discarded signs of protection

Photo Fridays! Take 8: discarded gomagi at a Kyoto shrine

A large weathered trough on rotting feet holds its place outside one of the shrine buildings at Matsuo Taisha in Kyoto. Hundreds of discarded gomagi lie in a dishevelled nest. It seems unfit for these formerly treasured strips of wood to be tossed without care, but they have served their purpose. These signs of insurance are renewed as…

old amusement park ride

Photo Fridays! Take 5: Asakusa amusement park ride

Asakusa is one of my favourite areas in Tokyo. It was where I spent my first night in Japan before heading to Akita City to start a new job. Three months later, I was back to celebrate New Year’s at Sensoji, watching people line up to pray for good fortune. I had my first can of corn soup from…

staff near lookout at Mt. Takao

Photo Fridays! Take 4: Takao-san staff

Takao-san is a really fun day trip from Tokyo. Hitoshi and I went with his brother and wandered much of the site from bottom to top. My biggest accomplishment was convincing my hiking pals to veer off the main trails down a marked side trail. Even though we were eventually greeted by the shrill rumble…

old mailbox - Kyoto alley

Photo Fridays! Take 3: Kyoto mailbox

Mailboxes are special. Wee me used to hover with anticipation, waiting impatiently for the mailbox to clatter shut. Even if no mail was for me, it was still exciting to see a stack of paper in the mailbox. When I did get mail, oh happy day! I still love to send and receive real letters that I can touch.…

eating strawberries mid bite

Ichigo gari we will go (strawberry u-pick & eat in Ibaraki)

Sakuragawa City in Ibaraki prefecture is famous for strawberries. It borders Tochigi prefecture, which is the pinnacle of strawberries in Japan! On an unseasonably cold late April morning, we piled into the van for the land of strawberries. After an hour of twisting, skinny, rural roads past rice fields and through towns, the landscape changed to thick strands of…

ink pot - Kyoto shrine

Photo Fridays! Take 2: ink pot at a Kyoto shrine

Take 2 is from Matsuo Taisha, a higher-ranked shrine in Kyoto. This large ink pot was on a plastic-covered table along with brushes. It was in an unusual spot outside near a covered rest area, far from the shrine buildings. There was little around to help me figure out its purpose: no host, no sign that I can recall and…

futuristic boat leaving pier

Tokyo’s Boats: ducking bridges and sea sick romance

With rivers cutting through and the ocean at its toes, Tokyo has the advantage of water for a slower and softer way of getting around. Two options are the waterbus to cross the Sumida River and a night cruise around Tokyo Bay. Mizube Line My parents and I discovered the Mizube Line by accident. After visiting the thorough Edo Tokyo Museum…