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

Shrivelling Before Our Very Eyes

Persimmons hung out to dry in front of an izakaya in Kusanagi, Shizuoka.

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.: 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
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.

November 14, 2009

November 11, 2009

Odd Rooster Out

On the school grounds of an elementary school in Sakura, Chiba, a lone rooster is cooped up in a rabbit pen. It opens up into a larger space for the animals, but even the rabbits are not allowed out for extended periods as crows mercilessly hunt them down.

Rabbits so cute and stylishly spotted, the belong in a Chanel ad.

November 8, 2009

Torii in the Background

A Hachiman shrine in Sakura, Chiba. Rumor has it that a local let some unwanted rabbits loose on the grounds, leading them to multiply. Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be seen on the day I visited.

Ancient sugi (Japanese cedar) trees like the one on the above right were individually tagged for protection.

November 7, 2009

Bonsai Sanctuary

In the backyard of a modest farmhouse in Sakura, Chiba. The best sunlight is saved for their bonsai collection.

November 5, 2009

Please Mr. Postman

(In Sakura, Chiba.)

Guarded by rocks and a block of concrete, a rusted-over mailbox (or a box used as a mailbox that has rusted over) sits, waiting for the arrival of the post. If it weren't for the telltale 〒 (which, despite popular misconception, is not a T but is the Japanese postal mark), you'd never be able to tell what it was for.

November 3, 2009


(In Sakura.)

A hornet's nest has made itself quite at home. The owners of the house are either oblivious, or they have learned to coexist with the hornets.

November 1, 2009

Bad Influence

Little boys transfixed by a trio playing faintly traditional music in front of Takatanobaba station. (The saxophone was a surprisingly good mix with the taiko drums.)

The two geishas and one hipster were actually walking, performing advertisements for a pachinko shop specializing in slot machines. An indelible combination of bad taste.