Archive for the ‘Sugiko’s diary’ Category

Setsubun, just before spring

February 2, 2013

This is the season when you find packs of beans with paper masks of funny goblins at supermarkets. Those are for Setsubun (“節分”) festival.

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of spring in the Japanese old lunar calendar, the name of which literally means “the day between seasons”. This year it falls on February 3rd.
On Setsubun day, people throw beans out of their houses, saying “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Devils out! Good luck in!)” to expel evil spirits. At home, Fathers put masks playing an Oni (“鬼”, devils) and children throw beans.
One more event of this day is to eat sushi-rolls. Sushi-rolls for Setsubun are big, thick, and served uncut. Oddly enough, you have to eat it silently, facing to the direction designated as lucky one for the year. (Imagine that all your family are eating big sushi-rolls without a word facing the same direction!) The lucky direction of this year is south-southeast, and you can buy Setsubun sushi-rolls at convenience stores, supermarkets and take-away sushi shops. So why don’t you buy one and try this Japanese tradition?


In Tokyo, Zojo-ji (“増上寺”) and Ikegami-honmon-ji (“池上本門寺”) are very popular for the Setsubun events and collect thousands of people. Many local temples and shrines will also hold some small events. If you join our cycling tour tomorrow, you may come across one!


Niveous Tokyo

January 14, 2013

Tokyo doesn’t have many snowy days. On the Pacific side of Japanese archipelago the winters are dry and marked by many clear days. It is rare that the whole ground is covered with white snow. But today was such a rare day. Though the accumulated snow was less than 10 centimeters, which was far less than the heavy snowfall in the northern part and the continental side of the nation, Tokyoites are unaccustomed to life under snow. Pedestrians slip, cars go on a crawl, and very punctual public transportation services are snowbound. Be warned!
Today is “Coming-of-Age Day”, the national holiday for congratulating those who have reached their majority. Despite the stormy departure, I wish them all the best in the future!

Seven Gods of Good Luck (“七福神めぐり”)

January 3, 2013

Visiting temples and shrines is one of Japanese major customs during New Year period. If you are more religious, or if you would like to enjoy new-year’s atmospheres more, how about trying “Shichifukujin Meguri”, pilgrimage of seven Gods of good luck?

“Shichifukujin Meguri” is to visit seven temples and shrines in a single neighborhood to pay your respects to the Shichifukujin (the Seven Deities of Good Luck) to pray for success and safety for you and your family. In Tokyo, there are over a dozen of groups of religious sites dedicated to the seven deities. On the 2013 New Year’s day I visited Yanaka Shichifukujin (“谷中七福神”) which are said to be the oldest Shichifukujin groups in Tokyo. I bought a piece of paper for the seals at the first temple and collected the seven seals of the Gods!


Yanaka Shichifukujin welcome visitors until January 10.

Other famous Shichifukujin Groups in Tokyo are :
Nihonbashi Shichifukujin (Chuo-ku), Yamate Shichifukujin (Meguro-ku), Sumida Shichifukujin (Sumida-ku), etc.

Tokyo’s Great Restaurants Vol.4 ~ by Sugiko ~

November 24, 2010

Sugiko, an able business woman working in Marunouchi in daytime and a funny Ukulele musician after sunset introduces her favorite restaurants in Tokyo. Here you go!


Name, Area and Category  :  丸健水産  ~ 川栄
Maruken Suisan @ Akabane – “Oden” & Japanese standing bar
Kawaei @ Akabane – Eel, Barbecued chicken

Reason  :  Within a couple of min. walk from JR Akabane Stn., you can enjoy hopping  Japanese old-style bars and Izakaya restaurants.  Located in a narrow lane with nostalgic atomosphare.


* What is “Oden”? — You can see this page.

Uroko @ Nakano – Grilled seafood,

You have to grill fish and crams on a charcoal stove by yourselves.
– 130m from JR Nakano Stn.

はん亭    Hantei @ Nedzu – Kushiage (Fried fish, meats and vegies)

Over 30 kinds for kushiage, deep-fried and served piece by piece. An old-style, pleasant building in a downtown area