Friday, April 27, 2012

Ohanami


Every year when the cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, Japanese people come out in droves to drink and eat beneath the trees. It's called "ohanami", and it's one of my favorite Japanese traditions. This year I got to do a few hanami in various places around Tokyo with my new coworkers and friends. Here's my review of a few of the popular spots we visited: 

Ueno Park


Ueno is a great park to spend the day in, with lots of fun things to do, and they set up a number of food stalls and street entertainers during the hanami season. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo above, it's pretty crowded and Ueno doesn't have many good places to sit and have a picnic. Most people just put tarps down on the side of the sidewalks. I wouldn't recommend Ueno for a traditional sit-down hanami, but it was very nice to eat some festival food and go visit the zoo while admiring the sakura.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Trains, Toddlers and Tiny Apartments: My Life in Tokyo


Last month I made the move from Sendai down to Tokyo. I had an awesome going away party with my friends and one at work where I received many wonderful hand-made presents from my students. I already miss the great community of people I knew up there, but fortunately some of them have already made good on their promises to come visit me here in Tokyo.

My new apartment is a Leo Palace, an apartment chain throughout Japan that offer small but cheap and relatively nice places to live. It's supposedly "furnished" but by that they just mean a table, chairs and basic appliances (fridge, microwave, TV, washing machine, etc.). I ended up spending a bit more than expected on stuff for the apartment when I moved in, which made me realize just how spoiled I really was in my spacious, fully stocked Sendai apartment. 

New Leo Palace Kitchen: About as spacious as an airplane bathroom.