Month: April 2014

Is this Shinjuku sidewalk “nanohana” edible?


It’s spring, and vegetables are growing spontaneously on Tokyo’s sidewalks.

Before the leaves appear, nothing but vertical lines


The ginkgo trees before the leaves sprout echo the atrocious Docomo tower in Shinjuku. Even the bicyclist adds to the vertical theme.

Almost abstract image of picnic below fading cherry trees



Towards the end of cherry blossom season, the leaves sprout and the pale pink flowers are replaced by red pistils. The last few days are often warmest and best for picnicking.


A pop of color in a river of black and white outfits on crowded sidewalk



That’s my photographer friend Shigeki with the bright blue cap and the antique Hasselblad film camera. It was peak day for cherry blossoms at Kudanshita.


Random guy on telephone hijacks hanami photo of hipsters with matching bicycles and tans


This sensory overload, of course, is Yoyogi Park. Thanks to Shu for introducing me to the concept of photo “hijacking,”

Mamas’ club parties at Yasukuni shrine on a weekday afternoon



Given its reputation as a place of political conflict and religious fervor, it’s a pleasant surprise to see this mamas’ club relaxing on a weekday, with giant plastic wine glasses, drinks, and strollers.

A rush of young office workers exiting the subway at Kudanshita


Exiting the Metro at Kudanshita, I was unprepared for the rush of young office workers during the first week of April, mixed with seniors heading to see Chidorigafuchi.

A few of the many groups that gather together for cherry blossom season



This year I tried to focus on the different tribes that assemble beneath the cherry trees for hanami season in Tokyo. There were some scenes I expected, and many that were surprises. In this photo of Shinjuku Gyoen, my good friend from San Francisco’s back is in the middle, with a couple on the left and cosplayers on the right.

Do these cherry blossom “souvenir” cakes look good to you?



このお花見のとき限定のお土産はおいしいでしょうか? パッケージはきれいだけれど、工場で作った味しかしないかもしれません。

An explosion of pink packaging envelopes these factory-produced cakes, available only during cherry blossom season. I would not classify this as a natural food.

Foreigners still confused that Tokyo-ites love wearing face masks



April is a month that attracts many foreign visitors. Again, I am asked in hushed tones, are Japanese wearing masks because of Fukushima and fears of nuclear fallout? Anyone who lives here knows it’s allergy season, and many people wear them out of a combination self-treatment and courtesy to others. Masks, normal and even polite in Japan, are perhaps the most common form of exotic costume when seen by foreigners.

Some people prefer full bloom, but I like to watch the petals fall and float off


In a pond at Shinjuku Gyoen.