Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tokyo marathon 2013

Last Sunday the yearly Tokyo marathon was held. On a sunny Sunday morning all runners started in Shinjuku, to run the entire 42.195 meter through the streets of Tokyo to finish in Odaiba. Although the weather looked good, blue sky and sunny, there was actually a quite cold and strong wind, so we think that was pretty tough for the runners.

Just like last year, we decided to go watch this event. Actually, this time the race would pass real close to our house, so we decided to watch by Akebonebashi. At that point the runners were only 4km into the race, so most of them still looked quite fresh and energetic.

head of the race

Spectating the Tokyo marathon can make you wonder why there are actually people participating that wear normal sportswear... Dressing up in strange, weird, original outfits seems to be a part of the Tokyo marathon. We actually spotted some of the same runners and outfits as last year.
Compared to last year, the Tokyo sky tree was no longer the most popular inspiration for outfits: we only spotted a few sky tree hats in the outfits. The real trend this year was to run dressed up as a vegetable or fruit. All kind of varieties; eggplant, melon, beans, bananas, strawberries, were spotted in the marathon. Almost a real promotion for a healthy, balanced diet!
Further, outfits from the popular One Piece-series, business-outfits, cultural or historical figures, and animals were still very popular.
The most impressive dressed up runner was actually running while he not only carried his guitar, but was also playing it and singing various songs. We wonder if he managed to continue doing so for the entire race...

Apart from our photo collection, we made a video of 10 minutes of the Tokyo marathon, so you can all see really how many runners are wearing strange outfits and spot them yourselves! Please enjoy!

even other runners are taking pictures...
Whooh! All the same outfit!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chinese New Year: Chinatown in Yokohama

Last weekend was the Chinese New Year celebration. What can be a better place to celebrate this then at the biggest Chinatown in Japan: in Yokohama!

So, last Sunday, we took the train to Yokohama. Since the new year celebrations would only start in the late afternoon, we decided to first explore some other areas of Yokohama. We started out in the Minato Mirai area, a big district close to the station and containing many shops, entertainment and restaurants. The spaciousness and wideness of the area is a welcome change from the crowds of Tokyo. Especially the area around the cruise terminal (Osanbashi Pier and the Yamashita Park) gives a wonderful view over the bay and the water and makes for a relaxing stroll.

View from Osanbashi Pier over Yokohama: Landmark tower, ferry-wheel of Cosmo World & Red brick warehouses are easy recognizable

Chinatown lies on walk-able distance from the bay. The area is filled with Chinese restaurants, food stalls and souvenir shops. Central in the area lies a big temple, with its various colours and many dragons it looks distinctly different from the typical Japanese temples.
The New Year celebrations had brought many people to Chinatown, and the streets were very crowded. It was a great mix of nationalities, of course many Chinese, but also many Japanese and foreign tourists wanted to experience the celebrations and eat the Chinese food. So there were many queues, for all the food stalls and restaurants people were lined outside and around the celebrations it was crowded with people .

Chinatown, Yokohama

The main part of the festival consisted of traditional Chinese dragon dances. Dancers, supported by drums and Chinese fire crackers, would perform the dragon dance in front (and inside) of stores. They go from store to store, and continue through all the streets. Even though it is very crowded, everyone has a change to see a dance, just line up at the store where they will perform next. The dragon dance supposedly gives good fortune to the shop for the next year.

Dragon dance video:

After trying some delicious Chinese food, and watching the dances, we walked back to the bay area to enjoy to beautiful light up skyline of Yokohama.