Monthly Archives: December 2014

Tokyo Metro Holiday Safety Message

As the year end celebrations continue, new safety signage has been posted in the Tokyo Metro Train Stations.


Quite eye-catching, the messages appear to be pretty clear:
– don’t get to the point you wear your tie as a headband
– don’t video the drunkard (you should help him and/or don’t be unsafe yourself)
– press the ’emergency stop’ button if a drunkard is across the yellow line
– don’t stress out the train driver
– 61% of the time, drinking to the tie-headband point leads to bad things

Although seemingly comical, these posters sure do the job of grabbing attention and getting message across. Please have a safe and happy end to 2014!


Hie Shrine

Just about a ten minute walk from our building lies the Hie Shrine. While the exact date of its establishment is uncertain, it is believed to be sometime between the mid-1300s and the mid-1400s.


This shinto shrine possesses one official national treasure (a sword) and more than a dozen other important cultural assets. It is one of the most popular shrines for families to visit during the Coming of Age Festival and was formerly one of the ‘first rank’ of government supported shrines.

Today they were in the process of getting set up for the bi-annual (June and December) Chinowa-kuguri Ceremony; in which impurities, disease, and simple bad luck are believed to be eliminated by walking through a giant circle made of reeds.


As the process goes, for full effect, visitors should walk through the ring three times…first circling around to the left, then the right, and then the left again to form the infinity symbol.


The Hie Shrine is one of the most beautiful we have seen to date and is an amazing juxtaposition in the middle of the very modern Akasaka area. While not quite 1000, there is a torii gate pathway and statues of monkeys (the messangers for the shrine’s god) abound for all of us monkey fans.



Merry Christmas w/ a Tokyo Twist

Since we are one of the first up on Santa’s annual world tour, we figured we would substitute more of an appetizer offering (with a slight Tokyo/Japanese twist) in lieu of the traditional milk and cookies.


Merry Christmas to all…and to all a good night!

Mikan Picking

My favorite stop on the tour was at a small orchard on the side of a hill near Odawara. We spent part of an hour, outside, picking mikan. Mikan is the Japanese version of the clementine or satsuma mandarin. They are sweet and seedless, and are in season now. And, at our house, we go through a couple dozen a week.

The little orange citrus fruits have a beautiful view of Sagami Bay:


Odawara Castle Museum

Our first stop on the tour yesterday was just over an hour outside of Tokyo in the Kanagawa prefecture, Odawara Castle.


The castle was originally built mid-15th century and has had several changes in size and structure throughout its lifetime. It survived earthquakes and fires, but was completely dismantled in 1870 at the end of the Edo period. In 1960, the castle keep was reconstructed based on Edo-period models and drawings. Renovation is still ongoing, as this site is recognized as a national historic site.

Inside, the museum houses samples of samurai armor and weapons, as well as historical information of Odawara.



It was one of those lovely clear, crisp days in Tokyo today. I went to pick mikan and visit Odawara Castle (more on that later). Along the way, we were treated to a beautiful view of Mount Fuji.