Friday, January 30, 2009


This near perfect example of complete radness is often parked just up the road, and is, in my completely unbiased opinion, right up there with the Durcus One. Can't be too comfortable to ride though..

Thursday, January 29, 2009

When the music's over..

I always thought that the best thing about Yoyogi park was the bands, dancers, artists and comedians that would line Koen Dori and the footpaths of Inokashira Dori on any given weekend, providing a plethora of free and interesting entertainment, but not any more.. Towards the end of last summer there were murmurings around the park scene of the police clamping down on street lives and raves, then we saw a couple of parties shut down by police, and then by about mid-November the signs went up. Basically the signs say "On the street, the playing of instruments, and the selling of goods or food is prohibited". The result has been the effective elimination of one of the most enjoyable aspects of hitting the park on the weekend, as well as taken away a fantastic place for young artists to develop their craft.

.. and the park scene in better days..

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shitamachi Museum

Up for a bit of authentic olden-day Japan? Then maybe you should try and include the Shitamachi museum in your weekend or holiday schedule. Situated on the edge of Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park, The Shitamachi Museum is basically an old Japanese building that houses many life sized models of houses and shops from the Taisho period (1912-1926), and offers some perspective of what it would have been like to live in Tokyo in the first couple of decades of last century. On the first floor you can sit in the living area at the back of a store, open drawers and cupboards and find inside the utensils of daily life, or visit a merchants house, a sweets shop, or a coppersmiths workshop, all offering hands-on experience with genuine articles from the period. The second floor offers a more varied collection of exhibits, with toys, dolls, photos, board games, and card games, plus exhibits related to festivals and other events. The museum is cheap (300 yen), provides free guides, and is certainly worth a look..

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Donald Richie

Donald Richie is an American-born author who has written many books about Japanese culture and cinema. Born in 1924, Richie first visited Japan in 1947 with the American occupational force, and quickly became fascinated with what he saw, and particularly with Japanese cinema. He decided to stay on and has now been in Japan for well over 60 years. Recently a friend and I were invited to play at a book launch party being held for Donald's newest book Botandoro, and hence were lucky enough to experience Donald reading some of his work, as well as view an experimental film that he had directed in the early 60's. The book is "a Miscellany" of previously published and unpublished work from 1941 through 2005. He was truly a man of elegance and inspiration and I will definitely make a point of seeking out some more of his work..

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saori Hara: STOP! STD girl #3

Following in the footsteps of Nana Natsume and Sasa Handa, Saori Hara is the new postergirl for the STOP! STD campaign. The campaign is run by Soft on Demand, reputedly one of the largest AV companies in Japan, and is aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. Saori is yet another gravure idol turned AV star that also makes regular appearances into popular mainstream media. She also maintains a weblog, containing information about her day to day activities, as well as lots of pictures of food and her favorite fluffy animals..

Friday, January 9, 2009

Debito and Tkyo Sam

Arudou Debito, formerly David Christopher Aldwinckle, was born in 1965 in the United States, and has been a permanent resident of Japan from 1996, and a naturalized Japanese citizen from 2000. In becoming a naturalized citizen he renounced his U.S. citizenship, as required by Japanese law. He is a father of two, is employed as a tenured associate professor at a university in Hokkaido, and has authored books in both Japanese and English. He is perhaps most famous for his website in which he blogs information pertaining to foreigner's rights in Japan. The website contains a wealth of information that is useful for both short and long term residents, as well as other resources that may be considered interesting or entertaining. He is considered by some as an activist, but by others as a troublemaker, as his methods often involve exposing allegedly racist elements of Japanese society as demonstrated in his Rougues Gallery of "Japanese Only" establishments. Tkyo Sam interviewed Debito during his recent visit to Tokyo, and while the interview does ramble a bit, it is an interesting insight into the controversial figure that is Debito..