May 31, 2009


(A sex shop in Ueno.)

Maybe I just don't get out much, but I'd never seen a sex shop in Tokyo so out in the open. As in, facing a main street and within spying distance of a train station.

According to the message on the window, written vertically on a strip of white tape, the store is looking for female employees. At 3o0,000 yen (about 3,150 US dollars) a month, the pay is rather good.

May 29, 2009

Flipping Fish

A taiyaki ("baked sea bream") shop. Pancake batter is pourned into the fish molds; azuki bean paste, custard, or chocolate is slapped on top of on half; and the other half is fitted on top to create a fish-shaped waffle. If you enlarge the photo, you can see azuki bean paste and custard in the metal containers in the background.

May 28, 2009

Fruit Trees of Tokyo

(A loquat tree in front of the NHK studios.)

If the Fruit Trees of L.A. project ever comes to Tokyo, I'll know how to do my bit.

There was also a loquat tree right next to my high school in Minato Ward that I would eat from, regardless of the pesticides they most likely contained...

May 24, 2009


(Click on photo to enlarge.)

The Rules for Marunouchi Building. I snapped this photo and the guard glared at me.

May 23, 2009


(Chacha Koubou in Takatanobaba.)

Chacha Koubou in Takatanobaba, where 450 yen buys you organic green tea, a cube of yōkan, and a pot of hot water that allows umpteen refills of tea. If I had only a rudimentary knowledge of Japan, I would assume that all Japanese cafes serve tea like this. But in reality, cafes that specialize in Japanese tea are not so easy to find; you have to be willing to seek them out.

May 22, 2009

Who's Stalking Who?

(In Kamiyamacho.)

I've passed by here before, but it's the first time I noticed the "after you" graffiti. Some of my friends have interpreted the message as, "I'm after you, so watch your back", but I still maintain that whoever is doing the spraying is a covert crusader for chivalry.

I seem to be amassing quite a collection.

May 21, 2009

Historical Space

A tunnel next to Yurakucho station. Slightly grimy eateries are situated on one side, while several decades' worth of advertisements line the other. It presents a nice change from the constantly renovated buildings of the surrounding Ginza/Marunouchi area, where history is slowly glossed away behind a veneer of the new. We have the JR to thank: so long as the railways are in place, the establishments right below them cannot be touched. Thus, the new is forced to coexist with the old, and a poster for Charlie Chaplin's 1940 film The Great Dictator shares its space with ads for Zima.

May 19, 2009

Blooming Artichokes

The Aoyama Flower Market shop adjacent to Shibuya station sells artichoke flowers. The flowers are unexpectedly beautiful, like giant thistles, but the surprise of seeing one may be lost on Japanese people. I can count on one finger the times I've seen artichokes being sold in a supermarket, and I've yet to see them served in restaurants.

The photo is too blurry to make out, but I'm trying to figure out whether it costs 9,450 yen ($98 US dollars) for a single stalk or for the whole bucket.

May 18, 2009

Respect Your Elders

(In Ginza.)

If they're saying it's time to get drunk, who are you to refute that?

May 17, 2009

Woman of Straw (1964)

Woman of Straw

As old movies go, Woman of Straw, the 1964 film starring Sean Connery and Gina Lollobrigida, is not particularly worthy of being remembered. In it, Connery hatches a plan to have a hot nurse (Lollobrigida) marry his uncle, a wealthy but miserable old man (Ralph Richardson) so the two can make away with his money. With its double crossings and surprise twists, the plot is reminescent of Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, but the film itself is plodding and empty.

Yet, notable is its despicable treatment of its two black characters, Richardson’s servants. One scene has the old man forcing them to jump over each other, repeatedly, like dogs, their white suit jackets quickly becoming sullied with muddied footprints. The extreme racism is conveniently used to express the depravity of Richardson’s character. It's supposed to justify his victimization by Lollobrigida’s gold-digger, but that doesn't take away from the shock of the images.

A second memorable element:
Gina Lollobrigida’s swimming cap, a veritable flower afro that seems directly inspired by a clown wig. Can we bring this back?

May 12, 2009

The Latest Thing in Carnations

A carnation flower cleverly molded in clear plastic to resemble a heart. It was inevitable that someone would think of a way to update the practice of giving carnations on Mother's Day. But as innovations go, this one is pretty sweet.

And then, on the other end of the spectrum, these Hello Kitty carnations. The fatal flaw in creating these is that if any woman actually went out of her way to request Hello Kitty carnations, she would have to be dropped as a mother.

May 11, 2009

ふたつき 顔 シール

(Yurakucho Station.)

(Near Yurakusho station.)

(Near Tokyo International Forum.)

(Near the NHK Studios.)

(Across NHK Studio.)

(In Yoyogikoen.)

(In Yoyogikoen.)



Once you start actively seeking them out, you realize they are everywhere, even places you pass by every day. It's a strange feeling, walking around assuming that you'll see another one very soon.

Some of them are stamped with numbers and letters on the right hand bottom. Clues? Serial numbers?

May 10, 2009

二重顔 シール

These were all found within a 30-minute walking radius, from Tokyo Station to Ginza Icchoume. The guy could afford to be more selective.

This reminds me of the dwarf's postcards from around the world in Amélie, only more concentrated in one area and infinitely weirder.


May 7, 2009

New Project: Life

If you order kiwi juice at Dean & Deluca right now, you receive a packet containing gōya (bitter melon) seeds. If all goes as planned, I have this to look forward to:

May 6, 2009

Running to or Fleeing?

The show window at a clothing store that specializes in bridal dresses. You could say this represents women making their way towards wifehood and motherhood and all that wonderful things they entail...

...but maybe they're just fleeing in desperation.

Because Marunouchi Loves Music...

The dustpans have followed suit and embodied that sentiment.

These were used by volunteers for the Marunouchi Loves Music event. Because the event had made the Marunouchi Building even busier than usual, they had to go around sweeping up the dust that had acculumated.

May 5, 2009

Cakes are a Female Domain

(Cafe Comme Ca in Funabashi Lalaport.)
Ladies delight in their pretty cakes as they have tea, and somewhere in the world, someone's hypothetical stereotype of Japanese women and their obsession with sweets is confirmed.

Fish that Fly

Koinobori (carp streamers) flown in honor of Children's Day, a day to celebrate children and wish for their happiness and general well-being. This one was in front of someone's house in Sakura, in Chiba prefecture.

The koinobori range from abbreviated versions with only two carp, to extralong streamers that stretch across bridges, like this one in Katsutadai, in Chiba. In their own way, they denote the families with children. With the decreasing population, there is a sense of comfort in seeing these carp blowing in the wind, fastened to apartment balconies or someone's rooftop antenna.

May 4, 2009

Policeman and His Toy

Yesterday was Constitution Day. Some sort of social function was held in Ginza, hence the presence of dozens and dozens of policemen, kitted out like it was the apocalypse. It was obvious that there was no need for such high security. Most of them just stood in groups, hoping for something to do. This man was dragging these cones around like a little boy with a wooden horse on a string.

May 3, 2009

Still Doubly Sour

(Near Tokyo Station.)

Mr. Two-Face, we meet again.

I see you've now added a Mr. Lantern Head (Or Whatever) to your repertoire.

May 2, 2009

The World Awaits You

(At the Gyotoku Bird Observatory.)

Tadpoles in a water tank, swimming towards the surface. The underside of the leaf is reflected in the water.

Nothing Beats Nature

(At the Gyotoku Bird Observatory.)

A duck caught looking slightly foolish, its mirror image reflecting yet another foolish duck. (Click on the image to see what I mean.)
Isn't nature cruel?

Death Stare Duck

An injured duck at the Gyotoku Bird Hospital showing the white of its eye. I am not making fun of the unfortunate; the duck was in here because of a broken wing. It would switch between brown eye and white eye with a flick, no doubt playing some kind of mind trick on the other birds.

Healed by Duct Tape

The Gyotoku Bird Hospital in Chiba, where 400 to 500 wild birds are admitted every year. Only 30% make it back to the wild. 20% die within a month, and the rest end up living in the sanctuary, with some getting so accustomed to having food brought to them that they become unable to live on their own.

The majority of injuries are from birds crashing into windows and scraping themselves against power lines. The preferred material for binding broken wings seems to be duct tape, which is either a demonstration of how strong the adhesives are, or how sorely in need of funding the hospital is.

May 1, 2009