A small local Tenjin shrine tucked on a pedestrian walkway between a railway and apartment complex in the Umejimi neighborhood. Tenjin is the name of the deified spirit of the famous ninth century scholar Michizane Sugawara (845-903) and worshiped as the god of learning. The Umejimi Tenjin, and many others like it throughout Japan, is visited by children and their parents to pray for passing grades in exams and inscribe ema (small wooden plaques) with petitions for exam success and entry to the university of their choice.
The picturesque Yushima Tenjin shrine, Tokyo’s most famous shrine of scholars, is located near Ueno Park.
Omotesando Avenue is a long tree-lined boulevard in Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district. It is a haute couture brand shoppers dream. I lived in Aoyama in 2001-2 near here and spent many hours strolling the avenue. While shopping was beyond my budget, it was wonderful to window shop, “people watch” and marvel at the cutting edge architecture. It also offers many places to relax over good food and drink.
I recently met a new friend for lunch in Omotesando at Maisen, one of the most well known Tonkatsu (pork cutlet) restaurants in Japan, and then took a long walk up and down the avenue. The trip sparked many memories of my earlier time living in Tokyo.
During the festive winter holiday season, the avenue is very creatively illuminated and Keiko and I will soon return together one evening to enjoy the experience.
Although it is far from the American Black Friday shopping experience, Japanese shoppers respond to discounts and the malls and other shopping districts were very busy this weekend. I was startled at first when I realized we were in Japan listening to “Here Comes Santa Claus” and other American Christmas classics –– all in English –– as we did our weekly food shopping! Home. sweet home.
The Ramen Experience
I love the traditional Japanese diet and one of my favorite meals is ramen noodle soup. It comes close to being the perfect meal! It’s not only delicious; it’s a wonderful dining experience too.
From being loudly welcomed and greeted by the aromatic smell of pork and garlic when entering a ramen shop to being seated at the counter where you can be mesmerized by the cook’s tossing of noodles to enjoying your meal accompanied by a cacophony of clanking soup bowls and impressively loud slurping, it is a unique dining experience.
I am working on my sluuuurping (“juru-juru”) skills!