Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tojo-tei House Of Tokugawa Akitake

"Life is like unto a long journey with a heavy burden. 
Let thy step be slow and steady, that thou stumble not."

Tokugawa Ieyasu,
founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan


The stairs that leads to the Tojo-tei House.

Our final stop of the first Chiba Kun Ambassador tour was to Tojo-tei House (戸定邸) in Matsudo city. In 1867, when the last Edo Shogun returned political power to the emperor, the Edo era ended its 265-year history. A new era began, all Samurai were gone, and the people in the Shogun family went into retirement, faded into obscurity. It is unknown what happened to the shogun family thereafter, but visiting one of their residences tells the story of their quiet life after the storm. 

Tojo-tei House was build in 1884 as a former residence of Tokugawa Akitake (徳川昭武). The architecture of this residence was based on the design of the lord's residences in the Tokugawa Period and the mode in the early Meiji Period. Akitake was a brother of the last shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu (徳川慶喜), and was supposed to be the shogun after Yoshinobu retired. However, Edo era did not last by the time.


The entrance to the house.


There are plenty of greens surrounding the place.


And not forgetting, the beautiful hydrangea decorates the surrounding as well.


One of the volunteer guide, who led us around the house, explaining in details about the history of the house.


Almost the whole structure of this house is made of wood.


A small garden in the middle of the house.


A lamp decorates the house garden.


It is interesting to note that this is the only house by Tokugawa that is opened to the public.


One of the very few section of the house which is made of concrete to store the treasure box.


The main hall, which is specially made for guests.


Another angel of the spacious hall.


Beautiful lamp hanging from the ceiling.


A flower motif carved on the wall.


A closer look at the beautiful carving.


As for this one, it represents the motif of Eurasian tree sparrow.

The story is that Akitake, at the age 13, left for Paris to attend the Paris International Exhibition held in 1867 as the representative of the Shogun, and also visited several European countries. During the time he was away, the Edo-era ended. Instead of being the last Shogun, Akitake became the last lord of the Mito clan upon returning to Japan.

Akitake retired at the age of 30 and lived the rest of his days in comfort, hunting, taking photographs, and making ceramics in this residence - Tojo-tei, which was named after the location Tojo. This wooden house has designed in styles of Japanese architecture established in both Edo and Meiji period. The interior decoration is so simple, but only precious architectural materials are used. Although this house had large earthquakes in the past, no damage was found. The recent 3-11 earthquake was a testament to this, as the house stood firm against the fierce tremor that hit the Tohoku and Kanto region.


The beautiful garden of Tojo-tei House.


Another angle of the garden.


Taking a gaze of the wonderful architecture of the house from the garden is a great experience, and it is only possible on the 10th of every month, when the lawns of the garden is opened to the public.


It is possible to see Mount Fuji from this house, especially in the winter, and this house is selected as one of the 100 spots in Kanto region 
to see the famous symbol of Japan.


Not just Mount Fuji, because the tallest structure in Japan - Tokyo Sky Tree is visible as well!


A unique tree - a tree within a tree. Apparently, there are three kinds of trees that grow from the same spot.

The minimalism or simplicity chic found in this structure is the feature of traditional Japanese architecture, that creates the beauty of form. The garden behind the house is also an important element as it was designed so that seasonal followers can be enjoyed viewing from rooms.

The garden, with undulating lawn and clipped shrubs, gives us an early and good example blending of Japanese and Western elements in that Meiji Period. Tojo-tei House was registered as a place of scenic beauty in the Chiba Prefecture in 1986, and also an important cultural property in 2006.


A very antique lamp, which reminds me of the lamp in the toilet of my grandma's house lol!


Yae-no-ma (八重ノ間), which has a very unique window in the shape of a full moon.


 Another section of the house, which is now owned by Matsudo City and is designated as an important cultural asset of Japan.


One of the main bathroom of the house.


A closer look at the water catchment place.

Our guide was a local volunteer, who was amicable and ready to answer any questions we have about the history of this place. Apparently, this house was greatly unaffected by the Tohoku earthquake that shook Japan on that faithful afternoon of March 11, 2011. There were even some people who came here to take shelter at that time, because it was a safe place.

Visiting old Japanese houses is getting popular among Japanese of late, both young and old alike. If you are interested in visiting Tojo-tei or this types of tourist spots, it is recommended to visit in the morning before getting crowded, so that you can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, would be like Zen world.


Group photo at the main entrance to Tojo-tei House at the end of the tour (photo credit: Tooru Ishikawa).

Tojo-tei House
Opening hours: 09:30 - 17:00 (last admission 16:30)
Closed: Monday (Yuesday if Monday falls on a national holiday), Dec 28 - Jan 4. Also occasionally closed for exhibition preparation.
Admission rates:
For the museum AND the House: ¥240 (
¥200) (Adults), ¥160 (¥120) Concessions *;
For the museum OR the House:
¥150 (¥120) (Adults), ¥100 (¥80) Concessions *;
* College and High School. (Group rates available for a group of 20 or more)
714-1 Matsudo, Matsudo-shi, Chiba Prefecture, 271-0092, Japan.

04-7362-2050  Fax: 04-7361-0056
Website: (Japanese)
Access: Train: Matsudo station east exit (松戸駅東口) on JR Jōban Line (JR常磐線): 10 minutes walk.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weighty As Baby George

"Calyn just taught me how to send an email."
Mom's reaction
after sending me an email

Britain Royal Baby

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, carries her new born son, the Prince of Cambridge, who was born on Monday into public view for the first time
outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital, in London, Tuesday, July 23, 2013. The boy will be third in line to the British throne.  (AP Photo/John Stillwell, Pool)

When you were a baby, you also weighed as the royal baby. 3.8kg, very plump and chubby, pinkish cheeks and lips. So easy to hug and carry. When bathe for you also easy.
Calyn 3.25 kg
Cheryl 3.3 kg
Cindy 2.85 kg
By the way, you four guys very cute when you all were babies.
luv u always, mm

That's the email that Mom sent me the next that the royal baby was born. For a person who is not used to the technology world, I was actually surprised to receive her email. Apparently, my sister taught her how to send an email recently.

She said she was watching the news on the TV about the birth of baby George and as it was reported that he weighed 3.8 kilograms, it reminded Mom about me, as I weighed the same when I was born 26 years ago as well.

Speaking about baby's birth, even though it was recorded on her birth certificate that her birthday is on July 30, she always insists that her birthday is on July 29th, because according to the story, my grandma reported Mom's birth a day late. You know, in those days, housewives were too busy with their house-chores that they sometimes just forget about important stuff like this lol!

And here is just a simple post, dedicated to Mom, to wish her a Happy Birthday.  

P/S: You birthday card is on the way!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Icebreaker At Yuigahama Beach

"Palm trees, ocean breeze, salty air, sun kissed hair.
That endless summer, take me there."

Summer, 2013


Kamakura was the destination for the weekend gateway.

Well, the summer is officially here! The raining season has ended a couple of weeks ago and we have just stepped into the early summer in Japan. But one thing for sure, this transition period is one of the worst through the whole year. Heavy rain, flood, typhoon, and the worst of all, the scorching heat! Just a few days ago, a record-high temperature was recorded in Tatebayashi city, where the boiling mercury hit 39.5 degree Celsius! Crazy stuff really.

But we are not gonna let all those demotivate us, because it's summer! Mention summer and among the few common stuff often associated with summer in Japan are barbecue, beach, summer festivals and fireworks festival. No summer is gonna be completed without all those.


A very retro-looking train. You rarely get to see this kind of trains in Tokyo.


Boarded the holiday express (ホリデー快速), which runs on the Tokaido Line.


Outside Kamakura station. The beach is just about 15-minute walk away from this station.

Monday was a public holiday here in Japan; they call it the Marine Day (Umi-no Hi, which literally translates "Sea Day"), I headed to Yuigahama Beach (由比ケ浜) near Kamakura in Kanagawa prefecture. Geographically, this endearingly grubby beach is one of the nearest beach from Tokyo, and also one of the most popular spots for sun-bathing, swimming and surfing in the Shonan area, that you may have to fight for a spot on the sand at weekends.

Yuigahama beach faces Sagami Bay and is a 700-meter arch-shaped beach known for as a leisure destination just outside Tokyo. There are a number of seaside houses with showering facility, eating and resting places during the summer season.


 One of the beach bar at Yuigahama.


It was not even noon yet but the beach is almost covered by half-naked bodies everywhere.


Beach bench and umbrellas, and floats are available for rentals from these small huts.


And the traditional fun at the beach - building sand castles, human castles, etc.

It's summer and there's no denying that the weather here is usually hot. The water temperature however, is moderate to almost tropical, girls (and guys) are cute, and the beer is in full flow. Or the sand is not the most beautiful you have ever seen, so is the water, but well, it still will not beat the coffee-coloured Klang River lol!

The waves were just nice, not too strong and we managed to have great fun in the water. I was the main victim of Kai Cung, who brought his water pistol there and we had quite an intense water war in the sea haha! My response was to attack him with the seaweed that kept tangled on my legs all the time lol! On that day, I guess I've consumed more salt water than the past few years combined lol!


The number of people keep increasing as noon approaches.


There were a life-saving drill held at the water at noon.


Someone kept teasing my Mickey Mouse pants, saying its too funny for me to put it on =.=


Kai Cung and Benet were my partner-in-crime for the day.

One good thing is that there were life-guard on stand-by, just in case anything untoward happens in the sea. Whenever the wind gets a little stronger than usual, they will signal a warning to keep their distance from the deeper water.

One distinguish thing that you can only spot during summer is the beach houses, which is set up along the beach. The Norton Quicksilver Cafe is one of the most recognizable among all with its well-designed bright yellow beach bar. Besides offering itself like a cafe, there are also locker and showering facilities for visitors. As a reward, it often attract locals from around the area who come for a meal and a quiet drink by the seaside.


After a long water fight, it was time to grab our lunch.


They name this Kizuna Beach House, and Benet says they have Norton to protect this house from virus attack lol!


Avocado hamburger set with mango juice on a hot summer afternoon.

Now that we are wandering away from bars and onto dinner, it's a good time to mention there is a group of Thai and one Turkish restaurants clustered together near the entrance in a food court type arrangement which make a great choice for a bite after the sun sets.

This is also popular with locals in the area who skip the beach frolics but make it down for dinner. Each place has quite a wide range of choices, although oddly enough, they don't serve drinks which means you will have to head back to the Beach Bar in order to wash down all that spicy grub.


After we had enough fun at the beach, we dropped by this famous street in Kamakura - Komachi-dori (小町通).


There are souvenir shops, restaurants, stalls selling local goodies along this street.


Shaved ice or kakigori sells like hot cakes on hot days like this.


Cute little decorative items designed according to the twelve zodiac animals.


Had some green tea dango, glazed with shoyu (soy sauce).


Honey soft cream topped with yuzu-flavoured honey.


Donguri Republic (どんぐり共和国) is a store that specializes in character-themed merchandise based on the animated films of Studio Ghibli.


Donguri Republic is a place full to Studio Ghibli merchandise, leading you to jump into the Studio Ghibli animation world, 
helmed by the world renowned directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.

So, that sums up my half-day trip to the beach in Kamakura and a short stroll at the town. Looking forward to more of summer outings in the coming weeks. And guess what, I am starting to smell some nice barbecue meat and magnificent fireworks already :)