Showing posts from January, 2014

Chocolate salty balls?

Downtown Tokyo, high-end chocolatier, Valentine's range, slight English fail.

Or maybe not... perhaps they're just getting into the swing of things.

Lake Teganuma revisited

So, it's a new year and, although I'm not normally one for resolutions, I've decided not to start all my posts on here with, 'so'. Starting next time, obviously. No real reason except the usual; got bored, but it is surprising I think. Not that I've decided to change, but that it's taken me 2 years to get bored. Having said that, I will still use it (clearly I like it), just not to start every post. I wouldn't want it to end up being my sole legacy when my blog life wanes (as they all do), like a washed up comedian's crap catchphrase ('turned out shite again!').

Anyway, I had half a day to myself, and thought about heading to the hills (particularly my local one; Tsukuba-san). But it was a national holiday and I'm not one for group walking. A large part of the reason I walk is for solitude. I want to commune with nature. If I wanted to commune with people, I'd just go to a pub, would't I? And of course, sometimes I do, but today I…

Hatsumoude 2 - Shibamata

Following on from our New Year's Eve bell-ringing pilgrimage, we went down to the nearby Taishakuten Temple in Shibamata a couple of days later, to pray for good luck for the new year. Actually, not being particularly religious or superstitious, I went down mainly to to soak up the atmosphere and to get myself some tasty festival food; a surprisingly scrumptious kebab, as it turned out. It must be 10 years since I had one of those. Probably don't need another for at least 10 more.

Shibamata is absolutely mobbed around New Year time, and is probably the most popular place for hatsumoude in our area after Narita-san. There was a real buzz of excitement at the station and on the narrow and tightly-packed shopping streets leading towards the temple, even narrower today due to the myriad food stalls and the fact that all the regular shops had sales points set up on the street. Not so much as exit through the gift shop, as exit the gift shop through the temple.

At the temple, we got i…

East Jujo to North Senju

So, I worked myself free from my various duties for a city walk one beautiful sunny afternoon between Christmas and New Year. I did have a vague idea of where I was going and what I wanted to shoot, but of course I was flexible with myself to the point of randomness and, as usual, it made all the difference in terms of enjoyment.

I'd heard that Higashi (East) Jujo was a kind of cool, old style shopping area in the north-east part of Tokyo. I was expecting back lanes, funky little coffee shops and restaurants, and a bohemian buzz. There was an element of that, but actually it was a bigger area than I'd thought, and largely it was just one long covered arcade, similar to that found in a lot of out-of-town districts in the city. In any city. It did have a charm though, and I scouted a few spots that will undoubtedly get more attention at some point in the future.

On the way up there I'd seen from the train a large park which looked interesting near the station just before, so w…

Hatsumoude 1 - Joya no kane

So, for Hatsumoude (visiting a temple around New Year) this year, we decided on a little Joya no Kane (ringing the temple bell ceremony), which takes place at all temples at midnight on New Year's Eve. The bells are tolled 108 times, which corresponds to the number of evil desires people suffer from in this life. Tolling the bell rids us of our passions and purifies us ready for the coming year. Okay...

Anyway, our local temple is less than a kilometre's walk from our house, so we all wrapped up in wool and fleece (complete with Christmas scarves and ear-warmers) and strolled up there together. Despite it's proximity, this was the first time we'd taken the family there on New Year's Eve. There were a lot of people there, and we were worried we might be too late; that we wouldn't be in the first 108 people and get our shot. It turns out though, that at our temple, everyone can ring the bell, regardless of the number. Again, okay...

The whole thing was great though…

Top 20...

Following on from the previous post, here are the also rans. Great albums, lots of play, but didn't make the list. In no particular order...

Black Sabbath - 13

Cate Le Bon - Mug Museum  

Daniel Avery - Drone Logic

David Bowie - The Next Day 

Four Tet - Beautiful Rewind

John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts

Le Carousel - Le Carousel