January 26, 2011

Compromising with Your Pet

Pet and owner meet each other in the middle: pet wears sweater inspired by human clothing, owner wears pants inspired by pet.

January 21, 2011

No Home, But Have All My Stuff With Me

I remember leafing through a photo book in my high school library. It was comprised of photos of families around the world, posing in and outside of their homes with all their worldly possessions. It was a shock to see photos of Japanese families; when compared with other countries/cultures, Japanese people had so much -- and a lot of it looked like junk.

This may be slightly insensitive, but every time I see this homeless person on the street, I think of that book. Only in Japan would you be able to identify a homeless person by their possessions. (Though I have to admit, she really is an exception.)

This person moves around a lot, but always within a 500 square meter zone. It takes her at least 15 minutes to cross the street every time she changes location because she has to go back and forth for her bags at least five times.

This may be the book I'm talking about:

January 16, 2011

Stop and Look at the Platypus

A huge billboard or Takahashi Shoten, a bookstore that specializes in diaries and planers. Their mascot is a platypus, which makes them unique among companies in Japan. (Most go for decidedly cuddlier animals such as dogs or rabbits or bears of the teddy bear variety.) I am looking for some sort of explanation for their choice of mammal, but a google search of "Takahashi Shoten" and "platypus" yields no significant hits.

Just Your Neighborhood Mom-and-Pop Store Shutters

(In Edogawabashi)

This would be my inspiration for Project Runway's Design Your Own Textile challenge.

January 12, 2011

The Touch Screen System Reaches Vending Machines

(Tokyo Station.)

The latest in vending machines: 47-inch touch screens that display different items depending on the season or the hour of the day. The machines also have a sensor that detects the customer's age and gender, and displays products that are targeted towards specific markets. (Supposedly there are no recording devices installed, so I would like to know how they are able to gauge the two factors.)

Another major feature (more for the sellers' benefit than the buyers) is that whenever a product is out of stock, instead of displaying a "sold out" sign, it is simply removed them from the lineup.

The machines first made their appearance in Shinagawa Station in August 2010, and have gradually expanded to other JR East stations -- Tokyo, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro. This one was taken at Tokyo Station. As you can see, it piques the interest of many a traveller.

January 8, 2011

Looking Down at Japanese Footwear

 On short train rides, one of my pasttimes is checking out people's shoes.

These shoes seem like they'd be appropriate for the poolsde.

The setta shoes (second from the right) must be cold in winter.

These nails deserve their own close-up.

How Many Different Ways Can You Spell 2011?

Senbei rice crackers in the shape of "2011".

A Play on Efficiency

Play/exercise space underneath the highway in Mejiro. While the use of urban space is creative, I hope the traffic isn't so heavy that people are gulping polluted air while running around.

January 5, 2011

Green Busker

A one-man band à la Bert (Dick Van Dyke) in Mary Poppins, with a green theme.

Why is so much of children's entertainment so distinctly creepy?

Ladies Who Have Chocolate

The cafe on the 7th floor of the Ginza store Ragtag. 1000 yen (12 dollars) for a pot of tea and two tiny chocs seemed extravagant, but it was a small price to pay to escape the hordes of shoppers swarming the area for the New Years' sales.

You couldn't describe Ragtag as merely a large used-clothing shop -- 5 floors of the building are devoted to selling previously-owned designer items, displayed lavishly in glass cases. The 6th floor is for people who want to sell their clothes and accessories.

The parent company's mission statement is to provide high-quality clothing to people who can't afford the real thing, but Miu Miu heels cost 50,000 yen (610 dollars) even when they're half off. A large portion of the customers still seemed to be the well-heeled.

January 1, 2011

Your Long-lost Brother

Near Tokyo Station, Tokyo.

Near IGA supermarket in Sutton, Quebec.

Yellow Raspberries

Pleasantly surprised by the existence of yellow raspberries in a supermarket in Sutton, Quebec. The ground cherries below are unusual in Japan as well.

The Darkness Inside

Inside looking out in Sutton, Quebec.