My Photo Essay on Tokyo's Mini Bookstore Morioka Shoten《东京银座森冈书店，每周只卖一本书的书店》Press Publication Dated 30 March 2020
A positive start to a new week! My photo essay under pen name 蓝天游 on Tokyo's mini bookstore Morioka Shoten located in prime Ginza district《东京银座森冈书店，每周只卖一本书的书店》is published today! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you have made my day! Thank U so much 感谢 感恩. There may be a deferment of travel plans currently due to the global pandemic situation but i do not stop writing about my past travel stories. I hope everyone stay healthy and safe always!
My Photo Essay for 2020 on Tokyo Sakura Cherry Blossom《东京春季赏樱浪漫旅程》Press Publication Dated 10 January 2020
My Photo Essay on Tokyo's Two Remaining Streetcar Lines Setagaya Line (世田谷线) & Toden Arakawa Line (都电荒川线)《乘坐东京仅存路面电车》Press Publication Dated 23 December 2019
One of Last Remaining Streetcar Lines in Tokyo, Arakawa Line: Tokyo Sakura Tram 在东京转个弯换个心情，乘搭复古电车：都电荒川线
Streetcars used to be very common in Tokyo. However, due to the progress of technology and the progressive migration of trains from above to under the ground, they have almost disappeared. Only two streetcar lines are currently left: the Tokyu Setagaya Line and the Toden Arakawa Line. You may read my recent blog on the Setagaya Line here.
There's something deeply nostalgic in seeing a vehicle with such a retro look still running the streets of Tokyo.
那天坐上百年历史充满复古怀旧的都电荒川线路面电车 (Tokyo Sakura Tram)，就像把时钟拨慢我不赶行程更没有紧凑的步代，走走停停来来回回全靠当下的一念之间。荒川线就像一本历史故事，也像一铁道电车百科全书，喜欢老时代氛围的会爱上它的内涵，是铁道迷的更会来此捕足它深度的风采。
This temple has significantly increased in popularity among foreign tourists in the past few years, with the main drawcard being a wonderfully strange sea of beckoning cats. Gotoku-ji has been the home of the maneki neko (lucky cat) since the Edo Period when a white cat apparently saved a warlord from a dangerous storm by beckoning him inside the temple. The cat became a symbol of good luck and its legend lives on in the statues.
It was a warm, spring day as the Setagaya Line snakes its way through the quiet, residential streets of Setagaya Ward. Its ten-station line is a haven for local feeling and one of the true little joys of suburban discovery. The compact, two-carriage tram might be just a regular commute for locals, but it also gives sightseers a rare glimpse of Tokyo away from the crowds. Easy to get to, easy to ride and easy to enjoy, the Setagaya Line is a must for those looking for a picturesque day of feel-good sightseeing. I spent a day getting on and off, exploring quiet residential neighborhoods and local shopping streets.
The Setagaya Line is one of two surviving tramways in Tokyo (the other is the Arakawa Line which i will blog about it separately). Sangenjaya is a town with a long history. Beginning as an area with three tea houses, travelers and warlords stopped here on their way in or out of Edo city. Today, Sangenjaya sits beneath a towering expressway, offering a fascinating mix of old and new.
I've made this series of photos into a comic book illustration. Making a picture different, quirky, and a little bit crazy doesn't necessarily make the image immature. Such effect has great potential to really make moments memorable and really etch that fun memory in stone. The comic effect can be an important reminder to not take life too seriously, have fun, and enjoy those special moments in life.
Japanese people have had a long relationship with cats. More than 1,000 years ago, people in the upper class were already living with cats. Common people also started having pet cats at home several hundred years ago and Japanese people have been involved with cats in a variety of ways since then. There are shrines that worship cats as gods across Japan and cats have also played a part in folk beliefs through the ages. Cats have been loved by Japanese people through the ages.
Yanaka in Tokyo is famous not only for its old world charm, but for its sizable population of friendly stray cats. Of all the sights to see in the cozy, old-fashioned neighborhood Yanaka, one stuck out to me the most: cats, cats everywhere.
Gallery Nekomachi 猫町 is an art space that only has cat-themed works on display. I felt that it was like a spot which would appear in the films of Ghibli. The 15-year old gallery itself is a pleasant place to visit, occupying an old house at the top of a steep set of stairs.
喜爱猫咪的东京 “谷中银座” 商店街，有很多以猫作为吉祥物的店铺，猫迷们走在街上，总会被那些真假猫们牵去了目光。
My Photo Essay on Japan Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage Site's JIshu Shrine《京都地主神社求良缘地》in Special Travel Edition Publication Dated 30 August 2019
For anyone who enjoys the sight of old-fashioned Japanese houses and the rich culture that flourished in the early 1900s, the Nezu residential district of central Tokyo is a wonderful place for a stroll. The joint Takehisa Yumeji and Yayoi Museums are located in two adjacent buildings in a side street near the Tokyo University. Takumi Kano, a Japanese lawyer, established the Yayoi museum in honor of the painter Takahata Kasho. Six years later, the Takehisa Yumeji Museum followed.
Minimalist Bookstore in Tokyo Morioka Shoten - A Single Room with a Single Book 全世界最小的书店，东京 “一册、一室” 森冈书店
The minimalist principle of eliminating everything superfluous. This concept is brilliant. There is one such store in Tokyo since 2015.
All you will find in the tiny bookstore of "a Single Room with a Single Book” Morioka Shoten in the luxury shopping district of Ginza in Tokyo is simply a single room with one table in it, displaying just one book. More precisely, multiple copies of the said title will be there for one week, with a different book coming up in the following week, and so on. The agony of choice is washed away, as Morioka Shoten has made the choice for you.
You must buy the book Morioka Shoten wants to sell you. How refreshingly easy.
This store is tucked away in a little nook in Ginza in Tokyo. I circled it 3 times before almost giving up then I caught sight of a little sign and finally honed in on its location. Gekkoso, a historical art store, is established in 1917 in Ginza, Japan. This quaint art store is more than a hundred year old and they make some of the most iconic art supplies and stationery items. It was one of the original store in Japan to bring wester art supplies into Japan. Their logo is a cute French horn, as a symbol to gather friends in one place.
Once you get in, it is a small but magical place. I am just an amateur artist but the stuff here sure makes you wish that you are a professional artist. The paper, the colours, the sketch books everything is delightful.
The Gekkoso shop has all the watercolor you can imagine. The handmade brush is also worth to invest on. The price isn’t that expensive compared to other designers’ brushes. Of course, I got myself some of the Gekkoso brushes and acrylic paints as memento for the trip.
Ginza is perhaps Tokyo’s most prestigious shopping district, known mostly for its high-end department stores, galleries and luxury boutiques. There's no shortage of art galleries in Tokyo, but in upscale old-school Ginza, there's one that goes back, waaaaaaaaay back.
On a recent visit, I happened upon the Okuno Building, a former apartment building that was built in 1930s. The Okuno building has somehow survived not only the ravages of World War II, but also the wrecking balls of development through the boom years thereafter. It is now home to numerous art galleries, shops for artisans and design collectives.
Looking rather like a mini Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong, the Okuno Building stands in complete contrast to its modern Ginza surroundings, almost as if it were a piece of art itself. Unlike restoration or revitalisation projects in Hong Kong, the Okuno building looks and feels basically the same as it did decades ago. There are no fancy makeovers or upgrades. The floorings have been untouched since the building was designed over 80 years ago. The interior matches the exterior perfectly and is wonderfully old, rusty and worn down. Flaking paint, bent railings, deep ruts worn into the concrete floor, it looks more like an abandoned ghost complex than a working building. The art inside is constantly evolving, with many exhibitions lasting mere days, but just walking around in the building is fun in itself. While appearing haunting to enter, I strongly urge you to experience its narrow corridors and short ceilings, poking into gallery after gallery, getting lost in its gloomy corridors and wondering if you are going to fall through the floorboards.
Let me introduce a cherished breakfast experience in Tokyo.
First things first, if you have never been to Yanaka district, just get off the train and go exploring. It is one of those rare gems in a city like Tokyo, an area steeped in history and endowed with countless historic temples; it never seems to garner the same kind of attention like the ‘old-Japan’ seeking tourist hot spot that is Asakusa. But this is what makes it great. Yanaka is Edo. You don’t even need a map, just take a walk down any side street and you are bound to come across a temple with some kind of historic importance. Basically, Yanaka is that wonderful of a topic that it deserves a post all of its own, for another time.
Within the midst of all that history stands the Cafe - Kayaba Coffee.
Kayaba coffee is a fusion of ancient and modern. This traditional coffee house has been running for over 70 years. The building itself is a worth-seeing spot as it was built during the World War I in the so-called “old downtown” of Tokyo. The coffee house has survived the earthquakes and the air raids during the War and exterior remained unchanged to this day. However, the true charm of this cafe is its ability to adapt to modern times. The original owner has closed the place in 2006 but it has been brought to life once more in 2009 with the help of non-profit organisations and the people behind the nearby art gallery SCAI THE BATHHOUSE. While Kayaba coffee house has been renovated, you can feel the retro spirit all over the place, from the original sign post, tatami mats, chairs and coffee cups that have been used for decades. The warm atmosphere will make you feel at home.
I can’t see a thing.
There’s clouds of smoke billowing in every direction. People rushing by me with growling bellies or expensive cameras; and everywhere I turn I smell the essence of Japan.
It’s night time in Tokyo Omoide Yokocho (more commonly known as Piss Alley or Memory Lane), and the place is starting to fill. Every shop is wafting a different delicious smell from their open BBQ’s down the narrow and crowded alley that’s usually filled with locals and tourists from every country. It has its roots in the black market which sprang up in post-war Japan in the late 1940s. It was more famously known as Piss Alley, probably as back in the old days at makeshift black market tent bars, there were no proper toilets, and drunken people just pissed around.
While the entire place actually burnt down in 1999 and was remade into the alley of today, all the decor and the general vibe was deliberately made to feel authentic to the post-war era. I think this would be an awesome setting for a Kung Fu movie of sorts. There’s just something about it; from the old looking decor, the crazy amount of smoke coming from the open flames, the shoulder-to-shoulder people sitting on tiny chairs in tiny restaurants, the lights, the sounds, the smells. Oh god, the smells.
It's chaos. But i love it.
在日本旅行时，我都会去居酒屋喝杯小酒吃串烧，感受一下日本的居酒屋悠哉气氛。沿着东京新宿站西口陆桥，与高楼大厦形成对比，充满昭和复古氛围的长屋，就是Omoide Yokocho （回忆横丁）。横丁在日语里是胡同、小巷的意思，思い出横丁 翻译过来就是“充满回忆的小路”，是不是光听名字就有一种很文艺很浪漫的感觉呢？然而这里之所以出名倒不是文艺，恰恰相反，是因为在这里可以体验到繁华东京最接地气的市井美食。从远处看也非常醒目的个性招牌，是这里的特色之一。回忆横丁都是满满居酒屋店家，共有80几间的餐厅。每家都是小小的，人们肩并肩地坐在吧枱前。当中有17间是串烧店，烟雾弥漫，非常热闹。虽然环境简陋但是价格相对外面的居酒屋要便宜许多，可以算是迷你版和低配版的深夜食堂了。