28 February, 2011

Where is Yuji? (a little about me)

Pink and Blue in Paris
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
Some of my blog readers asked me if I am really living in Tokyo.

It's just because I often upload photos of Paris!

Please excuse me, it is very selfish of me, running a blog about life in Tokyo, using so many photos I took in Paris...

But you never know, when I upload photos of Tokyo, my body may be in Paris!

I work as a self employed writer, writing for web sites, blogs, paid web sites, news letters, magazines, and my own books.

And I am a part-time photographer. I am expecting to receive more photo shooting project offers sometime soon.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to work as a freelance worker. But I often have to work through the weekend. I shouldn't complain, because it is the life I chose myself.

If I really want to, I can fly away tomorrow carrying my camera and PC, telling nobody where I am.

You may think it's nice. Yes, it is nice. But if I get a cold, there is nobody to take care of my work. So, it is a tough work at the same time with a lot of presseur. 

27 February, 2011

Zen Tulip

Tulips, Waiting to Bloom
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
Japan has been importing many flowers from other countries. If you go to florists in Japan, you may be surprised how many non-Japanese flowers are there.

Chrysanthemums are often considered to be "Buddhist flowers for ancestors" and many people feel somewhat negative about them. (It is too bad...)

Roses are probably one of the most common and popular flowers in Japan.

Though, Japanese people have a special feeling towards cherry blossoms. I will write about it when I have some photos of them (soon!).

One morning, I got up early and took photos of these tulips. I was looking forward to see them blooming, but it was a little too early.

While I was taking many photos, I noticed there was only one bud I was attracted to. And this is the one.

Although this is a tulip bud, it reminded me of a lotus bud. And I felt a little bit of "Zen" feeling;-)

25 February, 2011

Japanese Umbrella

Japanese Umbrella
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
Fashion trend is interesting. Sometimes it is fashionable to wear hats, sometimes not. At the moment, hats are really hot in Tokyo. Both, men and women wear hats.

I don't remember when young Japanese ladies started carrying parasols again. But it wasn't too many years ago... maybe 6 or 7 years ago?

Until then, it was considered to be something middle aged women would do.

This photo was taken at a traditional Japanese tea house.

I know that this photo could be rather shocking to some people outside Japan. In some culture, opening an umbrella inside the house is considered to be unlucky.

I did it so many times in my life, and I never thought I had any bad luck!  In fact, I believe I am one of the luckiest people in the world!

Anyway, I was in love with the umbrella again.

24 February, 2011

In Love With an Umbrella

People in Japan like carrying umbrellas. Not only on rainy days. When it's sunny, many Japanese women carry parasols.

Parasols are recently really hot in Tokyo. A parasol is an important item for Japanese goth-lolita girls.

As I don't really like carrying too many things. I am happy to wear a waterproof jacket, and walk in the rain with no umbrella.

But it doesn't mean I don't like umbrellas. I like watching other people's umbrellas.

I took this photo a while ago in front of a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo. This fluorescent green colour caught my eyes.

I saw this colour in Hong Kong so many times. But it was truly my first time to see it in Japan then! I guess this umbrella came from Hong Kong or China.

My camera was running out of battery, so, I borrowed my friend's camera and captured it.

It was the moment I fell in love with the umbrella.

If I were a French man, I would say, "coup de coeur."

23 February, 2011

Metro Station

Metro Station
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
When you are in love, the whole world changes.

And everything in your sight looks different.

Can you see a cute face in this photo?

At the moment, I am so much in love with the whole city of Paris. And everything in the city seems to talk to me.

I am trying to understand what it is trying to tell me.

22 February, 2011

Why Do They Take Photos of Food?

Pink Plum Blossoms in Tokyo
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
This is something I mentioned a while ago, but Japanese people often take photos of food at restaurants, and upload them onto their blogs, and SNS such as Twitter.

This is one thing I never do. I think it's rude to food and the people who have prepared it.

More than anything, I don't want to wait until they finish taking photos when I am hungry.

Taking photos takes a lot of energy, and I need to eat before taking photos!

Well, maybe they are keeping the record of what they eat for a health reason?  People in Japan are always serious about loosing weight (even though they don't need to!)

"Photography Diet" could be a good title for a book!

All you have to do is, take photos of everything you eat every single day, share them on SNS with like minded people. How does that sound?

(I should stop joking here)

Majority of Japanese people think it's normal because "all the other people are doing it." That is why they don't even wonder why they are doing it.

This mentality often applies to many activities in this country.

Largely because of my childhood outside Japan (I spent part of my childhood in Jakarta, Indonesia with my family), I really don't mind being different.

All the other people are taking photos of food, I don't have to do it;-) 

20 February, 2011

Plum Blossoms in Tokyo

White Plum Blossoms in Tokyo
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
I got up early this morning, and sensed that spring is around the corner.

So, I went to a park to took some photos.

These are plum (or apricot) blossoms. They bloom before cherry blossoms.

Many Japanese people drink and go a little bit wild viewing cherry blossoms (it's just once a year event!).

But they appreciate the plum blossoms quietly without beer. This is more like a Japanese feeling for me.

In some parts of the world, it was a very cold winter. But spring is coming soon!

19 February, 2011

Cute Penguins, Beer, and Seiko

Full Moon in Tokyo
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
Yesterday, I talked about "Sweet Memories" by Seiko.

This song was originally recorded for a TV commercial.

youtube:Sweet Memories (TV commercial version)

This commercial was quite sensational in 1983.

Cute penguin characters were used on this TV commercial, and Seiko, a cute pop idol singer, sang the song for advertising a canned beer.

These penguins became quickly popular, and later on they even made a film featuring them.

youtube:Sweet Memories (cinema version)

Of course, the target was beer consumers, adults. It was probably then that it became okay for adults to be cute and enjoy cute things.

Japanese "super cute" culture is not something totally new. But it had to wait for Seiko to appear in early 80's to be accepted by majority of people.

Even a can of beer can be cute, instead of cool... that is Japan, where I am from. 

18 February, 2011

Sweet Memories by Seiko Matsuda

I noticed this blog is often visited by people who are looking for the information about Seiko Matsuda.

Thanks to youtube, now her beautiful voice can be heard all over the world. I am happy if I can help people find the treasure of this country.

This song was originally released as a "Side B Track", coupled with Garasu No Ringo (Glass Apples).

It was recorded for a TV commercial. I will tell you about it tomorrow.

Through amazon.com and youtube, I have had some chances to talk with some Seiko fans from the US.

According to them, good or bad, US pop singers no longer sing mellow and sweet songs like this.

She may not sing like Whitney Houston, and she may not dance like Madonna (I love both of them!) Though, unfortunately she didn't know that she didn't need to do so.

Considering the quality and the popularity her music once had, especially between 1982 to 1983, what she archived then in Japan was much more precious than her some smash hits in the US.

Now Seiko is a US green card holder, and her main focus is the US markets, (she is also an actress).

Seiko was famous and infamous for being a "burikko (pretender)," and acting "cute." Until she appeared, girls who act "cute" was considered to be somewhat stupid.

She is one of those who started Japanese "super cute/kawaii" culture way back then.

17 February, 2011

On The Street in Tokyo

LOVE from Tokyo
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
I have been going through my photo album, and I didn't really find anything today, except this one.

This is a famous sculpture by Robert Indiana. There are many versions of this sculpture all over the world, and each one is a little bit different.

The letter "o" is not straight here.

The artists says "it's because love is never perfect."

This is, of course, a very popular place. You can see a lot of couples taking photos.

I had to wait for a long time to take this photo without people. In fact, this sculpture look more interesting together with people.

What he said was true. Love is never perfect...

15 February, 2011

Japanese Mailbox

Japanese Mailbox
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
When I saw this mailbox, I wondered if it was really used as a mailbox.

And this man in the photo must was probably the same, looking at the mailbox so closely...

This is not a usual mailbox. As long as I know, this is the only "train shaped mailbox" in Tokyo.

What surprised me was that so many people actually posted letters into this mailbox in just a few minutes while I was taking this photo.

Sending letters and packages is something I am not good at. I wanted to send some postcards to overseas, but I haven't found a nice postcard of Japan yet.

Maybe it's faster if I order postcards from Internet using the photos I took myself?

PS I am not the only one who is getting worse and worse at sending letters, I hope.

14 February, 2011

Flowers For You

For My Valentine
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
This is something I mentioned before.

Japanese men don't buy flowers so much, because they feel too shy to go into a flower shop.

Buying flowers is a female thing to do here.

I have asked several Japanese women if they would be happy to receive flowers from men.

All of them said "of course! It's the best gift!"

So then, there must be a big business opportunity! Flower shops in Japan should encourage men to buy flowers on Valentine's Day.

In Japan, Valentine's Day is a day women send chocolates to men.

And in return, on 14 of March, men need to buy them something more expensive... something like bags, accessories, etc. It's called "White Day"

I don't join White Day... but on the other hand, I am not too shy to buy pink roses;-)

12 February, 2011

Bear and I

Bear and I
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
This photo was taken a while ago at a Bear Farm in Japan.

I was once told by an American psychic to go to a zoo and meet bears.

He said, "you will be amazed how much they will want to talk with you."

What he said was so true.

This bear and I were able to have a talk through a window.

It's a secret what he and I were talking about. It was a very special experience.

I wish I could understand his language more. But at least I could tell him how much I respect him.

Oh, I will tell you just one thing...

According to him, the bears in the Bear Farm have a special relationship with ravens.

"When we want to eat some fresh food from the forest, we ask the ravens to bring them back to us."

But he was still happy to eat the cookies (provided by the Bear Farm) I gave him.

I must go back to see the bear and talk more.

11 February, 2011

Ile Saint-Louis

Ile Saint-Louis
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
This is an old clock at an old church, in an old part of the city of Paris, lle Saint-Louis.

Living in a city like Tokyo where almost everything is new, it's really amazing to see things over a 100 years old.

Japan has many earthquakes, and that may be one of the reasons there aren't so many old buildings here.

I like lle Saint-Louis, when I am there I can forget about time. And I can believe that there is something more important than time.

I took this photo on Christmas, 2009, not so long ago.

When I looked at it several days ago, I thought the resolution was very low, and my old camera was not good enough any more.

I am a real Japanese...

So, I decided to change the colour, and make it look even older;-)

10 February, 2011

A Year of The Rabbit

Water Clock in NS Building
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
This is supposed to be one of the largest water clock in the world. (NS Building in West Shinjuku, Tokyo)

Please look at the face of the clock. It has 12 animals of Chinese zodiac symbols.

It is well known that each year has an animal to represent, and this year is a year of the rabbit.

The rabbit also governs a part of the day, between 5 am and 7 am.

The rabbit governs the time and the year when people wake up.

I have been studying Western astrology for many years. According to my perception, a lot of people actually wake up from a dream.

The same thing can be said in Chinese astrology. It's time for people to wake up. It's really the new beginning for the whole world.

I hope people wake up from a long nightmare, and discover how nice to live on this beautiful planet carrying a physical body.

09 February, 2011

Night Rainbow

Originally uploaded by yujiblog
I like rainbows as they appear when I am not expecting them to appear in my sight. It always comes as a pleasant surprise, and makes me happy.

It looks like people who work for newspapers and news agencies feel the same.

If they can take a good photo of a rainbow in Tokyo, they feature it as one of the headline news on a major paper.

Rainbow images from Asahi.com 

For the people who are always following the latest depressing news, an image of a beautiful rainbow is just as meaningful as some political issues.

I saw this rainbow pinwheel on a busy street late at night in Tokyo. I just had to stop and take a photo, as it was so lovely.

(I remember it was in front of a Korean restaurant, too bad I wasn't hungry then)

Do you think if the science develops more in the future, and the weather forecast will can us "we can see a rainbow tomorrow afternoon"?

I am hoping;-)

08 February, 2011

Animal Healing

Having a little dog as a pet is hot in Tokyo.

Dogs are getting smaller and smaller. I often see ladies on the train with their little dogs in their bags.

I personally love all the animals, cats, dogs, birds, and everything.

I had many pets as a child, but after my cat, who lived for 15 years died, I never had any.

The reason is I travel a lot, and I don't want to leave my pet home.

There are many pet hotels in Tokyo who travel without their pets, but they are VERY expensive!

Since the number of married couples without children in Tokyo, (of course, there are more and more gay couples too), they like to spend money on their pets. Probably the pet hotels are not so expensive for them...

I know somebody who recently opened a clothing store for dogs. She told me her shop is busy in winter, but there is almost no business in summer... (How about selling swimming shorts for dogs?)

And, there are some "pet spas, or pet hot springs".

What's more, there are grave yards for pets as well. Some people have funerals when they loose their pets. A lot of business opportunities!

Oh, there are some dog cafes. People can go to the cafes with their dogs.

There are also places called "cat cafes"

Wondering what they are? They are different from dog cafes.

In those cat cafes, the cats are a kind of attraction.

At these cat cafes, you can see lots of cats. They are popular among people who can't have pets.

I am not sure how happy those cats and dogs are... But people say "animals heal us." Maybe it's true.

I wonder if those dogs and cats also need to be healed?

I live in central Tokyo, so I don't see so many wild animals, but there are many sparrows, pigeons, and ravens ever where.

For now, I am happy to go to a park, and watch the birds, go to a zoo or some other places and see big animals;-)

06 February, 2011

Japanese Letters and Kao-moji

Company Names
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
Japanese language has 3 different kind of Letters.

Hiragana, katakanaand Chinese characters.

Hiragana and katakana are only used in Japanese, and they both has about 50 letters each.

Plus, about 2,000 Chinese characters are generally used.

(People use Roman alphabet time to time, by the way)

Since the day I got my first word processor, (not a computer), I started loosing Chinese characters.

I can read them, but it is getting more and more difficult to write them by hand. Most people in Japan are probably the same.

Oh, people started using new type of letters!

Kao-moji (face marks or emoticons)

It is getting more and more important, as a great help in e-mail or text messages.

When I recently updated my iPhone, it had kao-moji function... a nice surprise.

Here are some examples of kao-moji.

(^_^) This is the most commonly used kao-moji; a smile.

(;_;) This one is a sad, crying face.

These two are quite old. They already existed before the age of Internet.

(Young people may not know this, but there were network service, such as Compuserve in the old days...)

Kao-moji keeps developing, more and more.

How about this one?

_| ̄|○)) Please to meet you ((○| ̄|_

Some explanation needed here. Two people are bowing to each other on all fours.


Would you like a cup of green tea?

... and it has nicely developed in the past 10 years or so, and kao-moji has became more and more artistic.

This one is my favorite!

    | ノ      ヽ
  /    ●   ●  | Bear!!
  |    ( _●_)  ミ
  彡、   |∪|  、`\
/ __  ヽノ /´>  )
(___)   / (_/
|       /
|  /\ \
| /    )  )
∪    (  \

I should stop here;-)

P.S. If these kao-moji above is not properly displayed, it is probably because your computer doesn't have a Japanese language software. Please don't send me complaints! LOL 

05 February, 2011

Super Cute iPhone

iPhone4 on iPhone3
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
iPhone is, of course, very hot in Tokyo. Together with some other phones, it will develop more and more.

I might have said it before, the only thing I don't like about my iPhone3 is that the camera is not very good.

People tell me iPhone4 has a better camera, and with some applications, you can use most of it. So, I am sort of waiting for what happens next.

A friend on mine told me, she was against iPhone because she couldn't put any straps on it.

Almost all the Japanese ladies like to put something "cute and little) on their mobile phones.

But iPhone is selling well. Does that mean "smart" iPhone is more attractive than other "cute" mobile phones?

Actually Japanese ladies started something different with their iPhone.

"Decorating iPhone!"

Indeed, Japan likes to produce "cute" things.

As for me, I am a man. So, I am decorating my iPhone with a black leather cover;-) It's butch.

This photo is my male friend's iPhone 4. Totally naked (butch). 

04 February, 2011

Country Life

Straw Teddy Bear
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
Slow, country life in an old country house is hot in Tokyo.
That is actually what many of people dream of now.

People, especially straight couples with no children, and gay couples talk about buying a country house and living there.

They just would like to live a quiet life after they retire.

There are some magazines in Japan that suggest a country life.

People in Japan call it "slow life," it's another "buzz word."

Tokyo had a big earthquake in 1923, and a lot of bombs were dropped during the war. As a result, Tokyo has very very few old buildings left.

Buying a house in Tokyo is very expensive. But probably people can afford an old country house in a remote region.

Also, for people who are living a busy life in Tokyo, idea of "living a simple and peaceful life in a quiet place" comes to mind quite naturally.

There has been an interesting trend among young people. Some artistic people loved traditional houses called "machiya"  in Kyoto.

They buy those houses and restore the outside, and change the interior in their own style.

From what I have heard from people who actually own country houses, it is a of work. But living in a quiet environment, being well connected to the nature still fascinates me.

You need some money, health, a car, and some good friends to support you.

For me, I also need a high speed Internet connection for my work!

03 February, 2011

Love and Light

"Love and light." is not a word I should carelessly use, as it is powerful.

That said, I am sending love and light through my blog.

I discovered the this blog already has readers from all around the world.

France, Germany, UK, Denmark, Sweden, US, Canada... Japan, Hong Kong Korea, Singapore, Australia, Malasia, Saudi Arabia, and more and more.

The biggest goals in my life is "delivering love and light to all over the world. " Now I can do it through my blog!

I captured the very sacred the most beautiful light I ever seen in my life. It was taken in Mont Saint Michel, France.

I am sharing it with you because you are so special to me.
Thank you, merci, arigatou. xxx

02 February, 2011

Stars and Neon Lights

Driving to The Eiffel Tower
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen is the stars I saw together with my mother in Indonesia, where I lived as a child.

My mother and I would go out and watch the stars every night. It was something my mother and I shared.

My father and older brother were not there, since they were not interested in looking at the beautiful stars.

Both my mother and I would look for our favorite stars.

This childhood memory has influenced my life in so many ways.

Tokyo is a big city, and it is full of neon lights. But if you look up, you can often find stars in the sky. A lot more than you may think.

In Japan, I work as a writer. My specialty is astrology and spirituality.

But in fact, I am simply helping people "look up" and find beauty in their life through my writing work. They maybe stars in the sky, or stars on the ground.

01 February, 2011

My Angel Is Sleeping.

My Angel
Originally uploaded by yujiblog
Angels come to your in many different forms.

Sometimes they don't look like angels.

Sometimes they pretend they are not angels.

Most of the time, they don't remember they are angels.

I wrote a book about angels, published in 2009 in Japan.

According to this book, the easiest way to see an angel is "look in the mirror."

This angel came into my life a while ago.

While he is sleeping, he is doing his job.

Probably he doesn't know what a wonderful job he is doing.