I have sometimes written about the issues of being a tall female in Japan: the difficulty in finding clothes that fit, the eternal reaction of 'oh my god, you are so tall!' (as if we hadn't noticed) and the occasional problems that crop up when trying to find a date.
A fellow kaijyu, Ms. Lara, gave an excellent talk on some of the humorous (and more serious) effects of being over-sized in Japan. Since she sums it up so well, and is totally hilarious, I recommend checking it out: Attack of the 50 ft. Woman
Kagurazaka mainly has the image of one long street, but the most interesting restaurants and shops are actually hidden in the side streets. At some point I would like to make a map of all the cool places I have found so far!
One of these hidden treasures is Mojo Coffee, the Japanese branch of the famous roastery in New Zealand. My friend Wave-chan works there as a barista, and I was excited to go and try their coffee.
The 50's style colours (lots of light wood, turquoise, chrome and pink) are right up my alley, and it is nicely quiet. The coffee is deeply flavourful, and is less bitter than most coffee one finds in Japan.
Definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area!
June is really probably not one of the best times to be in Tokyo. Endless days of rain, laundry that doesn't really dry, excursions cut short because of squalls...
However the plentiful watering does bring one positive event with it: the riotous blooming of hydrangeas. An attractive weed, they grow easily and brighten up the city and parks with their shades of blue, violet and pink blush.
One of the most famous places to view a whole hillside of blooms is Hasedera in Kamakura, a major temple close to the giant bronze Buddha. Of course, this means that on weekends you have to wait for hours for a chance to shuffle up and down the stairways amongst the flowers, which is not my idea of a good time.
To beat the crowds and enjoy the flowers at leisure, I trekked out to Hase Station first thing in the morning on a weekday. Arriving at the temple gates at 8:30 am, there were only a handful of elderly photography enthusiasts and a couple of cats to contend with.
I love the watercolour shades of hydrangeas, the delicate differences in shading making each one unique (and surprisingly hard to photograph well).
To complete the outing I meandered my way by foot to Kamakura station, enjoying the quiet shotengai (as the town only really starts moving around 11am). As a treat before hopping back on the train home, I rewarded myself with a murasaki imo icecream, the colour of which is wonderfully reminiscent of the flowers I came to see.
Dating in Japan as a rather fervent feminist is a constant education in boundaries.
How far does one bend, to adjust to cultural differences? How to gently make your position crystal clear, when your significant other is trying to be kind, but missing the mark? When to make a stand, and when to save your comments for another time?
Having now been in a relationship with Matcha-kun for two and a half years (whoa!), I can definitely see how he has changed over time, as he has absorbed a great deal of information on issues that are important to me. An understanding of women's issues, accepting my strong views on vegetarianism, better knowledge of non-binary gender and sexuality issues... his willingness to learn about these often uncomfortable subjects is one of the many reasons we are still in a relationship.
Of the two, he is definitely the more easygoing one, a true grace for me, as I am very intense and stubborn. I know that I must drive him absolutely nuts sometimes, but nonetheless he doesn't run.
But surrounding cultural norms, and the opinions I hear from other people, often still make my (metaphorical) hackles rise.
However I look at it the issues seem to boil down to money, or rather economic independence.
When I was pondering a career move, which might mean that I would be without work for a bit, the various reactions I got were highly annoying. Matcha-kun, thinking he was being kind, kept on reiterating that it would be okay, he would support me economically. I tried to gently deflect this line of thought, until eventually I had to take a much firmer stance.
He is not responsible for supporting me, I am in charge of me. Whatever decisions I make, I will take responsibility for them, and making a living is on the forefront of that list. It is very hard to explain to someone, who is obviously trying to be reassuring, why this ticks me off so much.
From the Greek chorus I live with, the comments seemed to focus on how, should I have any financial or visa issues, I should get married. Again, this bothers me. The concept of using someone for their money disturbs me, as does the idea of giving up all my independence (and hard earned skills) just because I might potentially have a slightly rocky couple of months.
I take great pride in fending for myself, and do not see economic dependence as something to aspire to. Being by myself is not frightening, and in this there is strength. I do not seek someone who will take care of me, but rather someone who will be an equal partner in crime.
These stances make me (and others who have similar affinities) stand out among many of my circle of acquaintances. A belief in true equality makes one a bit of an outlier here, and sometimes it seems the breaking point is near. And other times you need to restrain yourself from slapping people.
But fortunately at least with Matcha-kun we both bend but do not break, like my neighbor's majestic bamboo during typhoon season.