June 30, 2008

Early evening sky

The rainy season may be wetter than in recent years and it may be a bit milder than usual, but the sky still looks great.

June 29, 2008

Fantastic Planet

Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder) - Maxwell
Watch Out - Tawiah
It's Gonna Rain - Gentleman June Gardner
Northern Girls - Belleruche
Beautiful Sadness - Shuya Okino
Luchas (live) - Kingdom˜Afrocks
Taj Mahal - Jorge Ben
Fantastic Planet - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Seeds - The Sahib Shihab Quintet
Equiano's Tears - Soweto Kinch

June 27, 2008

Planet Pimp

Saw Soil & "Pimp" Sessions (again) at Shibuya-AX on Thursday night, and, as always, they delivered the goods with a pulsating set that left me with ringing ears, a sore throat and a huge grin on my face. A perfect gig. Oh, and I picked up a Planet Pimp T-shirt to add to my growing collection.

Giant Superhero at Shinjuku Station

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? . . . er, no, it's Norton Fighter, new promotional character for the virus protection software, looming large over a rather indifferent crowd in front of Shinjuku Station.

June 25, 2008

The Oldest Swinger In Town

It only occurred to me today that I forgot to post this after the Fukushima trip last month. A great little establishment in Aizu-Wakamatsu, quite possibly frequented by retro looking folks like the cast of Boogie Nights ~ though of course I could be wrong ...

Heiwa no Mori Koen

Yesterday's rain had thankfully passed and today was a beautiful day and even the turtles (or are they terrapins or tortoises? ~ I'm still not 100% clear on the difference) in the pond in Heiwa no Mori Koen in Nakano were basking in the sun. It was (almost) a pity to have to go to work.

June 23, 2008

Just Say What's On Your Mind ...

Given that this is a sign for an establishment in the Kabukicho entertainment district, it may well be a clear indication of what's offered inside.

Golden Gai in the late afternoon

Golden Gai is an area of Shinjuku where lots of small, hip, but ramshackle bars are crammed into four or five of narrow streets. The buildings themselves were put up fifty or more years ago, and their age is showing despite the best efforts of some of the bar owners to give the places a new lease of life with a lick of paint. Some of the bars are little more than corrugated iron or wooden shacks, though others are a little more solid. Of course, the area really comes to life at night, but just wandering around in the afternoon gives you taste of post-war Tokyo bohemian life.

Dark Clouds

Dark clouds hanging over Nakano on Monday lunchtime, but it didn't rain until the evening.

Fashion Brand Meets Killer Cult Leader

Sticker spotted on a wall near Shunjuku Station

June 21, 2008

Spill The Wine

Khamasin - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Vanity - What's Up?
Glaciers of Ice - El Michels Affair
Nana Nina - Bush Y Sus Magnificos
Spill The Wine - War
Who Knows Who - Orgone
Sidewalk Doctor - Jackie Mitto & Brentford Rockers
Go With Love - Rahj
Master Teacher - Erykah Badu
Don't Waste My Love - Les Gammas

June 19, 2008

Books: The Moon & Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham

A novel I first read this some twenty years ago, 'The Moon & Sixpence' tells the story of Charles Strickland, a rather straight-laced stockbroker who, at the age of around forty, suddenly leaves his wife and children and heads to Paris, and later Tahiti, in order to become a painter.

Inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin, Somerset Maugham's short novel is an insightful view at the world of an obsessive genius. Strickland himself comes across initially as dull and later as an immensely unlikable character concerned only with his own interests and search for the ultimate artistic experience. This may put some readers off, though it has to be said that many creative geniuses, be they artists, musicians or otherwise, are often not particularly pleasant individuals and seem somewhat self-centred and forceful compared to the average person. Maugham, master observer of human nature that he was, portrayed this side of creative genius very well, and the novel is a fantastic read.

One other thing which is notable is that, with the possible exception of Dirk Stroeve, a fellow painter with limited talent who helps Strickland in Paris, there are no really likable characters at all in the novel, which is a pretty damning comment on Edwardian society from the author. A wonderful novel that I'm sure I'll come back to once more in the future.

June 17, 2008

Monday Evening Sun

Skinny Building

Being a very densely populated city, land is of a premium in Tokyo and people will take advantage of any spare land to build either apartments, shops or offices. As a result you can often see buildings crammed together, detached, but barely so. You can also see buildings on the narrowest strip of land, as you can see here. This skinny building is located on the tiny strip on land between Sotobo Dori and the Kanda River, near Suidobashi Station. If you stretch out your arms, you can almost span the width of the building.

June 10, 2008


The rainy season can be a bind in that it's ridiculously humid and, of course, you coudl get caught in a downpour as I did yesterday, but on the positive side plants really thrive and so you can see lots of fresh greenery around, and, of course it's the season for hydrangeas too.

Everything's Gonna Be Alright

Superstition - Dennis Mobley & Fresh Taste
So long - Fink
Everything's Gonna Be Alright - Robert Moore
Your Thing Is A Drag - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
D.F.T. - Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro
Khamasin - Soil & "Pimp" Sessions
Moons - jaz'presso
Brazilian Bubble - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Questions - Pat Stallworth
Ruler Of My Heart - Irma Thomas

June 09, 2008

Graffiti Lorry

Stay parked in the same place for too long, you'll not only get a ticket, but someone will decide to redecdorate the side of your vehicle.

Hats! - 14 (Yellow Kangol)

Sunday afternoon in Kichijoji

I went to Kichijoji on Sunday for the first time in a while. I always like spending time there, as it has a nice laid back feel to it and there are plenty of places to look around, even if Sundays are a bit busier.

I had lunch at Ciao Chiang Mai, a great little Thai restaurant with an extensive menu. I had Chiang Mai Pork Curry for the first time since I was last in Thailand (about 5 years ago now), which was delicious, though they could have trimmed a bit more fat off the pork.

The rest of the afternoon was spent mooching around the shops, including Ragtag, a shop that sells secondhand clothes, but only select brands and only stuff in excellent condition. I picked a great shirt that will almost certainly get an outing at the Soil & "Pimp" Sessions gig later this month. Other than that I paid visits to Natural House to pick up some lentils and also bought a 12-bottle box of wine at Enoteca (the monthly special) for the first time in over a year.

So all in all, a good day out, though when I got home I was surprised to hear about the horror show that happened at Akihabara with the lunatic on the loose with a knife. It further reinforces my belief that because you never know what is around the corner, you shouldn't put off things you want to do and should take maximum advantage of opportunities when they arise.

Fishing in the city

I see this from the train on the way to work each day and I have yet to understand the appeal of fishing in what are effectively outdoor swimming pools. OK, so you might be guaranteed a catch, but where's the challenge? I've never been in to fishing, but had always assumed that the appeal came from a mix of being close to nature, the thrill of the chase and also the slow pace. Sitting by one of these pools in Ichigaya you have little of any of that as you have a main road on one side and the Sobu Line on the other.

June 06, 2008

Simple Cat

Um, not quite in Banksy's league ...