post 2 photos instead of dishes that I highly recommend.   One of the most well-known local snacks is called Spam onigiri  / rice balls with eggs, mayo, and spam.    Every morning at 7:30 am the 105 Grocery Store will have warm fresh spam onigiri out on a tray.   I could not stop eating these.


Next up I highly recommend a truly local dish called "mozoku soba" seaweed soba served slightly chilled with iced cold beer.


This locally harvested seaweed is basically flavorless, but has a nice jelly like consistency which enhances the experience when eating the noodles.   The restaurant can be found here.


Japanese Beauty & Power

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Walking in residential districts in Tokyo

  There are many…)   1 Chome-26-6 Mishuku, Setagaya City, Tokyo 154-0005 Mishiku & Taishido areas   A true heaven for walk enthusiasts w...