Travel Update 2 – Japan

I’m continuing my travels, though I will admit, the dreaded cold hit me pretty hard yesterday and given it was pouring rain all day I opted to not wander around Akihabara and instead took a bit of a rest and went to some local bookshops and cafes to just kind of relax. I do however intend to hop a train over to Akihabara just as soon as I finish drafting this update as it is not raining today and I’m feeling pretty good. If you missed my first update check it out here.

That said, I did spend the day before wandering about and spent the better part of the afternoon in Ueno. While waiting for my friend to finish work I went into the museum and absolutely fell in love with the building. There’s something about buildings that are used for museums. They are so old looking (even if they’ve been renovated) and the high ceilings, hard floors, really nice stair cases, little alcoves and large gallery rooms all just call out to me. There’s also the subdued lighting most museums opt for which I find quite relaxing and the fact that people are generally fairly quiet in museums. They are a lovely place to spend a few quiet hours even before you look at the exhibits.

I will say that you need to get there early enough to go into the gardens because they are gorgeous. They close the garden at 4 even though the museum is open until 5, and so I only had a little bit of time in the gardens before I had to leave but I’m really glad I got to go in. As for the museum, I loved going through the building that had the Chinese exhibits, particularly the calligraphy section but once I got over to the building housing the Japanese exhibits I was just blown away by some of the displays.

Given I didn’t have a lot of time I didn’t pay the extra to go into he current special exhibit which is a shame because it looked kind of cool, but there was more than enough for me to look at just in the main section and I didn’t get to everything before I had to go.

Still, can’t complain about leaving the museum when I got to walk down the avenue looking at the cherry blossoms. Admittedly, they are on their last legs and you could kind of tell, but given I didn’t think they’d still be out at all when I arrived I’m thrilled that there were flowers to look at.

The food stalls were also really fun and I could have eaten literally everything. Unfortunately, we were in a little bit of a rush because we wanted to do that cliche tourist thing and take a paddle boat out onto the lake to look at the blossoms. And of course we wanted it to be swan shaped because why not.

I’m just going to point out the steering mechanisms in those boats are absolute rubbish so collisions are almost inevitable. That said, you can get right up next to the blossoms and really, given we were the last possible time slot for the day, the sun was setting and it was just silly fun.

Bit of shopping and walking around the area for a few hours before heading back to the apartment and it was just kind of a perfect day. Then I got sick, but I kind of expected that. I live in the middle of nowhere with very few people coming and going. I get sick every time I travel and I’ve kind of just accepted that. Still, today I am mostly recovered and ready to go so the plan is to hit Akihabara and then prepare for a trip down to Kyoto.

I probably won’t update again until after that but in the meanwhile I hope everyone is well and sorry I haven’t read all that many blog posts in the last few days.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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Tuesday’s Top 5: Appearances of Cherry Blossoms in Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

We are finally done reflecting on the anime of 2017 and now it is time to get into some new lists. To start us off, I am look at my 5 favourite uses of cherry blossoms in anime. These flowers are just adorable and are incredibly prolific so I am absolutely certain that you all have your own favourite scene from an anime so please feel free to share in the comments below. While I started off the list with some fairly standard pretty flowers, I think the ones that stick are a little out of the ordinary.

As an added note, for those that don’t know, the Cherry Blossom symbolises how fragile and yet beautiful life is (that’s an oversimplification but you get the point). It is a fantastic flower to show transitions in one’s life which is probably why so many anime start with them.

Please Note – Some spoilers below.

Honourable mention this week goes to every high school anime ever that starts with the main character walking under cherry blossoms to get to school.

Number 5: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card

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I’d be lying if I didn’t point out that this was the moment I thought of writing this list. I probably could have picked some scenes out of the original Cardcaptor just as easily, but this scene of Sakura on her way to school was gorgeous. It perfectly captured the feel of the old Cardcaptor while showing us just how visually impressive this new series was going to be.

Number 4: Your Lie In April

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No surprise at all given the symbolic meaning and the season that cherry blossoms feature heavily early on in this show. While it doesn’t have the same magical quality as the scene in Cardcaptor, these scenes are absolutely perfect in setting up the relationship between the two main characters and the inevitable ending in Your Lie in April. It might not be subtle symbolism, but is is affective.

Number 3: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

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What to do when you want to film and it isn’t the season for cherry blossoms? Just hope your director is also a god and you’ll be just fine. While the SOS brigade are shooting their movie, in addition to causing one of the group to shoot a lazer from her eye, creating white pigeons and a talking cat, Haruhi causes the cherry blossoms to bloom out of season. It is a bizarre series of events that are all undone when Kyon gets her to declare that the film is a work of fiction but it was an interesting use of cherry blossoms.

Number 2: Nurarihyon no Mago

Nurarihyon features one cherry blossom tree very prominently in the Nura Clan’s family compound. It gets used a lot throughout the series’ run time but we’ll see it often as Riko stares at it in his human form when he is thinking and when he is in his yokai form he sits on one of the branches in the tree looking down. Nura’s grandfather is also regularly seen near the tree. Additionally, there’s also a ‘secret’ technique used by the family that includes using saki and a sakura petal and ends with all the enemies incinerated.

Number 1: Bleach

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I came to the conclusion fairly early on that there is really no way to show just how impressive Byakuya’s bankai really is so if you have never watched Bleach you really should just for this attack. The first time we see it is when Ichigo pretty much goads Byakuya into releasing his bankai  and after the usual condescending remarks Byakuya literally lets go of his sword and in its place, after a very impressive entrance, we have thousands of blades scattered that Byakuya controls (and yes, they look just like cherry blossoms). What makes this technique particularly brilliant, other than looking gorgeous, is that it can be used for attack and defense and when he uses his hands he can increase the speed of the blades. Basically, anyone besides the protagonist is going down fast once Byakuya brings out this move.

Time for you to share your favourite appearance of cherry blossoms in an anime.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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