Category Archives: Japan

Goshawk vs Snake Fight — in Tokyo?!

I just saw an NHK (if you’re Canadian think CBC) clip of a snake trying to snatch a goshawk chick from a nest way up a tree — in Meiji Jingu park in Tokyo. Mom GH intervened…

I used to walk through Meiji Jingu a couple of times a week on the way to work when I lived in Tokyo. I would get off the train a few stations early to fill my lungs with somewhat naturally filtered air and enjoy this haven in a sea of concrete and pavement…

But I never imagined a goshawk/snake fight in this green oasis in a metropolitan area of some 25-30 million people!

I’m attaching this Google Earth capture, just to show how isolated this island of biodiversity is in one of the largest metropolitan centers on Earth.

The red marker is Meiji Shrine and its park. The surrounding grey area is all buildings, concrete, and pavement. The other green areas to the right are other parks, and the Imperial Palace.

Meiji Jingu Tokyo Google Maps

Kodo Delivers Superb Concert Again

Yumi and I went to the Kodo concert in Vancouver this evening. We’ve seen them several times, and this show was another fantastic event.

While they used to focus on the sheer stamina and physicality of extreme, marathon taiko drumming, this tour is more nuanced with more story-telling.

It worked well. Close enough to their ripped roots to satisfy hard-core fans, and different enough to demonstrate that they are not creatively stagnating.

Also a bit more humor, which is fun.

Good show!

Celebrating New Year Japanese Style in Burnaby, BC

I love celebrating New Year Japanese style.

We tape the entire Kohaku Red (Women) vs White (Men) NHK song extravaganza to our PVR, and watch it at our leisure over the course of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It’s always a bit over the top, a tish maudlin, and with few actually gripping or moving performances, but it’s a fun way to stay somewhat in touch with contemporary Japanese music and culture.

The food is great. Sushi, sashimi, chawan mushi, and a couple of bottles of choice nihonshu (sake) shared with friends.

Ringing the temple bell at midnight at Tozenji in nearby Coquitlam is always fun, too. Out with the old, in with the new.

Returning home at a crazy hour and cooking and eating toshi koshi soba for long life and prosperity.

Here’s Yumi’s Japanese-Canadian fusion tableau in our foyer:

New_Year_Tableau_2014

Love the ‘Before and After’ Show from Japanese TV

I enjoy the “Before and After” show on TV Japan. Yes, it’s a home renovation show, but with Japanese construction, architecture, and interior design.

Often the show is about some 50- or 75- or even 100-year-old house, with a lone grandmother living there. The architects do amazing jobs of refurbishing these old homes, and a common theme is preserving as much of the past as possible while incorporating as many modern amenities as budgets permit.

Much of what is torn down is reused, and often in emotionally powerful ways. Japanese construction features extensive use of beautiful wood, much of which can be reused or re-cut.

The architects also honor the departed. For example, items from a late grandfather’s workshop may be incorporated into the modern decor.

A favorite rock in the garden takes a new place of honor in the restyled greenery.

Was a deceased family member an avid ink painter or photographer? A favorite piece may be used as a template for a much larger decorative feature.

Perhaps the house used to be fronted by the owner’s business — a sushi counter or noodle shop — and elements of such are maintained and used in creative ways.

And since these houses are often being improved for elderly persons, many shows depict creative solutions to barrier-free issues.

Japanese homes tend to be smaller than North American ones, so often unique space-saving solutions are thought up.

It all adds up to compelling story-telling that educates and warms the heart.