Monthly Archives: May 2013

Stripy Scarf

Noro Striped Scarf

Noro Striped Scarf

I finished something! About a year ago I got a craving for a long skinny scarf. I grabbed two skeins of Noro, cast on, and…let it linger in my closet until last month. To get it going again, I turned it into my work party knitting, dragging it hither and yon. Since the rows were short, it was easy enough to get a couple of inches in whenever I had a free moment.

For 100g of worsted-weight Noro, I got a looooong scarf. Long enough to jump rope with – maybe 9-10 feet long. Long long. Just in time for the weather to hit 70F.

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Photo Monday – Snowy Setana

Snow-capped mountains in Setana.

Snow-capped mountains in Setana.

I drive along the coast to get to my two smaller elementary schools and as you come out of one of the tunnels, there is usually the most spectacular view of the mountains in Setana, which is two towns north of Otobe.

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Day Three – Ghibli Museum in Mitaka

Day Three’s not over!

Looks promising...

Looks promising…

After shopping in Shinjuku and Shibuya, I went to the Ghibli Museum, which I having been meaning to visit since I discovered it existed.

For those who don’t know – Studio Ghibli is the production studio that Hayao Miyazaki co-founded with his friend, Isao Takahata. Ghibli has produced Laputa: Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service (my personal favorite), Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Secret World of Arrietty, and From Up on Poppy Hill, which I hear has been released in the US. Has anyone seen it? I’m not sure how well it would translate from a Japanese audience to a foreign one.

The museum building.

The museum building.

Anyway, they have a museum out in Mitaka, which is in Tokyo between the city center and Yokohama(-ish). Maybe museum isn’t quite the right word – they have a room about zoetropes, a re-creation of Miyazaki’s drawing studio, an exclusive short film, and a giant stuffed catbus for children to clamber on. If you go, go for the hand-drawn sketches in the drawing studio, the short film, and the building itself, which is adorable and full of Ghibli themed stained glass windows. Maybe the catbus if you have wee children.

Totoro will take your ticket now...

Totoro will take your ticket now…

The film changes four times a year, so it’s worth going back if you want to see Ghibli shorts that you’re unable to see anywhere else. Pictures are not allowed within the museum and you have to purchase tickets in advance. If you’re in the country, you can buy them from any Lawson convenience store. The museum website has an English version for overseas travelers. The museum has a gift shop which is…not worth it in my opinion. Go if you want a museum exclusive pin or t-shirt, or maybe something from the exclusive short films, but otherwise you’ll have better luck at any of the other Ghibli stores around the country. And you won’t get elbowed in the kidneys quite so many times.

Mostly, it was fun to see a whole building dedicated to Ghibli, along with a bunch of other Ghibli fans (don’t worry about being an adult at a kid’s museum, it’s definitely all ages oriented – my thirty-something male supervisor went last week, without a hint of¬†embarrassment).

Museum tower.

Museum tower.

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Sweater and Scarf

Sweater and Scarf

Sweater and Scarf

Sorry to all of you who stop by for the knitting. Turns out that having seven projects on the go is really fun, but doesn’t look all that impressive. Each week I found myself thinking, “Should I show them the half-finished creepy doll body? Or the shawl that has had an additional seven hours of work, but looks no bigger? Or perhaps the neglected sock?”

As it turns out, things are finally starting to move along – the shawl has been sent to time out, the sock has finally reached the heel, and the doll is only missing arms. I won’t show you the doll, because it’s naked little arm-less body really does creep me out, but it, the sweater, and the scarf are probably the next three things that will be completed. The scarf (above) is addictive – I find myself knitting ten more rows than planned, just to get to a color change. The sweater continues at 15 minutes a day (currently at 29h45m) and I cannot wait to get to the sleeves, which my lying little brain tell me will practically fly off the needles. Hah. We’ll see.

Hope to have the scarf done by next week’s knitting update, the sweater by mid-July.

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Photo Monday – Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossoms have finally come to Otobe, over a month and a half after Tokyo was celebrating the season. In Japan, cherry blossoms are often associated with the start of the new school/work/fiscal year in April, whereas in Hokkaido you’re more likely to see them for Golden Week at the beginning of May or school sports days near the end of the month.

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Day Three – Shinjuku and Shibuya

Shinjuku and Shibuya are two busy neighbors in western Central Tokyo, only a few trains stops away from each other. Shinjuku has the world’s busiest train station (as certified by¬†Guinness, Wikipedia tells me). It’s even busier than Tokyo station, which is more focused on being the national transport hub for the shinkansen. Worse, there are 200 possible exits, which means you could surface only to find yourself down the street from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, almost a mile from the bookstore you were aiming for.

I mostly went for shopping (Kinokuniya South in Shinjuku has the largest selection of foreign language books in the city), but also to try and recreate some pictures taken nine years ago, on my first trip to Japan in 2004. I had some success, considering that I was squinting at my phone in one hand and juggling the camera with the other. I might have to try the picture of me again in a few years with a photographer I can bully into being more accurate – I didn’t want to run out of good will with the old lady I had cornered instead.

Shinjuku 2004 and 2013

Shinjuku, 2004 and 2013

Takashimaya Department Store 2004 and 2013

Takashimaya Department Store, 2004 and 2013

Me, 2004 and 2013

Me, 2004 and 2013

After the morning calm of Shinjuku, Shibuya was complete madness. I had actually never been before, but was lured in by the Tokyu Hands department store and a store that focuses on one of my favorite comics, One Piece.

Shibuya

Shibuya

This is the famous intersection that every documentary featuring Japan seems to open with. I swear that a thousand people cross each time the light changes. Shibuya seems a lot more difficult to navigate than Shinjuku – twistier streets, narrower sidewalks. I got briefly lost several times and was extremely grateful that the department store had a shuttle bus running on weekends and holidays.

Hachiko

Hachiko

Shibuya Station also features a statue of Hachiko, a dog that waited faithfully at the station for his master to return home, years after the man had died (made into a film starring Richard Gere – what is it with Richard Gere and remakes of Japanese films?). At this point, the dog would need a pedestal to stand on, or risk being stepped on.

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Photo Tuesday – Chalkboard

Eighth grade lesson - "You look ~".

Eighth grade lesson – “You look ~”.

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