Sakura Version

It’s finally sakura (cherry blossom) season in Tokyo, and as you can see, the site reflects it. I’ll keep this sakura version of the site up for about a week, just so you can experience all the pink that I’m seeing everyday when I go out.

A big thanks to Patrick for the cool little PHP program he created that lets me easily change the colors of my logo, without having to make a new one.

Yumiko Kayukawa

squirrel

I’m really enjoying the artwork by Yumiko Kayukawa, an artist from the Hokkaido region of Japan. Seems that she’s going to be having some shows in the US and Germany, although there’s no mention on her site of anything happening in Tokyo anytime soon. I will keep my eye open for one though.

I should also mention that a lot of the Japanese related links I’ve been putting up lately have come from the vastly entertaining Geisha Asobi weblog. Your one-stop shop for anything/everything wacky coming out of Japan.

SARS

This SARS virus is getting scary. Yesterday I was chatting with a friend who lives in Hong Kong, and he was telling me how the night before they had closed some subway stations in order to disinfect them. He himself is starting a cold, which is worrying him even more. Another friend living in Taipei was telling me how he decided to cancel a planned trip to Hong Kong, China and Thailand in May. Probably a wise decision.

From Insomnia to Depot

Spent a very interesting evening last night. Started out by meeting with Jason in Shibuya, where we wanted to check out the new Insomnia lounge. As we were walking in some back streets looking for the place, while hearing offers of great blowjobs by a sex shop owner, we ended up in a small alley where two girls in school uniforms were playing badminton, while an Arab was selling fake telephone cards, and a sex club owner was frowning at us as if to say that his place was not really for foreigners. After that small detour we found Insomnia 2 (described as a funkier version of the original Insomnia), but the place wasn’t open yet. We decided to go to Dubliner’s, an Irish pub, to get something to eat. I usually don’t like going to those gaijin intensive bars, but I was convinced to go when told we could sit at a terrace outside. A pint of Kilkennys also did the trick. After a tasty plate of chicken and chips, it was back to Insomnia. You take your shoes off as you walk in and then are directed in an entirely red room, complete with red plush carpeting, and told to sit on very low seats at the bar (there were also a few tables in another area for groups of 3 or more). As I was enjoying my gin and tonic, we could hear a couple of roadies from the Badly Drawn Boy tour chatting up some ladies at the other end of the bar. We then headed to Nakameguro, which was our original plan for the night. We started out by checking out a place called Marakesh, which is situated inside a used clothes shop on the second floor (you can still see the inside of the shop). The decor was interesting, but it was still a bit early in the evening and so the place was very quiet. The choice of music was also a bit odd, a mix of the Jackson 5, some disco, and then The Pogues. Go figure. We drank our glasses of wine, and then went to Depot, which was the ultimate goal of the night. Depot was absolutely great. I was at first a bit surprised by the huge graffiti-like art that was surrounding me as I entered, bumping my head on the top of the very low entrance. A whole section of this warehouse-like bar is devoted to bi-weekly art exhibits. The music was a nice choice of jazzy beats, and the rumbling of the train passing overhead (Depot is situated under train tracks) made for an interesting feel. Service was great, with very friendly waiters and waitresses. I look forward to going again.

Oh, and the train ride back home on the Yamanote line was just awful. I can’t remember being so crunched inside of a train (since I go to work in the afternoon, I’m able to avoid the morning rush hours). I popped in the earphones from my iPod and tried to make the best of it, hoping the sounds of Mark Robinson’s Flin Flon would make the ride go quicker. I’m also very thankful that none of the drunk salarymen on the train got sick.

Depot

After those days of no study, I think I’ve caught up. Yesterday I was amazed to see myself study for at least 5 hours, and today started out with a few hours. Looking good.

Tonight I meet up with Jason in Nakameguro. We’ll probably start out with dinner at the Organic Cafe, and then move on to Depot for a few drinks.

In the news, Kim Jung Il is now supposedly pointing his missiles to America…

Bond

dad_jap1_01As mentioned, yesterday I went to see the latest Bond film, DIE ANOTHER DAY, which only opened 2 weeks ago in Japan. Living in Ikebukuro is quite good for films as there are quite a few theatres in the area. The Bond film was playing at the Tokyu theatre, which is maybe the only theatre in Ikebukuro that I’ve never been to. It only has one screen, and is on the 7th floor of a building. To my surprise, the screen was actually quite big, and the sound was great (as modern as Tokyo can be, a lot of the movie theatres are unfortunately sadly lacking in modern sound equipment). As I was waiting for the film to start, I was also reading a Bond book, NEVER DREAM OF DYING (it was kind of surreal as they kept playing the Paul Oakenfold remix of the 007 theme while we were waiting, which gave a new dimension to the action sequence that was taking place in the book). I recently became aware of the new author who is writing Bond books these days, Raymond Benson, and this is the 3rd one I read in a about a month. I remember reading the John Gardner books in the 80s, and not finding them that great, and so I was curious to find out what kind of Bond book this new author was capable of producing. Well, I’m totally hooked. I actually like the Benson books more than the past 2 decades of Bond films. I can’t wait to read the ones I’m missing (he’s written 6), especially the latest one, THE MAN WITH THE RED TATOO (comes out in paperback in May), as it takes place in Japan.

Sorry for the Bond rant. I have been a very quiet Bond fan for the past few years (especially after the disapointing Brosnan efforts), but the DVD box set I recently received from my mother just got me back into a Bond mood, hence the book reading (I’ll also admit to getting THE SECRET WORLD OF 007, a really nice book that goes into the details of all his gadgets, toys, and the various missions he’s been on, in a cool picture-heavy format). Yesterday I also went to Beams Street, where I bought a new jacket for spring, and I was tempted by this really nice simple Bond t-shirt that had the classic logo and profile. I’m still sort of thinking about it…