Sunday, March 29, 2009

More from Yoyogi Koen

As I said, Yoyogi is entertaining for a number of reasons... here's another one.  I'm sure this makes more sense if you can hear his music.  But the microphone didn't pick it up, so I added my own.

Without further comment...

How can you take something hard and make it harder?

The something hard, in this case, is the Tokyo Marathon which was last weekend.  The marathon course came within about a mile or so of our apartment so we decided to go down there and check it out.  

We were just past the 12 km mark, so about 7 miles in which is important to remember when looking at the pictures.  It's probably worth noting that 30,000 people participate in the marathon and that number is capped.  For Japanese applicants, there is actually a lottery to get in.  I think foreigners actually have a better chance of running the race.  

So I think some people try to take full advantage (and make it harder) by going with a costume.  After 7 miles, I think most of these people still thought the costume was a good idea - they were all high-fiving us and smiling and waving etc.  I was wondering how many of these costumes (or the runners) made it across the finish line intact.  Oh yeah, it rained on the course later in the day - a lot of these costumes look like they would hold quite a bit of water.

Enjoy the Tokyo Marathon... we did.


So Jenn is back home in Houston for a couple of weeks, so I'm going to try to catch up on some blog posts here.

As has been well-documented here, Cosmo arrived in Japan a couple of weeks ago.  So we've been adjusting to having him here and he's been adjusting to life on a leash.  One of our big concerns was where we could take him on walks, to get exercise, etc.  

Some of Jenn's friends with dogs said they take their dogs in the taxi cabs.  This struck us as somewhat odd since the cabs here have almost like lace covers on the seats and some of the taxi drivers wear white gloves (in addition to their suits).  But we decided to give it a shot last weekend.... sure enough, no problem.  He just has to stay on the floor, but so far we are 4 for 4.

This has opened up a whole new world to Cosmo, namely Yoyogi Koen (or park) which is right in the middle of Tokyo and has an off-leash dog park.  The pics in the album below are over two different trips to the park.  The park is entertaining on a number of different levels, but dog-wise the best part is the outfits on the little dogs.  And Cosmo is a huge hit here... we've more people talk to us in the last three weeks than we have in the prior 6 months.  Lots of people wanting his picture, wanting to pet him... he seems to take it in stride.

This weekend also marked the beginning of the cherry blossom (or sakura) season, so I snapped some photos of those as well.  Accompanying the sakura are the hanami.  Hanami are kind of like picnics to celebrate the arrival of the cherry blossoms.  In current form they involve laying a tarp down and taking a bunch of food and booze to the park.  People will get there hours in advance to stake out their area with the tarp and a sign indicating who it belongs to.  The best comparison back home would almost be like tailgating before a football game - some people had kegs, generators, etc.  

These pics really don't give you a good idea of how many people were at Yoyogi this weekend - some areas were just crammed with people.  And apparently it is better to be directly under a sakura - near one is not good enough.

I think next weekend will be better for the blossoms though.  This weekend was supposed be the peak, but it was very cold this week.  They only last about a week or so - some sort of metaphor for fleeting nature of beauty.... pretty while they're here though.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day

So, John and I decided to welcome Cosmo here in style and throw a little get together for St. Patrick's Day for all our friends.  My grand idea was to have everyone wear green - obviously - and to make all green appetizers.  This of course if far more difficult than one might imagine.  There are not many green foods that present themselves as finger foods.  I am happy to report that after picking the brains of my cooking experts, I was able to provide a good spread that fell in line with our party theme.  And thanks to mine and John's mom we were plied with decorations both for the apartment and for ourselves as you'll see in the slide show.  It was a great time and I'm pretty sure that everyone had a grand time even though John beat them all in Guitar Hero.  I think John agreed to the party just so that he would have someone to compete with.  That or to show off his skills on the toy guitar.  Just a thought. 

Until next time...Jenn 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wait... we live in Roppongi

Whenever you move or travel abroad, you can sign up for automatic updates from various embassies. When I got to Tokyo, I signed up for the US Embassy's updates which come out each month. They usually tell you about events at the Embassy (like Independence or Memorial Day parties, etc.), or about how Hillary Clinton came through Tokyo last month, State Department travel advisories to other countries, etc.

They also send out advisories or warnings regarding the country you are living in. I got this one today:

* * * * *

Date: March 17, 2009

This is to inform the American community that the U.S. Embassy has recommended that the embassy community avoid frequenting Roppongi bars and clubs in Tokyo due to a significant increase in reported drink-spiking incidents. American citizens may choose to avoid frequenting drinking establishments in this area as well.

The number of reports of U.S. citizens being drugged in bars has increased significantly in recent weeks. Typically, the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been secretly mixed with a drug that renders the victim unconscious for several hours, during which time large sums of money are charged to the victim’s credit card or the card is stolen outright. Victims sometimes regain consciousness in the bar or club, while at other times the victim awakens on the street [jrs: the "victims" I see on the street normally appear to have administered something to themselves].

Because this type of crime is already widespread [jrs: um, first I've heard of it] in Roppongi bars and is on the rise, the U.S. Embassy has recommended that members of the embassy community avoid frequenting drinking establishments in this area [jrs: how much time is the embassy community spending in the bars exactly?]. American citizens may consider this recommendation as it applies to their own behavior. If you, nevertheless, choose to participate in Roppongi night life, we urge you to remain extra vigilant of your surroundings and maintain a high level of situational awareness. Establishments in the area of Roppongi Intersection (Roppongi Dori and Gaienhigashi-dori) have had the highest level of reported incidents.

* * * * *

Just to put this into perspective for us, here is my walk to the Metro station to get to work:
  • Come out of apartment and turn left.
  • Walk to Gaienhigashi-dori and turn right.
  • Walk to Roppongi Dori (through Roppongi Intersection) and turn left.
  • Go down the Metro entrance.

I still think Tokyo is probably one of the safest large cities in the world, certainly much more so than NYC. But it's still kind of surprising to get something like this. I'm gonna have to tell Jenn to be careful out there. ;-)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Japanese Tea Ceremony...

So, last week a few of the girls and I got to experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.  There is tea room in Ginza that caters to foreigners that are hoping to just experience the ceremony, but in a language they understand.  My Japanese teacher recommended it and we had the best time.  I must say I doubt I would ever have enough sophistication to pull off a tea ceremony.  There are certain ways to do everything including entering and leaving the room and certain things that you are supposed to say.  We had a great time and the hostess was so wonderfully instructive and helpful.  Here are a few pictures to give you a bit of an idea.  

Until next time...Jenn

Friday, March 6, 2009

Long Awaited Arrival...

And now we're introducing our wonder dog...Cosmo.  Let's just say we are over the moon that Cos has finally made it safely to Japan and getting adjusted to his new city dog life.  He's already found the sunniest spot in the apartment and is getting acquainted to his new digs.  I think he's going through a little withdrawal.  He misses John's parents and his backyard.  And he's having some abandonment issues as anytime John or I leaves the apartment (no matter that one of us is still there) he cries or barks until said person returns.  Let's just say he'd be happy if we were both with him at all times poor thing.  I'm sure all that will ease once he gets more used to it.  He is fascinated with all the people and the noises outside, which slightly distracts him from "getting business taken care of" if you know what I mean.  Anyway, we hope that you are all doing well and just wanted to assure everyone that Cosmo made it and we are so excited!  I think we are heading out for a long walk around the city and some Starbucks people viewing, which I think Cosmo will appreciate.  I can't wait to see his reaction to all the doggies with clothes on around here..ha!  Hope you all have a great weekend!

Until next time...Jenn

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Well Travelled Puppy...

So, this is such a sad little picture.  Cosmo's plane arrived in Tokyo, but we don't get him until tomorrow.  I'm so excited I can hardly contain it.  I hope that he can get used to "the facilities" being concrete rather than's to hoping.  There will be more pics to come once he gets here.

Until next time...Jenn

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Comin' Atcha from Kamakura

So this weekend, after a week long rainy spell (and a spot of snow) in Tokyo, we decided to get outta town for the day and head to Kamakura to finally see the Big Buddha.  It was really cool.  We hit a few other Temples, which were cool.  Although, I hate to say this, but they all are starting to be a bit the same...all really old and very intricate, but the same nonetheless.  

The Buddha, however, was definitely different.  And a little down the road from the Buddha is another Temple spot that houses the children's shrine.  There are rows and rows of shrines representing children who have died, either through miscarriage, natural causes or abortion.  It is just such a sad thing to see, but beautiful and so peaceful.  

I'm attaching pictures of it all for your viewing please.  And for those of you that have been wondering...Cosmo is coming this coming week.  He leaves the US on Wednesday and we get him Friday.  John and I are both so excited that we can hardly stand it.  I'm sure we'll have a million pictures of him and the Tokyo sites.  Anyway, stay tuned for that.    

Until next time...Jenn