With some restrictions in place in Tokyo pretty much continually since last year, Hina and I haven’t been doing too many exciting things since my last article, but there has been the occasional noteworthy moment!
Christmas in Ebisu
As usual I had no idea this was a thing, but apparently an upmarket park called Ebisu Garden Place is the place to go as a couple on Christmas Day in Tokyo. It does feel like just another Japanese tradition that’s only done because it’s a tradition, but if you ignore that it is a nice place to wander around and enjoy the illuminated courtyard and garden.
Making traditional sweets
As a birthday present from my parents, we tried out a traditional sweets (“wagashi”) making class. The lady doing it speaks fluent English, so it was a fun opportunity for Hina and I to speak our usual intermingled Japanese and English with someone else, instead of having to limit ourselves to one language or the other!
Learning all the little tricks for shaping and decorating the sweets was fascinating; we made four traditional spring/summer designs using only a traditional triangle-shaped cutting tool, our hands, a toothpick, and a piece of damp cloth.
From left to right on the front plate:
- A cherry blossom shaped (and flavoured) one - we’ve seen the same design in shops so it was interesting to learn how it’s made
- My personal favourite, a leaf shape with a little ladybird on top
- A green tea flavoured one that’s supposed to look like a daffodil
- Another cherry blossom flavoured one decorated with flowers and a yellow butterfly
We enjoyed Kawaguchiko so much last year that we just had to go again this year! This time we had much better weather with great views of Mount Fuji. Somewhat unintentionally, we spent most of a day walking around the circumference of the entire lake; what looked like easy going on the map turned out to be a long trek on roads designed more for cars than pedestrians, but we got there in the end!
An “art aquarium”
With nothing better to do one day, we went to a place that calls itself an art aquarium, not really knowing what to expect. It turned out to be a unique and quite fascinating place, built by an artist obsessed with creating interplay between light and fish - not something I ever thought of doing in my art classes at school!
Only in Japan
Finally, I noticed a couple of fun things around town that struck me as so distinctively Japanese I just had to share them …
Before the most recent state of emergency we also managed to visit Hokkaido for a few days; I’ll write about that separately when I’ve finished sorting through our many hundreds of photos!