Sunday, 26 September 2010

Showa Kinen Park

A friend from Leafcup told me about this place in Nishi-Tachikawa, but I spoke to a few people and they had never heard of it before! I planned to go there for a portraiture shoot I was doing with one of my friends, Ayumi. I wanted to get there before she did because I the more I read about Showa Kinen Park the more beautiful flowers photos I found. So I got there a couple of hours before to go and have a look around.
As it turned out I literally only saw about a 5th of the place because it was sooooo big! I definitely want to go back... maybe in Autumn when all the leaves are beautiful reds and yellows. I walked from the main entrance up to the Flower Tree Garden and just up one side of the Open field and that was it.
It started out as a really beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky and by 6pm it was raining hard, so luckily the rain basically held off until the park closed! I got some pretty cool photos of different plants and wildlife that they had in the park. Hope you like them.
These spiders were everywhere, luckily no spider webs above the path thank goodness but the trees were covered in them. They ranged in size from about 2cm - about 3 inches, This one was a bigun! I can't believe I got this close to him... anything for a photo hey!
Now, in Japan, drangonflies are pretty much everywhere... even a couple in the city. But if you are in a park you can look up and see at least 5 above you. They are great, and learn to have you around very quickly. At first they will always fly away, but if you stay there they will keep coming back, getting closer and closer each time! I waited for about 5 mins in the same position for this photo above but so worth it, I'm so impressed with the amount of detail I have managed to capture, The drangonfly below was making me laugh, the marking he has on his face looks like someone has drawn an uphappy face and well... watch the video...

This flying insect really scared me at first, it was quite big and at first sight looked a cross between a giant wasp and a moth. But I watched it for a few minite and it was quite harmless, constantly hovering, I didn't see it settle once! Quite amazing!

I did about 15mins of taking photos with Ayumi and it started raining, so we have rescheduled to in a couple of weeks time.

That night, I went into leafcup to take Rieko out for a birthday drink, we had a lovely girlie chat! It was great and she is a really great friend :-) which is always handy in a place far away from home where your family and friends are :-)

Monday, 20 September 2010

We've been together 3 years!!!

Where have those 3 years gone - we have done much and completely changed as people! Well, it was our last day off together before PAY DAY! So we decided a nice chilled out day would be perfect, we went for a nice cheap meal had a walk around Urawa, watched some films and generally just relaxed! It was exactly what we both needed!!!!

Thank goodness the weather is cooling down fast now!!! I think it has dropped nearly 10 degrees in the past week! It feels lovely, especailly when there are no clouds in the sky and sun is just the perfect temperature... keeping you slightly warm in the cool breeze PERFECT!!! I wonder how long before we get our big coats out?! hehe.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Leafcup Cocktail Party

I am trying to work at the cafe's International Partys as much as possible at the moment, because I am working in Saitama I don't have any shift as a chat host at the cafe, and I really miss the people so I try to go when I can... this was another great party!!!!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Electric Storms in Saitama

Firstly, I want to apologise for not blogging sooner... I guess having a job tires you out huh! But I am determined not to neglect my blog!!!

So we had a CRAZY thunderstorm... We had the door open with the mosquito net on, and we heard it start to rain. Which was strange because the days weather had been beautiful blue skies (Japan's weather is so irratic)! So (me being obsessed with the climate/earthquakes and everything here) I checked the report on the internet of see if our area had been forecast for rain/monsoon, and our area was in red for high alert to expect severe Electric Storms, Heavy Rain and flooding... and all I wanted to do was go and stand out in it! I think it's because it was so unexpected and like nothing we had ever seen before!!! It was incredible!

The first video is from our balcony and we were lucky because we were on the right side of the building to be shaded from the rain... but me not thinking (and having no common-sense what so ever) decided to go to the corridor and open the window (which is on the other side of the building!) for no longer than 3 seconds and I got totally and utterly drenched!!!! Then the second video is from the front of my builing!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka.

Hide-san (right) arranged tickets for us all to go to Ghibli Museum, luckily there was a spare ticket, so Fran took the day off,  and he was able to come too which was great!!!! We had to get up early to try to beat the MAD rush hour on the Tokyo train system! Fran suggested looking at a different route to get to Mitaka, because the quickest way would take us straight Shinjuku station (which is the busiest station in the world - an estimated 3.5 million pass through there every day!!!) which I really didn't want to go anywhere near at that time! So we took the slightly longer way around the outside of Tokyo, but amazingly the trains were dead it was awesome!

So we met Rieko, Hide and Sanoko at Mitaka station, and walked to the Museum which was about a 15min walk. It was really nice, but the only problem was it was getting quite hot (9:45am) and I had dressed as if it was going to be cold, probably cuz my air conditioning was set on cold(that's the stupid English person in me telling me to be careful... you don't want to be cold... you would of thought I would have caught on to the weather here by now!).

I saw this beautiful butterfly on the tree and I had to stop to take a photo of it!!!

Also... something bad DID happen on the way to the museum... you see these bollards... I walked straight into one!

I was just saying how nice it was to walk by the tree and not here that awful sound of the semi bugs screaching... then I heard one screaming really loud... so I looked around to see if I could see it and I walked full pelt into the bollard! I think my leg is gunna be ok, but must have bruised the bone cuz I can hardly bend my leg but there is only a tiny bruise! I can't bealive I just had the grin and bare the pain to walk round the museum, I felt like a proper idiot!!!!!!

When we got in there we didn't really know what to look at first, but we had some advise from a friend that if we wanted to go to the restaurant whilst we were there to queue up before it opened at 11am, otherwise we would be queuing for an hour or over, so we took the advise. We all had a laugh at the English translations of the Menu - I don't know if you can see but the top two lines read:
"Looking up at a Clear Blue Sky in the Field Cream Soda"
"Ice Tea Soda with Green Mandarin Marmalade"
 Also, me and Fran shared a meal and our meal was called:
"Cold Pasta of a Red Hill"
Hide and Rieko shared fruit sandwiches, which were filled with whipped cream and fruit!

We had a great time chatting and laughing and Fran also had a "It's my day off" 11 o'clock beer!

They decided to get 3 desserts and everyone to share... I'm not sure what the one of the left was, but the middle was Strawberry Chiffon cake and the one on the right was an Earl Grey Tea Cake... I thought it smelt like a tea bag! haha!

 They might hate me for posting this, but I thought it was great when we were talking and one of us said "posh" and Hide-san reached in his bag and pulled out his notebook! Love it!!! It's their day off and they are still studying English! That's dedication for ya! We learnt... posh, scrumptious and "dig in!".

When we finished our food we continued our tour of Ghibli. Now, actually you wern't aloud to take photos inside the museum but I took a few sneaky ones... I understand why you arn't aloud to take photos because actually there are 2 extremely special rooms to see there. So I didn't want to ruin that for anyone who was going to go. I personally thought it was a bit over the top with the security about taking photos! There was this (ok, this is going to be hard to picture...) big soft toy of one of Ghibli's characters, the Catbus... literally that is what it was! It was a play area for children inside and they had 3 people in there making noone was taking photos of it! So anyway, I took this picture of a gorgeous little stained glass window that was on one of the corridors. Every last detail from floor to ceiling was 'Ghibli'fied'!

We went outside and had our photo taken with the Robot Soldier from "Laputa Castle in the Sky", he stood 5 meters tall and was really great to see in real life! And then had a photo with some Magic Box or something... I'm not totally sure but all I can say is these guy should be actors - they said it was really hot from the sun!

Ok, So I mentioned these 2 very special rooms... I would 100% recommend going JUST to see these rooms!!! The first one we went in was set up like Ghibli's work studio, and had all his drawings and painting up around the room, they were absolutely incredible to see. We were all amazed and felt so inspired! I found this photo on the internet for an example to show of his work, but seeing it on paper and in real life is actually awesome. The colours were just nothing like I had seen before, and actually I was more fascinated by the backgrounds he drew and painted, the colours he had chosen were perfect!

Then, the second room I mentioned was just something else!!! It was a room dedicated to the history and science of animation... actually I have tried to describe this a number of times, and so far I have had no luck... I think because it was so breathe taking I am worried I just won't do it justice...! However, I found a description on Wiki that explains it pretty well:
"One of the displays uses models of Ghibli characters, each in a slightly different pose, arranged in a circle on a spinning table. The models and poses are created like animation frames, which becomes apparent when the table spins in synchronization with a flickering stroboscope. The light flashes illuminate each model as it passes the same spot, creating the illusion of movement and showing how animation works."
But... even this doesn't justify JUST how good this actually is... If you ever visit Tokyo, it is soooooo worth paying a small entrance fee of ¥1000 just to see that!!!

On entrance we had been given a ticket to go and see a short Ghibli film. The one we saw was called "The Day I Bought a Star" (星を買った日) it was extremely deep!!! You can have a look at photos of the video by clicking here they are really worth looking at too. Also, I found the music on youtube... It's so pretty!!!

We had a great time!!!! I'll leave you with a picture of new my fave character from the day... "Makkuro Kurosuke"

Monday, 6 September 2010

Tokyo Disneyland

We had the most amazing time at Disneyland! It was both our first time to go to a Disneyland. The weather was perfect, nice and warm but we could still find alot of shade to hide from the heat and the sun! We took the train to Maihara train station, which is actually in Chiba and took us about an hour to get there! When we got there we hadn't decided whether we wanted to go to Disneyland or Disneysea. We eneded up choosing Disneyland as our first experience! We thought that we would be able to buy a ticket that would let us in to both but you have to buy separately (so you have to pay twice basically!) to get into each park.

Everything was so pleasing to the eye inside Disneyland!!!! Ow, also you will notice in the photos they had Halloween decorations up EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!

He is a good example... these were the only vending machines we saw ALL day... and they were robots!!! We went to Toon Town, which is were all the characters house are, it was so cool and pretty surreal to be honest!!! You could walk through some of the houses and there were characters walking round to have your photo taken with... but actually there was always a crowd around them, so we didn't really manage to get close to them. We decided to go on the small rollercoaster they had there as there was no queue! It was a good first roller coaster to get back into the swing of things!

Goofey's House

Daisy Duck's House

Chip and Dale's Treehouse.

We had our picture taken outside Mickey Mouse's House!

Minnie Mouse's House (notice the scare crow in the front of the garden)

We walked up the Splash Mountain which was the log flume ride, we both wanted to go on it but there was a 50min waiting time, so I asked Fran if he wanted to wait that long, and he said that was ok, and we went and queued up... 30mins later I found out Fran thought I had said 15 mins not 50 mins! Anyway, the ride was A-MAZING! I think maybe it took about 8 mins (ish) and there were a up and downs but the good thing was it was like being in a disney film!!! There were characters and a little play the whole way round the ride. It started off with all these bunnies and animals all happy and dancing and well... "disney-like" and then just before we went down the massive drop (see photo above) it all turned very dark, and the bunnies were in trouble, like the foxes had them and stuff, and then... yes we went down the drop! Pretty cool, then just before the ride ended there is a chorus of "zip-a-dee-doo-dah" plays and all the animals are happy dancing and singing again... we kind of decided that it's based around drugs maybe, and imagine that taking acid would give you the same effect... extreme highs and lows. But it's strange to think of disney like that... so who knows!

Then we went and watch the Jubilation street Parade, it was so magical... I loved it!!! Fran video-ed it so I will posting it as soon as we figure out HOW to put it on to the internet (it's too long for flickr/youtube etc)

Here's me and Fran outside Cinderella's castle, there was a queue forming and there was a lady taking pictures of everybody here!

We went on Big Thunder Mountain ride, Space Mountain (which was AMAZING) and watched Captain EO which was a 3D movie starring Micheal Jackson.

Then it was time for the DisneyLand Electrical Lights Parade. Which was also AMAZING!

After the parade we went on some of the rides, and at 9:30pm (when the park was shutting at 10pm) we legged it from one side of the park to the other to ride the Space Mountain roller coaster again... we thought if we ran we would just manage to ride it one last time... we ended up going on it 4 times that day!!! It was amazing. It was like a really fast roller coaster with lots of turns in a big pitch black room that had tiny lights all over so it felt like you were traveling through space! It was truly amazing, and at the end you go into this tunnel were there are lights flying past you at a high speed so it feels like you are going super fast, and then it suddenly stops!!! Incredible!!!

This was a huge day for me... pushing myself to cope with the queues, the rides and the amount of people... I certainly faces some of my ultimate fears, and I feel I have overcome them which just feels amazing! I couldn't of done this a couple of months ago, and yet everyday I feel like I am closer to being "me" again! It's good!!!

Anyway, we are looking forward to going back to DisneySea next... so watch this space :-D