October 14, 2018

Spaces in Tokyo

You cannot feel alone in Tokyo. Sound is everywhere: voice recordings in and outside trains, toilets, the beep-beep at stops, huge visual and vocal commercials on buildings, crowds, gigs in the street, cars, laughter, trains, the slurping of noodle soups, the ka-ching of machines, people greeting whenever you enter or leave somewhere.

Public space is not a clear geometrical shape, like a square or piazza in Europe, but rather a 3D experience that takes your eyes over, below, then across and around the street and its buildings.

Everything is movement. Continuous flow. Tokyo is a city where space expands and unfolds as if you’re looking through a wide-angle lens. Each time you twist or turn, you get another perspective and you are standing in the middle of it all, wondering in and out of the picture as you please.

Ginza shopping area

I fell in love with this human-sized dolls' house

Just follow the crowds if you don't know which direction to take

Not so modern electricity post

A covered shopping passage

Downtown schoolyard where each square meter is worth a fortune

Courtyard of the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum

What you find walking down the back alleyways

An adorable letterbox

Shinjuku city lights

Mitsukoshi department store

Dinner below the traintracks 

A peek into the kitchen

Strolling around Kabukicho

Spot the monster in Godzilla Road  

View over Tokyo city

October 12, 2018

People of Tokyo

If there’s one thing that most impressed me during my weekend in Tokyo, it’s the people. Always helpful and friendly, they all went out of their way to make us feel welcome as visitors. This photo essay covers the some of the friendly faces we met along our adventure.

We brought from vendors in Asakusa, took pictures with girls dressed in Kimonos at the Sensoji Shrine, chatted in Italian to Sushi chefs in Kabukicho, smiled awkwardly towards cooks at Tsukiji fish market, enjoyed happy hour with the youngsters in Nihonbashi under the red lampions and gasped at the crowds while crossing the road in Ginza. 

However, I do need to return to find some Harajuku Girls though... there just was not enough time to do it all!

How do you say smile in Japanese?

Wondering if these two are promoting a show?
He's cute!

Colourful, friendly smiles

A cosy sushi bar where the sous chef practiced his Italian with us.

Breakfast is served

I'd rather have sorting sweet to start the day.

Getting the best angle

I'm in love with these Kimonos

The obi bow, the plaited hairdo, the colourful flower and the hand-painted fan
... spectacularly delicate!

You can buy but you can't eat along the road!

Not for vegetarians!

More selfies of two giggling Kimono-wearing girls in an alleyway!

The Japanese version of food trucks?

Taxis, bikes, pedestrians... ready, set, go!

Shopping area in Ginza on a regular Saturday evening.

October 10, 2018

A pocket of harmony

I am in awe of the discipline and respectfulness the Japanese people show towards others and their environment... no one shouts, children are seen but not heard (quite the opposite to the Italian culture), litter is non-existent. We grasped the basics of Japanese bowing and a few words in Japanese which always produced a smile on our hosts faces.

We learnt that the act of visiting and praying at a shrine of a temple is called omairi. Shrines have a simple gate, called a torii, that separates the human world and sacred ground, while the gates of a temple, called a sanmon, look more like a large house rather than a gate. Secondly, temples almost always have Buddhist images and statues, while shrines do not. In other words, gods reside in shrines, while Buddhas reside in temples.

It was the sense of peace that struck me every I went. The Japanese culture can be described as a "collective" one and certainly the calm is omnipresent. No pushing, no shoving, just kindness and patience. A phase I read describes it best: "We're taught that this world is for the people, and the people are what make this world go round."

In the middle of the hectic city, around the corner from our hotel, I found a little shrine that stood like "The little house" from 1942.

Sensoij is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of its most significant.

Burning osenko (incense) in large incense burners (jokoro) and fanning some smoke towards myself as it is believed to have healing power.

For only 100 yen, you can purchase an omikuji, a slip of paper with fortunes written on it; depending on your fortune, you can either keep them or tie them to a rope. 

The Kaminarimon chōchin (a Japanese traditional lantern) is 3.9 meters high, 3.3 meters in diameter and 700 kg in weight.

Details of the temple

A native engineer her prayers with a bow. 

A tiny shrine hidden in an alley way. A peaceful oasis of quiet in a city of lights and sound.

Tsukiji Honganji Temple is an example of unique architecture inspired by Indian Buddhist architecture.

The chozuya is where you purify yourself before approaching the main shrine. You fill the ladle with water and pour some water on your left hand, then right hand. Next, you clean your mouth by holding the ladle in your right hand again and pouring some water into your left hand and rinsing lightly.

October 6, 2018

Slightly lost in translation

It feels like a dream... lost in space for a while... a pocket of 48 hours that seem totally surreal... images that have marked me... emotions that are hard to process... I have just been to Tokyo and back for the weekend!

Totally crazy, I know, but when your hubby proposes to accompany him on a business trip to Tokyo - let alone flying in business class - the voyage itself becomes an adventure.

And so it was, that Friday night, I stepped onto the Air France plane and sat in my 180° reclinable business class seat as excited as a kid before Christmas looking forward to a ten hour flight to Japan.

Not knowing what to expect all I knew was that my friends who had lived in Tokyo had come to love it... always a good sign!

Arriving at dusk, I jumped into the taxi and could not shake the eerie feeling of a futuristic world built of skyscrapers, intersecting highways wrapped in a cloud of dark skies. Where were all the neon lights, where were all the people? No traffic and not a tree in sight as we proceeded through the wood of high risers to reach our hotel with the lobby on the 38th floor!

The view from my hotel room was like a scene from Lost in Translation and many a moment reminded me of that film, however, there is so much more to Tokyo.

The sensation of peace and quite never left me, I felt safe wherever I went. People smiled and greeted us, we took pictures with city information guides dressed in blue&white checkered shirts, with sushi chefs wearing their white working garb with their names monographed onto their chest pocket and with young girls in their traditional Kimonos.

Everyone was welcoming and ready to help us, we used Google translate in drugstores and perused strange-looking maritime creatures at the fish market, stood to the left when using the escalators and did not eat or drink on the streets. We burnt incense at temples and shrines, rested at designated seating areas with red lampions hanging over our heads for lighting.

We soaked up the atmosphere on the busy streets, admired the many neon lights and the fake food displays proposing their menu for locals and tourist alike.

We did not dare to climb the steep staircases to the minuscule upper-floor spaces and sip cocktails and I could not convince my husband to enter a karaoke bar... that will be for next time... for I have totally fallen in love with this city. I am fascinated by the mix of its traditional heritage and its futuristic modernity and will be back for more...

... as I need to return to the traditional Japanese fan shop that was closed on Monday due to the "Respect of the Aged Day", a National holiday to celebrate and respect the elders in the community.

October 3, 2018

Ateliers des Lumières ... a cool experience!

A big fan of technology combined with art, I was quick to visit Paris' latest addition to the art scene. Located in a former foundry in the 11th arrondissement, the Atelier des Lumières is the French capital's first digital fine art museum.

The exhibition space aims to make art accessible to a large audience who do not regularly visit museums or galleries, albeit I still could not convince my kids to accompany me. My German yoga buddy was more than happy to discover the pictorial art.

The immersive and panoramic light show was dedicated to Austrian painter Gustav Klimt and a century of Viennese painting, including works by Egon Schiele and Hundertwasser.

Standing in darkness, feeling slightly confused and mingling with other like-minded visitors, we stared in awe as the overture from Wagner’s Tannhäuser blasted around the room and thousands of images were set in motion on walls and pillars towering around us. We were transfixed as 360-degree views of artworks flashed around the room.

The artworks projected onto 10-metre-high walls across a 3,300 square metre area were mind blowing. It felt like the works were enveloping us into their fold, as if our feet were loosing ground and our bodies were being swallowed into the over 3000 pictures. I guess that is why they call it an immersive exhibition. All in all a rather cool feeling.

I found myself wanting to reach into the space in front of me and touch the decorative motif "The Tree of Life" as it is digitally cast around the venue and set in motion to a Viennese waltz.

This multi-sensory experience, is definitely one of the coolest exhibits I have visited in Paris... and for a moment I was carried far away from the city of lights to the city of music.

Loving the colours, the medium and the music!

We are all a part of the painting!

What is real and what not?

Being soaked up by art 

Hundertwasser in 3D... mind boggling!

This is what the artwork would look like in Paris colours.

Need to boost our energy and caffeine levels after so much excitement!

September 29, 2018

London en rose

For a while orange was the new black, whereas for Parisians nothing will EVER replace their beloved favourite "colour" black. By my book PiNk has always been my Parisian black... nothing will ever change my fetish colour!

Tickled pink when I come come across pink objects, London is the perfect place for photography en rose... i just wish I had more time to explore it all!

I wish the Parisians would believe in PiNk!

My perfect little tea place

The day I open a store in Paris, the entrance will look like this!

Spectrum: a band of colours, as seen in a rainbow, even if I only spot pink it will do just fine!

My dream sofa

Un petit boudoir en rose

It wouldn't be a BFF day without Victoria's Secret!

The prettiest ladies powder room... EVER!

The mews: formerly a row of stables, usually with carriage houses below and living quarters above, today are hidden gems reflecting London's chic 21st lifestyle! 
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