Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2012

I found peace, and it was good

Would I push the boundaries of acceptable blogging behavior if I published a few more iris photos?

I've known about this park for a while, but I didn't have a chance to visit it until earlier this week. Oh my giddy aunt. It's gorgeous: a river ánd flowers ánd trains ánd Tokyo Sky Tree! I'll definitely have to include it in future lists of Tokyo's best iris gardens.
It's called the Edogawa Koiwa Iris Garden (江戸川小岩菖蒲園) or just the Koiwa Iris Garden. (I couldn't find any internet information about it in English.) It's very close to Edogawa Station on the Keisei Line, next to the river itself. Kids play on nearby baseball pitches, trains trundle across the bridge and the river flows languidly as it's done for centuries. It's free and there weren't many visitors apart from a few old-timers and their caretakers.

I walked with a friend from Koiwa Station to the garden. It took about half an hour, but we were walking fairly slowly and chatting up a st…

Life, post-quake

The new normal in Tokyo is to have a rucksack with emergency supplies at the front door, just in case there's another big quake. I say "in case", but I should rather say "when". I'm not sure how many people still do this, more than a year later, and I'm not entirely convinced that it will help, but ... at least it's a token attempt at reassuring myself that I'm not ignoring reality.
I'm neither wise nor paranoid enough to keep piles of canned "sea chicken" (tuna), bottled water and toilet paper at home. I've put emergency food in the bag, but this morning – when I wanted to take a photo of some of the contents – I realized that the Soyjoy had expired earlier this month. So I ate it. Grin. I have no concerns about old food, since I happen to think Japan's food expiry dates are overly cautious. Anyway, I'm from Africa, so my stomach long ago realized that either it copes with dodgy stuff, or else we both die.
Why am I not c…

A Buddhist Band-Aid for your aches and pains

Forget about Band-Aid. It's just too … blah. No imagination. No pizzazz.
No. If you have pain, an illness or any physical distress, visit the Niō at Tōgakuji in Tabata. Niō are the wrath-filled, muscular guardians of Buddha, but you won't be able to see this pair's splendid physique – they're covered in strips of red paper, placed on their bodies by other not-perfectly-healthy visitors.
Stop! What's going on?

OK, let me explain. Tōgakuji ...
Actually I'm not sure whether it's Tōgakuji or Tōkakuji; I've seen both romanisations. It's written 東覚寺 in Japanese, and I'd love to hear from Japanese readers/experts what the correct pronunciation is. I'll stick to Tōgakuji for now, since the temple's website uses that spelling.
Tōgakuji is a temple in Tabata, and it's so delightfully quirky that I spent an hour on its rather small premises. It was originally established in Kanda in the 1400s and moved several times before it was relocated to its cu…

The ninja and the dinosaur in the station

JR and other railway companies in Japan adorn our stations with colourful posters. Many are informative; others are simply self-promotion. I'm not sure why this specific poster caught my attention, but I suspect it's the combination of stereotypes plus tongue-in-cheek humour.

The poster tells commuters that we don't have to worry: we won't get swept away in flash floods. (It's rainy season, after all.) The joy is in the detail.

PS: This post was inspired by Cecilia's Odds and sods.

Love hotels: it's not the bed, it's the bath!

The best thing about a Japanese love hotel has nothing to do with sex. No. What makes a love hotel truly love-worthy is … its bathroom. I'm sorry if I've disappointed you, but sometimes all you want to do is wash off sweat rather than work up a sweat, and there's no better place to do the former than a love hotel's bathroom. It's awesome.
If you're reading this blog, you probably know what a love hotel is. If you don't know, here's a quickie explanation: a love hotel is where you go to have sex. Unless you've just spent a full day hiking, lurching up mountains, falling over rocks, getting covered in mud and being attacked by suzumebachi, all of that in killer heat and suffocating humidity. Then you just want a bath. You don't want this bath:

You want this bath:

That first photo is a typical "unit bath" in a typical moderately priced hotel. It's so small that you can't have a bath; you have to have a shower. The shower curtain will …