Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hanami hoedown

So thus far in 2010 spring has yielded approximately 1.7 days of nice weather, and it just so happened that on the one full day where the sun came out and the air was warm, we had planned to go to our swing dancing friend Nammy's hanami party in Tsutsujigaoka park.

Hanami literally means "flower viewing", and it's a yearly tradition that takes place every spring, around when the blossoms come out. People take a picnic lunch, head to a good viewing spot, sit under some trees and eat and drink for several hours. And they take a lot of pictures.

It can get pretty busy!

So we sat with our friends and talked and ate delicious food and drank sparkling wine. Mirabel made ANZAC biscuits, which turned out nicely (it was the 25th, after all). And we danced a little swing in the park on a nice day.

Of course, people also brought their ridiculous, tiny dogs, and put jackets on them for the occasion.

Here I am getting well into the spirit of hanami with a conbini-bought can of beer, standing under a pretty tree. This is what it is all about.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Osaka dash!

A couple of weekends ago, on April 10, we got on a plane and flew to Osaka for one night only. Our mission: to see legendary 90s indie rock band Pavement! Pavement are newly reformed and on a world tour, having originally broken up back in 1999 (a few years before I started listening to them).

And we got to hang with our good pal Darlene again while we were there, of course. Bonus!

This is the view from the balcony of Darlene's sweet bachelorette pad. This is a pretty remarkable apartment view for Japan, where usually you'd be looking at the walls of other apartment blocks. The kids below are playing a nice Sunday morning game of softball.

She also has Beatles Rock Band, which Mirabel totally wailed on. Also pictured is Sarah, who came with us from Sendai. She didn't wail quite as hard as Mirabel.

Pavement were amazing, by the way. We didn't take any pictures, but here's the setlist they played, in case you're interested.

In The Mouth of a Desert
Shady Lane
Father To A Sister of Thought
Silence Kit
Rattled By The Rush
Kennel District
Zurich Is Stained
Range Life
Loretta's Scars
Starlings of The Slipstream
Two States
Fight This Generation
Summer Babe
Cut Your Hair

Date With Ikea
Debris Slide
Stop Breathin'

Encore 2:
Box Elder
Trigger Cut
Spit On A Stranger
Gold Soundz
Conduit For Sale!

Pretty great setlist! They played lots of my favourite songs and we had basically an awesome time. The venue was good, the lighting was stunning, and the band was all kinds of nerdy cool.

Later, I reinterpreted the broken wear manouevre for the Osaka subway system.

We met these lovely ladies as we made our way into a karaoke place. Note the spooky contacts and Gaga-esque police tape.

The next day, we took a ride on a ferris wheel. Darlene didn't enjoy the heights too much.

And this time we played a game of Rambo at Club Sega. We regretted not sticking with the ususal House of the Dead though. Shooting zombies is way more fun.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Miyagi and Sendai ALT Show

The ALT's of Sendai and Miyagi have an annual art and culture show. This year the theme was Colo(u)rs.
Gareth and I took part.

Our work was a drawing called Colour Me Tender - a mixture of things we have seen and dreamed in Japan. And to help keep the yoU in colour visitors to the show coloured it in! Hurrah!

We also played backing band for our friend Mina and her fellow tin whistler in crime. We were Mina O' Greb and the Impostors (Mina had the only bit of Irish ancestry between us)

Gareth and I also ran a Swing Dancing for Beginners workshop which was jolly good fun! We will put photos up when we get hold of some.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tokyo sakura

Today is April 17th, we are over a month and a half into spring and its snowing outside.
We have yet to experience hanami (traditional blossom viewing custom) in Sendai, however we did get to enjoy it in Tokyo a couple of weekends ago (♥o♥)

Our hotel was in the suburb of Naka-itabashi which happened to be close to a relatively people free, blossom lined canal. Here are some photos starting with this awesome "pigeon in flight in blossom"...

Look at the fluffy dog teehee

Then, advised by our lovely friend Sasayu and the helpful lady at Hello Sandwich we went to Naka-meguro to view more blossoms.

Naka-meguro was so lovely! Next to the canal were windy streets dotted with vintage clothes and curios shops (I spent far too much money), handmade designy shops, delicious smelling and looking cafes and a swoonful florist shop.

We went to a sneaky secret cafe (also recommended by Hello Sandwich - keep your eyes peeled for her Tokyo Guide available soon!!) called Aoya. It was so busy they sold out of everything but one dish! But that was ok - because the dish was delicious! A hot spicy curryish thing (we didn't quite know what we were getting). But we certainly knew what we wanted for dessert.

Mochi, matcha ice-cream, azuki beans and fruit!

Oh and while in Naka-itabashi we went to a delightful cafe next to the station called Pan & Cafe Needs. It was teeny - only three seats! But the food was scrumptious - almond bagels, blueberry bagels, salmon and cream cheese bagels and oh the pastries!

We ate the closest thing we could find to a hot cross bun, chocolatey with a lump of cream cheese - but it definitely had a cross.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Zōri Making

Crafternoon went to town a couple of weekends ago to learn how to make a traditional Japanese shoe called Zori. We learnt how to weave a fabric version of the shoe, often worn in the summer.

After choosing our fabrics Kumi and Hannah get their stretch on.

Weaving the strips of knit fabric around thick twine.

Admiring the model shoes.

Adding the strap

And finished! tadaaa! Just like that.

They were simple to make, heaps of fun and only took us 2 hours.
Unfortunately they are way too small for our giant feet to actually wear, but they do look pretty.

pastel street party

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sendai dash!

Contained within this informative video are shots of various Sendai landmarks, like Ichibancho, Jozenji-dori and Matsushima. Sadly, we've never seen this guy around town, but I think we'll be on the lookout for red parkas after this. Please enjoy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010