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Some Musings on Yanaka

For all of its sprawl and historical significance, it's easy to forget that many of the buildings in present-day Tokyo simply didn't exist prior to the firebombings of 1945. But there is one neighborhood that was spared destruction-- Yanaka, an area of the city known for its artisans and literary aficionados. Yanaka is proper shitamachi (lit. "under city") where, during the Edo Period (1603-1868), the "lowbrow" merchants and artisans lived.

So perhaps it's appropriate that one of Yanaka's main attractions is the so-called "Yanaka Ginza," a stretch of pedestrian-only street that has many mom-and-pop stores, mainly specializing in food.



A few blocks away from Yanaka Ginza is Yanaka Bochi (or Yanaka Reien) cemetery, a large (it has it's own police box!) public cemetery known for its spring cherry blossoms. Among its 7,000 or so graves it also has some Tokugawa family plots, but, I was too lazy to go track them down (the most famous Toku…

A Day in the Mori Digital Art Museum

The Mori Building Digital Art Museum was easily the most-anticipated museum opening of 2018 in Tokyo. We have literally been hearing about it for months and taunted with breathtaking promotional videos and the glowing testimony (and endless Instagram photos) of those lucky few who got to preview the 10,000-square-meter facility in Odaiba, one of Tokyo's man-made floating islands.

The Digital Art Museum is the brainchild of teamLab Borderless, and the massive complex is powered by 520 computers and 470 projectors, and when I try to imagine the sheer amount of coding, not to mention artistic planning, that must have gone and will go into these installations it boggles my mind.

Tickets have to be bought in advance and, unsurprisingly, sell out quickly. But I managed to get in during the first month's "early bird" special.  Before I get to the meat of this post--some hopefully drool-worthy photos--here are some essential things I learned:


Absolutely buy your tickets in ad…

Nikko Round 2 and an AFS Reunion

Every time I look over at my desktop calendar at work, I have to do a little double-take: what do you mean it's already July? And yet the mind-melting midday temperatures and humidity consistently remind me that, yes, it is in fact the height of summer in Japan. That means it's time to take daily frigid showers and do whatever it takes to not miss garbage disposal day or risk your apartment smelling like a decomposing trash heap.

I know, that's the image everyone definitely wanted when they opened to this post. So I'll move on (but, in case anyone is interested, you can put food scraps and stuff you don't want to smell into your freezer until you're ready to throw it out!)

Moving on for real this time.

A few weekends ago, I got a shot at redeeming the fun yet somewhat haphazard Golden Week Nikko adventure.

Having learned from the previous trip, we bought train tickets in advance and confirmed exactly where and when transfers would occur and this time the trip …