unexpected

Come on a tanuki adventure with us at Shibaura House next Tuesday

shibaurahouse_makingfriends_web

Please join @a_small_lab and me for a tanuki adventure next Tuesday, July 9, noon to 1 pm, at Shibaura House. Details below. Many thanks to Shibaura House for their support.

SHIBAURA HOUSEに来て、江戸時代から有名なタヌキさんに会いませんか? 2人の外国人が、タヌキさんをまた東京に呼び戻したいと考えています。東京メトロに乗ってタヌキが友達を作る企画(http://wp.me/piwM0-23e)は、ロンドンのテクノロジー関係の学会で承認されました。スマートフォンがなくても、タヌキさんは友達を作ることが上手です。
今回SHIBAURA HOUSEで開催するイベントでは、こんなことを一緒に考えます:都市に、動物は必要でしょうか。野生で予測できないものは、都市の生活に大事でしょうか。
一緒にちょっと冒険してみましょう。参加費は無料。イベントはランチタイムに開催します、自分のお弁当を持ってきてください。

Please come to Shibaura House to meet the famous tanuki from Edo. Two foreigners want to welcome shape-shifting tanuki back to Tokyo. Their photo story about Making Friends with Tanuki in the Tokyo Metro was selected by a London technology conference for its unusual real-time interaction. How come, even without a smartphone, tanuki is so good at making friends? Why do we need animals in cities? What is the importance of wild and unexpected things in our lives? Please bring an open mind and your own bento. Let’s go on an adventure.

Palms are unexpected feature of Tokyo gardens

自然に生えているシュロというヤシが大好きです。東京の中で、ヤシはちょっと意外で、すてきだと思います。

I love the semi-wild shuro palm, and how it pops up unexpectedly in Tokyo gardens. This is at the “forest house” in Nakano, looking up towards the sky. Utility lines are also a common Tokyo landscape element.

Small shrine in Akihabara provides respite and carnal spirituality

One of the pleasures of Tokyo is discovering small gems that are unexpected. Arriving a few minutes early to a meeting in Akihabara last month, I stumbled upon this small shrine that faces the south side of the Kanda River near Akihabara, best known for electronics, manga, and geeks. The surrounding streetscape is a crowded jumble of 80s buildings with a few pre-war relics.

It was great to duck into the shrine, and enjoy the shade, the running water in the stone basin for ritual hand washing, the wood structures, and the quiet of a place with few visitors. Enjoying this mini oasis, I realized that all the statues involve animals with huge balls.

I recognize tanuki, but I think there are other animals, too. On second viewing, the husband pointed out that all of the figures, despite looking quite different, are tanuki. Although many shrines feature foxes (kitsune, or oinarisama), it is rare to see a shrine focused on tanuki. A placard explains that “tanuki” is a pun on words that also means “passing the other” and refers to Edo women who competed with each other to produce male heirs.