Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mr. Miyazaki and Ghibli

So now you see the second reason why the last day was very special. It was like a cherry on a cake for our trip. We were on our way to visit my friends and later the Ghibli museum when we saw Hayao Miyazaki walking towards us. In case you don't know who he is, read on here.
One does not get to meet this man often in the public I was told. 
There's not much to tell, except that everybody was exited and Mr. Miyazaki was very calm, but smiling a lot and waved to us on his way back to Ghibli studio.

 What a day. After the great home made lunch we find ourselves in the Ghibli museum. No photos were allowed inside, but only for the best. People simply have to see it for themselves.
The next three photos were made on the roof of the museum.
Later we had coffee and cake in the cafe of the museum. We saw a guy drawing chocolate hats on top of the coffee all day long. I am a bit worried about his back...

And the day was still not over! On our way to hotel we made a detour and visited Kakusenen shop, specializing in succulents.
 We saw some wonderful plants. Also some amazingly high prices. I had no idea that localy bred haworthia can be that expensive. 
And the ceramic pots were a feast for the eyes and hands equally.

Clown fish from Sumida aquarium in Tokyo making it's bed. 

That's all from our trip to Japan. I hope you enjoyed it too :-)

Good night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Our last day in Japan was very special for many reasons. I will tell you about the first one in this post.
Before I even knew I am going to visit Japan I started following another fern and orchid enthusiast on Instagram. She was from Tokyo. She in return followed me.
So as soon as I knew I am going to Japan I asked if she would like to meet and give an interview about her hobby. I was very exited to be invited to her place. 
So after more than 3 months I am walking with three beautiful Japanese women and my friend Giedre in the streets in the outskirts of Tokyo. 
People grow vegetables in their yards and persimmon fruits shine like lamps everywhere.
The house is perfect. High ceilings allow to hang the gigantic staghorn ferns wherever one wishes.
The girls are busy preparing ramen for lunch and me and Masako have a chat. 
I find out she is 39 years old, married and has two sons. Currently she works at a small system development company.
She remembers she got interested in orchids one year ago. A white Cymbidium melted her heart last January. That's how it all started.
Masako has around 35 orchids and as many staghorn ferns, also some succulents. She loves orchids for their bizarre looks and vitality. Even non blooming orchids are nice to look at, because of their bulbs. Her favorite orchid right now is Dendrobium aphyllum. Masako got it from the wife of her master of staghorn ferns.
I ask how growing orchids in summer and winter differ and she tells me that the winter in Tokyo is cold and very dry. She doesn't have a green house, so the living room is full of plants. The summer of Tokyo is hot with strong sunshine. And Masako is happy to be able to grow plants freely outside. But as most orchid growers she envies the people in Thailand
I find out that Masako's family is indifferent to her hobby. They don't hate nor love it (ha, just like mine). But she smiles and says she hopes her sons will one day help her water the plants.
Because the never ending watering is the most frustrating thing in orchid cultivation, says Masako.
I am curious if she visits orchid forums and shows. She does visit orchid shows often, but tells me that for now growing orchids is the hobby of the elderly in Japan.

Here are some advises for people who might get interested in growing orchids and staghorn ferns. 
・Plants are not interior goods, so make a habit of watering.
・Growing orchids and staghorn ferns is very similar. Let's take the challenge!

The scull here is not a real one. I really liked it!
Platycerium ridleyi is one of the most difficult staghorn fern species to grow. I hope this little one becomes a big and strong plant!
Ant plant dischidia.

The lunch was amazing. We got some tips on food making. Also some very special desserts.
The growing sanseveria collection.
Look at the perfect chandelier!
I hope me and the girls will meet again and we will visit some of the Japanese orchid and staghorn nurseries.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Back to Tokyo and the fish. Sumida aquarium and Tsukiji fish market

 Our journey was almost over and we had only four nights left in Tokyo. One morning we decided we will have our breakfast in the Tsukiji fish market. And we would have raw sea food. Probably the worst breakfast one can have. Maybe except for my father in law.  He would love it.
 There were other things in the market. Like these expensive mushrooms and pickled vegetables.
 The deadly kiss.
I have seen quite a few of these gigantic sculptures sitting on buildings. Even an animated crab.
 More street style. Wide pants and furry hats seem to be a hit right now. A queue for the omelet.
 Giedre changed her course and went for the famous omelet.  I had my mind on the raw fish no matter what.
 I tried some of this dried shredded tuna. Dried fish is rather common in Europe, especially up North.
 Foreign fish markets are full of wonders. Just look at these crustacean and the faces of those fish!

 This older lady was taking a photo of a stuffed lynx, mounted on a mountain of dried fish and shrimp.
 Pickles tasted rather different from those at home. I am really not a fan of pickled goods, but maybe it was the curiosity that led me to trying out many different pickled things.
 Finally, the breakfast. I liked everything except for the raw shrimp. Somehow unpleasant texture and much less taste than of a cooked one.
 Another morning we headed to one of the districts popular among hipsters. Shimokitazawa was a car free, quiet place. Most of the streets were crammed with vintage and second hand clothing shops. 
 We've arrived pretty early and I haven't had my morning coffee yet. After finding this tactical spot we sat down and watched people passing on the street.
 Most of the shops had many curious items. Some nicer, some uglier... But definitely something for every taste.
 You know it's true, most of the clothes are smaller in size. Even if I tried an L size, the sleeves were usually too short...
 Aha! A furry hat again!

 Did I mention I have been collecting feather hats, but soon I had realized this hobby would require much space. There are a couple left. I think Japan would have been a perfect place to wear them almost every day, but definitely not in Tartu. I would probably be known as "that crazy hat lady" . 
 We took a few photos of the most common ensembles in the shops. Grandma and grandpa, with an occasional film noir or naughty librarian touch.
 Oversize jacket with big pants or skirt does not always look good on tall people. We would probably look like walking Christmas trees :-)

 The evening turned out to be very different from the morning. I spent some time researching and deciding on which of the few aquariums to visit. Sumida seemed to be the smallest, most modern and in walking distance from our guesthouse.
 I never regretted my choice. I have been dreaming of seeing a real aquascaping tank. And there they were.

 To maintain it neat and thriving one must know some chemistry, be a bit on the pedantic side and have patience. I most definitely lack the first one...
 And the jellyfish! I have only seen occasional ones in Sweden. But never at this angle and not that many species!
 The aquarium breeds their own jellyfish and one can follow the life cycle of the creatures.

 The colorful fatty ones, called blue jellyfish were the children's favorites. I was exited to see the flashing Bolinopsis mikado.

 I must mention that the design of the exposition was rather unusual.  And there was a strong perfume smell to camouflage the smell of the penguins.
 Yep, there are upside down jellyfish too.
 I think I would like to have a shrimp tank. It can be smaller than a fish tank and perhaps even more fun as the animals have a peculiar behavior scheme.
 The clown fish was so cute trying to hide in the anemone.

 The kingdom of the penguins. The place was immaculate as there was a person emerging at even intervals and spraying the dropping with a hose. All shiny and clean like the rest of Japan.
 OMG! Those were Garden eels. I think I have never witnessed cuteness mixed so perfectly with funny. 

 These three here had a very cozy evening. I wonder how does it feel if one fish is poking another fish in the eye, since they don't have any eyelids. And doesn't a fish look always smarter if it's eyes can rotate at least a bit.
 Two majestic fish. There are many reasons I admire moray eels. They have some very interesting qualities and are both intimidating and beautiful. They also respond to an invitation from other fish species(Plectropomus pessuliferus) to go hunting.

 There were tanks with baby sea turtles and it was feeding time. Those babies were rather quick and gulped one pellet after another. With some assistance from the spoon. Kawaii!
It wouldn't be a real Japanese aquarium if there haven't been any gold fish. There was the whole line of evolution on display.

See you next time!