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Posts tagged ‘park’

Autumn in Tokyo

A couple of weeks ago, I went to one of my favorite parks in Tokyo – Mizumoto park. It is really big and amazingly beautiful in every season. Me and my husband had a picnic there and then took a long stroll in the forest along the pond. These are the last photos I took with my Lumix GF1 before selling it. I decided to try new Sony Nex-5R instead. ^-^

This little creature kept jumping on my husband. He either took liking in him or considered him to be hostile. I couldn’t find its exact name but I am thinking it is some kind of cricket? It made similar sounds. ^-^

From here are the pictures I took with my new Sony Nex-5R. I went to Shinjuku Gyoen park the other day to test it.

The display can turn 180 degrees so now I can see myself when taking pictures. My friend Laura is really good at such self-portraits. Me? I look like a tourist no matter what… I seriously can’t figure out my good angles even when I look at myself… ^-^

With Sony I can control the level of  blur on the background which is good because I sometimes want both myself and the background to look sharp. Here I tried to take a closeup of leaves and it blurred the background behind them beautifully. I am very happy about this particular function.

Ginkgo tree is considered to be the symbol of Tokyo. It is literally everywhere and the smell from it’s seeds is sometimes overwhelming but I so got used to associate it with autumn in Japan that I don’t really mind anymore.

The weather has been quite warm this autumn so the leaves are just turning yellow and red. Some of the trees are still as green as they were in summer. I just love the contrast.

It was the first time for me to visit Shinjuku Gyoen’s green house. I usually just go straight to my usual spot by the water to read book or have a picnic. I almost never explore the rest of the park. The other day I had a lot of spare time so I decided to finally check the green house.

Little tip for those who suddenly gets cold in the park – green house is an ideal refuge from freezing weather. It was so warm and moist and it smelled like orchids. A great place to warm up and enjoy exotic flowers.

Overall I think I am happy with my new camera. I obviously need  to practice taking more than mediocre pictures but the quick snaps are quite stunning as well. I am hoping to go take evening pictures today. This camera is advertised as the one being particularly good at it. Let’s see!

Journeys in Japan – Shizuoka, Clematis no oka

Actually, it was just one day trip so this post is not rounding up everything there is to see in Shizuoka. This time, we visited just one place – one of the most fascinating open air art spaces in Japan called “Clematis no oka”. This is the type of museum I appreciate the most – you can walk, run, jump around, take pictures of everything you want,  stay there all day and just enjoy good weather, the smell of lush grass and flowers and most of all the beauty of art all around you.

The entrance to the park greeted us with this beautiful mosaic which immediately created a Chekhov-like story in my head of an old Odessa resort, summer romance going to an end and Koop island blues song playing on the background…

Then, we entered and art was all around us. Most of the installations were made by Giuliano Vangi – Italian sculptor from Florence. He likes working with iron and steel, creating beautiful sculptures with interesting meanings.

This one I call “lost in the woods”. I think this sculpture represents someone who has walked most of his life thinking it will never end and only now realizing that it is almost gone and mostly wasted on stuff that never mattered..

“The wall” was also interesting. You can create a thousand stories for this one with either good or bad endings. ^-^

The inside of the museum building was beautiful too. It was a rare place where taking pictures of everything you want was encouraged rather than reprimanded.

These are my favorite works. The first one is of a man with seagulls. Again, many stories pop up in mind, Hemingway’s “The old man and the sea” in particular.

Then, this one is funny because it looks like both the belittled Akakiy Akakievich from Gogol’s “Shinel” and the Russian president-to-be Putin. ^-^

This one was astonishing. From one side, it looks like a man on the right is kissing a woman on the lest. From the other side, it is the opposite – a man becomes a woman and a woman becomes a man. ^-^

In the Clematis garden, there were hidden caves covered in lush green grass from the outside but made of stone with beautiful statues inside. This one is author’s self-portrait I am guessing with his wife.

Clematis was not in bloom this time of year which explains no visitors (!!! we were literally alone in there) but there were plenty of autumn flowers including beautiful pond lilies and chrysanthemums.

This beautiful statue I named “Genesis upside down”. Adam is trying to eat from the forbidden tree to obtain the knowledge of the Universe whereas Eva is an innocent bystander. She is also wiser than Adam because she is already dressed in clothes whereas Adam is still naked and unaware of his nakedness. It could also be that Eva has already eaten from the forbidden tree and that is why she is dressed… But I like the first version better! No woman wants to be blamed for the sins of the humanity… ^-^

The park also had an English garden with traditional white benches

and a couple of nice Italian restaurants with open terraces and delicious food.

The clematis no oka complex has three museums and a huge forest park. We went to the two museums out of three and took a hike to the forest. It is a spectacular place to be during the Koyo “red leaf” season and of course during clematis blooming. The forest had an open air coliseum for stage performances, summer orchestra and various garden events. I will definitely go there again and I recommend this place to everyone who wants to spend the day in tranquility surrounded by nature and beautiful art.

At the end of our trip (by the way, my driving is improving. I have been driving the whole trip), we stopped at Enoshima to meet the sunset at the beach, just like in my Chekhov story. ^-^

Tokyo Design festa autumn 2010

Two weeks ago, I woke up on a Sunday morning with a strong desire to go somewhere and do something and yet out of all the days when my schedule is usually so packed, that particular day I had absolutely no plan.

In times like this, Tokyo art beat and everyone’s beloved Facebook are the two great sources for “where tos and what to dos”. Surely soon enough, I discovered Design festa at Tokyo Big sight! I have always wanted to go to this event which is organized every half a year to introduce the creative works of Tokyo’s many designers, artists, performers, musicians and craft masters.

I was absolutely amazed with everything I saw and as a girl who easily gets inspired by the greatness of other people, I immediately started to play in mind various scenarios of me one day displaying my own work. ^-^ I would love to use my blog to show some of my creative work but due to Japan’s strict copyright laws I cannot…because everything that I have ever created belongs to my clients and since my clients are usually charging users to use my products, there is no way I can display them anywhere else for free.. So if I am ever to show something, it would have to be done from scratch and entirely for that purpose which requires a lot of motivation to sit in front of computer on top of the crazy hours that I already do..Hopefully, one day I will have enough time to let my fantasy run free and create something nice that I can also possibly sell to someone, hehe! Luckily, I already have like 10 business plans for that magic time in my life! When, oh when do I start working for myself?..^-^

For a very long time, I was really impressed with the creativity of Japanese people. Only recently, upon my discovery of etsy.com I have realized that there is a lot of talent and craftsmanship in every country and that there are thousands of unrecognized designers who create way much better stuff than some of the world’s renowned jewelry brands or fashion houses. Seriously, just go to etsy.com and check the silver owl earrings. Then, compare it to Marc by Marc Jacobs and Gorjana owl earrings and you would see the same quality, only the etsy earrings would be sterling silver, no plate – real silver and they would cost three times less than the brand ones. ^-^ When it gets to buying jewelry, etsy should be your first and last stop – period!

I took some snapshots of cute Japanese girls displaying their art work. Many of them were using themselves as principal models or centerpieces for their installations.

One girl was selling postcards with the cutouts of her grandfather’s head. It was so cute and endearing. Who would think of that? How do people come up with such ideas? Amazing!

Many artists were creating their pieces on spot and some even offered custom work like this guy who was drawing portraits on big wood panels.

There were makeup artists offering artificial scars for free and they had the biggest waiting line. The scars and wounds they were creating looked so realistic, I couldn’t tell it was makeup even from a very close distance.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any pictures but here is a video I found on youtube:

This guy was oblivious to everything that was happening around him, he just painted and painted his beauty, completely absorbed in his own private world..

These handmade dolls were amazing, so delicate, so fragile. There is a whole town in Tokyo called Akihabara where you can buy various parts like hair, fingers, glass eyes etc to create your own dolls like that. Once, I found myself in one of these shops and I was really shocked with the crowd who shopped there (yes, that’s a given, you have to be a freak to carry this much dedication to create something like that) but also with the variety of tiniest little parts you could buy to manufacture something absolutely unique. Japanese are the most patient and devoted people I’ve ever met!

This guy was my favorite. He was carving Japanese personal seals “hanko” on small pieces of marble and each one had taken him only a couple of minutes to complete.

He made one for me. It says “Natalia” in Japanese alphabet Hiragana. In Japanese, all foreign words and names are usually written in Katakana – a special alphabet created  for that sole purpose. So, whenever a foreign word or a name is written in Hiragana – traditional Japanese alphabet, it creates a kind of artistic spirit about it. I am going to use this hanko for my art work instead of signature! ^-^

My next stop was at a small Bonsai arrangement booth. A few years ago, my husband bought me a Bonsai tree from the shop in Jyugaoka – the very same one that was displaying work at Design festa. It is run by a cute little old man who gave me a lecture on the care of my “furosou” moss arrangement before selling it to me. He does Bonsai workshops every week and also personally replies to every email so if you are thinking of buying a Bonsai tree, he is the person to ask all the questions to. ^-^

Thats’s his website: http://www.sinajina.com/

I have a little shelf at home where I display all my treasures. That’s where my Furousou moss arrangement went, right next to the rocks that I collected from the Grey Glacier in Torres Del Paine, Patagonia. ^-^

There were some foreigners at the festa as well, displaying mostly their graphic designs and paintings and giving out business cards and hopes of making it big in Japan. I believe some of their work was of the same high standard and surely deserved attention. If you are lucky to sell your character in Japan, you are golden. ^-^

That’s how I met Meghan – my facebook friend from New York and her boyfriend Alex who is not only an artist but also musician. They each presented their brands Ruby Winkle and Optivion – dark but beautiful art that I really liked. I got their prints for free – thanks you guys!

Here are their websites:

http://www.rubywinkle.com/ (Meghan’s cute character Ruby Winkle)

http://www.optivion.net/ (Alex’s Optivion)

In the evening, me and my husband gathered our precious finds and went to watch sunset in the park next to the Big sight.

The park was created as a part of Tokyo disaster prevention program. That’s where people would gather in the occurrence of a big earthquake or some other disaster. Underground, there is an intricate backup system, above, it is a nice green space with a few helicopter landings and a huge field to play soccer or enjoy picnics..

Tokyo’s Big sight was hosting another event that day – Career fair. It is organized several times a year for 3rd year undergraduates who are looking for employment. In Japan, students start to look for job a year before their graduation and if you haven’t found one, next year you chances are going to be even smaller so many unlucky ones decide to take on an extra year at the University or join an abroad program to procrastinate their graduation and therefore have enough time to find a job. I was amazed at the number of students who came in that day. Tokyo fashion blog captured a picture of them standing patiently in line to enter the expo:

My friend Serezha found his present job this way and come to think of it – me too. I visited a career fair in “Zimniy manezh” in St. Petersburg where I learned about various internships abroad and applied just for the fun of it. A month later I got a call, then passed three exams, participated in a culture shock training program, got matched with an IT company, passed exam again and finally landed an internship in Japan. ^-^

The spring is here

 Spring flowers

In Russia we celebrate spring with lilacs and bird cherry blossoms, but that doesn’t happen until may as it is quite normal to still see snow at the end of april. In Japan you can see plum and apricot blossoms in as early as middle of february and if the weather is good the city can dress in white and pink in a matter of days.

 Sakura

 I love Tokyo spring because it has so many warm and sunny days and because in spite of being so densed with buildings and concrete it can still surprise you with bushes of clematis and magnolia trees with absolutely crazy blossoms.

Plum

These pics I took at various parks over the last three weekends. Reading book in a park is one of my favourite spring activities. ^-^

Yokohama park

Yokohama sunday

 Yokohama park

Every time I go to Yokohama I am amazed by how much this city attracts me by its architecure, parks, attractions, beaches…If I ever have to move out of Tokyo center I would prefer to live in Yokohama instead, as the foreign community is strong there and everything is just as convinient.

 Park

in the grass

On Sunday Gow took me to one of the Yokohama’s parks and then to our favourite spot by the ocean next to Seaside paradise. Later on, we had dinner at a new restaurant in China town opened by her friend. The food was great and I had lots of fun that day! ^-^

Guitar

Sunset

Chinese restaurant

Broccoli

Cashew nuts chicken