Foreigners, Fortunes, and Fashion.

It has been a month since my last post. In that time friends have got Married (Congrats Peter and Mari!), I’ve had three guests come and go, I’ve been to Tokyo, taken a hundred Kawaii photo booth snaps, taught about a million English lessons based on Frozen’s ‘let it go’, and spent at least 4 hours doing Karaoke. The last one is no exaggeration and happened in one evening.

So – Tokyo. My featured image was taken from Tokyo’s sky tree. The tower looms at 634 metres, I’m not a fan of heights as such but there’s something fun about being scared; I couldn’t miss out on looking over the biggest city I’ve ever been to. There had been a sizeable earthquake just before our visit (a 4 on the richter, felt in the centre) and I wondered – what with the swaying technology fitted into tall buildings – just exactly how an earthquake would feel from this height. We would probably be swung for metres from side to side, that’s according to my massive assumption and tiny knowledge of engineering. I’m imagining a limp old celery stick being shaken about. I’d love to know what would really happen? The view itself as you can see was very impressive, although it lost an edge with the pollution. It’s a great way of taking in the size of Tokyo and getting a grasp of where you are.

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Here you can see Richard, Rachael, and Loesja, plus the Sky Tree to the left and the thing which to is foreigners looked like a golden poo – The Asahi Flame. My students agree that it looks like a shiny turd and blame it on the bubble economy (or influenza as the Brits have started calling this phenomenon). The bubble is when Japan had lots of money, put very simplistically. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s beautiful.

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Nearby the Sky Tree is Asagukusa Temple which sits among lines of very entertaining and expensive market streets. Anyone looking to buy anything ever should not spend their money down these lanes, I couldn’t believe the prices. Anyway, the Temple itself is noted for its fortunes which are written in several languages. First you pop your hundred yen into a pot and take a cylindrical hexagonal wooden box with a hole in, you then shake it and take a wooden stick which comes out of the hole. You the. Read the number (in kanji) and find a corresponding drawer which is full of fortunes. There are several levels of fortune, great blessing, middle blessing , small blessing, blessing, near blessing, curse, and great curse. I’ve not been a fan of these because although I don’t believe in it I’m worried about receiving bad fortune. However, just this once I took part with
Rach and Loesja. Well, I got Daikichi – which is the great blessing! I can’t start believing it just because of that but… It did sort of feel like I’d won something. My fortune is pictured above. In contrast Rach and Loesja got bad ones, along the lines of “you will not meet a hermit” and ‘” if you climb a mountain with a harp you will have an empty heart” written on them, oh no. We cleansed our hands at the temple and got some incense to get rid of any bad air left from that. You know, just in case.

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These are the sort of images I’d have associated with Tokyo before I went, and this is the modern side which I sought after as Kyoto is full of old traditional Japanese culture. We went to a tiny shop filled with condom related gimmicks, we spent hours down Harajuku’s ‘freaky fashion’ filled shopping streets, we left Richard in a Disney themed Starbucks on the roof of a shopping centre. There was some time spent gawping at artefacts in a ten story sex shop – purely for educational reasons, you understand – in Akihabara. As recommended by the Lonely Planet guide to Japan we found a spot to do some people watching at Shibuya crossing. Harajuku was my highlight, I loved all the alternative looks, mad hair, unpractical footwear, and cutesy frills. There is so much energy and everything made me want to redesign myself – pretty inspiring place actually, so expressive. I want to go back there.

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In contrast I spend my last few hours in Tokyo in the tourist information centre near the Imperial Palace. Rach, Rich, Loesja, and I were encouraged and taught to write calligraphy and do origami as well as getting dressed up in Kimonos. It was great fun, what a fantastic centre.

With that it was time to go home to Kyoto. It really did feel like coming home, and I adore this city. When the guys came back we went to Saiho-ji which is called The Moss Temple. I will leave you with this image to rest your tired reading eyes.

Thanks for visiting!

Love Rach xoxox

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