June 25, 2007

Favela Chic

Gang of Boys - Matthew Herbert
The Gigolo - Lee Morgan
Retribution, Reparation - Nate Morgan
Wind - Sleepwalker featuring Yukimi Nagano
Mama Don't Ever Go Away (Mama Digna Sara Ye) - Dee Dee Bridgewater
Favela Chic? - Orgatronics
Beaten Metal - Antibalas
Oscillations - The Souljazz Orchestra
Leave It All Behind - The Superimposers
Willing - Damon Aaron

June 20, 2007

Shoe shine ladies

Outside the west exit of Shinjuku Station, some elderly women offer a shoe shine and repair service. I wonder how many years they've been working there.

June 17, 2007

Hydrangea festival at Toshimaen

The rainy season in Japan is the best time to see hydrangeas in full bloom, and at Toshimaen in Nerima-ku there is the so-called annual Hydrangea Festival. Toshimaen is a large park-like space home to an amusement park, multiplex cinema and resort spa. Part of the park hosts a garden space full of hydrangeas (more than 10,000 blooms according to the flier) and you can either walk through on foot or take the miniature train.

A walk through the park followed by some sushi at a restaurant near the station was a nice relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

June 14, 2007


Beaten metal - Antibalas
Makoomba - Nuspirit Helsinki
Sticks and Stones - Connie Price & The Keystones
Cleopatra in New York - Nickodemus
I'll Be Your Wings - The Invisible Session

Equinox - John Coltrane
Ai No Umi - Sleepwalker
Creeps (Booty Cologne Mix) - Camille Jones
It'll Never Happen Again - Tim Hardin
All I Need - Damon Aaron

June 13, 2007

Tetsugaku Koen

Tetsugaku Koen (Philosopher's Park), situated in the north of Nakano-ku, is a great place for a stroll or to simply sit and relax. It's set on a hill and has some sports facilities near the top, a field that is used for hanami in the spring and a grouping of old-style buildings related to learning, (though I'm not sure quite what their history or significance is) and a riverside path and pond near the bottom.

The perfect place to sit and read ~ as long as you have your bug spray!

June 11, 2007

10th Anniversary

It's now exactly ten years since I stepped on the FinnAir flight from Heathrow to Kansai, marking my arrival in Japan. Quite incredible really.

When I first arrived, Blair had just been elected, and now he is preparing to move out of number 10. The Spice Girls were huge in Britain, and the nation's sporting heroes were Tim Henman and Damon Hill, with Glen Hoddle's England looking forward to going to France '98 with an exciting new striker by the name of Michael Owen.

On arriving in Japan I was totally thrown by being in a county where I was totally lost when it came to trying to communicate. Not only was I unable to speak the language, I was also totally helpless when it came to reading too, unlike in other countries I had previously visited. I was also surprised on entering convenience stores or izakayas (a Japanese style beer hall with food) at first, wondering if the staff were shouting out because I'd committed some heinous faux pas, completely unaware that it was a standard welcome. Nowadays I barely notice it.

Back in 1997, I remember that Ichiro was an exciting new baseball player and the football heroes were Kazu and Gon Nakayama, with some people thinking that a young midfielder called Nakata looked quite useful too. Namie Amuro was the pop diva of the moment and a girl group of teenagers called Speed were popular too.

On TV, you could see the boy band SMAP every Monday night, the comedian Sanma hosting various shows and a variety show called Hey! Hey! Hey! hosted by the comedy double act Downtown. Bizarrely ten years on, TV is still the same, and these celebrities as popular as ever.

The ten years to date in Japan have been great fun, and there is still so much more to see and do. Whether I'll still be here ten years from now or not is a different question all together.

Bar in Nakano-Higashi

Closed this afternoon. Guess I'll have to pop in another time.

Hydrangea season

It's June, and so many gardens have hydrangea bushes in full bloom. Riding around Nakano-ku today I was struck by the amount of blooms I saw. Also, for some reason, most of the ones I saw today were blue.

Hats! - 12

Simple black summer Kangol number

Street art in Nakano

Down by the side of the railway tracks at Nakano.

June 10, 2007

Fair trade in Nakano

A little north of the main shopping area in Nakano is a great little shop that I love to look browse around from time to time. Lampada is a shop selling mainly zakka, which is a term that more or less means odds and ends for the house. There are ornaments and furnishings as well as other knick-knacks from various parts of the world as well as a small selection of organic food, with the vast majority of products being labelled as fair trade products.

Recently I bought a tote bag there that I use for shopping. I was amazed at the amount of plastic rubbish I was throwing and realised that the majority of the rubbish was plastic bags from shops. Now I'm making a conscious effort to refuse plastic bags in shops and use the tote bag instead.

June 07, 2007

Under pressure ....

7th Feeling - indigo jam unit
Sad, isn't it - Karizma
Self portrait - Thief
Labalaba nfo - Adubiifa 67
Under Pressure - The Strange Fruit Project
Walking - Cornish Waters
Oscillations - Souljazz Orchestra
Jane Jane - Grand Union
Woman to man - Tony Allen featuring Ty and Damon Albarn
Slaughter suite - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions