Tokyo Boy

I haven’t made a Tokyo Boy update at the OPi8 site in at least 2 weeks, and although I was planning on putting a new up the other day, I see that there seems to be quite a few errors at the site. I know that the people that run the site were planning on doing a redesign of the site, so this could have something to do with it. I guess I’ll take a break from TB for now, and just focus on the daily pics I put here, maybe adding more commentary to the pics, like I did at the OPi8 site.

Also, I’ve been thinking about creating a new section to the site which would basically be reviews of the cool bars, cafes and shops that I visit here in Tokyo. I think it could be useful for people that come to Tokyo and don’t really know what to check out when it comes to drinking outings. I’ll also ask my regular transgression (I used to send out a mailing list describing my outings called TOKYO TRANSGRESSIONS, and we sort of started refering to our outings as “transgressions”) partner, Jason.

Lastly, since I released the last issue of GEISHA in the middle of December, I’m not quite ready for a new issue yet. If I feel inspired I might get to work on a new issue in a week or so, and if not, look for the next issue to be up for the beginning of February. Again, a big thanks to Warren Ellis who keeps plugging the new issues as they get released.

Ramen Madness

OK, now I’m really getting upset. I’ve been trying to go to one of my favorite ramen shops here in Ikebukuro for 3 days now and I’m constantly confronted with insane lines of people. This is just nuts! We usually make it a habit of going for a bowl of ramen on the first of the year, and this time there was only one shop open (Komen, my favorite shop) and we would certainly have had to wait at least an hour (lots of emphasis on the “at least”). Today all the shops were open (except one, Santouka), but we were just not up to waiting in line in the amazingly cold weather that we’re having right now (it’s 0 right now, and I woke up to a thin coat of snow, which you’ll see later in today’s pic).

All I want is a tasty bowl of steaming ramen. Is that too much to ask? I’m crossing my fingers for tomorrow, although I can’t see it getting much better on a Saturday.

Ganguro

gang7

GANGURO “look” is to have dyed blonde or brown hair, plucked eyebrows, tan skin, mini-skirt, cool shoes, “ganguro gal” are the brownskin girls, “gonguro gal” are the more deep brownskin, “Yamanba gal” is silver or white or brown hair, brown or hard-drown face, heavy makeup or panda makeup.

I’m just happy that we don’t see them much anymore. They used to be everywhere maybe 3 years ago.

The New Year!

It’s now 2003 in Japan! Came back not too long ago from Gokokuji, a pretty big and famous buddhist temple not too far from where I live. It was a nice walk. The temple itself was built by one of the Tokugawa shoguns in honor of his mother. There was a huge lineup of people, most of them being people in their twenties. I guess that’s what you have to expect at around 1:30 am.

Going to the temple after midnight to pray for a good year is something I’ve done every year I’ve been in Japan. I also had some soba before midnight, which is also traditional. Watched a good part of the big Kohaku show on NHK, which is something like 40 years old I think, and includes all the top performers of the year for a battle of the sexes. Also watched my favorite comedians, 99, ring in the New Year with one of them, Takashi Okamura, jumping in a huge tower of fire. It was nuts.

Here’s hoping for a great year!

Zelda

The past few days have all been about the new Zelda game, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: KAZE NO TAKUTO, for me. Just released about 2 weeks ago in Japan (only next March in North America), I got it as a Christmas gift for Yuko, and I am just so incredibly amazed by this game. Beautiful, just beautiful. Makes me love my GameCube even more (and I already like it quite a bit). It’s also playing a very educational role for me as I’m playing along with my electronic dictionary by my side to translate the words I’m having trouble with. But you know what, I’m actually doing pretty well with all the dialogue (and there’s a lot of it), which is a very welcome surprise. Guess I’m getting better at this language than I thought. I still have a long way to go, but this is a welcome new level of ability that I didn’t know I had in me.

OK, now I must get back to the game…

Mary Timony

dreammachineI found this great little short starring Mary Timony, from the band Helium. Shot on 16mm, it’s called DREAM MACHINE, and it tells the story of a shy Japanese boy who meets up with a sad singer at a karaoke bar. The soundtrack, all by Timony, is also really good. The following is a direct link to the file (a 50MB download).

Anger Over Ramen

One of the TV channels will be showing a 5-hour special that will take a look at the 99 best ramen shops in Japan on New Year’s Eve, and it seems that the network has been swamped by complaints over the show. I guess that they feel that something like that isn’t really appropriate for the last evening of the year, that something more “special” should be schedules. Go figure. I’ll probably be watching parts of it, hoping that quite a few of my favorite Ikebukuro ramen shops make it in the top 10 again.

Last night was quite the feast. We went to the food floor at Seibu (the second biggest department store in the world – the biggest one, Tobu, is right next to it) and bought a whole bunch of goodies, and it ended up being all French food (from a nice shop from Alsace in France). Chicken stuffed with vegetables, somekind of potatoe mix with meat and cheese (maybe patates dauphinoises), cheese, bread, wine, oh my… One day later and my stomach is still full!

Chicken

I was definitely a happy camper last night. Last year I didn’t have any chicken or turkey around Christmas time (as all the restaurants that offer Xmas meals are so damn expensive), but last night the wonderful Lele cooked us a delicious roast chicken (I didn’t even know you could buy a whole chicken in Japan, at least I’ve never seen one in any grocery store), with stuffing (rice based instead of bread, which ended up being more fitting since we are in Japan after all) and gravy. Oh yeah, that’s what Christmas is all about.

Today is Christmas day, and it’s business as usual for everyone except me. All the people I know are working. I might go do some shopping later on today. I’m thinking of going to one of the big department store food floors (all big department stores in Japan have a huge food floor, usually in the basement, where you can find all sorts of delicious goodies to bring home at a reasonable price – you can end up eating stuff that would usually cost you much more in a regular restaurant). I’m thinking some tasty tonkatsu (fried pork) from Maisen, along with some cheese (probably Saint-Andr?, my brand of choice), and I’ll polish it off with that bottle of Christmas sparkling wine I got from a student this year.

Merry Christmas.

Readymade

Well, last Friday night was the big Readymade Festival at Yellow in Nishi-Azabu, and I have to say that I think I won’t be going back to Yellow. The music was great, as well as all the performances (especially Karia Nomoto, and the burlesque show by Romantica), but the place was soooo packed that it just made it to hard to dance and have fun. The place also doesn’t have that many places to sit down, so when you get tired from all the dancing (or rather trying to dance), you end up having to stand up in a corner. I’ve been dancing before to DJ clubs, but never saw anything so packed (even compared to the other times I had been to Yellow), and the kids were really annoying me. Maybe I’m just getting old, but that’s fine. I prefer the intimate setting of a place like the Organ Bar, where it feels like you’re dancing in someone’s bedroom (and your favorite DJ just happens to be there).

I didn’t get around to making my TB log, so I’ll get to that tomorrow.