Japan 2017, Tokyo

Finally in Tokyo the cherry blossom ( Sakura) had arrived and was in in full bloom! What a joyous occasion in Japan, everyone is out and about, wandering the streets and having picnics in the middle of the week.

There are almost too many things to do in Tokyo. We started with an exhibition by Yayio Kusama, whose pumpkin we had seen in Naoshima Island. It shows work from the beginning of her career to now. Her most recent paintings are extraordinary considering she is 80 years old.

Other excursions that stood out in Tokyo were-

a visit to the OTA woodblock museum where I finally succumbed and bought a woodblock print.

a stroll through Yanaka, recommended by Tony’s friend Magnus and Jasper, where we waited an hour to eat our last sashimi and caught up with another Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima whose number work we had seen already in Naoshima.

We also tried again to see Mt. Fuji on a clear morning from a skyscraper in Tokyo  but the smoke  foiled our attempts.

However two shopping trips on behalf of Jasper and Sebastian were fun and educational. In Kappabashi St. we bought amazing Japanese knives for Sebastian and a wonderful ” fake sushi clock”  for Tony, which now proudly decorates our kitchen!

Jasper needed a briefcase and sent us to this very swanky shopping area called  Nakameguro. It features little shops, cafes and the Meguro river which was lined by lovely cherry blossoms.

Having done our shopping, the Kabuki-Za theatre performance was a great way to finish the day.

All roles are played by adult men after the Shogunate by the mid seventeenth century forbid women and later young men to appear on stage. They were thought to pose a threat to public order. Information provided by the theatre-“In the constrained social circumstances of the Edo period, the Kabuki theatre was one of the only officially sanctioned forms of entertainment for the general public, and in particular for the grass roots of society. As such Kabuki became a vital channel of expression against government repression. Although strict censorship ensured that nothing negative could be stated openly, nevertheless the subjects of many plays were subversive in content, often criticizing the contemporary social system under ancient historical guise. The real intentions and subjects of such stories, however, were perfectly obvious to the audiences of the time.”

We saw two plays:

KATSURAGAWA RENRI NO SHIGARAMI -Obiya
This is a sewamono play, a play portraying the lives of ordinary people in the Edo period.
One of the most famous love stories in kabuki and bunraku is the love of the young maiden Ohan for her middle-aged neighbor Chōemon, finally culminating in a double suicide.

YAKKO DŌJŌJI
This dance is a parody of the famous work ‘The Maiden at Dōjōji’.
‘Musume Dōjōji’ is based on a legend about a woman who transformed herself into a serpent out of jealousy and who destroyed a temple bell that was keeping her from the object of her love.

You are not allowed to take pictures during the performance but the pictures below give you an idea.

On our last day in Japan/Tokyo the 4th of April we enjoyed the Cherry blossom and that night went to an extraordinary restaurant called Inakaya recommended by Mark’s sister Anne and Marcelo ( the owner of Rio Ancho in Uruguay). All the food was barbecued in front of us and we shared our meal with very entertaining guests from London, LA and India.

Afterwards we went to a Korean bathhouse for a massage and a scrub. The plan was not to go to bed at all and end up at the famous Tokyo fish market at 4am. Well, we sneaked in 2 hours sleep and when we got to the fish market it was closed as they had one of their annual holidays!!!

So there are reasons to come back to Japan, maybe to experience autumn and the change of colour in the maple trees, see the cranes in Hokkaido, do more skiing, take a flat in Kyoto for a month, do more walking, eat more wonderful food -I could go on.

Finally a selection of stamps I collected from all over Japan.

Thank you to everyone who gave us their recommendations on Japan. These contributed immensely to our enjoyment and fun in Japan.

Until our next holiday xxF