Food, Fruit and "Hoops"

Dragon Fruit

I always liked how strange they looked on the outside and on the inside. You scoop out the white part to eat. Its nice if its slightly chilled, but its very mild tasting. I've had them in Singapore, in NYC and now in Tokyo.

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A Sake Pairing

A feast for the senses at Ningyo-cho (人形町 田酔 ) restaurant. The presentation was spectacular, as was the sake. Some of the more "slimy" morsels were challenging. 

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Edible Cubes

From a cake "atelier", Louange Tokyo. These cakes cubes measure about 2.5 inches (about 6 cm). Needless to say, they are exquisite on every level. They are also exquisitely packed for the journey home.  

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Wednesday Cat Belgian Style White Beer. 

Never judge a beer can by its sassy marketing "label" but I'll take two and I'll be back for more. 

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Circles of Purification and Bits of Paper

I made a new friend while helping her to locate Hikawa Jinja. We arrived in time to see how these huge purification circles, called Chinowa 茅の輪, were constructed. A type of reef grass is used to wrap a base circular structure, which is also made from reed. (I love it that the kids have their white gloves on to help).

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The structure at this particular shrine, the Hikawa Jinja, is erected under the Toii. It was a rainy day and everything looked so lush and green. This was done a week before the actual ceremony. 

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The cleansing ceremony is called "nagoshi no harai". The priests from the shrine lead the congregation in a procession three times through the purification circle. I include this picture because these instruments make the most unusual sounds. When I first heard the chanting in the temple, a precursor to the actual procession, several tunes were played. It sounded like someone was playing abstract modern music on a synthesizer. I thought, how strange, why would they use electronic sounds piped in at intervals. I couldn't be more wrong! One of these three instruments here makes a hard metallic keyboard sound!

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At the larger Hie shrine. This ceremony was more ostentatious as evident by the elegant robes worn here. Bits of white paper, cut into small squares are also thrown over the crowd, and by the crowd as well, over themselves as a symbolic act of cleansing. At this shrine, you could also part take in drinking a thimbleful of sake in a small shallow plate. All the rituals are done with great reverence. To conclude the ceremonies, an envelope of charms were handed out to everyone. 

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Frogs with Foxes

Wanted to share the fox statues at my favorite shrine with my new friend and I saw these statues which I've never noticed before! Frog representatives! 

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April Showers Bring May Flowers

Beauties

Broccoli Rabe and tri-color peppers. The national rigorous re-cycling program provides a balance to the over packaging of green groceries. Nonetheless, feeling blessed with such incredible shrubbery.

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Wagashi

I am still obsessed about these Japanese traditi­onal soft sculpture tea cakes called "Wagashi". The designs change according to the seasons and in keeping with major holidays and what those holidays celebrate. These are from a venerable 60 year old shop called Shiono in Akasaka, Tokyo.

The fillings are slightly different for each design. These two featured have similar bean paste filling. The one of the left is reminiscent of a cap for boys for Children's day. I marvel at the details on these cakes. There is even a three dimensional little whisker on the carp design. My small tea plates bought years ago in New York at the Broadway Panhandler now resonate deeply with these exquisite creations


The Color of Food

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I am often fascinated by food that is black. Here, black risotto at LB7 in Roppongi. Squid ink and clams add to the pungent presentation. It was delicious but there is something unsettling about consuming a lack of color. In contrast to the pastel shades of wagashi, it makes for a forceful and compelling dish.


Subway Art

This is the "summary" illuminated panel at the Tameikie-sanno station on the Namboku line. Each of these represent a large scale panel. The panels line up along both sides of the subway track. Unfortunately the station is enclosed within glass and metal framed walls and these designs become veiled behind the reflections.

The three white rabbits, my favorite panel.


The Tokyo International Forum

A breath-­taking archite­ctural structure. The interior is a lot more ornate than the exterior but its a massive structure near the Tokyo station.


Hope from a Vending Machine

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It's reassuring to know HOPE can be purchased for a mere 440 yen round the corner.