Summer Matsuris in Tokyo

This is Japan at its finest, in summer Matsuri season. August is matsuri month, there are thousands of matsuri's in Japan in august, and hundreds in Tokyo at least. It is at these festivals that you see how rich Japanese culture is, well at least traditional culture. For me as an american and an artist these festivals are awesome and at the top of the list of why Japan is great because they are so different from America. Everyone is well behaved and polite and in good spirits. It helps that Tokyo is super clean to begin with so the setting is enjoyable vs. piles of garbage everywhere

First up, the Awa Odori Matsuri in Shimokitazawa, one of the cool areas in the west of tokyo. This is the signature Awa Odori outfit including the half moon straw hat that the women wear.

they wear "Geta" sandals too. they basically are on the front balls of their feet the whole time. see how the sandals are tipped forward instead of the two plates resting evenly on the ground.

lots of kids of all ages get in there too. yes there a a lot of cute little tykes that are all starry eyed and don't know what their doing and its super cute.

the energy is infectious, most dancers have smiles on their faces. its a beautiful thing.

i'm not gonna lie, i think these awa odori outfits are kinda sexy for some reason.

at the end of this matsuri all the different dance groups had their own separate blowout jam sessions where the crowd could get in and dance after they did their thing. there were something like 12 groups who went around the streets of shimokitazawa for 2 hrs and you could catch them here and there. it was super sweaty time. add rapid drum beats and jumping up and down in a tight crowd and you have super duper sweaty time. Anyway it was O-some

BBQ at the tamagawa river south of tokyo. its about 20 min from shibuya. why didn't our school have their bbq there? why did they have it at 10 am and 1.5 hrs away from tokyo? here we are at 10 am in sangenjaya buying stuff for the BBQ. thats shintaro and misa.

super hot. thank god there were those two bridges. at our school's bbq there was nothing, no shade so it was horrible.

the obligatory and annual trying to get the charcoal lit battle.

this ignition charcoal is what they use. americans dont use that do they?

too cool. ai, marco, and misa

i am always amazed how civilized this country is. there was lots of drinking yet no fights or trouble of any kind, it seems that at these kind of outings, and festivals and such that its just good times and good vibes, which i can dig.

down by the river to throw some rocks. look its johnny ribeiro

the impeccably, unbelievably clean subway tracks.

after the BBQ and baking in the sun all day we went to the Azabu Juban matsuri which is near my house. it was huge and super packed. in the center of all that its hotter than the noonday sun. i was at my sweatiest for the whole day in the center of all that mess. i don't think i would go again its just too packed and too hot.

I had a Jaga buta, which is just a steamed potato broken open and you slather it with tons and tons of butter from the huge butter bins. you can throw some kind of lil' fish on there and some other crap too. Marco's new roomate ate one of these fish on a stick. there was tons of yummy food here

Tokyo Summer Tidbits

A short post of little tidbits from the summer.

I got this can of corned beef hash from Yoon when i was in Korea. He lives on the army base so their commissary is stocked with american goodies. Oh man was this de-lish. I missed this so much. It is also super greasy and unhealthy and looks like dog food but with some toast and two over easy eggs its the bomb!

mushi bye bye. its mosquito spray although i don't know how to use it. are you supposed to spray it in the air? are you supposed to spray it on your body? One time Fumika's dad came into the room with a similar can and sprayed one spray into the air and we were mosquito free for the night. is this the same stuff?

saw this on my run. its somewhere south of ebisu station. what is this mystery building?

i had to renew my passport this week. Its sad to put this old guy down. He has seen a fair amount of action in his 10 year run. 1 year study abroad in Korea in 2001. 1.5 years in China and 2 different chinese visas. 1 Hong Kong Trip. 1 Macau Trip. 1 year Japan visa, 2 additional Japan trips. 2 additional Korea Trips. Lets see how far the new one gets in its 10 year life.

$650 dollars paid to a visa agency magically changed my chinese visa from an L tourist visa into an F visa (business).

for some reason they gave me a 2 year visa in Korea when i studied there.

its been years since i made a physical portfolio. I forgot how much fun it is. no not really, all that cutting and arranging is not so fun anymore.

i found this guy like this and was sad for a day. A broken mar staedler H pencil. do you know how long this pencil can live for? like 2 years for me. I use these H pencils to do my preliminary sketches.

Hokkaido crew. Kohei, Akari and Johnson are from Sapporo from the same highschool. Kohei makes music and plays for various acts in Japan, famous ones too like SMAP and this concert we went to for Ai Kawashima. Ai Kawashima's music is definitly not crowd moving stuff. she tried to get the crowd moving but they were'nt really havin' that.

Mt. Fuji

Here I am at 6 pm ready to go to Shinjuku to get the 2 hr bus to Mt. Fuji. At this point I am thinking that its gonna be easy because people always exaggerate and are cry babies, and I am in pretty decent shape because I run 10 km a couple times a week. at about 2 am in the morning I would realize how bad it sucks. Looking back at this post i see there isn't any humor laced in here, that's because there was no humor to be found on this mountain.

as most people do we took the bus to the 5th station which is about halfway up the mountain. We took the most popular trail up because that's where the bus drops you. We went on a wednesday night so it wasn't horribly crowded but there were still a lot of people doing this thing. we did the option where you start climbing at 10 pm and make it to the top by 4:30 am for the sun rise, climbing straight through the night. the other option is start climbing in the daytime, then stop and sleep in a mountain hut that costs $70. You can't even sleep though because there are just people like us passing through or resting making tons of noise outside the huts.

When we first started out me and marco were in high spritits. we were engergized, and ready for adventure. it was like being 12 yrs old again with our flash lights in the dark. as we went up the clouds rolled in over the huge megaopolis that is yokohama/tokyo and whatever else melds into it all. it looked pretty surreal.

you def need a flashlight, and even better one of those LED headlamps so your hands can be free. it doesn't get that cold unless you stop moving. i was def glad i brought all the clothes i did because it really does get pretty cold at the top even in the summer. its basically winter up there. I thought i had over packed too. I read online about the lines to wait and climb and mountain. these lines are not so bad because it give you time to take a rest.

There we are at the torii gate at the top. we made it! It was just me and marco, which made it easier to plan the trip and climb. i can imagine what it would be like to climb with a group of people, probably annoying. Mt. fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan at 3,777 meters. Me and Marco didn't feel any altitude sickness or extreme shortness of breath which i was afraid of. Didn't look like anyone else was having a problem either. When i went to Yulong Xueshan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain) in China is was 5,596 meters and everyone definitely had altitude headaches, and could only take like 10 steps and had to rest. it didn't help that you ascend by cable car in about 20 mintues

Japanese people buy premium hiking gear, so it looks like a rainbow of people waiting for the sun to rise.

coins stuck in the back

bells on the tori gate.

offerings? someone left 3 cucumbers. wat the heck.

Mt. Fuji is an active volcano. this is the crater. it takes an hour to walk around the crater. the other side has the highest part of the mountain which would be the highest point in all of Japan. At this point lots of people are at their end, super tired and just want to go down. but how can you come here and not go to the highest point in japan?

random tori gates. it is super beautiful being above the clouds and seeing the lush green lands of japan below. we were lucky and the weather was perfectly clear all night and day. I saw 5 or 6 shooting stars.

that's the ocean on the upper left.

highest post office in japan, it doesn't open until 6am, at this point it was 5am and we had been climbing for 7 hrs straight with no sleep so F U guys no way am i waiting around for an hr to send you a post card. all websites are careful to say highest post office in japan so looks like there are higher post offices in the world somewhere.

a grandma. there were tons of old people, at least 50% of the people. they climbed up and down this mountain. how? me and marco were dead at the end of the day

highest point in japan.

Mt. Fuji's shadow. pretty cool and unreal.

my knees were destroyed and on fire after decending the mountain for 4 hrs. 4hrs of knees getting pounded. going down is way worse than going up. also its summer and its super hot. I don't know how these old people all did it. I would never climb Mt. Fuji again. sure its super beautiful at the top after the sun rises but 12 straight hrs of up and down on a pile of sand gets pretty grating.

3x price gouging.

these poor kids. thats what we felt like but we can't do that cuz we're adults.

the upper 2 hours or so of the mountain is all black sand, which im guessing is volcanic rock and ash and stuff. climbing a pile of sand for hours is pretty strenuous and descending a pile of sand is even worse.


doesn't this look pretty fun?

we read on some guys blog how easy it is to just go bounding down the mountain and take the wrong trail and end up hours and hours away from the bus station where you're supposed to end up. that almost happened to us

going down into the clouds.

you can't see very well but this is a 4 hour zig zag switch back trail down the mountain. it seemed like it would never end and it kept getting hotter. I can't even imagine doing this with most of my girl friends. they would die.

example of Japanese people with their premium climbing gear. the trend seems to be neon colors these days. I wore my jogging clothes and jogging shoes and brought some extra sweat shirts.

maybe i have a cloud fetish. anyway it was crazy to look out on the clouds at your own level. its as if they accepted me as one of their own. and then you go back to remembering how bad it sucks to be going down this mountain.

almost to the bus stop they had these people with bottled water that could be yours if you only fill out a survey.

this poor kid was carrying a ton of stuff.

since i didnt have proper hiking boots my jogging shoes got filled with volcanic sand. So the final thoughts are that I will never climb mt. fuji again. its beautiful but.... and it was as hard as people say it is on the internet. I mean i thought it was even harder than what they say on the internet. the whole time i was thinking, why didn't anyone say how bad this actually sucks? Anyway i can check this one off my list now. Info for would be climbers: I brought 2 liters of water, 2 bento box things from the convenience store, LED headlamp, the clothes i would basically wear in the winter time, jogging shoes, and 2 chocolate bars. all of this the right amount of what i needed.