February 20, 2013

Tokyo Valentine's Day 2013

This year is a very special Valentine's Day. We don't celebrate anniversaries or 'monthsaries' because we don't really have them. February 14th is our day to look back and celebrate our relationship and all we have accomplished together.
The astir streets of Tokyo, heaving with masses of people and lined with excess is not the most romantic of venues. Thankfully, Tokyo has its sacred escapes. The Ghibli Museum in Mitaka's 'Forest' was our first stop. The whimsical, stained glass, wood and maze-like setting of the Museum, birthed straight from the imagination of Miyazaki provides welcome respite. Whimsy and magic sourced from all things traditional - fairy tales and hand drawn animation - warmed our hearts. It has been Millie's desire of desires to see the Ghibli Museum - its films spanning the length of her childhood, adolescence and adulthood. It did not disappoint. The exhibits were at turns fascinating and potently sentimental, so much that mere zoetrope animation moved us to tears. 

Odaiba: A manmade island in Tokyo Harbor and the former vanguard of this city, now blessed with incredible views of Shiodome, Roppongi and Minato is the place that Tokyoites go to escape Tokyo. 
A perennial favourite for couples, Odaiba was a natural choice. With a faux statue of liberty, a life-sized Gundam, an artificial beach complete with non-stick sand and shopping malls constructed in the tradition of Southeast Asia, Odaiba is a playground that offers playfulness, kitsch and glimpses of Tokyo's beauty.
Oedo Onsen Monotagari is one of Odaiba's crown jewels - an Onsen or baths constructed in Tokugawa style, complete with a recreated Edo food street, matching Yukatas, ninja games, massage therapy, a sleep-inducing TV room and indoor/outdoor hotsprings of every temperature. Frequented almost entirely by locals and open 22 hours a day, the onsen is so reminiscent of Spirited Away, that it transcends kitsch and enters the realm of the surreal. Undeniably relaxing, you could stay at the Onsen the entire day.
Valentine's Day traditions run strong in Japan. Here, the tradition is for women to hand men chocolates. I was lucky to receive two sets; and luckier still for two much-needed sweaters from Millie to keep out the cold: a punk-rock leopard print one from H&M and a navy one from Harajuku, in the preppy, colorful style worn by most young men and boys in Tokyo right now.
My first set of chocolates, packaged in the detailed and masterful style that only the Japanese can muster is a delight. My second set reflects the converse undercurrent of Japanese aesthetics: austerity and simple elegance in packaging, with rich dark chocolate and strawberry hearts from Muji Sweets.
Set after the traditional 'start' of Spring in Japan: Setsubun, the green tea matcha, white strawberry and prailine goodies evoke a circus in spring, with anthropomorhic animals to remind me of Mello, Iggy and the Pups. Delicious for the eyes and the tastebuds.
 Flowers are traditional, but a floral scent from Anna Sui adds so much more. Matched with a mint-green dress exclusive from Harajuku, Japan supplied us with Valentine's Day gifts more delicate and lasting than a fleeting rose.
A Valentine's Day to remember, filled with magic and wonder that only Tokyo can provide. But, hopefully only one of many more days like this.

We hope you also had a great Valentine's Day!
x
Mark
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Listening to: Never Let Me Go by Lana Del Rey
       Loving: Japan
             =(: none

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