37 years old… 37 ans… 37歳…

[EN] Thanks for all the “Happy birthday Sébastien!” for my 37th anniversary 🙂 In Tokyo city (Japan), I walked with a friend from Takao station, along Minami-asa river, in Ryonan park (where kids enjoyed summer in the water), and in Musashi Imperial Graveyard, where we saw beautiful trees, lively lizards, and the mausoleums of Emperor Taisho (Yoshihito), his wife Empress Teimei, Emperor Showa (Hirohito), and his wife Empress Kojun. We then enjoyed cute decors & shows with Hello Kitty during my first visit of Sanrio Puroland theme park! Finally, we savoured a sukiyaki at the nearby Japanese restaurant Shabu-shabu Gyuta of Cocolia Tama Center: beef, tofu & vegetables simmered in soy sauce, sugar & rice wine then dipped in raw eggs… I’d love to enjoy the whole year like this with my friends from all over the world 😀

[FR] Merci pour tous les “Joyeux anniversaire Sébastien !” de mes 37 ans 🙂 A Tokyo (Japon), j’ai marché avec une amie depuis la gare de Takao, le long de la rivière Minami-asa, dans le parc Ryonan (où des enfants profitaient de l’été dans l’eau) et au cimetière impérial Musashi, où nous avons vu de beaux arbres, des lézards vivaces, et les mausolées de l’Empereur Taisho (Yoshihito), de sa femme Impératrice Teimei, de l’Empereur Showa (Hirohito), et de sa femme Impératrice Kojun. Ensuite, nous avons admiré de mignons décors & spectacles avec Hello Kitty lors de ma première visite au parc d’attractions Sanrio Puroland ! Finalement, nous avons savouré un sukiyaki non loin au restaurant japonais Shabu-shabu Gyuta de Cocolia Tama Center: boeuf, tofu & légumes préparés avec sauce de soja, sucre & vin de riz puis baignés dans des oeufs crus… J’adorerais profiter de toute l’année ainsi avec mes amis des 4 coins du monde 😀

[JP] 37才の「セバスチャン、誕生日おめでとう!」メッセージ、皆さんありがとうございました 🙂 東京都高尾駅から友達と散歩した:南浅川に沿って、子供が水で夏を楽しんだ陵南公園で、武蔵陵墓地で(綺麗な木、賑やかな蜥蜴、大正天皇の多摩陵、貞明皇后の多摩東陵、昭和天皇の武藏野陵、香淳皇后の武藏野東陵)。そして、初めてサンリオ・ピューロランド遊園地に行って可愛い装飾とハローキティ・ショーを観た。最後に、近いしゃぶしゃぶ牛太ココリア多摩センター店で美味しい鋤焼を食べた。世界中の友達と一年間こういう感じで過ごしたいな… 😀

[EN] Children at Ryonan park. [FR] Enfants au parc Ryonan. [JP] 陵南公園で子供。

[EN] Trees at Musashi Imperial Graveyard. [FR] Arbres au cimetière impérial Musashi. [JP] 武蔵陵墓地で木。

[EN] Lizard at Musashi Imperial Graveyard. [FR] Lézard au cimetière impérial Musashi. [JP] 武蔵陵墓地で蜥蜴。

[EN] Sébastien Duval at the mausoleum of Emperor Showa. [FR] Sébastien Duval au mausolée de l'Empereur Showa. [JP] 昭和天皇の武藏野陵で寿春セバスチャン。

[EN] Show at Sanrio Puroland. [FR] Spectacle à Sanrio Puroland. [JP] サンリオ・ピューロランドでショー。

[EN] Sukiyaki at Shabu-shabu Gyuta in Cocolia Tama Center. [FR] Sukiyaki à Shabu-shabu Gyuta dans Cocolia Tama Center. [JP] しゃぶしゃぶ牛太ココリア多摩センター店で鋤焼。


Musashi Imperial Graveyard – Cimetière Impérial Musashi – 武蔵陵墓地:
[JP] 大正天皇・多摩陵 – http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/ryobo/guide/123/
[JP] 昭和天皇・武藏野陵 – http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/ryobo/guide/124/

Sanrio Puroland – サンリオ・ピューロランド:
[EN] http://en.puroland.jp
[JP] http://www.puroland.jp

Shabu-shabu Gyuta – しゃぶしゃぶ牛太:
[JP] ブランド – http://www.gyuta.co.jp/shop/genre/syabusyabu-gyuta/
[JP] ココリア多摩センター店 – http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g234205/

New experience & 400-year festival: I carried an omikoshi during Kanda-matsuri in Tokyo (Japan)

As part of the biennial festival Kanda-matsuri entertaining Shinto gods and celebrating this year the move of Kanda Shrine to its current location in Chiyoda ward (Tokyo, Japan) 400 years ago, Eri and I watched a parade with horses and participants in traditional costumes around 09:00 near Jimbocho station.

Horse & costumes during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Shishi-shaped float of Jimbocho-itchome during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Invited by community leaders, I then carried a divine palanquin “omikoshi” for the first time, wearing the festival attire of Jimbocho-itchome district, in company of Japanese locals and of an American married to a local lady. We processed from and to Jinbocho Mitsui Building (16:00-19:00), singing to keep the rhythm on Yasukuni avenue and in small streets of Kanda Suzuran Shopping District, lighting lanterns up on our beautiful omikoshi at night 🙂

Small & big omikoshis of Jimbocho-itchome during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Dragons on the omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome towards Shinjuku during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome carried high during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Japanese girls carrying the omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome at night during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

I hurt my shoulders due to my inexperience and above-average height (Update: still a bit painful after 7 days in spite of immediate medical treatment)… but I had fun and was glad to experience this piece of Japanese life, share food and drinks with so many happy friendly faces, and meet local friends!

Japanese girls in happi during Kanda-matsuri in Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 09 May 2015.

Big thanks to the influential owners of Hanaya restaurant, Hasebe restaurant (local omikoshi manager) and Ohya-shobo ukiyo-e shop (XYZ role) for getting me authorized to carry the omikoshi of Jimbocho-itchome.

I tested SGRS Tourism Agency‘s Sumida river cruise and Walk with Geisha in Asakusa area (Tokyo, Japan)!

Invited by SGRS Tourism Agency to test its tours for foreign tourists in Tokyo, I enjoyed this afternoon a fun Sweet & Sound Cruise on the Sumida river and a Walk with Geisha in Asakusa area then attended its business presentation and a funny show (see next post). As a tourism professional and former preschool teacher, I believe these tours will be great once refined, providing fond memories of Japan to Western adults and children alike! I now look forward to a walk with a Japanese warrior, ninja or samurai 😉

Odaiba island (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) from the Sweet & Sound Cruise boat on 18 April 2015.

Geisha Otoki-san in kimono with Sébastien Duval holding her fan at Asakusa Shrine (Taito ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015. Photo by Eri.

I had a great time all along: Ken (from Hawaii) and Miki (from Japan) sang in English and Japanese during the cruise while Oui played the piano and Nanako the violin, Harusa (from ???) guided us in the streets of Asakusa accompanied by the “geisha” Otoki-san… Bilingual and wearing a kimono, Harusa motivated us to look for statues on rooftops (e.g. the thief Nezumi-kozo) and portraits of Japanese movie stars (e.g. Takeshi Kitano), touch a giant straw sandal at Senso-ji Buddhist temple, pray under cherry blossoms… Under a big blue sky, we took splendid photos of Odaiba island from the platform of our boat as well as cool photos with the staff here and there 🙂

Miki & Ken singing with a piano and violin during a Sweet & Sound Cruise (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015.

Harusa Matsuyama in kimono with Sébastien Duval at Asakusa Shrine (Taito ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015. Photo by Eri.

The cruise is fine for Westerners but would be even more exciting with albums containing old maps, photos or ukiyo-e woodblock prints placed on the tables, with sale of traditional Japanese sweets/snacks like wagashi and karinto (plus a list of ingredients for allergic travellers), and with more Japanese songs (adding a lullaby would be great to transmit the Japanese culture).

The walk requires a method to avoid losing participants in the crowds and to prevent interruptions by bystanders jumping in for a photo with the geisha! To enhance the tour, the guide may bring a piece of kimono fabric to freely touch and may introduce holy seals at the last spot (Asakusa Shrine): watching a Shinto/Buddhist calligrapher write a goshuin is amazing but few Westerners know that! Finally, the guide may give maps introducing local restaurants and shops (see the Get Japan maps for examples).

I hope this feedback will help SGRS Tourism Agency make a better world, happier people 🙂 I just e-mailed the team!

Ken with Sébastien Duval on the Sweet & Sound Cruise boat (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015.