Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Flute Player

When I walk the dog at 7:15 in the morning, there is a man and an woman who circumnavigate the park the opposite direction from me and Sandy. He plays some simple wooden flute while she simply walks. I'll try to get a picture

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ronald McDonald in Japan

Since somebody asked: the Quarter Pounder is the クオ一タ一パウンダ一 , of course. You would pronounce that kuo ta pa oon da. Add the cheese, its a クオ一タ一パウンダ一テ一ズ (chi zu)

Monday, November 16, 2009


After I buy my bleach and deodorizer, I take them to the counter to pay for them. The nice sales person wraps them both in plastic before putting them in a plastic shopping bag.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Urban Planning

Driving in Tokyo can be a interesting thing. Nevermind fact that they drive on the right hand side and that streets are rarely labeled.

This post is about the size of the streets.

I'd estimate that about 80% of the roads in Tokyo are fairly narrow one-lane streets that are intended for two way traffic, pedestrians and bicyclist. The telephone poles also are in the streets, albeit at the edge. Sandy--on the leash here--helps provide scale for this picture.

The major arteries are wide and accomodate a lot of traffic. Still, such roads are also used by many bicyclists and motorpeds that dart between cars, so one has to be a particularly attentive driver. On such roads, pedestian crossings are carefully managaged. Fencing inhibits jaywalking (which is discouraged and not much practiced here). Between corner crossings, there are many raised pedestrian crossways. This picture was taken from one such elevated pedestrian bridge.

These pictures were taken on an early Sunday morning without much traffic, but will give you an idea of the scale of the roads.

All and all, I would have to say that this helps to discourage driving and concentrate vehicular traffic to the major roadways. It also encourages the use of public transportation or self-transportation.

I will have to say I love riding my bike to the grocery store.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yoyogi Park

This morning, Sandy Peach woke me up pretty early in the morning for a walk. She and I were out in Yoyogi Park by 5;15 am, before the sun came up. As we walked to one of the quieter corners of the park, I observed some strange motion underneath a dense cluster of tress. As I got nearer, I realized it was a man repeatedly practicing karate kicks.

Public space is extremely well used in Japan. Yoyogi Park, is one of the largest Parks in Tokyo (see picture at the bottom of this blog). It is always full of human activity. On weekends cars line the street near our apartment waiting for a parking space. Families spread out plastic sheets and settle in for long picnics.

The night Sandy Peach arrived (6 hours late--a typhoon delayed her flight) I took her for a long walk in Yoyogi Park at midnight. I am rarely up that late so it was my first encounter with the park late at night. I discovered that midnight is a popular time to jog here in Tokyo.

Anyway, I have started a new list in the right hand bar of this blog--a list of things I have seen people doing in Yoyogi park. I'll update as I note new and unique things that people do in Yoyogi Park.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nara River Walk

It was supposed to be a lovely walk by the Nara river north of Hachioji with our recently arrived dog. Unfortunately, the 20 year old book, "Day Walks Near Tokyo" missed 20 years of changing river patterns and human habits. The path we were supposed to find petered out amidst thick growth rife with thorny plants and large spider webs.

Not all was lost. Sandy didn't mind the thorns a bit, and we found a nice rock outcrop near the river to enjoy our bento boxes. While sitting there, we could watch all the people who were--20 years after the book was published--making paths on the other side of the river for their picnics and fishing.

Finding a ice cream shop on the way home put a sweet spin on the whole outing.

Green in small spaces

While there is lots of concrete around, what I have discovered is that the Japanese bring nature to life in small spaces. Here are just a few examples of green space created around people's entryways, usually using potted plants.