Mikoshi in Gumyoji

Hubs and I doesn’t really keep ourselves updated with the community billboard hence it came as a surprise to us when we went out the house and met some Mikoshi-costumed people and heard the boom of drums a few minutes after.

Right around the end of August, just when the peak of summer has just passed and temperatures have started to drop a bit, Mikoshi (神輿) parades are held all over Japan. The Mikoshi is actually a sacred palanquin where the spirits or diety of that particular festival are ceremoniously enshrined. Mind you, the mikoshis really are elaborately designed.

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The Mikoshi is carried around by the people taking part in the parade.

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The sacred palanquins are preceded by the drums, announcing its passage.

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I once participated in a Mikoshi parade back in 2007 and interestingly enough, it was also here in Gumyoji. I can’t say though that I’d do it again. We didn’t wear tabi (足袋 or たび or the traditional Japanese socks) though like what this year’s participants did.

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And it seems more elaborate this year because the priest paraded with the group.

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Yeah there’s a high probability that I just didn’t notice the priest parading with us back then, laden as we are with the Mikoshi (yes, it is heavy!). But I do believe this year’s Mikoshi is more festive, more passionate, more feverish than it was years before. I could think of one reason why it is so but whether I’m right or wrong, it makes me happy that this kind of tradition that has been around for centuries is still going as strong as ever.

stationeries and fixtures

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No, this is not our living room setup. Wish it was! Love the lampshade and the elegant rug. This is one of the three couches located in the cinema floor in Colette mare, right in front of a row of restaurants. But it’s free to dream, eh? 🙂

Now this probably is one of my favorite office supplies. Why so? They can keep intact something that is falling apart. It can salvage those papers that are threatening to break loose from its binder rings. These vinyl reinforcements are the office supplies representatives of hope – nothing is too hopeless that can’t be salvaged. Which reminds me, erasable pens and markers are hope-givers too! (yeah I know, I might have taken things too seriously).

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Of fairs and flowers

On fairs.
Sharing Hubs’ rendition of Andrew York’s “Fair”. Impromptu guitar playing. Recorded via tumblr app.

http://onchocolatehill.tumblr.com/post/9335106918/atsushis-fair

On flowers.
Up to now, I still don’t know who’s responsible in keeping our office toilet attractive because of them flower arrangements which varies every other day or so. And the flowers come in different vases at that. Or probably they switch the vases they use in the other floors. Today’s flower arrangement can even pass as a centerpiece in a wedding reception. Simple yet elegant and eye-catching.

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On great news.
Was pretty busy but I had to hurry home to wait for my passport to be delivered. Was in tenterhooks while waiting for it; praying as I wait that my passport already contains the visa we’ve been hoping for. And. It was an answered prayer. Thankful.

giveaway packing ideas

There’s nothing quite like the excitement you get when you’re opening a gift. For me, it’s half of the gift already!

If you’re one who have good hands for doing handicrafts, it may be worth to consider wrapping your giveaways in a way that would really delight your guests, even with just the packaging per se.

Saw these in a rack in Family Mart. Okay okay I admit I got attracted at first because it has our wedding colors lol. 🙂 But the gift wrap ideas are really lovely, aren’t they? If I’d receive something akin to these as a wedding giveaway, it’d probably take days before I’d open it and that I’d probably make sure I had already taken pictures of ALL the angles before I’ve opened it up. 🙂

Pretty aren’t they? Especially the orange one.

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books, anyone?

Books yet to be scanned. Scanning started last saturday. And this is just about 1/4 of Hubs’ collection. Whew! And to think that back in highschool I thought I was a bookworm!

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Lupicia’s Kotobuki

Finally had the time to drop by Lupicia in Kamiooka to cater to a w@wie friend’s request to canvass for particular flavors. One of her recommended flavors was Kotobuki and goodness, the smell was just so good I ended up buying five packs haha. Four of them are gifts by the way. Loved Lupicia’s packaging for our principal sponsors giveaways. But I love this new packaging as well, which can be a nice giveaway for secondary sponsors.

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As I have a cat’s tongue (Japanese idiom for a person who cannot drink nor eat anything hot), I had to let my cup of tea go cold before I can take a sip. I don’t mind really, since I can take my sweet time smelling the tea. A sensual experience, especially if the smell is as good as the kotobuki.

By the way, kotobuki 寿 means long life or congratulations. Fitting for weddings I might say.

we’re in tumblr!

A week with our new gadgets and I could surmise one thing – a lot of photo apps has an option for easy sharing with tumblr. Hence, we did the inevitable – create a new space in tumblr that would probably be dedicated more on photo sharing especially when we’re mobile.

One thing ironic though. A minute after setting up our new tumblr account, I discovered that there’s a quick photo option in the WordPress app that allows you to instantly post the photo you’ve just taken. Don’t you just love wordpress?

Still though, I think we might just keep our tumblr account for more documented memories. Cheers to more blogging fun!

onchocolatehill.tumblr.com

Bunko and Obon

We were pretty much holed up inside our home the whole day. Hubs was pretty busy cutting up his books, scanning it and uploading in his Dropbox application so he can retrieve it in either his iPhone or iPad with the ibunko app. By scanning books, we can save up some room in the house (if a person buys an average of 10 books a week, you can pretty much imagine how his house looks like) and he can read them whenever or wherever he likes. Of course his favorite books won’t be dissected.

So since he’ll be cutting books, you can imagine how big his cutter was. Honestly though, I didn’t imagine the cutter to be as big as this! I was pretty confused with the size of the box when I was signing the delivery form.

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And I was pretty impressed with the scanner Hubs ordered from Amazon. It can scan a back to back paper in just a second, without having to flip the paper to scan the other side like the one we had in the office.

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Fruit of Hubs’ labor today. From iBunko App

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Bunko by the way is a small sized paperback that’s pretty popular here in Japan.

Having had stayed inside the house the whole day, we were surprised that outside our the house, a festival was ongoing in the open field just a few steps from our apartment. Thankful that we had to go out for dinner, otherwise we would have missed this traditional Japanese event.

Obon Odori (お盆 盆踊り) is one of the summer festivals in Japan. Obon is the Buddhist tradition of honoring the dead and it involves Odori or dancing. Most of the participants (basically our neighbors) were wearing their summer kimonos.

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It’s a good time for neighbors to bond as well.

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We dropped by the Obon Odori when we were on our way out. Later, laden with heavy purchases from the grocery, we were able to catch the last part of the Odori for a (very) short video.

Happy weekend everyone!

Hanabi

Hanabi, or the Fireworks Display is one anticipated event here in Japan. Yes sure we’ve all seen fireworks every now and then. But there’s nothing quite like the Japanese Hanabi – especially if you consider that these continuous pyrotechnic lasts an hour at the least, with some lasting for two full hours! And it’s not just the length mind you, the organizers go to lengths as to provide displays that can just make you smile real wide like a kid even when you’ve been to countless hanabi in the summer, every summer.

This year though, the hanabi has been more a treat as compared to the previous years. A lot of the usual hanabi events had been called off this year, both as sign of mourning over the March 11 disaster and as cost-cutting as well. But of course, there’s still reason to rejoice and probably it’s because of that that the major Hanabi in certain cities still pushed through.

Yokohama’s hanabi was held this evening. This actually was our (mine and hubby’s) first hanabi together as husband and wife. And so we spent it watching together at the 34th floor of our office where we currently are billeted (pretty ironic yes, that even when our building has 36 floors or so, we happen to be assigned on the same floor though maybe not for long since he’ll be moving to another floor next month for another project). And yes, we were working overtime.

Here’s some of the pictures I’ve taken. Totally unedited (still trying to get to know our new gadget).

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wishing for a better taxi service in Manila

It has been a very tiring day; a humid 32degC is not really the ideal weather that you’d like when you need to walk around doing some errands and going to government offices. Despite this however, there were a lot of things to be thankful for – catching the train right on time (and catching the right train for that matter), getting inside an office a minute just before they closed and really helpful taxi drivers.

Now, for someone who has been a victim with a lot of opportunity-nabbing taxi drivers, the drivers I met earlier were really quite a blessing for me.

Name it, I experienced it, with Metro Manila taxi drivers – dropping me and my humongous luggage off in the middle of the highway because my destination has too much traffic along its route (he couldn’t refuse me while I was in the airport cause then they’ll be ticketed by the airport guard; charging me with a fee that’s almost close to extortion; going around in circles just so I’ll have a bigger tab; Fixing their meters in such a way that you’ll be charged much higher than the legal rate; keeping your change and assuming your change is your tip to them (which sometimes is actually 30% or more than the bill); and if you try to haggle with their excessive proposed fee, you’ll get an earful of his woes and laments with how hard life is; und so weiter.

In fairness not all Metro Manila drivers do that. We went to San Juan before and both to and fro our destinations, we had no complaints whatsoever with the taxi drivers. So naturally we give them a tip. And the smile on their faces was just so genuine and beaming with unexpected treat that your instinct would be to want to give him more tip.

My experiences with Manila taxi drivers were more than enough for me to be wary of them. However, albeit I’ve complained a lot about them to friends, I never really had the heart to report them to the authorities, especially those who cheat on the meter. I know I am not fulfilling my duty as a responsible citizen but if you think about the possible consequences it’ll bring them, the most extreme of which is for them to loose their jobs, you would just prefer to fume in the corner and let your anger subside after an hour or so. So, what happened today then that made me go wishing for better service in Manila?

Back in Manila, I rode a taxi once wherein the driver had to make a stopover by the side of the road ( I was really stressed at that time because I was on my way to the airport and I didn’t have much free time anymore) so that he can pee. I also road a taxi once wherein we had to make a stopover in the gasoline station for the driver to refuel. On both times, the driver had the meter running. I didn’t mind really. Even when they were charging me on something that I shouldn’t shoulder anymore.

But what happened this morning then? The taxi driver wasn’t sure of the address I gave him. So what he did was park the car on the side of the road, stop the meter, and checked his navi for directions. Technically, he was still doing the job since he was really searching for the destination’s address yet he still didn’t charge me for it.

Second taxi then. I was in Makati once and I wasn’t really familiar with the place so I asked a group of taxi drivers for directions. One of them said it’s really far and I had to take the taxi. I was really fuming mad when I discovered later that my destination was just a block away from my initial location. To the curious, there were no phones with GPS then.

Fast forward to this afternoon. When I got out of the train station, I asked the guard for directions. He told me my destination was two blocks away. It was only six minutes to my destination’s closing time and what with the heat, I really was too weak already to run. So I haled a cab. The driver almost didn’t allow me to get in because, he reasons, my destination is just less than two blocks away. But in my kindergarten Japanese I explained to him that the office was about to close so I was in hurry and it was only then that he relented.

A world of difference right? Ahhh, if only the smattering of good taxi drivers in Manila can multiply and influence their fellow drivers Manila then would be much much tourist friendly.

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