Monday, April 17, 2006

University of Tokyo

My gf and I went apartment hunting over the weekend, and though we fancied a place, it seemed far from the train station. However, our real estate agent knew of a meant going through the University of Tokyo campus. Often called "Toudai" (shortened form of Tokyo Daigaku), this university is one of the most prestigious in all Japan... you could say it's the equivalent of Harvard. Here are some pics (click to enlarge):A shot of the campus from the stairs of the train station... you can see our real estate agent looking back on the bottom right.I loved this tree-lined lane. You can see rows of signboards encouraging new students to sign up for their various "circles" or clubs
On the left you can see my girlfriend... or at least her hair and gucci bag
Yaezakura tree
The main gate at Toudai
This signboard is to join the Anime study club.

These are closeups of cherry blossoms. The first is the normal kind, the type that the Japanese love. The next two are called "yaezakura" (8-petaled cherry blossoms), which look a lot fuller (kinda like mini carnations). I think they look beautiful from afar because the trees look fuller, but I guess close up, they don't look as delicate as the normal type.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Last Sakura

The sakura season sure is short... I guess that's why Japanese people go crazy over it... either that, or they just want any excuse to go partying. Here are some pics of sakura trees in Omori, near where I live: (click on the pics to enlarge)
Anyway, by the time my next day off came along, the blossoms were already falling. I tried to go to a couple of places I hadn't been to before, so I planned on going to Yoyogi Park and to the Imperial Palace gardens. Unfortunately, Yoyogi Park, though good for joggers and picnickers, didn't quite have the beautiful scenery I was imagining. This photo is actually of a tree as you exit Yoyogi Park and heard toward Shibuya (a little further down is NHK Broadcasting). You can see a salaryman preparing the mats for the evening's hanami (cherry blossom viewing... or excuse to drink and party). Well, I headed for the Imperial Palace, but being the Ryoga (the eternal lost boy from Ranma 1/2) that I am, I went the wrong direction and ended up at Chidorigafuchi, which is famous for the thousands of sakura trees lining the moat outside the Imperial Palace. As you can see, though, the blossoms were falling, and the pink you see in the water are the fallen blossoms. And compare it to the place at night (I took these last year), when the blossoms were lit up. Near Chidorigafuchi is the controversial Yasukuni Shrine... controversial because Prime Minister Koizumi visits it each New Years though it includes graves of war criminals from WWII. Anyway, behind the shrine is a quiet little garden: Next year I'll go to some new places.