Tag Archives: Tokyo

Japan Running

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Runner by the river at wintertime in Kyoto

What I like about taking spontaneous snapshots of runners is that the pictures portray running in its most honest form – no staged ones.  I remember one Christmastime, I took snapshots of runners in Boracay Island, Philippines. Similarly in Japan, I took few running pictures in springtime and wintertime, of which I’ll share today.

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Presumably an ultrarunner who has started very early somewhere, and still running by noon here in Kawagoe

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Boys running in Asakuyama Park at springtime in Tokyo

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A group of school kids running in Kawagoe

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Potted Wisteria

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Strolling in Kajiwara somewhere near the streetcar station, I spotted a wisteria on a pot. Container flower gardening is their way of beautifying the frontage of their small homes or shops and one of the many street scenes I find pleasantly cute in Japan.

Red Post Box

Red postal collection boxes in Japan.

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Japan’s Medieval Broomstick

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How about a quidditch match?

Outdoor broom used in Japan that’s made from twigs tied together on a stick. Something medieval looking in futuristic Japan.

Healthy Seniors

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Ageing workers are a common sight in Japan, whether self-employed, or employed in some sort of physical job like park maintenance. Perhaps older people in Japan are healthier as compared to other countries for they seem to be free from all sorts of old age disabilities.

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Making sure that water flows unimpeded

I think it’s a wise move to do physical work to retain strength, earn at the same time, and make themselves productive members of society even long past their retirement age. Generally, Japanese work longer and it’s a cultural thing.

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She works in that shop

A Thousand Cranes

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Garlands of senbazuru (thousand cranes)

I’ve came upon garlands of one thousand folded cranes a few times in shrines suchlike the cattle shrine in this post, and also at the Yamashita shrine in Cavinti, Philippines. 

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Cattle deity at Ushijima Shrine in Tokyo

A garland of one thousand cranes is a symbolic offering in shrines, though I’m also aware about the traditional practice in Japan to give one to a sick person. It is a belief that the perseverance of folding a thousand cranes rewards one a wish, a wish of good health for instance.

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Origami crane on a tatami mat in my hotel (out of a flyer I got in the subway station). It is said that the mythological tsuru (crane) can live for a thousand years

Tsuru is a beautiful creature for it symbolizes a thousand years of life, a thousand years of happiness, and a thousand years of love.

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Origami crane as my office cubicle ornamentation. One day, a thousand of these to give...

Some Notes on Rice

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Rice store in Minowa

Rice sold and served in Japan are mostly from Japan. At the grocery stores, only Japanese rice is available for local consumers. Moreover, the rice bought from a konbini or served in restaurants is locally produced.  I even saw a sign in one establishment saying they only serve Japanese rice.

All the gohan (cooked rice) I’ve had in there were superior in taste. There is no such thing as inferior rice in Japan, I suppose.

These were my observations in Tokyo…as I have deep love for rice, all sorts of excellent rice.

Rail Vehicle Adoration

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Japanese have very deep attachment to trains. They are even experts in making them such as this shinkansen

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The view from Asukayama Park. People love train watching

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From where I'm standing, there's picnic table and those trees below have been felled so as not to obstruct the railroad view, presumably. Obviously this spot in Asukayama park is intended for train viewing

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Little boys are crazy over trains. This father and son in Minami-senju are waiting for trains to pass in the multiple tracks below

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What the father and son are viewing

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Antique steam locomotive on the left and a non-working streetcar on the right in a children's playground. Kids are free to go inside and play pretend

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Tin tram toy (streetcar)

Unidentified Kakanin in Japan

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Not far from mochi taste at all

Looks like Philippine kakanin (rice cake) with its sticky rice and unidentified leaf packaging. However, it has bean paste filling which is very common in traditional confections of Japan.

Thoughtful Day at Tokyo Disneyland

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Amazing how many people love Disneyland

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Plenty of visitors even on this day, a weekday. Families, couples or groups like those in orange hats

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Springtime at this time

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Students in uniform, and if they're here for a physics field trip, then good. The rides are all about physics

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There is such thing as baby stroller parking

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Not about Newton's Law of Motion this time, but I was curious what this grandma has to say

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Grandma's prophecy: Something mystical or something random?

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Snow white waved at the end of the day

Nukazuke

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Nuka bed in plastic buckets

There are countless of variations man has come up with when it comes to preserving vegetables. In Japan, they have this nukazuke and it refers to vegetables that were fermented using roasted rice bran.

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Sometimes it's more healthful to eat fermented radish than fresh ones

Nukazuke is a subset of what they call tsukemono, a general term for preserved vegetable or fruit. Rice bran fermentation is just one of the many methods in preparing tsukemono.

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Easy to locate this shop selling fermented stuff along Minowa covered street, just follow your nose

Flying Folk Art

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In Nihonbashi, Tokyo, there is this private museum of traditional Japanese kites at the 5th floor of a building where the Taimeiken restaurant is. These are the private collections of Mr. Shingo Modegi, the former master of the Taimeiken restaurant. His successor Mr. Masaaki Modegi is presently the restaurant master and curator of the kite museum. We truly have to be thankful to these two for sharing this wonderful collection.

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Kite flying is a folk game not just in Japan, but other countries as well. Variations come in the form kite’s craftsmanship. I’ve seen the wau kite in Malaysia with its elaborate detail and moon-like form, very beautiful enough for this cultural icon to be used by Malaysian Airlines as their logo.

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One day, I really have to see for myself these kites actually flying at the festivals in Kelantan, Malaysia or in Shizuoka, Japan. For these kites aren’t just folk games, these are flying folk arts.

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Tokyo Snapshots: Wall Art

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Kawaii Omiyage

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A box of 10 streetcar cakes

Omiyage culture of Japan is akin to the oleh-oleh habit of Indonesians and the customary pasalubong in the Philippines. 

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A wrapping paper for the streetcar box with cute map of the Toden Arakawa Line

A souvenir from a trip is something you buy for yourself while an omiyage (or oleh-oleh or pasalubong) is something you buy for others. Normally something edible, a food specialty.

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Five streetcar designs

Whereas the oleh-oleh and pasalubong have normal packaging, Japanese cuteness reflects on its omiyage packaging. So cute. So kawaii.

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A streetcar box for the streetcar cake

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Streetcar cake. Wafer-like on the outside with red bean paste filling. It's like mochi or hopia

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Candies packaged like ekiben from a confectionery shop in Kawagoe

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Kawaii candies

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More candies in cute packaging

Metered Cooking

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Coin operated cooking stove in a backpacker's hotel. It's ¥10 for about 10 minutes of usage

By The Sumida River, I Ran

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Tartan track by the river. I guess the Taito-ku urban planner must be a runner

During my Tokyo visit, I regularly run by the Sumida River in Taito Ward which is just a seven-minute running distance from where I stayed.

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The river view

The path by the river is an ideal place for running with its lovely water view and tartan track.

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Obviously it's spring time

Running and traveling go together as one can run and observe everyday life at the same time. In this case, the morning life in Tokyo.

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One can do interval training in this track

With running, one can also wander far in the corners and side streets than by any other means for a much deeper understanding of the place and its residents.

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Running will be most beautiful when the cherry trees are in full bloom

Thus, my morning run makes a delightful introductory paragraph in every full day chapter of my Tokyo wanderings.

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Run across any of the bridges spanning the Sumida river like this one to run more at the other side. See those white birds on the river wall ?

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With all the runner-friendly amenities included in the city's urban planning (especially clean public toilets that never run out of toilet paper), isn't it better to be out there running regularly (when in Tokyo) than not at all?

Tokyo Snapshots: Ameyoko Market

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Fish vendor in towel-wrapped head

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Another fish vendor

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Fruit and vegetable vendor

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Tako (octopus)

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Takoyaki (octopus balls)

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A temple (Tokudai-ji) within the market street

Sweet Potato Fans

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Sweet potato from a shop in Minowa covered street in Tokyo

Japanese are fond of sweet potato. I’ve seen somebody snacking on boiled sweet potato somewhere. Seems she prepared it at home, placed in her tote as an ‘on the go’ snack.  I’ve tried the cut caramelized sugar-coated chilled ones and a sample of boiled ones from Kawagoe City in Saitama Prefecture. I even saw a shop selling sweet potato ice cream in that place.

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A store selling salted sweet potato fries in Kitain Temple Grounds at Tsuchiura City, Ibaraki Prefecture

When I was at Tsuchiura City, I’ve blissfully snacked on the salted cut ones, in other words ‘sweet potato fries’ but thicker in pieces.

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Salted sweet potato, a delicious oxymoron

And so based from I had eaten so far, I think Japan’s sweet potato variety is superior than what I’ve had (so far since childhood) in the Philippines.

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A shopkeeper in Kawagoe selling sweet potato snacks. Sweet potato is a specialty of Kawagoe, so naturally the mascot of this place is a sweet potato

Step On Signs

Sometimes, the road is the most effective place to put signs.

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Cycling Commandment

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Thou shalt not cycle with umbrella

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