sports day photography walk
This Monday was a national holiday here in Japan. Taiiku no hi or National Sports & Health Day to be exact, which was originally established to mark the opening of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964. The Japanese celebrate Sports Day by holding various sports and health themed activities throughout the day. Many schools put on sports festivals, city gyms offer free admission, and there are often drives related to health and wellness held around the country by various organizations.
I had briefly considered signing up for a Sports & Health Day race around Shinjuku, but dismissed the idea due to its extreme proximity (less than a week!) to my upcoming Katsunuma 10.2k race. Instead, Eric and I chose to have a pretty low-key holiday, and did not participate in any of the organized festivities. It did strike me as kind of odd for someone like myself with a strong interest in physical & mental health to not do something particularly active on Sports Day, but I’m choosing to look at it in the same way many people view Valentine’s Day: I don’t need a particular day to celebrate my health, I celebrate my health every day of the year.
We started our holiday off by sleeping in again. We both have been suffering a lack of sleep since the beginning of the summer (originally related to the heat), and have been trying to take every opportunity to get that back on track. We were very leisurely about getting up, but, as always, went straight into making breakfast once we did.
Breakfast this morning was pancakes.
When I was growing up in San Francisco we lived with my grandparents, and every Sunday morning my family would gather together while my step-grandfather Kenny made amazing crepes stuffed full of my grandmother’s fruit salad and fresh, hand-whipped cream. I love looking back on those Sunday mornings together and cherish the vivid memories I have associated with them. Several years ago, in a fit of homesickness and longing for my own traditions, I instituted a Pancake Sunday policy. Now, I wake up and make pancakes (or waffles, since in March of this year, but that’s a story deserving of its own entry) first thing almost every Sunday without fail.
…except for on holiday weekends, when Pancake Sunday becomes Pancake Monday.
After our pancakes had been made and consumed, we took advantage of the clear weather to wash and hang some laundry. It was such a nice day out, though, that I couldn’t avoid the temptation to get out and do something in the sunshine. It took a little convincing to pry Eric away from the projects he had going, but the promise of visiting a cafe he used to frequent as an exchange student at Waseda five years ago eventually won out after the possibility occurred to him. We decided to make it a photography walk, and headed out shortly after with our DSLRs (I inherited Eric’s old Canon when he upgraded a few months back).
We walked from our apartment up through Takadanobaba and on toward Waseda Campus, which is probably about a 30-45 minute walk when done straight. It was fun walking through the area and seeing how things had changed over the last few years since we frequented the place. We spotted a number of new and interesting restaurants and shops we would like to try out, including a new Thai place; and even visited a super cute bubble tea shop with an amazing selection and even better prices.
It had been four years since either of us had last set foot on Waseda Campus, and going back there was really very surreal. I did not do my exchange at Waseda like Eric did, but it being the bigger of the two schools in Tokyo associated with our home University, I spent a lot of time there hanging out with friends and participating in clubs. We took a lot of pictures along the way, on campus, and also at the nearby Ana Hachimanju Shrine before stopping at Cafe Chat Noir to split Eric’s beloved Big Parfait Chocolate; which was apparently even bigger than he had remembered.
By the time we emerged from the cafe it was dark out, so we started back towards home, reminiscing about our first year in Tokyo and stopping to look at the shops on the opposite side of the street as we walked. We’d hoped to make it to the Russian place in Baba we’ve been meaning to try out for a while, but upon arrival we learned that it is closed on Mondays. After some deliberations and exploration of the back streets we don’t usually visit in the area, we decided to head back home and have ramen at the shop near out station instead.
I haven’t had a chance to sit down and sort through all the pictures I took yet, but I’ll be sure to post some later on if any came out particularly well. For now, though, you’ll have to excuse me; I have a date with some pizza dough.
Did you have any family food traditions growing up? Do you keep any going for yourself?