The season’s almost over, but it’s never too late to indulge in a summer favorite. That’s right, I’m talking about kakigōri or shaved ice. This refreshing summer treat can be enjoyed almost anywhere in Tokyo, with cafes and restaurants serving their own flavors, mixes and concoctions. This year, I decided to go international and tried five shops of different origins. Continue reading
Date Visited: May 7, 2017
With the summer heat and humidity upon us, heading outdoors is becoming more of a struggle than a pleasant endeavor. And for people like me who aren’t fond of high temperatures, Todoroki Valley promises a cool escape from Tokyo’s sticky atmosphere. Continue reading
Access: JR Ome Line Mitake Station
Cost: Around JPY 3,710 (Shinjuku Sta. to Mitake Station: JPY 970; Bus to Mitakesan: JPY 280; Round-trip Cable Car JPY 1,110; One-way Lift to Anzan Sugi: JPY 100)
Difficulty: Absolute beginner to beginner
Duration: Approx. 3 hours
Hiking Course: Mitake Station→Mitakesan Station (Cable Car)→Anzan Sugi→Shopping Street→Musashi Mitake Shrine→Nagao Taira→Tengu Rock→Rock Garden
When is the best time to see cherry blossoms? Where are the best spots to see them? These are two of the most common questions I get from people eager to visit Japan.
The truth is, even for people living in the country, finding the best time and place to see cherry blossoms can be tricky. Forecasts can only predict as much, and if you’re only free on weekends, chances are the places you visit will be packed with (drunk) people.
Of the five years I’ve been Japan, this year was first time I’ve made considerable effort in checking out as many places in Kanto as I could, given the limited time and resources. Below is a gallery featuring the spots I visited.
Otona Water Park /音無親水公園 (Oji, Tokyo)
Located near the city hall, Otona Water Park is among the relatively quieter spots to enjoy cherry blossoms. Perhaps this is because the more popular and more spacious Asukayama Park is close by. I personally love the way the branches lean towards the wooden bridge. The spot always makes for good pictures.
Tokyo Past 3’s YouTube channel is back, and it opens its 2017 run with a short piece on mortality and cherry blossoms, recited over shots of spring in the Kanto region. Shogyō mujō (諸行無常) or “the temporality of all worldly things” happens to be one of my favorite themes, and more often than not I incorporate it in things I make. There’s only so much you can capture given the limits of time, erratic weather and a 9-to-5 job, but overall, I’m rather happy that I got to see them while they lasted.
BGM is “Koi to Komorebi no Toshishitsu” by Ryo Lion. Special thanks to Chihiro for looking over the piece for grammatical and spelling mistakes. He still thinks I cursed him because I sent him a birthday message in Tagalog.
Date Visited: March 18, 2017
- Jindai Botanical Garden
- Jindaiji Temple
- Yumori no Sato (Hot Spring)
“Are we still in Tokyo?” My best friend Yui asked the moment we got off the bus. The night before, I had asked her on a whim if she wanted to go to Jindai Botanical Garden. We knew it was too early and too cold to see flowers, but we decided to do a bit of hanami before we went to have drinks.
It was a grey afternoon, and since we both had not been to the area before, we had no idea what to expect. Chofu was every bit a part of Tokyo, but the area where the park is located is far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was quiet and peaceful, the perfect destination for souls worn out by the daily grind. Continue reading
Date Visited: March 12, 2017
Nestled in the urban jungle of Shimbashi is the curious world of Hamarikyu Gardens. I say curious because big public parks in Tokyo are usually enclosed in such a way that stepping into them takes you into a different world altogether; Hamarikyu, on the other hand, makes you rediscover the vastness of the sky.
This is in itself a good thing, but it also makes for a peculiar experience. At Hamarikyu, nature and traditional structures abound, but the presence of tall, proud buildings standing in the distance also cannot be ignored. The result, at least for me, is a discord in time and space; a conflation of relaxation and stress, as if reminding the visitor that one cannot exist without the other.