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 GALLERY MA
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 Merry Afternoon Around Town

The other day I was walking from Ebisu to Aoyama.
I spotted a lot of holiday colors around town, although I guess that is to be expected during this season. But even regular things, like green buses and red leaves! It felt great to be walking outside in the sun (even if my fingers were frozen by the time I got home).
I also found a really great flower shop and couldn’t resist buying a couple mini poinsettias to go with the holly I already had. Different shades of red and green here, too!
I hope your day is filled with joy and you have a wonderful holiday wherever you are! xx

Merry Christmas!

The Afternoon at Granny Smith Apple Pie & Coffee

Did you know that ‘bestie‘ is now officially a word in the Oxford English Dictionary?

 I use it all the time and I know some people cringe over the word…but I like it! It’s so easy to say. Although that could just be my Japanesey side taking over. You know how we love to abbreviate everything! ;D

Well, I mentioned all of that to say…I went to eat pie with my bestie!

M loves apple pies something fierce so we decided to stop by Granny Smith Apple Pie & Coffee, a small cafe in Aoyama. And when I say small, there are literally only 4 tables-for-two and 1 table-for-four. But the store concept is take-out pie and coffee, so I guess they don’t need as many tables.

The pies all looked delicious! There were so many choices that it was hard to decided (see menu here). Very hard. But I had absolutely no problem deciding that we were just going to have to keep on coming back until I’ve tried every one of their pies. Every. Single. One.
I ended up ordering the Apple Cobbler (because you could only get it when you eat inside the cafe…I really AM Japanese. Ha) and a cappuccino. M got the Dutch Crumble and a latte. It was scrumptious and we had a great time chatting in the cafe, surrounded by the lovely fragrance of freshly baked pies in oven. I’m already pondering over what I’ll order next time I’m there!
Here are some photos:
My Apple Cobbler.
M’s Dutch Crumble
Isn’t my bestie gorgeous?
5-8-9 Minami Aoyama
Minato-ku, Tokyo
東京都港区南青山5-8-9
03-3486-5581
Hours: 10am-9pm

The Brooklyn Ribbon Fries in Minami Aoyama

I love all potatoes whether they be baked, mashed, or fried.
So when I passed by this food stall last year, I had to give it a try. The potatoes are cut all strung together like a ribbon, thus the name Brooklyn Ribbon Fries. These fries were a mixture of soft and crispy. So so delicious.
After the hanami picnic last weekend, my sisters and I stopped by 246 Common, the outdoor food court where the Brooklyn Ribbon Fries stall is located. We ordered sour cream and onion, which was a special flavor on their menu.
The best thing about these fries are that they make it after taking your order, so you are given a freshly fried batch. This means that you have to wait a little, but it’s worth it. Plus, it gives you a chance to take pictures of the stall or of your shoes (like we did) ;D
We got ours to go but it was gone by the time we reached the station. Yum!
Here are some photos:

246 Common
3-13 Minami-Aoyama
Minato-ku, Tokyo
東京都港区南青山3-13
Hours:
11:00am-10:00pm

The Afternoon at Aoyama Flower Market Tea House

My friend M and I went to Aoyama Flower Market Tea House for lunch on the day it snowed in Tokyo. It was the perfect place to be on that cold day because this cafe is like a greenhouse. Super warm and cozy with wonderful fragrance of flowers.

M was here in Tokyo visiting her family with her fiance and his family. So you can imagine how hectic their schedule was. But the sweetheart that she is, she found some time for me. And we spent the whole afternoon talking and laughing. It was just what I needed!

M and I went to university together but it wasn’t until we graduated that we started becoming really good friends. We were both saying that we couldn’t remember how the friendship initially started. But now she is one of my greatest friends and I feel incredibly blessed to have such a brave and kind soul in my life.

 Isn’t it interesting how friendships are born? x

The Christmas Tree Lighting

Have you put up your Christmas tree already (if you celebrate Christmas)?
I graduated from a Methodist university and every year they have a Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Friday before Advent starts, which is usually the last Friday of November. It’s been a tradition since 1977 and all the students from kindergarten to post graduates are invited to attend, as well as parents, faculty, and alumni.
I loved this program when I was at the university. I mean how often do you get to stand in a crowd of Japanese people holding a candle and sing Christmas hymns with the choir outside? This rarely happens in Japan. We aren’t exactly in the land of Christmas caroling (although I’ve done that before, too). So I always embraced this opportunity to feel the Christmas spirit on campus.
Even the students who aren’t Christians (and most aren’t) are there to see the Christmas tree light up and you can feel the anticipation in the air throughout the whole program. A representative of each school (kindergarten, elementary, etc.) pushes a button to turn the lights on and each time a portion of the tree lights up, everyone gasps and claps. It’s kind of funny because this happens seven times until the whole tree is lit (we have a lot of schools crammed into this small campus) but sometimes you just can’t help yourself. It really is breathtaking!
This year I had a whim to go and I’m so glad I went. The regular candles had changed to penlight candles (much safer since everyone is holding a paper program) and the president of the university had changed, but the atmosphere of the program was still the same. I loved singing with everyone to Silent Night and Joy to the World. The older man standing next to us actually had a very lovely baritone voice. It was the perfect way to feel the Christmas spirit in a traditional way.
Hope you’re having a wonderful start to the Christmas season, too! x

The Avenue of Ginkgo Trees With Friends

I was looking forward to this weekend because my favorite family from Kobe were in town!
I love that my friends have a chance to come to Tokyo every so often so we can catch up face to face. Letters and emails are great. But nothing beats seeing your friends in person. Especially when they have the sweetest little boy with them. Little A was still a baby the last time I saw him but now he’s walking around and even more handsome!   
We stopped by the famous avenue of ginkgo trees at Meiji Jingu Gaien (明治神宮外苑の銀杏並木). These trees were placed here in 1923 and there are a total of 146 trees aligning the 300 meter avenue. The ginkgo trees are unbelievably tall, some even growing as tall as 28 meters. It’s quite an amazing view.
It was peak season for the gorgeous yellow ginkgo leaves. There were tons of people there but thankfully V and D didn’t seem to mind too much. We took a walk down one side of the avenue and came back up the street on the other side. There are ginkgo trees on both sides of the sidewalk, which seemed even brighter than just being under the blue sky. It was really beautiful and I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
Little A and I bonded over a ginkgo leaf when I twirled it between my fingers. He kept on holding it out to me, which I took to mean “do it again!” He was very shy before but we actually took a little walk together at dinner time. I think we are definitely chums now 😀
We spent the rest of the day just chatting away, which is what happens when you only see each other every half year. I simply adore this family and can’t wait until the next time I see them! x
Here are some very yellow photos of the ginkgo trees: