January 30, 2010

Camera Obscura @ Fever

(At Fever in Shindaita on January 28, 2010.)

Not the most flattering but the least blurry photos I took of Traceyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura. The Glasgow band paid their first visit to Japan to coincide with the belated Japan release of their third album, 2006's Let's Get Out of this Country. The excellent set list culled heavily from that album and their subsequent My Maudlin Career. Playing with practiced efficiency, the band had the audience swooning anew with the opening notes to each sparkling pop song.

Some standouts:

January 29, 2010

Blue Notes

An carefully dressed young woman asleep on the train.

I was strangely impressed by the rare sight of a Louis Vuitton bag that wasn't monogrammed or brown-checkered.

January 28, 2010

Lego City

The Tsukiji area, like nothing more than a cluster of Lego buildings.


(In Kamiyama-cho.)

Looking forward to a bit of downtime at the koto, shamisen, and biwa repair shop.

January 26, 2010

Pest Control

(A house in Tomigaya.)

A recurring topic on this blog: the things people will do to keep animals away. This reminds me of the pigeon repellers I'd see everywhere in London.

January 25, 2010

This is It

(A cafe in Tomigaya.)

The steady trickle of cafes and shops closing down has yet to abate. This cafe would always write welcome messages and menus on their windows and on the sidewalk. As a farewell, they've written "This is it!" on the front window.

January 24, 2010

The Latest in Leggings

Zoom in on the photo and think, oh no she didn't.

It's too cold to be wearing these outside, but any other season and she would have crazy tan lines.

Moss Muffins

(A ceramics shop in Yoyogikoen.)

How to do this at home: all you need is a white ceramic cup, a hand shovel, and access to someone's yard. But if DIY doesn't appeal, they can be yours for 1050 yen each.

January 23, 2010

Tiger Cookie

Apparently the product of a father-daughter collaboration: father designed, daughter baked.

January 21, 2010

Why the Hurry?

(A JR train station.)

It's that time of year again -- setting up the hina dolls for Girl's Day, otherwise known as the Japanese Doll Festival.

But not quite: Girl's Day isn't until March 3rd.

January 17, 2010

Tochiotome Mug Shot

Another face to add in my burgeoning collection of Tochiotome stawberry sellers. Would it be worth it to start a database?

January 16, 2010

Like Ducks in a Row

Fishermen's boats lined up like ducks in Tokyo Bay, each boat a solid color.

January 14, 2010

Goldfish Scooping

A more traditional version of rubber animal scooping -- goldfish scooping. The method is, of course, the same. But since catching goldfish with a flimsy paper scooper is infinitely more difficult, even the unsuccessful will get a plastic bag containing a couple of goldfish as a consolation prize.

The old couple who manned the stand took bites of takoyaki while they worked.

January 12, 2010

Fishing Floatables

At a neighborhood festival in Tsukishima, a rubber animal scooping stall has been set up. 200 yen will get you a paper scooper which you then use to scoop up as many rubber toys as you can before the flimsy paper deteriorates into a soggy mess. But ultimately, it doesn't matter how good you are -- the "nice" toys (the whales and rubber duckies) are limited to two per person.

January 9, 2010

The Grandma Trail Mix

In my grandmother's candy jar: nikkiame, cinnamon candy, used in lieu of sugar in tea; peppermint candy; and vitamin E capsules, mixed in with the candy so she won't forget to take them.

January 7, 2010

Tracking Fuji-san on the Keiyo Line

(Near Kasairinkaikoen Station.)

(The view from Kasairinakikoen Station, with Fuji-san in the background.)

The Keiyo Line (a.k.a. the train you take to get to Tokyo Disneyland) is notorious for its weakness against the elements. If it's windy or raining hard, you can count on the train line being late. But when it's nice and sunny, the views that come with each train stop can be captivating: Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Bay, Kasai Seaside Park, and the factories in Shin-kiba that stretch out around the Eda River. And on an especially clear morning, when the smoke from the factories hasn't yet created a layer of pollution in the sky, you can see Fuji-san (Mt. Fuji), appearing unexpectedly (to your left! to your right!) as the train moves in an arc on its way to Tokyo Station.

(To be Japanese is to wax poetic about how there are many mountains in the world, but goddammit if Fuji-san doesn't have the best shape.)

January 6, 2010

You Can Always Go Downtown

A ...something (store? cafe?) called Downtown, in the least downtown-looking place ever. (Abandoned on both sides and surrounded by apartment buildings.) Geographically, it's only one street over from Tsukishima famous Monja Street.

January 4, 2010

No Guardian Angel

An angel stands guard over Tenshodo, a jewelry store in Ginza. Ironically, the store was robbed on January 2nd, and watches worth over 300 million yen were stolen. The burglar entered via a hole dug in the small space between the Tenshodo building and the building next to it. When I looked today, a plank had been hastily placed to obscure the opening, a feeble attempt at damage control.

January 2, 2010

Carey Mulligan in An Education (2009)

Jenny (Carey Mulligan) slogs through a dull dinner in An Education.

An EducationA star is born only once. For 24-year-old actress Carey Mulligan, it happens in director Lone Scherfig's coming-of-age film, An Education. 16-year-old Jenny (Mulligan) is a schoolgirl growing up in miserably dull 1960s London, Oxford University set in her sights because that's what smart girls are supposed to do. One day, she meets the much older David (Peter Sarsgaard), who introduces her to a glamorous world filled with art, dancing, and jaunts to Paris. Mulligan, whose previous film credits include a supporting role as Jane, the silly and overlooked sister in the Pride and Prejudice (2005), plays the intelligent, sure, but naive Jenny with great emotional translucence. When her eyes shine and she giggles and smiles, she's conveying not only her character's plainspoken joy, but also a young actress' delight at diving into her first substantial role. It goes both ways for the audience as well: the pleasure of watching the film isn't merely in following Jenny as she falls headfirst into making her first big mistake; it's the suspicion that grows with each scene that we're watching a star.

Gallivanting in Paris with Peter Sarsgaard, post-makeover.

Adam (2009)

 Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy in Adam.

AdamIn Adam, Hugh Dancy plays a 29-year-old with Asperger's syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. Highly intelligent but unable to comprehend other people's emotional states (this extends to sarcasm, jokes, facial expressions), he lives an ordered and solitary life. When Beth (the delicately beautiful Rose Byrne), a schoolteacher and children's book author, moves into his apartment building, they strike up a tentative relationship that is born out of equal parts attraction, loneliness, and neediness. Writer/director Max Mayer treads carefully, bringing comedy, romance, and a coming-of-age story together while establishing a portrayal of Asperger's that is both illuminating for the neurotypicals (NTs, meaning "normal" people) and respectful of Aspies (as those with Asperger's call themselves). Some may find the film too timid, but both Dancy and Byrne bring an emotional honesty and underlying sweetness that saves the film from being bogged down by its good intentions.

Adam shows off his knowledge of astronomy to Beth.