Hanami Countdown to March 26th in the Tokyo Area

posted in: Hanami, Parks, Spring, Tokyo, Ueno | 0
Hanami, Ueno Park, zoo, yamato, spirit, travel, in Japan, visiting Japan, eating in Japan, international, tourists, temples, parks, museums, art, kimono, green tea, sushi, Akihabara, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Okinawa, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Honshu, Hokkaido, tech, games, manga, anime,
The bears want you to join them for hanami in Ueno Park. I’d RSVP if I were you.


Hanami Season is Upon Us in Tokyo – Be there and FEEL the Hanami Love!

Spent the say at Ueno Park Zoo yesterday. Animals were lively. I promise, pics to follow. Between the animals, cherry blossoms and people watching we got some great images to share with our friends. I post this now to give you a heads up on the Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) festivities that are revving up towards the end of this month and into April. We’ve gone before and it’s a beautiful sight to see. Plus, a very popular way for families and lovers to share in the beauty of what seems to be a cherry blossom covered park in Tokyo springtime. People will be picnicking, spending time at the shrines and basking in the beauty of plum and cherry blossoms as the world suddenly becomes very pink.

This is a MUST SEE event, so don’t miss it. If you know of hanami opportunities around Japan please leave your comments or contact us and we will be happy to post information and photos. I know we plan to make a run out to Chichibu to their gorgeous cherry blossom viewing season. Lots of cosplayers out there which is an added beauty.

More information here. Follow one of the images to the Official Ueno Park Zoo web site. The link takes you to an English page. The web site offers multiple languages for international visitors. If you live in Japan or you are visiting for an extended period, consider an annual pass. In 4 visits the pass has paid for itself and it offers a years worth of fun and joy for the pass holder. The Zoo also offers discounts to schools and groups. It is also possible to book special events or special programs for large groups. Cameras and video cameras are allowed. Please do not use your FLASH though. It can be very disturbing to the critters. Especially the marsupials.

Hanami, Ueno Park, zoo, yamato, spirit, travel, in Japan, visiting Japan, eating in Japan, international, tourists, temples, parks, museums, art, kimono, green tea, sushi, Akihabara, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Okinawa, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Honshu, Hokkaido, tech, games, manga, anime,
A great map and guide for the park and the zoo and points of interest for hanami visitors.

A Short Walk Down a Long Path in mountain town of Yokoze

Spring has finally come to Japan after a long and cold, though for us, uneventful (Yay, No Snow!) winter. Today we went to the mountain town of Chichibu to see the Shibazakura. Some years ago the townspeople got the great idea to create a carpet of flowers, “Shibazakura” to welcome the spring and welcome visitors to their beautiful town.

ys02This is the view from the path that takes you to the flower event. Such a breathtaking view.

On the path we found wild flowers and color of an amazing scope and variety. Yokoze is really an enjoyable place and a lot of fun for the whole family. A gentle climb eventually takes you to the shibazakura, just ahead, but until then enjoy the scenery and the vibrant life and beauty springing up all around you now that winter has faded to a memory.

ys03This wood pile is not just an ordinary wood pile used for firewood. Rather this wood is used to grown mushrooms the old fashioned way. Japanese people in the mountains have been growing mushrooms this way for centuries. Just because it is 2015 some things do not need to change.

ys04 A little closer to the festival we find more and more color. Gardens are everywhere and this beautiful house garden lines the road to welcome travelers and help guide the way to shibazakura.

ys06On our way home we found this beautiful lake. It is actually an ancient reservoir that has some very interesting history. History going back 1000 years and relates to an up-rising in the region, one of the only uprisings of local people against the central government of the time.



Have you tried Shika Menchi?

posted in: Chichibu, Shibazakura, Spring | 0

shika menchi  鹿めんち shika menchi  鹿めんち shika menchi  鹿めんち shika menchi  鹿めんちWe just returned from this year’s shibazakura going on in Saitama prefecture in the mountain town of Chichibu. You can easily find your way by taking the Seibu Chichibu line train and get off at the Yokoze stop. Follow the big pink signs to your right as you exit the station.

It’s just a short walk through country farms and mountain homes. Its a different path than if you take the train all the way into Chichibu and go to the flower carpet festival nestled in the hills below Mt Bukol.

The last time I got to have venison I was a teenager in the Southern US. I was at a historical re-enactment event and some fellow history buffs made a big pot of venison stew. It was delicious and since then I’ve always wanted to try venison again.

As we approached the entrance to the flower carpet display we found ourselves on the pathway you see above. Just a little further up the trail and on the left we found a little wooden shack and two kind ladies preparing snacks and treats for travelers on their way to the beautiful spectacle of flowers.

Japanese call these korokke cakes “shika menchi” 鹿めんち – You can have a toasted delicious cake made with rice, mountain spices, and ground up wild deer meat.

Hanno-matsuri parade is a place for the whole family

posted in: Hanno-shi | 0

Hanno-matsuri parade is a place for the whole family. Took this photo during a rest stop of the parade. These little girls were so cute and so tired. The crowd loved them because you can see the future of Japan in their adorable little faces. It’s comforting for me to see the continuation of tradition and history in the face of ultra-modernization. I come from a country where unique cultures are only to be celebrated as long as they are not our own. Sad.

Today is Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival) – Hello Kitty Invites You!

posted in: Festivals, Hinamatsuri | 0

Today is Hinamatsuri. I love to live in Japan.  Free to seek out and learn about a new world very foreign to my home country. One of the things I look forward to are the monthly festivals.  “Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival)” is held on March 3rd. This is a day to pray for young girl’s growth and happiness. It is also called “Momo no sekku (Peach Festival)” because of the peach blossom season on the old lunar calendar.

Everywhere you go you can find displays like this one.  The cool thing is because we are moving into 2014 there are also many new variations and many new displays created by the young girl’s whose day it is.  A cool way to connect kids to their culture and their past and more importantly, their future. It’s a day off from school for most children so many are out and about, shopping, going to special events, joining friends for the cinema or parties. It feels safe, nice and good. It’s a good thing to see coming from such a violence filled country as my own.



Hello Kitty is Watching You on Hinamatsuri Day!

While we were out shopping today I discovered this little gem.  Hello Kitty is everywhere and at 0.00% alcohol and the calories of a coke you can have a nice refreshing sparkling plum flavored drink.  Hello Kitty is always more girl.