When we first moved here the Tokyo American Club was in a fairly central location near Tokyo Tower. About a year later the club was demolished and the construction of a new club on that property was started. The club was relocated to a temporary location that was not as convenient for me to get to.
The new club opened this week. Today Rick and I walked over to explore the new location. It is quite impressive. It seems so much larger than the old club. The exercise facility has all new equipment and great views through the large windows. The pool is on the roof-top with it’s own outdoor restaurant. There will be several restaurants when it is completely up and running. I really liked all the windows with views over Tokyo and the many terraces that provide outdoor relaxing.
I have talked about the life and status of dogs in Japan before. Many people have dogs instead of children. Today I noticed a small specialty shop for dogs. They sell custom made dog clothes encrusted with Swarovski crystals.
Today we went to the Setagaya Boroichi. It is a huge flea market that has been going on since 1578. It is held only four days a year (January 15 -16 and December 15-16). It is considered one of the largest flea markets in Japan. They have vintage clothing, kimonos and obis, new clothing, antiques, food, housewares and tons of miscellaneous junk for sale. It is usually very crowded when the 15th and 16th fall on weekdays, but on a Saturday it was really packed and we were there early. We tried some of the food from the stalls and just wandered around looking at everything. I bought a hat to wear in a week and a half in freezing North Carolina. Here are some photos:
The year of the rabbit
Today I went with a new friend to an art exhibit at the Tokyo Museum of Western Art. The artist was Durer. She was very familiar with him because she served a mission in Germany. I remember his work from my art history class. It was interesting because most of the works exhibited were from the birth and crucifixion of Christ and Japan is not a Christian country. I find that many times I am disappointed by special exhibitions in Japan. They tend to never have any of an artist’s great or famous works. For example, the Vermeer exhibit we went to a few years ago included many sketches and only one painting. I did enjoy the Durer exhibit, but longed to see more than his woodblock prints.
Although we enjoy attending a day of sumo three times each year, things have changed since Asashoryu retired leaving one yokozuna. It seems almost a little dull at times. We sit in the same place at each tournament and often the same man is in a seat nearby. He has his own bottle of sake and talks to the people seated around him. He is quite vocal and tries to get others worked up and chanting for certain sumo wrestlers. By the time the best wrestlers are up at the end of the tournament he is usually quite drunk. This time he actually fell asleep/passed out. See the photo of the headless man below. He was sitting up and his head was resting on his chest. (The group seated around him were not interested in participating in his cheering this time).
I have loved the weather since I arrived back in Tokyo this week. Clear skies and cold! Rick arrived home around noon and asked about my plans for the rest of the day. I had been up since 5am cleaning like a crazy woman and I still hadn’t finished and probably won’t until Tuesday. Monday is a national holiday and we have sumo tickets. Anyway, back to our plans…I had none, I just wanted to get out somewhere and enjoy the sunshine and crisp air. Then I remembered Jiyugaoka. Every time I ride the train to Nori’s I think, “This place looks interesting, I should get off sometime and wander around.” When I told Rick he got online and found a restaurant that Nori’s husband, Mitch had told him about. Cheap, all you can eat, sukiyaki and shabu shabu. By the time he finished, he had pages of info and maps. We found the restaurant easily.
We chose shabu shabu with a combination of beef and pork. The center of each table has an electric burner and a pot of broth was put on it immediately. Once it’s boiling you cook your own meat and vegetables and eat them with a bowl of rice.
There is a time limit on the all you can eat idea and the host was careful to tell us before we were seated that because they close at 3:00 we would not have the full time. We weren’t worried. We ate all that was served and requested a refill on rice. Then we went to a vegetable bar (think salad bar) and loaded our plate up. The meat was delicious, but the initial serving was substantial. Our bill totaled 3150 yen, drinks were included. The last time I had shabu shabu my meal alone was over 10,000 yen. Fortunately, it was a business dinner and the company paid.
We walked around Jiyugaoka for awhile. An interesting find was a “mission” store that sold handmade items, many made of felted wool. One day I’ll go back and try to figure out what the mission is and maybe buy some gifts. There is a huge flower shop, a tiny, traditional soba noodle shop, and great little streets to wander around in.
A year or two ago I posted on my favorite kind of day. Today is my favorite kind of day, cold, blue skies with wisps of white clouds and wind. I love to be out in the city on a day like today!
Today is also a sad day because I have to take my tree down. I love having my Christmas tree up and I am sad on the day it comes down. I do like how clean and orderly the room feels without it.
Last Saturday Rick and I went in Mitsukoshi to have a look around we arrived just in time to see Santa, the Japanese version. He was kind enough to pose and wave for the me the gaijin (foreigner). His eyebrows were two rectangular pieces of white felt stuck on.
Mitsukoshi Ginza Window
Japanese Department stores follow the tradition of major department stores worldwide by having special Christmas themed displays in their store windows. This was my favorite the carousel zebra was just fabulous and the manikins were beautiful.