madness in the metropolis 

Tokyo Tales - a weblog

Tokyo Tales is a weblog from Tokyo, Japan, written by me, Chris Jennings, a twenty-mumble-year-old web developer from the UK. If your browser supports it, you can subscribe to the RSS feed here.

About the author

My name is Chris, and I'm in my late (very late) twenties. I'm originally from the UK, but moved to Japan shortly after graduating from university (Hatfield College, Durham, 1994-1997).

I taught English for a couple of years, during which time I lived in Omiya, just north of Tokyo. In 2000 I stopped teaching, moved into Tokyo proper (Shinjuku, to be exact), and spent a year writing content for a portal website aimed at Japanese anglophiles.

From there I moved into web development, which I'm still doing today. I'm a self-taught geek, picking up what I've needed along the way; it's funny to think back to only eight years ago, when I didn't know anything about HTML, CSS or PHP, and compare that to today... when I still don't know much about them, and have less hair. Oh well.

Other Chris-related trivia:

  • I (used to) fence regularly. I wouldn't say I was much good, but I had a few results here and there. Plus I got to meet Bruce Dickinson, which was rather surreal. ('S true. He was in a fencing shop one day and we had a conversation about the realtive merits of Leon Paul vs. Allstar tip mechanisms. Rock 'n roll, baby.)
  • I enjoy clubbing, mainly techno but also house, drum'n'bass, ambient and a few other things. Best Club Night Ever would be a toss-up between Underworld at the Liquid Room in 2000, and Electraglide 2000 (Underworld, Orbital, Richie Hawtin, etc.). Oh - and Carl Cox at Cream at some point in 1997. Oh - and...
  • I run The Kanji SITE, a website for people studying kanji, those complicated ideographs that form the bulk of the Japanese alphabet. I started the site in 1999, I think, but haven't done much work on it recently. Hopefully that might be about to change.
  • I passed Level 2 of the JLPT a couple of years ago, somehow. An utter fluke. My Japanese is rusty and perfunctory, but I become miraculously fluent after a couple of Moscow Mules.
  • A Moscow Mule is (typically) one part vodka to three parts ginger ale, plus freshly-squeezed lime juice. Serve in a highball glass.
  • I snowboard as often as I can, and try to go at least twice a month during the season; Japan is a fantastic place for this. I'm starting to get injured with increasing frequency and severity, though, which is less fantastic. I ride a Burton Custom 158, with Mission bindings and no-name boots that have served me since 1999.
  • I get restless if I have to leave Tokyo for any period of time, unless it's for snowboarding.
  • I am an unrestrained gadget whore. At any given time I will typically be carrying a keitai, iPod, electronic Japanese dictionary, PSP, and Apple Powerbook. Various parts of my body have been hollowed out to allow me to stow all this unobtrusively.

About the site

The main part of this website is the blog, though it wasn't always so. Tokyo Tales v1.0 was originally a series of e-mails to friends and family back in the UK, during my first year in Japan (1998).

I then archived the e-mails on a free-hosting website in 1999 (v2.0), redesigned it and wrote there for a while (v2.1), left it for a while longer, and then bought and started using Blogger in 2001 (v3.0).

I'm not terribly interested in awards (you *have* to say that, though, even if you're desperately interested) but the site was nominated for a Bloggie (not a Webby, that would be ridiculous) in 2002. That was in the days, however, when there wasn't a heck of a lot of competition. There was a total of something like four English-langauge blogs across the whole of Tokyo, of which mine was arguably the most shouty. Luckily the scene outside of Japan was a lot more interesting, as were the other nominees.

The site sat unattended and unloved from October 2002 to September 2005. I basically lost interest in doing it; work was getting crazy; I started a new relationship, and had other priorities all of a sudden. Like descending into a spiral of depression, quarter-life crisis and vending machine sake. No, I'm kidding about the last bit. But certainly the site took a back seat for a while there.

Tokyo Tales relaunched on October 1st, 2005, with a nice new design (mad props to Brian, Flash wizard extraordinaire, for the Tokyo skyline banner). An the rest, as they say, is history. (Apart from the bits that haven't happened yet, obviously.)

Geek stuff / Colophon

The site was built using a mixture of the following:

  • BBEdit
  • Dreamweaver
  • Fireworks
  • Flash
  • direct manual butchering of Movable Type templates

Other contributing factors:

  • 15" PowerBook
  • Canon Digital EOS (when the gallery finally comes on line, anyway)
  • Apple Store, Ginza
  • Moscow Mules and free wireless at Office in Gaienmmae
  • The fonts "Trebuchet MS" and "Franklin Gothic Medium"
  • Pocari Sweat
  • Pocky sticks
  • Spaced series 1 & 2 on DVD
  • Pretty much Underworld's entire back catalogue
  • Swerdloff ("When's your website coming back, bitch?")
  • Those little hook things that you stick into the skirtingboard to route phone wires around a room

It should look perfectly presentable on pretty much any modern(ish) browser that you might care to throw at it, though I will just point out that everything looks better in Safari. You really oughta.

No animals were directly harmed during the making of this website, though quite a few were eaten - *burp* - 'scuse me.


All the original content (text, photos, artwork) you see here is © 1998-2005 Chris Jennings and unless otherwise stated. Comments posted to the website by other people are copyrighted by their original authors. However, I reserve the right to delete, or edit, if need be, any posted comments as I see fit - though it's very unlikely I'll ever bother. Company names, product & service names and other registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Drop me a line via the blog comments if you want to use anything in any way that falls outside the realm of fair use. (Please include the word "confidential" in the message body if you don't want the comment to be made public, and I'll catch it before it goes live.)

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Gallery [at]


The Kanji SITE

Jeffrey's J-E Dictionary
Moji (Firefox plug-in)
Babel Fish Translation

Disperse peacefully

an englishman in osaka
arakawa riverview
boing boing
geisha asobi
gen kanai
hanzi smatter
joi ito
melissa havergal
metroblogging tokyo
ninja polymath blues
sushi zume
tokyo times
undercover in japan
[not blogs:]
tokyo clubs info
tokyo food page
tokyo art beat
superfuture tokyo
tokyo train routefinder
the japan times
japan today

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