The May Link Love

Someone stop the clock! Can you believe it’s May already?

Golden Week is already upon us and I have been so busy with life in general that I have absolutely no plans this year. Well, actually I guess I do…to not do anything!

Right now I feel like I could sleep for a week!

We had some glorious spring days in April and I’m hoping that trend will continue. The trees outside are so wonderfully green these days, it just makes me happy to my toes! I want to soak in all the fresh leaves while I can.

I remember one time up on the observatory deck of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, there were two visitors standing right by me. They were looking out across Tokyo and having a conversation like this:

                  boy:  Look at how all the buildings are jammed together.
                  girl:  I know, I feel sorry for the kids who have to grow up here.
                  boy:  Yeah, without any trees.
                  girl:  I could never live here.

I was totally eavesdropping, I know. But I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I almost butt into their conversation to say, “Um guys, it’s JANUARY! Of course there is no green anywhere…it’s WINTER!” But I didn’t. If they could see Tokyo now, right?

I hope you’re all enjoying the great weather outside! x

——————————————————-Link Love——————————————————-

– When your punctuation says it all.

Why we travel in 1932.

– What’s the meaning behind airport IATA codes?

Could not agree more 😀 (and reading the above, need to work on it pronto!)

– Ever been bored at an airport?

– Formula of the Day: oil paint + watercolor > oil spill + ocean water

Soba takeout, anyone?

The Best Kept Sakura Secret in Yoyogi

Did you think I was done with this years sakura season?
Not so fast! I couldn’t move on without posting about the weekend I discovered rows and rows of cherry blossoms in Yoyogi. And the best part? There were absolutely no crowds. This place may be the best kept secret in Yoyogi…or even Tokyo!
My friend F and I decided to go hunt for cherry blossoms in Yoyogi so we first stopped by Yoyogi Village to get fuel for the afternoon. Then, with coffee in one hand and a bagel in the other, we were off!
Strolling along the road, we discovered a row of cherry blossoms. It was in a restricted area and while we were trying to figure out how to sneak in…we saw that the facility had even more cherry blossoms than we realized.
The National Olympic Memorial Youth Center was bursting with blooms. I don’t know about F but I am still patting myself on the back for inadvertently stopping by this facility. There were a few people walking around admiring the sakura like we were, but mostly the streets inside the grounds were deserted. 
We found a bench under the row of trees and relaxed for a bit. It wasn’t the most sunniest of days but it didn’t seem to matter. Everything was beautiful and I had a great time chatting away with F on that bench.
And our timing was perfect. Once we were on our way to another coffee shop, it actually started to rain. So glad we were able to enjoy the gorgeous blooms while we could! x
Here are some photos:

The Citrus From Ehime

Did your mama ever tell you not to play with your food?
Well sometimes the temptation is too great. Especially when your parents send you a package full of citrus. And believe me you, I was already devouring one mikan after the other while having fun with these citrus slices!
You may already know that Ehime is the top prefecture to produce citrus fruits in Japan. My parents (who live there) have several types of orange trees and lemon trees in their back yard, as do many others. 
I love the 100% orange juice made by Ehime Beverage, Pom Juice (ポンジュース). That is my go-to orange juice. Do you know the story behind the name Pom?
The company wanted the orange juice to become “Nippon-ichi,” meaning number one in Japan. So they took the Pon from Nippon-ichi, which later changed to Pom (something to do wih the word Pomelo), in hopes that the juice would become a hit. It certainly did for me!
Anyways, sometimes it’s fun to play with different citrus fruit while you’re eating them. They look so pretty. So much so that I even made a video of the oranges dancing away!
Also, I feel I should add that they tasted great, too! x
Here are some photos:

The Afternoon at the Tange By Tange Exhibit 

I finally made it to Tange By Tange 1949-1959 exhibit, right before it ended!
Most exhibits I hear about, I end up not going to. It always slips my mind and then it’s over by the time I remember. But I was really drawn to this one on the legendary Japanese architect, Kenzo Tange.
It may be because I think his design of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is brilliant. Or just that I know many of his works, like the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Though really, most likely because his smile reminds me of a long-ago grade school boyfriend, if you must know. (I know, you didn’t ask..but I decided to over share. Ha.)
Gallery Ma is operated by ToTo Ltd. (the company famous for making those Japanese toilets, bless them). The gallery opened in 1985 as part of the company’s social contribution program, and specializes in architecture and design. This was my first time here but as tiny as it was, the use of both indoor and outdoor space was wonderfully unique.
Displayed were rows of contact sheets of 35-millimeter film images that Tange himself had taken, mostly of his own projects. And as much as I’ve always been into his work and history, I learned a few new things regarding Kenzo Tange.
Such as…
  1. The biggest surprise for me was that Tange had grown up in Imabari City, which is where my parents currently live! I had no idea. This explains why he has so many projects there, such as the Imabari City Hall and Imabari City Assembly. A lot of concrete. I’m going to have to go see for myself next time I go back to my parents place.
  2. It’s a known fact that Tange designed the current Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku, but I actually did not know that he also designed the previous Government Building, too. It was located near Yurakucho Station, where the Tokyo International Forum now stands.
  3. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is my favorite designs by Tange. But I learned that it was his debut project! Wow. Not only that, he designed the entire Peace Park. No wonder I’ve always loved that entire area. He specifically designed the building elevated on pillars so that you could see the Atomic Bomb Dome from the museum. (Side note: Tange went to high school in Hiroshima so he had strong ties to Hiroshima even before he became an architect)

All in all, a very educational and informative exhibit on Tange’s earlier projects. And did I mention it was free? This gallery is definitely on my radar now. If you like architecture or design, this is definitely a great place to visit. You can see a list of their upcoming exhibitions here.
 On my way back home, I called my dad to ask if he knew that Kanzo Tange was from Imabari. He didn’t know either.
Here are some photos:

TOTO Nogizaka Building 3F, 1-24-3 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
東京都港区南青山1-24-3 TOTO乃木坂ビル 3階
TEL: +81 3 3402 1010
HOURS: 11:00am-6:00pm (Closed Mondays and Holidays)

The Cherry Blossom Walk to Work

My walk to work is the best!
Especially when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. I walk along Kanda River (神田川), which is for the most part aligned with cherry trees. The view is incredible.
It’s a popular spot to enjoy the cherry blossoms but in the morning hours, when everyone is fast walking towards the train station, I get to have these trees to myself (with the occasional dog walker or runner passing by).
Nothing beats cherry blossoms under a blue sky. But my favorite view is actually under the rows of branches leaning toward the river. It feels like a tunnel of cherry blossoms and despite seeing this view every year, it still manages to take my breath away. So beautiful.
It’s no surprise then, that I had to make a mad dash for the office every time. So hard to not take a photo every three steps I take. (Although nothing new.) Oh the joys of walking to work! 😀
Here are some photos:

The Hanami Under the Camellia Tree

No cherry blossom season in Japan is complete without hanami.
Hanami is pretty much a picnic under the cherry blossoms. So you would think that it’s as easy as a picnic blanket in one hand and a six-pack of beer in the other. Well, it’s a little bit more complicated than that.
For one, it’s hard to pinpoint when the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom, even with the announcement of the cherry blossom forecast as early as a month before. Especially if you only have weekends (like me).
For another, spring weather is extremely unstable and that means it rains quite often. So not only do you hope the blossoms are blooming but you also have to hang a teru-teru-bozu and pray it doesn’t rain on your hanami day.
And finally, this hanami season is also the end of the fiscal year for most companies and spring break for many students. Which can mean full schedules for everyone and is quite difficult to find a day when everyone is able to come. I actually have a coworker who sets a date for hanami with friends a year ahead.
Well, my baby sister was flying in to stay with me for a few days before heading back to school at the end of March so we decided on this day to get together. It was a gorgeous afternoon with the sun shining through the trees, perfect for hanami.
Except none of the cherry trees had blossoms!
Ha! Ah well, I knew the unusually warm weather was too good to be true. Although it didn’t stop us one bit from having a good time. We spotted a camellia tree in full bloom and decided that one blossom was good as the other! x
Did you have the perfect hanami day this season?
We got burgers from my favorite burger shop! Yum!
Did you try the easter kitkats? (It was way too sweet for me…but cute, right?)
My sister flew in this morning and brought homemade ohagi that my mom made for us.

The Burst of Blooms at Kumano Shrine

Suddenly Tokyo is bursting with blooms!
I know everyone’s blog, twitter, and instagram in Tokyo is suddenly filled with cherry blossoms. I am, of course, one of them
There’s something special about these blossoms that keep you guessing (when will they bloom?) and suddenly vanish before our eyes (this rainy day? this gust of wind?). You just never know how long they’re here to stay.
So what do you do when that perfect sunny day when the blossoms are in full bloom comes in the middle of a weekday? You make the most of your lunch break and visit the nearest cherry tree, of course!
My coworker mentioned that Kumano Shrine (熊野神社), located in a corner of Shinjuku Chuo Park (新宿中央公園), had a variety of cherry trees so during my lunch break I skipped on over there to see if there were any blossoms.
And boy, am I glad I did! The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and the sakura looked gorgeous against the main shrine and torii. I am still sighing over how lovely this place was.
Do you have cherry blossoms where you are? Where is your favorite hanami spot?