IKIMASHO!

From Tokyo with love / 東京より愛をこめて

Shibuya dusk Tokyo


Wednesday 29 May, 2019

As I write this, the aircon hums away, Brian Eno is playing in the background, and a clatter of plates is coming from the kitchen where my wife is having a dinner party with eight other girls. I’ve been relegated to the bedroom, only poking my head out now and again to steal food scraps and refill my water. I thought, since I have been imprisoned for the evening, I’d take this chance to write a journal-style post – something I don’t do too often, but that will hopefully serve as some sort of round-up of how life is going.

It has almost been a month since we held our wedding ceremony in Northern Ireland. To be honest, I feel like I need a holiday from that trip in itself as it was pretty full-on organising the wedding from abroad! But the sun shone, everyone had a great time and we are happy. I’m glad we decided to hold the ceremony in Northern Ireland as it meant all of my friends – some of whom I’ve known over thirty years – could come.

justin-naoko-ceremony-19justin-naoko-groups-5justin-naoko-portraits-15justin-naoko-portraits-58


As always, things are busy here in Tokyo, but I think that is just modern life wherever you are. Having a full-time job, keeping an apartment, blogging, going to the gym, making time to see mates – it can sometimes feel like there isn’t a spare moment in the day. But that sums me up – permanently busy, wishing I had free time, and then when I get free time feeling like I should be doing something. This weekend I will go to ni-chome to watch the season finale of Drag Race, a viewing party put on by my best friend here. A few of my other friends have started doing drag recently and I’m always proud when I see them perform on stage.

Drag race Tokyo


It has got very hot all of a sudden, but this is what happens every year in Tokyo. One day it can be hovering at about 23 degrees, and then the next day it can shoot up to over 30. I read that it was 38 or 39 or something ridiculous last weekend up in Hokkaido. Last Saturday we took the ferry over to Sarushima island to have a walk about and enjoy the sunshine. I do miss the sea in Northern Ireland. I miss just being able to walk out of my house and within ten minutes be down the coast. But I guess I should count myself lucky that the sea is only an hour away on the train here, which isn’t so bad.

Overlooking the sea TokyoSarushima Tokyo island


Yokosuka, the port from which you catch the ferry over to Sarushima is actually home to a US military base and so you always see a good few military folk walking about. Yokosuka has a bit of an unusual vibe – like it’s quite retro and run-down in many ways, with little shopping arcades etc, but at the same time it is evident that many businesses are there to serve the Americans who are stationed there. I hadn’t really thought about this until we decided to go for lunch in a random craft beer place. I ordered a salad, and no joke it was about three times (or more) the size of a Japanese salad. Likewise, the guys beside us who ordered fried chicken were blown away by the portion sizes. The lunch special that day was grilled fish and they went all out – serving the whole fish, with rice, salad and soup for just 800yen (£5.80).

Grilled fish Japan


Food is one thing that I enjoy spending money on in Japan, largely because it is never that expensive and you can eat out quite a lot without feeling guilty about it. I seem to remember when I lived in Northern Ireland that eating out was somewhat seen as an extravagance, or reserved for special occasions. It’s not like that over here; eating out is seen as part of daily life. There’s not much I won’t eat now. I still can’t really get used to the sliminess of okra, and I still don’t think I could whip a raw egg into plain white rice the way Japanese do, but most stuff is fine.

Cod roe eggs over rice

Mrs IKIMASHO ordered ikura (salmon roe) in Shibuya the other week. It was served ochazuke style, which means you pour a light broth over the fish eggs and rice.

Dumplings Gyoza Tiger Tokyo

Dumplings and Taiwanese noodles for lunch in Asakusa

Green tea kakigori shaved ice

Green tea kakigori (shaved ice)


This summer we will fly to California and Mexico for two weeks. In California, I’m looking forward to driving along Big Sur and also stopping at all the random diners in America. For some reason, I have a mild fascination with diner food such as brisket, milkshakes and all that stuff. I’ve never really eaten it so wanna try it. Mexico I have never been to, and I intend on eating the country out of house and home. The street food especially looks incredible. I think it’s Guanajuato we are going to, so if any readers have been, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

One thing I wanted to share is a strange sensation that I’ve been having on and off for the past year. I have no idea why, but each morning when I wake up I think about Cambodia. Every morning it pops into my head for no apparent reason. I have been to Cambodia before, and it’s not like it left a resounding impression on me, so I don’t know why I am fixated on it. But something seems to be drawing me there, so I do see myself visiting again within the next year, along with other countries in the region. I continue to be be inspired and influenced by SE Asia, and have been invited to review Fever Room, the first theatre production by Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, at the end of June.


Tokyo, of course, continues to be Tokyo. The warm nights mean wandering about feels good, as opposed to an ongoing battle against the cold. Small backstreets filled with even smaller bars, and lanterns swaying gently in the breeze. The daytime brings festivals, with locals and even dogs wearing traditional dress. So as summer approaches, it’s business as usual for me – working away, enjoying this city in my free time, and looking forward to random adventures in other countries as and when they arrive. For now though, my water needs refilled again, so I must venture into the living room. x

Lanterns backstreet bars TokyoShibuya backstreet barFestival walking TokyoMatsuri dog costume Tokyo


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5 comments

  1. You’ll love Guanajuato! We’ve been spending a week or two there for each of the past 4 years. Its an amazing place. Check out my blog for photos, and let me know if you have questions or need recommendations

  2. Christine Smith

    I’ve been reading your posts for a few months now and really enjoy them. Today’s was especially enjoyable, though, because of your personal stuff. I’m visiting Japan for the first time this weekend and Northern Ireland, also for the first time, in August. Spooky!

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