BESS house viewing, walking and eating around Shibuya
May 25th, 2013. Diary Format.
Living in Tokyo would be a dream come true.
Or just to establish a base at this fascinating city from which to travel the world.
Not only because there is this peculiar Buddhist subgroup we came across, calling itself Shinreikyo, the ‘Fountainhead of Miracles‘, promising brain growth and painless death, no putrefaction, looking rosy and fresh in the death bed. Something to look for when old age knocks on my door.
Well, miracles and Tokyo’s fabulous wedding houses are not what inspired us.
What infatuates me is that Tokyo is a city of hidden treasures, it is a comfortable world of ultra convenience with a rich culture and sympathetic personality of its people. No matter how many times we have visited an area, we always find something new. Like in Shibuya. There is so much to do and see in Tokyo.
Like the tiny house in the back, called Museum of Share Spirit. We looked it up and it turns out to be the dream come true designer store for casual elegance of Hikaru Katano. Location: 14-10 Hachiyama-cho, Shibuya, Tokyo
Tokyo’s architecture is eclectic which makes for exciting city walks.
Clashing is matching in Tokyo. To the left, a fake church or a better way to put it, a real Japanese wedding reception house. It is not a religious place of worship but a place to have beautiful weddings as Japanese obviously do not identify themselves as adherent to Christian religion. That is why there are so many ‘fake churches’ here.
Isn’t that a cool attitude – take the best of Christianity – imposing celestial architecture and simply leave religious backwardness out. I have recently read a translation of an article about the historical invention of paper in Le Nouvel Observateur. Paper was invented in China about 300 BC. The technique to make paper is taken on by Arabs around the 8th century. It arrives in Europe through Italy. However, the church considers paper to be unpure, as paper had already been used to carry words of the Koran. Therefore Europe uses paper only since the mid 13th century, when Italy’s craftsman start producing paper, opposing the inquisition.
Anyway. Japan is the country of ‘best ofs’. I feel that way when we travel. We are so lucky to see, taste, experience and do a lot of ‘best around the world’ (well mostly Asia so far).
To get a taste of what living might be like in Japan, we went to Bess – a big open air showroom of Japanese log houses.
The house building company has homes on display which are fully furnished and a lot of fun to walk through.
A bit like pushing the IKEA concept to its fullest potential.
Instead of buying the furniture, buy the house.
A great deal of detail has been put into interior decoration.
A perpetual traveler felt at home.
Some houses made me think I am in an alpine hut.
In my temporary arts and crafts studio.
Do not disturb.
Neat storage solution under the staircase.
With the bike and all the gardening equipment it looked incredibly real.
What kid would not like that room. It has a swing and a beagle stuffie.
I like old dressing tables.
Japanese bathrooms. You can shower in the whole room!
Tomek liked the fireman’s pole in the house.
Preparing for the slide. Tomek is translating instructions with the google translate app – it does recognize Japanese writing when you take a picture – which is pretty cool. The translation though, will be typically unpredictable google translate, as we all know it.
Go! Tomek aspired to be a fire fighter as a kid.
You can easily get burned if you hold on to it with your hands. It’s best to somehow hug it and hold onto it with your underarms and feet, said Tomek, his hands did heat up slightly.
A family had occupied the kitchen.
The garden. The size of the house. Only the fewest have a garden in Tokyo, let that much garden space. I wonder where people buy the land for those beauties.
The bubble house. Like an over-dimensional black igloo.
The city mountain lodge.
The terraces and entrances were very generous.
All in all – a very recommendable sight. It’s free and staff is super friendly.
Oh yes, the location: Aobadai 1-4-5, Meguro-ku, Tokyo. Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Real residences. We came across a fun name for a residential building in Tokyo called ‘Mein Schloss‘ (‘my castle‘ in German). Residential housing often get foreign sounding names, like ‘Windy Setagaya‘ or ‘Bright Avenue‘ next to our house.
The house portrayed a perfect Anne of Green Gables setting. Anne of Green Gables, translated as Red Haired Anne by the Japanese, fits well into kawaii culture. Japanese identify with rural Prince Edward Island in Canada, with the morality of ‘kindred spirits‘ portrait by author Lucy Montgomery. Hello Kitty and Anne-related merchandise sell strong. Another reason why I like Japan. It serves my likings. Hello Kitty has my ongoing admiration for never-ending cuteness and I do remember watching the Anne of Green Gables sequels, enjoying precious family time.
For the body. Drinks from the vending machine – as a frequent reader of my blog, you will know that Japan is vending machine heaven. We got Jasmine tea and an unknown can – turned out to be yummy banana milk.
Passing chic designer stores.
Show off cars in a city with little space (for speeding, too). I have read that typical speed limits are 80 to 100 km/h on express ways and 40 km/h in urban areas. Anything faster and you are in for speeding tickets, collateral damage or, with all the crowds in Tokyo, vehicular homicide. Getting many spectators either way.
Cool guy sitting in front of cool café.
I was going to take a picture of celestial art integrated into a bar when this guy invited us in, vouching for the place.
Jesus at the bar turning water into alcoholic beverages.
A common sight. The ramen (ら-めん) eatery with a vending machine for noodle soup. It is so much fun to be able to read a tiny bit of the big signs in Tokyo.
Safety first. Flexible bollards to take speed of cyclists before the big crossing.
Great inventions. Whatever is being transported, it will not spill as the box swings freely in the back.
Passing Konno Shrine. With a big tori marking the entrance to the sacred. Location: 3-5-12 Shibuya, Shibuya, Tokyo
It was once the residence of the Shibuya family which gave the name to the famous district. What a contrast.
Japan is all about details.
Meeting my friend Junko – still at work and showing us her workplace, Sempre Aoyama, a chic interior design store that looked a bit like the Japanese version of Habitat. Location: 5-13-3 FIK Minami Aoyama Building 1F, Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Food models made me want to have cake for dinner.
A tragic sight are pet stores. You can not only buy a pet (dog, cat, monkey) but have a petting session with the animal of choice. Most show seriously disturbed behaviour. These animals live in tiny glass chambers with no place to hide.
What you cannot see is where they came from. The mother animals, locked up in places never to be seen in public, serve only one purpose: to breed. Kept in even smaller cages all their (short) life, they suffer terribly until disposed off when they cannot produce more puppies. A tremendously cruel cycle of animals treated like objects, up held by greedy business and people buying puppies to naively ‘rescue them’.
There are more cheerful sights in Tokyo. At the children’s hospital.
Koi (Japanese Karp) banners are displayed around town for children’s day. Kois are a symbol of strength, known to be able to swim against the current. A feature attributed to children in Japan.
Infrastructure in Japan is thoroughly planned. Tall and slim buildings dominate the city picture. Some houses stand out from the rest.
I have collected many perspectives of the most famous crossing in the world.
This popular department store, called 109, opened in 1979 to serve female fashion. It now has a counterpart, the 109 department store for men’s fashion – where Tomek got his new gear the other day. Stay tuned.
A gorgeous DJ was playing for the crowds at Shibuya.
And finally, a break and the best and cheapest sushi in town with our friend Alex.
No peeking. Just like at school.
After we hooked up with Alex’s girlfriend and Junko again, it was time for a good fish izakaya – the Shibuya Udagawacho の ひもの屋. Location: Shibuya Emerald Building , 12-7 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, http://e-808.com/himonoya/udagawa/
Japanese restaurants are tastefully designed, as well as super tasty.
The restaurant’s recommendations. Some izakayas will not have an English menu but most have picture menus.
For starters everyone could pick a bowl of various appetizers. I picked fish.
Tomek picked tofu.
Cutting the square shaped tofu into five equal pieces was a challenge.
A quick reminder by Alex how to hold chopsticks the right way.
This tofu dish was gone before I could take a picture.
The recommended fish.
Tuna jaw is a delicacy.
In an traditional izakaya you take off your shoes and sit on cushions on the floor. Thankfully there will be room beneath the table to put your legs.
Sometimes the seating areas are divided by Japanese sliding doors to protect outsiders from too much geeky fun.
It wasn’t the odour which was posing a hazard at the shoe shelves.
Shibuya Station. Time to go home and squeeze into the last trains with other commuters.
We cannot pass our 7 Eleven conbini at Kyodo without going in. I keep on finding candy I never knew existed.
Strawberry candy is always a hit.
Green tea candy selection.
Surprise at the cash register. A draw. No peeking.
And we have won… a beer. Alcohol free. As we found out later, the blue side of the draw-box was for customers under the drinking age of 20.
Best of all drinks is the hot lemon tea, anyway.
There is this weird blinking light in the middle of a tiny crossing next to our house. If you can imagine this to be Iron man’s arc reactor, it is fun to cross.
That’s it for the day. Good night folks!