December 31, 2009

Nigh

Tokyo Tower, closing out the year.

A view of the Kachidoki river, with the bridge to the left. Tokyo Tower, northwest of the bridge, is just out of the frame.

Second Life

(In Tsukishima.)

Radishes and a carrot thrive on a smaller scale.

December 30, 2009

Mush, Mush!

A man giving his minuscule dog a workout by having him pull a stroller as his baby sits in it.

Since this actually wasn't physically possible for the dog, the man would push the stroller full force, letting it coast while the dog trotted, blissfully unaware of his own limitations.

Just Add Water

Chamomile tea from Greece, poured into a kyusu (a small teapot used for Japanese tea).

December 26, 2009

Roll and Roar

At IKEA Funabashi, a slot-machine like toy for the kids to play with while their parents shop. Such amusements were set up on every floor, but are they even necessary? The entire store is one huge doll's house for kids and adults to play make-believe in.

December 24, 2009

For the Birds


(In front of a house in Tsukishima.)


A mikan orange half poked through a tree branch, in hopes of attracting the shrike birds that have flown down to Japan for the winter.

Made Up of All That's Nice


A new kind of Christmas tree, on display at Tokyo International Forum. Teddy bears and pink + Japanese women= just market this thing already.

December 23, 2009

How Much Can You Hate a Cat?


(In Tsukishima.)

Lining up water bottles to keep away cats is a common tactic; using umbrellas, less so. (This was not taken after a rainy day.)


Round the corner from where the photo of the bike was taken. Clearly, the water bottles' effectiveness does not extend beyond a three-foot radius.

This is also the only instance that I have ever seen cacti growing wild in Japan.

December 21, 2009

Dandelion Clock Lamp


At IKEA Funbashi, a lamp clearly inspired by dandelions, or more specifically, a dandelion clock.

The dandelion fluff are made out of paper. I fear for their flammability.

December 20, 2009

Fish Eye Lens


Believing that an approaching human figure meant it was meal time, the goldfish closed in, perfectly filling the frame. All but the slightly dopey-looking pop-eyed goldfish, which swam in the other direction. Bless him.


(Someone's house in Tsukishima.)

December 15, 2009

Smelt or Capelin?

Shishamo (smelt) in a Shizuoka supermarket, suffering the indignity of having a wooden stick shoved through their mouths. But perhaps the greater insult lies in the naming: they are only nominally smelt; most shishamo sold in supermarkets are actually capelin.

December 13, 2009

A Photo Op with Santa and Ultraman


(A photo shop on Waseda-dori.)

One of these days, the Ultraman statue is going to be worth more than the photo shop it belongs to.

Notice the Godzilla on the bottom left of the photo.

December 10, 2009

Skeletons in Your Closet, Fish in Your Garage


(Someone's house in Yoyogi.)
Large, seemingly expensive, seemingly rare-looking fish kept in a huge tank behind a garage door that is very rarely opened. Something about the setup screams unlawful activity.

December 6, 2009

A Huff and a Puff

The Hermès store in Ginza. Three cheers for their steady output of deliciously strange window installations.

December 5, 2009

Cute from Every Side


Miffy hiragana biscuits.

The cutout hiragana chart on the inside of the box. Thoroughly adorable, but the idea of Miffy using a saw (nokogiri) for の (no) is misguided, to say the least.

December 3, 2009

Recycling/Decorating


(A restaurant in Tomigaya.)

Though the empty bottles lined up in the side window are a perpetual feature, depending on the day, the wine bottles on the barrel and under the front window of this restaurant are nowhere to be seen. Could that be recycling day?

November 29, 2009

Your Heads of State in Sushi

At the Shimizu Sushi Museum in Shizuoka, various heads of state are rendered in rice and nori (dried seaweed), circling around a volcanic mountain made of sushi and topped by a pool of soy sauce that, if provoked, could flow like lava. Have mercy on us.


A sushi version of President Obama.


I'd like to see this served at a UN dinner.

November 28, 2009

November 26, 2009

Street Festival in Shizuoka, Part 2

More photos from the Street Festival in Shizuoka that took place 11/21-23. Visitors showed their appreciation for an artist's work through the one-yen voting system. On the final day, the coins were tallied up, and those who had earned the most won prizes.


A selling space/working space/dining space/relaxing space, albeit in full view of passers-by.


A stamp-maker who could carve out rubber stamps on the spot. Her Prime Minister Hatoyama stamp is dead-on.


Skillful use of the small space allotted to each artist.

November 25, 2009

Street Festival in Shizuoka, Part 1


(A graffiti artist shows off his work.)

Street Festival in Shizuoka, a yearly event that gathers artists from all over Japan for the opportunity to showcase their talents and sell their wares. An admirable collection of performers, peddlers, painters, carpenters, and calligraphers set up makeshift stands, lining a wide pedestrian street about 10 minutes' walk from Shizuoka Station. The level of artistry was all over the map, but the mix of professional sheen and amateur spirit contributed to a laid-back vibe that was well representative of Shizuoka.

November 24, 2009

Fully Clothed Dogs

Align Center
(In Shimizu Port, Shizuoka.)

Despite being needlessly dressed in human-like clothing, the dog in the blue plaid shirt and chaps was shivering like crazy. Poor things. Next thing you know, they'll be needing therapy.

November 23, 2009

Paper Predators


In Kusanagi, Shizuoka, a bookstore specializing in children's books. Paper praying mantes (and dragonflies and cicadas) painstakingly cut out of origami paper adorn the shelves and doors. The crease that runs vertically along the body makes me wonder if the entire thing is symmetrical.

Color Fuel


(In Shimizu Port, Shizuoka.)

A rainbow of artificially colored/flavored syrup to be used as a topping on shaved ice. The warm tones can be easily associated with a flavor (from left, strawberry, orange, lemon, mango) and the initially confusing light blue is clearly labeled as Ramune, but I'm drawing a blank with the blue syrup to its left.

Only a kid would want shaved ice in this cold.

Only Your Heart is in the Right Place

At a department store in Shizuoka Station.
At the top: the price tag states, "circle tree", 1450 yen. Is this not a wreath?
On the bottom right: "Joyeux Noël" is misspelled, "Joxeux Noël".
Bottom left: "sweet" "snow" "white" make sense, sort of. But string the words together and your circle tree is now in need of a fairy-tale princess.

November 20, 2009

Would Montreal Weep?

Dila, a fast food chain found within JR stations. Their new limited-edition item? Poutine, a mixture of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Orginating in Quebec and beloved in Montreal, it's the type of food where everyone one-ups each other by naming the restaurant that makes it the best. No-one can accuse Montreal of playing it safe with their various takes on the dish (poutine with bacon, poutine with foie gras, poutine with meatballs...) but something tells me Dila's confections of fries/tuna/corn poutine and teriyaki mayonnaise poutine may be taking it a bit too far.

November 18, 2009

Took a Leaf

My grandmother's collection of red maple leaves, which she picked on her daily walks around her neighborhood. (The trick is to look for a fallen leaf, not simply one that looks good on the branch.) They are stored between the pages of old clothing catalogs, and used to accent handwritten letters. For that reason, she would only give me the rather crushed or deformed leaves.

November 17, 2009

Buddha Eats Dirt

A discarded poster for the animated film Buddha Saitan, "The Rebirth of Buddha". Based on a religious text written by Ryuho Okawa, founder of religious/spiritual cult Happy Science, and produced by the organization the film received a wide release in October. Judging from the existence of said film and the surprisingly widespread representation of the Happy Realization Party, the movement's political wing, they must be doing fairly well for themselves. Yet, the skeptics remain unconvinced.

November 15, 2009

D.P.E.

D.P.E.: a term that was popularized in Japan as photo-taking became widespread. An abbreviation of "developing, printing, and enlargement", a D.P.E. was the Japanese name for a photo shop.

On the left is a paper bag from a "D.P.E. Owada" in Shibuya, found inexplicably in an old sewing box. While I couldn't pinpoint exactly when these photos were developed, some clues:


1. The use of old kanji.
The second from bottom row states the store's location, near the bus terminal in the south exit of Shibuya Station. What's written as
澁谷驛南口バス廣場
is in today's simpler kanji,
渋谷駅南口バス広場. Incidentally, the bus terminal was built around 1961, but the store could have been around before that.

2. The drawing of the Rolliflex twin-lens reflex camera, a camera introduced by German company Rollei in 1929.

3. The blurb in the red rectangle that mentions the shop's use of D-76 developer, which "produces a very fine grain". D-76 is a black-and-white film developer.

4. The receipt on the back side of the bag, which shows that developing one roll of 120 format film with 13 4×6 cm size photos costs 121 yen. That would be 1.35 dollars in today's market, but without knowing when all this took place, this is a fairly pointless conversion.

Since the very act of getting film developed has now become archaic, it feels strange to think that even within the history of D.P.E.s, this goes pretty far back.