February 28, 2009

Driven Snow

Nothing like a snow removal truck spitting out sewage-colored slush to kill any romantic notions you may have of snow.

February 27, 2009

Marooned on the Fridge

You wouldn't be smiling if everything was to scale.

February 26, 2009


I come from a country that eats ikura (salmon roe), but I still find this paste amazing. What looks like pink confectionery icing is actually a blend of carp roe and potatoes, called taramosalata. Contrary to its vivid appearance, this particular product doesn't contain food coloring.

Greek food is hardly a presence in Japan's eateries so I'd be curious to see how this would go over. Would people feel strange eating carp, (koi in Japanese) a fish that is considered largely ornamental?

Self-imposed House Arrest

A list of renewed library books, if you can believe it.

February 23, 2009

Apple, Not Grape

My grandmother, either out of nostalgia or a keen understanding of my tastes, likes to give me kiddie gummies. They are invariably expired.

By the way, did you know that gummies expand when you keep them in water?

February 22, 2009

Strawberries Know Your Face

Responsible farming leads to responsible consumerism and...face recognition? Personally, if I am to know anything about the people who make the strawberries I devour, I think their name, farm name, and a basic caricature of their face is perfectly adequate. I feel strange buying strawberries with glorified purikura on them.

February 21, 2009

Wasabi Mayo

In Montreal, inside someone's cupboard. Show this jar of wasabi mayonnaise to a Japanese person and they'd run away screaming. Show natto (fermented soybeans) to a gaijin and you get the same reaction. Can't we all just get along?

February 18, 2009

A Plea in Chalk

On the wall of a bridge near Yurakucho Station; a rare sighting of political graffiti. But in such wispy writing! And in such an obscure spot!

I want to see one of these:
(Near King's Cross station in London, March 2006.)

But what would Japan have to say?

February 15, 2009


Align Center
(The streets of Ginza.)
Don't ask me where I want to go, where I want to eat, what I want to do, because I'll never be able to choose.

February 13, 2009

A Little Too Close to Home

The Ginza branch of Opaque, a department store.

Natalia Vodianova as Alice in the December 2003 issue of Vogue.

Is the inspiration perhaps more literal than coincidental?

February 12, 2009

Is That You (and You) Again?

In Ginza, on the side of a lottery ticket booth. Part of its face has been scratched off, but it's the same two-faced guy I've seen on electric boxes in Ginza and Aoyama. The plot thickens... but at the very least, I now know that they're unrelated to electric companies.

February 11, 2009

The Third Time Needs to be Charmed

A dictionary never hurt anyone. Don't give me the "oh but it's not their first language" because all you have to do is Google it, or use the electronic dictionary in your cell phone.

February 10, 2009

Candles for Blossom Dearie

(Tarlum in Yoyogikoen.)

These candles aren't actually for Blossom Dearie, the jazz singer who passed away on Sunday. She was 84. We'll call it a mental ode: in my mind, I stole a bunch of candles from a cafe and made an altar for her.

A horribly sentimental edit of the film "My Life Without Me", set to Blossom Dearie's "Try Your Wings", which was featured in the film. In it, she is described as a little old lady in her eighties, with a tiny voice, still performing nightly in New York. I would have liked to see her live.

February 9, 2009

A Stronger Statement than Red Roses

These flowers are cineraria. Inexpensive and long-lasting, cineraria would make ideal gifts--were it not for the fact that "cine" sounds like "shine" (die) in Japanese. Japan is extremely careful about this "shi" sound, which is synonymous with death. Some hospitals pointedly do not use the number four for their rooms, preventing any situation where the syllable may be uttered.

Therefore, cineraria are usually labeled "saineria" in flower shops.

February 8, 2009

Tree Hugger

(A park in Waseda.)

These straw mats wrapped around the trees are called komomaki. They serve the dual purpose of keeping the trunks warm, and preventing the spread of pests. Insects lay their eggs on the komomaki, but before they hatch, the mat is removed and burned.

February 7, 2009

A Veritable Zoo

My father's tie collection, consisting of chicks, elephants, giraffes, teddy bears, zebras, and god knows what else.

Ferragamo sure makes crazy animal prints.

The yellow ties are for business trips to Thailand, to honor the monarch. (Same goes for all the elephants.) But I don't know how the King would feel about a nursery/circus-themed tie, with bunnies sliding off giraffes and being thrown up in the air by other bunnies.

February 5, 2009


(A JR train station.)

Weird, innit?

Those dolls are expensive. They should not be placed out there to gather dust bunnies and be ignored.

February 3, 2009

Know Your Foe

My friend's rabbit-fur ear muffs, oddly mangled. Her schnauzer mistook it for the real thing and bit down.

February 2, 2009

Eye on the Wall

(In Shin-Mejiro.)
Not quite the all-seeing eye, considering the only thing in front of you is a slightly ramshackle house.

February 1, 2009


(Taken in Budapest, 2006)
Buy them all, open them up, line them up, the line of dolls snaking across the room.

Matryoshka dolls are said to have originated in Japan, after a Russian couple purchased a similar toy on a trip to Hakone, called irekoningyo (nesting dolls).