2008/03/31

Sakura, sakura.

It was on Saturday EVERYBODY in Tokyo went out to see cherished Sakura (cherry blossom). The weatherman's prediction was fairly accurate from earlier this month.

It was a wonderfully sunny and warm day. With beautiful light pink cherry flowers almost completely fully blossomed, it really was a perfect day for outing to enjoy pleasure of the new season.

I took a peaceful and enjoyable walk in my nearby park around 6:30 - 7:30 am or so. It was obvious that some people camped out from the night before to reserve good spots for "Hanami". This park has many cherry trees all around the pond. Because the pond reflects the flowers, it makes it doubly enjoyable and for that makes this park such a popular Hanami spot. There were also many photographers (kind of like me) taking pictures of cherry blossoms.

Later on, about 1:00 pm, I went out again, this time with my children. Boy, the park looked very different. Actually, it was so crowded that I think there were more people than the cherry flowers. Some places, we could hardly walk!



All the photos posted heare are from the morning walk, except for the one with boats.






This is a "Shinto shrine" in the park.

2008/03/27

Scenes (some unlikely) of the ancient capital

In the morning of Tuesday, I took a nice jog in Kyoto - the place where a protocol to the international Framework Convention on Climate Change with the objective of reducing Greenhouse gases that cause climate change, (Kyoto Protocol), was signed in 1997.For that, the city of Kyoto is very eco-conscious. All the city buses use recycled cooking oil.

Here's the famous five story pagoda of Toji. It is definitely one of the tallest buildings in this city.


This is a ridge-end roof tile of a building of Toji. We call such a tile "Onigawara," a figure that mimics a face of Oni to scare away evil spirits. This pigeon is not at all bothered by it, however.


Cute figurines in a souvenir store showcase.



This is St. Agnes Episcopal Church - across the street from the Imperial Palace ground - built in 1898.


Apparantly, these are very popular Italian and French restaurants.

2008/03/23

Daikon palm trees

I would like to introduce some scenes from my usual running/walking routes. Where I live used to be considered quite far from central Tokyo. But with the modern rail systems, we now have many houses here and the city is pretty much continuous for miles beyond. But still, we do have some remnants of old times.

Here are old farm houses. There aren't that many of them any more.



These are Japanese radish (daikon) that look like palm trees. They look weird, but are actually quite tasty. Seen behind them are bamboo trees.

2008/03/18

Spring Birds

On Monday morning, as I took a jog in my local park, I encountered a very interesting scene.

On a fully blossomed kanzakura tree, I heard noisy little birds chirping.
There were many of them on branches - they were Brown-eyed-bulbuls and Japanese_White-eyes.

As I stopped to look, I found birds skillfully cling to branches and inserted their bills into pretty pink flowers to "drink" nectar.
This was my first time to see such acts - must be a nice sweet treat for them.

Brown-eared-bulbul (Hibari)


Japanese White-eye (Mejiro) below




I also heard more Japanese Bush Warblers.

Here I captured their voices by beautiful thicket camellia flowers (but of course, birds could not be seen).

video

I love spring time!

2008/03/14

I think it is finally here!

Last Sunday, I encountered my first cherry blossom of the year. It was not the celebrated "sakura" (someiyoshino - Cerasus × yedoensis) but "Kan-zakura" (Prunus x kanzakura cv. Kanzakura). It was definitely not plum which has been in full force lately.

As I took a nice long morning run, I could hear a Japanese Bush Warbler singing.

Also, in a flower garden of wild mustard plants, honey bees were busy collecting nectar.

I also spotted my first ladybug of this year. It is now warm enough to have waken it from hybernation.

I think I can declare spring IS finally here in Tokyo.

2008/03/07

But then again...

I took a trip to a town on the Sea of Japan side of the country - the area that gets direct hit of northern wind from cold Siberia. On Thursday morning, a bit of snow fall from the day before and overnight made the area very beautiful.

I truly enjoyed my morning walk in crispy air (I didn't try to run for the roads were so slippery from black ice - learn from others ... I have a friend that fell and bruised his leg. Ref: friend).

During the day, the temperature rose and snow melted. Spring is definitely on the way even for this area.

日本海側のある町へ出かけました。木曜の朝、前日と夜のうちに雪が降って少し積もりました。
冷たく新鮮な空気を吸いながら朝散歩しました(道が凍っていたので走るのはやめておきました。友人で転んで大きなアザを作ってしまった友人がいるので、二の舞にならないように・・・参照: 友人
昼間には温度が上がり、雪は解けました。ここでも春は近づいてきています。

This photo was taken around 6:12 am.

6:12頃の畑の様子


This is an old local high school building that was built in 1903 - western style architecture. The photo above it is a nice garden of the school. Tree branches were covered with snow and ice.

上の写真は、1903年に西洋風建築として建てられた高等学校です。その上の写真は学校の日本庭園で、木の枝に雪と氷がついてとてもきれいでした。


The above is a view from my hotel window just before checking out of it.

チェックアウト前にホテルの窓から撮った風景です。


This picture was taken later during the day. Snow melted rapidly on fields, but actually, precipitation continued up in mountains - relief for skiers.

この写真は昼間に撮ったものです。田んぼにはほとんど雪は残っていませんが、山ではまだ雪が降っているようでした・・・スキーヤーにはよかったですね。

2008/03/06

Footsteps of Spring - 2

Here are some photos from Osaka on Tuesday morning before and around the sunrise. It was very refreshing to run.
火曜日の朝、日の出前後の大阪の写真です。ランニングは気持ちよかったです。



Crescent moon over the city before sunrise. These are views from Yodo River.
夜明け前の三日月が街の上に見えました。これらの写真は淀川から撮ったものです。


Pretty wild mustard flowers (Brassica campestris) by the monumental Umeda Sky Building.
梅田スカイビルの直ぐ近くに生えていた菜の花
(Umeda Sky Building).

Footsteps of Spring

Although the winter weather system is still dominating, we can definitely hear the footsteps of spring in Tokyo. On trees, little leaves and flower buds are appearing and young grass and flowers are coming out of the ground. It is noticeable that the the sun comes out at earlier time each day - making daytime a little bit longer. For us here in Japan, spring means cherry blossoms. The newscaster reported that we should expect to the first cherry blossom around the 27th this year. All the photos here were taken last Sunday.
まだ冬将軍のほうが強いようですが、東京では春の足音は確実に聞こえてきています。木々には小さな葉や花の芽が出てきていますし、草花も土から顔を覗かせだしました。朝はだんだん早くなってきていますし、日も少しづつ長くなってきています。今日のニュースで桜の開花は3月27日頃になると言っていました。今回の写真はすべてこの前の日曜日に撮ったものです。



Above two photos are full blossomed plum flowers - very pretty!  

上記2つの写真は満開の梅の花です。きれいですね!


I found this plum tree in front of an old house - charming!  

近所の家の前にある梅の木。


Flower buds are becoming bigger on trees.  

花芽も大きくなってきました。


In our yard, tulips are coming out of the ground.  

チューリップも土から出てきました。

2008/03/02

Land Down Under

I spent last Sunday morning until Thursay morning in Australia. From Tokyo, it takes an overnighter Qantas flight to get to Perth.

I had only one night in Perth. Stars were so beaufiful - noticed that the Orion was upside down from what I am accustomed in Japan and across the sky was the Southern Cross(unfortunately, no pictures).

I could take a nice morning walk with my friend by the beach on Monday. It was my first time to see the Indian Ocean - calm, blue water and absolutely beautiful sandy beach.

先週の日曜日の朝から木曜日の朝までオーストラリアにいました。東京からはカンタスの夜行便でパースへ行きました。
パースには一晩しか止まれませんでしたが、晴れて夜空の星は素晴らしかった!オリオン座は日本で見える姿とはさかさまでした。南十字星も見えました(残念ながら写真はありません)。
月曜日の朝、友人と海辺を散歩することができました。青く美しいインド洋。白砂が広がるビーチもサイコーです。


Above two photos are of course of beautiful Perth beach taken in the morning of Monday. Wish I could run there everyday!
上の2つの写真はパースの美しいビーチです。毎日走りたくなります。

Then, I crossed the continent down under all the way to the other side to Sydney. Cooler there and it is a much bigger city. According to the locals, it was unusual, but I had rain everyday.
大陸を横断してシドニーへ移動しました。大都市です。この時期としては珍しいそうですが、毎日雨に降られました。

Here's downtown Sydney with its beautiful skyline with a luxury cruise ship. I missed QEII on her last stop to Sydney by a couple of nights.
シドニーのダウンタウンの写真です。豪華客船は毎日来るようです。クイーンエリザベス2世号も先日寄ったようです。

Sydney Opera House with its distinct architectural style.
シドニーオペラハウス

Famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is an amazing arch bridge built in 1932 with main span of 503 meters. Bridge climb tours are offered - maybe I will have a chance to do it next time I have a chance to come to Sydney!
有名なシドニーハーバーブリッジです。橋に登るツアーもあるようです。
(bridge climb)