An Artist Room in Tokyo

On a recent visit to Japan, our last few nights in Tokyo involved a unique twist on hotel rooms. We stayed on the 31st floor of the Park Hotel with an amazing view of the city. What made this room unique from other floors of the hotel, though, had nothing to do with the view or room size. The entire floor is known as the “Artist Floor” where the walls of rooms have been painted by special artists. Each room has a special theme and design brought to life by a selected artist. These are not the designer stylish type themes you might imagine with fine decorating, but are wistful, bold, and playful worlds. Some themes had 3-D touches, bold colors, or even night stars. Can you guess our theme from this photo?

Does sleeping in the Zodiac room mean a year of good luck?

Yep, we were in the Zodiac room. A special placard on the wall had a message from the artist, Ryosuke Yasumoto, that explained a few interpretive twists he added to theme. The English translation isn’t the greatest, but that makes the message all the more fun.

“Welcome to the Zodiac room! 2014, when this artist’s room was created, is the year of the horse, and I was also born in the year of the horse. I just happened to fill this room with items from the Zodiac. I don’t know if I can paint it well, but I just let my brush run free. I painted a cat which was cheated by a rat so that it wasn’t included in the Zodiac. By the grace of God, I also painted a weasel. The 1st day of the month has a similar pronunciation to “weasel” in Japanese. I would be delighted for you to experience the interesting story of the Zodiac from long, long ago.”

The artist’s point about there being no cat in the Zodiac gave me pause. I’d never thought about that before. Cats have been our pets and helpers through the millennia, so why aren’t they in the Zodiac (or did the tiger take their place)? The Japanese zodiac (imported from China but with variations) has a twelve-year cycle with each year having a symbolic animal that corresponds to the year: Rat (born 2008, 1996, 1984, 1872, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924, 1912), Ox (2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925, 1913), Tiger (1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926, 1914), Rabbit (1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927, 1915), Dragon (2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928), Snake (2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929, 1917), Horse (2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1943, 1930, 1918, 1906) , Sheep (2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931, 1919, 1907), Monkey (2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932, 1920, 1908), Rooster (2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933, 1921, 1909), Dog (2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934, 1922, 1910), and Boar (2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923, 1911). So what’s your year?

My hubby and I had fun following the artist’s design around the room and bathroom (where the rat played). A dragon took in the entire scene from the ceiling, a snake climbed the wall by the bed, a cat lingered near the window, and a mouse skittered near the headboard. You cans see the ox, horse, rooster, head of the rabbit, dog, mice (rat was bigger and in the bathroom), and tiger in the first photo. Here are a few more for you to enjoy.

The cat with a leash held by a monkey.

Love the forked tongue on the snake.

Here’s the sheep and another cat. The only animal I couldn’t find in the photos is the boar (and the mentioned weasel).

Lots of little mice played in the room.

Various themes on the 31st floor include Samurai, Lucky Cat, Bamboo, Castle, Kabuki, Haiku, Wabi-Sabi, Otafuku Face, Geisha Goldfish, Mount Fuji, and, our room, Zodiac. All the rooms can be seen on a page of the hotel website (click here). Thanks for stopping by True Airspeed Blog. Consider picking up one of my books for your travels.

 

 

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Sirince, Turkey – Great Food in the Greek Village

Lucky are those who have Turkish friends. They are hard-working, fun-loving people who cherish family, friends, and their country, and love to discuss its history, politics, and food. When our friends heard we planned a visit to Turkey, they invited us over for some home cooking. The husband (Turkish) did the cooking, and after the fabulous meal, we couldn’t wait to go on our trip. He armed us with a long list of native foods and dishes to try (did I mention I gained weight on this trip). One warning he gave us (in jest), was that his cooking was better than anything we’d find in his country. After his delicious meal, we believed him.

Sirince shows its Greek influence. A view from where we ate lunch.

Sirince shows its Greek influence. A view from where we ate lunch.

Two weeks into our trip and healthy doses of great food later, I think we tried most everything on his list. No meal, however, quite rose to level of our friend’s cooking…that is until we went to Sirince. This small village that was Greek up until the 1920s, is a quaint, charming town. Tile roofs, white washed houses, and rolling green hills, make it a fun place to walk the narrow streets and paths, and to enjoy a leisurely place to eat with a pleasant view.

A rooftop view, great food, and friendly company made for a nice lunch.

A rooftop view, great food, and friendly company made for a nice lunch.

I mentioned earlier that our Turkish friend cherished his family, many who still live in the area of Sirince. So we promised to look up a cousin, Ali, at the Kirkinca Evleri Boutique Hotel (I’ll put the url address at the end in case anyone reading this would like to visit it one day). We couldn’t stay overnight, but came for lunch. Since I told him I would like to blog about our meal, he fed us dishes served at their restaurant, including their special (which was to die for).

A drink made from Elder Flower juice. Refreshing.

A drink made from Elder Flower juice. Refreshing.

The meal started with a refreshing, sweet and salty tasting, ELDER FLOWER drink. A piece of green apple and mint floated on top with a green grape at the bottom of the glass. Other drink accents could be peach, plum, orange, cherry, pears, or quince (a pear like fruit).

A quince is similar to a pear in look and taste.

A quince is similar to a pear in look and taste.

The first course consisted of a cooked dish of four greens (a type mustard green, Turkish chard, the other two I wasn’t sure of the translation) with yogurt on top. I can’t guarantee the spelling and the accented letters can’t be shown, but it is called: yogurtlu ot Kavurmasi (roasted seasonable herbs and vegetables). Accompanying that was a homemade pasta/macaroni dish with walnuts and melted stager cheese called cevizli kasarli eriste. Both were incredibly tasty.

Vegetable and pasta dishes.

Vegetable and pasta dishes.

The main dish and specialty of the house, Kirkinca Kabobi, came beautifully arranged on top of yogurt. This dish was beef marinated in wine sauce with oregano and decorated with Turkish red pepper and tomatoes. The beef melted in my mouth and took the honor of the best dish I ate in Turkey. Another tasty main entre was the chicken curry with onions, tomato, and mushrooms.

Kirkinca Kabobi (marinated beef) and chicken curry

Kirkinca Kabobi (marinated beef) and chicken curry

For a relaxing lunch, great food, and a delightful town to walk off all those delicious calories, visit the sleepy little town of Sirince. Many thanks to Mark, Ali, and Ali…you know who you are.

For more information check out the website of Kirkinca Evleri Boutique Hotel and their Kirkinca Arsipel Restaurant or contact them at info@kirkinca.com

Another A380

Found another A380 to add to my photo collection of those that I’ve seen while travelling. This one is an Air France loading and leaving Charles de Gaulle International Airport. October 2, 2012.

Close-up of Air France logo on A380 parked at Charles de Gaulle


Air France A380

Nose of Air France A380