My visit to Miyagi Prefecture last weekend coincided with koyo season – the changing of the leaves. Driving through the winding roads of Akiu Onsen, an area famous for its hot springs, we eventually found ourselves at Akiu Great Falls. This 55-metre high waterfall is a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty, and really did look like something from a fairytale. Reflections from Tohoku, Japan Moments in Miyagi / 宮城でのひと時 IKIMASHO! on Facebook
David Lynch vibes at Menkake Gyoretsu: a traditional festival of men wearing ancient and grotesque masks in Kamakura, a coastal city to the south of Tokyo.
Last weekend was seriously one of the best weekends I have had in years. There is a fine line being a travel blogger – I obviously want to write informative posts about places, but sometimes I like the fact that this site is simply a diary for myself, and something I can look back on in years to come. And so this post isn’t really about anything, and yet it’s about everything. This is what my three-day weekend looked like […]
“Gotokuji is an area of the city obsessed with all things feline and many believe its temple to be the birthplace of ‘maneki-neko’ – the cats you’ve seen with one paw held high” I have a new article out in DAZED, exploring the area of Gotokuji in West Tokyo. Gotokuji is a quiet collection of backstreets, bakeries, and flower shops with people going about their daily life. It’s not unlike hundreds of other small stations in Tokyo – apart from one […]
Categories: Art Music & Culture, Tokyo Days • Tags: animals, blog, blogging, cats, design, japan, japanese, justin egli, photography, photos, se asia, temple, tokyo, traditional, travel, Travel blogger, travel writer
Peaceful tranquility at one of Tokyo’s oldest temples Even after five years, Tokyo still manages to surprise me ~ providing all sorts of new places to discover and enjoy. Last weekend my girlfriend and I took a trip out to Jindaiji Temple and its neighbouring Botanical Gardens in Chofu, a place we had never been to before. The second oldest temple in the metropolis, Jindaiji features quaint cobbled streets, leafy riverbanks and hushed surroundings. Indeed, it feels more like a small township in Kyoto rather than downtown Tokyo. Jindaiji is especially […]
Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop at Terminal 2 in Narita Airport listening to a super cheesy sax solo playing over the radio. I have a few hours to kill before a flight to Ho Chi Minh, where I will be hanging out until Friday. Next week is Golden Week in Japan – a string of National holidays giving people five days off this year. Looking back over my blog from the last few months, I’m aware that I’m not posting as often […]
Quite often when you travel a lot – and particularly when you are a travel writer – so many little moments can get lost; photos relegated to the the depths of memory cards, overlooked in favour of bigger articles that are being written at the time. As a perfect example, I was freeing up some space on a card the other day when I came across a group of photos I hadn’t looked at since the day they were taken. Cycling […]
Categories: Travel: Outside Japan • Tags: asia, asian, backpacking, bali, blog, food, indonesia, japan, japanese, justin egli, photography, sanur, se asia, travel, travel writer, travel writing, writing
Each year between mid-February and early March the Setagaya Plum Blossom Festival (Setagaya Ume Matsuri) takes place at Hanegi Park in Umegaoka. It’s a small park, with small neighbourhood vibes to match: the festival mainly attracting local people who live in the surrounding area. I live two stops from Umegaoka, and so last weekend I decided to check out a good sushi place then met some mates to hang out at the matsuri. Cute local festivals like this are what living in the […]
TSUKISHIMA / 月島 Last Saturday I had a wander about Tsukishima – a man-made island in Tokyo Bay, just across the channel from Tsukiji fish market (which I still haven’t been to despite living here five years…) Tsukishima was created over 100 years ago using earth that was dredged from the bay during the construction of a shipping channel. It’s an area rarely featured in guidebooks, although among Japanese people it’s probably best known as a mecca for monjayaki – a kind of runny pancake with different ingredients, […]
Categories: Tokyo Days • Tags: area guide, asia, asian, blog, design, food, ikimasho, japan, japanese, justin egli, nature, neighbourhood, old japan, old tokyo, photography, shrines, street, temples, tokyo, urban
Last Sunday – with the cold visible on my breath – I made a short trip on the dainty Setagaya train line visit to the Setagaya Boroichi Fair. Started over 400 years ago, this huge flea market is now designated as one of Tokyo’s intangible folk cultural assets and features about 700 venders selling all sorts of food, junk, toys and antiques. There was a marching band with students playing the tuba, and everyone was in good spirits. I also tried […]
Dropkick Murphys talk to IKIMASHO! about playing Japan, Asia & beyond…
Categories: Art Music & Culture, YOUTUBE SESSIONS • Tags: asia, belfast, blog, china, Dropkick Murphys, fukuoka, ireland, japan, japanese, justin egli, music, northern ireland, photography, punk, runnin riot, se asia, tokyo, travel
I’m back in Northern Ireland for a few weeks for the holidays. Today some of my old bandmates and I climbed up Cave Hill, overlooking Belfast. Cave Hill is thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, with Swift imagining that the Hill resembled the shape of a sleeping giant safeguarding the city.
A millennium-old Japanese dance on the grounds of Sensoji Temple, Tokyo.
Categories: Art Music & Culture, Tokyo Days • Tags: asakusa, asia, blog, culture, dance, dancing, design, fashion, festival, japan, japanese, justin egli, matsuri, photography, se asia, sensoji, shirasagi-no mai, tokyo, traditional, travel, white heron dance
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Categories: Luxury Stays, Travel: Outside Japan • Tags: asia, blog, design, far eastern plaza hotel, five star, ikimasho, japan, japanese, justin egli, luxury, photography, se asia, Taipei, Taiwan, tokyo, travel
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 […]
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/Unique, 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 […]
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