4 Apr 2017

Travel Diaries: Tokyo Talk

Travel Diaries: Thinking Pink in Tokyo on vickiarcher.com


It is impossible not to think pink in Tokyo.
At least in springtime.

It would seem to me everything is tinged with pink and all roads lead to cherry blossom .

I had not fully understood how important the cherry blossom is to the Japanese; it is a punctuation mark, a celebration of the new season and new beginnings. These trees are cause for festivities and the Japanese people take great pleasure in spending their leisure time amongst them.


I expected to be enchanted by their sheer beauty but I had not expected the cherry blossom to be number one tourist attraction in the city. They are revered and worshipped in a lovely way; locals dress up in traditional costume to be photographed in front of the trees and take picnics to enjoy in the gardens and parks underneath the blossoms. I imagined it would be the foreigners vying for a place beneath the powder puff canopy but no, it is the Japanese people who queue for hours for a glimpse of their national treasure.


Have we got our perfect cherry blossom photographs?

Not yet, I have found it impossible to master the shot but I am not giving up.



Tokyo is a city of gargantuan proportions and for me a city of sharp contrasts; a metropolis full of surprises. I am reminded a little of New York with a dose of Hong Kong and a pinch of Shanghai thrown in; yet Tokyo is unique and unfamiliar at the same time.


The sheer volume of people is overwhelming and yet the pace is orderly and calm in many ways. The way it works here is in marked contrast to the European style and I find it fascinating to be a part of. I find myself stepping inline, staying on the correct side and waiting my turn.


The deference of the people is unnerving and I am nowhere near a master of the bow; the bow is an emotional communication through posture and one that says much. The politeness of the people is refreshing. Genuine enthusiasm for their city, for their visitors makes it a pleasure to move about despite the difficulties communicating. The language is unfathomable for me but totally intriguing; I want to earn more than the pleasantries.


Tokyo is a city that mixes sophistication with childishness in equal measure. Grand commanding buildings with super slick interiors marry with Disney-like shops. Shops, in every shade of pink, which could have been designed for Barbie herself and the electronic wonderlands that must be every tech person’s dream.


And what is it with their pastries?

As delicate as the cherry blossom and as gossamer like, the Japanese gateaux are difficult to resist.


Mmmm, don’t think I will :)) xv

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15 Comments

Sunflower

Vicki, I am in St Remy at the moment and I’ve noticed the plane trees all round the squares cut back in preparation for growth for the much needed shelter in summer. There are also some beautiful blossom trees here as well. I’m travelling too and like you I always notice the flowers and trees wherever we are. Enjoy Tokyo as I am St Remy.

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franki

We’re in Washington DC…luv those cherry blossoms (and pastries!!) franki

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Ellen Shook

I am loving your travel diaries from Tokyo. We here in the States have been seeing many photos of the cherry blossoms. On Sunday at an estate sale, I saw a beautiful Japanese ink and watercolor piece of a young family enjoying the blossoms much as you describe. Alas I had no place to hang it or I would have bought it.

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Mumbai

If you have time see the funky , quirky , crazy Akihabara Quarter (not only for the
latest in electronic) with the Manga girlies. Where else will you go in Japan? Anway….
enjoy . With your describtion you hit the nail

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Jennifer

I love reading your insights on Tokyo. I visited the city years ago and would love to return. Hope your travels will take you to Kyoto, such a magical place.

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Jean Rowland

What a fabulous trip – I adore cherry blossom too (who doesn’t?). My daughter had an April wedding in the Uk and we just had luscious cherry blossom in the church and at the reception. Heavenly. Hope the rest of your trip goes well and that you manage to get that perfect photo!

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Catherine Baudet

I love Tokyo – There is beauty everywhere even amoungst the layers of electricity wires, roads and railway lines. The gardens are incredible, the detailing superb and the people are so polite. Go into a shop and feel like a princess.
Incredible art, Architecture and fashion to experience. Find the Japanese designers in the department stores- usually on a different level to the ubiquitous Global brands. Issey Miyake is my favourite- extreme creativity and he has plenty of stand alone boutiques and Yoji Yamamoto- visit Comme les Garçons for a totally ”out there ‘ experience .. and the paper shops! Exquisite! Can’t wait to see what you discover Vickie

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Marg Gibbs

Like the cherry blossoms and their beauty, the gardenia, camellia, Montville rose and sweet frangipani grow in abundance where I live in the scenic Blackall ranges on the Sunshine Coast. I love that childishness can mix with sophistication. Always enjoy your writing Vicki.

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Elizabeth Fraser

You have captured the essence of Tokyo – a city of contrasts and contradictions. I’m looking forward to you posting your image of the cherry blossom – a fleeting beauty in the concrete landscape of this enormous city.

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Kathryn

Vicki, you have said everything I felt about Tokyo. You are very very good with words. We just returned home from Japan. We loved our adventure very much. Enjoy your time in Japan.

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Anita Rivera

I was there in 1979 and the pink took my breath away. Unfortunately, I suffered the most from my allergies there, but I will never forget the gentle blush of Japan.

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candice

My son and his wife will be back in Tokyo soon .. her father is not feeling well and that is as good an excuse as any to be there at this time of year :)

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Beth Anderson

Oh, to be in Japan at Cherry Blossom time! The DC cherry blossoms were a pale imitation of past years, we had such a weird winter. They were coaxed out in late FEBRUARY and early March, and then the coldest weather of the entire winter swooped in for a week and killed half of them. Still pretty, but not nearly as much… even at peak it was like viewing them a week before peak, in past years.

Off topic question that I know I’ve seen you mention here before: I have been wearing Converse Jack Purcells with gel inserts for years, for city walking.. I am soon back to Paris and looking for a changeup… any preference on Adidas, especially Stan Smith versus Original Superstars (is one more comfy than the other)? Will they be more supportive or comfy than Converse?

I’m a 25-35K step walker in Paris, and once my feet got used to the flat Jack Purcell (albeit with gel inserts) I was OK, but I’m thinking of upping my foot game this spring. I will be fine in the Converse but was hoping Adidas were a little better…

Thank you!

Reply
Vicki

Hello Beth,
I would go with the Adidas for support and comfort if you are doing that much walking. Converse are great but the Adidas have just a little more support. xv

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Deborah

Dear Vicki,

I was in Japan a year ago at this time and fell in love with the country. My husband was the one who really wanted to go and I thought, sure, it will be interesting. Little did I know how much I would enjoy the trip–the beauty, people, culture, temples/shrines, food–Japan completely surprised me. Are you going to Kyoto? It is absolutely amazing. We stayed at Ryokan Yoshida-sanso in Kyoto in the small, separate guest house and it was magical. I agree with you about the unnerving deference of the Japanese people. The proprietoress of the ryokan knelt before us on our last day when we went to the main house. I respect the culture and tradition of Japan and she was absolutely kind and lovely, but her kneeling before us made my husband and me so uncomfortable. Next time, I will be better prepared for what to do in such a situation! Enjoy your time in Japan and looking forward to seeing more of your photos!

Deborah

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