Ryogoku

Difficult to understand the Sumo thing if you are not Japanese? I have not got it yet. From what I gathered, there are special seasons for it. the rest of the year, the sumos train and get “fit for it”. it is a decreasing population with a lot of sacrifices. Nowadays, most of the sumos are from Mongolia or China.

Kyushu

I spent very little time in Fukuoka and will need to go again but I noticed the quality of the Kyushu Shinkansen. wide cars, wide seats, wooden features, beautiful and elegant access. it makes you travel truly.

I was told it was a new train until I found out new means 2002!

 

Nagasaki

Not sure anyone falls in love with Nagasaki at first sight however it has a lot to offer.

First, it is on the seaside, and it is surrounded with hills which makes it an attractive spot for me at least. the city lives out of tourism mostly thanks to cruise ships coming every day from Mainland China with 1000’s of visitors. Mitsubishi has a massive construction site there too and that drives the business.

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I found a pretty city with the Glover Gardens, the tiny streets, enjoying castella. It has a special feeling as in the history, anything that was not Japanese was called Dutch. therefore you have a lot of Holland this and Holland that but there is a Dutch connection and you may visit Huis Ten Bosch or have a look at some of the flemish style houses in the historical center. During the isolation period for Japan, Nagasaki was the only place still open to the world. This is why the castella cake has an inspiration from Portugal for example.

Because of the Chinese influence, the typical meal in Nagasaki Shippoku looks alike a Chinese dinner with plenty of food or a rolling table. But they also have Turoku Raisu (Turkish rice), Castella, oysters, seafood, champon, or Nagasaki beef.

I will go again as many of the sites are in distance from the city and you cannot walk around but need bus or even train

 

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Hiroshima Baseball

I was lucky enough to be in Hiroshima when the Carps win the central league. What a unique vibrant city and what an atmosphere, the citizens went on a mega gigantic high touch evening, the city became noisy and people were celebrating all evening, it is difficult to describe it, watch it!!

Awa Odori

In August, this was a highlight for me and I have penciled this again for next year as this is truly amazing.

This is a traditional dance ceremony from Shikoku Island, in Tokushima but Tokyo enjoys it in the area of Koenji. the groups walk around the tiny streets and dance on the main square for the whole afternoon in the week end in late August.

It is crowded but friendly and tradition is to eat yakitori along the streets with beer. Once the show is over, the dancers crawl through the local bars to thank the public.

I absolutely love Awa Odori festival

 

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Kiyosumi Gardens

Walking around the Fukugawa area, we found this precious Kiyosumi Garden

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, this was created by the founder of Mitsubishi who then gave it as a legacy to the city of Tokyo, nowadays, you can walk around it in peace, it feels like a moment of peace in the hassle and bussle of the city.

You can see turtles, bird, insects. this is countryside for 10mn! On the Fridays, people over 60 can get in for free with 1 person. Otherwise, the fee is only 150 yens.

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Close by are many cafes and shops.

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Ichigo ichie

Yesterday evening, as I was wandering in Hiroshima, the city took me by surprise and I must say I fell in love a bit with the people and the atmosphere here.

First, I found a great restaurant with great products – Mabui – you need to book as it is a bit small but you can eat at the counter, you will stink afterwards but who cares!!

Great food, Hiroshima is known for okonomiyaki but also oysters and they were delicious, it is pricey so not an every day dinner type but great quality.  The team is very friendly and smiling. Just that the service is extremely slow, it took me almost 1h30 to get 3 oysters and 2 lamb chops!!

While sitting there, my neighbors, even though retired couple with limited English, naturally engaged the conversation so between their English and my Japanese, we made a conversation, it felt great, the gentleman is 77 while his wife is 74, she told me she is a listed victim of the A-bomb, she was 2 then. 13 years ago, she got her stomach removed as a consequence of the radiations. she said things continue to emerge since 1945 but that she is enjoying life to the max as it grew her different. an inspirational statement to say the least.

they taught me one of those great Japanese concepts – Ichigo Ichie, have a look, it is about making the most of each moment, enjoying meeting people, etc. I will keep this one in mind together with the Omotenachi, this reflects totally my perception of Japan

I then walked outside in the streets and celebrated the Carp victory. Once again, Hiroshima won the Baseball league, the city was “wearing red” and what an atmosphere, I got integrated in no time to the crowd, it was contagious.