20 January 2017

Tokyo Stroll Report #2 // Ryogoku, I'm back at you

December 24th, 2016

And I did make a comeback three weeks after my first visit. To me, decided to come back in the same month, to a place that takes more than an hour to travel one way from my place, meaning: (1) I'm in a desperate need of buying something local that's only sold there. (2) My crush lives there and I need to do some stalking business. (3) The area had me at hello and my affair with it hasn't finished yet.

Since (1) and (2) are not relevant in this case, then it's obviously (3). I do have a deep affair with Ryogoku and I can't let it unfinished.

Yet another sumo related stuffs 

Ah, speaking about Sumo... just an updated sad story about the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament that I was dying to watch this month. Yea folks, I couldn't make it. The ticket was sold out, and this is not to be surprised at all, since the ticket sale for the January tournament was started way back on December 3rd, 2016. 

Also, I was too late to apply for the free ticket from uni. There were only 5 tickets, 8 applied for it. And I was the 8th person to apply, so there you have it... I was quite upset for a whole day before eventually trying to accept the fact. Now I'm setting a more elaborate planning so that I won't miss the next summer tournament. 

Well, well, I guess it's enough for the Sumo related stuffs. Now, I'm about to take you on my second stroll in this lovely old town. My main destination for this stroll is the newly opened,


Designed by The Pritzker Prize winning lady architect, Kazuyo Sejima :)
The exterior of the museum.

This museum has just begun to open on November 22nd last year. So this is a brand new museum in town. The museum is dedicated to Japan's renowned ukiyo-e wood block painter, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), who spent most of his life in Sumida City. Therefore, the museum is named Sumida Hokusai Museum.

He's best known for his delicate works in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series, where he depicted Mt. Fuji from different locations and throughout various seasons.

Oh wait, before I go a little bit more about Hokusai and this museum, I have something to show you. 

Are you feeling familiar with the emoji above? If you are a heavy emoji user, then I bet you are! Haha. Yep,the emoji is called the "water wave emoji"! The one that I put on here, is the iOS 10.2 version. It would appear differently on the other platforms tho. If you're curious to see how it appears on the other platforms, you can check it via emojipedia.org :D

"So, why am I bringing the "water wave emoji" here? "

Some of you might have already understood what I'm trying to say here. But perhaps, some just haven't got it yet. Here's a fun fact, this emoji is inspired by one of Katsushika Hokusai's most notable ukiyo-e masterpiece, entitled "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" (published circa 1830-1833)! How cool is that? Please just say 'wow' cheerfully so that it feels like I just wrote something meaningful.

Yet sadly, I didn't take a picture of this masterpiece to show you how it looks like originally. *how comeee, Shab?* Sorry, but you can google if you feel interested. So actually there was a video, showing the ukiyo-e painting process for "The Great Wave off Kanagawa", just next to the painting, and I was so absorbed to it, and I forgot that I had a camera in my hand to take picture. 

But here, I got a snap of a Bearbrick, painted in "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" print. Showing how Hokusai's work still affects and can blend really well in the modern days artwork. 

"Fujisan Bearbrick" inspired by Hokusai 

After visiting the museum and seeing the real ukiyo-e version of the masterpiece, my mind started to roll back a memory that I have with "The Great Wave off Kanagawa".

Below is me, in a super sunny day in 2014,

yes! in front of "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" inspired mural :D

the mural isn't a part of Sumida Hokusai Museum. This pic wasn't even taken in Tokyo, anyway.

So, it's just a throwback picture when I was still in Jogja, Indonesia. I believed I was suuuper stoked when I randomly found this huge "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" inspired mural when I was passing the neighborhood by chance. The wall on which this mural was painted, was supposed to be a part of a quite hype restaurant called Zango. I don't know if the mural and the restaurant still exist until today. But it was very surprising to me, to find this one in Jogja. On top of it, in a size of mural! But there are something important missing in this mural: the boats! :( uh. There should be three fishermen boats in it.

That's all about the throwback picture. After all, now I feel 'complete' that I eventually got to see the real ukiyo-e masterpiece in the museum. "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" ukiyo-e showcased in the museum was recreated by a modern ukiyo-e artisan though. Hence, it wasn't the one originally painted by Hokusai. But still, I'm so happy! Moreover, now I know the process of how a beautiful and delicate ukiyo-e is made. Anyway, the size of the original one painted by Hokusai is 25 cm x 37 cm. Not more than a size of A3 paper.

The 'it' corner

There were two kinds of exhibitions that day. The permanent one and the special one. I only visited the permanent one. The tickets costed 400 Yen for general, and 300 Yen for students and the elders.

The museum itself is a pretty compact one, consisting of four storeys inside the angular structure. The permanent exhibition room is consisting of seven parts within one room. There are also touch screen panels that allow visitors to freely dig up information related to the works displayed. Other than that, there are also several units of interactive panels that visitor can enjoy, in the form of game. For these game panels, I noticed that the instructions were all still in Japanese. Hopefully they would update them into the multi-language ones so that everyone can enjoy :) 

Well, I didn't take many pictures inside the museum, even though it was allowed. I'm thinking about going back here again for the special exhibition some time in the near future ;)

Done with the Sumida Hokusai Museum visit, I proceed the stroll by freely walking in the hood. But here are some snaps that I got along the way to the museum, and I feel like showing them here ;p

My kind of eyegasm. Every color in this pic is my best friend. 

Spotting some Doraemons dressing up as Santas on the Chrismas Eve ;D So cute!!

Still amazed by the crystal clear blue sky! Feelin' grateful :)

My love for grocery shopping is eternal. And so is to snapping some random groceries pictures.

A cute baby enjoying a day out with papa!

I'm super happy and content with all my findings along the way. But still, they're not enough, yet. I think this place still got a bundle of hidden gems that I can't let them unexposed. 

On the way back to the station, I finally found these murals that I've been looking for this whole time! I've been eyeing these murals through some random instagram posts and I was finally here by chance. What a stroll! ;)

Nostalgic feeling

JR Ryogoku Station

Never a dull day whenever I'm at Ryogoku. Every corner there is just so impressive in a very humble and subtle way. Old town stroll never goes wrong, right? 

I guess it's enough for this post.
I would definitely come back with more stories from the Tokyo Stroll Report series!
Meanwhile, may we all have a striking weekend and don't forget to stroll around! ;)



P.s.: Tokyo has been super overcast since the morning! Feeling so lazy, haha. How's the weather in your neighborhood? :)

10 January 2017

Tokyo Stroll Report #1// Ryogoku, You Had Me at Hello

December 6th, 2016

If there's an area in Tokyo that I'm currently obsessed, then Ryogoku it is. It is definitely my new stroll route but it just feels so nostalgic as if in the past, I 've ever lived in this area known as "The Heartland of Sumo".

The first time I set my feet in Ryogoku station, it welcomed me in a way that made me swear, "I'll come back and and stroll to every corner you have to please me!". And I'm not lying, I did come back here again few weeks later in the same month. And I'm going to write it on the other post, just because all these Ryogoku strolls are so fun and deserve a share. Also, to some technical notes, I took gazillions of pictures that simply can't fit in just one post, haha.

My main destination this time, is the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena located just a minute on foot from Ryogoku Station (yeas, it is that close, folks!). It also stands back to back with the gigantic Edo-Tokyo Museum, that I opt to visit on my next Ryogoku stroll! ;) *fingers crossed*

If you ever come to Ryogoku Station, you'll see these huge paintings depicting the Yokozuna(s) or the Sumo Wrestlers of the highest rank. 

Starting from the right, here we have Hakuho Sho, who got the Yokozuna title in 2007 (Heisei 19), when he was as young as 22 years old. Hakuho is probably the first Sumo wrestler that I knew! I knew him around 4 years ago, when he appeared in a green tea commercial on TV. And all I thought that time was that, how friendly Hakuho's facial expression was. Well, I'm just too excited whenever the topic is about this very charismatic Yokozuna

Now, move on to the left painting, here we have Musashimaru Koyo, who got the title as Yokozuna in 1999. However, the year written on the painting is 2002 (Heisei 14), the year regarded as his most successful year after being promoted as Yokozuna

Both of the Yokozunas above are not of Japanese. Hakuho is a pure Mongolian, while Musashimaru is of American Samoa. It's not a rare thing in the Sumo world to have foreign wrestlers. Even currently, some of foreign wrestlers are also dominating the highest ranks. Now I started to wonder when will someone of Indonesian descendant become a Sumo wrestler.

As I told you before, that Ryogoku is the heartland of Sumo. Here you can easily see Sumo wrestlers passing by, with their top-knot buns signature hairstyle, clad in yukata.

On the way to the Kokugikan, I was so thrilled when a Sumo wrestler passed by, riding a bicycle so casually. I rushed taking my camera out of my bag to capture the moment. And now you know how in a hurry I was, as I had no time to set the camera settings, lol! Nor even thinking about switching it to auto mode. But at least, I tried. Haha.

Not long after I continued walking, another Sumo wrestler, or whom we also call as Osumo-san appeared leaving Kokugikan. Compared to the first Osumo-san that I encountered, this one is pretty smaller in girth. 

Ryogoku Kokugikan

After a few minutes of walking and wondering the variety of Sumo wrestlers' measurements, I finally arrived at the Kokugikan! with Maru-chan :) 

The building might not look so grandeur from the outside. But according to my online research, this stadium is the largest Sumo arena in Japan with a capacity up to 10,000 spectators. Three out of six annual Grand Sumo Tournaments are held here, in January, May and September.

Since January is the month of Sumo, hence my goal for this month is to watch Sumo live at Kokugikan! Yosh! Now I'm trying to contact someone from uni that usually gives us information related to some events that we can attend free of charge. Hopefully, there's a slot for a Sumo watching this month! :D 

By the way, the January tournament is scheduled to run from 8th-22nd. Whaaat, only 12 days left, buddies!! *panic* or, if I'm too late for this month's tournament, I'll just patiently wait till May. Until then, I need to make sure that I would still be as excited as I am now about Sumo.

Maru-chan's attempt in copying one of the Sumo's gesture xD
(Umm, anyway, Xiao Yuan, I missed our half-day strolls every Tuesday, after I finished my class. Now wondering when will days like this be coming again.

It's blowing a gale outside!

Well, we didn't explore much of Ryogoku this time, as we spent quite a long while at the Kokugikan enjoying the murals and went inside the souvenir shop--ended up buying nothing tho. These giant sumo murals were exactly what made me eager to visit Ryogoku at the very first place.

It was one fine summer day when I happened to see Jovana, a Serbian friend of mine posted a picture of her striking a cool pose in front of the mural. At that time, I was instantly mumbling, "I need to go there, I really need to!" several times and just couldn't let myself be calm. Well, the thing is, I'm obsessed to murals ever since I don't know and I can't let them un-visited moreover if they're only several blocks from my place. 

And good thing is, I found Ryogoku. One place that surprisingly meets all sorts of my liking: old town atmosphere, bunch of good museums, and interesting murals!


And here's a bit about what's gonna be coming up next on the blog!
Still about the Ryogoku stroll :)

So, I'll see you guys on the next post?
Meanwhile, may we all have a pleasant stroll!



04 January 2017

Hello 2017 // First Sunrise & First Shrine Visit of The Year

"Whoops, it's 4/365 already!"

Or that's how my friends or some people that I'm following on Instagram wrote as their captions. And since I found it interesting, so why not copying it here on the blog, hehe. Anyway, how was your new year celebration guys? Hope you were having a wonderful time! Whether you spent it with your loved ones or on your own, spent it outside or staying at home, each needs to be appreciated :)

As for me, I spent the new year's eve by karaoke-ing all night long with my Indonesian girls. Well, not the wisest way to spend a new year, I know... but at least we ended up doing something that we like, haha. 

From left to right: My senior since college Mba Gana, Alia, Freezy, Vella and yours truly.

We sang from 11 p.m till 5 a.m on the next day a.k.a the next year. And thanks to this experience, I almost ran out of my voice. But I'm happy! I made a quite remarkable progress to my karaoke ability, that is to sing Japanese songs, lol. I worked hard practicing, you know :p It was such a real struggle for a person who doesn't really listen to Japanese songs on daily basis--despite she's living in Japan.

I sang to Perfume's songs! If you haven't known them yet, then you guys should check them out since they're super awesome Japanese female trio. And also to Hoshino Gen's song titled "Koi", you guys should check this song out as well. I swear you'll feel like dancing after hearing it for few seconds. And to some more fave songs!

Done with karaoke, we proceeded to Harajuku Station. This time, we officially celebrated new year like how the Japanese usually do: 
(i) catching first sunrise of the year :)

There I was among the crowd. We were standing at a slope near the Harajuku Station. It was a car free day around the Harajuku and Omotensando area, so people could freely walk and stop at the middle.

At first, my friends and I opted to enjoy the sunrise from an observation deck or a rooftop. But we couldn't make it. We just knew that we must join something like lottery months before, if we wanted to enjoy it from places like Tokyo Tower or Tokyo Metropolitan Governmental building. So, now you know how hype this first sunrise viewing event is! Well, well, maybe next year? 

Hopefully :)

Met this suuuper cute puppy that was waiting for sunrise too! It jumped and moved a lot, I guess it was as excited as me about New Year :p

We waited for quite some time for the sun to fully emerge. Anyway, only a few foreigners were standing there, including us, as it was mostly filled with Japanese.  Even there was a tourist who stopped by and asked us, "why are these people standing here?". It must be quite confusing for some tourists to digest this situation, I suppose. Looking at a flock of people standing on the street without any particular attraction around. 

As time went by, the clock was showing 07:02 a.m,

and here it is....

the first sunrise of the year, as seen from Harajuku slope.

Honestly, I had never done this before my coming to Japan. 2014 was my very first time experiencing this tradition, and it felt so magical until I swore, I wanted to do this every year. That moment when the super bright first sunlight of the year strikes your eyes, you'll start brimming with hope and feeling fortunate about what you just see. The sun is definitely show stopper, even long before it rises!

We were so thrilled to capture the moment with our cameras and phones. Snap, snap! And we're done enjoying the sunrise. People then started to leave the street. Some were heading to the station, while some proceeded to Meiji Shrine located adjacent to the station. My friends and I were the latter .


(ii) Hatsumode at Meiji Shrine

Hatsumode means the first shrine visit of the year. I really really love the ambiance of Hatsumode. What makes it super interesting is that, so many people gather at one place, but it's not noisy at all! It's still so peaceful, despite it's so crowded. Very unique!

Meiji Shrine, or we also call as Meiji Jingu is said to be the most packed Hatsumode destination within the country. From what I read on Japan-Guide.com, Meiji Shrine welcomes more than three million visitors during the first days of New Year. Wow! And the five of use were a part of that number, yeay!

Striking a pose before we entered the Shrine area, with the giant Torii as the background

Anyway, 2017 is the year of the rooster. To a bright note, I was born in this year! Based on the Shinto prophecy, a guy that was born in 1993 or Heisei 5 according to Japanese calendar, will have a bad luck this year! So, If I were a boy, this year is going to be an unlucky year to me. TGIF, Thank God I'm Female, lol!

But still, I hope all the best for all my 1993 fellas. May that unlucky year (yakudoshi) prophecy is only a superstition that will never come true. Amen.

Cleaning the hands and mouth before entering the main area of the shrine

Everyone was heading to the same direction: to the main hall of the shrine, where the Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken are enshrined

A ceremony to gain fortune was led by a Shinto priest at the main hall of the Shrine

Anyway, see those zigzag-shaped folded papers in the photo above? If you don't know yet what they are, they're called "Shide", or we also call as "O-shide" in honorific form. You can easily spot them at Shinto Shrines, as they are parts of the Shinto's ritual symbol. They are usually attached to a straw rope called as "Shimenawa"

Fyi, the inner part of Meiji Shrine's main hall is only opened during important ceremonies like new year's ceremony. On regular days, visitors are restricted to step inside the hall. 


(iii) Buy "Omamori" and Draw "Omikuji" 

The next thing to do after praying, is to move to the right side of the main hall area! This is the place where "Omamori" and "Omikuji" stands are located!

Pretty pretty lucky charms, Omamori.

The Omamori and Hamaya stall. Spot Hamaya at the right side of this pic?

Omamori is Japanese amulet mainly in a form of lucky charm that people believe can protect them from bad energy or bad happening. 

Special for new year edition, there's also "Hamaya", or arrow of good fortune. Hamaya works as talisman that is believed will protect its owner from evil. 

Me in front of the lining up Omamori stalls

The next is Omikuji! It is yet another different thing than OmamoriOmikuji is a fortune written on a piece of paper that is usually drawn from a canister. For those who believe, the message written on omikuji that they draw on new year will describe how their life will be on that year.

Alia drew a poem Omikuji

The forms of Omikuji differ from one shrines to another. As for Meiji Shrine, they have poems written by Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken as omikujis. My friend Alia got number 2 from the canister, so she got this lovely poem about being gentle and honest written by the Empress. So loving it! :)

For me personally, I like this kind of omikuji better than the usual one that will tell you about your fortune on life, love, economic, and other aspects. This one is more into how we should face the new year with attitude. And this kind of omikuji doesn't judge your future at all, so that's why I love it. Well, every person has their own liking, right?

I didn't really pray at the shrine actually. My main purpose  of coming here is definitely to relish the new year's vibe in Japanese way. To take part in the crowd. And to live the moment! :)

New year is one of my highly recommended times to visit Japan if you have the chance. This side of the world is so unique in celebrating it. And it would obviously be a nice experience to try! :D

Going back to dorm with the almost empty Seibu Tamagawa Train on 1st Jan 2017.

According to Japanese believe, people should go back home straight after their first shrine visit of the year. So that the luck that they wish for, will always stick with them. 

And we did take that seriously! Haha. We headed back to dorm and made no stop along the way... except to a convenience store located just across the uni. Oops...

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 1st Jan 2017.

(Hahaha, nonetheless I still feel like my good luck is still sticking around me.)

So, we've reached the end of the post! Hope you guys enjoy reading it and enjoy seeing all the pictures :) 

Here we are again, at the new beginning. 2016 was so rad. I traveled to countries that I'm truly enthusiastic about: Thailand and India! I made new friends all along the way, all along the stop.Until I discover that talking to strangers is my hobby, and airports have always been a good place to sport it, lol. Also, I flew back and started my life in Japan again, this time in Tokyo! I passed the Master's entrance exam, and will start a new life with a whole new status this April as a Grad School student.

Basically, I'm so curious about how 2017 will treat me and vice versa. I know, going to a graduate school is not an easy peasy lemon squeezy thing. There will be many ups and downs. Well, I'll update you more about life later. I pray that 2017 will be a good year for us. Here's to a greater struggle, and more of precious adventures! 

So, till we meet again on the next post beautiful souls! :)



P.s.: Two years ago, I did the same thing : catching first sunrise of the year! But, at a completely different place, that time was in Enoshima Beach. Click the link below, if you're curious to see! :)

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