Monday, May 23, 2005

dancing in the streets


Talk had been flying around that there was to be a big bold fest at the Asakusa shrine. Figuring I have  not been getting my recommended daily intake of traditional japanese culture lately, I decided to check it out. It became quite obvious about three quarters of the way into the train ride that this was as they were saying, 'the biggest of Tokyo's traditional Three Grand Festivals'. Hoping to meet friends there, we stepped out onto the street and instantly realised that was never gonna happen. I estimated about 1 million people to be crammed into the streets leading up to the Sensoji Shrine, according to reports there were about 2 million!

Within a few steps we were wedged into the crowd and forced to become part of the boisterous procession of mikoshi (portable shrines). There was a roar of chanting, drum beats and dancing and by the smell of things - plenty of sake drinking. The beautiful gold and black mikoshi were thrown around by the dozens of carriers wearing their traditional festival clothing. It seemed like a pretty rough ride, but apparantly  the more the deities are shaken the greater the blessings for the neighbourhood. There were also some mini mikoshi for the kiddies.

Sunday was the spectacular finale of the three day festival. The final procession beginning at 6am in the morning and returning safely to the shrine at midnight...that's alot of drinking, dancing and chanting.

I had heard that this festival was one of the only times that the japanese mafia (yakuza) can openly display their full body tattoos. I was hoping to catch some glimpses of the detailed body art. Glimpses was all i got, only splashes of ink poked out from underneath the traditional clothing worn.


The side streets running off the shrines main alley were jam packed with food stalls and hungry festival goers. The lively crowd were just as entertaining as the procession.

Check out some of the sites in my sanja fest photo album.


Sunday, May 15, 2005

omedetou gozaimasu


if you have never been to a traditional japanese wedding - you have just got to get yourself to one really soon. what an amazing experience.

i only wish i could have taken more photos. it was all a bit sacred and formal and we were not even allowed to talk once we left the rehearsal room; it was a long, silent and awesome procession through the courtyards and corridors of Tokyo's Meiji Jingu

all that silence was made up for at the ultra cool after party, at a daikanyama hot spot.

congratulations kel and tats - what an outstanding experience for us all! the hugest thanks!







beer with me


just when i thought our new tokyohappening headquarters couldn't get any better (we are surrounded by two 100 yen stores, amazing and inexpensive fruit and vege markets, liquor stores, a dvd rental store that is open until 4am, awesome recycle shops, 100 yen vending machines, more convenience stores than i have ever dreamt of, amazing array of scrumptious morsels, showgirls (???? last night i saw a man walk into that fine establishment dressed in his drab grey suit, loaded up with his weekly grocery shopping, ready for a bit of fun) all within riding distance of harajuku, takadanobaba (yes, the birthplace of astroboy) and shibuya) i rounded the corner last night and stumbled upon a 'beer restaurant'...even for someone who is not really into beer - that's pretty impressive










Sunday, May 01, 2005

anyone want a cuppa?


since ancient times, the east has used green tea for medicinal purposes, an elixir to treat everything from headaches to depression. in recent times, scientific studies have shown that drinking green tea is reputed to be helpful in the treatment of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high colesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, infection and impaired immune function.

it seems that confectionary companies are also very aware of the green tea popularity. what other market in the world is so quick to try ANYTHING new? (gee i love japan, as much i love fads - we are a perfect match)

i felt it my moral duty to be the unofficial taste tester for all new green tea products flooding the japanese market at the moment.

i have already introduced the hagan dazz green tea and molases ice cream sandwich -  giving it a 10 out of 10.

just as the japanese love to rank anything and everything; from cute boys and fruit juice to lipsticks and ear pickers, i will rank the latest green tea products.


no.1 green tea kit kat

not exactly a new comer to the market, as i tried this one a few months ago. but a very big winner. have a break have a kit wait have a healthy, scrumptious flu preventing break, have a green tea kit kat.

added to its green teaness, kito kato (as the japanese call it) is also seen as a symbol of good luck and fly off the shelves around exam time! lucky break huh nestle, bloody good job!!


no.2 green tea coolish

a long time fan of the vanilla coolish, introduced to me by zume last summer; the green tea coolish is a refreshing icey treat. and it looks healthy, doesn't it? wrapped in an environmentally thoughtful, sporty looking pack, who would think it is packed with sugar?? another winner by the japanese food giant lotte.


no.3 the green tea cream cake

tasting a lot more like grass than green tea, this moist little cake ingeniously uses cream to sweeten up its unusual flavour. (despite the odd taste, i could manage to easily down four of them in the blink of an eyelid , all in the name of health and science)

although i cannot be sure that any of these products contain catechin polyphenols or epigallocatechin gallate (the powerful  anti-oxidants that claim to inhibit the growth of cancer cells cancer, lower LDL cholesterol levels and inhibit the abnormal formation of blood clots)  anything is worth a try. perhaps if mixed with healthy doses of red wine (the french elixir containing resveratrol, a  polyphenol that limits the negative effects of smoking and a fatty diet) i could very well have created my very own international diet, bubbling with antioxidants. ??? i'll let you know how it goes.