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Posts tagged ‘Odaiba’

Christmas in Tokyo

As promised, I took my new Sony camera for a test shoot in the evening. I decided to go around Tokyo taking photos of Christmas illumination. These are my most favorite spots.

Christmas tree at Villa Fontaine hotel in Shiodome

Me and the girls at Austrian embassy Christmas bazaar

Roppongi Hills Christmas bazaar

They are selling delicious German food all through December so if you want to try some pretzels with beer or white cheese sauce pasta, head to the bazaar in front of Toho Cinema.

This is Christmas village decorations at Shiodome

Beautiful Caretta illumination. You can see how it looked two years ago here.

Shiodome from Yurikamome line

Odaiba skyline at sunset

Keyakizaka street illumination at Roppongi Hills. This one is right in front of entrance to the TV Asahi. When I was passing it, the familiar smell of the lobby hit me. I used to go there for three and a half years every Saturday evening for live broadcast of Sma-Station. That were super fun times because I got to hang out with my best friends and get paid for it. ^-^

Keyakizaka street, in front of new Michael Kors shop. A strong earthquake hit at the moment I was taking this picture. It felt like the train was passing underground only there is no train there so I was very puzzled at first. Then, a minute later I got all these Facebook messages with people screaming “Earthquake” and that’s how I realized what it was. When you are outside, you can’t really comprehend if it’s a strong one or not. Apparently it was the strongest and longest one since 3/11 earthquake last year. Luckily, the trains didn’t stop for too long. I was able to get home without any trouble.

Armani store at Keyakizaka street

Beautiful LED lights

I discovered this great “star” effect while playing with blur function on my Sony. If I make it really sharp and hold the camera still, it creates these beautiful stars out of light.

Self-portrait using retractable screen. Again, I look like a tourist here.. Need to get some tips on how to pose from my friend Laura..

Louis Vuitton store at Keyakizaka street

Illumination at Mori garden in front of TV Asahi

Tokyo tower from Roppongi Hills

66 Plaza Illumination at Roppongi Hills sponsored by Suntory whiskey. You can try various whiskey samples right next to it.

Midtown illumination

Christmas decorations at Midtown

Trees in front of Ritz Carlton hotel at Midtown

Starlight garden illumination at Midtown sponsored by Emirates airline

Christmas tree in front at Midtown

Sakura illumination at Meguro river sponsored by Mitsui residential. It is run on used cooking oil – very cool!

So I am extremely happy with my new camera. It takes amazing night pictures that are sharp and bright. I think I made the right choice although I still feel quite sentimental about parting with my old Lumix GF1…

Birthdays in 2012

This year has been extremely busy for me and that is why I haven’t been updating my blog as often as I would have wanted. But now that I have a little bit more time on my hands I can finally sort out through hundreds of photos that I took at various events and post some of them here. This one is about birthday parties that took place this year.

First, there was Shelly’s birthday right after Golden week. It was a beautiful party at an upscale private dining place in Nishi Azabu organized by her agency. There were a DJ and champagne tower and funny games and lots and lots of guests. ^-^

One of the guests was Rola – the current IT model/talent. She was very bubbly and funny and at times silly but that’s what sells in Japan so she was doing a great job.

I took this photo when girls were playing the game “Who knows Shelly the best!” They were getting Shelly dollar every time they answered a question correctly.

This guy won the main prize – a pair of tickets to Disneyland. Nice!

Then, there was Gow’s birthday party/live performance at Ginza Roots. It was also amazing, very posh and so so crowded. Gow has a lot of friends. Whenever we go out together, somebody always stops us on the street to say Hello to her.

Many of her talented friends performed for her that night including Girls’ talk, David, Mathew from Fox TV, beatboxer Kazu and a band of musicians.

Gow sang too – of course she was the best of them all.

 

At parties like this I meet a lot of people that I don’t normally see like Natalie and Clara. We used to work together on various TV shows and modeling jobs..

For my birthday this year I didn’t have any party. I hate throwing parties for myself and I hate asking my friends to do it for me. Instead, I had a romantic date with my husband and it was all I could wish for. It was one of the biggest storms that day with all the TV stations advising people to stay indoors. Instead of taking the advice, we rented a car and drove to the ocean. Crazy I know but it was so damn romantic. The stormy ocean is beautiful, rain is beautiful plus it always rains on my birthday so it was nothing new. ^-^

After spending half a day at the beach, we drove back to the city to Odaiba to watch “Bourne legacy” coz this movie series has a special place in our hearts. We both love it because it takes place in Europe and it is real with old-fashioned phones and logistics and operations – no sci-fi bullshit like virtual screens and immediate satelite access and people who just happen to conveniently know stuff “just because” like in other Hollywood movies. Of course I didn’t like it that much without Matt Damon in it but I enjoyed it anyway.

After the movie, we got back into our car and drove home. Only instead of heading towards the rainbow bridge, my husband stopped in front of Tokyo Nikko hotel where he secretly booked a room with the view to the bay as a surprise to me. I always wanted to stay at that hotel because it has this huge windows overlooking the best of Tokyo’s skyline and my favorite park is right in front of it. I was so happy to finally realize that dream.

The room was amazing. From our balcony I could watch the storm unraveling in the bay. It was breathtaking.

We had champagne and chocolate cake and I got yet another flower bouquet. It was amazing.

In the morning, the bay looked so peaceful after the storm. I woke up early and just sat on the balcony half naked watching the sunset and eating my chocolate cake. ^-^

We had breakfast in my favorite park in front of hotel and then headed home. It was the perfect birthday date.

Last week it was Laura’s birthday. Unfortunately I couldn’t be at her birthday party but I met her a couple of days ago for a private birthday date in Odaiba. I am so happy she loved the dress I gave her. I was having my doubts especially after all the friends I sought advice from confirmed that it wasn’t her style.. A little black dress won’t hurt anyone’s wardrobe even if one prefers to wear color most of the time. ^-^

By the way, these are the pics I took with my new Sony. I absolutely love how sharp they are. I didn’t even use any surface to station my camera on when taking these photos. These are just snaps I took while walking – simply amazing. ^-^

Fireworks in Odaiba

Last night, a friend of mine invited me over to Odaiba to watch Tokyo bay fireworks from the roof of her apartment building. Fireworks are held every week in mid-summer as part of long lasting tradition along with joining Matsuri (local festival) and wearing yukata (summer kimono). There are several major areas in Tokyo that produce beautiful fireworks shows but Tokyo bay is the most famous one because it is held against the breathtaking backdrop of Tokyo skyline with Rainbow bridge and Tokyo tower.

In Japan, every time you gather to view something, whether it is cherry blossoms, full moon, red leaves or fireworks, you throw a big party with food and drinks and then quickly forget the main reason for gathering after your second chu-hai (Japanese fruity alcohol drink). ^-^ Me and the girls decided to postpone the drinks till after the fireworks and focus on getting beautiful for the occasion.

I wanted to rent yukata in Shibuya’s famous “Aki” shop but apparently so did many others so the dresser was completely out of any by the time I called them. Fortunately, Hitomi found yukata for each of us and I got the prettiest one with yellow obi. ^-^ Gow took lessons in “kitsuke” – kimono dressing and has a license to perform it on other people (yeah, it is not that easy to dress someone in kimono, a lot of skill is required). She quickly wrapped all of us in yukata and arranged our “obi” – sashes in pretty bows.

Last year, the biggest fireworks event in Tokyo was canceled due to Fukushima crisis in efforts to save energy. This year, they went ballistic with 90 minutes non-stop procession of one blast after another. It was absolutely amazing. Each time the volley exploded in the air, the whole city turned either purple red or ghostly green. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture the best moments with my camera, but here are some.

We were watching fireworks from the 33rd floor of tower building. It was guarded with fences and there were people in front of us who got their spots in the morning so I couldn’t get close enough to exclude the fence from my pictures but it didn’t bother us to watch fireworks. Some volleys went so high in the sky, they were half covered by the clouds. ^-^ The effect was amazing, like an alien ship appearing suddenly out of nowhere.

Our friend Lille got engaged last week so we were celebrating her engagement as well. The proposal was so romantic, there were a lot of Awwwwwws in the air. ^-^

It took place at Marina Bay hotel’s poolside in Singapore, that’s why our bubbly was blue. ^-^ Congratulations Lille for getting engaged to a really cool guy at the most trendiest spot in South-East Asia. ^-^

 

I’m out, please leave a message…

I had a great weekend in the company of my wonderful friends. On Friday, I met a Russian friend from Osaka who came to Tokyo for a job interview. In Japan, you start looking for a job a year before graduation. After receiving an official “promise” of a job, you go back to school for your final year. Don’t know if this system has any advantage but that’s what it is. When you graduate, you already know where you will be working. ^-^

That night was particularly cold in Tokyo. A mixture of hail, snow and rain made it extremely unpleasant to be outside so we were seeking refuge in cafes all evening. It’s funny how you hate being outside when it’s snowing but once you are inside with a cup of hot coffee in your hands, your perspective changes completely and suddenly you are in love with the silent white motion outside.

We were talking about business and opportunities and how it is very challenging to have something of your own in Russia. There are so many barriers for having your own business, so much shit you have to deal with.. I wonder if there will be time when all of the atrocities are gone and you can freely take your chances based on your abilities and not on your relationship with those who abuse their power…

The next day, I met with Sergey, my other Russian friend for a day in Odaiba – my favorite place in Tokyo. We checked a new photo exhibition at Gallery 21 http://www.gallery21-tokyo.com/en/index.html. It’s tiny but free and has a few very powerful works so if you are nearby, go check it out.

After that, we went to the movies to see  “Incredibly loud and extremely close” which was amazingly good. That child should be given every award out there for his outstanding performance.

On our way back home, we also checked one of Seibu’s “Art meets life” exhibitions called Power people by Leslie Kee -a collection of photographs of influential people who became big in Japan. There, we discovered a portrait of Tokyo-based stylist Misha Janette whom I met at Tokyo’s fashion night out last year. There was also a really cool photo-booth that took pics and then automatically uploaded them to the Facebook page. ^-^

In the evening, I met with Gow, Barbie and Shelly in Nihonbashi for dinner. I cherish these moments when my busiest friends’ schedule align and we get the opportunity to meet. ^-^ Sometimes, I just NEED to have girls’ talk to be able to relax and get my positive energy back. Although yesterday our main topic of conversation was Obama care and crooked teeth. ^-^

Today, I met with Gervin – my new friend from Philippines I met at Roberto Cavalli’s opening party last year. He is writing a very successful fashion blog http://jennechrisville.com and is cute as a button. He showed me his secret cafe in Harajuku which was so cozy and beautiful, it’s gonna be my favorite too. Then, we checked MoMA store for useless but nice little artsy things and then drooled a little over Issey Miyake’s origami bags. I am still thinking which one to buy.. It’s so hard to pick a color knowing they can release new ones at any minute.

Before going home, we did our last stop at Uniqlo to stock on Heat-tech because let’s face it – the calendar winter is about to end but it is still so freaking cold outside and it looks like it’s gonna be that way for while.

Last weeks of summer

You can feel the summer is going away when the crickets start to sing in the evening. Walking home from work is my favorite part of the day because I get to listen to their quiet song along the way. When you live in Tokyo, the sense of tranquility escapes you almost entirely, emerging only in these scarce moments – in between the passing trains, on small streets where urban noise is not so apparent.. Autumn is my season, I love everything about it – the crickets, the cosmos flowers, the golden pampas grass and red leaves, Full moon festival, Halloween, warm sweaters and hot Starbucks coffee, deserted beaches, the smell of cold air and rainy evenings…

There is a lot to look forward to this autumn but there also has been a lot of great moments that took place in these last few weeks of summer thanks to my friends who always make my life special and bring so much into it.

Since, I don’t have much time to write about each and every one of those occasions, I decided to put everything in one post in a chronological order. ^-^

Right after I came back from Russia, I went to an onsen in Yokohama with Gow, Hitomi and Lisa. It was a great place with various saunas, rotemburo and massage options.

Then on the same day, I went to Odaiba to bond with my new Russian friends whom I met through a Facebook community. I am one of those silly girls who once in Odaiba, absolutely have to spend time at the beach, go shopping at Venus fort and ride a huge Ferris wheel near Toyota testing center. Luckily, they were the same silly kind so I really enjoyed that evening. ^-^

Then, we celebrated Dalrae’s birthday

and Dasha’s birthday at my two favorite places in Shibuya. ^-^ Actually, this picture of me, Dasha and Inna was taken by a famous Japanese actress Miki Maya. She was sitting next to us and kindly offered to take our picture!! I recognized her only after she gave me back my camera. She was absolutely gorgeous even without any makeup! I wish I could look like that at her age!! Her roles in the movies are always so strong. She is among a few Japanese actors who have real talent. I just love her! I wish I had courage to tell that to her…

After that, there was a Comedy night at Pink Cow which was especially funny this time thanks to a newcomer Mimi – Japanese girl with a beautiful British accent. Can’t wait to see her again! She is really really good!

Then, as usual this time of the year there was a Brazil festival in Yoyogi park

and Vincent’s final live all in the same day. His guest performers were soo good! I absolutely fell in love with his Chanson singer friend who was very theatrical in Edith Piaf kind of way. Vincent was at the top of his game as well, performing many of his original songs.

Then, Shelly was throwing the first ball at the Baystars vs Yakult baseball game so she got us all free tickets. I really don’t understand the baseball game but watching it with girlfriends while eating junk food and drinking beer made it really enjoyable.

Last week, I went to the movies to see “Smurfs” which was a great Sunday evening movie – silly and sweet. On my way back home, I stopped at the Belgium beer festival in front of Asahi TV station. There was a live performance of a very cool Belgium band and lots of beer. For 35$ you could sample-taste everything.

Then, I also went to Shibuya summer festival. The end of summer in Japan is the season of traditional local festivals where people gather on the streets of small towns dressed in summer kimono called “yukata” and dance, eat, drink and play various carnival games. I love it soooo much but because it is usually very hot and crowded and you tend to end up smelling like fried food – my husband is not a big fan so I had to literally drag him into the mayhem of Shibuya’s main shrine “Konno jinjya”. These kind of festivals usually take place around main shrines that also sponsor them.

Last year, I wrote about Azabu juban matsuri with more details on food stalls.

And finally Gow’s bday at the closing 57 club in Roppongi. It was the club’s last day of business so we had everything for free except the drinks. It was the cheapest most glamorous birthday party ever. ^-^

My birthday is coming in two weeks and Diana’s was two weeks ago so Gow chan was very sweet to put our names onto the cake as well. I even got some presents yay!

Yesterday, I went to Yokohama to see a new exhibit http://www.bankart1929.com/ – a collection of installations and video art organized in one of Yokohama’s many warehouses. I liked some pieces like wasabi powder message board and trees growing sideways but most of it was too much out there. As much as I appreciate modern conceptual art, I would have loved a little bit more effort put into the execution of some pieces. Oh, but there was one cool thing that I really loved – a movie called “Clocks”. It is exactly 24 hours long and consists entirely of scenes with clocks from different movies with clocks in each scene showing the real time. I started watching it at 4PM and all the clocks in the movie scenes were showing 4PM – it was truly an elaborate project. ^-^

Golden week in Tokyo

This year, I stayed in Tokyo for Golden week – a week of consecutive holidays in Japan. It’s a rare occasion to actually go somewhere but with everything happening around recently I just wanted to stay put and enjoy my GW as I used to do when I just came to Tokyo.

One of my favorite activities was spending time in Odaiba on the beach reading book or strolling down the flower fields in front of Palette town.

Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay. It was initially built for defensive purposes but then was turned into a seaport district. Now, it became a major commercial, residential and leisure area.  Odaiba, along with Minato Mirai in Yokohama, are the only two places in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area where the seashore is accessible and not blocked by industry and harbor areas.

So, there is an actual beach in Odaiba where you can swim, surf and sunbathe all the while enjoying Tokyo skyline on the horizon and the proximity of everything you might ever need – shops, restaurants, multiplex cinema, amusement park, museums and even a TV station. I used to go there a lot when I was freelancing as a model/extra.

On Wednesday, I met with Laura who was actually working for Fuji TV that day in the evening so we could spend some time together before her job.

Last year, poppy flower fields were relocated farther to the west from the Palette town. It is actually close now to the Museum of Maritime Science which is convenient if you want to later go to Shiokaze park or Odaiba Seaside park (decks beach).

Lilacs, poppies and cornflowers are my favorite flowers so I always take a chance to go see them whenever I can. In Odaiba, you can see both poppies and cornflowers and also Susuki – Japanese pampas grass.

This is a grasshopper Laura caught in Susuki. He was extremely patient while we were taking pictures of him. ^-^ Don’t worry he wasn’t harmed at all!

After the poppy field, we went to Shiokaze park to say Hello to Jenya who checked-in in Facebook saying she was having a BBQ there. ^-^

You can rent all the equipment, tent, table and chairs right there at the beach and it is not crowded at all so Shiokaze park is a really nice place to have BBQ – much better than let’s say Tamagawa river where you have to fight for a spot under the highway bridge.. ^-^

Jenya’s friends were wonderful! They have prepared tons of food which was perfect because me and Laura got tired looking for a place to eat.. Odaiba during GW is crazy! Everywhere are lines of people, even to a food stand, let alone restaurant..

Then, I left the girls in Odaiba and went to meet with Dasha and Inna. Our Facebook group “Stop panic” wrote a support letter to Fukushima workers and it somehow reached NHK who then contacted our group and asked for an interview. So we went to meet with them and other members of the group. We had a tea or what we call in Russia “chaepitie” and talked about the events in Japan after the earthquake and the reason we stayed and made that group.. They cut a lot in the final version but it anyway turned out to be good.

You can see the interview here. It’s in Japanese though..

After the interview, we all went for yakiniku at a local Korean restaurant but since there were just too many of us, they put us into a karaoke next door. ^-^

Tom, who does all the updates on radiation and the situation at Fukushima came specially from Niigata to party with us so of course we had to go to Roppongi. ^-^

Somebody (I am not to point fingers here) got so wasted, we had to drive them home in a taxi to the other part of Tokyo. It was quite the adventure to try and get the correct address out of that person. ^-^ Fortunately, everything turned out to be good. But really, it’s impossible to party with those guys. They have friends everywhere which almost always results in tons of free tequila..

A week later, we had another fundraising party where we auctioned a book of radiopoetry (poems on radiation that talented members of our group came up with) and other funny stuff like t-shirts and coffee mugs with TEPCO logo turned into Cheburashka – CHEBCO. ^-^

We had a public reading of poetry, music performances and other fun stuff. It was a really good party! ^-^

Now, the group is actively organizing deliveries of food and clothes to the shelters and also planning to go out to Tohoku region with an entertainment program for children. If any of you want to participate in charity activities or just want to read the latest information on radiation, look for “Support for people in Japan and please STOP panic!” on Facebook. ^-^

12 days to Christmas

On the weekend, me and my husband went to Odaiba to see Gallery 21’s current photo exhibition “Style NY – Tokyo. Fashion & Landscape”. It presented works of three photographers Sophie Delaporte, Motohiko Hasui and Jean-Michel Berts whose works I loved the most.

The first two were focusing on the world of fashion, trying to portray the epic fashion statements through the creative photography. Jean-Michel Berts on the other hand, was focusing his works purely on the landscape of a city stripped from people – naked streets, empty park benches, brilliant play of light. Because of his scientific background, Berts did an absolute magic to the many layers of light printed on paper canvases that are usually used for paintings. It created illusions of a perfect blend – a photograph in front layers, painting on the background.

He has published the series of his books “The light of NY”, “The light of Tokyo” etc. I would love to have them all. I collect art books and these would be the perfect addition to my collection. I can just stare at these photos for hours, melting into my imaginary world completely..

The exhibition is free and will be open till 10th of January. http://www.gallery21-tokyo.com/en/exhibitions/2010/style/index.html By the way, every work was on sale so if you have an extra 230000 yen in your pocket, you can totally buy one of those genius pieces. ^-^

These were the Christmas decorations in the Grand Pacific Le Daiba hotel where the gallery was located.

This Christmas tree was so acid blue, it hurt my eyes. ^-^

From the hotel, we went back to the beach to watch sunset and drink hot Yuzu tea on the rocks by the water. When I just came to Tokyo, Odaiba beach strip was my favorite place to be. I used to come here to read books and watch surfers and just be surrounded by the breathtaking grandeur of Tokyo.

I love this photo my husband took of me because of the colors. My camera is set to AI (artificial intelligence) mode so it chooses its own settings and color modes depending on light and background. So these pale, desaturated colors is what my camera chose for that particular moment during the sunset. My husband calls them the winter colors, you can almost feel the cold behind the picture.

After Odaiba, we took monorail to Shiodome to see the infamous Caretta illumination called “Blue ocean” (http://www.caretta.jp/event/8th/blueocean.html).  It was so beautiful and so intricate, it almost made me question the sanity behind such effort. All of this for a month with free admission? They don’t even make money out of it. There is no shopping mall, only a couple of restaurants in the area. Why would they build such an epic art piece? To attract people? To do what? I am of course tremendously grateful to be able to enjoy such beauty, don’t take me wrong here..I am just amused with the amount of money that are spent each year to decorate Tokyo before Christmas..

Of course there were a lot of people. To enter the Christmas tree cave in the center, one would have to stay an hour in the line. Instead, I just walked around and enjoyed the holiday spirit of all the people around, laughing and taking pictures.

Pancrase & Hanabi party@Odaiba

Pancrase supporters 

1. Dalrae invited us to see professional Pancrase fight in Korakuen. It was my second fight after WWE so I still feel uncomfortable watching people hurt each other but having beer on an empty stomach did its job so by the end of the fight session I was screaming alongside Gow to cheer the fighters especially the one that was trained in Russia.

Pancrase fight

2. The actual hanabi was in Kawasaki but we were all invited by Hitomi to come and watch it from the Daiba Towers apartment building. At the top of the complex there is a patio garden where we had party. From there the view was breathtaking. Even though we couldn’t see much of hanabi because of evening fog, the party was great! Because of our hectic schedules we have very few rare opportunities to gather all together and meet up for a party so I really enjoyed that evening! ^-^

Hanabi gang

GW in Odaiba

With so much work lately I didn’t have time to update my blog but better late than never finally I found couple of minutes to upload these photos that my friend Hiro took of me in Odaiba during GW.

I really love them because they are so bright and happy! We took some of them on the decks and the other ones in the flower field not far from Venus Fort.

I love field flowers. I spent my childhood summers camping and my favourite activity was running away to the fields and just laying down on the grass, looking at the sky and breathing hot summer air mixed with sweet scents of poppies, clover and corflowers… Hmm, I had a happy childhood..what’s wrong with me!