Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trip to Sapporo and Otaru

IMG_0538-1 Ever since coming to Japan, I wanted to visit Hokkaido, the northernmost part of mainland Japan. The snow festival in February (雪祭り/Yuki Matsuri), the mountains and hills full of beautiful flowers in the spring time are just two of the biggest attractions in the region. This past weekend, unfortunately, was not the right time to experience either one of the two but the region has plenty to offer all year around!

This past Monday was a national holiday – the observation of Spring Equinox (moved to the 22nd as the original date, the 21st, fell on a weekend) and after I took Friday off as a paid-holiday, I had 3 full days to enjoy Sapporo and get back to Tokyo on Monday. Contrary to the time of Yuki Matsuri the tickets were quite reasonable too so it was quite a treat! I got to visit many places in Sapporo and even made a day trip to the famous Asahiyama Zoo (旭山動物園).

I am going to try to cover each day separately, starting this weekend. Unfortunately these days I am so amazingly busy busy busy…

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A quick visit to Hitotsubashi University campus

hitotsubashi university logo-0516 Last weekend I decided to try something different. Instead of going towards Shinjuku and ending up somewhere in central Tokyo like Roppongi or Shibuya, I went the opposite direction on Chuo Line (JR中央線)– towards Tachikawa.

Tachikawa is a relatively big city, about 15 minutes from Mitaka and it is usually possible to cut the time by a few minutes if one catches a special rapid going towards Ome or Mt. Takao. Today I won’t write about Tachikawa though, I will write about Kunitachi (国立) which is a stop before Tachikawa which is usually referred to as a university town. The main road leading off from the station is flanked on both sides by cherry blossom trees which unfortunately are not in bloom yet - I suspect it will be two weeks or so before that happens at which point I will try to go back to snap some pictures of that.

hitotsubashi university 2-0509

One nice surprise for me was the campus of the Hitotsubashi University. Following a western architecture, the buildings seem almost out of place in Japan. The campus is green and many people (that is to say, non-students) can be seen walking around it, enjoying the scenery. The logo of the school is pretty interesting too (see the picture I snapped above) with a decisive emphasis on medicine. I heard that the school is actually one of the best in Tokyo in terms of social sciences. The entrance examination, while not as hard as University of Tokyo or Keio, is also one of the hardest.


bikes -0500

Of course wherever there is a university, there are students and wherever there are students, there are bicycles – at least in Asia, based on what I saw in Taiwan, Korea, and here. There were tons of bicycles parked in front of the university campus which itself is pretty close to the train station so my guess is that some students actually leave the bicycles locked here and walk to the train station, using the bicycle to get around the campus during the day or to go somewhere further.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rain and gray skies for Tokyo


The days before things warm up and Spring is fully here always bring rain to Tokyo and these few days are no exception. It does get sunny once every few days and it actually feels better than Summer since Summers are humid, hazy and therefore uncomfortable and sticky affairs. However, this week the sunny day was Friday and for the last two days it has been raining, drizzling actually – just enough wetness to complement the low temperature. One thing the rain let me do though was to grab this picture of the little puddle on my balcony. At least Sunday was not a complete loss I guess…

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What one letter can change


Snapped this at the Mitaka Station last weekend (the night my father was here) – it’s an ad for a massage place called “Body Factory”. It follows the usual fare of Japanese pamphlets where about 90% of the text is in Japanese with a few things in English sprinkled around. Another thing it unfortunately shares with many other pamphlets around here is the fact that it is off by a single letter. Normally this would make for something completely nonsensical but in this case, the new word somehow works in this context, albeit in a very wrong sounding way…