Sunday, November 22, 2009

Horseback Archery in Zushi

My second cousin invited me to watch traditional Japanese horseback archery called Yabusame in her town of Zushi. Zushi is located next to Kamakura and is just over an hour away by train from Shibuya. Yabusame demonstrations take place at different times and places around Japan. Kamakura is famous for its Yabusame events, but the one in Zushi is less crowded so you can get a close up view of the archers in action.

Part of the Yabusame included a small samurai procession through the streets of Zushi that ended at a local shrine.

The cold late November weather forced the children's archery event inside the Zushi city hall.

A young spectator has a great view for the archery demonstation on Zushi beach.

It's a hit!

Click here to watch a video of Yabusame.

With my second cousin, Yukari and a samurai.

With Yukari's little boy, Dai-chan, five years old.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3) is a tradition of bring children aged three, five and seven to the shrine for a blessing -- and lots of picture taking. The tradition is observed on the nearest weekend to November 15. I went to the Meiji Jingu Shrine next to Harajuku and it was a beautiful sunny day.

A wedding procession at the shrine.

Yoyoji Park in the fall.

Christmas decorations at Omotesando Hills, a really fancy shopping center. Visitors can stand inside the decoration for a photo opp. The photo spot is a cool idea--I saw a similar one at Roppongi Hills.

National Art Center next to Nogizaka Station (near Roppongi Midtown). First time I checked it out and already it is one of my favorite buildings in Tokyo.

Kinoco Hotel

at SuperDeluxe
November 14, 2009
3000 cover plus 700 drink ticket

Cutesy retro surf rock four-piece band. Check out their YouTube page.

I had to work on a Saturday and wrapped up at 6:30. That gave me 30 minutes to get from Shibuya to Nishi Azabu for which there is no direct subway. I should of just took a bus down Roppongi dori. I got to the gig a little late, but luckily they didn't start on time. I enjoyed this band's music and they have nailed down their look and style, but they need to do more shows to hone the performance. After the show, decided to walk it back to my apartment, it took about an hour.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Western homes walking tour of Motomachi and Yamate

Last week the temperature dropped across the Kanto plain forcing me to buy a coat (a great find by the way at a second-hand store), but autumn is not quite yet ready to leave and the temperature jumped back up for a fine weekend to walk around and explore. I was invited to meet up with some old friends in Yokohama so I decided to head out a few hours earlier and walk around the Motomachi/Yamate area.

150 years ago the port of Yokohama was opened up to foreigners. Westerners came and set up shop making Yokohama one of the largest foreign settlements in Japan. They built Western-style homes around Motomachi and in the Yamate hills located next to Yokohama's famous Chinatown. Much of the area was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, but today, many of the rebuilt homes have been preserved and make for a nice walking tour of this historical neighborhood.

From the Motomachi Chukagai station, I started off at the Harbor View Park for a view of the city.

The British House is located in the park. Inside, the rooms have been restored and decorated with furnishing of the era.

Yamate 111 Ban-kan is also in the park. There are a lot of tea houses in Yamate for all the walkers, including one in this former home of an American businessman.

The Yokohama Foreign Cemetery is one of the highlighted historical spots in Yokohama. People like the guy who built the first railway in Japan are buried here.

The Yamate Museum (200yen) is located across from the cemetery. Inside you can see odds and ends used in the Western homes.

The Tin Toy Museum (200yen) is a cool place to check out in Yamate. It's located just around the corner from the Yamate Museum.

This is the Ehrismann Residence located in Motomachi Park.

I deviated from the walking tour to go see the remains of the old horse race track in Negishi. From Motomachi Park it's about a 30 minute walk.

From Negishi, I trekked it back down the hill to meet my friends at the Motomachi shopping street. Lots of good places to eat here. In Japan, they already put up Christmas decorations and lights.

The day ended with dinner in Chinatown.