November 28, 2006

All that matters

Tar baby - Venus Brown
Fort Green Jazzmatazz - Brooklyn Soul Boys
The hop - Radio Citizen feat. Bajka
Sophisticated & coarse (Everyday thoughts) -Ty
Monterey Jack - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Above the clouds - Paul Weller
破片(Splinter) - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Beyond the border - Native
Solifer-lento - Dalindeo
All that matters - Gerald Levert [R.I.P.]

November 21, 2006

A rainy day in Kawagoe

I was in the mood to go out and do something last Sunday, so depsite the cold miserable weather, I decided to visit Kawagoe again, to see what the place has to offer when it isn't packed with festival goers.

Got there early afternoon and hopped on the loop bus to Kitain Temple, the origins of which are said to date back over a millenium. Part of the temple serves as a museum, housed in buildings which used to be part of Edo castle, but were moved to Kawagoe in the 17th century. The buildings show a typical old style Japanese interior which is impressive, though padding around in your socks on a day like Sunday was freezing.

The surrounding gardens are beautiful, and at this time of the year the trees were beginning to show their autumnal colours, and some areas had beautiful rock formations. In another part of the temple grounds are the 500 statues of Rakan, which are supposed to represent the disciples of Buddha, no two of which are alike.
As interesting as they were, it was by now too cold to linger, so it was back on the loop bus and off to Kasiyayokocho (Candy Street), crammed with tiny shops selling old style Japanese snacks and sweets. From there, a casual walk down the street that hosts the fetsival led back to the station, and, after a warm coffee, it was time to head back to Tokyo.
Interesting place. Mental note: try going again when it isn't raining hard.

November 20, 2006

Hats! - 3

Complete with autumnal backdrop in Kawagoe.

Straying away

La foto proibite di une signora per bene - Ennio Morricone
Stray away - The Rebirth
Circular motion - Nuspirit Helsinki
Do it - Alice Russell featuring Unforescene
Can't believe I loved her - Peven Everett
Mira pa ca - Chango
Sahara - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Birds - Radio Citizen
Slowly surely - Jill Scott
Dance (Flyin' home) - Shelley Nicole's BlaKbushe

November 14, 2006

Jazz funk in Shibuya

Monday night saw me down in Shibuya to see a concert billed as a Jazz Funk Expo 2006, featuring The Boston Horns from, well, Boston, and The Baker Brothers from that funk stronghold otherwise known as Bournemouth.

The Baker Brothers were on first, with their own inimitable hard-punching funk. There was plenty of clowning around on stage as they played (almost Ealing comedy), and they were clearly enjoying every moment of it. Vanessa Freeman guested on vocals for some of the tracks (as she does on their latest album), adding some more soul and depth to their sound. They worked the crowd brilliantly, and seemed to have a few friends there too, which really helped the atmosphere.

After a short break, The Boston Horns were on, playing some very slick, tight funk. They have been around for twenty years or so, but this was their first trip to Japan, so they were there with their cameras taking snaps of the crowd! I also got the feeling that they probably usually play to an older crowd back in the States, as they seemed a little unsure of the Club Quattro crowd at first. They soon got into their groove though, and they got better and better throughout the set. The first encore was really funky interpretation of 'Crosstown Traffic', and then The Baker Brothers were invited back on stage for an extended jam encore.

Enormous fun, and at almost three and a half hours, superb value for money. My ears are still ringing this morning.

November 13, 2006

Life's little pleasures

I (somewhat unusually since coming to Japan) have a huge box of potatoes to use, so for the last few days, spuds have been on the menu instead of rice or pasta. Made Shepherd's Pie yesterday for the first time in years, and it was great. A very simple dish, a standard of British home cooking, it really hits the spot. I have a feeling it won't be years til I make it again.

Hats! - 2

Had this one for quite a while, but wore it yesterday for the first time in a couple of months.

November 11, 2006

Galerie Coupe-Chou

Friday evening I met up with a couple of former students from Hiroshima for an "SCB Tokyo Branch Party" (which is meaningless to all but those in the know). I was surprised that Akiko was in Tokyo, since the last time we had spoken, she was preparing to move to Hawaii. I did, however, know that Atsuko was in Tokyo, but hadn't got round to meeting her since I moved here.

We met up at Shinjuku station and headed to a cosy little French restaurant that Atsuko had reserved, which was tucked away on a little backstreet. It's one of those places that you need to know about, as you're not going to stumble across it by accident.

We had an enjoyable evening catching up on news and savouring the delicious food. Definitely need to have another SCB party and also need to visit this restaurant again.

November 09, 2006

Livin' in a new world

Black is ... - Fertile Ground
Questions - Jesse Sharpe Quintet
Too high - Yesterdays New Quintet
Lightworks - J Dilla
Livin' in a new world - The Roots
This is the lost generation - The Lost Generation
I don't need this trouble - Alice Russell (feat. Natural Self)
Bong fury - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Your love is mine - The New Mastersounds (feat. Corinne Bailey Rae)
Autumn song - Incognito

November 06, 2006

You know it's autumn in Japan ...

... when you hear the van selling baked sweet potatoes. They have speakers and a tape of someone singing/yodelling 'yakimo-o-o-o-o!' You'll hear the vans from later October/early November through til about March.

I wonder what they do the rest of the year.

Busy doin' nothing

Bit of a lazy day today as I was up til silly o'clock watching Spurs on TV. Well worth it, as they beat Chelsea 2-1 -- the first victory over them in the league for 16 years!! Great result. Result for me though is feeling pretty lethargic and sleepy now.

Wall in Nakano

Decor on the outside of a bar in Nakano.

November 05, 2006

Sunday in Kichijoji

Got on the Chuo line and headed to Kichijoji in western Tokyo after lunch. It's always busy at weekends, but is somehow more laidback than other areas. Briefly went into Inokashira Park -- watching families in the swan boats whilst eating cinnamon and pumpkin ice cream. Was hoping to see autumn leaves in their splendour, but the wrong mix of trees I think. Will have to go further afield for that I guess. Spent the rest of the time mooching round zakka and clothes shops -- always good fun. Picked up a case of wine at Enoteca for a reasonable price, which will see me well in to the New Year. They always have a good selection and buying the selection of the month case means you can get some great wines at a huge discount. Getting hungry early evening, so had some tempura (for the first time in ages) before heading back home.