Those of us who work in Japan are lucky enough to get one or two national holidays a month. Health and Sports Day – also simply known Sports Day – is one such day held annually on the second Monday in October. It commemorates the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, and exists to promote sports and an active lifestyle. To coincide with the national holiday, many traditional sporting events take place throughout the city. And so a few weeks […]
A few weeks back was my school’s undokai, or Sports Day. It’s always a big, big deal for the parents – with families usually queuing outside the gates of the school from 6am in order to get the best viewing spot. The day consists of all the usual stuff you would expect, such as races and relays – but also lots of gymnastic and music performances that the kids have been practicing for about two months prior. As is the […]
When the spirits of mountains and forests roam the streets of Tokyo The summer matsuri season may have died down but there are still plenty of smaller cultural festivals happening all over Tokyo each weekend for those curious enough look that little bit further. For me, visiting these festivals is an integral part of living here: for as well as helping me understand more about Japan, they also satisfy my need to ‘travel’ in that I am constantly seeing something new and fresh for […]
ANA recently got it touch with me about a social media collaboration. It’s the largest airline in Japan, and has a following of over one million on Facebook. It was a good opportunity for me to gain some new followers and get some good exposure. I have been fortunate enough in the last few months to work directly with high-end brands such as Shangri-La, Hyatt and now ANA – and I sincerely hope I can continue this onward trend into 2017 […]
Getting lost in the sound of the Japanese summer Last weekend I took a stroll around Inokashira Koen, a park 10 minutes by train from my house. If I ever decide to move away from Shimokitazawa, it will be to here – in and around Kichijoji. Just west of Tokyo, this area is close enough to the central wards to be convenient but far enough away to have a sleepy, bohemian atmosphere. Then again, being only ten minutes away, I guess I can […]
Touching down in the bustling state capital of Kota Kinabalu On my most recent trip to SE Asia I visited three countries: Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia – specifically the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. I had visited Sabah’s major hub Kota Kinabalu before, but that was seven years ago and so I was interested to see if the city had changed in any way. Fortunately, Kota Kinabalu has retained its character and has not changed dramatically simply in order […]
❤ ハイパーかわいいです！❤ While some schools offer kyushoku (prepared school lunches), my school is primarily bento-based – ie. the kids bring in their own packed lunch made by their parents that morning. These Japanese bentos are usually pretty healthy and super cute – with the kids all having little chopstick sets and table cloths featuring their favourite cartoon characters.
The sights and sounds of the city within walking distance – or water taxi. I first visited Borneo seven years ago, spending three weeks in the Malaysian state of Sabah with my ex from Northern Ireland. On that particular trip I always remember toying with the idea of going to Brunei, but for whatever reason it just never happened. Perhaps it was because to get to Borneo we had to fly from Belfast to London to Kuala Lumpur to Kota […]
With its own mosques, schools and police station it’s the largest stilt settlement in the world. Built entirely of stilt houses and wooden walkways, Kampong Ayer in Brunei is a collection of 42 villages housing more than 39,000 people. It is the world’s largest water village. I was lucky enough to visit Kamopong Ayer a few weeks back, and it was probably the highlight of my most recent trip to Borneo. From a distance, the water village looks like a slum, but many of the houses […]
Typhoon strength ramen as Tokyo takes a direct hit from one of three tropical storms Today was my first day back at work after the summer break – and it seemed like the weather didn’t want to play ball. Right now three tropical storms are spinning near the country, and in the last 24 hours Tokyo has taken a direct hit from one of them, Mindulle, which strengthened into a typhoon early this morning. It’s the first typhoon to make landfall near the metropolitan region in 11 years, with gusts […]
Dancing in the streets of my neighbourhood in Tokyo This weekend was the annual Awa Odori festival in my neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa in Tokyo. Awa Odori is part of the Bon festivities, which are held to welcome one’s ancestors back to this world for a few days. Participants march in a straight line in unison to music performed on the shamisen, flute, drums, and bells singing “odoru aho ni miru aho; onaji aho nara odoranya son son!” (It’s a fool who dances […]
I’m currently in Borneo after spending a few days in Taipei. Taiwan’s political and international status is messy: it has declared itself as independent, but The People’s Republic of China say sod that, Taiwan belongs to us – a claim controversial due to the unresolved Chinese Civil War. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know the ins and outs of it all: I don’t. Hell, I don’t even know the political goings-on of my own country. What I do […]
Two days of VIP Treatment in Taipei’s most luxurious location Right now I’m back in my regular stomping ground of SE Asia for a couple of weeks. First stop: Taipei, capital of Taiwan. I’ve actually been to Taipei twice before, the last time being memorable for all the wrong reasons when I stupidly decided to break up with my ex-girlfriend in a hotel room on the last day or our trip here. Not something I recommend: an awkward bus back to […]
Noodles and soup. Nothing else. I was in Akihabara over the weekend for an exhibition at 3331 Arts Chiyoda. Usually when I’m out and about I do a quick search to see if there are any highly rated ramen places in the area. My search of Akihabara threw up a few options, but one shop in particular caught my attention as I’d been meaning to try it for a while now. I first read about Shinosoba Tanaka Second (志奈そば 田なか Second) on the Ramen […]
It’s been a week since I last wrote anything on here, but if you follow IKIMASHO! on Facebook you’ll have read that I’ve been super busy in work. Right now is ‘Summer School’ for our kindergarten students, a special programme where they do two full days of games and learning with us. This year’s theme is ‘Space Adventure’ and so we’re making rocket crafts, playing games featuring aliens and learning about stars, astronauts and other space-related stuff. It’s completely different from the normal […]
Tōrō nagashi is a long-held Japanese tradition where candle-lit lanterns are released into rivers to guide the spirits of the departed back to the other world.
Categories: Art Music & Culture, Tokyo Days • Tags: ambient, asia, blog, buddhism, buddhist, culture, darren mcclure, design, eilean rec., festival, ikimasho, japan, japanese, justin egli, peace, peaceful, photography, Porya Hatami, se asia, tradition, travel, Uwe Zahn, video, Zahn | Hatami | McClure, Zen
Ofudamaki was established in 1688 when mothers gave their clothes to male Shinto dancers in the hope of bringing them protection from cholera. My latest piece for DAZED is now online, talking about Ofudamaki, an obscure festival held once a year in a nondescript area 50 km from Tokyo. Check it out here.
Categories: Bizarre/Sex, Tokyo Days, Uncategorized • Tags: asia, blog, cross dressing, culture, design, female, festival, gender roles, japan, japanese, justin egli, male, matsuri, ofudamaki, photography, religion, shinto, tokyo, travel, urban
This time last year I was getting ready to go to Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand for a couple of months. While looking through my camera the other day I came across some photos from my time in Isaan in the Thai countryside. I remember one day Allan and I went down to get haircuts at the local barbershop. The place was amazing – totally unlike any barbershop I’d seen before, with chickens running about and toddlers getting cool buzzcuts. It’s these daily experiences […]
Jughead, founding member of Screeching Weasel, talks about the band’s classic album. I turned 35 last month. That means I’ve been listening to punk rock for 20 odd years. Of course I listen to all sorts of other stuff now, but it was punk rock specifically that shaped my teenage years. Green Day’s dookie exploded in 1994 – and although it is slightly mainstream and cliched to admit, it was through that record that I decided this was the type of […]
Categories: Art Music & Culture, Tokyo Days • Tags: blog, chicago, design, guitar, ikimasho, interview, japan, japanese, jughead, justin egli, lookout records, music, photography, pop punk, punk, punk rock, screeching weasel, tokyo, travel
Last Sunday morning I cycled to Enjoin (en-jo-in), a small Buddhist temple near my house. Despite it only being 10am, the temperature was already pushing 30 degrees and the air was still. The cicadas haven’t started yet, but I feel they aren’t far away. I bought mango ice cream from an elderly couple’s house across the street, and then wandered around the temple grounds, sitting alongside the turtles and koi carp. This post isn’t really about anything in particular, just the small and simple things in life that […]
After posting a location in Japanese on his twitter account, Aphex Twin premiered his new video on one of the screens at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo this evening. The video stars and is directed by Ryan Wyer, aged 12, from Rush in County Dublin. What a wee legend!
Right now I’m sitting in Starbucks listening to some god-awful freestyle jazz over the cafe speakers. If I was CEO of this place I’d just have Music for Airports by Brian Eno playing on repeat – my go-to music when I wanna bash out a load of writing. Sundays for me in Tokyo probably resemble that of many people around the world: laundry, cleaning, getting ready for the week ahead, yadda yadda yadda. But of course as well as a kindergarten teacher, […]
Categories: Tokyo Days • Tags: advertising, asia, balance, bmx, career, CREATIVE, CREATIVITY, design, ikimasho, japan, japanese, job, justin egli, photography, se asia, sun, tokyo, travel, work, writing
A rare glimpse into the art and culture of one of the world’s most intriguing countries. A few weeks back I was invited along to the Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo to check out its latest exhibition of art and relics from the Kingdom of Bhutan – a country I’d love to go to. Unfortunately, the only time I have ever seen the Himalayas was from the window of an airplane as I was evacuated from the earthquake in Nepal. […]
Categories: Art Music & Culture, Tokyo Days, Travel: Outside Japan • Tags: art, asia, bhutan, blog, buddhism, buddhist, culture, design, himalayas, ikimasho, japan, japanese, justin egli, masks, nepal, se asia, travel
“When the park was dissolved, the owners left the crocodiles there to become wild. There’s an urban legend that the crocodiles ate humans, another reason why the Balinese won’t go near the place” Of all my travels last year, discovering an abandoned theme park on the east coast of Bali was one of the highlights. I wrote a bit about it here on IKIMASHO! – but DAZED have picked up the scent (along with the crocodiles) so here’s my full report […]
Categories: Travel: Outside Japan • Tags: bali, blog, dazed, design, digital, haikyo, ikimasho, indonesia, japan, japanese, journalism, justin egli, photography, taman festival, tokyo, urban exploration
YUSHIMA / 湯島 Last Sunday I made my way out to Yushima in east Tokyo – a station one stop from Nezu on the Chiyoda line, not far from Ueno Park. Yushima Tenjin (or Yushima Tenmangu) is Tokyo’s most famous shrine of scholars, and is therefore visited by students all over the city who come to pray for good exam results. Inside the grounds you can see hundreds of ema – small wooden plaques – written by students hoping for entry to the university of their […]
Categories: Art Music & Culture, Tokyo Days • Tags: asia, blog, design, festival, food, ikimasho, japan, japanese, matsuri, photo essay, photography, shinto, summer, Tenjin, tokyo, travel, ueno, video, Yushima
Ahhh, Blogger’s Guilt… I wonder if anyone else gets it or just me? In the same way that if I go a week without the gym, if I don’t post at least once a week on here I get edgy. Amazingly, I’ve been running IKIMASHO! for four years now – with an average of two posts a week. But now with more writing gigs for other magazines and publications – as well as kindergartening full time – I’m busier than ever. And so, a […]
Once a year the yakuza openly do a show of strength in Tokyo, disrobing to show their full-body tattoos. Last weekend I got very lucky and managed to see a Yakuza show of strength here in Tokyo. This is extremely rare – and definitely up there with my most memorable travel experiences. Takahashi-gumi is one of the big Yakuza groups in Tokyo. They stripped off in front of the police station to reveal their tattoos then began carrying a portable shrine through […]
Sunshine makes me happy. I’m not sure if I’d go as far as to say I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I also certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that was to be the case. There are many people I know who class winter as their favourite season, loving the snow, and actually preferring to wear about ten layers of clothing day in, day out. I’ve never been able to understand it. Give me shorts, tshirt and bare feet any day. […]
The start of Golden Week for us – and a new life for many. Today was the first day of Golden Week, a cluster of National Holidays in Japan where many workers get around a week off work. You really couldn’t have asked for better weather – the sun was splitting the trees – and so I headed down to Meiji Shrine for the start of the Spring Festival. Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingū) is a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of […]
The sakura have fallen, swept away by the rivers and lost in the breeze for another year. Living gloriously, albeit for only a week, sakura are the embodiment of mono no aware (物の哀れ) – a Japanese Buddhist concept that recognizes the impermanence of life. In ancient Japan, warriors were compared to sakura blossoms – born to live brilliantly and die young. And so when the petals fall, a gentle sadness can be felt all throughout Japan. Spring is still here, but the pre-summer rains will soon begin.
Originally posted on Ikimasho!:
Oddest boarding pass you ever will see Evacuation: Life on the ground and taking a relief flight from Kathmandu to London. It’s been nearly a month since I was evacuated on a relief flight back to the UK by the British Foreign Office after the earthquake in Nepal. Flying home I was a little unsure whether I had made the right decision, thinking I was fine to continue on travelling. But it’s only now that I…
In Japanese, hana (花) means flower and fubuki (吹雪) means snow storm. So, hanafubuki literally means ‘flower snow storm’ – or more commonly, ‘cherry blossom blizzard’. It happens once a year when the sakura petals begin to fall. Right now, hanafubuki has begun in Tokyo. I walked from my house in Shimokitazawa down to the river at Naka-meguro and the trees were snowing sakura all the way.❤ Like IKIMASHO! on facebook