From Tokyo with Love: March & April 2023 In Tokyo, the welcome switch from winter to spring starts around mid-March with the arrival of warmer weather. This time of year is also synonymous with the cherry blossoms, and so we enjoyed the first sakura of the season by cycling around our neighbourhood. It felt good to see the familiar pink and blue hues in unison once again.Having lived in Tokyo over ten years now, I no longer feel the need to join the masses and visit overcrowded sakura spots. It’s so much nicer to discover hidden tress by accident, lazily cycling through quieter areas. This tree was having a snooze beside a local park.Stopping for ice cream during one of our rambles – Mrs IKIMASHO’s strawberry continuing the pink themeThe little red fire hydrant stands and admires the carpet of petals beneath its feet ❤️🌸🌸🌸With the wind in her hair, Mrs IKIMASHO cycles through a cloud of petalsDrifting through the nighttime clouds, the blossoms slowly sway. Under the moonlight, the trees can take on an eery ambiance.But just like every year, the petals are destined to fall, illustrating the impermanence of life. One of the main reasons sakura are so popular is because we understand how fleeting their beauty is. If the blossoms lasted forever, they wouldn’t have the same poignant beauty, and we’d take them for granted. Until next year, sakura ❤️🌸With some time off during Spring Break we took the opportunity to work with a new hotel down in AtamiIt was called Pearl Star Hotel and you can read our full report – including video – of it here:https://ikimasho.net/2023/04/30/ikimasho-luxury-stays-pearl-star-hotel-atami/Where the sea and sky meet as one: enjoying our own private onsen on the balcony overlooking the oceanLocated on the Izu peninsula, a few hours from Tokyo, Atami’s streets are filled with nostalgic shopfronts…Everything has a bit of a Showa feel to it – that is, a throwback to the 70s and 80s. These characters outside a drugstore livened up the street.The next morning, raindrops started to slowly fall, adding to the atmosphereAtami is a unique place. What was once a busy (and no doubt modern) seaside escape many years ago, now has a retro feel to it. Walking around the town was slightly surreal – many of the streets giving off the vibe of a magical Ghibli adventure, somewhere between dream and reality.Near the hotel, we came across a small stream where a tame grey heron was wandering about. We soon found out that the crane was drawn to a fish shop nearby – the owner throwing scraps for the bird to enjoy now and again. This kind of thing you just don’t see in Tokyo, and made us smile.Simple ramen and gyoza before catching the shinkansen back to Tokyo. Sometimes this is all you crave! I am still 100% a sucker for the gyoza from Ohsho (餃子の王将) but these ones were good too.Back in Tokyo and the wisteria were starting to bloom – this plant was sitting outside a shop that had long since closed down. It still amazes me how things like this can sit out in the open, untouched and unharmed. I know that in many other countries, including where I’m from, some kids would have trashed this long ago.Basking in the morning sun, the flowers put on their best colours to welcome their guests 🌼🌸🌷☀️ It must take so much effort for small shop owners like this to put the flowers out every day.In the window of a random shop to let, we found a cat sleeping – the owners must live upstairs. Kept company by a teddy, the cat is 18 years old, and the note says. ‘This is my favourite spot to sit and watch the view outside.’Once or twice a year we make our way over to the Shitamachi – the traditional old side of Tokyo. It’s got a different vibe to our own surroundings in Setagaya ward.Nothing but the quiet sound of footsteps…And admittedly the rumbling of my stomach! We found an amazing tonkatsu – breaded pork cutlet – restaurant with a super cute vibe. It’s called Sakutaro and is well worth checking out.The tonkatsu was incredible. Good quality pork, when cooked right, is served slightly pink in Japan. The coating on the outside wasn’t too heavy, and all the little side dishes – including the miso soup – were good. Can’t wait to go back here!After the meal, despite being pretty stuffed, I made room for taiyaki – a fish shaped cake desert that is filled with hot custard. Despite being shaped like a fish, don’t worry, there is no fishy flavour!A giant sushi about to take over the areaBackstreets in NingyochoDuring March and April, it didn’t rain much. When it did, it gave the umbrellas a chance to have a bit of a party.Mostly though, the skies were blue…And the the flowers soaked up the sunTowards the end of April we visited a local shrine for a special kind of festival…The Naki Sumo Crying Baby Festival! This is an annual Japanese festival in which babies are held in the arms of sumo wrestlers in an open-air sumo ring. Two babies compete in a short match in which the first child to cry is proclaimed the winner!Sumo wrestlers employ a variety of techniques to encourage crying, including bouncing the baby in their arms, making loud noises and funny or scary facial expressions, and chanting “Cry! Cry! Cry!” in Japanese.Sometimes, if the baby doesn’t cry, the referee puts on a traditional Japanese mask in an attempt to scare themIt was a fun afternoon – this is the first year since COVID that festivals have returned so I’m looking forward to more matsuri vibes in the coming months.A large torii gate watches over its neighbourhoodWhile the Azaleas compete to see who can grow the biggest!I hope you are all happy and healthy. Thanks for reading and following our simple adventures from here in Tokyo. Like IKIMASHO on Facebook for more daily life in Tokyo
Beautiful post, as always
Thank you so much!
Hi Justin 👋
Please, if ever you are in Ebisu, could you please take a photo of the train station. I use to live in Ebisu and would love to see the station and surrounds again. Love your work, don’t stop 💓