Archive | February 2013

Tokyo Marathon 2013

I attended the Tokyo Marathon yet again as a spectator. I missed out on the lottery to actually run it. I swear, I am not going to leave Japan until I get to run/walk/crawl the Tokyo Marathon, goddamn it! Instead, it’s now tradition to go out and watch it, mostly to check out all the crazy costumes that people wear.

This time we staked out a spot at Asakusabashi and walked alongside the route all the way to Ginza (about 5km).

The goal this year was to just take photos of all the interesting costumes, because you know, running a marathon in 5 degrees celcius is not hard enough!

I present the fancy dress parade that is the Tokyo Marathon:

Super Mario:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Salaryman (man in suit):

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Short Panda:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Tall Panda:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Someone from The Flintstones??:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Don’t know what this dude is meant to be:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Where’s Wally! (Super cool. And he wasn’t the only Wally. I saw a few people dressed as Wally). I am impressed they wore jeans as well! Must be some serious chafing.

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Eggplant:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Tiger suit (and a spectator giving out chocolates. I happened to be standing next to the woman, so lots of runners were swooping in):

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Another costume:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Beer head:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A banana:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Santa Claus:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

And the perennial favourite: Jesus Christ!
Even more hardcore than ever. This year he was half naked!

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Carrying a cross:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

And he was BARE FOOTED! For the whole marathon. And carrying a cross. And wearing nothing but a nappy (in 5 degrees celcius!)

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Jesus, on the way back:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Jesus has run in the marathon for the last few years. I’m not sure if it’s the same dude.
Here is Jesus back in 2011. A lot less hardcore back then. Fully clothed and had shoes.

From Tokyo Marathon 2011

This Gladiator dude gave JC a run for his money in the costume department:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

That can’t be comfortable:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Saw Gladiator again about 6km later. Bet he’s regretting the costume now.

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

I mean, wearing a costume is one thing, but having a prop is another – a cross, a shield etc.

A toy dog on a leash, say what?!

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A handbag:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

More costumes:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

For the love of god, how you can run 42km in a frog costume:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A deflated Michael Jackson. That ain’t no moonwalk!

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Love the couple/pair costumes! Ketchup and mustard!

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A freaky clown:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

A different Where’s Wally dude. Again, in jeans! It made me wonder if a whole group of Where’s Wally all started together at the start line, but then all went off at their own pace once the race started.

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

I saw one Japanese dude who had a sign on him that said “konkatsu-chuu”. It means looking for a girlfriend/wife! Can’t remember if the sign had his number on it or not. But a great way to tell the world you’re single AND available!

Saw sooo many more costumes! But hard to capture them all. I’ve decided that if I have the pleasure (or pain) of getting in, I am totally going to wear a costume. And boy, do I have a doozy of a costume planned!!!

Some more pics of Tokyo Marathon 2013:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Spectators line the streets:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Runners in action:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013
From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Drink station:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Towards Sky Tree:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Running back into Ginza:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

The sweeper bus:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Pounding the pavement:

From Tokyo Marathon 2013

Congrats to everyone who finished, especially those who wore costumes! You provide great entertainment and inspiration to us spectators.

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Sydney Pool Crawl: ABC Pool

After walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I then walked around Circular Quay and past the Opera House and through the outskirts of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens

Aussies in their natural habitat, bumming around:

From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair:

From Sydney Botanical Gardens

Wolloomoolloo (did I spell that right?):

From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From Sydney Botanical Gardens

Destination: Pool number 2 – the Andrew “Boy” Charlton Pool.

From Sydney Botanical Gardens
From ABC pool

Another glorious outdoor 50m pool (part chlorinated/part salt water), mostly dedicated to lap swimmers, too!

From ABC pool
From ABC pool
From ABC pool
From ABC pool
From ABC pool
From ABC pool

That was a solid workout of a day.
1km swim, 5km walk, another 1km swim and more walking. I had another pool on my pool crawl, but alas, I a had plans that afternoon so had to end the day short. Only 2 pools, so not much of a pool crawl. Will need do the other two pools when I’m next in Sydney (September — probably not the best swimming weather though – it will be winter in the Southern Hemisphere).

A Sydney pool crawl is definitely a cool way to see the main sights of Sydney and get in a bit of fitness. Learn from my mistakes – don’t spend the day walking around in thongs (flip flops). Joggers are a better option. As are shorts (and not a summer dress). And rinse off all the salt after each swim to avoid chafing.

Last Saturday. This Saturday.

Last Saturday – Book Club.
I love reading, but don’t read as often as I’d like. I am attempting to read more this year. My friends and I have started up our book club – an excuse to meet up once a month over wine and do a book swap and talk about, you guessed it, books!

Here is what I gained for the month of February:

From Saturday random

This Saturday (ie today) – an attempt an apartment-hunting. I went to check out the part of town where I want to move to. I’ve got it in my head that I’ve already picked out the area. Thing is, I’ve never actually been there. I thought I should go check out the area today. Didn’t actually see any apartments per se, because I didn’t make an appointment to see a real estate agent, but wanted to suss out the area anyway. Walked the pants off Tokyo.
Took the train back in towards home…thought I would get off a few stations earlier and walk some more. Was just randomly walking around parts of Tokyo that I’m not too familiar with. Lo and behind, came across this gem of a humble abode – complete with suspicious dude out the front.

From Saturday random
From Saturday random

He was just standing there. Perhaps a security detail? Even though I was clearly taking photos, he still didn’t budge out of the way. Random house. Fancy living there!

Shirako* (one Michelin star)

Racked up another Michelin star to my eats tally. This time a one Michelin star in the Shonan area. In the onsen town of Yugawara, a short walk from the station, in a non-descript building, you’ll find Shirako. The menu doesn’t have a lot of variety. I think there’s only about 6 dishes that you can choose from, at lunch time anyway. But what they do do, is good. Come here for the food. Not for the service though. And there is only thing you need to order – the kinmedai fish dish. Absolutely delish. We tried to order 4 of them (one each), but alas they only serve a limited amount a day, so we could only order 2 and we’d share it, and ordered another dish to share. We got the sashimi platter. It was pretty good but not the best sushi I’ve ever had, but a good assortment of sashimi though.

From Shirako michelin
From Shirako michelin
From Shirako michelin

Was not a fan of the side dishes:

From Shirako michelin

And the lunch sets also come with rice and soup.

The kinmedai fish (金目の姿煮定食) is where it’s at. It takes 40minutes to prepare. But so worth it. They bake it in this amazing marinade stew and it’s so amazingly meaty. I would come back here just for this dish. Was totally bummed that we had to share the fish between two. I so wanted a whole one to myself!

From Shirako michelin
From Shirako michelin
From Shirako michelin
From Shirako michelin

A job well done!

From Shirako michelin
From Shirako michelin

Very, very reasonable prices too. 3500yen for a one-star Michelin meal.

You wouldn’t think it would be Michelin starred.

From Shirako michelin

Website here. (Open for lunch and dinner)

February Long Weekend: Yugawara Onsen

Every weekend should be a long weekend. Makes the working week so much more bearable.
Last weekend was one such long weekend and a friend’s birthday so it was a perfect excuse for an onsen weekend with friends at Yugawara onsen (only 1.5 hours away from Tokyo).

This is how you ride the train in style – with champagne in hand:

From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen

We stayed at a really nice ryokan. I thought these silhouettes were cool.

From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen

Some gourmet food:

Sashimi and edible flowers:

From Yugawara onsen

Appetisers – had romanesca for the first time. Romanesca is basically the lovechild of broccoli and cauliflower.

From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen

Yugawara onsen:

From Yugawara onsen

It was a leisurely weekend of food, champagne and onsens. And we spent two nights there, which was rather indulgent of us. I have to make the most of long weekends this year (have very little annual leave up my sleeve).

Giant amao strawberries:

From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen
From Yugawara onsen

Sydney Pool Crawl: Harbour Bridge Walk

Part II of the Sydney Pool crawl was walking the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From North Sydney Pool I thought it would be a good idea to walk all the way to my next pool – the Andrew “Boy” Charlton (ABC) Pool. I did not realise how far that was!

From North Sydney train station, you can walk along the entire length of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Blessed with blue skies and sunshine, it was the perfect day to tale in the sights of Sydney’s main attractions – namely the harbour, the Bridge, Opera House and Circular Quay.

Near North Sydney Pool – Under the Bridge:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Luna Park:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Circular Quay:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Start of the Bridge walk:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Sydney’s harbour bridge has a pedestrian walking path on one side – open to walkers, joggers and the occasional person with a bicycle, and train tracks on the other where the North Sydney train line runs.

Over and across the Bridge:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Great views of the harbour from the bridge:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

I love harbour cities!

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Not only can you walk, train, drive, cycle across the bridge, you can also climb on the Bridge – if you do the Bridge Climb Experience (definitely worth doing!).

Here are some bridge climbers:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

You can also walk up to the Bridge lookout pylons (an $11 entry fee to walk up 200 steps).

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

A typical Sydney summer’s day:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Circular Quay:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

From The Rocks:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Walking route from North Sydney Pool, across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, around Circular Quay, around the Royal Botanical Gardens and to the next pool (approx 5.3km – 1.5hours at a leisurely pace):

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Sydney Pool Crawl: Part I

During my summer Sydney visit, I thought it would be an awesome idea to do a Sydney Pool Crawl (as opposed to a bar crawl). Like most good plans, it never quite turns out the way that you plan it. I had planned on visiting 4 swimming pools around Sydney City and swimming 1km at each pool. The reality – – I only did two pools. Hence I satisfied the “Sydney Pool” part of my idea. The “Crawl” came into it, because I ended up walking about 10km all over town! I did sooo much walking that I didn’t get to do the four pools. Did I mention that I had planned on walking from one pool to the next pool?! Hence all that walking around, meant that I didn’t get to quite fit in as much swimming as I would have liked. The day started off with a train ride into the city all the way to North Sydney station. From there I walked to North Sydney Pool – a wonderful pool (and probably one of my favourites). It’s situated right under the “Coathanger” aka the Sydney Habour Bridge. Can’t complain with a harbour-side pool. It’s also quite an historic pool and the water more saltwater than chlorine. Part 1: North Sydney Pool. Prime piece of real estate, that.

From North Sydney Pool

The “Coathanger”:

From North Sydney Pool

Lovely 50m outdoor pool. A whole 7 laps dedicated to lap swimmers!

From North Sydney Pool
From North Sydney Pool
From North Sydney Pool

Enjoying the Sydney sunshine, blue skies and a refreshing swim:

From North Sydney Pool

Dedicated lap swimmers:

From North Sydney Pool
From North Sydney Pool
From North Sydney Pool

Harbourside:

From North Sydney Pool

Luna Park amusement park right next door.

From North Sydney Pool

Swam 1km here and enjoyed a quick bask in the sun. One pool down. Sydney Pool Crawl to be continued…. 5193381 2013-02-12 22:43:33 2013-02-12 13:43:33 open closed sydney-pool-crawl-part-i publish 0 0 post 0 Australia down under : oz Fitness passing time photography Random Swimming Swimming Travel travel _edit_last 253158 _encloseme 1 _encloseme 1 Sydney Pool Crawl: Harbour Bridge Walk http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/2013/02/15/sydney-pool-crawl-harbour-bridge-walk/ Fri, 15 Feb 2013 04:35:56 +0000 aleishariboldi@gmail.com http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/?p=5193383 Part II of the Sydney Pool crawl was walking the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From North Sydney Pool I thought it would be a good idea to walk all the way to my next pool – the Andrew “Boy” Charlton (ABC) Pool. I did not realise how far that was! From North Sydney train station, you can walk along the entire length of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Blessed with blue skies and sunshine, it was the perfect day to tale in the sights of Sydney’s main attractions – namely the harbour, the Bridge, Opera House and Circular Quay. Near North Sydney Pool – Under the Bridge:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Luna Park:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Circular Quay:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Start of the Bridge walk:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Sydney’s harbour bridge has a pedestrian walking path on one side – open to walkers, joggers and the occasional person with a bicycle, and train tracks on the other where the North Sydney train line runs. Over and across the Bridge:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Great views of the harbour from the bridge:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

I love harbour cities!

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Not only can you walk, train, drive, cycle across the bridge, you can also climb on the Bridge – if you do the Bridge Climb Experience (definitely worth doing!). Here are some bridge climbers:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

You can also walk up to the Bridge lookout pylons (an $11 entry fee to walk up 200 steps).

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

A typical Sydney summer’s day:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Circular Quay:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

From The Rocks:

From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge
From Walking the Harbour Bridge

Walking route from North Sydney Pool, across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, around Circular Quay, around the Royal Botanical Gardens and to the next pool (approx 5.3km – 1.5hours at a leisurely pace):

From Walking the Harbour Bridge

 

Afternoon tea – Hotel Seiyo Ginza

Occasionally, I get people emailing me who have contacted me though my blog. To date, I have even met some people – total strangers, at that, through my blog. There was a Spanish guy who would write to me asking about open water swimming in Japan. I met up with him twice over the course of my three years in Tokyo.

I then met a girl who lived in Australia and was visiting Tokyo. She was a fellow foodie and we exchange a few emails about recommended eats in Tokyo, and I agreed to meet her for lunch. I haven’t written a blog post about that lunch…yet. I can’t remember if I mentioned it here or not, but the day I met this girl – we ran into Hugh Jackman’s wife – Deborah Lee-Furness. I just missed out on seeing Hugh Jackman. He was in Tokyo filming the new Wolverine movie. It was sooo exciting just to meet his wife! For the record, we had lunch at the Park Hyatt hotel. I still need to write up about that lunch… that was months ago now.

About 2 weeks ago, I got to meet another blog-reader. We had afternoon tea together. She is such a cool girl. We had so much in common. I’m sure in another lifetime we would be best friends, were it not for the fact that she lives in Ecuador! I am totally going to have to go there! We made arrangements to meet at the Hotel Seiyo Ginza. I had chosen it purely on the fact that the hotel is closing down as of May this year, so I had wanted to go there before they close down. We rocked up without a reservation and were given a table immediately. Two afternoon sets were ordered and we chatted the next couple of hours away. Basically trying to tell our whole life stories in a matter of a couple of hours. Carolina is such a cool person – positive energy and vibe with a lot going for. We’re both foodies and fans of afternoon tea and travel. This was only her second afternoon tea experience ever. The afternoon tea here was very classic, traditional – very tame. Not bad, not terrible either. The hotel isn’t going to be around much longer so I figured I’d give it a try. The Seiyo Hotel in Ginza:

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

The savoury plate’s saving grace was the mini hamburger.

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

Sweets and cakes:

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

Scones – plain and choc chip

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

The afternoon set here comes with a glass of sparkling wine (or juice) plus four beverages of your choice – tea is served by the cup, not by the pot. So I tried four different cups of tea (original blend tea, assam tea, houji cha milk tea, and a mint tea). All in all, not too bad – 5 drinks plus afternoon tea set comes to 5000yen. Maybe not one of the best options for high tea in Tokyo though.

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea
From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

Is it a little bit uncanny, but do we kinda look alike? (Apart from the fact that I wear glasses.)

From Hotel Seiyo Ginza afternoon tea

 

The Sink

You like ice-cream, you say? Have I got a challenge for you! Back in Sydney, I went up to the Coast and spent some time with a few besties. And good ol’ Jess delivered, with an ice-cream-eating challenge.

From The Sink
From The Sink

The Terrigal Ice Creamery offers a dish called The Sink! And it’s actually served in a sink. Oh, the novelty of it all. How awesome is that! It’s 15 scoops of dairy bliss. We enlisted a group of 5 (including 2 guys) to wade through 15 scoops of ice-cream. The first and only dilemma in such a fun eating challenge is what 15 flavours of ice cream to choose! The wall of flavours:

From The Sink

Me thinks someone wanted the “Strawberry Summer”

From The Sink

My friends anxiously wait for The Sink:

From The Sink

I present The Sink:

From The Sink
From The Sink
From The Sink
From The Sink

And if 15 scoops of ice-cream wasn’t enough calories – they threw in flake bars, waffles, topping and sprinkles!

From The Sink
From The Sink
From The Sink
From The Sink

So much fun to eat all this! We all dug in like it was our job. It was a hot summer’s day so we had to eat it pretty fast before it all melted. And with there being 15 different flavours we all jostled to try each one. The Sink slowly, slowly, vanishes as we all tuck in.

From The Sink
From The Sink

Halfway through….

From The Sink

Going, going…

From The Sink

Gone.

From The Sink

Mission accomplished!

From The Sink

If we had straws, we probably would have have drunk all the melted ice cream! We actually ate all this, seriously, in a space of 20 minutes! Everyone who orders The Sink at this ice-creamery gets their photo taken with it. If you ever happen to go there, you’ll see a photo of us stuck up on their wall. The Sink is pretty good value too. Only 30 bucks for 15 scoops, so between the five of us, it was only 6 bucks each. If you were wondering what 15 flavours we chose, here’s what we went with (we each chose 3 flavours each): 1. Chocolate gelato 2. Vanilla 3. Rainbow 4. Coffee 5. Hokey Pokey 6. Hazelnut 7. Cookies and cream 8. Watermelon 9. Mint choc chip 10. Old English toffee 11. Choc chip 12. Rocky Road 13. Mango 14. Banana 15. Ginger (!!!) That was just random. Trust Nell to pick that flavour 😉

Taxirobics

Move over Zumba, Taxirobics is in. I was walking around the streets of Ginza yesterday armed with my camera (as I was on my way to an afternoon tea), and lo and behold, I saw a taxi driver who was obviously taking a break and thought he’d get in a bit of aerobics. He was doing a variety of aerobics moves – side kicks, jogging on the spot etc. He was pretty intense about it. Totally oblivious to everything around him, I managed to capture a few discreet shots. I would have loved to have watched him for longer and taken more photos, but instead of him being the weird one, I started looking like the crazy person taking photos of him! I love that he’s wearing his taxi driver uniform complete with vest and everything. Although, I see he did take off his white driving gloves.

From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics
From Taxirobics

He’s in pretty good shape, so it’s definitely working for him. Taxirobics – the next big thing. You heard it here first!