Pure shores and transparent waters, only three hours from Tokyo by speed boat... Welcome to Shikinejima! So beautiful and clean... The perfect week-end spot!
Blue, blue and blue
Meguro Gajoen is a wonderful hotel with exquisite design, a museum inside, and a waterfall included. This summer, it's sparkling with festival lanterns and dragon lights.
Tokyo never stops being amazing. The New Otani Hotel Gardens, open to the public, are delightful in summer. Check it out!
"Hibiki - Japanese Harmony", as they say
I just love Tokyo West. In Suginami-ku, along the canals, cherry trees are secretly blossoming. Follow the pink river!
Eternal Sushine of the Spotless Sakura
This year, the red and gold autumn foliage has been slow to quietly invade Tokyo. It is almost mid-December, only two weeks from Christmas and still, it seems that Nature is not ready to sleep. Let us play outside! Let us enjoy the sunshine! shout the falling leaves. And how could you stay at home when strrets and parks look like this?
As if we were ready to sleep...
If the Japanese calendar is dominated by meaningful celebrations, old graceful rituals and respected traditions, there are also a few moments in the year when heavily marketed events take the power. Typically: Valentine day, Christmas, and Halloween. These imported, made-in-the-West celebrations were adopted to fill gaps between "real" Japanese ones, and to give shops sales opportunities. And so it feels a bit cheap, unreal, misunderstood. As Valentine is already a very commercial celebration in the West, it doesn't matter so much, but Christmas for instance is kind of depressing in Japan. Japanese Christmas is too Disney, too KFC, too Sexy-Miss-Santa costumes to be good.
But Halloween... I don't know, Japanese Halloween is working well enough. Or maybe because as a European, I was not used to celebrate Halloween when I was a child, so my opinion doesn't count. No trick-or-treating kids on the streets, no one ringing the bell at night to ask you for candies... Maybe Japanese Halloween is missing the point. BUT, for adults, let's admit it's a nice partying opportunity. In the country of cosplay, people do'nt hesitate to go wildly costumes... Here is a sample of 2015's not-so-little monsters. Check it out!
Tokyo Halloween is for grown-up only...
Shibuya horror show - It's more fun with friends
Kawaii costumes - It's Japan after all
Tokyo Westerners - Bend it like the Japanese
I am not done with Izu's magical places. Shuzenji is a gem for traditional atmospheres' lovers. As the town is a famous hot spring spot, people are walking the streets wearing yukata and old-style fans. Bamboos and red bridges, buddhist temples achieve to make you feel like time-travelling.
By the way, what do you eat in Izu after seing all these beautiful stuff ? Seafood, fish and Kawazu made wasabi ice-cream !
Go and visit the Izu Peninsula, it is a really gorgeous places.
The Izu peninsula is one of the Tokyoites' favorite weekend destination. Atami, the entry spot of the area, is located only 40 minutes from Tokyo by Shinkansen. Then, you need to leave the world of fast and comfortable public transportation to enter the one of rare buses and slow-speed trains. But if you are patient enough to comply with long correspondances between two buses, wonderful landscapes are waiting for you in Izu, the perfect match of marine and mountain landscapes. Follow the sound of the drum played by "Izu no odoriko", the Izu Dancer, heroin of the famous novel by Kawabata!
The Jogasaki coast is one of the most beautiful sea view in Japan. Accidented cliffs, pine trees, blue and white waves... Can you dream of a more "Japanese" landscape ? I fell like I am watching an old sumi-e painting...
Mount Omuro is an extincted volcano, round like rice bowl covered with green grass. You can walk around its crater and admire Izu Peninsula from North to South, to North again.
The Seven Falls of Kawazu is one of the most enchanting places I have visited in Japan. Imagine a pure, transparent river falling in seven dreamy cascads, surrounded by giant rocks and trees... It is so gorgeous you actually hear some music in the air.
Meet the real Odoriko! The Izu Dancer is for me a very Japanese story, which means that at the end, nothing happens. The protagonist, a student from Tokyo, falls in love for a young dancer in izu, follows her like a stalker, befriends a young man of her group just to get a chance to keep her in sight, finally realizes that she is much younger than expected, and gives up his romantic plans. Love 0, contemplation 1. Not really my cup of tea in terms of plot, but Kawabata's unique style is powerful enough to make you like any kind of stories. Even upsetting ones.
The small towns of Izu are quiet, resort-type villages with nice little villas and traditional gardens. It is worth to go and see to rest your eyes and heart during the silver week.
More pictures from the Izu Peninsula, coming soon !
If you are brave enough to get off your bed at 5:30 a Saturday morning, leave your place at 6:15, take three trains until Koma station (one hour from Ikebukuro) and arrive at the gate of Kinchakuda park before it opens at 8:30, so you will be rewarded. So you will have the privilege to navigate a breath-taking red spider-lilies sea in the morning glow. So you will enjoy this pure ruby-red bliss with almost no visitors around. Priceless.
Manjushage flowers are used to blossom for a short time in September, around 6 or 7 days only, so the experience is as precious as cherry blossom viewing in March-April.
There is nothing like Japanese gardens to make you worship the beauty of nature. "You know, it is a beautiful Japanese dream" said Vincent van Gogh to his brother, talking about his project of painting purple irises. At Nezu Museum, irises are blooming, and it is indeed a beautiful Japanese dream.
Study in Green