Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Haunting Harajuku

Hanging out at Harajuku Station waiting for my friend to show up. Across the street Takeshita Street was the usual crush of tourists. Sometimes I wonder why.

Like I said, crush.

While many of the stores there have changed to corporate chains like Disney, a few like Takenoko haven't changed over the years.

But really, getting away from Takeshita can be more interesting.

Because just one street over things are much calmer.

And there are amazing stores to check out like Bloody Mary. Behind these doors is really beautiful jewelry and the coolest looking shop.

The reason for wandering around Harajuku was we were waiting for seats at Reissue, a latte art cafe. Besides that we also put in good time window shopping at Laforet.

Finally we were able to be seated at Reissue and spent time chatting about the Moi dix Mois concerts and more.

Reissue was an interesting place with a retro-American decor and music selection.

People come to Reissue because they are well known for their drink art. Either little creatures in foam or recreating your choice of photo on the top of your drink. Along with a couple of desserts.

Having missed eating lunch I went for their chocolate cake with raspberries. Very nice.

Since we met at the Moi dix Mois concerts we ended up going for a certain musician for the drinks. Mana on hot chocolate?

And on coffee. Yeah it felt a little silly but also fun. It was a really good time. Wishing I could be back wandering the Harajuku side streets right now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Springtime in Shinjuku

What they say about sakura in Japan is true. At least in Tokyo. If you see sakura trees blooming, you will find a crowd of people beneath it.

Not even in full bloom there were many people beneath the trees of Shinjuku Gyoen taking selfies. Sighting a bird in the branches overhead, I felt more inclined to photograph it.

Glad he's visible against the bright blue sky.

Along with the pink sakura.

It was just the start of the bloom but even then the flowers were irresistible.

There are around 1500 sakura trees in Shinjuku Gyoen. Being able to see the different shades of colors from various varieties next to each other adds to the beauty.

It must be magical when all the trees are in bloom.


March also means ume or plum trees bloom. I saw less of those at the park but they were still pretty riotous with blossoms.


A few other plants were blooming. This is a popular ornamental bush not only in Japan but in America. It may be Spiera Ogon, Mellow Yellow.

As I headed towards the main gate to leave, these magnolia trees were getting a bit of attention also.

So through the main gate I went back to Shinjuku station to take a train or two to Harajuku. Which will be my next post.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Garden of Words Shinjuku Gyoen

Welcome to a little exploration of the Garden of Words. Yes part of my reason for wanting to see Shinjuku Gyoen was because I enjoyed that anime. Part because seeing the different gardens of Japan is enjoyable. Part a desire for a break from the crowds. So on a Wednesday I took the Oedo Line to Shinjuku Station. Somewhere in that labyrinth station is this interesting glass and metal mural. The green markings on the floor means it's near where the Oedo Line platforms are. I could not find information online as to who the artist is.

Not only is the station a bit confusing since some directional signs are blocked by other signs or placed out of eyesight as you struggle to find your exit, also making sure you are going the right direction once you are out can be a bit intimidating due to the many skyscrapers that tower over you.

I tend to go by landmarks and maps but this time I added in taking random photos along the way in case I had trouble getting back to the right station entrance. Along with a photo or two of the almost clear blue sky. I could review the photos walking back looking for the same landmarks.

I was walking in the right direction to the park. But going the wrong direction to the main gate so I ended up walking down a very long side street while sakura blossoms waved at me over the garden fence.

And blue violets nodded their heads just beyond the very long fence.

After a while I reached the Shinjuku Gyoen Sendagaya gate, paid my entrance fee and began to explore. This is not the main gate to the park which is on the other side of the park.

One of the first things that struck me was how brown the grounds were. All the photos I've seen always shared how green and lush the garden is. Instead I was reminded of Southern California in summer. Except this was March. I guess Oregon has spoiled me with green winters. Also notable was how many trees were ready to bloom with flowers.

Despite the dried grass people were enjoying resting in the nice weather. I did notice that there were a good number of tourists from other countries in the park, more than I noticed in other parts of Tokyo up till that time.

Since I was going to meet up with someone later in the day I had to limit what I saw so I decided to follow the waterways to the other side of the park where the main gate is.

I think this was a good choice since there are a number of ponds and streams through out the Japanese Garden section and was calming and spacious. This is something to note in Tokyo since a lot of one's time there is spent in very crowded trains and streets.

One of the lovely buildings in the garden is the Taiwan Pavilion, Kyu-Goryo-Tei. Built in 1927 in commemoration of Emperor Showa's marriage, it offers a unique place to view the park landscape.

I imagine in the heat of the summer it must be quite nice in here. The building was designed by architect Matsunosuke Moriyama and is in the Minnan style. The building was donated by voluntary Japanese residents in Taiwan.

Along with that the wood carving inside matches the beauty outside. Information about it can be found at this Shinjuku visitors website.

Just a little of the view from the Pavilion. There were a number of photographers with very large camera lenses trying to take photos of birds in these sculpted pine trees.

Definitely a place to escape Tokyo crowds.

Even with the Tokyo skyline within sight.

 There are a number of these shelters at the ike (ponds). This one must look lovely when the flower vines over it bloom.

There are also a few stone lanterns along the paths of the Japanese style garden section.

Even carp in the streams. Curved bridges cross in places, their unpainted wood blending in to the natural feeling of the garden.

While this garden feels a little more wild than some formal Japanese gardens, there is still great care taken in the sculpting of many of the trees. This lovely one shelters a rugged stone lantern.

I have to say that Shinjuku Gyoen is a little oasis in the middle of Tokyo.

In case you are wondering what this building that looms over the park and Shinjuku is, it is the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building, third tallest building in Tokyo.

You may be wondering where those sakura blooming trees are? Well I took a lot of photographs and to avoid overwhelming in one post they will be in my next post about Shinjuku Gyoen.