Autumn is here and the red leaves viewing season has started! Japanese love nothing more than the changing of the seasons so they take their autumn tree viewing almost as seriously as with the cherry blossom viewings in the spring. There are even companies organizing commercial bus tours to the best places to see the nature of Japan in its autumn glory! I took these photos at the great Ushiku Daibutsu statue in Ibaraki Prefecture last year.
Although the rooms and buildings of the elegant Kiun-Kaku in central Atami City are nice enough, the gardens that they enclose might be even better. It is visible from most rooms in the complex, and every view is different, so much that sometimes you feel you are looking at a completely different place depending on in which room you are located. It is also possible to go for a stroll in the garden, along the paths provided for visitors, if you want to get closer to it. My favorite part was the retro-styled cafe though, which has one of the best views of the garden, if you are lucky enough to get a seat with a good view!
In the sea-side city of Atami in the western Shizuoka Prefecture one of the best sight seeing spots is without a doubt the refined Kiun-Kaku mansion (起雲閣). The compound has been built and expanded tastefully and gradually from 1919 to the present day, having served as everything from the house built to his mother by a loving son to a high class traditional hotel popular with the elite of Japanese literature. Today the house is a tasteful mix of Japanese, Asian and western styles and motifs, all the building surrounding a very beautiful traditional Japanese garden landscape. It is an easy 20 min walk from the station and the entrance fee is about 500 yen. If you are a fan of traditional housing and Japanese architecture, this is a must visit! More photos to come.
A few years ago I randomly stumbled into an underground bar/nightclub in Tokyo’s Aoyama District. I don’t usually go out after dark (I am morning person) but my friends wanted to stay out so I obliged! It turned out a lucky stumble though, as shortly after getting a table in the tiny (but very very cool club) Jimisen entered the tiny stage (well, room corner to be more exact) and proceeded to play one of the most perfect club gigs that I have ever experienced. Jimisen is a Jimi Hendrix Tribute band, four men who manages to look and sound as close to the real thing as anyone could ever wish for. Like many others around the world, I have a Jimi Hendrix phase when I was young, so I know all the songs by heart and have certainly annoyed friends and family with trying to copy the more famous riffs every time someone let me have a guitar for a few minutes. Seeing Jimisen perform was just one of those perfect moments in life: you know it isn’t really Jimi Hendrix, but it is just so good you don’t care.
Jimisen (look them up on Facebook) is playing several gigs in Tokyo this month, including a big Halloween gig and a smaller gig at this very same club, Red Shoes. If you are in Tokyo and want a very memorable experience to take home, this might be just what you are looking for.
And since the club was the size of a medium sized American kitchen I got to sit as close as I wanted, and I could shake the hands of the guys after the gig. Fun!