Friday, 29 June 2012

Ajisai - Take four

It has taken me way too long to get these pics up, but here goes one last ajisai post as the flowers come to the end of their season...

When Rurousha wrote about the best hydrangea gardens in Tokyo I knew I had to visit at least a couple, which is why,  one day after work found me toddling off to Hakusan Jinja.  It was a bit dark by the time I got there, and I had to keep dodging couples who were... well... not quite so keen on flowers as I was...

But the hydrangeas were gorgeous! Asukayama may have numbers and it certainly is beautiful, but  Hakusan Jinja has variety - wine red, white, speckled, stars, curled little flowers...


Thursday, 28 June 2012


Things I'm loving this Thursday:

- seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on a large project at work (in one department my involvement in the project should be done tomorrow, but I have a sinking suspicion that another department is just about to ask me to take over, which would mean that what I think is the light at the end of the tunnel is actually the headlight of the oncoming freight train just about to slam riiiiiight into me)
- buying tickets to fly to Canada FOR TWO WEEKS in August (Air Canada turned out to be about half the price of either JAL or ANA, which took me a few minutes to realize as the quotes seemed to be the same... Until I realized the AC quote was for both of us and the other two were just for one person!)
- the sunny warm weather Tokyo is enjoying right now! Sunny and lovely but not muggy or overly hot. The AC doesn't have to go on and nights are actually pleasant with just the window open and maybe a fan on low.
- daydreaming about our trip to Canada. It'll be U's first summer visit and I'm hoping to get some kayaking in while giving him an idea of how I define "wilderness!"
- daydreaming and planning for the next project I'm working on at work. One of my coworkers and I are hoping we can convince the boss to try something new, which is exciting and challenging and fun in its own right!
- looking forward to two weeks in Canada... mountains and scenery I love very much, and a family reunion too!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Ume Syrup - round two, week 0

Two fresh kilos of ume, two new kilos of rock sugar, and a litre of vinegar for good measure.

A new recipe (same as the old but with the added recommendation of DAILY shake-ups to avoid ume going bad).

And hopefully this time in about a month we will actually have four jars of ume syrup!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Ume syrup - Week three

No photo this week. Trust me, you don't want one because this week was the week I learned the hard way that when you make ume syrup the top layer must be sugar. unless of course you like your ume syrup with ume that are white and furry...

But, never fear, the draw of ume syrup is too great and the supermarket is still selling ume. I have two more kilos of ume and two more kilos of rock sugar and the jars have been washed VERY well.

Bring on round two.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Lucky Ice cream

It has been a long and tiring week so I'll take my luck anywhere I can get it, especially if it's yuuuummy!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Ajisai - Take three

Who said you had to go to a famous spot for gorgeous hydrangea? I spotted these two rare types outside of the coffee shop where my coworker and I had lunch!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ajisai - Take two

After reading Rurousha's list of the top hydrangea spots in Tokyo I was inspired and toddled off to Asukayama with my camera (and iPhone macro lens!).

Not being a morning person it was mid-day by the time I got there, and there were plenty of others. There were older couples, pairs of middle aged women, mothers with young children, and men in suits. There were old flip-phone cameras, disposable camera, point-and-shoot digital cameras, and SLR with lenses longer than my arm. There was a young guy with a spray bottle of water setting up mood shots

and an older man with a mega camera on a monopod who had hidden himself in a gorgeous bush of hydrangeas to get shots of the trains.

But there were also gorgeous hydrangea - white,

and pink,

and blue,

and purple,

and even a mix of all of the above!

There were also all sorts of trains whizzing by

and even a spider enjoying the blossoms.

And, just for Rurousha, there was even views of Skytree to be seen (if you look really really hard...) with trains AND ajisai!

Monday, 11 June 2012


From the shopping street by my old apartment I had a perfect view of Skytree as it was being built. Not surprisingly, with all of Tokyo between us now, I no longer have a similar view. But last night we were in my old neighbourhood and, after filling ourselves full of charcoal-grilled skewers of yummyness, found a bridge with a view of Skytree all lit up.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ume syrup - Week 1

2 kilos of green ume, 2 kilos of rock sugar, three mason jars...

How long will we have to wait until it is yummy ume syrup to be mixed with soda water for a refreshing treat on a hot and muggy afternoon?

Friday, 8 June 2012


The depth and variety of colour of hydrangeas in Japan put the poor little bushes outside of my grandma's house to shame! Gorgeous.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Equal Opportunity Flower Enjoyment

I know the cultural importance and the idea of the impermanence of life and all that, but why should cherry blossoms get all the love when there are azaleas and irises and roses and hydrangeas to be appreciated too?!?

Monday, 4 June 2012


I am normally of the mind that if I can do it myself, why should I pay somebody to do it for me? Maybe this is the Girl Scout in me, or maybe it is having grown up with a mother who sewed, an aunt who knit and crocheted, and a father who fixed and built things. Every Christmas my mum gave me and my favourite doll matching dresses. And on my last trip back my dad and I used left over bits of cedar to make two flower planters that, while not perfectly symmetrical, were pretty good for a few hours of work!

But today I gave in and paid double to have somebody else do what I could have done myself. It was my annual employee health check at the big health centre. I got the general check and opted to add a couple of extras to check various female parts.

The menu was pulled out. Did I want a mammogram or sonogram? Did I want the doctor to conduct my pap smear or would I do it myself?

Wait, wait, wha!?!? My brain caught up to the barrage of questions being thrown at me.

That's right. I could pay ¥3200 for a mechanical ride and a doctor to poke around inside me (curtain hanging down to protect my privacy, of course, wouldn't want the doctor to see my face, now would we!!!) or I could pay ¥1500 and do it myself (minus mechanical chair and curtain, apparently).


It didn't take me long to make my decision. Despite assuring the nurses and desk staff that I could understand their rapid fire instructions and reams of paperwork, and despite the cutesy illustrations (this is Japan after all!) that would undoubtedly have covered the instructions, I decided this was one thing I would pay the expert to do. I don't feel so bad, I don't remember there being a "pap smear" badge in Brownies!