Skip to main content

There's No Raining on Our Parade

On Sunday I went to a CAMP Yale BBQ at the American Embassy Dormitories in the heart of Tokyo.


The complex is located in Akasaka, right in the middle of the city. There are three "towers" like the one above, each with a different color assigned to the balconies. Personally they remind me a lot of the Piet Mondrian paintings: the ones that are white canvasses with stark black lines and occasional blocks of primary colors.

Despite the rainy weather we held our BBQ outside (albeit with a gazebo and pop-up tent handy). There was a bouncy castle for the children present, while the adults did both an egg toss and a water balloon toss for Tokyo Embassy-themed prizes. Then there was classic American BBQ fare--hotdogs, burgers, grilled chicken, potato salad, corn salad, watermelon, brownies and beer. The Yale community here seems really friendly and I hope I'll get to know everyone more over the course of my time here.





Interestingly, right across from these dormitories is a shinto shrine, Hikawa Jinja, built by the Tokugawa Yoshimune, the 8th Tokugawa shogun. The shrine has very densely wooded grounds, and the effect is somewhat like entering a quiet forest when one least expects it.

The rainy season is certainly starting to show its colors, however. The next few days are all cloudy, if not raining, and the humidity is creeping upward in a direction that makes me blanch, just a little bit.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.

Cat Cafe

Today I went with my host brother to a cat cafe for "research". Yes it is a cafe and yes it has (canned) coffee, but also I really really really wanted to go to a cat cafe. By doing a little research, I found one off a convenient train station that not only didn't require a reservation in advance, but had free drinks and was actually significantly less expensive for more time than other cafes. On to Nyankoto!

For cat lovers, this is paradise:

This shop had fifteen cats, each with their own names and personality described in a photo book:

This cat's name is Kinta and he's a mix--though most of the cats there were breeds I was unfamiliar with and had fur of various kinks and degrees of fluffiness. 
They were all very social, active cats as well.

Kinta greeted my host brother by literally jumping on his back. 
The other cats often ran around chasing each other (one was a very energetic kitten, so he was always pouncing on the others) or flopping down to be pet in co…

Shibuya and Ebisu

The past few days I've been in the Shibuya and Ebisu areas (think: south-west side of Tokyo) to check out some of the up-and-coming cafes, as well as wander around the neighborhood. I've decided that wherever I go, I'm going to find something to do in addition to spending 3-5 hours in coffee shops--while the research and the people I meet are incredible I do regret that I don't get to spend as much time exploring the other aspects of Tokyo. 
Yesterday in Shibuya I checked out The Local Coffee Stand, Coffeehouse Nishiya, and The Theater Coffee. The Local is a pretty unassuming space, even though it is on a main street. It's goal is to be the sort of jumping-off point for people just getting in to specialty coffee: they showcase beans from local roaster and run a website called "Good Coffee" in both Japanese and English to help people find "that local spot" in a neighborhood near to them. I'm including a link to the site, HERE. CLICK THIS.

Co…