February 26, 2007

This Time I'm Gonna Try It My Way

Nebuloso - Tenorio Jr
Merci Bon Dieu - Charlie Rouse
Prussian Blue - Native
How do you really feel? - Breakestra
Wall Street - Jackie Mittoo
Take Me With You - Jumbonics
This Time (I'm Gonna Try It My Way) - DJ Shadow
Flashback (Jazzanova's Mixed Bag) - Fat Freddy's Drop
Atlantic - Thief
Calfskin Smack - Cocteau Twins

Hats! - 9

Space cadet

The recent windy weather meant my hayfever has got worse, and I spent all day Saturday sneezing, which wasn't fun. After work, I went to a chemist to get something for it ~ I had to rely on the chemist's advice, as I couldn't read the boxes. I'm not sure what he recommended (maybe some anti-histamine type medicine), but I took some this morning and it knocked me for six. The sneezing stopped, which was great, but I was struggling to stay awake and that wasn't so good. Don't think I'll be taking those pills again.


After finishing work on a windy Saturday, I headed over to Shinjuku to mooch around a bit, and later decided to get something to eat at a place called Enso near the station. This restaurant specialises in charcoal-grilled food, which you cook yourself at your your table. Great food and a nice atmosphere, but a little pricey ~ the kind of place it's nice to go to once in while.

February 15, 2007

Bed of roses

Priscilla - Soft Machine
Know what I'm saying - Zero dB
Totem pole - Lee Morgan
Loose lips - Kaidi Tatham featuring Lyric L
Vennedieto - Dalindeo
マシロケ - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Time - The Ju-Par Orchestra
Bed of roses - 4hero featuring Jody Watley
Oooh baby - Pamoja
Motherless child - Harmonica Paul

Treats for your pet

Not so much an odd use of English in the sign as a rather novel concept for a business. Freshly baked bread and biscuit snacks ~ for dogs.

Hats! - 8

Posing in front of the Aka-Renga Soko

A trip to Yokohama - 5 - Minato Mirai 21

Minato Mirai 21 is the name given to the redeveloped port area in Yokohama, that is home to the Landmark Tower and several ultra-modern hotels and office complexes. There's also the a shopping area, and it's quite easy to spend the whole day wandering around. My energy was flagging by this stage, however, and so I made do with an hour or two, snapping some pictures and having a coffee before heading back to Tokyo ~ tired, but yet somewhat refreshed after a pleasant break.

PS: This is the 100th post on the blog!

February 13, 2007

A trip to Yokohama - 4 - Aka-renga soko (Red Brick Warehouse)

It was another bright and mild, almost spring-like day on Monday and after breakfast in Starbucks, it was a leisurely stroll across a long, low bridge to the island in the bay that is home to the Aka-Renga Soko (Red Brick Warehouse). Originally quayside warehouses dating back almost a century, these buildings now house giftshops, zakka stores, interior goods stores, eateries and a jazz club.

It was fun browsing the shops and come lunchtime I had worked up an appetite, and so opted to try the 'soup curry' available in one of the places in the food hall area. Pretty good it was too.

After lunch it was time to wander back towards the mainland via the World Porters mall and the CosmoWorld amusment park, which houses an enormous big wheel. Apparently, on a clear day you can see Mount Fuji behind Landmark Tower, but it was too hazy that day.

A trip to Yokohama - 3 - Sunday evening

Checked into the hotel late afternoon and wandered to the nearby Minato Mirai area, which is the redeveloped port area that includes Landmark Tower ~ Japan's tallest building.

After all the walking around that day, I had quite an appetite and so opted for a visit to KeKe ~ an organic buffet (or 'Viking' as it's known here) restaurant ~ where you can eat as much or as little as you like for a fixed price of 2400yen. Don't load up your plate too much though, because if your group leaves more than 500g in uneaten food, you get charged extra for it.

A trip to Yokohama - 2 - Harbour view

From Chinatown it's a short walk to Motomachi with it's fashionable shops and a generally laid back atmosphere. Managed to find some good shops there and my hat collection has grown a bit again!

Up the hill behind Motomachi, beyond the foreigner's cemetery, is the Harbour View Park, which overlooks Bay Bridge. For me the view wasn't as spectacular as I had been led to believe, since most of the view comprises of lots of modern buidlings and cranes in the port, with the more impressive Minato Mirai view off to the left in the distance. Nevertheless, a nice walk.

A trip to Yokohama - 1 - Chinatown

We've just had a holiday weekend in Japan, and I decided to take advantage of the extra day with a little trip down to Yokohama. It's just over an hour away by train, and I arrived at Motomachi-Chukagai Station at lunchtime on Sunday, and then proceeded to wander around Chinatown (Chukagai).

As is always the case on holiday weekends in Japan, thousands of others had the same idea too, so the streets were packed with visitors. It was easy to tell which restaurants were popular simply by looking at the queues outside. Going to a restaurant to eat Chinese food is done in groups though, as they tend to serve large courses, so rather than over eat I went for some food at the many street stalls, such as the steamed pork dumplings, which were great.

February 12, 2007

Itchy eyes

The unusually mild weather has been nice in one respect, but unfortunately it means that the hayfever season has started a little early this year. The offending pollen comes from the Japanese cedar, and the reason the pollen problem is so bad is due to a forestry policy some years ago, when it was decided to plant thousands more of these trees.

It's estimated that roughly one in five people in Japan suffer from hayfever (with early spring being the worst time), and unfortunatley for me, I'm part of that 20%. So for the next few weeks, I'll have itchy eyes, a runny nose and I'll sneeze a few dozen times a day.

February 08, 2007

Practice in the park

Fancy yourslf as the next Coltrane, but you live in a tiny box apartment in Tokyo? Easy, just pop down to the local park for free open air practice.

This little spot next to Nakano station sees all kinds of people practsing variuous different instruments at all times of the day.

I've got a brand new toy

The shopping trip to Shinjuku after work on Saturday was with a specific purchase in mind. My 500 yen 'toys for boys' savings jar was full and I already knew what I wanted. I had thought about it for some time, but at last I decided to act positively and actually go out and buy a keyboard ~ or, to be more precise, a Roland synthesizer.

Now being a musical novice, the next trick is to learn how actually play the thing! Having said that, since it's a synthesizer, with a bit of practice and some MIDI software for the PC, it may well be possible to produce something resembling an original tune at some point on the next few months. Also, it means I can do all my practice using headphones, so I won't be driving the neighbours mad ~ I'll be the only one to suffer!

The first stage is going to be to practice some piano chords, so I can familiarise myself with how it all works. There will be progress reports in the coming weeks and months.

Well worth queuing for

Saturday night after work I wandered over to Shinjuku to look around some shops (more on that in another post) and after decided to have a bite to eat. It was Saturday night, so the whole place was heaving with people out for an evening's entertainment.

Not far from the Seibu Shinjuku station is a popular tonkatsu (pork cutlet) restaurant, and I decided to try it out for the first time. The restaurant is above a coffee shop, but that evening there was a queue of people down into the street waiting for seats.

Eventually I managed to get a seat and ordered the tonkatsu ochazuke set. With that you get the standard pork cutlet served with cabbage togther some pickles and rice. The idea is that once you have eaten half of the pork and rice, you place the remaining pork on top of the rice, add some pickles and then pour some green tea over it, to make a warm winter broth (bottom picture).

All in all a good little place and worth coming back to at some point.

A mini-milestone

I've just noticed that this blog has now had 300 hits since I started it in October, which isn't bad considering I haven't told many people about it.

I'm enjoying writing it, and if people are coming back to read more, then that's motivation enough to keep it going. I wonder how long it'll take to reach 1000?

February 05, 2007

Tyrannies of fun

Sakura - indigo jam unit
Tyrannies of fun - Dislocation Dance
Lucky (acoustic version) - Lewis Taylor
It's about time I made a change - Deloris Ealy
El duce - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Eclipso - Lee Morgan
Roots - Roland Kirk
Take it back - Madlib
Pigling bland - Soft Machine
Hold on, hold on - Thief

February 01, 2007

T-shirt in a shop in Kameari

Why can't you just live and let live?