Birds and Babies in the blossom

I’d never noticed the birds taking pollen from the cherry blossom before. It was only when lying on the futon with the balcony doors open one morning last week that I saw them at it, hopping around from branch to branch, the tips of their beaks coated in golden dust.

I don’t know what kind of birds they are, as I don’t remember seeing or hearing them in the UK. They’re pretty noisy actually, only capable of an ugly screech. Still, I can forgive them this as their ugly screech is still a lot more pleasant for this country bumpkin than most of the noises around us.

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It’s been a hectic week, as outside of my work I’ve had meetings at luchtimes and in the evenings too. Next week is set to get even busier, as things really start to take off with TEDxTokyo (15th May). This is a *good* busy-ness. I’m particularly looking forward to a mid-week meeting with Ustream Japan, part of the Softbank group 🙂

I’m very happy that Spring is finally here. Today we’re seeing a lot of the cherry blossom petals finally being blown from the branches – every year I’m surprised by just how brief their stay is.

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The park has been a hub of activity lately, with the ponies coming out to give people rides, the boats being untethered, and the guinea pigs posing for photos.

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Anyway, our train is now arriving at our destination, so I’d best pack up and get off.

Tarra for now!

Video: Japan is not all skyscrapers and concrete

Yesterday, I made a trip to see my friends and Mrs. Bibi in the hills of Saitama, a couple of hours by public transport from where we live in central Tokyo.

Getting off the bus at the end of what had been quite an exciting journey there (I finished editing a video on the train and then had the opportunity to tell a taxi driver to “Follow that bus!” – after the initial confusion he rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job of heading it off at a junction a few kilometres down the road) I found myself struck by the beauty of Spring, and so decided to make a little video of the area as I walked up the hill.

Photos: our house and ‘garden’ in Tokyo

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I’ve lived in a lot of houses in Tokyo, and I must say, most of them have been absolute dumps. They’ve been a combination of small, smelly, dingy, and totally lacking in a view. I still remember the classic view I had from my bedroom window in Asagaya – it was of the next building, 30cm away.

As regular readers will know, this time around we really did strike it lucky, being able to take over the contract from *Twinkle*s sister and her English partner (the two of whom are now living in Scotland). There was no key money, just 40,000 yen fire insurance and processing fee (and the deposit for my inlaws). The rent is treasonable (approx 100,000), and with it only being a few minutes from Gakugeidaigaku station in Meguro the location is great.

Our Tokyo Garden

Now that Spring is here I can hardly believe how fortunate we are to live here. The glass-walled east-facing side is a wall of green leaves blinking in the sunshine, through which we can see the fountain on the pond beyond.

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The south-facing side (that’s the one above, featuring my new homemade window-ledge garden and bird feeders, which are proving to be immensely popular with the sparrows) was going to be home to a new mansion, but the plans were put on hold, providing us instead with a beautiful poppy-strewn garden.

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Looking at these surroundings, I can hardly believe how fortunate we are, and how different this is from that cell in Asagaya, or the dungeon in Hokkaido located underground next to the sewage tank.

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Oh! And another dream of mine has come true – I have a new baby – a pineapple baby! I’ve only ever seen them growing once before, when I went to the semi-tropical islands of Okinawa in 2003 – before that I thought that they grew on trees!

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Multicolour tadpoles


Yesterday, mum decided to take her easel outside and draw some inspiration from our pond life. Currently, it’s playing host to thousands of tadpoles, who are happily developing the most extraordinary gills and reabsorbing their own tails.

Yesterday afternoon however, the tadpoles were in for a rude shock, as mother tripped over a paving stone and fell in the pond – taking her pots of paint with her! 
Well, there ensued a great commotion, the outcome of which is a pond now host to a huge swarm of multicolour tadpoles! 
More tadpoles on my Flickr account.


Mother. Not a tadpole.