Tokyo Notebook

-・- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -・- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.

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25 2012

My Busy Life as a Figure Skating Fan

One day in the fall1

Basically, I have a busy work schedule at this time of year. At the same time, since a series of six events in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating has started last month, I was on a hectic schedule because I devoted every weekend to watching the events. The last game, the NHK Trophy, ended few hours ago, and until The Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, which will be held a couple of weeks later, I can get a break. Though I’m laughed at by my friend (she says “Why are you so busy? You aren’t the one who’s participates in the game), this time of year is like a series of festivals for the fans.

One day in the fall2

Even so, I relaxed once in a while.
One day in the fall, I knocked off early and headed to a movie theater that is presenting “Woody Allen: A Documentary”, a documentary movie on Woody Allen that trails him on his movie sets and follows him back to Brooklyn as he visits his childhood haunts. On the way, I was struck with the beauty of the ginkgo trees’ colored leaves. I walked through the tree-lined street almost daily, though.

Streets are enveloped in a Christmas mood.

One day in the fall3


Posted by Kinakinw | 20:28 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Tokyo Life

11 2012

Yosegi Zaiku, Hakone’s Traditional Wooden Craft


Right after returning from Europe, the six of us (my cousins, my sister and I) went on an overnight trip to a nearby hot spring. We met at Atami Station, had lunch at an ocean-side restaurant, stayed in Yugawara (a famous hot spring resort near Atami), and on the next day, visited Hakone. Because it was the first visit to these areas for two of the cousins, I took them to some tourist spots in Hakone.

One of the spots was Hatajuku that is famous as the village of Yosegi Zaiku where I rediscovered the fascination of this wooden craft.

In the small village of Hatajuku, we first visit Wooden Craft Hall (Hatajuku Yosegi Kaikan) and acquired basic knowledge about Yosegi.


Yosegi zaiku is wood craft techniques, begun in Hakone-Hatajyuku in 19th century, to produce designs and patterns by sticking wood pieces with different colors (all natural ones) and grain. There are two kinds of techniques now: pasting and carving. In the traditional technique, abraded sheets of sticking wood pieces are pasted on wood materials. In contrast, in the new one, the piece can be directly curved after strong adhesion bond was developed.


I often go to Hakone from my childhood and know the area like a book. Naturally, I know the craft and see the items at souvenir shops and hotels in the areas, especially the traditional items. We had one in our house. However, I had never taken good look at the curved items.

There was a Yosegi dust bin in the Japanese inn we stayed in Yugawara.

yosegi_5 yosegi_6

After leaving the hall, we went to a studio shop named Kanasashi Wood Craft owned by a Yosegi artist, Katsuhiro Kanasashi. I did like his curving Yosegi! Though the items reminded me of the modern style in 70s, the natural wood craft had unique warmth.




Curving Yosegi was pricier than the traditional one, so I couldn’t buy on impulse something to my liking. In accordance with the shop clerk who advised me to get a small and inexpensive item first, I got this a toothpick stand (I don’t use it for that purpose, though).


Don’t you think it’s nice?

Posted by Kinakinw | 14:10 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Cultural Issue (Japan)

06 2012

What's the Best Restaurant for Tourists?

dining in Europe1

While having a busy life, we are already in the month of November.
I’m staying home today. I had to work on last weekend, so it’s a compensatory holiday.

The topic is what I thought in Europe.
During the14-day trip, I had to dine out about 28 times except breakfasts. As a result, I encountered desperately–terrible dishes twice, some OK ones, and many tasty ones, so I can say I had a good dietary life.

I judged the foods every time, and the basis of valuing varied from weak to strict. My standards tended to be raised at fancy and expensive restaurants. That was just usual if I was in Tokyo, though.

dining in Europe2

dining in Europe5

dining in Europe3 dining in Europe4
Les Ombres in Musee du Quai Branly
At this trendy restaurant, Jean-françois Oyon, it would not surprise me if dishes are delicious. Actually, they were good enough.

On the other hand, I relaxed the criteria for some Japanese food that were relatively minor in other countries, like Japanese-Chinese.

dining in Europe6
Rairai Ken, a Japanese style Chinese restaurant
Maybe, I don’t choose this restaurant in Tokyo, but it was a precious spot in Paris.

After all, the most impressive restaurant during the trip was a casual French bistro in Galerie Vero-Dodat near Louvre Museum, named Vero-Dodat, we went to on the last night in Paris when we were tired to decide a places to eat. We wanted to have simple French cuisine at the end of the trip, so I simply screened bistros by geographic location on a French restaurant guide site and picked up one within walking distance of the hotel.

dining in Europe7

dining in Europe8

We passed by famous Galerie Vivienne crowded with locals and tourists that was in the immediate vicinity of our hotel and headed to the minor galerie. Though a café near the entrance was crowded with people, on entering the galerie, almost all shops were closed. I couldn’t sense that there were nice restaurants there. Indeed, there were few customers at the restaurant, and the staff was only a man in late 30s with dowdy outfit. I felt it was a mischoice and regretted that we had been seated. They had only 16-Euro prefix menu (appetizer-main-dessert). I thought, oh, my goodness I wanted to pay more and get more decent food….
ホテルから徒歩1分、地元客や観光客で賑わうギャルリー・ビビエンヌを通り過ぎ、マイナーなこのパッサージュへ向かいました。入口近くのカフェは賑わっていましたが、中に入るとお店はほとんど閉まっていました。ここに美味しいお店があるとは思えない感じ。お客さんは少ないし、働いているのはだらしない服装の30歳代後半の男性のみ。正直、外したなと思い、席に着いたことを後悔しました。前菜、メイン、デザートで16 ユーロの定食しかなく、ああ、もっとお金を払ってちゃんとしたものが食べたいのに、と思ってしまいました。

However, the dinner turned out to be a memorable one.
First, the house wine cleared my doubts. The appetizers let us down at first (well, you see, we can make them at home), but it was a good thing. I mean, it actually tasted as you see in the photo (sliced tomatoes with tuna source), but that home-style dishes healed me who was sick of eating out every day. I felt if I were in the monsieur’s house and could relax.

dining in Europe9

dining in Europe10

The roasted lamb was really tasty. I had never eaten that section of meat before. I guessed he did all kinds of things with that inexpensive meat to make it yummy. I do like those kinds of efforts. I could pay more than 16 Euros only for the main. I usually just give my comment on a dish when a waiter or waitress takes a plate away, if it was good, but that night, I stopped him and commended his cuisine. The monsieur who was a bit gruff and taciturn looked so delighted.

The other customers seemed to be people of the district: a mother and little daughter (we presumed that they her husband was out of town, so they dined out) and a relatives gather. An elderly couple took out food. It was not uncommon daily sight on Saturday evening in Paris.

dining in Europe11

Merci beaucoup, monsieur!

Posted by Kinakinw | 20:48 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Travel & Hot Spring

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