blacklilly: (Default)
Oh ye gads, it's the end of the freaking world!!  There's almost no beer left in Asagaya! The only stuff people won't touch is the non-alcohol and calorie free stuff...and Beaujolais Nouveau, but that is entirely understandable. Not only does this tell us what shit even Japanese people won't touch in a crisis, but that should the end come, I won't be able to drink myself to death first!! 

Ha ha ha.  I joke on that last count, of course.  Seriously, though, this beer shortage is a problem.   With the water supply issues at the moment, bottled water is scarce, so beer kinda seemed like an option until a week or so ago when I overheard a discussion between the owner of my local bar and his supplier:

" I've got one keg of Yebisu left.  Do you want it?" the supplier muttered into the bar owner's ear.

" What happens when that runs out?" the bar owner asked.

" We still have the Asahi Super Dry."  Both men looked seriously into space.

" Give me whatever you've got left.  Bottles as well," said the bar owner.  " Hopefully things won't get that bad."

It turns out that one of the Yebisu breweries was knocked out either by the quake or the tsunami, and is out of action until they can safely return gas and power to it.  The Kirin brewery site in Yokohama is subject to blackouts and supply problems, I would assume.  As for Asahi, who knows, but there isn't much of that about at the moment either.  Though it gives you a good indication of its popularity, that it was one of the last beers to still be hanging around in the convenience stores.  I'm well aware that there are other locations in Japan still brewing beer, but they are unlikely to divert their supplies to Kanto when Kansai and Kyushu are also needing to slake their thirsts.  I bought one can of Yebisu in the supermarket earlier, along with a 12 pack of toilet roll - mango-scented - which was a relief.  I was starting to look at which book was going to be the first to be ripped up for bog roll.  Maybe I should request copies of the Daily Mail and Sun newspapers to be shipped over to Japan.  They'd make good bum rags.

Last week I went out to grab some food and wrote this when I got home:  "Ito Yokodo had a massive delivery of water when I popped in earlier.  People were taking them out of the boxes before the staff could get them open properly.  One old lady was trying to fill her basket with bottles until one of the staff reprimanded her and told her she could only have 1 bottle.  She had to put them back.  Ha ha.  Old ladies = wagamama monsters."

I know much has been said of how people in Sendai have been stoic about their situation and haven't resorted to looting or fighting etc etc, but I think people there have a better spirit than those in Tokyo - a better sense of community.  I sometimes feel the fact that Tokyo mostly comprises people from all over the country makes it a rather disconnected place to live, which perhaps results in people immaturely hoarding food, water and other necessities.  Anyway, just a random thought.

So, things have settled down a lot since last week.  Omotesando and Harajuku are their normal heaving selves.  The police in the Omotesdando Dori police box were feeding biscuits to some woman's pet rats dogs on Friday morning, and the street nampa-ing (or whatever it is those guys are up to) is back on.  Curiously the tissue guys were absent this week - possibly they got mobbed for their tissue stashes and are tending to their old lady-shaped bruises at home.  Work is busy with spring intensive courses for the kids.  Thursday, fortunately, is my last day at work until July (not including Peaceboat), so I'm counting the hours until my freedom!

So, I shall leave you with a photo of plum blossom from one of my wanderings from the other week:

blacklilly: (Crazy)
I came back to Tokyo yesterday. The shinkansen was packed, but my friend and I were lucky to get a seat. The four days down in Osaka were a much needed break from the constant anxiety in Tokyo - I stopped shaking, and despite dreaming about earthquakes for all but one night, got some rest and relaxation.  Every time I go to Osaka I wonder why I don't live there.  The atmosphere of the city seems to suit me much more.  The pace of life seems less frenetic than Tokyo, and the people much more friendly and relaxed.  There's something nice and grimy about Osaka which I like, too.  And the mexican restaurants are deeelicious.

I met up with an old friend on Sunday for lunch. Ayumi is a former student of mine from London, and she was always really cool.  She played in a punk band in London, and looked after the school principle's little boy as a part time job. She's really different from many of my Japanese friends.  We once went to an izakaya in Tokyo and she asked for a spoon.  They waiter gave it to me, and I promptly handed it to her as she had lost her patience with chopsticks for eating rice - too much time in England with mashed potato.  We went to a little omu-rice restaurant in Amemura (America-mura) and then went to buy earrings in a silver shop.  We walked past a group of young kids having a dance competition on the street.  There was a lot of silver lame, spandex and braided hair going on. Very cute.  Ayumi took off for a band practice and I took to wandering the streets, where I observed some guy getting mobbed by people and upsetting the traffic.  It turned out that he was Kid Yamamoto, a famous K1 fighter.  I had no idea who he was until I googled him after a friend also mentioned seeing him. 

So today, we've had three noticable aftershocks.  They've been 5+/6+ tremors, though in Tokyo they only registered 1 and 2.  I noticed the first one at work, mainly because I started feeling nauseous, and then the secretary called out "jishin" (earthquake) and we waited to see what would happen.  The other two have been since I got home, though I don't recall noticing the second one, which is actually a good thing.

This afternoon I headed down to a hotel near the British Embassy in central Tokyo to pick up some iodine tablets.  The likelihood of having to take them is low, as was stated when the embassy handed them over, but it provides some peace of mind for myself and the people back home.  The queue was quite long.  It took about an hour waiting to register but was pretty quick after that.  I bumped into three other people I know in the queue. 

The man standing next to me got talking, and provided a great conversational hour.  He is teaching techincal writing at Tokyo Univeristy, but has a doctorate in civilisation collapse in ancient cultures.  We talked about that, Angkor Wat, Frtiz Schumacher, and vertical farming, as well as his forthcoming book, which he says is a response to Jared Diamond's "Collapse".  I've not read Jared Diamond, but I am aware of his stuff, so will have to look it up.   This also ties in with what my friend Erik has been blogging about since last week.  Erik has some really good stuff to say on environmental issues, and he writes very well.  Check it out.  Very interesting, and very lucky that I got to talk to him, as the people ahead of us spent much of their time wailing about some sort of apocalypse, telling each other to hush up about the apocalypse, and slagging off the French.

So, apart from the continued tremors, things are slowly slowly continuing and getting back to normal.  The trains are running, though there is no set schedule running on some lines.  I had to take the subway to get the tablets earlier, so was a little nervous about doing that, but it turned out alright.  The subway is pretty empty in comparison to over-ground trains, but in general things are quiet.  Food is back in the shops.  In one supermarket they are rationing how much you can buy.  I got two 2-L bottles of water today (I guzzle a lot of water), and my friend picked up some gas canisters (1 pack per person).  10kg bags of rice at rationed to 1 per purchase, and there was no bread left, but plenty of bakeries.  So, not so bad.   There's still palpable tension about, but the Japanese are good at dealing with difficulty - mature, as Erik put it - and are battling on sensibly where others might lose their heads.

Oh yeah, I checked the BBC yesterday, only to find that we had started bombing Libya.  When did this happen??!!  And more importantly - ANOTHER war?????? 

blacklilly: (Default)
I am currently in Osaka.  I came down yesterday, after realizing that my nerves had got the better of me.  Despite the first two or three days after the earthquake being pretty constant for aftershocks, I thought I was handling it OK, but by Tuesday I realized that I was starting to go down hill. My head felt as though I was viewing everything through a haze, I couldn't sleep, and throughout the days I was constantly experiencing fake earthquakes - it was either in my head, or my heart beating so strongly that I the rest of my body was shaking.  By Thursday evening, I found myself in my friend's bar with my legs and hands shaking almost non-stop after having two strong aftershocks inside 10 minutes.  I had also taken to sleeping fully-clothed, with the light on, too scared to even take a shower for fear of another shock. 

My boss very graciously gave me yesterday off work, so I could have 4 days rest - this being a long weekend anyway.  My two other jobs have cancelled everything until next week at the very earliest.  The Omotesando job is bravely toiling ahead - they say they have no choice but to carry on - they have no where else to go, and a business to run.  

Since coming to Osaka, I've met up with quite a lot of other people who have also left Tokyo - and the reasons are a mixture.  Some, like me, cannot deal with the constant aftershocks and the fear of another big quake, whilst others are much more concerned with the nuclear situation in Fukushima,  I've spent a lot of time researching the reactors, and trying to find out as much as possible about the likelihood of a meltdown and it's possible effects.  Most information seems to point to things being unlikely to get as far as the need to shelter indoors whilst a radioactive cloud passes overhead, but as the days go on and the British Embassy edits its advice (they have now started distributing iodine to British citizens), one can't help but start to feel a little anxious about what we are not being told by the Japanese authorities.  Despite people doing their best to carry on as normal, there is a palpable tension to daily life.

On Monday I went down to the station as I had heard it was crazy busy.  There were people queuing out of the building to get on a train.  Allegedly it took a friend an hour to get from the entrance onto a train.  The supermarkets were also bare by Sunday night - no rice, no water, no bread, no noodles.  I would like to show you pictures but my friend took them and I am unable to snatch them off of Facebook for you.  Anyway, I'm sure you've seen plenty of that on TV already. Despite the state of the the supermarkets, the smaller stores  were and are still operating extremely well.  Local bakeries are making a killing as they don't rely on a supply chain for bread, and the vegetable stores are still selling produce.  In fact, one supermarket in town managed to restock on Wednesday morning, though it was almost empty again by the early afternoon.

I'll continue more tomorrow.  I've got to go out!
blacklilly: (Amelie)
Right now is my favourite kind of time.  It's pouring down with rain outside, with occasional bursts of thunder and lightning. I'm listening to Late Junction on Radio 3, and my house is filled with the smell of cooking chickpeas.  After the 36 degree heat of yesterday, today is a much welcomed relief for me.  All I need now is some hot chocolate and a good book or movie and my day in made.

I was awoken this morning at 9am or so by thumping of rain on my apartment, and then through my sleepy fug rejoiced as the storm passed over and shook the whole place as it crashed by.  My showa glass doors were quivering on their runners and the floor was vibrating.  I haven't heard thunder that loud for a couple of years, not since a summer storm in Omori when myself and the neighbours thought a bomb had gone off when a storm unexpectedly cracked by.

Last weekend I went to my friend Brent's wedding.  It was a lovely place called the QED Club in Ebisu, with a sloping garden and a huge patio upon which we had dinner.  Here are a couple of photos:

Nana, Brent, Hiromi, Shintaku, Nayoun, Kazumi and me.
     The bride and groom descend the stairs in a lovely set of new threads.
My favourite picture of the day was of my friend Nayoun.
On Monday night I went on a cruise around Tokyo Bay - not the most picturesque of places by day, but at night and with nomihodai, it's a different story.   Afterwards, there were some mutterings about checking out a host club in Kabukicho, but as we had a guy with us, we couldn't go.  I'm intrigued to go, but I can pretty much tell you now that paying to be fawned over by a guy who spends a hour teasing his hair to perfection is probably not my idea of the best time ever, but I'll do anything once.
The Tokyo Bay Bridge

Tokyo Tower

Last night I went out for a drink at 10pm (today being a National Holiday), and I didn't get back until 6.30m.  I met some friends at the bar, and then we all decided (or indeed, I may have planted the idea in everyone's heads - most out of character as I usually only do karaoke when I have no other choice) to go to karaoke.  Most enjoyable bit of the evening is when we chose songs in other languages and made up the lyrics.  My friend Miho chose a Korean punk song, which we sang a duet to, in which I told of my lust for Miho in high school uniform and wanting to get into her tights.  Hey, it rhymed, and that's the most important thing.  My other friend Koh chose a Korean song and then sang the whole thing in Thai - some sort of love song to Eric, who chose a Phillipino song and made up a nonsense duet with me.  We went back to Eric's house where I flung myself upon his king-size bed and fell asleep until 6.30am.  He has a 9th floor apartment, so it's the perfect place to see in the morning. 

And so now, I must brave the weather.  I was going to go to Shinjuku to look at books on Bali (I've booked a holiday), but the trains aren't running well by the look of things (I can see the train line from my house).  I'll go tomorrow.  However, I must pay the cash for my flights and buy a lemon for making hummous, so into the storm I shall go.  Thank goodness for my skull-print rainboots!!
blacklilly: (Crazy)

So, this weekend I will be exhibiting some of my Holga photos at an exhibition at the bar about two minutes from my house.  My friend Mikey is the "Art Director" for the bar, and normally organizes an art show every month - pop/street/underground stuff - but he had enough enquiries from photographers that he decided to do a photo show.  And then the other week he said:

"You know how I feel about photography.  I just can't get excited about it, but you can get enthusiastic about that shit.  You do it."

Which is how I became the "Photography Director".

Last night we started hanging prints.  We were expecting about 10 photographers, but only 4, including myself showed up.  Two were sick, one was working, and one (on account of being just over a year old) was asleep.  Which left one unaccounted for.  Anyway, the first guy I met was a slightly odd one whose girlfriend came along and proceeded to ignore everyone in the room.  She reminded me a little of my former self.  The first shot he put up was of a forearm into which had been carved the word "Love".  Not being a stranger to the odd bit of self-mutilation in the past, I asked him whose arm had been carved up for that shot: 

"Mine," he replied.

"Have you got the scars?"

"Not any more."  Which also reminded me of my former self and begged the question as to whether or not he'd put new ones over the top, or whether he too is blessed with magic skin.  It doesn't bother me that he was taking photos of his own knife-work -  hell, I've got notebooks and diaries smeared with my own scarlet miseries - but I wonder how it'll go down with the audience, especially as I would say he only had about 3 very good prints and the rest were...meh.  I hear that his other stuff is a bit more sexy, so I wish he'd brought that along.

The rest of the stuff should be hung this week, including my own stuff.  I was searching for mounting board today in Shinjuku, as framing pictures is ridiculously expensive.  The opening night is Saturday. 

Funnily enough, 3 people in that room had pictures of the Cosmo Clock in Yokohama.  It's a big old Ferris Wheel which I've always had a desire to snog someone on, but alas, the chance has never presented itself. 

blacklilly: (Amelie)
I've had a frantic past couple of months, but it all seems to be settling down a little now.

I moved into my new place on May 15th, and started working the same week, so things were pretty hectic.  Then I've been trying to sort out money, which has caused no end of hassles.  One particular case involved transferring money to my Japanese bank from England, only for it no to show up (and we're talking about £1000).  It turned out that the Japanese bank refuses to accept overseas transfers, despite apparently having a transfer system in place.  So I requested that the money be returned to my bank account in England...two weeks ago. And then it turned up, mysteriously, when I called the bank yesterday to complain about its absence.  Allegedly, it was credited to my account yesterday (probably about 2 minutes after the start of the call I bet), but at a loss of about £100 due to the various charges and exchange rates.  Thus, I will be writing letters of complaint after I finally get this cash (withdrawing it from the ATM, incurring further charges).  The money is going to pay back my friend who lent me the cash to get this apartment, and I feel bad for having to make her wait so long for it. 

There must be some sort of alternative banking system available, which doesn't mess you about so much.

About a week after I moved in, I was chopping spinach for dinner, and sliced my finger open on a new knife.  Normally, the sight of blood and minor injuries has no effect upon me, but this time I passed out.  I'm not sure how long I was out for, but there were some funny old thoughts going through my head while I was gone.  I guess it was a matter of seconds, but it was certainly long enough to bleed all over myself.  Fortunately, the cut healed up super-fast.

Anyway, here are some pictures:
The streetlight outside apartment reads "Star Road".
That light blur in the background is the Chuo Line train.

Look at the size of that kitchen!!!  It even has two, yes TWO, gas burners.
My leopard-print sofa has been much remarked upon.
The glass in the sliding doors is "Showa glass" and rattles when the wind gets up.

The day I moved in, my friend Saori came to help.  She was armed with kitchen towel, cloths, washing up liquid...
and dinner!  Here we have (top left going clockwise) - manjyu from Matsumoto, home-made plum wine,
sour plum and seaweed rice balls, stewed pumpkin, oden, and spinach and mushroom in Thai sauce. 
It was delicious, and kept me fed for a few days!

Yes, my balcony is blue and green, just like my building.
The landlady is a slightly eccentric but cute old lady, who asked me if I spoke Spanish.
She has a brilliant garden, which I will endeavour to take photos of (and steal grapes from!).

My balcony is going to become a small jungle:
gerbera, geranium, marigolds, aubergines, tomatoes, mint, habaneros, basil, oregano, mint.
I'm still on the look-out for fresh coriander!
blacklilly: (Ero ero ero)
So I began the year by reading Murakami's "Norwegian Wood".  Having heard so many people rave on about this book I had high expectations, so I was quite disappointed when it basically turned out to be a love story.  I expect to be pleasantly befuddled by a Murakami novel, not puking in my mouth from post-pubescent wallowing.  Toru Watanabe is another example of why I loathe Murakami's male protagonists - they're all passive, weak-willed "men" who retreat down wells/hide in their rooms/run away to Kyushu as soon as the slightest thing happens  to upset their selfish, navel-gazing little existences (which is usually their wife leaving them, and quite right too).  I spent the first half of the book wondering when the Murakami trinity would kick in - weak-willed man (evident from page 1); hiding in well/room/Kyushu (about half-way through); cat - just after half-way through, so I wasn't let down in that respect. 

This time I found reading "Norwegian Wood" just as depressing as when I read "Dance Dance Dance", though perhaps the violent suicidal thoughts didn't present as they did last time.  And yet, by the end of the book, I had made my peace with it, and I am able to appreciate why it was so popular upon its release.  However, in my opinion, not his best. 

So, I move on from one depression-inducing book to one which I was warned would be thoroughly misery-making, Cormac McCarthy's "The Road".  It has been sitting on my shelf for about 7 months and my inner masochist decided now would be time to read it, what with the disappointment of the Copenhagen Climate conference fresh in my mind.  And strangely, so far I find it totally riveting, only slightly misery-making and less irritating than "All The Pretty Horses".  When the world goes to shit, which isn't far off, I can see this as a very credible projection of how things will end up.   Anyway, more on that when I've finished it.

So, on to other things.  Given the extremely bad mood I've been in the past week, I'm not sure what possessed me to watch "The Time Traveller's Wife" on Saturday night.  Perhaps because it seemed to be the only functioning movie on Ninjavideo, or was it the half a bottle of wine I'd consumed by myself?  I haven't read the book, and I really knew nothing about the movie.  I liked the idea of time travelling, and I also empathized with the wife of a guy who is genetically unreliable (maybe that's just me reading my own issues into things), but it's just a saccharine, nasty love story with a devilishly impish-looking little girl chucked in towards the end for cute factor.  I could see her with a big kitchen knife in her hand, that would have been a better ending.  

I made up for this torture by watching "Inglorious Basterds" on Monday night, which was much better.

So books and films this year:

Books                                                   Films

Murakami - Norwegian Wood              Brothers
McCarthy - The Road                          The Time Travellers' Wife
                                                            Inglorious Basterds

On Sunday, Chelsey and I ventured to Akihabara to get her a new power cord for her laptop.  I spent 20 minutes lurking in the station counting otaku before she turned up.  Our quest took us to different shops, the first two of which were totally useless as none of the staff were very interested in helping us out.  Coming out of Yodobashi Camera, our second stop, we walked though a crowd of people standing and sitting outside the store.  They were totally silent. Then I realized that everyone was crouched over a Nintendo DS.  So there was a massive silent crowd of geeky men (and two pre-pubescent girls) playing on their DS's on sunny Sunday afternoon in Akihabara.  Sometimes I love Tokyo.  Which is why I live in Yokohama.

So, I'm currently sporting a particularly fetching purple-black bruise on my stomach from a little bike accident.  I publicized this event on Facebook, fishing for some sympathy as I was quite achey and pissed off at the time, but only one kind soul expressed their concern for me.  Thanks a lot everyone else, remind me to punch you in the face next time I see you.  I received said injury whilst cycling up an overpass on my way back from the Tesco in Minatomirai.  It's a steep, curving slope to the top and you need to put a lot of welly into getting up there, which is why having a bag jam in the forks on the front tyre is not quite what you want to experience.  I ended up in a sort of reverse wheelie, and it took a lot of balance and muscle to keep the bike from tipping over.  So I came crashing back down to earth, upright, but ended up slamming into my handlebars. 

Hmm, so, next time I'll walk the overpass.

Hello Tiger

Jan. 1st, 2010 06:01 pm
blacklilly: (Smiley)
2010 is the year of the Tiger in Chinese astrology. In Japan that starts today. I wonder what it will bring.

Last night I went to my co-worker's house near Shibuya for New Year. The plan was to go round, have some drinks, watch a bit of TV and then head off to my favourite rock bar in Shibuya to see in the New Year. As it turned out, we got a bit carried away enjoying ourselves and I ended up having to run to the nearby train station at 11.45pm to collect two friends. We barrelled through the door at 11.56pm, kampai'd the near year and wished someone a happy birthday. It was a pretty good night.

A student of mine sent this picture to me this morning, so I thought I'd post it here for you:

It's the first sunrise of 2010 taken from the top of the Mori Building in Roppongi Hills.  Next year, weather permitting, I want to be there.

In a bid to find something decent to wear for the party yesterday I decided to be brave and cut up one of my t-shirts.  Goodness knows why it took me 29 years to finally start cutting up T-shirts, but I'm glad I started.  Here are before and after pictures:

  Before     After

The necklace is a brilliant little thing my mum picked up for me from a jewellery shop in Burnham the last time I went back to England. 

In fact, it's not just T-shirts I've been revamping.  I've been mulling over moving my room about for a month or two and the day before yesterday I got fidgety enough to do it.  Again, more pictures:
Before   After (though not finished)

I feels a little more spacious for some reason.

Anyway, more later.  I think I need some sleep, or a bath...
blacklilly: (Default)

Last night, my friend and co-worker, Mike, held the opening night of his art exhibition at a bar in Asagaya. He's been going over the various preparations for this with me during the past few months, particularly bouncing off ideas for the book which accompanied the exhibition. So, I was quite chuffed last night to find he'd credited myself and another friend as "layout consultants". This is the first time my name has been on anything printed since...2006, I think.

At a Thanksgiving party last weekend I was talking to one of my fellow Englishmen about the preconcieved ideas you have of anywhere in Tokyo before you get there. At the time we were in Minami Rinkan, which I'd actually spent little time trying to imagine in my head. It's just a commuter town conveniently linked up with Yokohama and Tokyo through the train system. Oddly, walking along tight little roads lined with compact walled gardens and occasionally punctuated by small vegetable fields, our host pointed out to us a stable in which he said were cows. I could certainly smell cow, which was quite pleasantly nostalgic, though I was unable to see them in the dusk.

Perhaps the biggest oddity in this rather unremarkable place was what we found in the supermarket: Tesco brand wine and food. I walked into the supermarket to find Tesco brand muesli and "maple pecan crunch" sitting on the shelves. Tesco brand wine priced remarkably cheaply. Tesco milk. Tesco bourbon creams and chocolate chip cookies. Despite my not having been much of a Tesco shopper in England (I preferred Sainsbury's) I found this all quite exciting because Tesco labels their food as vegetarian friendly or not - so I could actually buy something without worrying about what was in it. Though to be fair, I bought muesli and a bottle of wine, so one can't go too far wrong with those.

Anyway, I was talking about preconceived images of places. Last night was the first time I had been to Asagaya, so the picture of it in my head was entirely formed by what other people had told me. Mike is the second person I've known to speak fondly of Asagaya - from the atmosphere to the nightlife etc - so I had this rather Shibuya-like, neon party town in my head. So, I was, as usual impressed to find it to be not like that at all. Radiating off of the train station is a warren of small streets lined with shops, bars and restaurants, which can be a little confusing. I particularly liked how small the streets were. As we walked back to the station this morning, we had to take a detour down a side street because the rubbish lorry took up the entire street ahead of us.

The party itself was in a second floor bar (that's 1st floor to the English readers), and yet again was not what I expected, yet met every criteria of a Tokyo bar (small, cramped, dark, cute bar-tender) and then proceeded to better that by having rooms upstairs for DJs and crashing out in (as one reader of this blog did).

It was a great night, mostly because it was a pleasing mix of familiar and new faces. Some Yokohama students made the trek out to see the show, though all went home before last train, leaving us plenty of opportunity to mingle with all the new faces there. I chatted to a DJ dressed as Julius Ceasar who comes from Bath but has lived in Japan for 25 years; a guy called Hide who seemed to be wearing leather, though I'm sure that was probably the lighting; then a DJ called Satoru who was trying to convince me to like his plinky-plonky techno music (on the basis that we both love Aphex Twin), before Google-Earthing my parents house on his iPhone. I compared tattoos with the bar owner, who told me the rather gruesome details of tattooing himself (20 years ago) with a pot of Japanese shodo (calligraphy) ink and an adapted electric toothbrush prong. My other coworker brought along his cute housemate and his cute friend, so I chatted to them about Supernatural and heavy metal. A really drunk guy showed me the 3 LPs he'd bought that day - Depeche Mode, Debbie Harry, and Japan, and then wouldn't let me go home but insisted on slurring into my ear until one of the aforementioned cuties distracted him for me.

It's such a relief to get away from having the common ground of working for the same company as everyone else. Conversation has a tendency to whirlpool around the same miserable work plughole, so not having that is quite liberating. I took my Holga with me and was messing about with multiple exposures and multi-coloured flashes, so we'll have to see how that all turns out...

I got home at 8am after a miserably long train ride home (I took 4 different train lines) and then had weird repetitive dreams until about 1pm.

Now, I should do a but more studying. My Japanese exam is next Sunday, but I think I've hit burnout. My Japanese class on Friday morning was terrible, as what I was thinking bore little relation to what came out of my mouth. At one point I tried to talk about my favourite something-or-other but ended up saying the word for "birthday" instead.

Gambatte me.
blacklilly: (Shibuya)
I'm waiting for my rice to cook so I can have breakfast.  My rice cooker broke when Gideon was visiting, so there's no pressure anymore.  It takes a mite longer than normal.  Anyway.  While that's all happening, here are a couple of photos from Omotesando I took back in January when I went to buy my Holga:

Do let me know if they're blurry.  My computer needs a new logic board so all images are a bit screwy.

Tomorrow, shrine chasing.

blacklilly: (Angsty)

This was this morning's breakfast: tofu with wakame and somen noodles in a miso broth using my own homemade vegan dashi stock.  Super yummy it was too,  I should eat it everyday, but sometime I love toast too much.
Yesterday's trip to Roppongi was very nice, despite the heavy rain and high winds.  We met at the very cool Aoyama Book Center, where I spent my time cooing over various font and sample pattern books.   After a fabulous lunch, we then went to check out Roppongi Hills which is full of nice expensive shops, including a very very nice Tsutaya full of magazines, books and coffee.  On the way we stopped off at the Asahi TV station so Kazumi could giggle over her favourite TV programme like the big fangirl she is.  We finished off in the Tokyo Nation Art Museum.  We didn't actually go to any of the exhibitions, because that costs money, but we did check out the gift shop, which has loads of interesting little bits and pieces in it.  I bought some more postcards for my 2009 postcard project (in which I attempt every month to send someone I know, somewhere in the world, a postcard, in a vain attempt at keeping in touch).  Just before we went back home I stumbled across a pet shop and keened and cooed over the kitty-cats (and a six-week odl puppy, who should NOT have been on his own).  Then I went home to my empty apartment, which has no feline inmate,

For some ridiculous reason, I can't get rid of the underline on this page.

Anyway, I came back home and downloaded the latest episode of Dollhouse, which finally seems to be making a bit of progress.  This episode I think, is what everyone wants Dollhouse to be - a bit more of the Whedon-lingo, a faster moving plot, and some nice surprises.  Much improved.  More like this please.

It's nice and sunny today so I'm going out on a bicycle adventure soon.  The wid is pretty strong, so strong in fact that my apartment buiilding shakes with every strong gust.  I'm attempting to find a park i saw a sign for last week.  It'll probably turn out to be a foot square piece of green surrounded by old ladies with cameras.

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It's never sunny when I have a day off.  Today it's all windy and grey outside.  The crows have moved back into the neighbourhood the past week or so, and are giving their throats quite the workout.  I recall being on Skype with my parents last year and them asking what the noise was.  So I turned my webcam round and showed them the monster squatting on the phoneline outside my window.  Evil things they are...

I want March to finish as soon as possible.  I was looking at a post I made from the beginning of the month and though it was only 3 weeks ago, it seems like an age.  Roll on April, which includes two weeks of holidays.

Later today I'm going to Roppongi with a few people to have a celebratory (as in "Yey! You passed your Japanese test!")  Indian lunch.  I can't wait to eat a proper curry.  I plan to eat so much I won't need to eat dinner, which works quite well, as there's nothing for dinner in the fridge...

There was the jazz gig on Friday night where I got a little too tipsy and danced with a 21 year-old trumpet player.  It was a bit like dancing with a tree.  I then had weird dreams which included my sister having  a transparent stomach so we could all see the baby, who had black hair and blue eyes.  Then there were some rather lovely blonde-haired, pierced and tattooed twins who looked a little like Eric Northman, but dammit, my neighbour woke me up before anything interesting happened.  Speaking of the neighbour, his number of OCD door rattlings increased yesterday to 12 repetitions, and then he came back two minutes later and did it all over again.  At 5.30am. 

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Just in case anybody wonders if I hang about in Akihabara, I don't.

Tokyo man goes on stabbing spree.

Weird, as one of my students was telling me last night about a man in a nearby town in Yokohama who was randomly
stabbed in the leg.

Now I have to decide if I stay in and carry on writing an essay for a teaching certificate or I get a life and go out for dinner with a friend. I'm erring towards getting away from my computer and developing some sort of life.
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This weekend I went to Tokyo to meet up with my friend Ayumi. It's always odd to meet up with people out of context. Ayumi used to be one of my students in London, and having spent so long in England is more in love with potatoes than any person rightly should be.

We went to Takodanababa where I swapped up 13 books for 3 (David Mitchell's "Black Swan Green", China Mieville's "King Rat", and Patrick McGrath's "Martha Peake"), and then off to somewhere south of Shinjuku to wander about the shops. It reminded me very much of Brighton with its small streets and trendy shops. Eventually we headed back to Shinjuku and had coffee next to the Shinjuku Spring Leaves Band, who Ayumi took a disliking to. We were heading off to Ikebukuro when I spied an advert for a bowling place in Kabuki-cho so we turned round and headed off to go Fantasy Bowling:

My first score was 123, a personal best with three strikes in a row. If Fantasy Bowling is anything to go by, it seems I may be better at it than most Japanese people, though maybe that has something to do with no being able to see properly under the black light.

After seeing our scores plummet in the next game, we went to an izakaya near the bus station where a noisy man was shouting and dropping his trousers in the booth next to ours. December is bonenkai (sic) (office party) season, so much merriment takes places. (In fact, Joe and I went out to one last night. Joe ended up drinking too much sake and started to think hitting me on the arm was a good idea. So I hit him back. So hard in fact, that Mikio came and sat between us to prevent any more assaults. I hope he has a stinking headache this morning - Joe, that is. I'm sure Mikio does anyway.)

Ayumi and I said farewell at Shinjuku bus station and I spent the next 3 hours on a bus with leg cramps from all the walking and the cold, and sitting next to a fidgety salaryman. I like Tokyo, but I'm fondest towards it when I'm leaving. And you know what, I went to Tokyo and I didn't get given a single pack of free tissues.
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At 3.30pm it started to get dark – a gradual turn from daylight so bright you winced, to a gloomth that sucked the light from the buildings. I looked west out the 9th floor window of my hotel room and saw the approaching clouds. Grey-black and almost bruise-yellow in places, they created a sickly contrast with the pinkish smog tone of the sky to the east.

Read more... )


Mar. 25th, 2007 08:02 am
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This week has gone quite quickly and I’m left at the end of it feeling rather exhausted and little lost. My eyes hurt and I feel a little out of it. I have all these plans for things to do this weekend but whether I will get round to them remains to be seen.
1500 words plus photos )


Mar. 6th, 2007 01:45 pm
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Yesterday's trip to Tokyo was very pleasant. It was actually so warm that I was sweating at some points, which serves to remind me why I will be avoiding Toyko come the summer. I met Noriko at the bus stop in Shinjuku and after a stop at Starbucks (this is an actual treat for me, so starved are we of coffee in Ina) headed over to Harajuku. Noriko was highly amused that I was guiding her, a life-long Tokyo citizen, around her city, though she did admit that Harajuku is not her shopping location of choice.

We hung about in Lush for a while and I resisted the urge to buy everything in sight, coming away with a rather heavy bag full of shampoo, henna (I intend to become a stunning red-head at the weekend) and bath bombs to last me a good eight baths or so. We then wandered about La Foret, a seven storey building full of trendy boutiques (and Topshop, rather worryingly). I found a cool vintage shop but declined to try anything on as it was clearly too small. I tried another top on in another boutique, which looked promising, yet, I struggled to get the thing off once it was on. As is often the case when shopping for clothes, I become despondent and easily distracted by accessories. Such as this rather lovely Swarovski crystal and silver skull necklace I purchased:

I even bought the matching earrings. I've no idea where I'm going to wear it, especially in this town, but it will be a nice addition to the wardrobe. I'm craving fishnet, leather cuffs and my pinstripe corset now, they'd go well with it. Alas, living in the middle of nowhere means that there is little opportunity for such amusements.

Anyway, we met up with Yusuke in Shibuya and went to an okonomiyaki place for lunch. I wish I'd taken a photo of Noriko cooking up this delight for us, but I was too busy yakking to think about it until it was all too late. Okonomiyaki is like a big fried pancake mixed with vegetables, seafood or whatever you want to add to it. We had a particularly yummy one with mochi and cheese which I enjoyed scraping off of the hot plate.

We then headed to Tower Records, where I bought the new NIN live DVD and (inspired by [ profile] greygirlbeast most recent edition of Sirenia Digest, picked up David Bowie's "Outside". I checked out the foreign mags, the tattoo mags, the gossip mags, but found nothing to tempt me, so treated myself to Philosophy in the Boudoir by the Marquis de Sade and "Kwaidan", a collection of Japanese folk tales by Lafcadio Hearn.

Having heard that 109 (ichi-maru-kyu) in Shibuya was worth checking out, if only to see what the teenage girls are wearing, we wandered about for a bit, but after trying on yet another two tops that didn't fit due to my stupendous breasts I gave up. We checked out Seibu, a large department where I found some goat's cheese, however, at £10 for a log of the stuff I figured I could go without a little longer. And then we wandered back from Shibuya to Harajuku, stopping on the way at a rockabilly store, which was blaring proper rock n' roll. The staff even had quiffs and teddy boy outfits. A little pricey though.

It was getting on by then, so Yusuke and I headed back to Shinjuku while Noriko went to meet her husband (who had just flown in from England) in Ginza. We ended up back into Starbucks to kill 20 minutes until my bus left and then I was trundling through the night sitting next to a man who was eating stinky food and took up most of the seat by refusing to put his legs together. Allegedly this inability in the male to close their legs is anatomical, but that's really nothing a bit of rearrangement (which they're always doing anyway) wouldn't solve.

I got back home just after 10pm and took de Sade to bed with me.
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Last night's karaoke turned up an interesting addition to the set list - Black Sabbath's "Paranoid". My voice was either in fine fiddle (unlikely) or everyone in the bar was pissed (most likely) as I got a rousing round of applause and t'other teacher said he thought that was the best song I'd done yet. I also sang "Under the Bridge" but I can never get the key right. I'm either too high (Alan Partridge-style voice there) or a little too low. Time to remove that one I think.

I was also serenaded by a guy with whom I was holding a conversation in Japanese. If you knew how good my Japanese isn't you'd know this was quite painful. He found a song which said something about "Laura" and proceeded to send the bar into fits of laughter by warbling my name.

The current karaoke set list is now (as far as I can recall, after all I'm never sober when the singing happens):

Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Lisa Loeb - Stay
Abba - Dancing Queen
Abba - Take a Chance on Me
A-Ha - Take on Me
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights (not often played)
Bjork - Hyperballad
Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams
Euryhtmics - Angel
Soft Cell - Tainted Love

And as for the laughing thing, it has been commented upon that I'm always giggling. I think this is linked to the effects of Sapporo.

Off to Tokyo tomorrow for the day. I'll be meeting up with a couple of students from London - Noriko and Yusuke, for shopping and lunch. I'm hopefully going to remember to buy myself some David Bowie and get some new clothes.

I not written a missive for a while, so I'll have to get round to that sometime. I had saved an amusing story for you, but now I can't remember quite what it was. Hopefully I had the wits to write the thing down somewhere. The lack of reports has a lot to do with the mundane repetitions of everyday life. I may well be somewhere 'exotic' but I still have to get up and go to work every day, which can only bring a certain amount of amusement. Hey ho, I'll think of something for you, even if it is my planned feminist analysis of Japanese culture.
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Well, if you check out the Flickr page you'll find some pics from my last trip to Tokyo. They're mostly of Asakusa with a little Meiji thrown in. To whet your appetite for more, here's my favourite:


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April 2011

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