Astro Boy

As I was passing through Takadanobaba station today on the way to work, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that they had changed the music that usually plays when a train is about to leave to the theme song of Astro Boy. For those who don’t know, according to the original storyline Astro Boy was “born” April 7th 2003 in Takadanobaba. They will also be launching a new animated series on that date. They showed a preview of the pilot on January 1st, and it was quite good.

Edo-Tokyo Museum

What you see pictured today (030303) is the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which I had the pleasure of visiting on Sunday. I’d heard of it before, but never really felt like going until I saw it featured on a TV show (SmaSTATION, which had a segment with Shingo Katori taking a bus tour of Tokyo with foreigners). The place is massive, and it feels like you’re walking into a huge warehouse (and the thing is up in the air, like you see in the pic). Inside you get lifesize reconstructions of certain monuments, as well as tons of cool things to see, including lots of miniatures (which I really enjoy). Even though we were there for 3 hours, I still didn’t have time to completely see everything, rushing through the whole Tokyo period, because the place was closing. I’ll definitely go again, and at only 600 yen, it’s a steal.

The other day I realized that I can now put my hair in a pony tail. I haven’t had hair that long since my first year of university (1991-92). It isn’t even something I was planning, but I’m just really lazy when it comes to getting haircuts. Some friends of mine from back home wanted photographic evidence, which is what you’re getting in tomorrow’s pic (030304).

Visa

Well, it wasn’t the smoothest of visits, but the good news is that my visa was renewed for 3 years, which makes me really happy. I got a big shock getting there as I took my number and saw that there were 67 people waiting ahead of me! Never go to an immigration office on Friday afternoon. I got a bigger shock when my time came (2 hours later, but I didn’t stay there the whole time) and they told me that I had gotten the wrong ticket, and that I needed to take another one for the other counter. I explained that I had been waiting for 2 hours (something that had no effect 4 years ago at another immigration office) and they were kind enough to take care of me.

While I was in Shibuya, I picked up a couple of free papers at Tower Records, one of which is some sort of design magazine called SAL that also has a website. Since it was such a nice day, I walked to Harajuku, passing through Yoyogi park, and then came back home. Now I’m taking a break from studying kanji. I’m taping one of my favorite shows, GuruGuru NaiNai, to watch later with Yuko when she gets back from the university.

Visa Day

Today I have the day off, and it’s off again to Shibuya to pick up my new visa. I have my fingers crossed, hoping that it’s going to be for more than a year this time. It’s a nice sunny day today, so it’s also a good excuse to go out and take come pics. Today’s picture (030228) is of a window that I can see from the back of my apartment. The blue window from the other day is right next to it.

Yesterday I had to give some demonstration classes, which is when I give a class to potential students, with all their mothers present. You have to sell the product (the language school I work for), so there is a bit of pressure to do well, and it’s usually not something I really enjoy doing. But for some reason, the two classes I gave yesterday ended up being really fun, and the mothers also seemed to be enjoying themselves. The first class had kids from 3 (2 years and 10 months to be exact) to 5, and they were great.

THE TWO TOWERS finally started playing in Japan last weekend, and I was simply blown away. Wow. Great entertainement. Can’t wait to have the DVD to watch over and over again.

Still listening a lot to all those new albums that were released this week. Of the three, Sketch Show’s TRONICA has become my favorite. I absolutely love Sketch Show’s sound, and it’s something that not many people are doing right now (or at least not that I’m aware of).

For the past 2 weeks I’ve been studying at least 2 hours a day of Japanese. I’m still going strong. I’m about to finish my first kanji textbook, and so I’ll probably buy the second one today. Gotta keep going at this pace if I want to see a noticeable improvement in my Japanese sometime soon. I want to pass the level 2 Japanese proficiency test by the end of the year (level 1 is the highest grade). Wish me luck.

Great Music Week

This has been an excellent week for music releases in Japan, with 3 albums that are now in constant rotation on my iPod and iMac.

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Fantastic Plastic Machine – TOO – A new album by Tanaka-san, which continues in the same style he’s been using since the release of BEAUTIFUL. I still prefer the FPM of old (the first two albums), but this is still fun music, and has a good beat for when you’re walking to work.

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Sweet Robots Against the Machine – RE: TOWA TEI – This is a remix album of the TOWA TEI album, and offers some interesting alternates of the tracks. Still haven’t listened to it much, but I like a lot of what I’ve heard (even though I’m pretty sure I prefer all the original versions).

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Sketch Show – TRONICA – A new EP by two ex-members of of the seminal group YMO (whose third member was Ryuchi Sakamoto). This is such a great little CD, and includes two tracks produced by Cornelius. If you haven’t sampled Sketch Show yet, do yourself a favor and check out their full-length AUDIO SPONGE album. A nice mix of smooth electronicism and breezy melodies.