New Stuff

April 18, 2010

I was asked to write a post about terrible TV adverts in the UK for my friend’s blog. There are some real stinkers on there! It made me grateful that I haven’t been subjected to English telly commericals for several years, thus saving myself from countless hours of tedium.
In Japan, of course, the surreal commercials are often better than the inane shows.

Here’s a nice Walkman ad from the 80s:

In Japan the cherry blossoms have fallen from the trees but spring is still in the air in Japan. (Although it it bloody snowed yesterday!) Any keen photographers out there might want to enter the spring-themed photo competition on “Wide Island View”. You can win lots of nice kanji-learning stuff. I might send some snapshots of me glugging sake in a crowded park. (Hmm, probably won’t win, I suspect.)


Kawasaki Halloween Pics 2008

October 27, 2008

Here are some of my usual out-of-focus snaps, of this year’s Halloween festival in Kawasaki.


August 16, 2008

Excuse my recent lack of writing on this blog. This is mainly due to me not having a PC for a couple of months. But now I’ve finally got one (albeit a very noisy, second hand one. It was cheap so I can’t complain!)

I may have been about as prolific as J.D. Salinger lately, but this doesn’t mean I’ve had nothing to write about. On the contrary, my life has reached almost insane levels of weirdness and delirium lately. A five year relationship with my ex-girlfriend has come to an end, and I’ve consequently moved to a plush flat in central Tokyo. My love life has become surreal, eventful, unpredictable and disastrous. I’ve been to beaches, parties and music festivals. Hopefully, I’ll have time to start chronicling some of these hi-jinks soon.

In the meantime, here’s an annoying video of a kitten spray-painted pink in order so sell beer to girls.

Beach Bars and Beer Gardens

July 21, 2008

Yay! Summer is here.
This means that, although I frequently get so sunburned I look like a spit-roasted pig and I wake up every day on a futon so with soaked with sweat that you could sautee it, I can also spend the next few weeks hitting the beach bars and rooftop beer gardens of Japan.
On Saturday I went to Kudan Kaikan, which is a large beer garden on the roof of a building near Kudanshita subway station, with a nice view of Kitanomaru park. But who cares about that when you can drink as much as you like in 90 minutes for 2100 yen, and get served by girls dressed as Playboy bunnies?
Kudan Kaikan closes early, at about ten, but a bit of cheap, al-fresco drinking is a fine way to start an evening before heading elsewhere. The food is expensive and not that special, though, so I’d recommend eating before or after you go there.

I’m also looking forward to hitting the beach bars of the Shonan area of Kanagawa, around Enoshima, Zushi and Kamamkura.
Many of my female friends hate these beaches because they are dirty, cluttered with gaudy wooden beach bars, and overcrowded with drunk university students in swimwear, setting off fireworks. I, on the other hand, like these beaches because they are dirty, cluttered with gaudy wooden beach bars, and overcrowded with drunk university students in swimwear, setting off fireworks. Quite what the beach bunnies make of the pale, bloated, priapic 31 year old foreigner in their midst, I don’t know, but I’m not complaining about a place where I can drink Corona in the company of girls dressed only in bikinis, high heels and cowboy hats.

Read more about beach bars.

Read more about beer gardens.

Kudan Kaikan Beer Garden
1-6 Kudan Minami, Chiyoda-ku
Tel: (03) 3261-5521
Kudanshita Station, Exit 4
Open daily from 17:00-22:00

New Flat in Tokyo

June 23, 2008

I’ve finally moved to the Big Smoke! I’m now living in the throbbing heart of Tokyo and can stumble through the bustling, neon-lit alleyways of the sprawling metropolis whenever I feel like it. I’ll soon have plenty of amazing new bars and exciting drinking escapades to write about. That is, once I can afford to leave the house (the extortionate rental deposit has left me poverty-stricken).
It shouldn’t be long before I can get some cash together (I might get round to buying a new computer, too, and actually start blogging more often).

Staying in isn’t a problem- the apartment is brand new and very plush. It’s full of electronic gizmos which I can’t figure out how to use. There’s even a video intercom so I can see who’s ringing my doorbell downstairs in the lobby (and ignore them if they’re religious fanatics, cuckolded husbands or TV license fee collectors.) Shortly after my arrival, the gas-man came to connect my gas, and appeared on the intercom monitor in my flat. I had yet to use this contraption, and didn’t know which of the buttons to press (they all had obscure Japanese kanji on them). I selected one at random and, instead of opening the door for the gas-man, an alarm bell went off. I must have pressed an emergency button because, 10 minutes later, a beefy security guard arrived, wearing a helmet and a bullet-proof vest. He began berating the terrified gas-man, who he’d caught fiddling with the gas-meter in front of my flat.

After about an hour of me being reprimanded, having lengthy negotiations with the security company over the phone in mangled Japanese, painstakingly filling out forms in kanji, the disgruntled security guy finally left me in peace.

I’m surprised my flat even has a panic button- it’s not exactly a dangerous neighbourhood. They could have at least made the button red! Now I’m scared to touch anything in case I set off an ejector seat or a hidden trap door. It’s like being in the movie, “Cube.”

Japan in the UK

May 4, 2008

Now it is Golden Week in Japan, when four public holidays coincidentally occur in quick succession, meaning the entire country can put their feet up for a week. Nice!
However, when everybody in a densely populated country takes time off at exactly the same time it means flight and hotel prices are so expensive you have to sell a kidney to leave the house, and holiday destinations are more crowded than an Austrian basement.

I’ve emptied my bank account to fly to England for a couple of weeks to attend a family wedding, and I have discovered that the place has become more Japanized in my absense. Whereas not ten years ago most folk would have recoiled in horror at the idea of chomping on raw squid, sushi is now readily available throughout the country.

A chain of Japanese noodle restaurants called Wagamama has also been growing in popularity (although most of the customers are unaware that they’re eating in a place called “Selfish”.)

Manga T-shirts, once only worn by sex-starved comic-book nerds, are now flying off the shelves of high-street shops.

While meeting friends in London’s Soho area, I even ended up strolling through Brewer’s Street, which is a popular place for Japanese and Japanophiles, due to the preponderence of Japanese restaurants and shops. There used to be a popular grocery store called “Arigato” which seems to have disappeared.
An evergreen favourite is the Japanese used-book store operating out of an old dry-cleaning shop. The owners have never bothered to change the sign, and it’s been called “Deluxe Cleaning” for decades.

Highly recommended for ex-pat Japanese, and students of the language.

At least if I end up leaving Japan, I won’t be starved of Japanese culture.

What the…?

April 7, 2008

Any ideas what this clothes shop sign means?