Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tokyo Famers Market in Aoyama

Hot enough for you?

Here's the thing about farmers markets: you have to go there prepared to pay a lot of money. The modern incarnation of a once-per-week food festival bears little resemblance to what originally started as a place to do your weekly shop. Of course, farmers and other stall holders have to earn a living. But that doesn't change the fact that the market scene is not what it once was.

 Back in Dublin, I used to visit the (usually) excellent Dun Laoghaire Farmers Market with my family. Aside from a coffee and a snack, there's little worth buying unless you have a special need to. Ok, a pack of organic eggs are better than what you might find in the supermarket and it's nice to have a fresh, home-made cake if you're expecting company. However, the really appeal of the modern farmers market is the chance to soak up the atmosphere and chat with the sellers who really care about their product.

Young couples and young families

I went to Aoyama Famers Market in Tokyo to see how it compared. Of course, this being Tokyo, I should have anticipated the large crowds and high prices. Nonetheless, despite the reasonably decent selection of produce on sale, I didn't really feel like waiting 10 or 15 minutes to be served at some of the more popular stalls. On the plus side, there were free samples a-plenty so if you like farmers markets but don't feel like spending a fortune, Aoyama Farmers Market is at least worth a visit.

Queues in front of almost every stand

In a different kind of long queue, one for refreshments

I don't want to jump to conclusions after only one visit, but I'd list Aoyama as a good place to start a day of Tokyo sightseeing and even worth a visit for locals. At the very least there are enough snack stalls to cater to everyone's tastes. Also of note is an area to adopt poorly-treated or abandoned dogs from shelters. It was so heart-warming to see encouraging their kids to connect with animals in this way rather than just going for the usual puppy or kitten.

Final purchases: lots of spicy peppers (see below), some fancy mushrooms (long gone)

This outing was only a medium level success, 
so if anyone knows any other good Tokyo food markets let me know!

Monday, June 23, 2014

OOTD: What Colour Are You?

  • Headband: somewhere in Taipei
  • Choker: WORLD IS MINE (Scramble Market)
  • Shirt: somewhere in Gangnam (Seoul)
  • Inner: Tiens Ecoute (Lumine Shinjuku)
  • Shorts: Lip Service (Sendai Forus)
  • Tights: Marks and Spencer (Dublin)
  • Shoes: United Nude (resale)
  • Bag: Blond Cigarettes (Garden Sendai)
  • Bracelets: チチカカ (Harajuku) FEAR (Scramble Market)
  • Rings: FEAR, EXIST (sponsored)

Recently I can't stop buying and wearing blue.

With this in mind, I asked my friend if she agreed that people eventually start to gravitate towards certain colours. Everyone talks about "personal style" and most people know that certain shades and tones will suit them better than others. But what about personal colours? Is it just as simple as wearing your favourite colour?

I don't think so.

It's hard to choose one, but I'd venture to say that my favourite colour is purple. But when it comes to fashion, outside of accessories I don't wear purple all that much. Blue, on the other hand, is a colour I swore never to wear post-secondary school. My Catholic school's uniform was an unfortunate shade that earned us the nickname "The Smurfs". Back then we all longed for the dull navys and greys of other schools.

Yet here I am years later still wearing the same colour.

For the record, my friend disagreed when I described her as a "red" person, listing all her many-coloured clothes as proof of my mistake. She said that she sees her self as, if anything, a blue person. I was definitely not a blue person according to her. Although we both viewed ourselves in the same way, we had totally different ideas of the other person.

 Somehow, that is a recipe for friendship.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cirque Du Soleil Ovo in Tokyo

cirque du soleil, ovo, tokyo, japan, circus

Cirque du Soleil "Ovo" - Japanese promotional poster

Everyone should see a Cirque du Soleil performance at least once in their life. I can hardly touch my toes but watching professional acrobats in action is breathtaking. Not to mention the gorgeous costumes and beautiful music. I never got to see the permanent Tokyo show "Zed" before it closed in 2011, but the company tours Japan often so I have been to a couple of other performances.

"Ovo" is nearing the end of its Tokyo run before it travels the rest of the country. I saw it last weekend on a rainy Saturday, while the rest of Odaiba was filled with teenage girls waiting to meet a B-level Korean idol group. The theme of Ovo is the movement of insects and the cast have perfected their every gesture, never breaking character.

cirque du soleil, ovo, tokyo, japan, circus, car

A fancy promotional car because Japan

It wasn't a sell-out show, but it was very full.  I stumped up the cash for the best seats available, but even they were hard to get for any day in June. I assume the show has been popular but with the impending departure from Tokyo, there seems to be a mad rush to get tickets.

cirque du soleil, ovo, tokyo, japan, circus, car

This little bug thought that he was part of the show

My first impression was one of surprise. The circus tent in Sendai had seemed a lot bigger but, with the Giant Gundam and Statue of Liberty just casually hanging about nearby, maybe everything looks smaller in Odaiba. Certainly the waiting audience seemed impressed enough by the promotional car and plethora of insect-themed goods available inside.

Personally, I was impressed that the snack stall sold reasonably-priced cans of lemon chu-hai. Nice one.

cirque du soleil, ovo, tokyo, japan, circus, car

An ocean of people queuing to buy merchandise 

cirque du soleil, ovo, tokyo, japan, circus,

The final countdown (not really)

Obviously they were really strict about photos/videos during the show, so you'll have to take my word that it was excellent. I managed to sneak this shot of the stage during the interval. Ironically, I got scolded by security just afterwards for trying to take a mere selca. Oh well.

cirque du soleil, ovo, tokyo, japan, circus, stage

Sneaky picture of the stage at the opening of the second half

Compared to their previous show "Corteo", I found "Ovo" to be a little bit less spectacular. But I suppose the novelty had worn off. Another point in Corteo's favour was the carnival theme, which appealed to me a lot more than insects. It also seemed more floor-based this time. The most thrilling part was the trapeze section, not least because the first acrobat actually missed his partner and crashed to the net below. Part of me wonders if it was done deliberately to raise tension for the rest of the act, but his face looked pretty pissed off behind the beetle-paint, so maybe not.

Another aspect that I loved was the particularly French-style comedy that was employed through-out. It's a farcical style that acted as a wonderful counterbalance to the elegant acrobats. If you're not familiar with French comedy, KMKYWw Alan Partridge did a good riff on it:

After the show we tried the insect- themed photo booth. Seeing as how the pictures were free and (you may have noticed) heavily advertised on, they MAY HAVE been a cunning publicity stunt... But this is the kind that suits me (side-eyeing YouTube ads...).

cirque du soleil, ovo, tokyo, japan, circus, purikura

Purikura-style picture from the free photo booth

We spent the evening in Odaiba, where we stumbled upon a classic car exhibition. It wasn't my cup of tea but I loved this picture of Japanese men bowing at a car. All hail our new automotive overlords.

japan, car, bow

Japanese people bowing at a car (again, because Japan)

That was followed by playtime at the largest Lego shop that I've ever seen. Men can't seem to help themselves, they always have to build the tallest tower possible. A psychoanalyst would have a field day in a Lego shop. I just built a gun to attack the tower (not sure what that says about me!). 

lego, japan, tokyo, toy

Gun vs Tower at the Odaiba Lego shop

Final random photo is this gorgeous vintage-looking coffee machine that was randomly located in the J. Ferry outlet store. They also had free soft drinks and a diner-style counter to relax at. You don't even have to buy anything! Thank you Japan!

japan, tokyo, free drinks, vintage

Free coffee at J. Ferry Odaiba

We finished the evening with a romantic dinner at Bill's Odaiba but that, my friends, is a story for another blog. Cirque du Soleil is running in Tokyo til the end of June, make sure you don't miss it!


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