This strange restaurant built on top of a tree can be found in Okinawa not far from Naha airport along highway 58.
The tree is a Gajumaru (also known in India as Banyan), which is a species of the genus Ficus. The Gajumaru/Banyan is a tree that you can typically find in Asian tropical areas, and they can also be seen in Hawaii. If you watched Lost you surely saw them many times as they are used by the characters in the series to hide from the smoke monster. Gajumarus are also known because Robinson Crusoe built his house in one.
My ass trying to climb a Gajumaru.
According to the mythology of Okinawa, the Kijimuna (small elf-like creatures) live in Gajumarus. Legend has it that the Kijimuna can only be seen by kids that have a pure heart. If you go to Okinawa you will see signs with Kijimuna images in many places, mostly in forest areas where there are gajumarus. However they are not so abundant as the Shisa.
A video (not mine) in which you can appreciate the size of the trunk of a gajumaru tree.
The other day I was taking one of my aimless strolls around Setagaya, a residential area in Tokyo with many green areas. I like to get lost around the alleys of the neighbourhood in which Akira Kurosawa lived, and I always enjoy finding new places in town.
I went into a random coffee shop to rest a bit. Just right after entering, I noticed a Pulp Fiction poster and, not far from it, hidden in some shelves I found one of my books just behind a Gremlin.
“Why do you have this book here?” – I asked the waiter.
“Lately there are many foreigners around here” – he answered.
The president of Beautilish, an online shop that sells makeup, follows me on Flickr and seems to like the style of my photos. Last year he offered me to travel to Kumano (near Hiroshima) to visit the factory where their makeup brushes are made and do a photo report of the manufacturing process of the brushes. You can see the result in the website of Beautilish. It was a ver interesting experience!
The Sakura is something that I didn’t understand at the beginning. I remember my first years, when I was looking at the flowered cherry trees with indifference, taking a photo from time to time. I recall how I looked with surprise the passion of hundreds of Japanese people gathering around the trees and spending the day chilling. After several years my indifference has been transforming into love of the Sakura. I guess it’s like wine or bitter chocolate, it’s a matter of learning how to appreciate it.
It’s not only one flower, it’s all that is represents. The change from cold to warm weather, from the gray skies of winter to the blue skies of spring which melt with the white of the Sakura. The smiling crowd flooding the streets and the parks of the city, making you forget the non-stopping flow of salaryman dressed with dark suits that clog the subway stations during rush hour.
Although I had been waiting for the arrival of the Sakura, it caught me off guard. I was not expecting it to be so beautiful. It surprises me every time, I don’t get used to it. The problem is that not only it surprises me when it arrives, but also when it leaves. One day you leave home in the morning and you see flowers everywhere, one week later you start seeing petals on the sidewalks, and when you less expect it, the Sakura is gone! Sayonara! See you next spring!
The other day I went to the supermarket to buy some salmon and I found some whale meat from Iceland. I have been reading about it online and it seems that the Japanese can’t catch enough whales for the demand that exists in Japan. To solve the problem the government agreed to import whale meat from Iceland and Norway in 2009.
My friend Ernest and I went to a concert in which the music was played by robots. The band is called Z-Machines and the funny thing is that the robots do stuff like for example greeting the crowd before the concert or show gratitude at the end. The robots are programmed to speed up the beat of the songs or keep playing one more song if the crowd is loud enough. I didn’t really enjoy the music but it was fascinating to see so many people just hearing what some robots were programmed to play.
I took some videos with my camera and I have put them together with iMovie so you can have an idea of the concert atmosphere:
The current Okinawa prefecture was formerly known as the Ryukyu Kingdom. The inhabitants of the Ryukyu islands were able to maintain their independence from the Chinese and Japanese empires during the Edo era. However, they were not very amiable between each other, during many years the Okinawa islands were divided in three kingdoms: Hokuzen (North Kingdom), Chuzan (Center Kingdom) and Nanzan (South Kingdom).
Each kingdom was controlled from one castle. Shuri castle in Naha (South Kingdom) and Nakijin castle (North Kingdom) were the most powerful castles. These are some photos of Nakijin castle I took in a sunny day. You can see the “gusuku” style stone walls, which are unique to Okinawa.
Today I found this Ultraman statue at Shinbashi station in the Yamanote line. Next to the statue there was a stand where you can get a stamp to certify that you have found the statue. It seems that it is a promotion to collect the Ultraman characters stamps. If you manage to get all the stamps you will be able to have a chance to get several prizes. These kind of marketing promotions are known in Japan as スタンプラリー (Stamp Rally). To participate in them you have to use the official passbook and then collect all the stamps.