December 21, 2010

Where There are Gingko...

Where there are gingko...

Old ladies gather, picking up the ripe fruit. This is a common sight in fall. The smell of the gingko fruit is quite unbearable, so perhaps it is good that people are collecting them. After comes the long process of peeling and boiling the fruit. More power to them for taking on such a hard task!

Gingko nuts still in their hard shells, sold at Yasukuni Shrine.

December 13, 2010


A magnificent gingko tree stands at the top of a shrine in the Sekiguchi area of Bunko Ward. The shrine is believed to have been built in the Edo era to commemorate a water god. (The Kanda River, a major river, flows nearby.)

Shadows of the shide (paper streamers) hanging from the gate.

There must have been a ceremony of some sort on that day.

This photo could have been taken in 1960, or 2010.

Breaking the Mold

(In Shin-mejiro)

The tiles are reminiscent of Dorado Waseda, but less likely to have the neighbors' tongues wagging. 

December 8, 2010

A Constellation of Stickers

A seemingly abandoned barbershop near Iidabashi station.

It's a shame, considering how painstaking the front sign is.

The bill for all the stickers must have been quite exorbitant.

December 5, 2010

One Step Closer to Replacing Children

(In Ikejiriohashi)

A dog in a diaper, nearly walking. What is wrong with this picture?

Last Phone Standing

Once upon a time, a woman probably sat behind the counter where the green pay phone is, selling cigarettes and dispensing worldly advice. The phone is probably the newest thing in the building, and even it feels like a relic from another era.

Biscotti Jenga

Freshly-baked biscotti at a bakery called Factory, in Ichigaya.

Christmas Decoration Tips for Winos

At a bar in Shibuya, a surplus of wine bottles gives birth to a new kind of Christmas tree.

November 29, 2010

Mosque Wedding

(The Center, seen from the street.)

My friend got married yesterday in the Tokyo Camii & Turkish Culture Center, more easily explained as "the Mosque". Built in 1938 and renovated in 2000, it is the second oldest mosque in Japan. (There are currently about 60 mosques in all of Japan.)

(Outside the prayer hall.)

The Center is located in Yoyogi Uehara, about 5 minutes' walk from the station. Although the area itself is well-known, there is much less awareness of the mosque among Tokyo residents. Perhaps it's better this way: guests at the wedding (including me) couldn't stop gawking at the gorgeous architecture, and  barely restrained themselves from snapping away. (Photography is strictly prohibited during ceremonies and prayer times.) The Muslims that come to pray already have to contend with the noisy outside traffic; I'm afraid increased visitors would add to their distraction.

(The doors of the prayer hall.)

However, the prayer hall is open to the public every day, from 10:00 to 18:00.

The intricate design of the doors.

Inside the prayer hall. Check out the chandelier, with its script motif.

There are so many shapes when you look up; the effect is nothing less than surreal.

Following the Islamic custom, female guests wore borrowed head scarves and men sat in the front, separated from their wives and children, who sat behind them.

The second floor is for women and children.

The menu served at the reception was inspired by the cuisine of the Ivory Coast and Senegal. The kiddies got a slightly different menu, replete with animal-shaped carrots.

November 28, 2010

Lights Embedded

(The pathway at Tokyo International Forum.)

Fanning the Cold Air

In front of a pachinko parlor in Yurakucho. It's a little too cold outside to be using a giant fan to advertise the place.

November 9, 2010

The Cliche of Harajuku

Right next to the department store Laforet in Harajuku is a small open-air store that frequently sells old kimono and obi sashes. The observation that Japan offers both the deeply traditional and wacked-out modern is so commonly made, it's hardly earth-shattering.

Yet, there's something endlessly amusing about being confronted with such deeply contrasting images, barely two feet away from each other. Yes, this is a Japanese girl.

November 6, 2010

Hijacking the Textbook

This distractingly cute airplane paper clip led me to waste five minutes at work, zooming it across different surfaces. Here, the book The Visual Story, Second Edition: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media provides a nice backdrop. It's proving to be an interesting read.

November 3, 2010

Sideways Vision

(In Edogawabashi.)

A tangle of weeds, visible only in shadow through the gauze of a construction tarp. 

Why the kanji for the construction company is written sideways, I do not know.

Mouse Talismans

(Near Jinbocho.)

Trying to figure out if the mouse-like appearance of these fixtures is intentional.

Boy in the Corner

In Korakuen, with the Laqua amusement park rides visible in the background.

All I wanted to do was surreptitiously take a photo of the little boy in red, crouching against the wall in the bottom right of the frame. Instead, it ended up being a portrait of various people enjoying a rare mid-week holiday.

October 24, 2010

Chopping Up the Sky

(Near Kokusaikyogijomae Station.)

Looking at this building, with its many parallel lines and panels in different shades of sky-colored neutrals, drove me absolutely crazy.

Jack-o'-lantern Trees

A cafe in the recently-reopened Mitsukoshi Ginza.

I'm going to stop saying that Japan has no pagan/cultural motivations to celebrate Halloween. Blatant commercialism is clear enough motivation.

Deluge of Heattech

9:15pm, outside Uniqlo Ginza. After the store closes at 9pm, an incredibly long truck pulls up, packed full with boxes.

The majority of boxes seemed to contain the explosively popular Heattech thermal underwear. And even then, they will probably find themselves barely able to keep up with demand, as it was last winter and the winter before that. Good for them.


Rose garden in Roppongi Hills.

See how much taller it is compared to Tokyo Tower in the background.

October 13, 2010

In the Name of Recycling

(Vinos Yamazaki in Hiro-o.)

At this imported wine shop, the stairs seem to be made out of old wine crates, or at least that is the look they are going for.

October 10, 2010

Night for Day

(In Edogawabashi.)

The pavement makes the photo look quite bright, but this was actually taken at night.

One flash and it all goes away.