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  • Writer's pictureNigel

⚓ Yokohama, Tokyo 横浜, 東京

Updated: Nov 30, 2023


2023 年 11 月 19 日


I wake up in my "business hotel" (that's what they call them here). The lift doors open and I descend to the breakfast room in the company of a very silent....yes...businessman🧑‍💼. Do I say "Good Morning" in the lift? My brain 🧠 is not yet geared up. Get those neurons going Nigel..! The doors open and he gestures me to go out before him, saying quietly - in English - "Have a nice day". Maybe he was unprepared for the foreigner who had suddenly appeared. I don`t blame him. I am probably the only one in the hotel.

I enter the breakfast room and my not-yet-awake brain registers a sea of black. Is this a funeral? Why do these business people all have to wear black suits and white shirts. Is colour not allowed?

カラーは禁止ですか?

Little ladies, donned with aprons and headscarves, scurry around stocking up the buffet. I reach the coffee machine. It is empty. Oh no! with a quick "sumimasen" I catch the attention of one and ....oh hell...what's the verb "to be empty"? Mind is blank. Before I say something stupid like "The coffee machine is hungry" I just exclaim the one word to her "コーヒー!" (Kouhii / Coffee)....☕! A flood of apologies ensues and the machine is quickly replenished.

Time to start the day.


 


Nigel Ruddock, do you have a moment? We'd love to know how everything worked out with you. Did "All Cotton Household Duster 15cmx25cm" meet your expectations? Review it on Amazon....


ナイジェル・ラドック、ちょっと時間ある? 私たちは、すべてがどのようにうまくいったのか知りたいと思っています。 「オールコットン ハウスダスター 15cmx25cm」はご期待に応えましたか? アマゾンでレビューしてみると……


How did we get here? You buy anything from a plastic banana box to a Booker prize winner and they never leave you in peace afterwards. I've had to learn to filter. Filter, filter, filter. Ignore the junk. Don't even go there. Don't waste your energy in getting irritated. It's your life, not theirs. Full stop (or period, as the Americans would say).

Real Life. Look, I've just eaten these two Bream. Walked in through a modest doorway in a fishing town.........実生活、私はちょうどこの鯛を 2 匹食べたところです。

The perky little old lady owner flung the fish on the grill and presented it to me about 10 minutes later. Absolutely mouth-watering. I thanked her and told her how delicious it was. Really - ほんとう - That was my feedback. What a horrible word. So colourless. So factual. So office suit-and-tie. (when did we start using it?). No, I initiated a human to human communication and it resulted in smiles. I told her I was happy because of the food. You could tell she was then also happy 😀.

漁港で美味しいご飯を食べました。 店主さんに「美味しかったよ」と言っていただきました。 彼女はとても幸せでした。 それが本当のフィードバックです😀.



 



After the wilds of Iwate I arrived in Yokohama last week. The base which I always return to in Japan. Meeting friends and visiting familiar haunts. Always finding new undiscovered corners. This tower for example. The Yokohama Landmark Tower. Isn't it time I actually went up this to see the view?

横浜にあるこの塔に登ったことがありませんでした

I paid my 1000 yen (6 €) and shot up to the 67th floor. Phew !💦 ......the sight from the viewing platform is staggering.....

1000円払って67階に到着しました。 素晴らしい景色

The Minato Mirai....the new harbour of Yokohama......

横浜みなとみらい

Way down below I could see the masts of the sailing ship Nippon Maru 日本丸.......

Where earlier in the day a group of school children had gathered for a tour.....

Cue for a manhole cover!! and yes, guess what's featured on it......

I waited until the sun had set and turned my eyes to venerate Mount Fuji on the horizon.....

日没を待った......!


 

Another day, now back down to earth, I met 11 month-old Meiko-chan for the first time......Konnichiwa! My Mummy played the piano in Frankfurt ! 😉

こんにちわ! ママはフランクフルトでピアノを弾きました!

What impressed me about this Sushi restaurant was that we were given our own room to have our meal.

Giving Mummy that look.....

この寿司屋で私が感心したのは、自分の部屋で食事をすることができたことです。

Am I losing my touch?

私は練習不足ですか?😅



 


Time for some culture. I've always been fascinated by those ukiyo-e woodblock prints - the most famous one being of course Under the Great Wave off Kanagawa....

私は昔から浮世絵に興味がありました

But there is a lot more to the artist - Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾 北斎 - than just woodblock prints. Hokusai lived in Japan's Edo period, and was born around 31st October 1760 . When he was an old man he said that he had so many new ideas that he needed another 90 years..... Unfortunately he died on 10 May 1849. The landscapes (like the above picture) were a new project, and they proved enormously successful. Up until then it had been mostly beautiful women. He did ink drawings, the predessors of today's Manga, satirical "guide" books, pamphlets......whatever came his way it seems. And he changed his name several times, which makes identifying his work a skilled game.

I went to see the museum which is exclusively dedicated to him - the Sumida Hokusai Museum. "Sumida", because that's the area of Tokyo he worked in. The building is itself amazing....

The entrance...

入り口...



In one room a 7-metre long scroll was laid out. This was incredible. Hokusai had painted daily life along the Sumida river in exquisite detail. From the shadows under a bridge ......

驚くべき7メートルの巻物があります

...to a scene in a "house of pleasure"......

The scroll has a strange history (It's proper name is Scenery on Both Banks of the Sumida River ). It had belonged to the art dealer Hayashi Tadamasa (1853–1906), a friend and advisor to foreign Japanophiles . It subsequently went missing after appearing in a 1902 sales catalogue of Hayashi’s collection of Japanese and Chinese art, and its whereabouts were unknown for many years. When it resurfaced at a London auction in 2008 (Sothebys) the museum purchased it, returning it to Sumida after more than a century away. A happy ending.


 

More friends to meet. This time to cook......here are some しいたけ....mushrooms. I am always amazed by the lovely fresh produce you can buy in Japan...

友達と一緒に料理をする

.....making a kimchi hotpot.....(we are branching out into the world of hot spicy Korean cabbage here!)

キムチ鍋

..... examining the family shamisen.......It only has three strings, but there are different ways to tune it.....

三味線

...and also look at the local temple. This is the Ikegami Honmonji, a quiet temple in Ota Ward in south west Tokyo. We see here the Soshi-dou, the founder's hall. The temple was founded in 1282 at the request of Ikegami Munenaka, a wealthy feudal lord.......A monk was chanting a service as we approached......

I often get the feeling at these temples and shrines ⛩️ that they are in daily use. People come, toss a coin in and say a prayer. Often they then go and light an incense stick at the family grave next door. Nobody is buried alone it seems. The temple complex is a very open place, unlike a church which is a closed building with a door at one end. Although of course most churches are open all day anyway.

This is something which always surprises me about Tokyo. You think it is one unending urban sprawl, but now and again you stumble across an oasis like this, or a wonderful park or garden with a lake. Here is the five story pagoda, reconstructed after the 1945 bombing and now designed to withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake....I wonder if the one in Kew gardens would withstand an earthquake?

東京には驚きがたくさんあります。 静かな礼拝所

On entering the temple complex, I was shown how to wash my hands at the temizuya . This is a little pavilion at the entrance to purify the body before entering. Here worshippers wash their hands and mouth with the cool, flowing water in an act of ritual purification. I thought that this was a Shinto tradition, but here it was at a Buddhist temple. Things can get confusing .......



 

Back "at home" in Hoshikawa, Yokohama......I stayed here on my very first visit to Japan in 2018 and have returned every year to stay with the Kanakura family (except during Covid). A smart new station has been built whilst I was away. The trains arrive on the top level, then you descend through a shopping mall before exiting. There are restaurants, a coffee shop, a conbini (a 24 hour convenience store) and a Muji store. It makes arriving by train such a civilized experience. Haywards Heath in Sussex could do with something like this.

私のホームステーション . 星川駅 (神奈川県)

What is it about Japanese lorries? They are all so shiny .

日本のトラック。 とても輝いています!

You pass the town hall with its strange plants.....

この植物は何ですか?

...noting the neighbour's orange tree.....

近所のオレンジの木

Stepping on that manhole .....

マンホール

And passing this garage every time you walk up to the house..........

家に上がるたびにこのガレージの前を通ります。(not sure of that translation)

You arrive home to find one or more cats in your bedroom. Misako-san has at least 3 cats....who love to peer down the street.....

寝室に猫が…

.......am I so small? or is the clock so big?......

私はそんなに小さいですか? それとも時計がとても大きいですか?

Time for a matcha kitkat.......😋

...and put my feet up....aaaah!

...and end the day with an an Edo-era drama.....

This production uses some pretty cool designs.....

デザインがしたすきで


 

🐈 Thank you for reading "..Yokohama, Tokyo.."

"..横浜, 東京.."を読んでんでくれてありがとう



🐈 Feel free to share the blog with friends.

よろしければ、リンクを友達と共有してください



🐈 And it would be nice to hear from you...!

そしてコメントしてください...


"I am innocent!"

"わたしは悪くない。!"



THE END

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