Monday, May 23, 2011

babes in the city

Our lovely friends Kumi and Joel fell in love, he proposed she said "hai" and last weekend they got married.

But before we blog about the wonders of a traditional Japanese wedding this short post is about Kumi's Hens Night in Tokyo, held a few weekends beforehand.

First there was an afternoon picnic in Kumi's parents garage with snazzy sandwiches, fizzy wines, scones, doilies and paper pom-poms.

かんぱい Kumi!

Afterwards we went to a Phantom of the Opera themed restaurant with gigantic chandeliers, mask shaped crackers and dramatic music.

Followed by dancing and McDonalds in the wee small hours. Classy babes.

Next post: the wedding.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

kuma no ashi

The weather is just so lovely right now - bare legs, sunscreen and ice-creams.
On sunday we went off to see Yamadera in its spring green magnificence.

We stopped at the nice soba restaurant again and this time I remembered to take a photo before I wolfed (wolved?) it down. Bowls of tempura soba all around.

Then we had goma (sesame seed) flavoured soft serve ice-cream.

Looking good Gareth

Then we marched on up to the top of the mountain.
Stop taking pictures of small children, Mirabel

The monks' vegetable garden

Unlike last time, and every other temple we have been to in Japan, we were among only a handful of visitors. It was incredibly peaceful.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wonderful Day!

From a Japanese sketch show. Yes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Golden Week Adventures

So because we ran away to Osaka for a spell after the earthquake, we have no leave left to take from work. Last week was "Golden Week", a collection of three public holidays in a row, but those holidays this year were stranded in the Tuesday to Thursday stretch, and thus we were denied a super long weekend. So we stayed close to home, and took a day trip up to Hiraizumi in Iwate.

Hiraizumi is a collection of hilltop temples, the oldest of which are more than 900 years old. Most of the structures were built by the Fujiwara family way back then. They actually built a whole lot more than what is still standing today, but after a "golden age" of about 100 years (not too bad, really) the family fell from prominence. Many buildings were destroyed as the town faded into obscurity over the centuries, but there are still a good number dotted around the place.

We got to see a traditional sword dance, which was seen over by a rickety-looking old man keeping delighfully dubious time on a taiko drum, with a chorus of wooden flutes whistling a repetitious, hypnotic melody. I swear there were shades of Mark E Smith in the incessant, slightly off-key screedling. We dig repetition in the music and we're never going to lose it.

We ate green tea ice creams and wandered around in mossy contemplation.

When the famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho visited the area in 1689 he wrote this:

Ah, summer grasses!
All that remains
Of the warriors' dreams.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The new school year

The 1st years are eagerly writing big and small letters, the 2nd years are becoming too cool for school, and the 3rd years have put their serious student hats on. School life is back up and running.

And I'm enjoying the flowers and decorations around the grounds that seem to be helping everyone keep their chins up.

Hanami picnic parties!

Bring a tarpaulin, your drink of choice, some friends, sit under some cherry blossoms and boom its Hanami!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy belated Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!
Thanks to all the kind aunts, uncles, cousins and mothers for our delicious chocolatey treats.
We managed to hold off scoffing them all till Easter Sunday.

This year we made our own hot cross buns from an Alison and Simon Holst recipe. We made two batches - one for our bun deprived friends and one just for us. Although it took a good chunk out of the day to make them the results were definitely worth it - they were really really yum!!