Aaaaand some more cute stuff. I’ll be honest, it’s mostly penguins…

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OK, I still haven’t been. It’s not because I don’t know how to buy tickets! I have the instructions written in my notebook and everything, I just keep forgetting to book them. You see you can’t just show up and buy them, you have to buy them in advance from Lawson (a convenience store) and you have to buy them for a specific time of day, The time/day can’t be changed and as you can buy tickets up to three months in advance you really have to plan ahead. So anyway, we were in Inokashira park and suddenly realised that hey, we’re next to the Ghibli Museum. We were just standing outside looking in when I remembered that the Laputa robot statue is on the roof! I got very excited and walked quickly (wasn’t excited enough to like, run) round the building and sure enough, you can see it from outside! Yes! There were a few museum staff around but other people were taking photos so I went ahead. Then one of the guys at the gate came up to us and I thought “Laaame” but he wasn’t coming to tell us to stop, no no! He said we should go over to the entrance where we could take photos of the giant Tototo at the ticket gate! Thank you lovely Ghibli Museum man! So we did and now I am more determined than ever to book tickets and actually GO.

Sakura Sakura

April 4, 2011

Some cherry blossom photos from Inokashira park. It was a bit of a dull day but I really loved the area. Went to a lovely vegetarian cafe called Deva Deva and then walked around the park a bit until we got to the Ghibli Museum (Next post! Don’t get excited! No, really!) I think I’d like to live in this area…*sigh*

Went to the Grasshopper Manufacture event at Shinjuku Loft Plus One on Wednesday and guess who were there? Vanilla Beans! Yay! I do rather love their videos, they always look sort of bored and their dance moves are all slightly half hearted. Anyway, their performance was very cute! Their dresses: so monochrome and matching! I saw them on the way out of the venue and I wanted to take a photo but they were so cute I got really embarrassed and forgot how to say ANYTHING in Japanese (not that I can say a lot to begin with…).  Also I had a massive cold and was probably a bit drunk, oh dear. They said something and then the lady next to them said something but I got so flustered I just apologised and ran away! OK, I walked, but I was still running away. I realised as I was leaving that what was probably the case was that they were asking for donations in exchange for a polaroid photo with them! By this time I was so embarrassed I just couldn’t go back! I wanted to but couldn’t face it so I headed off into the night instead. Oh well. It was a fun night anyway, apart from the cold. I took a few videos too, might upload later! Here are some photos though, cute!

Hiroshima

February 18, 2011

We went to Hiroshima last weekend and I just thought I’d post some photos and write down some thoughts. I’ll split the trip into two posts, one about the Peace Memorial and one about Miyajima.

So, the Peace Memorial Park. Here are some pictures:

Of course you know you’re probably going to feel sad when you go there. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. I’ve been to a lot of war museums and sites of battles and things and I think in the West it’s the war cemeteries that always seem to upset me the most. You know, all those lines of identical pale grey concrete stones. All those ages, so many eighteen year olds and nineteen year olds.

Anyway, when you get off the streetcar at the A-bomb Dome stop you turn around and the dome is right there next to the road. Just right there in your face. It is eerie. Lots of people around taking photos. I really felt it would be weird to do the whole posing and doing peace signs thing (although lots of people were…odd, right?) so I just took lots of pictures of the building.

We walked over to the hypocentre, directly beneath where the bomb actually went off. It’s just this tiny plaque on the side of the road surrounded by garages. Very weird. Looked up, saw an apartment block, streetlights and wires. Impossible to imagine an explosion in this sky.

The layout of the park is beautiful. As you stand between the cenotaph and the museum and look through the arch you see the flame and the dome, all perfectly aligned. The museum itself is very calm and sort of unsensational. There are graphic images but  not many, it really doesn’t need to show much in order to shock. The model of Hiroshima before and after pretty much speaks for itself:  Model one shows a busy town full of buildings , model two: a wasteland with a few scattered concrete shells.

It’s upstairs that it gets very upsetting. This is where they exhibit objects damaged by the bomb. There are girders and wall sections and so on and then there are items of clothing and lunchboxes and rucksacks and hats. Most of the items belonged to children who were out working, demolishing buildings for firelanes. There were no air raid warnings that morning so  there were far more children outside than there would normally have been. The repetitiveness of the stories was just so sad. Despite horrific burns, so many of them somehow made it home after the blast only to die hours or days afterwards. So many parents rushed to the site hoping to find their children but instead finding their children’s bodies, or bits of clothing or nothing at all. The museum doesn’t hold back from explaining the gruesome physical symptoms people suffered from and there are graphic pictures of burns and very detailed descriptions of what the explosion did to people’s bodies at the moment of the blast and in the aftermath.

For some reason though, the story that really got me was of a woman whose husband was killed in the blast. She rushed to his office and found nothing but collapsed filing cabinets and some bones, next to his lunchbox and pipe.

After the museum we went to the National Peace Memorial Hall and sat down there for a while. There was no one else around and it was very peaceful. Outside there was a slideshow of victims faces and a scrolling list of their names. One girl, wearing a junior high school uniform, grabbed my attention. She looked so cool, she looked like she should be a singer in a sixties girl band, not dead in an atomic bomb explosion.

There are lots of resources at the memorial hall, a library, databases where you can access information about victims and their lives and about what happened that day. There’s such a big focus, not only on nuclear disarmament but also on eliminating war. I know it may seem futile but there is still something in that quiet persistence, in the idea that if we just keep calmly repeating how tragic this was and how tragic all war is then maybe someday, somehow peace will be a reality.

Autumn leaves are falling

November 22, 2010

So like I said, I was on a leaf viewing mission. Autumn leaves, like cherry blossom, are a big deal here in Japan. And the constant leaf updates stress me out! I just wanted to see some…and not obsess over exactly where the best ones would be and exactly when they would change colour. As it happened we saw lots. I guess Tofukuji had the most colourful but everywhere we went was beautiful. I think I’d like to live in Kyoto. I’m always thinking I’d like to live places though. I wish for once I could live somewhere that I really really wanted to live and that I could wake up each day happy that I lived there. Oh dear, this is meant to be a happy leaf post. Ignore me! Look! Colours! The reds, the greens, the yellows!

 

Oh Maiko

November 22, 2010

Went to Kyoto last weekend on an Autumn leaf hunting MISSION. There are photos of leaves, of course, but there are also pictures of me dressed up as a maiko. It was a fun thing to do. I really love getting my make up done. It’s not like getting a haircut, you can just lie back and look forward to whatever the make up artist is doing and if it’s all that bad you can just wash your face. Of course I wasn’t unhappy with the results! Especially the lips. Goodness me they were amazing, I wish I could apply lipstick like that… *sigh*

I removed everything except the eye make up afterwards, managed to keep that on all day :)

We went to Shiki Sakuraten and they were very nice so you should go there if you fancy dressing up as a maiko, geiko or samurai!

Take Me To The River

October 11, 2010

A lovely riverside spot in Tado! It’s beautiful, like something out of a movie. We stayed til dark and I wasn’t scared but thinking about it afterwards I’m surprised I wasn’t, it was really completely dark! The water was gorgeous and clear :)

I was in Tokyo for a about a week so no updates, sorry!! I know, I know, it IS possible to update when I’m not at home but I just didn’t quite get round to it! Of course the main reason I was in Tokyo was the Tokyo Game Show and I will put some pictures up from that (only pictures of cute things though!) but I haven’t put them on my computer yet so in the meantime: Sanrio Puroland. We went there on the Tuesday after TGS.

You know how lots of people in Japan seem to really, seriously love Disneyland/Disneysea? Sometimes people even say things like “It makes me happy” or “It gives me dreams”. OK, so I can never imagine myself feeling that way about Disneyland because (Sssh, secret!) I’m not much of a Disney fan. Sanrioland on the other hand, made me feel the way I imagine Disney fans feel at their theme park of choice.

It’s amazing of course! It’s in the middle of this nothing area. All grey, mid height buildings and businesses and then suddenly this massive pink castle, right next to a road. It’s a little bit rusty and tumbledown on the outside but inside it’s fantastic. Once through the ticket barriers you look ahead and see this giant fake tree (“The Wisdom Tree”) and all these little nooks and pathways all around it, it’s hard to figure out where to go first!

First we went on the boatride. It was very cute but I have to admit I was a little scared! We were in a  boat, alone, and as you go along, little scenes light up with music and voices. I was distracted enough by the cuteness not to be too freaked out but ever since a terrifying walkthrough ride featuring historical scenes and sinister talking cats I went to with my Mum and brother in Weymouth when I was little I’ve been pretty scared of rides like this (Darkrides I think they’re called?).

OK, the rest of the place offered no complicated cute-fear combinations, it was all cute. We saw a show in the Discovery Theatre (Golden Age of sci fi inspired!) featuring Cinnamon, two lovely dancing ladies in awesome costumes and the audience participation catchphrase “Power of…communication!” I normally HATE audience participation but…I participated, I even did the whole making-a-heart-with-your-hands gesture! Loser!

The Kitty Lab attraction is fascinating too. A mini Kitty village! I was really bad at most of the games but never mind! Kitty’s house is adorable. Although…if you were Kitty, would you really want a pink bath shaped like your own head? Or a mirror? Or a sofa? Isn’t that a little weird really?!

Managed not to buy tooo many things. Bought elaborate bentos purely for the packaging rather than the actual food and found Tuxedo Sam goods which are almost never available! Also met some characters and went slightly mental cause they’re so impossibly cute. Especially Mocha with her sad eyes!! She kept looking up at me and making hug movements with her arms! Yes I know it’s a person in a costume!!

So you see..you really should go to Sanrio Puroland. It made me feel relaxed, happy and amazing. It gave me dreams!! ;P

Here is a massive gallery of photos to look at, enjoy!

And now I am going to try to tidy away all the stuff that came back with me from Tokyo :( Will try to update again this evening!

Overdue, I know. Also, I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures because I didn’t take my camera *gasp!* so any pics are from my phone or Danny’s phone. I know, why didn’t I take it? We-ell..I just decided that I didn’t feel like carrying it around and I didn’t want to spend the whole time looking for cool stuff to photograph. I just wanted to walk around, feel good, listen to music and be! I do love taking pictures, really, it’s just that…well my gig pictures never look thaaat great anyway and I wanted to be unencumbered! It was a good idea, I think. I mean, it was insanely hot of course so…the less to carry around the better really! Of course within minutes of getting there we’d bought T-shirts and the most awesome bag ever (it has Morten Harket’s face on it) but they weren’t so heavy. Anyway…

I’ve been to a lot of gigs over the years but not a lot of festivals. I think this year’s Summer Sonic was the closest I’ve come to a ‘Perfect Festival Experience’. OK-no camping. I know for some people that’s a great big deal but I hate camping so the lack of tents was a bonus to me! Also the line-up, while good, wasn’t perfect or anything. I loved it though. I went last year too and I spent quite a bit of time feeling kinda stressed out. I still enjoyed it, I just felt a little frazzled and missed out on a lot of bands I wanted to see through sheer exhaustion. This year felt a lot more chilled out. We went down to the front more often and danced more! Maybe the dancing helped. It sounds lame but, dancing surrounded by hundreds of other people dancing just makes me feel really happy and free. It makes me feel like -Hippy Alert!-everyone is connected.

Here is a list of the bands/singers we saw:

7th August:
One OK Rock, the pillows, The Drums (end of set only), Band of Horses, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Jonsi, Stevie Wonder

8th August:
Hurts (end of set only), Yes Giantess, Two Door Cinema Club (end of set only), Delphic, Passion Pit, a-ha, The Offspring, Jay Z (beginning of set only), Calvin Harris

One OK Rock were good at SHOUTING VERY LOUD. The pillows were very happy and self deprecating. The singer stopped a few times to go “Atsui desu ne?” (“It’s hot, right?”) and to comment on what was playing on the loudspeakers over on the main stage. I really thought they were going to launch into ‘Jump’ by Van Halen at one point! Band of Horses were lovely and had pretty background visuals (I wish they’d played ‘Monsters’ though!). BRMC were great, we were almost right at the front for them. I’ve only ever owned their first album and hearing them really reminded me of high school. It was one of my ‘zoning out’ CDs. (‘Red eyes and tears, no more for you my love, I fear, no more tears, no more tears, I’m in love…’). Jonsi was the only artist of the weekend to make me cry a little (a-ha were close though!!). His voice is equally beautiful in real life, it really is unreal, like crystal, and heartbreaking. He looked like some kind of broken angel on stage. Heart rending.

And Stevie Wonder? Wow, what a special guy! He had me from the moment he stepped on stage dressed in head to toe white and playing a white keytar (which he proceeded to play lying down and then behind his head). His backing singers were awesome. How much would I love to be a backing singer!? I want to sing and do very literal mimes! Their miming for ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’? Immaculate!! They mimed signing something, folding an envelope and handing it to someone! Me too please! At one point he had the crowd chanting “Free, from racism!”, “Free, from poverty!” and so on. He brought some of his children on stage and later professed his conviction that he’s “Gonna have some more children, yeah!”. He sang ‘Happy Birthday’ and invited everyone to record it so that, in case today was not their birthday, they could play it when it was their birthday and remember this moment! Oh wow. My cynical little heart melted into a puddle. It was such a warm, lovely performance. Everyone seemed really happy, loved it. Thanks, Stevie Wonder.

Next day we started off with Yes Giantess. They were pretty energetic and fun. Two Door Cinema Club was PACKED and had a moshpit and everything.  Delphic I quite liked and danced around to a lot. Passion Pit are one of those bands I’ve failed to check out but have been meaning to. Really liked them. A-ha were, of course, fabulous. Morten Harket looks amazing. No ‘Manhattan Skyline’ though!! They finished with ‘Take on Me’ and as they left the stage Magne Furuholmen muttered something like “What else could we play?”. Not angrily, more cheerfully matter-of-factly! This was their last ever gig in Japan (not that I ever REALLY believe artists when they say ‘Farewell Tour’…) so lots of people were shouting stuff like “Morten!! Thank you so much!!”, “I love you!” and so on. Some people were waving little Norwegian flags! Incidentally this was the only show where there appeared to be someone passing out in the audience. She didn’t, she clung on to the railings but she really, really looked like she was about to faint the whole way through…

After a-ha we saw The Offspring and the start of Jay Z (pretty lights) then headed over to the Dance Stage to catch Calvin Harris’ DJ set. I was terribly tired but threw myself into dancing for the next hour anyway. It was so much fun. No one pushing, everyone just jumping around like crazy and throwing their hands in the air. Lovely. So left the festival feeling hippie-ishly mellow :)