Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2017

It's Beni-Good Day

Ok so that was a horrible pun. Awful, truly. I shouldn't have exposed you precious readers to that, except I couldn't really help myself.

But what, you may ask, is "beni"?
Beni is the word for safflower, a thistle-like plant that looks like this:


It's a flower that actually has quite a long and cultured history in Japan. Murasaki Shikibu, the Heian-era courtier who wrote the saga "The Tale of Genji" even had a character who was referred to (not always flatteringly) as the "Safflower Princess" because her nose was somewhat large and often red.

Other than this delightful reference, safflowers have been used to create a beautiful (and expensive) red dye in Japan, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries. The flowers originated in Egypt and came to Japan through China via the Silk Road. Even though the flowers are yellow, 1% is, in fact, a red dye. Now, however, there's only one beni company remaining, and they have a small museum in the O…

Coffee, Old Books, and Nationalism

Why, long time no see everyone! It has been a while since I've written. After my mom headed back to the US (just in time to join my brother and dad on the multi-day trip back to college) I returned back to the daily work grind and spent my next few off days taking care of "adult" business like paying bills and grocery shopping and binge watching Outlander online. 
I did write a cool travel article for Time Out Tokyo though which you can read, in a shameless plug, HERE!
However, at some point after returning to "normalcy" I had to have some proper fun again so today I went to Glitch Coffee & Roasters (hinthint expect to hear more about this later) and the surrounding Jinbocho area. 
Glitch Coffee & Roasters was low-key super cool. For [insert surprise reason here] I was able to talk with the shop's founder and current manager, Kiyokazu Suzuki, about his coffee policy and Glitch in general. He also ran a small coffee cupping for us: 

Cupping is basic…

Art in All Forms and Media (The Museum Saga Continues)

Today was my mom's last day in Japan, and the weather gods blessed us with a day that was, for once, cool. It was the first time in days I felt I could be outside without melting into a Claire-shaped puddle and we took advantage of the change in temperature to walk quite a bit. Also I'm so sorry you guys must be so sick of reading about museums, but I can't help it...

So. Our first stop was the Sumida Hokusai Museum.


It's a small museum that exhibits works by Hokusai, particularly those that involve scenery of the Sumida area, where Hokusai live for most of his life. The building is supposed to be shaped like one of the artistic jags of lightning from this particular print of Mount Fuji, which some of you might recognize:


We were fortunate--the museum was currently exhibiting most of Hokusai's well-known "36 Views of Mount Fuji." Not only did they have the three most famous ("The Great Wave off Kanagawa," "South Wind, Clear Sky," and &…

It's Too Darn Hot

It has been so miserably hot and humid these past few days.

Japan is usually such a nice place to visit. Spring? Cherry blossoms! Fall? Beautiful autumnal colors and cool, crisp weather. Winter? To be honest, winter in Japan (unless you're living in the more northern Tohoku region or in Hokkaido) is a pretty mild affair. But SUMMER is the WORST. It's humid, like, all the time. You sweat when you walk, you sweat when you sleep, you sweat just sitting their in your apartment cursing the sun. Your clothes don't dry because the air is essentially water. I would almost prefer that it rained more than it does...it's called the "rainy season" and while, yes, it does rain a bunch it doesn't rain as often as one would assume. The rain, at least, gives you a break from the humidity. So humidity + yesterday and today's 97-ish degree weather meant that when my mom and I were outside we were both suffering. But! We soldiered on.


Our first stop yesterday was the m…

Doing Kanazawa in a Day

Today was the big Kanazawa adventure, and my main shot to prove to my mother why Kanazawa is awesome (spoilers: she liked it).

Knowing that the day was supposed to be miserably hot (another spoiler: it was), we elected to hit our main outdoor activity, Kenrokuen and the grounds of the Kanazawa Castle, early in the morning. Although there's no flowers blooming in this traditional Japanese garden during the height and heat of summer, the entire complex is still a beautiful and peaceful walk. It's easy to see why Kenrokuen is deemed one of the "Three Great Gardens" of Japan.


Here my mother and I are posing with the famed stone lantern of Kenrokuen that perches on the edge of Kasumi Pond.

The most amusing part of visiting the garden, however, was a complete coincidence. In front of a statue of Yamato Takeru (a legendary Japanese prince) another tourist asked me to take his picture, which I was happy to do--it's just par for the course of traveling around. But then we…