madness in the metropolis 

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Wicker basket affairs

Teething troubles at the new cafe in the station. I asked for a take-out cappuccino and BLT, but the cashier, who looked slightly overawed by the high-tech till, managed to key in a Belgian waffle. Then she managed to delete that, so thankfully I got to repeat the order. The cappuccino came straightaway, but the BLT took rather longer as the specialist BLT maker was summoned from a back room. I was eventually presented the BLT in a delightful wicker basket affair, in which I suppose technically I could have carried the sandwich away, but instead I pointed out, politely of course, that it was to take out. That produced a torrent of apologies and a dash back behind the counter to de-basket the baguette and bag it up.

The specialist was still wearing plastic gloves at this point, and there followed a hilarious episode where the tape she was trying to secure the wrap with kept sticking to her gloves... again and again and again... I really didn't want to interrupt, as I thought that might have been even more embarrassing, but as she was struggling to get the glove off (leaving it still attached to the tape and therefore the baguette - I had premonitions of the looks I might get while carrying my sandwich, with dangling surgical glove, through the streets to the office), I finally offered a sheepish "ii desu yo", lit.:"Leave it! He's not worth it! Give it up, I tell you - it's no good!" or "I'll take it like that, thanks." It depends how you stress it, really.

And after all that? The coffee and sandwich were excellent.

Posted by chris at 05:00 PM | Permalink

A Scanner Quietly

Hmmm. It's the first Monday of Golden Week, a national holiday, but I've come into the office to use the scanner. I was expecting the place to be deserted, but in fact the entirety of the accounts department are here. And working. Silently. Counting beans, or whatever it is they do. You've got to love that Japanese work ethic.

The drum'n'bass CDs I brought in to listen to while I scan will have to wait, I suppose - don't think the lead on my Sennheisers will stretch to the scanner, and I'm not about to go through some kind of Mr. Bean-like routine as I try to find out by edging slowly away from the PC, only to have them yanked off my head in comedy fashion when I take one step too many, accompanied by a dubbed audience laughter track. No sirree.

Posted by chris at 04:40 PM | Permalink

Stay Golden (Week)

Golden Week is a group of three national holidays in the space of five days. Many firms designate the remaining two days as company holidays, thereby creating a de facto national week off - and those employees who don't get given the time off just take paid leave themselves. The entire country effectively goes on holiday, clogging roads, shinkansen and flights out of Tokyo on the first weekend, and jamming them solid again a week later as everybody teems back into the capital.

Tokyo is a great place during Golden Week - because it's practically deserted. Silence descends over the normally thronging shopping streets of Ginza and Shibuya... tumbleweeds roll across the deserted thoroughfares of the business district.... well, not really, but close enough.

All the normal tourist places outside of Tokyo will be ram-packed, and I have no desire to jostle packs of schoolchildren on cultural trips and posses of elderly grandmothers with their fierce elbows; I get enough of that on an average day in Shinjuku. Air fares are always sky-high, too, so I'm staying put this week. Time to roam the city and maybe have a go at this "relaxing" thing that everyone always tells me I should try... all reports point to it having something to do with, er, not doing anything for periods of time. How bizarre - that's the one thing which is pretty much guaranteed to stress me out.

Posted by chris at 04:28 PM | Permalink

Life's a drag

Whoa. I 've got some catching up to do, but I'm knackered. Just back from playing footy for what must have been the first time in around a year - and boy do I feel it. I'll fill you in on the weekend so far after soaking myself prunelike.

The bathroom's a long way from the computer... but the advantage of sitting on the floor the whole time is that if you can't be bothered to stand up, you can just crawl. Or, if crawling's too much, simply lie down and drag yourself across the floor.

scrape.... scrape.... scrape.....

Posted by chris at 09:30 PM | Permalink

All you need is (a) rub

You know the average westerner's stereotypical view of how Japanese people pronounce English? Swap r's and l's and you have instant comedy Japanglish? Well, they're more correct than most people's automatic political correctness barrier would allow for. There's a good reason for this, but I'm going to have difficulty explaining it to you without a whiteboard and a set of coloured marker pens.

Basically, the Japanese consonant found in the syllables ら, り, る, れ, ろ (and typically romanized as either ra, ri, ru, re, ro OR la, li, lu, le, lo) is pitched somewhere between the English "r" and "l" sounds. Hit the inside of your upper row of teeth once with the tip of your tongue once as you say each syllable... hang on, I've got a whiteboard here somewhere... um... this red splodge is your tongue, right, and... um... I swear it works much better in person. Hence Japanese learners of English often have difficulty discerning between (and producing) the two sounds, as neither actually exists in Japanese - the closest thing they have is this half-way-in-between consonant.

Anyway, the reason for all this lingusitic lambada is as follows: an e-mail from an old friend set me thinking: what are the top five words which can be humourously manipulated simply by performing the old r / l swap? Here's what I came up with after a couple of minutes' chin-stroking:

  1. implore --> improle (convert someone from upper-class to working-class by force of argument alone)
  2. self-abandon --> serf-abandon (the illegal dumping of surplus rural workers)
  3. lunar --> runal (of or pertaining to runes)
  4. impair --> impail (to limit a person's ability to perform an act by driving a spear through them)
  5. frighten --> flighten (to make someone lose weight by terrifying them into involuntarily defecating)

And, just in case anyone decides to take offence, I wish to make it absolutely clear that this is most definitely not a manifestation of any kind of racism, latent or otherwise. Read around a bit more and you'll realise, I hope, how much I love Japan, the Japanese, Japanese English and English Japanese. I personally am guilty of far more heinous crimes against the Japanese language than any number of confused Japanese tourists asking for directions in Ros Angeles or Rondon could ever hope to perpetrate against the English language. So righten up.

Have something to add to the list?

Posted by chris at 01:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

We're no longer called Sonic Death Monkey

I left work on the dot of six tonight and raced across town to Ebisu, to catch the 7pm showing of High Fidelity. I think this might be the last week of its run, and Ebisu Garden Cinema is the only place it's still showing.

I'm glad I made the effort. I should state for the record that I'm a huge fan of the book, and still find myself re-reading it every now and then - most recently in January. Like every other guy I've spoken to who's read it, my initial reaction was "Shit - that's me. I understand exactly where the main character is coming from. How totally perceptive. Boy, we're arseholes, aren't we."

And the film was excellent too. I wouldn't say better than the book, but it was a pretty damn great adaptation. Tim Robbins and whoever played Barry were scene-stealing, in particular. I left the cinema with a big smile on my face, and the beginnings of a compilation tape track listing forming in my head as I strolled back to the station.

Posted by chris at 01:45 AM | Permalink

Parlez-vous London?

When reporting on how naive the average Japanese youth is when it comes to matters of global geography, I have a fairly helpful rule of thumb. It's okay to take the piss if the Japanese themselves would clearly agree - which is why I have no problem with mentioning the following excerpt from tonight's TV, a panel show exploring "Japanese people's general knowledge". If it's got Beat Takeshi in a white coat presenting it, it must be scientifically rigorous. That's how things work over here.

A twenty-year-old and her boyfriend are stopped in the street. She is asked, for the benefit of the studio panel, if she'd like to travel abroad and, if so, where she'd like to go. "Disneyland", she answers. Hmm. Next question: "Which country is Disneyland in?" Answer: "The United States of America." No problems so far, apart from the rather obvious one of taste.

Next she is given a map of the world and asked to mark America on it with a pen. "Um... it's very big, isn't it?" She draws a big ring around the entirety of North America, thereby granting US citizenship to an extra 30 million Canadians, 100 million Mexicans, and numerous residents of the Caribbean. Big it may be, but not that big. "Where is Canada, then?" asks her interviewer. "Um, over here somewhere...?" She indicates Siberia, so I guess she could have been further off the mark.

Next, a nineteen-year-old is asked where in the world she'd like to travel. "I hear London and Paris are very beautiful, so I'd like to visit them someday" she replies. Promising. At least she didn't say Disneyland. Again the map - can she correctly pinpoint the two cities?

Can she buggery. Paris is "pinpointed" as being on the southern coast of Ireland. Mind you, at least the continent was correct. No such luck for London, which is summarily re-located to Nova Scotia. The interviewer asks which country London is in. "Er... France?" I bet the Quebecois would be delighted to hear that Canada's newest city of seven million is full of French speakers, but I rather think Ken Livingstone (the Mayor of London) would have something to say about it.

As long as they put London back before I finally head back to the UK, that's all...

Posted by chris at 12:35 AM | Permalink

Weather (or not)

What dull weather. I wish it would make its mind up and rain properly. Or just get nice again, of course. When Tokyo has a grey day... it really has a grey day.

Posted by chris at 05:36 PM | Permalink

The Harajuku Hang

Harajuku is an interesting area of Tokyo. One of the miniature towns strung out along the Yamanote Line that rings the centre of the city, it's an intriguing intersection of styles.

It's home to Meiji Jingu, possibly the foremost example of traditional Japanese shrine architecture in the country and home to the largest torii gates in Japan. The shrine is next door to Yoyogi Park, prime venue for summer picnics and impromptu Sunday afternoon raves. Harajuku also marks one end of Omotesando, a wide, tree-lined avenue of chic boutiques and snobbish pavement cafes.

But it's also the place where, by some kind of unspoken consensus, dozens of teenagers congregate each Sunday, dressed to shock. On a typical afternoon you can expect to see Little Bo Peep in Doc Marten boots, goth doctors with stethoscopes and spiky blue hair, and sado-masochist fetishists pierced with safety pins and clutching teddy bears.

The bridge linking Harajuku Station with Meiji Jingu is where they all hang out, and is always great for photo-opportunities. They are, pretty much without exception, totally up for being photographed and will pose for anyone who asks, complete with affected scowls and maybe the odd extended middle finger. There's not much point in being an introverted exhibitionist, I suppose.

This weekend was particularly interesting because of the Falun Gong demonstration amid all the chaos of white-faced ghouls, bondage Nazis and bemused tourists. I found myself wondering if any of the assembled teens had any idea what the two gents doing what looked like Tai Chi were doing there. Probably not, but it seems unfair to blame teenagers for having teenage priorities.

I'll put some of the photos on-line, if any of them come out okay. But first I should sleep.

Posted by chris at 11:35 PM | Permalink

Who, exactly, are you going to call?

It's a real pleasure to rediscover a film from your childhood and find that it's still as funny now as it was almost twenty years ago. I'm talking about Ghostbusters, but I suppose it could also be Top Secret, Gremlins or any one of a host of other eighties classics.

"Egon, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole through your head. You remember that?"
"That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me."

"Listen! You smell something?"

"I'm with Venkman - he got slimed!" "That's great, Ray, save some for me."

"Earthquakes, volcanoes!" "The dead rising from the grave!" "Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!"

Arnd I can't believe that I fully appreciated Rick Moranis as a moronic hellhound when I was nine. What a classic.

Posted by chris at 10:16 PM | Permalink

Okay... I've rebuilt the Kanji

Okay... I've rebuilt the Kanji SITE mailing list into something approaching its former self. I'm going to have to make the first thing that goes out on it a grovelly apology (maybe a gravelly apology would be more entertaining... but my voice probably isn't deep enough) to anyone who removed themselves from the list only to find themselves re-established.

I'm going to upset some people, but I doubt asking any aggrieved unsubscribers to flame my hosting company would do much good in the long run. Fingers crossed the list doesn't get munched again.

Posted by chris at 08:36 PM | Permalink

It's been, shall we say,

It's been, shall we say, something of a slow content day. Not much is happening. Still no Nic Cage advert, but I'm coping.

And then, bang, out of the blue, from the Swerdotron, comes this. You will need Flash 5, and you will not regret the wait.

In other news, such as it is, then the Kanji SITE redesign is almost finished. I've been neglecting my Japanese studies and haven't posted any new kanji for over a month, which kind of makes a mockery of having the damn thing in the first place, but it's been in a good cause. Kanjisite 2.0 is on the way, oh yes. Less blurry images, a better colour scheme, expanded content and re-vamped navigation. I'm looking forward to the relaunch - aiming to get it done by the end of the month, though that may yet prove to be optimistic.

Plus I also have to get my mailing list back... grrrr.... it's a long story, and I won't inflict it upon you.

Twenty more minutes of Nic Cage-searching-surfing, and I'm going to bed.

Posted by chris at 01:35 AM | Permalink

Not an advert *for* Nic Cage, silly

Bugger. Two all-night vigils by the TV fail to yield the new Nic Cage advert. Show it again, you bastards. Don't make me come after you.

Posted by chris at 01:35 AM | Permalink

Spring is sprung (no more warm buns)

A sure sign that it must officially be spring already - whoever is in charge of deciding such matters has switched off the electrically-heated toilet seat in the restroom at work.

Posted by chris at 01:33 AM | Permalink


Yes! I am one ureshii usagi (lit. "glad bunny"). I just switched channels and caught what can only have been the very end of another Nic Cage advert... For those of you who haven't seen the first one, I'd better explain that one first.

Nic Cage, playing himself, is answering questions at a Tokyo press conference. He doesn't look happy. Press conferences in Japan tend to be rather lame affairs, especially when Hollywood stars are on show, and this scene captures the mood perfectly. Off camera, a reporter asks pleasantly, "Nihon no mono wa, nani ga suki desu ka?" lit., "What do you like about Japan?". The interpreter turns to an obviously bored senseless Nic and repeats in a sing-song voice, "What do you like about Japan?" Nic practically sneers: "Oh, I like sushi... Mt. Fuji." He condescendingly makes an exaggerated Mt. Fuji shape with his hands as he says this, and it's clear he'd rather be practically anywhere else.

Another reporter is heard to ask, "Hoka no nihon no mono wa, nani ga suki desu ka?" lit., "What else do you like about Japan?". It's clear that this is The Press Conference From Hell - but Nic doesn't hear the interpreter politely intoning "What else do you like about Japan". Cut and zoom! in on an attractive female Japanese reporter in the press pack! Cut and zoom! in on Nic's face, which is suddenly alive with joy, nay, rapt with wonder! - Zoom! back to the attractive female reporter, who smiles at Nic! Cut back to Nic, who's still clearly in awe at her beauty. Surely he's about to say, "I like Japanese women" or "I like her"... an advert for skincare products? Shampoo? Women? But no.

The reporter pushes a strand of her hair over her ear, knocking her earring as she does so. Part of the earring, small, silvery and spherical, drops off, falls to the floor and rolls towards Nic's table at the front of the room. Nic follows its path across the carpet, transfixed...We hear the interpreter ask, "Mr. Cage?" as the ball reaches Nic's feet - he deftly flicks it up into the air and catches it. His eyes are agleam as he jumps to his feet, brandishing the ball, and shouts, "I love... PACHINKO!" He dashes out of the building, jumps into a taxi and tells the driver, "Take me to Sankyo!" which is the name, one assumes, of a chain of pachinko parlors. Off they drive, Nic still with an excited, feverish grin on his face. Priceless. Absolutely priceless.

What? You don't know what pachinko is? Oh. Well then, I guess that makes it marginally less funny for you. But trust me, I nearly pissed myself laughing. Nuff respect to Cage-san for appearing in an advert which so brilliantly lampoons the standard gaijin-TV-advert format. Pachinko is a vertical pinball game where one feeds little steel balls into the top of the machine, and tries to manipulate their passage down the machine by twiddling a knob, in order to win... more balls. That's it. The balls are eventually exchanged for cash, but there is no skill; it's mindnumbing, financially ruinous, noisy and hopelessly addictive to millions of Japanese. Foreigners simply don't play it, so the idea of Nic Cage beign hopelessly addicted to this most Japanese of Japanesisms is a sublime work of genius. I only hope the second one comes on again soon - my remote control thumb is getting sore. I can't wait.

Posted by chris at 10:05 PM | Permalink

This ridiculous chin...

<sloshed>Man, I love Face Off. A poor DVD, but a great film. John Travolta and Nic Cage clearly having the time of their lives playing each other playing each other - or something. Good action scenes, Gina Gershon and plenty of over-the-top acting - what more could you want? Oh, yes - and doves. Very important; no Woo flick is complete without doves.

After such a good day, tomorrow is bound to be appalling, according to Swerdloff's law of hubristic correction. I'll let you know how the damage limitation goes.</sloshed>

Posted by chris at 02:19 AM | Permalink

Drink all you can? Or drink all you want?

Forget the textbooks; the most useful Japanese word anyone can learn is nomihodai, lit: "all you can drink". Pop quiz: would you pay just less than ten pounds for three hours' unchecked boozing? Of course. Next question please.

What a great day. A top-whack all-you-can-eat buffet lunch, beers next to the pond in Hibiya Park, followed by nomihodai cocktails on the 39th floor of the Shinagawa Prince Hotel. It doesn't get much better than this. And no teachin' tomorrow. It gets better and better.

Posted by chris at 02:10 AM | Permalink

Don't let it slip away

It's a beautiful day - what the hell am I doing inside? I'm gone.

Posted by chris at 11:57 AM | Permalink

Shiny disc trophies

Another CD spree at Tower Records. Damn them for being open until 11 every night. This time the shiny disc trophies are as follows:

  1. Lamb by Lamb - Everyone I've spoken to has had nothing but praise for it, so I went and got it. 'Tis good, but on first listening the second half is definitely the more interesting. I love Merge and Gorecki already.
  2. Launch Party German Techno Rally - full of the loud tekno music, ja, made by the people who are called Hans and like the Scooter, ja? Ja.
  3. Ha by Talvin Singh - speculative purchase, really. I'll be chuffed if it's as good as, or better than, OK. Confused yet? Great.
  4. Perlen2 mixed by Thomas Schumacher - more of the German tekno music, ja? Okay, I'll stop the accent now.

Now all I need is some spare time to listen to everything. A shame they don't sell that at Tower. To paraphrase the great Eddie Izzard: you buy all these shiny CDs, you take them home, put them in a bowl in the kitchen..... and watch 'em rot. Maybe I'll have an apple... nah. Ooh, a Mars bar! Yum.

Posted by chris at 02:18 AM | Permalink

A Jedi craves not these things... chocolate's ok, though

I wonder if I get counted in the forthcoming UK Census, what with not actually living there any more? Maybe I get included on my parents' form... in which case, I must remember to phone them up and make sure they get my religion right...

Posted by chris at 10:37 AM | Permalink

Dive dive dive

A seemingly pointless act of madness? Or a truly pointless act of madness? You tell me.

Nothing illustrates better the Zen principles of cause and effect than a controlled plunge down a staircase. One's clarity of mind while in motion is almost soothing, completely transfixed on the moment. Afterwards, the pain reminds one of their humanity and the how ethereal our bodies truly are.

Er... right.

Posted by chris at 10:40 AM | Permalink


Euw. A female bodybuilder in a really skimpy bikini. Doing press-ups. That ain't nice. Be grateful that it's TV and I can't link to it.

Posted by chris at 01:43 AM | Permalink

"No loan for you! Come back one year."

Good grief Chinese is a complicated language. Ma with a flat tone is "mother", ma with a falling then rising tone is "horse". The possibilities for hilarity are endless. Let's see, you could call someone's mother a horse, or refer to a horse as "my mother". I never thought that I'd be using my primitive Japanese to study Chinese, but it's gone 1am and beggars can't be choosers where late-night Japanese TV is concerned. So it's either "Let's Learn Chinese" on NHK, or channel surfing.

The pickings are scarce tonight. A personal loan company is advertising. Their (English) slogan is "No loan!" I wouldn't have thought it was much of a selling point, but there you are. There's a new coffee called "First Drip". A panel of young scantily-clad ladies are cooing over Palm Pilots, which they appear never to have seen before, so amazed are they. They come in a range of snap-on colour covers (the Palms, not the ladies) and apparently this season's essential accessory is a Louis Vitton leather wallet for your leopardskin Palm V. ("Do you know what PDA spells?" asks one. "Um... isn't it 'panda'?" replies another. She doesn't sound like she's kidding.) Two more cute girls are flung down an indoor luge with reverse-angle cameras attached to their crash helmets to catch their petrified expressions, screaming all the way down.

I scream along with them.

"Quick Muscle Queens' Battle", disappointingly, turns out to be nothing of the sort.

Posted by chris at 01:35 AM | Permalink

There is a God (of Japlish)

I just found something buried in my Palm Pilot that I have to share, something I absolutely must add to the Hall of Japlish.

Dave and I are heading home on the Tozai Line one evening, when a guy gets on and stands in front of us, strap-hanging. Nothing strange there. I happen to notice the brand label on the pocket of his jacket. A little brown patch logo, three wavy strips and a single word. I try not to laugh. I succeed. I alert Dave subtlely ("Hey Dave! Look at what this guy's got written ON HIS JACKET!!!" Dave sees, goes a bit wide-eyed, and also manages not to laugh... not until the guy has disembarked, anyway.

The brand name? "Wanky".

It is moments like this that I live for. Thank you, oh God of Japlish. We bow forever at your altar.

Posted by chris at 12:29 AM | Permalink

Gibson on Japan tech in the Observer

Got it - tracked down an interesting little article that Dave mentioned: William Gibson writing (for the Observer, syndicated in the Japan Times) on the Japanese love of and symbiosis with technology - and why London gets it.

Apparently, Vancouver doesn't.

Posted by chris at 11:40 PM | Permalink

Anyone for Swedish-cockatoo-scalextric?

Man, I love days at work where I can be productive (we now have an intranet. well done me.) and yet still find time to play scalextric against a Swedish cockatoo.

This kind of day is, surprisingly, rare.

Posted by chris at 11:36 PM | Permalink

Word Perhect

Another genuinely innovative site; Word Perhect is a delightful spoof word processor.

Be sure to check out what all the toolbar buttons do, and browse through the help section, too. Complete with spoof "Tip of the Day", too. "Did you know? Drinking loads of water will help you when you are tired." Much more helpful than the usual "Press F7 to activate the spellchecker" rubbish.

Posted by chris at 03:11 PM | Permalink

Sunshine in a bag

I ain't happy
I'm feelin' glad; I've got sunshine
in a bag; I'm useless
but not for long; the future
is coming on

That Gorillaz album rocks.

Posted by chris at 05:53 PM | Permalink

Lump of Chicken

Well slap me with a feather duster and call me Susan (optional) - "Bump of Chicken" (see below) have gone straight in at number one on the Tower Records J-Pop Singles Chart. My my. Not just a pretty name, then.

And apparently I share a birthday with their bassist. Excellent - now I think I have all the makings of a potentially obsessive groupie.

Posted by chris at 12:08 AM | Permalink

Daft Gorillaz

Sucumbed to a minor CD spree on the way home from work tonight, after drinks with a friend. Shinjuku Tower Records is open until 11pm seven days a week, so it would be rude not to, really. Tonight's shiny things and baubles:

  1. Discovery by Daft Punk (the Japanese version has some very cool Reiji Matsumoto manga artwork on the slipcase)
  2. some new release on Tresor (DJ Shufflemaster? Ken Ishii likes him, apparently... Anyone?)
  3. that bloody Operation Blade by bloody Public Domain (look, it's just because I can't get the frigging thing out of my head, okay? I'm praying it's not too late for a vaccination)
  4. the Gorillaz album (I like the concept and Jamie Hewlett artwork so much that I almost don't care if the music's any good or not - though on the strength of the singles and their recent "live" internet broadcast, I suspect it'll be ace)

So, while we're on the subject: What was the last CD / vinyl you bought?

Posted by chris at 12:00 AM | Permalink

Bump of Chicken

I love Japanese pop group names. At the moment, I'm specifically enjoying "Bump of Chicken", at number ten in this week's charts.

I shit ye not.

Posted by chris at 12:13 AM | Permalink

Good news, bad news

The good news: Monday was sunny and warm, perfect weather for strolling along the river without needing to dodge the weekend crowds of inebriated picnickers.

The bad news: Monday was actually spent inside, in a room with plastic advertising hoardings painted over the windows to stop sunlight sneaking in and anyone else sneaking (or even just looking) out. Not only am I ordered to sacrifice a day off, to help pull the company out of a self-dug, teacher-shortage-shaped hole, but it has to be a nice day, doesn't it? Arse.

Posted by chris at 02:40 PM | Permalink

Psycho killer, qu’est que c’est?

I saw Psycho - Gus Van Sant's version - on Sunday night, with a couple of friends. I must be one of the few people to have seen the colour version without first seeing the original. Good but strangely unaffecting. I suppose a lot of the original's power came from the fact that it was quite ahead of its time - having its "heroine" killed off so early, being one of the first films (I suppose - correct me if I'm wrong) to take us (adopt pathe news-style voiceover tone) "inside the mind of a serial killer", innovative use of camerawork and so on. Move it forwards thirty-five years and you're left with a short film about a nutter.

Which is not to say that it wasn't worth doing; I think it's a totally valid experiment in film-making. I liked it. But I think I would have appreciated the original more.

Possibly the most revealing thing to come out of watching the DVD edition director's commentary (Gus Van Sant along with the two leads, Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche) was the realisation that Anne Heche talks a lot of crap. I wanted the reference to John Woo's kitchen knife explained, dammit.

Posted by chris at 01:13 PM | Permalink

Sakura drops

Sunday - I didn't make it all the way to Yoyogi park, though it would have been nice to see the freaks out in force next to Harajuku Station. But I did make it as far as wandering into Higashi Nakano to get lunch / breakfast. It's never easy to know what to call the first meal of the day when it happens at 2pm. Brunch is already taken... how about lekfast? Aaanyway.

A quick word about cherry blossoms - sakura, in Japanese. As mentioned below, they have special significance for the Japanese, who see in them a reminder of the transient nature of life. We are born, bloom, and then fall off trees and get trampled on by drunken salarymen on their office hanami (cherry-blossom-viewing) outing.... or something.

In the weeks before and during the sakura season, the TV weather bulletins slavishly forecast and report on the sakura's progression across and up the country - sometimes even to the extent of not bothering to report the actual weather. Look at the pretty pink flowers! They bloom first in Okinawa and the warmer southern prefectures, and then spread across and up the length of the country over the next few weeks, typically hitting Tokyo in late March each year.

These days I live in Shinjuku, which is pretty much the centre of urban Tokyo. Luckily, my flat is in a quiet little neighbourhood next to the Kanda River, the length of which has been planted with cherry trees. So for the last week or so I've been able to walk along the river on my way to the station, underneath a canopy of gentle pink and white, watching falling blossoms borne on the pleasantly-cooling breeze and marvelling at the transient nature of life... when I'm not thinking about sex, of course.

Posted by chris at 12:56 PM | Permalink


Got some catching up to do on the weekend's events.

Saturday night was another reminder of the transitory nature of ex-pat life in Japan. The Japanese regard cherry blossoms (which are currently in bloom) as a symbol of the impermanence of life - they flower, they last a couple of weeks, they die. My reminder was slightly different: I went to a colleague's leaving party.

The company I work for (doing geek things) is a chain of private English schools. We employ mainly Brits, who fly out to Japan, teach for a year (sometimes longer) and fly home, leaving the rest of us thinking, "Shit - they were here a whole year? I'm getting old." So Saturday was farewell to Jill, a lovely Scots lass who had been here for exacly a year. Where the hell did it go?

Posted by chris at 12:33 PM | Permalink

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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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