Sometimes, I think nothing surprises me any more in Tokyo. And then I see this lovely woman walking down Koenji’s Look shopping street with her pet turtle. The turtle looks like he is swimming in air, legs reaching forward and back and eyes taking in the surroundings.
The human guardian explains that she is carrying this towel under her umbrella to wipe off the turtle. Apparently, her turtle does not like to get wet! Thanks to both of them for adding some cheer to a rainy day.
Meiji Jingu last weekend had a fall ikebana display. This was my favorite combination of fall foliage and bright contrasting flower, with an understated ceramic vase.
It was fun to see the extremely stylized ikebana in the forest of Meiji Jingu, next to the shrine with its enormous trees and the endless procession of Sunday weddings shielded by giant red umbrellas and thronged with photo-snapping tourists. The ikebana display was a mostly ignored moment of quiet dignity amidst the clash of tradition and modernity, upper class families and international tourists, sacred, stylized and natural.
Fall has been wonderfully mild, with the zelkova (keyaki in Japanese) trees starting to turn yellow. Of the many ginkos (icho), I have seen just one already turned yellow.
Next to Tsukishima is Tsukudajima, a tiny island that escaped the earthquake, war and high rise redevelopment. While not all of the houses have been preserved, the scale and and small alleys have been. Walking there today, you can see residents still fishing, visit a beautiful old shrine Sumiyoshi Jinja, buy tsukudani (fish boiled in miso sauce) from Edo-era stores, and attend annual obon and omatsuri festivals.
This August there will be a special omatsuri festival that happens only once every 50 years. See the government website for more information: http://tsukuda.chuo.tokyo.jp/
More photos after the jump.