Konnichiwa from Okinawa

Hello from Okinawa, where the daytime temperatures are a balmy 18 degrees celsius (well that’s balmy when you compare to Tokyo which is only reaching about 8 degrees currently).

We arrived on Friday night to an airport full of orchids & then I knew I was in a warmer place.

Orchids = warm place

Orchids = warm place

We made a trip to the airport to book a tour of the island and we also stopped for a bit of a photo shoot – or maybe we should think of it as diving practice…

Diving practice II

Diving practice II

Diving practice

Diving practice

I hope that the holiday season has been joyous for you and your families. Sending you all our best wishes (and a little envy for some of the super warm weather at home) for the season.

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Yoi otoshi o

In Japan, Christianity is not a dominant belief, and so Christmas is not recognised as a national holiday. For the Japanese people, Oshogatsu- the celebration of the New Year – is the significant event at this time.

So while Tokyo is dressed in its finest lights, and the stores are all full of sales, and the most beautifully wrapped gifts – it is not majorityivly motivated by Christmas, but by preparations for the upcoming New Year.

The area where we live is a playground for Tokyites – it has several big shopping centres, with outlet stores that are not found elsewhere in Tokyo, and a wide range of eating options ranging from food courts to themed restaurants and even a museum dedicated to a Japanese delicacy the Takoyaki. Over the last five weekends there has been a fireworks display every Saturday night – each time a different light display running for about 10minutes. All this, and not even for a single special event – just a taste of the celebratory atmosphere here in Tokyo in the final lead up to the new year.

A truly rainbow bridge

A truly rainbow bridge

Firework Christmas tree?

Firework Christmas tree?

Sparkley patterns

Sparkley patterns

So pretty

So pretty – it almost makes winter worth it. Almost!

A key event for the Japanese people is Hatsumode – the first visit to the Shrine of the new year. But the lead up to the new year is a busy time, as is the lead up to Christmas in many other countries, with many parties and events to end the current year and put its activities behind us, and preparations for the coming year. It is also a big time for families to gather, something that is familiar for me from my own country.

As part of the separation between the ending year and the coming new year, the Japanese also have two sayings to wish others well at this time:-
Yoi otoshi o – is used in December, to wish others a good new year, and
Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu – is used in January, to wish others a happy new year.

Now that i have explained this,
Yoi otoshi o to all my friends and readers.

Yoi Otoshi o from us in Tokyo

Yoi otoshi o from us in Tokyo

Winter break part IV

Those of you who have been reading the blog (and its comments) closely will know by now our destination. But I know that many of you have far better things to do with your time than spend time reading my blog, so for you the mystery might still continue …

So here is the next clue, and it’s a double one.

Former Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Yatoyama resigned in 2010 following the failure to deliver an a key policy for the Japanese people who live in our destination.

Next update on the winter break, I’ll just tell you all where we are going…..but who knows when I’ll get around to that!

Smiles from an increasingly chilly Tokyo.

Beanie #1 complete

A lazy sunny morning + fresh coffee + crochet hook + determination to finish!

Bold beanies

Bold beanies

The end result is this beanie, dutifully modelled by P. The eventual recipient has a much larger head than my pin-sized one, so I have been modifying the pattern to something that will fit on P’s head.

Here is the final product proudly being worn by its recipient – Rashid you look awesome in this!

Bespoke style fitting for a style-proud city like Tokyo

Bespoke style fitting for a style-proud city like Tokyo

Profile shot

Profile shot

Oh yeah and for a laugh – take a look at how big it is on my little pin head.

He he ... a selfie for you all

He he … a selfie for you all

Christmas craft

In preparation for the school Christmas/new year party,  I helped to decorate a Christmas tree as a centrepiece of our festivities.

We had tinsel, baubles, bells, ribbons and the tree was looking great. But there was no star. so I offered to make one for the top of the tree.

I got to crafting, and here is a pic of me in the middle of creating.

more pics of the tree and decorations to follow later.

Intense concentration ... It would have been so much faster with a sewing machine!

Intense concentration … It would have been so much faster with a sewing machine!

Styled by Loopy Lou

Now that the chilly weather has started in earnest, I am so grateful to the wonderful woollen fashions that my friend Emma made for me before I departed for Japan.

I held off breaking out the gloves for as long as I thought was reasonable, but in early December I simply decided it was time.

But we had a seriously chilly day a few days ago. P and I had decided to head out in the afternoon to get ourselves out of the apartment, and as we have both been a little unwell lately, we thought it best to rug up warmly against the weather. Take a look and decide for  yourselves if we succeeded.

Thankgoodnees for our fashion fairy good-mother Emma. I can’t bear to think of wearing dull black or brown woolies, as much of what I have seen in the shops has been. And I don’t leave the house now without my lovely warm gloves.

Thank you Emma

Thank you Emma

Em – these are a hit. Definitely a product for the concept store 😉

I got a parcel

UPDATE:

Claudia let me know just how hard it was to see the broach in the original pic for this post. So I have dutifully taken a few more pics so that you can all see the beautiful reminder of my home city. I love it!

Home

Home

Me and my broach

Me and my broach

Wow 🙂 Super exciting. A parcel arrived in the post for me. Who could it be from?

From my buddies in Oz Emma, Jacqui and Carolyn. So nice to know that you are thinking of me, and way exciting to get a parcel at my new home in Japan.

Anyway, I collected it on the way to uni, so rather than traipse back upstairs to drop it off in the apartment, I decided to take the package with me as a surprise to open on the journey to school. (Okay, so some of you know me well enough to know that really going back upstairs was not even an option as I was already cutting it fine to make it to school on time for class – damn this travel!).

Well imagine my excitement as I sat on the train in my blissful little bubble of thought of my friends back home, and opened a parcel inspired by that very place. Inside the parcel, beautifully wrapped and packaged, was a broach in the shape of my home city – one that has been made to celebrate the Centenary of that city this year.

It is just beautiful and will remind me of home and my wonderful friends all year.

I hope you like it on as much as I do!

What was in my parcel!

What was in my parcel!

Wool adventures

I have been working up some wooly adventures here since my last trip to the crafty store. For a few weeks I was not sure what to do with my wooly gatherings, but then the weather turned cold …. beanies required :0)

So have set to work on two different beanies from a pattern that I found a a nifty little blig from down under – Jam made. It’s no Emma artwork, but it is nice to be producing something tangible.

Hope the recipients like them.

Woolly craft

Woolly craft

Takao-san

Last weekend, we made a trip to outer Tokyo for a walk in the hills with some friends. Its still in greater Tokyo, but quite removed from the city centre. we took the train out here …

Mt Takao

Mt Takao

P and I were accompanied by 5 other happy adventurers for the day. Here we all are at the start of our wanderings around Mt Takao, or Takao-san as the locals call it.

Our adventurers (part 1)

Our adventurers (part 1)


Our adventurers part 2

Our adventurers part 2

The train took us almost to the very base of the mountain, where we had the choice of how to start our journey to the top; there was several walking trails, a cable car or a chair lift. The combination of inappropriate footwear for some of our group, and the fun idea of a chair lift won out in the end .. and we all jumped on a well serviced and staffed 12 minute chair lift ride. This is the view on the way up 🙂 It was such a fun ride.

A long way down

A long way down

Not even at the top of Mt Takao yet, but at the top of the chair lift, we could see all the way back to Tokyo city (and its dominant landmarks – Skytree and Tokyo tower – and to Yokahama in the south.

We could see all the way to Tokyo and Yokohama

We could see all the way to Tokyo and Yokohama

It was a little late for the best of the fall colours, these were really at their peak in the first week of December. But there was still some amazing colours around, at least where not all the leaves had yet fallen off the trees.

There were still some patches of fall colour on the trees

There were still some patches of fall colour on the trees

We reached to top of Mt Takao, it was not a taxing walk at all from the top of the chair lift. Although there was quite a few stairs on the way up, particularly as we passed through the shrines. It is amazing that there are several shrines on the mountain, as well as numerous souvenir and food outlets to satisfy all the day trippers (and there was lots of them, even though it was the start of winter and it was not very warm on that particularly day).

Can you see the Buddahs?

Can you see the Buddahs?

Temple entrance with incense burning alter

Temple entrance with incense burning alter

Golden Statue

Golden Statue

From the top of Mount Takao, we could see all the way to the central mountain range of Japan, including Mount Fuji. It was a relatively clear day, but unfortunately non of us were quite able to spot Mount Fuji through the low cloud cover. But we could definitely see the other mountains in the range. It was an amazing sight, and a real sense of how mountainous Japan’s landmass is.

Fuji-san is out there somewhere ....

Fuji-san is out there somewhere ….

One of the really notable things, was that the top of the mountain was a blanket of families and friends with picnic blankets spread out for lunchtime. They had planned ahead more than our gouup, and had packed all kinds of amazing food and drinks with them. Enviously we headed toward some of the eateries at the top to see what we could find for sustenance and to warm up a little. But even knowing how inflated prices are at such tourist spots, we were bedazzled by the prices, and decided to hold our hunger and try our luck at the base of the mountain. All power to the good planning of the Japanese, their picnics looked lovely. And even though they were essentially sitting in a dust bowl as people continually walked past their picnic blankets, they happily munched away on their pre-packed delicacies. I even saw that some groups had carried beer with them to the top of the mountain – keen!

While the view from the chair lift was spectacular, maybe next time we can take to the trails and walk our way to the top.

The view from the chair lift on the way down

The view from the chair lift on the way down

River of red leaves

River of red leaves

Japan V poses were all round us so we joined in

Japan V poses were all round us so we joined in