[livejournal.com profile] homasse and I went to Osaka's Den-Den Town. To our surprise, we found the streets completely full of cosplayers. I focused my camera... and the memory card died. So I didn't get that many shots. But I did get myself hugging Mr. Donut!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Identify who the characters are and what show or game they're from. I only recognized Naruto, Spiderman, and Pon De Ring.

Read more... )
[livejournal.com profile] homasse and I went to Osaka's Den-Den Town. To our surprise, we found the streets completely full of cosplayers. I focused my camera... and the memory card died. So I didn't get that many shots. But I did get myself hugging Mr. Donut!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Identify who the characters are and what show or game they're from. I only recognized Naruto, Spiderman, and Pon De Ring.

Read more... )
...into Fushimi Inari, a shrine for the God/Goddess of rice (and so material success) and fertility. And foxes.

Read more... )
...into Fushimi Inari, a shrine for the God/Goddess of rice (and so material success) and fertility. And foxes.

Read more... )
Due to popular demand, I am making my sale of some gorgeous jackets I picked up in Japan into an auction. The original post has been updated with bidding links.
To help finance the trip, I am selling some beautiful haori (kimono jackets, which do not have to be worn with a kimono) which I bought at a temple flea market in Kyoto and in Tokyo's Nippori fabric district.

Photos and details are here.
ETA: This is being decided by auction. The auction begins now. It will conclude on Friday, April 6, at 10:00 AM Pacific Time. Please get your bids in by then. This post has been updated with bidding links below the photos.

Sherwood Smith, who got to try some of them on, offers this testimonial (from memory): "The photos don't do justice to how beautiful they are. The fabrics are so silky and luxurious!"

To help fund my trip, I am selling some beautiful haori (kimono jackets) I bought in Japan. They can be worn with a kimono, or over pants or a skirt or dress.

Detailed photos below cut. $50 each unless otherwise noted. You pay postage, probably $5-$10. I will ship internationally, but shipping costs may be quite high.

Please comment to say which you would like. Ideally, note your first preference, second preference, and third preference. Please say so if you'd like more than one.

I will try to sort it out fairly so everyone gets one they want. If necessary, I may put some up for auction.

With two exceptions (noted with description), they are 30 inches long and 22 inches in shoulder width. Cloth is probably synthetic unless otherwise stated, but really nice, luxurious-feeling synthetic.

Read more... )
ETA: This is being decided by auction. The auction begins now. It will conclude on Friday, April 6, at 10:00 AM Pacific Time. Please get your bids in by then. This post has been updated with bidding links below the photos.

Sherwood Smith, who got to try some of them on, offers this testimonial (from memory): "The photos don't do justice to how beautiful they are. The fabrics are so silky and luxurious!"

To help fund my trip, I am selling some beautiful haori (kimono jackets) I bought in Japan. They can be worn with a kimono, or over pants or a skirt or dress.

Detailed photos below cut. $50 each unless otherwise noted. You pay postage, probably $5-$10. I will ship internationally, but shipping costs may be quite high.

Please comment to say which you would like. Ideally, note your first preference, second preference, and third preference. Please say so if you'd like more than one.

I will try to sort it out fairly so everyone gets one they want. If necessary, I may put some up for auction.

With two exceptions (noted with description), they are 30 inches long and 22 inches in shoulder width. Cloth is probably synthetic unless otherwise stated, but really nice, luxurious-feeling synthetic.

Read more... )
Take a walk with me. And a ferry ride. And eat an innovative gourmet dinner...



Read more... )
Take a walk with me. And a ferry ride. And eat an innovative gourmet dinner...



Read more... )
1. Hot canned coffee. Especially Suntory Boss latte (The Boss of Them All Since 1994.)

2. Vending machines providing stuff I actually want.

3. Convenience stores selling quite good food. Why can't we have Japan's 7-11 rather than our own purveyor of revolting foods?

4. Onigiri in convenience stores. Bentos in convenience stores. Desserts I enjoy eating in convenience stores.

5. Trains.

6. Subways.

7. Department stores. Especially, department store basements.

Things Cari Will Miss:

1. Calbee green pea sticks.

2. Kotatsu. (Tables with a blanket draped over and a heat source. You stick your feet under it.) When we were at Koya-san, she practically moved into ours.)

Things I Will Not Miss.

1. Public bathrooms in which the "privacy wall" totally fails to conceal men peeing. Yecch.

2. Missing my kitties.

3. Very hard futons.

4. Faux-roni, faux-rice, and faux-pebble pillows.

It is our last day. We will miss the sakura by two days. Alas.
Cari and I have been having a nice relaxing time in Tokyo. The weather has been sunny and fine, which was a relief after we nearly froze in Koya-san (story of that to come later.) We have yet to spot any sakura, but supposedly it begins blooming tomorrow, on our last day. We will go to a park and see if we can spy any.

When Bobby opened our rooms for us, he noted, with mild regret, that Cari's tatami mats were kind of dirty.

I said, "As a return customer, do I get the room with the clean mats?"

"We'll see," he said, moving to open my room. I was in luck.

Last night I dragged Cari to my favorite English used bookshop, which had moved from Ebisu to Gotanda, where I found my very own copy of Elizabeth Pope's very rare The Sherwood Ring. I had no idea what Gotanda was, other than a stop on the Yamanote line, but it turned out to be pretty hip. We found a sort of Whole Foods-ish gourmet European and American imports supermarket, complete with macrobiotic food and German chocolate, a bunch of garages that lift up your car on circular platforms, and a luxurious-looking Luxe hotel. We went into the lobby of the latter, and found no one at the counter and a bunch of photos of bedrooms on a computer screen. I thought it was a love hotel, but Cari says it's a regular international chain. Anyone know?

We went into a ramen place from which enticing odors wafted. The waitress poured us little cups of barley tea.

"May I have some water?" Cari asked.

The waitress looked totally blank.

"O-mizu o kudasai?" I asked.

She whisked off, and returned with two cups of water. A few minutes later, the ramen arrived. To my amusement and Cari's disgruntlement, the waitress presented Cari, and Cari alone, with a fork!

The ramen was not bad, but for that price, I've had better. As we were slowing down, a waiter appeared and refilled our tea glasses with tea, then picked up Cari's water glass and filled that with tea, too. Oops. I stopped him just as he was about to fill my water glass with tea. I don't know what he thought of two people at a teeny table requiring four separate cups of tea. Probably operating on auto-pilot. We stared at our three cups of barley tea, then paid the bill.

Today Cari and I wandered around Ueno, where we found a marvelous shop selling teapots, tea items, and tea. The gentleman who took my credit card asked me where I'd been in Japan, and I said Kyoto and Miyajima. He mentioned that there was a current TV drama set in Miyajima. Very excited, I asked him its name. I had seen posters in Miyajima, which featured handsome samurai, badass women, and a particularly handsome man walking on the ocean before the torii, holding a sword and a fan. I had hoped to watch it if it ever got subtitled in English, but couldn't read the name.

"Taira no Kiyomori," he said. Then he beckoned me behind the counter, and helpfully looked it up on the computer. Has anyone seen or heard of this? I would love to watch it.

I also went to Akihabara, where I happily geeked out and bought figurines and tchotchkes, like a keychain with JR train signs. I feel way out of touch with current anime - I recognized little but Madoka Magica (which I still haven't seen) and One Piece (which is the 9000-lb Godzilla that Bleach was the last time I was here. What is the anime or game with the bishounen dark-haired samurai and the bishounen pale blue-haired samurai?

In one store, which had the normal assortment of figurines and such, a cold case contained canned coffee with anime characters on the can, and whole fresh fish with anime characters on stickers over the saran wrap! It was labeled, "Love Sanma." (Sanma is a kind of fish - possibly mackerel.) Without a doubt, that was the weirdest promotional item I've ever seen. Even weirder than the maid cafe to which a girl dressed as a French maid handed me a flyer, which was the site of a Backstreet Boys video and which offered, "You can enjoy meal at the same table the backstreet boys used before."
I am writing this from the New Koyo, the cheapest hotel in Tokyo. (That is actually how it advertises itself.) It is an excellent deal, though the rooms are only large enough for a futon, a TV, a closet, and a suitcase. Bobby, the proprietor, is a very cool, friendly, funny guy who speaks perfect English and knows Tokyo the way only a man who has run a Tokyo backpackers' hotel for many years can know it. Today he has referred me to Fabric Street in Nippori, where I hope to find some inexpensive haori (beautiful kimono jackets, excellent for wear over pants on elegant occasions) to resell in the US and so help finance my trip. I have transferred trains at the Nippori station probably hundreds of times, but never actually got out there and poked around. Apparently it is the go-to place for cloth and inexpensive clothing in Tokyo.

I was disappointed, however, to learn that the New Koyo's hot tub has been closed down, possibly for reasons I don't want to know. In Kyoto six of the women, one of the men, and I went to an onsen (a public bath with a natural hot spring), Tenzan No Yu, which I think translates as something like Hot Water From The Mountain of Heaven. It was indeed a heavenly experience. It was a gray, cold, rainy day, and it was wonderful to spend hours immersed in hot water, in an indoor-outdoor area, in a communal women's space. (There's a men's section too, which I believe was identical.) There was a "gold bath" with no doubt healthy natural salt water tinted orange, and a blue-lit cold bath for post-sauna, a jacuzzi, many other giant hot baths with various mineral properties and heat levels, and an open lounge area where you could lie on benches or on flat slabs with warm water flowing down, letting the rain fall on your naked but very warm body. It was a very sensual, cozy experience.

It was definitely a neighborhood joint, filled with mostly forty-plus women, many of whom clearly knew each other. (As I said to another student later, "Hanging out with fifty naked women over the age of fifty - that's what I call a good time.") We got a couple double-takes from the clientele - I don't think tourists show up there often. (It was a recommendation from Taka.)

But once I wandered off from the group, I was befriended and shown around by a nice old lady who spoke no English, but with whom I managed to have a conversation on subjects mostly concerning heat, cold, and things found in public baths. She escorted me to the sauna, which was divided into two rooms. One was a steam room with a barrel of salt in the middle. You rub it all over your body, leaving your skin silky-smooth, then rinse off. The other was an oh my God-hot sauna, in which young women (dressed) poured water over hot rocks, then fanned us with giant red fans. There was a huge flat screen TV showing a cooking show. I had to leave when I began to feel like the steamed shrimp. The noodle dish I ordered soon after at the onsen restaurant turned out to be cold noodles, not hot as I'd expected, but that was probably just as well.
We have all left Shunkoin and Kyoto, either to return to Los Angeles or spend some time elsewhere in Japan. Another student, Cari, and I are now on Miyajima, an island off the coast of Hiroshima. It's only accessible by ferry, and in the morning people who live on the island take the ferry to work or high school. The island is larger than I expected, but most of it is mountainous and covered in virgin forest. I asked the lady who owns our hotel where the coin laundry was, and she said there wasn't one! Now that is a small town. (She kindly offered to throw some of my laundry in with hers.)

This is a five minute walk from our lovely traditional Japanese hotel: http://www.japan-guide.com/g2/3401_01.jpg

It's the torii (sacred gate) of Itsukushima Shrine. When we came in last evening, the tide was low, and we could walk across a wet beach strewn with shells and seaweed up to the torii. It stands supported by nothing but its own weight; the pillars rest on the beach but aren't embedded in it. The bases of the pillars are covered in barnacles and coins people have stuck in amongst the barnacles as offerings, and the sand around the torii is also covered in coins. (One yen and five yen - odd numbers are better. I forget why. Maybe because multiples of four are unlucky? (The word for 'four' sounds like the word for 'death.')

Completely tame "wild" deer hang around the pier, being petted by tourists, despite the signs warning that they eat paper and might gobble up a map or a thousand-yen note right out of your hand. I didn't see any deer eating paper, but I did see one staring wistfully at the doors of a restaurant. I grabbed for my camera to nab that hilarious shot. As I pressed the button, a hundred tourists' cameras clicked beside me.

Last night we had an amazing gourmet meal - part traditional Japanese, part Western fusion - served at the inn. I will probably do a photo-essay on it later for your delectation, and also one on the fabulous Japanese breakfast I had at the inn this morning. I had miso soup, rice, kabocha squash, smoked fish, pickles, greens, green tea, and udon with flat noodles rather than the usual thick spaghetti-like ones. Cari had a western breakfast of ham, toast, black tea, and scrambled eggs. We were both happy.

The wind was freezing coming off the beach this morning, so I retreated to the inside observation lounge in the inn, which has hot tea, comfy chairs, a view of the sea and a pagoda spire, and a library! Mostly in Japanese, but I note the temping "Miyajima Story" by Shizuteru Usui and "The Faun's Folly" by Sandra Heath. Randomly opening each, I find these lines:

"On the night that the Heike family met its end, I could see various evil spirits of the Heian era, such as a human being with a black cow's head and a one-eyed goblin, silently walking down the corridor, but were they the bitter feelings incorporated in the votive tablets?"

"It had been the very circumstance that might tempt a foolish faun into using forbidden powers."

I am typing this in the observation deck right now, on Cari's laptop. But peeking out the windows, it looks a bit less windy, so I shall venture out now.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Mar. 21st, 2012 07:46 pm)
Yesterday we got a wonderful presentation by the same Japanese Jungian analyst and psychiatrist who did the presentation on Japanese psychotherapy. This one was on sandtray, a form of psychotherapy in which the client puts little figurines in a box of sand to create landscapes, scenes, representations of their feelings and psyche, etc. Unfortunately, that is all I can tell you about it, as the rest involved a case study and so is confidential. But I enjoyed it a lot, and look forward to studying sandtray in the future. All else aside, what a great way to justify and continue my hobby of collecting little figurines!

http://www.westhartfordcounselingcenter.com/sandtray.html

That same morning I woke up at 5:45 AM in order to go to Toji flea market, a once-monthly market hosted by Toji Temple. It's a great scene, and if you get there early, the pickings are amazing. I got several beautiful kimono jackets for myself and as gifts. In other areas, people were selling octopus balls, and in yet another, Buddhist priests were stoking a ceremonial fire. (Taka told us afterward that the priests stand so close to the pillar of flame that their faces are red and swollen for several days afterward.) We madly scooped up our finds and rushed back to the temple for morning meditation, arriving one minute late, just as Taka was sitting down. Oops. That session I kept having to drag my attention back to my breathing, and away from images of kimono jackets printed with pines and cherry blossoms, cityscapes and samurai.

We did another mad rush later in the day, as we went to a shrine called Fushimi Inari in between meditation and the sandtray presentation. Fushimi Inari is a huge, beautiful shrine complex to Inari, the God/Goddess of rice (and so success in business, as rice is wealth.) It's full of fox statues and fox imagery, Inari's messengers, holding rice balls or the key to the rice granary or a sheaf of rice in their mouths. Foxes are supposed to love fried tofu, so people leave bits as offerings. The shrine is full of orange torii gates, which separate the human realm from the sacred realm of the spirits. The torii make long tunnels through the lush forests of trees and bamboo, splashes of bright orange amidst the many shades of green. It's one of the most atmospheric places I've been to on this trip so far - you really get a sense of the idea of Shintoism, that there are spirits in everything. Paths twist and turn through mossy banks and rotting logs stuck about with fungus like clam shells, and pass ancient stone statues, half-covered in moss, with offerings laid out of coins, sake jars, and flickering candles. Before the shrines, you clap, ring a bell, toss in a coin, and pray. Standing before the mossy stones and bright torii, I felt that someone was listening.
I went to a temple flea market, and bought several haori jackets, similar to this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-Black-SILK-Haori-Kimono-Coat-Jacket-Silver-Gold-Tree-Cosplay-/170804324982?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27c4bb2a76

and this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-Kimono-Cover-Haori-Jacket-Women-red-gradation-/120867889082?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c24499fba

I might be able to get some more, or let go of one or two that I bought, to help fundraise for the trip. Any potential interest, at prices of $40-50? No commitment unless you like my forthcoming (upon return pics) of the actual thing.

These are one size fits most. Not kimonos! They are just the jackets, at jacket-length. Please comment ASAP if you're interested, especially if you have a particular color or design you'd like. They're in very good condition, but mostly not silk.
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