So, I’m already falling behind on the blog! I have been so busy going out enjoying myself and taking photos that i forgot you all! Actually while the going out and taking photos part is true, the real hold up on the blog is the colossal amount of photo editing I’m having to do because of the poor weather. The weather has deteriorated further as the week has progressed. The increased cloud cover, lower temperatures and higher humidity have created a perpetual grey cast over the city of Tokyo, Parks included. This seems to deeply confuse my camera, which spits out rather poorly exposed and washed out images unworthy of the internet. I have a backlog of some 600-800 images to sort and edit. So i would imaging each post i make here for the next little while will be 2-3 days after the fact. With that in mind, ON WITH THE SHOW!
There Isn’t much to see from Thursday, the 31st of march. I was busy organising a place to live for the next 2-3 months, and other than the fact that i found somewhere, and am now happily moved in, there isn’t much to report from that experience. The room I’m in is quite old and basic, no robo-toilets and fanciness for me, but it has a lovely view (for Tokyo) and is very conveniently located. I’m less than a minute walk from the nearest station, and a 10 minute walk from the JR Yamanote circle route line. There are a few convenience stores near by, and a 24 hour super market about 2 minutes walk away. All in all, i cant complain. I love the view, and the living space suits me just fine.
After settling in i headed off for my birthday dinner (the 31st of march is my birthday) at my favorite Japanese restaurant… which is actually a little Chinese stir fry place. Last time i was here was in 2011 and the owner was fairly scrawny, and appeared very shy. His mother did the waitressing. This latter fact was most amusing because she didn’t appear to have much mastery of the Japanese language (nor English) and communicated with customers Japanese and foreign alike, primarily through large smiles, loud friendly laughs, and lots of interpretive dance. This appeared to embarrass the chef no end, and was highly amusing and more than a little heartwarming.
This time things were fairly different. The chef has put on a fair bit of bulk (muscle mainly), he appears to run the shop by himself now, he has grown a beard and long hair he pulls back out of the way with a bandanna. This combined with his T-shirt sleeves being held up in a tank top style by safety pins gives him a kind of friendly Japanese pirate-y vibe. Unfortunately his mother doesn’t appear to work there any more. On the up side, the food is still as good and plentiful as i remember, and i staggered home ready to burst after ordering the smallest thing on the menu. I also made the “Mistake” of ordering a beer, which came via way of a 1 litre bottle 0_0.
On the way home i wandered through the eastern streets of Nishi-Nippori, one of my favorite areas. Though being made of concrete and metal like the rest of Tokyo, the smaller winding streets, lower more homely buildings and ample greenery combined with the occasional wooden temple or house gives the area a much more old worldly and friendly feel. there are a handful of traditional shopping streets, which make for ample photo opportunities as well.
That Brings us to Friday, which i decided i would devote the day to Sakura hunting. The season is in full swing now, and most news shows seem to be showing plenty of sections on how Sakura spots in Tokyo are progressing. I decided to head to Ueno park in the morning despite the crowds and then continue on to Chidorigafuchi, a series of moats surrounded by thousands of Sakura trees. The latter is said to be the number 1 spot for Sakura viewing in Tokyo.
Ueno park certainly was crowded, but as is usually the case in japan, not so badly one cant move. Despite the massive number of people there (mostly international tourists judging by the smorgasbord of languages being spoken) it was a comfortable experience to slowly waddle through the park along with the sea of people. The massive crowds made getting shots of the Sakura avenues difficult, but i guess i’m not rich enough to get them to shut down one of Tokyo’s largest parks park just for my photographic desires.
Moving away from the central Sakura avenues, the crowds became much thinner. This was a blessing because most of the good photo opportunities i found in Ueno were actually away from that central human river. The weather is still quite dull, the overcast sky leading to flat and dull lighting, but its difficult not to find decent opportunities to get snaps in a place this beautiful.
I plucked up all my courage and utilised the length and breadth of my limited Japanese skill to politely ask if i could get some photos of this young lady in front of the tea house (i think that what it was, correct me if i’m wrong. People were drinking tea inside it.) only to find out after the fact that she was in fact Korean, and had basically fluent English. That would have made communication during the shoot far easier, but it worked out well none the less.
I still have basically no idea how to get good photos of Sakura, but i seem to fluke it from time to time, which is nice. something gives me the feeling that by the time i’m getting confident with it, the season will be over.
After Ueno, i moved on to Chidorigafuchi. The crowds here at first seemed far lighter than Ueno, until i discovered i was looking at the dud end of the moats like a chump. Still, even the dud end was quite picturesque.
After exploring and photographing the dud end extensively, i went to check out the park inside the moat. Though not famed for Sakura they were pleasant none the less and far more reminiscent of my previous stays in japan, Characterised by the intense lush greens of summer.
Unfortunately this stroll through the park all but emptied the remainder of my second and final battery for the day (pro tip, if you shoot Sony mirror-less cameras, get as many batteries as you can lay your hands on. They don’t last long). This meant that when i left the park and stumbled upon Chidorigafuchi proper, i couldn’t take photos with anything but my aged smartphone. Have a mad selfie (if you don’t already know this, i hate selfies, but i took one for the team, Happy?) and a few crummy phone shots instead.
After this i circumnavigated the entire imperial east garden complex on foot to see what there was to see see see, then had a rather dull evening studying in my apartment waiting for my batteries to charge again.
Next time there is something to report i will let y’all know, until then, here is a link to my Flickr album for Japan. (<<<<for those of you not good with the internet, if you click the blue text it will take you there) There will be many more images from today and the days to follow than i can host on this site, They will also be in significantly better quality. I hope you enjoy them.