Tokyo (2015) Day 3 – Part 1 – Shinjuku Gyoen Garden and Harajuku St.

For our third day in Tokyo, arrangements were made for a personal guide. Her name was Yama which she explained meant mountain in Japanese. She was delightful and very knowledgeable and it was much fun to share the day with her. The first stop on this day was the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and one of the first sightings was the old, quaint-looking Groundskeeper’s Cottage.

Grounds Keeper's Cottage

As we walked along the path, Yama related some of the history of the garden which originated in the Edo period and has undergone many revisions. One indication of the age of the garden was the size of the tree trunks.

Large, old tree trunk with moss

As Better Homes and Gardens indicates, “Japanese gardens combine the basic elements of plants, water, and rocks with simple, clean lines to create a tranquil retreat.**”, and this garden had a number of water features. The turtles are also a cultural symbol of longevity and they were in evidence as we strolled along the ponds.

Swimming Turtle

Strategically placed arched bridges allowing for reflections are also a common feature in Japanese gardens.

Bridge over narrow area of pond

Large bridge over wide area of pond separating two garden areas

Another popular feature is the lantern or Tōrō that we described in our previous posts.

Tōrō  or Japanese lantern near water feature

As we wandered along we were reminded from time-to-time that we were still within a large city.

Modern buildings loom above the garden

Skyscrapers visible above the trees

This pagoda-like structure, a traditional tea house, provided a very nice stopping point and offered numerous photo opportunities.

Traditional Tea House close view

Traditional Tea House, wider view

As we were circling back to the area from which we entered, we came across a group of young girls seemingly preparing for a more formal event or celebration.

Girls Dressed Up in the Park

Before we left the garden, we stopped at the visitor’s center to cool off a bit and to use the amenities. I noticed a vending machine which appeared to be offering meals of many varieties which could be selected from the charts to the right!

Meal Vending Machine

We appreciated that we were on vacation while others needed to attend to their rituals of daily living as evidenced by this young girl presumably with her dad perhaps going to, or coming from school.

Young girl with dad

Next, it was off to the subway

Subway map

The subways had several unique features. The yellow squres are actually imprinted walkways with raised dots. The raised areas could be felt through shoes and are used to guide the visually impaired.

Yellow pathways for the visually impaired

We also noted caretakers cleaning the various structures.

Subway worker cleaning

This young man was dutifully waiting in a designated line to enter a specific train car or area. Notice the blue and white lines which I understood indicated where different train sections/cars would align. Standing closer to the tracks than this area is discouraged.

Man standing in line for train

Exiting the subway, we were only a short walk away from the famous Harajuki St. where the young and trendy congregate. (So what was I doing there?)

A main entrance to Harajuki St

It was crowded.

Crowds in Harajuki St.

This shop is indicative of the type of apparel that was for sale.

Clothing Store on Harajuki St.

Of further appeal to the younger crowd were the popular Japanese anime style banners which has also attracted the appreciation of some of the older groups.

Anime Banner

And what trendy area would be without a Starbucks?

Starbucks at Harajuki St.

To be continued…


Read more about our trip to Japan in 2015: originally published this post

STATUS QUOtes — 20160331

“Success is never so interesting as struggle.” — Willa Cather

“Whether women are better than men I cannot say, but I can say they are certainly no worse.” — Golda Meir

“To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken, out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room.” — Marc Hack

“Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side because it is fake.” — Unknown originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE

STATUS QUOtes — 20160330

“The sparrow is sorry for the peacock at the burden of its tail.” — Rabindranath Tagore

“When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks, but celebrate them with glad cries of ‘Me Too!’, be sure to cherish them because those weirdos are your tribe.” — Unknown

“I’m like old wine. They don’t bring me out very often, but I’m well preserved.” — Rose Kennedy

“Alimony: Bounty after the mutiny.” — Max Kaufman originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE

Save the Ocean, Save Ourselves – TED Talk Video

Beautiful purple starfish with white spots
“Image Courtesy of TED Talk Video Screenshot”

Ocean photographer Thomas Peschak has long been concerned about the envirionmental impact the world’s population has had on ocean life. At one time he sought to shock audiences into action to protect the ocean and all forms of its life. Today, however, he teaches them to love the ocean life and appreciate the inter-connectedness we have with the ocean and in that way, people will be motivated to work to save the oceans from destruction.

Thomas Peschack - Environmentalist and Photographer
“Image Courtesy of TED Talk Video Screenshot”

Hammerhead shark
“Image Courtesy of TED Talk Video Screenshot”

In the video below Peschak takes us into several of his favorite realms and lets us explore why they are so unique and vital. Included in the video are a variety of sharks, manta rays, dolphins, whales and special ocean-related geographical locations. I think you will find this fascinating.

STATUS QUOtes — 20160329

“In the pursuit of happiness, the difficulty lies in knowing when you have caught up.” — R. H. Grenville

“God save me from my friends. I can protect myself from my enemies.” — Marshal de Villars

“Driving the train doesn’t set its course. The real job is laying the track.” — Ed Catmull

“Things aren’t right. If a burglar breaks into your home and you shoot him, he can sue you. For what, restraint of trade?” — Bill Maher originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE

SignEdge: Freakshow Wine Label

In the United States, as in many countries around the world, we have a robust marketing estate that hires some of the best minds to create advertisements that will attract our attention and hopefully motivate us to purchase their particular service or product.

I fully appreciate and understand that there are some down sides to our focus, some would say extreme focus, on advertising and marketing. There is, however, at least one important advantage and that is the unleashing of creative talent.

There are a multitude of creative, innovative and beautiful works of art masquerading amidst the advertising abundance we see on a daily basis. I intend to present some of those images I believe showcase this talent and artistic vision even when used for the mundane purpose of marketing.’s new category SignEdge will present some of my choices and I hope you will feel free to send me your selections of great art in advertising and marketing either in a comment below or via email: jeff AT jbrish DOT com

To begin, let me share with you one of my recent finds:

Freakshow Wine Label created by Lodi, CA artist Ben Moren

Freakshow Wine Label
Picture Courtesy of Wine Openers See LARGER image HERE:

Freakshow is a product of Michael David Winery and is a full-bodied and quite delightful Cabernet. Needless to say, the label is an attention grabber and I believe I read somewhere that it is the largest, non-repeating wine label ever created. If you look at it carefully, you will note that the scene follows completely along the curvature of the bottle.

While this is a story about the artwork and the label, I recognize that some of you may now be interested in finding out more about the wine. Here is one typical review by Dennis Sodomkaof the August Chronicle

“The Freakshow label pays homage to oldtime freak shows found in carnivals with a label that looks like the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band album. You could spend a long time exploring the oddities on the label.

I would rather drink the wine, because it is a treat.

In the glass it is a beautiful deep-purple color, with pleasant aromas of plums, licorice and cedar. With the first sip, the fruit explodes in your mouth; there is no restraint, no waiting for the wine to open. I tasted black cherry, plum and a hint of spice. It has a medium finish and very little dropoff in flavor. We finished the bottle two days after opening it, and it still was bright and full of ripe fruit.”

According to Benito’s Wine Review the following people appear on the label:

  • Fedor Jeftichew known as Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy
  • 8’3″ Canadian giant Edouard Beaupré
  • conjoined twins Daisy & Violet Hilton
  • I suspect Harry Houdini is also included along with a dancing bear, a bearded lady and a tattooed lady

*If you can identify any others with appropriate verification, let me know and I will include them in the list.

See previous SignEdge posts HERE
Just for SignEdge wine or beer labels HERE

STATUS QUOtes — 20160328

“The sane appear as strange to the mad as the mad to the sane.” — Joe Orton

“Having a place to go – is a home. Having someone to love – is a family. Having both – is a blessing.” — Donna Hedges

“Seek the truth or hide your head in the sand. Both require digging.” — Andrew Nolan

“Lawyers are always asking me if I will cut some slack for their clients. My standard answer is: ‘This is not Let’s Make A Deal.” — Judith Sheindlin (Judge Judy) originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE

Pickleball Explosion at Dynamite Park, Phoenix

Dynamite Park Sign

Starts Wednesday, March 30th @ 7:30AM

Read further for more details!

As the sign says, welcome to Dynamite Park. As pickleball Ambassador in North Phoenix, I recently sent an email to the Phoenix-area pickleball players explaining that after March 25, 2016, pickleball will be allowed to be played on the two tennis courts at Dynamite Park.

For those who might want more information and location, you can read about the initial startup phase here:

Dynamite Park ( 4580 E Dynamite Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85331 ) is a very nice suburban park in a peaceful and natural setting.

There are two water fountains nearby. This fountain is only a short distance from the parking lot.

Dynamite Park Sign

The tennis courts (and soon-to-be pickleball courts) are a short walk down the main path, directly west of the playground area. In the picture below, you can see them behind the shaded benches.

Dynamite Park Sign

Here is a close up of the two benches under the shade structure.

Dynamite Park Sign

Just outside the tennis court gate, on the north side, is a large Ocotillo with a nice display of flowers on the day the picture was taken.

Dynamite Park Sign

As you can see the park has a number of exercise areas. There is a large field to the north of the tennis courts with a walking/running path. People and people with dogs can be seen throughout the day.

Dynamite Park Sign

Dynamite Park Sign

A nice children’s play area (just northeast of the tennis courts) has appropriate shade and the second water fountain nearby.

Dynamite Park Sign

Here are the tennis courts as I found them before we began the task of placing chalk lines for pickleball. We decided to use the east tennis court to outline the two pickleball courts; one on either side of the net so the net will serve as a backstop for each court.

Dynamite Park Sign

Somewhat surprisingly, I didn’t receive too friendly a reception from the two people who were having a tennis session on the other court. I heard some rumblings and bluster, but generally speaking, tennis players have been open to expanding pickleball opportunities in the Valley.

I was glad to learn that the courts have a practice wall with a tennis net line. Pickleballers will need to aim for the bottom of the line or bring some easy-to-remove painters tape to mark a practice line. Remember to remove the tape when leaving.

Dynamite Park Sign

My colleague and Phoenix Pickleball Ambassador, Mary Travis, arrived and taught me how to mark the courts using several tape measures, blue chalk, a chalk line and a straight edge. Thank you Mary! It was very time-consuming and hopefully it won’t rain for a long time so the lines will remain. Even after some of our rains, we are hopeful that the faint lines will be visible to guide the next outlining when necessary.

Dynamite Park Sign

Can you see those skinny, faint blue lines on the tennis court? That means PICKLEBALL!

Here is a picture of me after we spent more than two hours putting lines down so we can have access to two pickleball courts once we set up the nets. (The nets were set up just for the photo opportunity.)

Dynamite Park Sign

I am hoping to see some of my fellow Phoenix pickleball players at the park during structured playing times. You can read about our initial one-month trial schedule here:

NOTE: I want to thank the USAPA for their generous grant which went a long way to help us purchase the two pickleball nets. For those who may not know, the USAPA has established the Pickleball Ambassador program and fosters outreach activities like those going on in the Phoenix-area now. Please consider joining the USAPA and supporting them so they can help us to grow the sport we enjoy so much.

I also want to extend a sincere thank you to Pickle-Ball, Inc. for their kind donation of pickleball paddles and a supply of pickleballs which will help us get the program started. I think it is important to support those companies that support us.

I hope to see you on the courts!

Jeff Ross


STATUS QUOtes — 20160327

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” — Martha Hiefield

“Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.” — Margaret Bonnano

“There is no monument dedicated to the memory of a committee.” — Lester J. Pourciau

“There’s only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is I’ll get married again.” — Clint Eastwood originally published this post

See previous STATUS QUOtes HERE