Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Princess and the Mountain ; A Day Trip to Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji. It's pretty magnificent. I guess I went expecting it to be green and lush. And to some extent it was (I mean..we did see a monkey on the side of the road on the way there) but having experienced more volcanic landscape than many other people I should have probably guessed that Fuji would be covered in black volcanic rubble. That said, it's pretty incredible and we were blessed with good enough weather to have a clear view of the top for most of the day. 

There are many Shrines on Fuji, this is the Komitake Shrine. Most of the shrines(if not all but I'm hesitant to say) on Mount Fuji are dedicated to Konohanasukaya-hime (phewf!) otherwise known as Kono-hime or Princess Kono in English. She is the symbol of delicate earthly life , so something worth worshipping and you can understand why she would be linked to a volcano Mount Fuji. She is also the daughter of a mountain god. I'm actually really enjoying reading about Kono-hime, she's an interesting part of Japanese mythology, so she is actually a belief formed outside of Shinto and Buddhism, and then absorbed into the religions. 

I'm still trying to find out what the huge geta sandals mean.

So we ended up hitchhiking down the mountain as our original route we had planned on still had snow across it. We got picked up by a guy who told us we should go and see this shrine. The shrine turned out to be the very beautiful Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine. It features one of the highest Tori gates in Japan, it's apparently 18 metres high and gets and extra bit added every 60 years. Apparently the board at the top says "Sangoko Daiichizan" meaning "the highest mountain among the three countries China, Japan and India."

Really love these two pictures of the shrine attendants coming out to change the rice and other offerings at each of the small shrines that line the main buildings. 


It was a long walk down from the shrine but the weather was so beautiful at the bottom when we stopped for a breather I sat and sketched this boat. The colours reminded me of a Studio Ghibli movie. (Sit tight for a blog on my visit to the Ghibli museum!)


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (Spring in Daikanyama)

Goodness Gracious Me I have so much to share with you and it's all backing up! Mount Fuji, shrines to spirits, amazing cake and beautiful art. Ahh! So here's a little serene post to begin with from a little trip to Daikanyama to visit the incredible art shop Aquvii. Finding places to get away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo is rather important. 

This city can run you pretty ragged so stumbling upon Daikanyama, somewhere so close to the metropolis of Shibuya, that is so green and quiet, was a rather nice surprise. 

I actually made this trip to visit Aquvii. An amazing little art shop stocking jewellery, zines, original pieces and other odds and ends from artists and illustrators. There's one in Harajuku for Japanese artists only but the one in Daikanyama stocks international artists. I hope I can get some zines put together to get them stocked there. The other nice thing about Aquvii is that they exhibit work within their stores. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to take pictures (other people were but I was a bit worried) so I just snapped a couple of photos of Fumihito Toba's work.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Catfish, Cats and Capybara!

Taking a break from the yokai and spirits (seriously I've got a good couple of blog posts good to go still in that vein) to bring you a few pictures from wandering around an area called Ginza. I guess if you were to compare Ginza to somewhere in London it might be Knightsbridge if it were somewhat more pedestrianised. Some very large expensive designer shops, rubbing shoulders with beautiful cafes, boutique pet clothing stores (really), a massive toy shop and more general stores like Zara. 

It's also home to Japan's Dover Street Market which I really wish I had taken a picture of. The one in London intimidates me because I'm obviously only going in to gawk at Comme Des Garcons that I can never have and wait for security to pry me away from a Lanvin gown. This one, was the same. It's not a comfortable atmosphere..people are just waiting for you to drop a couple hundred on a tshirt. But I mean, these shops are home to Comme des Garcons, Rick Owens, Maison Margiela..these places are like art galleries to me. On top of this they also have art in their stores! Anyways rant over, maybe one day I'll be able to afford a tshirt an get over the snooty sales staff..

This little guy and his little bread!!!

Ginza is a little bit of a tourist trap but I can't say I didn't enjoy seeing this dog driving his car towards me.

OK so I know I said no more spirits but I think you might find this interesting! So we were wondering why Japan uses a catfish on their earthquake warning signs. I think it's due to a Japanese legend that says Japan was built on a huge catfish called a namazu. This huge namazu is meant to be kept in line by Kashima, the thunder god, but he sometimes lets his guard down. In these moments the namazu wiggles causing earthquakes. 

These cats were just hanging out a street sign. I have no further explanation than that!