Tokyo, my Tokyo

Although I don’t need much encouragement to share photos from my travels, a reader recently let me know how much she loved Tokyo and urged me to put up more pictures from my most recent trip. So you can blame her for this rather self-indulgent collection of snaps which are not going to win any photographic competitions but nevertheless are a good record of what I got up to there (and depending on your interests, may spur you to make Tokyo your next travel destination… but more likely, just make you click through to someone else’s blog…).

The Japanese capital is often depicted as a huge, bustling concrete metropolis but there’s actually quite a lot of greenery – this park is just down the hill from where I was staying (Tetsuko and her family very generously let me stay at their lovely place in the middle of Tokyo!). I loved walking (and jogging) through it and hearing the cicadas, it’s such a summery sound that I even recorded it on my phone so I can listen to it when I’m feeling nostalgic for Japan (kind of sad, I know).TokyoArisugawa

Speaking of nostalgia, I joined the throngs snapping away at the Hotel Okura on its main building’s last weekend of business before being closed for four years of renovationsTokyoOkura

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To tell you the truth I don’t recall ever having been there before (perhaps I went for one or two fashion events while I lived there but that was a long time ago!) but having seen some Instagram posts about it, I wanted to see the legend before it disappeared – where else would you see a Wes Anderson film-worthy restaurant like this these days?

TokyoOkura5 Another site that I don’t remember despite having lived in Tokyo for NINE YEARS is this scenic water lily-filled area of the moat around the Imperial Palace, apparently known as Chidorigafuchi.

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Apparently it’s also very famous. How on earth did I not know about it!? At least I know about it now… and all because I saw it on my way to the flea market at Yasukuni Shrine. See, flea markets are educational! That’s why I went to three in one weekend… (I’m now so intelligent my brain can hardly fit in my head any more!). A lot of flea markets and antique markets are at shrines – this particular one is Tomioka Hachimangu.

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I didn’t buy anything at Tomioka Hachimangu but I did get quite a few things at some other markets including these silk and cotton scarves, all 100 yen each.

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I also went out of my comfort zone and bought brand new stuff from actual shops this time. Strange, I know (and also kind of against my principles). But there were some things I just couldn’t resist, like these Tsumori Chisato sunglasses. Now even total strangers will know I’m a crazy cat lady just by looking at me!

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I did also find a cat-print tenugui and had to buy it.

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And why wouldn’t I buy a mud-printed scarf from Mali and a soapstone lion (and a hugely discounted animal print skirt) in Tokyo which is obviously the place for African-themed souvenirs?

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I also decided to try some of the gazillion modern gadgets that Japan is famous for. One of these is for turning long hair into a “bob”, the other is for adding volume to flat hair. Once I figure out how to use them on my extremely uncooperative hair I will let you know if they work (and maybe how to make your own).

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I love how among all the multi-storey ultra modern retail outlets there are still places like this senbei (rice cracker) shop in Tokyo’s suburbs…

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All that shopping made me feel guilty so I decided to do something “cultural” and stereotypically Japanese, like eating sushi with friends… 
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… and admiring the beauty of Japanese gardens – this one is Rikugien.Tokyox9

It looks beautifully tranquil, which it was, but it was also insanely hot and humid and there were mosquitoes everywhere! Hmm… I’m not really selling it, am I… how about if I mention you can sip maccha and nibble on a Japanese cake while enjoying views of the lake?

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And if I tell you Rikugien is not too far from Kyu-Furukawa Gardens so you can even see two parks in one day?

tokyox10Tokyox11Sigh. It’s not just my reader who loves Tokyo. I do miss it – and all my friends there – a lot. At least I have a little bit of it on its way to me now though: I shopped so much that I had to send about 10 kilos back to Melbourne! It’s all on a ship somewhere now but will hopefully be here as an early Christmas present. And knowing how bad my memory is, I’ll open it and be surprised and delighted at all the goodies and marvel at the exquisite taste of the person who chose them 🙂

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