The Little Town by the Sea

I’ve finally started getting back into work mode. Just in the nick of time because we’ve been busy at the office. But I haven’t had time to go through the pictures from my time at home in Ehime during obon break. So I thought I’d take you on a little evening walk (the only time people venture outside because it’s so hot) around my parents house. 
Here are some pictures:

There are many rice fields around town…and the prefecture, too.
There are also many ports for ferries and various ships along the shore.
Knots and nails.
You can see private boats like this, too.
The Seto Inland Sea has fast tidal currents…always rushing somewhere.
My grandma’s old bike that I still use to get around town.

Sitting on the side of the coast and watching the sea.

You can see the bridges from Shimanami-kaido, which links Hiroshima to Ehime, from here.

Doesn’t this quiet little town have the best views?

The Pool Day After Work

In one of my efforts to deny the fact that summer is coming to an end, my bff and I went to hang out at a pool the other day after work.
Did you know Keio Plaza hotel has a pool? It’s right down the street from where I work so it’s the perfect spot to cool down during the summer. It’s kind of surreal seeing the skyscrapers rise high above us. It’s also a great place to practice the breaststroke. I’d forgotten how much harder it is to stay afloat in the pool when compared to the ocean. I think we were the only ones swimming laps but it was fun.
Week day pool nights are the best!

The Week I Started Running

I cannot believe this but I’ve started exercising on my own.
My boss, who is an exercise freak, told me that running was the best way to get into shape. So I tried running…but it was SO BORING! Oh, and also very tiring. So I looked into running. And a certain website suggested that beginners start by running 5 minutes and walking 5 minutes and so on to get used to running. This sounded easier so that’s what I’ve been doing. And it’s been GREAT!!!
I get to run for exercise and fast walk while exploring different parts of my city! This regime is perfect for me. I’m going to try to fit in 3 to 4 runs/walks a week and taking pictures every time to motivate myself (i.e. pressure myself to keep up the run/walk). So far so good.
We’ll see how long this lasts 😀

The Setouchi Triennale: Ogijima WallAlley

My sister and I really liked the Ogijima WallAlley by Rikuji Makabe.
These colorful walls were in various corners of the small Ogijima town. I loved how he used rich colors, it made the whole area pop with color. Do you see the silhouette of the trees?
It wasn’t an installation that you could look at for hours (like the Memory Bottle), but it was fun finding these colorful walls while we were walking around the island. Every time we would spot this burst of color, we’d jump for joy! And I mean literally 😀

Here are some pictures:

PS: Did you know that Ogijima (男木島) is actually pronounced Ogi-SHI-ma? ;D

The Setouchi Triennale: Memory Bottle

I was mesmerized by these bottles.
This is an installation by Mayumi Kuri called Memory Bottle for the Setouchi Triennale 2013 on the island Ogijima. Almost 1,000 bottles are on display, all with pictures or small trinkets inside. In her interview (here in Japanese), she says that she wanted to gather memories of the local people in Ogijima so she set up a collection box, asking people to put their memories in it.
The memories include everything from badminton shuttles to train tickets to school tests. It was so fascinating seeing the various trinkets inside the bottle and imagining what kind of memory was behind it for the Ogijima people. 
I think this was my favorite installation from my day at Ogijima. Pictures, trinkets, and memories…these are (definitely!) a few of my favorite things! (Did you sing the last part like Maria?) 😀
Here are some pictures:

The Setouchi Triennale: Ogijima

My sister and I made it to Ogijima!
It was a hot glorious summer day in Takamatsu. We took the ferry out to Ogijima. The island was charming. But I completely fell in love with the island while chatting with the local residents. They were so sweet to us visitors and full of interesting information about Ogijima.
We learned that Ogijima has a population of less than 200 residents and even less who actually live there year long. Someone told us that back in history, there was actually a time when over 1,000 people lived there, which is a surprisingly large number for such a small island. It was during the era when there were many pirates in the area bringing in the money to the island. Apparently the younger generation these days mostly live on mainland Japan to go to school or find jobs, so the locals are mostly the older generation.
We were also told that Ogijima didn’t have electricity until a little over 50 years ago and their water was to be pumped all the way from Takamatsu through an underwater pipe. The island is pretty much rock underneath so the residents apparently had a difficult time with wells and collecting rain water back in the day. Because of the lack of water, they couldn’t grow rice on the island and had to rent out their precious cows during the summer to rice fields in Takamatsu in exchange for rice for the family. An older lady said that the family would cry when seeing how thin and worn out the cows were when they return to the island. She said everyone took good care of their cows because they were the reason the family could eat rice.
Oh I could go on and on about the fascinating stories we heard. But you’ll probably want to hear it for yourself when you see what an interesting island Ogijima is. Here are some pictures:

Waiting for our ferry at Takamatsu Port.

The ferry, Meon 2, leaves Takamatsu and stops by the islands Megijima and Ogijima.

It was a 40 minute ferry ride to Ogijima from Takamatsu, with a short stop at Megijima.
The view from the ferry is pretty fantastic as well.
I loved their quirky streets that curve up and around this side of the island.
High buns are the best on a hot summer day.
Traditional roof tiles were used on most houses on the island.

Outside the Takeshi Kawashima exhibit (we didn’t go inside this one).

Everyone had an Onba, Ogijima’s version of the red wagon.

We stopped by a herb garden cafe, which we later found out is also a temple.

They were serving delicious shiso ume juice…perfect for cooling down from the heat!

They brought out this flower which was edible…notice the soy sauce on the petals 😀

Beautiful old houses with amazing roofs all along the side of the hill.

This house uses the wood from old boats on their wall.

The 11th stanza to a local song were written on the glass…there are a total of 33 stanzas.

We had to try everything…look through telescopes,talk through pipes, and make music.
The further you climb up the streets, the better the view of the island.

This is Toyotama-hime Jinjya (豊玉姫神社), a shrine famous for safe childbirth.

I completely fell for the Koma-inu (guardian dog) on the left…look at his overbite!

The shrine bell was so beautiful we had to take a picture (no worries…we didn’t hit it!).

The shrine stairs had a fabulous view of the houses below.
We took another break at Onba Factory, which custom makes Onba and also has a cafe.

They had an omiyage (souvenir) corner with Onba Factory goods.

We ordered the kuzumochi & tea set. It was delicious!

There was a vintage sowing machine in the corner.
The seats both inside and out were a great place to rest, the cool wind felt really good.

The Onba were all so creative, it was fun seeing all the different types!

We decided to walk on over to the Ogijima lighthouse.

Along the way we saw a lot of “green” houses…maybe abandoned houses.
It was a long walk under the sun but the view of the water was fantastic!

I actually forgot to take a good picture of the lighthouse, we were too busy playing in the water!

It took all my willpower not to jump into the water and swim!

We were back at the port in time to catch the ferry. This is the roof of the Ogijima’s Soul.

It was a glorious day on Ogijima and we fully enjoyed the Setouchi Triennale 2013!
PS: Two more posts coming up
on Memory Bottle and Ogijima Wallalley! x

The Birthday Post

Some say it’s just a number but I’ve come to realize that I am a person who likes celebrate birthdays. It’s a pretty big deal, staying alive for a whole year.

I turned 31 today. Not sure how I feel about this yet. It’s starting to become a pretty large number. I feel like I should know more and be doing more. But I do know that I’m moving forward in a direction that I feel good about. So I’m happy about that.

If I were to give advice to my next-year-self, I’d say to wear sunscreen and take a chance at things that are out of my comfort zone.

Do you have any advice? I’d love to hear! 😀

The Summer Fireworks

Fireworks, called hanabi in Japanese, are a summer staple here in Japan.
I don’t think there’s ever been a summer without going to a hanabi festival or just fireworks in the park with friends. But fireworks are definitely linked to summer here and I can’t seem to do without it.
This year, I took my beautiful new picnic blanket (you can probably tell from the pictures that I want to show it off! haha!) with me to the hanabi festival in Ichikawa. It’s a city in Chiba prefecture, located along the Edogawa river. We had a little picnic of festival food before the fireworks started. And then we just rolled over and enjoyed the show in the night sky while we oohed and ahhed 😀
Here are some pictures:

My sister with her we-found-a-great-spot smile 😀

I got free uchiwa’s (a hand fan) the night before and decided to redecorate them!
This is how we save seats! The whole riverside on both shores was a sea of picnic sheets.

There were lots of different festival food stalls along the river.

Anzu-ame, a festival favorite, is apricot dipped in sweet syrup.
People start gathering as the time for fireworks comes near.

People also watch the fireworks from boats called Yakatabune.
We had a glorious sunset…you can even see the Skytree in the distance!

My absolute festival favorite is Gyaga-batah, which literally means potato-butter.

The fireworks start off with a bang!

Tons of people were there watching the fireworks!

Something special about each explosion of lights. Aren’t fireworks fabulous?

It was a pretty great night…might have to make this an annual event!
“Bright lights and the big city.
It belongs to us tonight.”
– Cee Lo Green

The Summer Days

Isn’t it a weird summer we’re having in Tokyo?
The sky is sure getting a work out going from brilliant blue skies to dark stormy clouds in a blink of an eye. Pouring rain one minute, then a gorgeous pink sunset the next. Summer weather can be unpredictable but I don’t remember it being this crazy.
But you know what? I. Am. Loving. It.
The sky keeps us guessing and there’s nothing more intriguing than that, don’t you think? So people who are complaining about how hot it is outside…it’s going to be chilly winter in a couple of months and you’ll forget about how hot you were and wish the sun would come back out. So just grab a tapioca drink and relax! 😀

PS: But drink lots of water…you want to enjoy summer, not pass out from it! x

The Forgotten Guidebook

This always happens.
I was so excited about my trip to Ogijima that I bought the official guidebook for the Setouchi Triennale 2013 a couple of weeks ago…and then I forgot to bring it with me. Sigh.
This is what happens when you don’t pack ahead of time. I always dump a whole bunch of clothes in my suitcase while getting ready for work and make a mad dash out the door. This usually leads to forgetting essentials like toothbrushes and cellphone chargers. And this time, the guidebook.
I think we did okay without it (pictures to come!) but I wanted to show you the pretty map and pictures in the guidebook anyways! 😀