Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yokohama Hanabi (Firework Festival)

Originally I wanted to see the Sumida River Fireworks, but by the time M, P, and C arrived, enjoyed their welcome ginger-tea, C got hold of his bag which he left in the airport shuttle, and M finished the offered canapés it was already too late to go there. So the next day we went to Yokohama, which is luckily just 20 min away from Tokyo and has a spectacular harbour which is just right for this kind of event.

When we arrived the first mats were already put down on the grass for paying customers. We walked around looking for a free space with good view of the harbour and firework while Japanese people in kimono (especially young people and couples) poured into the area:

While we got distracted by the nearby amusement park (and no we didn't ride the 'vanishing roller coaster' you can see here, but a rather tamed log-in-the-water ride)

the crowd became even bigger and more energetic

While the police tried to keep up law and order (meanwhile there was no way through anymore because people were sitting close to each other, blocking streets and accesses) we had settled down on the road surrounded by people with bento boxes, waiting restless for the dark.

Finally the fireworks started and pictures can only badly demonstrate the beauty of the hanabi. It was very impressive and must have cost a fortune because it lasted so long. Here are some photos nevertheless:

Ashamed by this beautiful spectacle the ferris wheel tried hard to attract the attention of the festival goers by reflecting it's mirror image in the water:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Meiji University Museum, Tokyo

I left Yokohama for Tokyo and I had the difficult task to choose one (!) museum to go to before my family arrived in Tokyo. I promised not to bother them with archaeology, so I had to choose wisely. I could go to the Ichao Iseki-Koen (but it is a kofun period site and I am more a Jomon period person), the Kokugakuin University museum (actually I tried to go there on the late afternoon when I arrived in Tokyo, but a security guard of the Kokugakuin High School swore that there is no such museum in Shibuya-ku and I was stupid or exhausted enough to believe him, silly me, of course there is one), the Tokyo National Museum (but then you can’t take photographs in this kind of museum), or the Meiji University Museum. In the end I decided to go to the Meiji University Museum (in spite their English webpage being  total crap  somewhat unattractive), and a wise decision it was. There was such a wealth of Palaeolithic artefacts, that I was completely overwhelmed. Apart from a mass of artefacts there were also many posters and photos which explained the sites and the interrelations with other sites very clear cut. They also had enough Jomon, Yayoi, and Kofun period stuff to make everybody happy (that is people like me, not my sons of course). And of course there is the torture 'Crime and punishment in Japan' section of the museum.

Have a look at some of the treasures the museum had to offer (no, I didn't take photos of all the torture scenes). Here are different Palaeolithic sites in Japan and their characteristic tools:

whether stone, obsidian, or rock chrystal, they certainly knew how to knap:

these are my favourite Palaeolithic tools, the tanged scrapers:

A rare embryo magatama from the Amataki shell midden:

A latest Jomon dogu from Northern Honshu (Kamegaoka):

Footed Bowl, latest Jomon from the Sanno site:

The haniwa from the Funazuka Kofun, Ibaragi Pref.:

These plaques from different shell middens are especially intriguing. Some are made of clay

but others of stone:

For photos of the Criminal and Justice section see the blog entry 'torture porn' from Tokyo Scum Brigade (

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Beware! Food post coming forward!

M hates quinoa, I don't quite know why, because it is a really lovely crunchy food. But then he doesn't care what's good for you and he doesn't care about non-germanic food at all. In other words he would like to eat meat all day. Somehow I can't quite feigning sympathy for his tennis elbow and arthritic knee. A vegetarian is usually free of these things - at least at our age.
Quinoa is a wonderful grain, very rich in protein (12-18%) as well as in magnesium and iron. Even Popeye would have preferred it to spinach since it has nearly double the iron content of it.

Anyway, I tried a wonderful and really really lemony recipe from the Fatfree Vegan
The only thing I changed is that I used black quinoa I bought in France instead of the usual white one. It is really worth trying, especially since the squash harvest starts and all kind of delicious squashs are sitting on the shelves of your health food store.
As usual a handy cam pic. No time to waste to delve into this delicious meal:

Yokohama-Shinagawa, Kashima Jinja

On my way back to the station I came across a beautiful Shrine, the Kashima Jinja. It was founded in 969 as the tutelary shrine of Oi village. If you walked along the old Tokaido, this would be part of the shrines along this old route. Here is it's hachiman torii:

a look into the interior of the main building, which is a reconstruction from 1931:

To the right of the main hall is a shrine from 1811. Isn't its wood carving just beautiful?

a komainu, a so-called Korean dog, the guardian of the temple or shrine. Here fashionably clad with a red bib. I still haven't found out why and when they are fashioned in this way:

nearby another small shrine:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some Food in between

Yes, I am a slacker. But you already knew this.
I still haven't finished to post about my Japan trip although I am back here in Germany for a good two weeks. I will go on to post lovely pics about Japan. So just to keep the boredom down (which is more boring, posting about ancient pots or food?) I'll let you know about my activities in the kitchen. Today we had a complete meal from yesterday's remainders.

The rest of the ratatouille became (together with some homemade guacamole) a nice filling for some taco shells and the main course consisted of a salad from left-over orzo (I hate that name because in Italy I use to have a nice cup of orzo coffee which is a barley coffee). In this case orzo is a kind of greek pasta in the shape of rice kernels. I think they are called Kritharáki in Greek and look like this:

Anyway, this is how my dinner looked like and believe me it was delicious: