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Elements of a veiled garden

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Aller-retour Yamagata

Beautiful mountains on the way up there.
Cherries are in full bloom just now. On the way back, rice paddies are flooded between Fukushima and Utsunomiya. Beautiful sight too. The urge to stop the train and escape to walk through the fields is strong. Impossible to fulfill.

The latte is very good

But the terrace is even better. Elements of the good life are personal and moveable. You travel ever more with your own conditions of comfort, expecting to find locations that matches some of these on arrival. I have a current list of five beloved cafés in Tokyo. I need more. None but this one comes with a terrace. Who ever wrote about the terrace in European villégiature history shall be blessed.

When at Tokyo Big Sight...

... the only grand way to escape is by boat. Straight ahead then right.

FLW @ Ikebukuro

Something strange happens while you neglect visiting older crush districts. It is not decay but rather a different phenomenon. It is not only, and certainly not in provincial Nishi-Ikebukuro, the result of that hygienic wave of redevelopment sanitizing the dirty holes of the city, replacing cachet with authentically modern and sleak, with a well planned, no longer accidental, obsolescence inside. On the opposite side of the Frank Lloyd Wright oeuvre, the disciple church is under reconstruction. One tree thoughtfully preserved protudes from the gray wrapping on the work ground. But further down and away, not far from where a crumbling house reminiscent of a farmhouse in the middle of Tokyo has given way to a parking - the temporary cashing blight spot - you notice if you knew it as it imprinted the mind, that the huge tree which roots that were lifting up the entrance of a charmless private house has vanished, home included. So much for the sanctity of shrubs.

Urban surfing: velocity tourism

Rainy season like dampness all of a sudden yesterday in Tokyo. I hadn't dropped by Glitch for a long while. Tonic BGM and good coffee delivered in slow motion. Seconds after the picture, a squadron of Real Life SuperHero Go-karting vehicules zoom by the street, with drivers, young foreign tourists clad in some cultural reference I don't share. Before jumping into the categorization of stupidity - business model patent pending so genuflexion is de rigueur - it is good to mark a pause and consider whether there is anything different between zooming Tokyo streets in carnival fashion and riding a camel in front of Kheops, or an elephant in India, kissing a girafe in Kenya, or at a higher level flying above the night citiscape in helicopter. To be there is not enough. In Rome, do as the Romans do is a task massively left to Romans, who do in Tokyo much like anywhere else at a meta level. Visitors want entertainments to match affabulations, and many of these translate into roaming, …

Making Gotemba lovely

The following morning, the once upon a time green valley that was Gotemba is still doted with woolly leftovers, mountains in the background and Winter like blinding white sunshine. It is lovely despite Gotemba being the least appetising gateway to Mount Fuji.There was no plan for tourism, but a window of exactly 2:15 hours opened up before heading back to the airport. "Nothing of interest in Gotemba", we were told. The definition of somethingness versus nothingness deserves a multiacademic life long dedication I won't start here. You will just be informed that we barely managed to keep composure when suggested to visit Gotemba Premium Outlet. Then, after much theatric exchange to agree, to much of their relief, that I could take care of the guests on my own, we parted away.
Private, uncompromised travel is strategic time and mood designing, finding meaningful dots with stories inside, and linking the dots with some enjoyable transitions. And with the certainty that they w…

Green golden pond

After the petites flowers show is over comes the green rush. The pond in the nearby garden will soon turn back to normal, that is, almost no visitors. Enfin...

A suggestion to taste melancholia in the Inland Sea

A perfect drizzle on this Sunday morning to meet the cherry blossoms in full bloom and beyond, competing with the droplets like snow petals against rain. What's coming next, the post-cherry Spring, is one of the most intimate seasons to be here, for visitors as well as long timers.I am glad I started reading and finish in a short days Donald Richie's wonderful travelogue on the Inland Sea islands. This book would taste totally different if not all those years accumulated and a shorter than the author's multiple visits I had a few years ago in part of that mesmerizing region. Would a living Richie have shown any interest in the current islands, some of them, turned open-air modern art museums? He may have drawn parallels with the artificiality of this all with the Kosan-ji shrine story he develops with much humor always devoid of cynicism, somewhere in the middle of the book from page 180.I visited Kosan-ji in Setoda on Ikuchi island almost by accident, under an October dr…