ultramarinus – beyond the sea

2014 Tokyo

AFTERTHOUGHT, Tokyo

DSC_4925Although short, the five-day trip to Tokyo was an inspiring journey that we had longed for. Visiting Tokyo was like reading a really good novel, a story full of surprises, styles, allegories and imageries in a truly metropolitan setting. We love every moment of our Tokyo Story, and already we are thinking of going back to continue our unfinished tale.

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Read other posts on 2014 Tokyo:
1. Tokyo 2014 (Introduction)
2. Yokohama Osanbashi Pier
3. Ginza, Tokyo
4. Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo
5. Omotesando, Tokyo
6. Harajuku & Aoyama, Tokyo
7. Nezu Museum, Tokyo
8. Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
9. The National Art Centre, Tokyo
10. Midtown, Tokyo
11. A Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo
12. Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo
13. A Night in Yanaka, Tokyo
14. Breakfast at Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
15. Moveable Feast, Tokyo
16. Seasonal Fruits, Tokyo
17. Afterthought, Tokyo

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SEASONAL FRUITS, Tokyo

Grocery shopping wasn’t part of the itinerary until we found the Natural House in Aoyama, an organic grocery store which offers all kinds of fresh produces and food products from all over Japan. We were very impressed by the Japanese’s obsession with freshness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe apple display at the store front of the Natural House in Aoyama prompted us to enter the store where we stayed longer than expected.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere are some of the fruits, sashimi and soya drink that we got from another grocery store, Precce Premium, and a farmer’s market.

DSC_4848Autumn, the season for persimmons. We were very happy to have found a farmer’s market which sold seasonal fruits and we brought “home” three fresh persimmons. The gold-orange skinned persimmons and the green skinned grapes were the best fruits we had in this trip.

DSC_4830We were curious to know the taste of the violet fruit of akebi (known as the chocolate vine in Japan) and we had to admit that it was disappointing. Inside the shell are slimy pulp with many small, dark seeds.

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Read other posts on 2014 Tokyo:
1. Tokyo 2014 (Introduction)
2. Yokohama Osanbashi Pier
3. Ginza, Tokyo
4. Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo
5. Omotesando, Tokyo
6. Harajuku & Aoyama, Tokyo
7. Nezu Museum, Tokyo
8. Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
9. The National Art Centre, Tokyo
10. Midtown, Tokyo
11. A Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo
12. Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo
13. A Night in Yanaka, Tokyo
14. Breakfast at Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
15. Moveable Feast, Tokyo
16. Seasonal Fruits, Tokyo
17. Afterthought, Tokyo


MOVEABLE FEAST, Tokyo

“Tokyo is a food lover’s paradise” – We could not agree more. Here are some of the meals that we enjoyed during our stay in Tokyo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Above two photos) Meat pie and spaghetti with spinach and shimeij mushroom @ Nezu Cafe in Nezu Museum, Aoyama

DSC_4937OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Above three photos) Kamaeshi (Japanese rice dish cooked in an iron pot) with fresh crab meat and yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) @ Kamameshi-haru (元祖 釜めし春), Ueno.

DSC_4563Kurobuta tonkatsu (deep fried black hog pork cutlet) @ Maisen (まい泉), Shibuya-ku

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOmurice  (omelette with fried rice topped with gravy) @ Candle, Ginza

DSC_4804DSC_4802Tonkotsu ramen (noodle in pork bone broth) @ a popular ramen chain, ICHIRAN RAMEN (一蘭), Shibuya

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABento box from Kinokuniya Supermarket (紀伊国屋), Aoyama, Minato-ku

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Read other posts on 2014 Tokyo:
1. Tokyo 2014 (Introduction)
2. Yokohama Osanbashi Pier
3. Ginza, Tokyo
4. Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo
5. Omotesando, Tokyo
6. Harajuku & Aoyama, Tokyo
7. Nezu Museum, Tokyo
8. Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
9. The National Art Centre, Tokyo
10. Midtown, Tokyo
11. A Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo
12. Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo
13. A Night in Yanaka, Tokyo
14. Breakfast at Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
15. Moveable Feast, Tokyo
16. Seasonal Fruits, Tokyo
17. Afterthought, Tokyo


BREAKFAST AT TSUKIJI MARKET, Tokyo

It is unforgivable for not paying a visit to the Tsukiji Market before dawn to beat the tourist crowd when our hotel is only 10-minute walking distance from the world’s biggest fish market.  After a quick stroll through the busy market, we stopped by a small eatery for a bowl of fresh chirashi [assorted sashimi on a bowl of sushi rice] for an early Japanese breakfast.

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Read other posts on 2014 Tokyo:
1. Tokyo 2014 (Introduction)
2. Yokohama Osanbashi Pier
3. Ginza, Tokyo
4. Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo
5. Omotesando, Tokyo
6. Harajuku & Aoyama, Tokyo
7. Nezu Museum, Tokyo
8. Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
9. The National Art Centre, Tokyo
10. Midtown, Tokyo
11. A Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo
12. Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo
13. A Night in Yanaka, Tokyo
14. Breakfast at Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
15. Moveable Feast, Tokyo
16. Seasonal Fruits, Tokyo
17. Afterthought, Tokyo


A NIGHT IN YANAKA, Tokyo

After a day in Shibuya, we opted for a moment of tranquility for our last night in Tokyo. Yanaka, an old neighborhood north of Ueno, emerged as the ideal destination. Miraculously spared from the bombings of WWII, Yanaka remains as one of the best spots to soak up the atmosphere of prewar Tokyo. Its narrow streets, old timber houses, dim street lamps, well-preserved temples, and the enormous cemetery put together an intimate neighborhood and a peaceful setting as if entering the world of a Japanese film or animation classic. We allowed ourselves to get lost in the labyrinth of laneways, indulging in the silence and darkness of the beautiful night.

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Read other posts on 2014 Tokyo:
1. Tokyo 2014 (Introduction)
2. Yokohama Osanbashi Pier
3. Ginza, Tokyo
4. Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo
5. Omotesando, Tokyo
6. Harajuku & Aoyama, Tokyo
7. Nezu Museum, Tokyo
8. Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
9. The National Art Centre, Tokyo
10. Midtown, Tokyo
11. A Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo
12. Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo
13. A Night in Yanaka, Tokyo
14. Breakfast at Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
15. Moveable Feast, Tokyo
16. Seasonal Fruits, Tokyo
17. Afterthought, Tokyo


YOYOGI NATIONAL GYMNASIUM, Tokyo

Built for the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Yoyogi National Gymnasium and its adjacent pavilion are two of the most iconic works of Japanese modernist architecture by Kenzo Tange. The roof of the stadium was the largest suspended roof at the time. The stadium was an early attempt to combine modern structural engineering with traditional Japanese aesthetics, creating a piece of modern architecture that the world had never seen before, less than two decades after Japan was devastated by World War Two.

There was hardly anyone at the stadium ground except a few occasional passersby and a young man making a sketch of the building. Under the afternoon sun, the concrete panels glowed in an orange polish, revealing how astonishingly well maintained the building is after half a century has gone by. At such a central location between Meiji Shrine and Shibuya, the ground of Yoyogi would come under spotlight again in 2020 when the Olympic Game returned to Tokyo. It would be interesting to see how Tange’s architecture still plays a role in the grand sporting event 56 years after its original opening, alongside with Zaha Hadid’s controversial stadium.

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DSC_4884OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   DSC_4894 DSC_4897 DSC_4920

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Read other posts on 2014 Tokyo:
1. Tokyo 2014 (Introduction)
2. Yokohama Osanbashi Pier
3. Ginza, Tokyo
4. Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo
5. Omotesando, Tokyo
6. Harajuku & Aoyama, Tokyo
7. Nezu Museum, Tokyo
8. Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
9. The National Art Centre, Tokyo
10. Midtown, Tokyo
11. A Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo
12. Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo
13. A Night in Yanaka, Tokyo
14. Breakfast at Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
15. Moveable Feast, Tokyo
16. Seasonal Fruits, Tokyo
17. Afterthought, Tokyo


A SHRINE IN SHIBUYA, Tokyo

Typhoon Vongfong finally left Tokyo. Life was back to normal in much of the Japanese capital. In the afternoon we were finding our way from Harajuku to Shibuya. In the midst of busy traffic and fashion boutiques of Meiji Dori, a small and traditional Buddhist temple set back from the street caught our sight in between two building blocks. Street noise faded as we walked in the gate toward Chosenji Temple.  We stood in front of the timber building to absorb the peaceful atmosphere of the place. Two cats appeared from the back of the temple, chasing each other, and disappeared into the shrubs adjacent to the property.

From Meiji Dori we walked into the side streets trying to find our way to Yoyogi Stadium. Soon we discovered another urban retreat. A stair caught our attention leading us up to a platform where Kitayainari Shrine stood. It was a blessing that we found this place, a tiny tranquil place finished with well-crafted concrete. Perfectly blended into the surrounding modern architecture, Kitayainari Shrine serves well as a spiritual niche in the dense commercial neighborhood.   We walked around this small complex for longer than we thought we would, enjoying a sense of traditional spirituality in a contemporary architectural setting. Under the warmth of the afternoon sun we saw the structure of Yoyogi Stadium bathed in the orange sunlight just across the street.

1Chosenji is hidden behind the hustling street scene of Meiji Dori in Shibuya.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABuilt with concrete, metal, wood and glass, Kitayainari Shrine is a hidden gem that we found when we were exploring a short-cut path to Yoyogi National Stadium.

3The shrine was closed but we enjoyed moment of quietness at the forecourt with occasional cool and refreshing breeze.

4Stone water basin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA large bell with rope suspended under the soffit over the main door of the shrine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt each eaves corner, a metal downsprout collects rain water from the roof down to a traditional cistern in front of the temple.

7 Around the corner, we found a small concrete niche that houses an exterior altar for worship.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA pair of animal guardians stand in front of the exterior altar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYoyogi National Stadium stands right behind the Kitayainari Shrine.

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Read other posts on 2014 Tokyo:
1. Tokyo 2014 (Introduction)
2. Yokohama Osanbashi Pier
3. Ginza, Tokyo
4. Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo
5. Omotesando, Tokyo
6. Harajuku & Aoyama, Tokyo
7. Nezu Museum, Tokyo
8. Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
9. The National Art Centre, Tokyo
10. Midtown, Tokyo
11. A Shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo
12. Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo
13. A Night in Yanaka, Tokyo
14. Breakfast at Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
15. Moveable Feast, Tokyo
16. Seasonal Fruits, Tokyo
17. Afterthought, Tokyo