The Last Autumn of Heisei

Here in Japan, we are coming to the end of an era. The Heisei era. The traditional way of counting years in Japan is based on the length of reign of the emperor. Emperor Akihito took over the throne in January 1989, marking the end of the Showa Period and the beginning of the Heisei Period. In Heisei 31 (2019), the emperor has planned to pass the baton onto his son, making way for a new era. Continue reading “The Last Autumn of Heisei”

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Mid-Autumn: Tokyo’s Time to Shine

It’s such a great time to be in Tokyo right now. The whole city seems to be bathed in glistening sunshine. It’s like when you take out an old piece of jewellery and give it a polish–it transforms into something incredible before your very eyes.

Continue reading “Mid-Autumn: Tokyo’s Time to Shine”

Delicious Japanese Dishes: Takoyaki

Takoyaki… little balls of joy! A common sight at any matsuri (Japanese festival), takoyaki are one of the best street foods in Japan. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, these octopus balls are made simply of batter, boiled octopus, green onions and tempura bits. A very delicious snack. Continue reading “Delicious Japanese Dishes: Takoyaki”

Setagaya in the Snow

The entire country, bar the subtropical Okinawan islands, has entered a deep freeze this week. On Monday, a snowstorm swept across Honshu, and Tokyo welcomed its first heavy snowfall since the “snowpocalypse” of 2014. It usually snows only a few days a year, and rarely enough each time to accumulate on the ground. Continue reading “Setagaya in the Snow”

A Shrine of Pink

I’ve been living in Setagaya ward for 3 years, but only found out about this little gem down the road this week. Seriously – it baffles me how much of my area, let alone the whole of Tokyo, I’m still yet to discover. This is one of the reasons I love living in Tokyo – you could never get bored!

Sakura Jingu is a small Shinto shrine that was built in 1882. Every shrine has a different purpose, and this one’s originally was to protect people against sicknesses. Because the shrine escaped damage from the Great Kanto Earthquake and WWII when the rest of the city was flattened, it came to be known as a protector against fire and natural disasters, too.

During spring, the shrine grounds are painted pink as the kawazu-zakura and then somei-yoshino bloom. These beautiful trees gave the shrine its name: sakura jingu (cherry blossom shrine). Usually, visitors write their wishes on plaques called Ema and hang them up in hopes the gods listen. But at Sakura Jingu, they do things a little differently. People write their wishes on pink ribbons and tie them to the sakura trees! They were so well camouflaged I only realised they were there after standing right in front of the tree. Cuteness overload!

Right now, the kawazu-zakura have just passed their peak and green leaves are shooting out in all directions. In a few weeks the somei-yoshino will be in full bloom so we’ll have another chance to see this gorgeous sight!