Right now I am back in Tokyo after spending a few sun-soaked Autumnal days in Miyagi prefecture. In recent months I have come to really appreciate and enjoy the contrast between urban city life and that of the Japanese inaka (田舎) rural countryside. Spending time with my girlfriend’s family who are volunteering after the tsunami, I feel incredibly lucky to have been introduced to life in Tohoku, absorbing everything around me. Above all, the last few days have reaffirmed my belief that […]
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 Miss IKIMASHO 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 […]
And so life goes full circle… In 2003 I touched down in Japan for the first time, living in this apartment block in Fukuoka city. Last weekend I went back to visit – a whopping 13 years later. I hadn’t been back during that time at all, but thankfully everything is exactly how I remember it, right down to my old post box, and the sign for the supermarket. It was such a strange feeling, and I experienced the ultimate sensation […]
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 […]
KAGURAZAKA / 神楽坂 Despite being cold, the winter months in Tokyo are often the best time of year to enjoy clear blue skies and sunshine. And so, with the sun on my back, I recently headed down to Kagurazaka for the afternoon – a neighbourhood in Tokyo not too far from Iidabashi station. (There’s a great cafe down by the canal there by the way, check it out.) Kagurazaka is perhaps most famous for its picturesque cobblestone streets, cute French restaurants […]
Realising you are getting old(er) and being perfectly happy about it. A few days ago I came across a piece I did for ACCLAIM magazine in 2015 featuring a bunch of old photos I took with disposable cameras back when I was living in the south of Japan in 2003. It got me thinking how I didn’t really fully appreciate being in Kyushu at the time, and exploring my immediate surroundings. At 22, all I cared about was partying, going to punk […]
Colorful leaves (koyo) are to the Japanese autumn what cherry blossoms are to spring. This is a time to seek out silent gardens: to sit motionless among the lonely reds and yellows of nature. Like IKIMASHO! on Facebook
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 […]
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, Daily Life in Tokyo • 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
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 […]
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 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.
34,998… 34,999 … 35,000 plum blossom trees in bloom at Soga Bessho Bairin. Last Saturday I woke up early and by 8.30am was already heading west out of Tokyo towards Shimosoga – a station in northeast Odawara, Kanagawa prefecture. I was on my way to get lost in Soga Bessho Bairin, a grove of 35,000 plum trees in the inaka, Japan’s countryside. There was a small festival being held to celebrate the plum bossoms. After about an hour on the Odakyu line the […]
Many would think that parks are best to go to during the summer. But summer in Japan often means high humidity, cloudy skies and rain. Winter is actually an amazing time to visit parks – especially Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo. The grass is essentially dead, but because it is so well maintained, it looks like a giant sheet of silk. Like IKIMASHO! on Facebook
If I ever move to Bangkok, I want to live by Lumphini Park. Music by Fabio Orsi – from his Just For A Thrill release on Home Normal.
Categories: Travel: Outside Japan • Tags: ambient, asia, backpacking, bangkok, electronica, fabio orsi, home normal, japan, label, music, nature, netlabel, peace, photography, sound, tokyo, travel, Zen
Maybe so, maybe not. Don’t sweat the small stuff. There once was a village that had among its people a very wise old man. The villagers trusted this man to provide them answers to their questions and concerns. One day, a farmer from the village went to the wise man and said in a frantic tone, “Wise man, help me. A horrible thing has happened. My ox has died and I have no animal to help me plow my field! […]
I went to Mitake with a camera and some music. This is what I saw and heard. Ikimasho! Mitake-san is a sacred mountain in the far reaches of western Tokyo. From Shinjuku catch the JR Chuo line Tachikawa and change to the JR Ome line towards Okutama. (90 minutes / 920yen). From Mitake Station catch the Nishi Tokyo Bus to Cable Shita (ケーブル下) bus stop. Buses leave at least once or twice an hour and cost 270yen for the 10 minute […]
Be a bad boy or girl and you’ll be stabbed, burned and cut into little pieces. Okay? “Excuse me. What does chinoike jigoku mean?” I ask one of my Japanese female colleagues at work. She can’t tell me in English so gets out her phone and translates. “Ahhh. It means Blood Pond Hell.” Hmm OK. What about katsu jigoku? “That”s Thirst-Hell, where red-hot iron pills are administered.” Hinokuruma? “A fiery chariot which carries the souls of sinners into hell.” What about Harinoyama? “Hell’s mountain […]
Categories: Bizarre/Unique, Kindergarten Life • Tags: asia, backpacking, bizarre, blog, book, buddhism, culture, devil, drawing, evil, hell, japan, japanese, jigoku, kids, kindergarten, surreal, tokyo, weird, Zen
Visiting Tokyo? The smaller suburbs are where it’s at… Despite being only four minutes by train from my neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa, I had never been to Gotokuji before. I hadn’t even heard of it – as many stations going away from Shinjuku simply aren’t on my radar. I am, however, so glad I found it. I ventured out there with my camera and was rewarded with quaint shopfronts, as well as peace, quiet – and hundreds of cats wishing me luck. […]
Categories: Daily Life in Tokyo • Tags: asia, blog, cats, charms, gotokuji, gotokuji temple, ikimasho, inaka, japan, lucky, odakyu, old, photography, quaint, suburbia, suburbs, tokyo, trains, urban, Zen
Once upon a time there was a fly with no wings. Well, I say ‘once upon a time’ but this actually happened yesterday evening at around 6pm outside my house in Tokyo. My rubbish needs emptied twice a week, and unlike in the UK there are no trash cans in Japan. You simply leave your bags of rubbish at the end of the street for the binmen to collect. (There’s a big green net to put over it all to […]
I am a cloud. I grew up in the ocean, surrounded by the gentle creatures of the Pacific – yet while I enjoyed my time swimming with the starfish in Tokyo Bay, I always knew I was destined for something more. Sure enough, that time came and one day I was chosen to leave: to rise above the water and join the skyline. Not many have such an opportunity: to experience life in the depths of the ocean and high […]
Like the little stream Making its way Through the mossy crevices I, too, quietly Turn clear and transparent. – Ryōkan Colorful leaves (koyo) are to the Japanese autumn what cherry blossoms are to spring. This is a time to seek out silent gardens: to sit motionless among the lonely reds and yellows of nature.
Brush past spider webs and dusty shrines and immerse yourself in Tokyo’s best kept secret. As I stand motionless in a trance watching a spider hypnotically spin its web I’m hit by an odd sensation. Absolute nothingness. I can’t hear Tokyo. I close my eyes and instead feel the sound of water splashing against rocks and nature breathing peacefully. Not to sound like a hippy, but Todoroki truly is a special place. It’s the only natural gorge left in Tokyo, […]
Rain patters against the window, a room filled with damp tatami. A typhoon may be coming, but now all is at peace. My candle flame is unwavering. A traditional Japanese flute is being played by someone down the street, the sound being carried by the wind at intervals, sometimes loud, sometimes silent. Outside the screen door I hear rustling in my overgrown garden. A large toad is smiling in the rain, having a walk, enjoying the night. Insects dance playfully […]