Month: Last updated Aug 1, 2017

Leaf Fight in Shinjuku

Last weekend, while wandering around in Shinjuku, we decided to check out the view from the Tocho Building. Coming down, we came across this autumn festival. I don’t think I’ve ever seen kids having so much fun as they did in this box of leaves. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new...

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Sacred New Year’s Rope

Many shrines put chinowa (braided straw ropes) at the entrance to the shrine at New Year’s and other times of purifications. Worshipers at the shrine pass through the ring as an act of purification from misdeeds, impurities, or bad luck.According to the Encyclopedia of Shinto, they originate with Somin Shōrai, a legendary hero who tied a magical ring braided of cogon grass around his waist to escape an epidemic. Thanks to Ojisanjake from the excellent blog, “More Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan” for pointing out that this is not a Shimenawa, as I’d thought. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new...

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Salt and Tobacco Museum

I was in Shibuya the other day, and happened to walk past the Tobacco and Salt Museum. I haven’t been there for years, and they were holding an interesting looking exhibition of paintings from the Edo Period, so I decided to check it out. The paintings were gorgeous, and although it’s maybe too small to make a special trip for, if you happen to be in Shibuya before November 30, it’s only 300 yen and quite enjoyable. You can also see some of the pictures here. The site is in Japanese, but even if you can’t read, just click on the text immediately beneath the flash presentation: http://www.jti.co.jp/Culture/museum/tokubetu/0810_event/index.html The tobacco and salt museum is about Japan’s two of Japan’s most important commodities. This diorama shows a tobacco shop from the Edo Period. Japan doesn’t have natural salt deposits, so they had to get all their salt from the sea. A model ship made of salt. Old tobacco ads. The tobacco museum’s website and contact information are here: http://www.jti.co.jp/Culture/museum/Welcome.html Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new...

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Rusty bikes from the Dotonbori River

Barge full of bikes pulled from the infamous Dotonbori river in Osaka. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new...

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UR Chintai – No key money, no agent’s fees, no guarantor

Whenever I go apartment hunting, somehow Lou Reed’s lyric “somewhere a landlord’s laughing till he wets his pants” ends up playing over and over in my head. Most landlords demand two or three month’s “key money” up front as a gift, and charge a deposit, which isn’t really a deposit at all because they deduct at least half of it as a cleaning fee, even if you leave the apartment spotless. Then you have to shell out another month’s rent to your chain-smoking, half-yakuza real estate agent for his useless middleman role between you and the landlord. Finally, if you want to live in your apartment for more than two years, you have to pay a contract renewal fee of one month’s rent. Last year, I moved again, and my wife suggested that we try a UR aparment. UR (Urban Reniassance) is a semi-privatized government agency that provides reasonably-priced apartments and houses with no key money, agent’s fees, renewal fees, or guarantors. The building we moved into is kind of ugly from the outside, but the inside is comfortable, and you can find a relatively large, fairly livable apartment if you do a bit of searching. In Tokyo, one-bedroom apartments start around 50,000 yen, two-bedroom units around 70,000 and three bedrooms at around 100,000 yen per month. There’s often a maintenance fee of between 5000 and 10,000 per month, and...

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