Games Web

Fuudo on Toco Toco TV

The latest episode of Toco Toco TV covers pro gamer Fuudo, and for me it’s an especially nostalgic episode as most of it is set in Ikebukuro — where I lived for around 13 years — and shows off the arcades I spent a lot of time in while working on the Arcade Mania book.

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Lordy, lordy, look who’s… 80.

The next edition of PauseTalk is just over a week away (happening on Monday, July 7), and not only is it the Vol. 80, but it also marks the 8th anniversary of the series.

(Well, last month would have been the true anniversary, since I started it in June, but you know, close enough.)

You never think that something will have a long life until you get there, to that point where, well, it’s fucking old. 80 events over a span of 8 years is a lot, and although there have of course been some sessions that were better than others, the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that I’ve been doing this consistently for such a long period of time. Also, I’ve met a ton of interesting people during that time, making connections that certainly would have never happened if it weren’t for PauseTalk.

So thank you, PauseTalk, for being in my life all this time.

As I mentioned, PauseTalk Vol. 80 will be held on Monday, July 7, and that’s of course going to take place at Cafe Pause in Ikebukuro. Since there will be no event in August (due to the holidays), this will be the last edition of the summer. The photo included in this post was taken by Jared Braiterman at last month’s Vol. 79.


I’m So Over This Summer Thing

So how’s your summer going? Is it hot enough for you? I can assure you that here in Tokyo we have had our fair share of hot weather, and it’s in no hurry to stop: A quick look at my weather widget shows a pretty steady mid-thirties for the rest of the week. Enough of this already.

The real question is, how are you dealing with it? I’ll readily admit that summer is my least favorite season — not a fan at all, actually — and so it tends to take the form of a constant countdown until fall. Yes, September can’t come soon enough for me (even though it tends to still be hot in Tokyo, psychologically I can tell myself that the weather is on a downward spiral towards something reasonable).

Of course, it’s also a challenge for my dog — summer in Tokyo is obviously not what a Great Pyrenees needs. But he’s used to it — it’s his 3rd summer — and he just pretty much stays indoors during the day, sleeping near a fan or air con. Walks are done at night, when the air is a bit cooler (but it still doesn’t take very long before he starts panting). We did manage to take an epic walk from Ikebukuro to Harajuku this past Saturday — it takes us about 2 hours both ways — but we left around 3-4, and got there a bit before 6, so we were at least past the midday heatsuck.

Above, a photo taken as we were walking — this is somewhere between Takadanobaba and Shinjuku.

Food Nightlife Tokyo Walking

Beers in the Park, Hitachino Edition

I’ve often described how I enjoy drinking beers while out and about — street beers, yo — and since the closure of the Minami-Ikebukuro Park a few years ago, my main outlet in the ‘Bukes has been Ikebukuro West Gate Park. It’s more of a gathering place than a park, but it’s fun in part because of the “characters” it tends to attract. The routine is usually just to grab a few brews at the nearby combini (Sankusu, if you must know), but the other night my hometown friend Julie — in town for a month on a visit — invited me for a degustation in the park. When I met up with her, I was greeted with a Seibu department store bag filled with a few selections from the Ibaraki-brewed Hitachino Nest Beer. It was a great time, and I’m always a proponent of mixing high class (the beers) with low class (the spot) — and the cups we were drinking from were purchased at a nearby 100 yen shop.

The photo above of me was taken by Julie, and the rest, by me, cover our selections, and the park itself. The beers themselves were pretty much all great, except for the “Ginger Ale” brew, which was a bit rough (and 8%) — it’s worth noting that it’s also the only with a silly label, featuring some sort of crazy mascot.


Hanami 2011

I won’t lie, my legs are killing me right now — earlier today, we did the long walk from Ikebukuro to Harajuku to go and check out Yoyogi park for some sakura viewing, say hello to friends (at the gaming industry “otaru” hanami gathering), and also get the dog to the “dog run” (pictured below) so that he could run around and have some fun. It’s a 2-hour walk both ways, and I think it probably hit us more than usual because we hadn’t done it in a while. But good fun was had by all, and I had a chance to show off Confiture (my dog) to a few friends who had never seen him.

But it’s been a strange year for hanami this year. Without going too much into the politics of what has been viewed as a crackdown by the metropolitan government (and to a certain degree, Japan as well), because of strange weather, it seems to have come and gone much faster than usual. Yoyogi park today was quite the letdown in terms of pink, and I’m glad that we at least managed a walk and picnic earlier this week by Kanda river near Ikebukuro (pictured above), which was much nicer — in fact, it’s usually my favorite place to take in the sakura.

Now here’s hoping that my old legs can soon get back to a state of normality, as the last week of preparations before next Saturday’s big Global PechaKucha Day – Inspire Japan event is going to be a busy one. Below, a shot of my dog taking in the sakura by Kanda river.

Food Meta

Tron Light Cyle in Ikebukuro West Gate Park

Patrick Macias — editor-in-chief of Otaku USA magazine, among MANY other things — has been in town for the past couple weeks, and he dropped by my neck of the woods the other day for a bit of Ikebukuro flavor. I wanted to start with some tonkatsu spaghetti at Nobu but it was unfortunately closed, so we ended up getting tonkotsu ramen at Ippudo. That done, it was time for a few beers out on the street, and since Patrick requested a good place for people watching, we of course had to go and hang out at Ikebukuro West Gate Park.

If you’re not familiar with Ikebukuro — which you shouldn’t really be — in past decades it has had a reputation as one of the “rougher” parts of town, and although that has changed a lot in the past decade, the west side of the station remains the more, ahem, raw part of town. So hanging out at the park — a park with barely any trees mind you — we were treated to a lively show, including the Tron light cycle dude you can barely see in this video, shot with my iPhone 4.

As I was tweeting that night, the guy was amazing, making rounds around the park, occasionally stopping to “service” his blue-lit bike, walking around with quite the swagger. Also, he was wearing a full-body workman’s uniform, and his facial expressions as he rode close to us were priceless. Oh, an the lights, they automatically light up as he starts going, powered by motion. Here’s hoping he’s there again the next time I’m in the area.

Cafes Meta Photography Tokyo Walking

Walking this Town

Yesterday after getting lunch at the nearby Maison Kayser — it’s the one located inside Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City with a terrace, so it’s dog-friendly — we decided to just start walking, with the general idea of heading towards Iidabashi. Three wards later (Toshima, Bunkyo, and Taito) we ended up not only stopping for a drink at the very enjoyable Canal Cafe (you sit outside by Kanda river), we continued on to Yasukuni shrine. We wanted to end up at Sanbancho Cafe — it’s also dog-friendly — but there was a wedding reception in full effect, so no go. But the epic walk was an enjoyable one — despite some feet dragging on my part towards the end because of fatigue — and we’ve realized that it’s something we want to start doing more often. It gives us a chance to get out and about without having to leave the dog at home in his cage, which he doesn’t much like.

Pictured, photos taken by my wife near Yasukuni shrine, showing my dog Confiture simply hanging out. I think we should start a regular series of these, with him checking out various parts of Tokyo.

Cafes Events Meta Music


After having such a great time coming up with tracks for this past Friday’s PLAY 00 (I used “00” because it was a bit of a test for me) — see this post for the complete set list — I’ve decided to do it again this coming Friday (December 4). If you have nothing better to do, then hey, come on down to Cafe Pause in Ikebukuro for PLAY 01 to listen to a selection of tracks by me, from 21:00 to 23:00.

Magazines Stores Tokyo Walking

My Tokyo

Not “my Tokyo,” but rather my friend Luis Mendo‘s take on the city we love to love. Earlier this year Luis stayed in Tokyo for a 3-month “inspirational retreat” — I posted about his terrific illustrated Tokyo diary back in April — and now here’s a sneak peak at a map he’s created for an upcoming issue of Journal de Nîmes, a newspaper for the denim store Tenue de Nîmes in Amsterdam. I’m very happy to see that Ikebukuro gets a mention, both for its Muji and Cafe Pause.