Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Those J-Pop Girls

Who'd have thought that I'd be getting into a bit of J-Pop?

Japan has it's fair share of boy bands. Quite logical when just walking around this place I can't help but think that some of the boys here look, how can I say sensitively? Effeminate.

But if I'm going to talk about J-Pop, let's concentrate on the girls shall we?

I let you know earlier that I had a "thing" for Utada Hikaru.

A song that I just heard today is "Call Me" by Chara. Her voice sounds a little unusual in the chorus to these ears, but it has a good beat. I like it.




Where do I hear this stuff? On TV! Usually in the promos. I don't know about you but Japanese tv is pretty lame. It seems like a whole lot of game shows and a few dramas. Sometimes those game shows have girls in bikinis, so not all bad I guess.

This is another song I can't get away from. It's called, "Polyrhythm" (ポリリズム) by a group called Perfume.

Kawai ne?

Monday, 28 July 2008

Looking For Treasure

I hadn't been to a recycle shop since I got sick so, today I thought I'd actually try somewhere new.

I left a little bit later than I wanted to, but luckily I still had enough time to check out the Treasure Factory in Tachikawa.

It's about a 20 minute walk south along the monorail line. You hang a left at the first major intersection (There's a Koban and a petrol station), and cross the road.

With these long walks I sometimes wonder if I'm going the right way.

I came across this yellow building that I thought was it. Nope, this is Cycle Base Asahi. You should be able to find a bicycle you like here, maybe.

Keep walking and you'll see this sign. It's says it becomes an emergency road in case of a major earthquake. Why there's a fish on the sign I'm still trying to work out. We're not too close to the sea from here at all.

Finally I came to a carpark area where there's a video rental shop, Gyu Kaku and a Softbank store.

Right next to that was Treasure Factory!

It feels like there is more of a variety of goods at these places than the "OFF" stores. I didn't buy anything, but it's always interesting to have a look at the stuff that I might actually have a use for.

I'm almost coming to the end of my recycle shop visits. There is another place I plan to go to soon, but after that I might give it a break for a while, or only go infrequently to some of the better ones I liked.

I have enough junk as it is, and I have to somehow figure out the best way to get it back to Australia one day.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Two Chicks

I haven't been UFO catchin' for some time now. Because I haven't been exposed to many catchers lately, I've been able to avoid them quite easily. I think I pretty much have beaten my obsession.

BUT..

She looked at me with those sad puppy dog eyes and said, "Get it for me.. NOW".

It was a smaller catcher and it had some bigger chick toys (Moicho) around the edges. She asked the staff to move it into position. The first go, I fluffed it a little. The second go I thought I went too far but it ended up sinking the smaller one before the big one following behind it.

Witness the proof here in this video.

"Can we keep it, Can We?"

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Good Child Must Not Imitate!

I'm in the spending mood so.. I got another Red Bazooka shirt from the Middle shop in Shibuya.

The same place I got the Japanese Sorry one.

As usual I was "uming and ahing" if I really needed/wanted it, but in the end I just decided to fork over the yen and got it.

I'm pretty happy with it. It says "Good Child Must Not Imitate!"

Cool.


The other teacher that has his iPhone is seriously tempting me to get one for myself.

He's on the same White Plan as me. For 5,000 yen a month he gets unlimited internet and email downloads (as well as the normal phone network of course). He did buy his iPhone outright for 80,000 yen. It's possible to pay it out over 24 months for 8,000 yen a month all up, which is still a pretty impressive deal.

In Australia the best option for internet access on a mobile is with the 3 network and their X-series. Not too bad for $40 for 2GB of downloads, but this just covers the net access. On top of that you'd need to be on a regular pricing plan.

On this day there's also the Sumidagawa fireworks in Tokyo.

Right now I'm watching it on tv.

Yes, I know it's not the same, but we are avoiding the crowds and the view although not "live", omits the rather annoying buildings that seem to get in the way.

The "child" part of me wishes I was there though.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Nazono Pyramid

Today I can finally forgive my brother. Why?

Because I have finally got that elusive game that he broke when he was a baby. Yes, Nazo No Pyramid (aka. "Invaders Of The Mummy's Tomb").

I was in that big toy shop other people call Akihabara.

The gf wanted to go to Shinjuku but something was calling me, and I really didn't feel it was a day to go to Shinjuku. A damn hot one though. I was sweating like crazy.

So doing my usual rounds, I almost lost a heartbeat when I saw it. The sales clerk confirmed it was in fact, the game I've searched for months to get.

There was actually two of them as well! They were both in much the same condition, except one had a bit of the lines and writing rubbed off, but was still in really clean condition.

Everything worked great so I just got that one. I was tempted to get the other one as well as a backup, but I decided to leave it there (for now). I was also lucky enough to use the two vouchers I had for a nice little discount.

So how is it to play? Fantastic!

In my opinion I think it's the best handheld Bandai has made. Definitely the best of the solar-powered series. Like most LCD games the gameplay is a touch repetitive, but this one's quite a bit of fun to play.

What makes these Bandai's stand out (other than being solar-powered), are the two screens of play.

On the first "level", you are out in the desert and you have to move left and right to stop the ascending snakes and scorpions from attacking the camel.

When you are next to the deadly creatures you automatically kill them with your knife.

If you get 500 points, you can move to the far left and.. enter the pyramid to the "second" level! In here your enemies are mummys (of course), and a spider.

The idea here is to move to the right to get as much treasure as you can avoiding the mummys that come down from the top and the spider than moves up and down stopping you from taking too much of the loot.

Sometimes your buddy will appear at the entrance where if you're quick enough to give him the booty, you get a whole lot of points.

If the bad guys get you in here you don't lose a life, you just get kicked back outside again.

I had my first proper play in Macca's while I was scoffing down a McPork. It's not a difficult game, and playing long enough it's pretty easy to get square eyes, but "I'm lovin' It".

So.. what else did I do in Akky?

Well at Friends, they had Bandai's Dr Dental and Rush Hour.

I'm warming a little towards Dr Dental, but I still didn't buy it.

For the life of me I couldn't work out how to play Rush Hour. It does have an amusing idea of trying to catch a Tokyo train in the peak time. I think it does that pretty well.

This is a pretty cool anime robot outside one of the many figure and robot toy shops along the main drag.

Inside this place they had some pretty cool stuff.

Along with a big selection of Transformers robots there was a G-Force Phoenix, Gundams, a Voltron (missing two lion heads though), and of course lots of hentai dolls.

I asked a sales assistant to let me see a car Transformer. I wanted him to show me how it opens up to become a robot. He just opened the car doors. Not what I meant. I just gave up.

Speaking of hentai dolls I had to take this picture in Mandarake.

(They have notices to say "prohibited to take photos", so slap my wrists).

It's the box packaging for a Transformers toy. Nice attention-getting marketing for kids!?

"More than meets the eye" indeed.

I like walking around this shop. For some reason today I happened to notice all the otaku in here. WHAT A BUNCH OF GEEKS. Oh, I hope I don't come across looking like them.

Maybe I do? Oh..

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Gachapin is Gatchaman

When I was younger one of my favourite cartoons on tv was Gatchaman. Don't remember it?

Well actually that's what they called it here in Japan. You might know it better as Battle Of The Planets or G-Force. Like many of the other popular cartoons of the time, I had no idea these anime all originated from Japan.

Last week I went to my special place in Shibuya and saw some small Gachapin dressed up as Gatchaman. I didn't buy them then, but seeing they were still there today I decided to snap them up for 420 yen.

There are three of them.

Mark (what they called him in BOTP), in his normal number one shirt and another in his "bird" suit.

The other one has him driving the Phoenix, the cool spaceship that turned into a fiery bird whenever the guys were in big trouble.

If you're familiar with my blog, you'd know I think Gachapin is one cool, little dinosaur.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Watch Band Resize

On a Marine Day national holiday I should do something useful with myself. How about removing the links to resize my metal watch band?

Great fun!

At first I thought it might be more difficult than it looks. My watch band has a split pin configuration but the pins are straight and flush with the edge of the band.

My tools for this delicate operation are :

1. pliers

2. blue-headed thumb tack


That's it!


First thing I did was remove the pin on the clasp to make it easier to access the links. It's optional though. I think I could've left it attached.

You have to be careful. These pins are spring-loaded and it shot out to the wall. Lucky for me it was easy to find. Make sure you don't hover your face to take a better look either. One of these aiming for your eye could be nasty.

The pins in this band weren't that easy to push out. Using the pliers as a hammer on the thumb tack I was able to punch the pin out slowly. You have to push the pins OUT in the same direction as the arrows on the underside of each link!

I used the edge of the table which wasn't a great idea. The gf isn't too impressed with the dents (albeit small ones) I made.

A better option I used later on was a phone book to absorb the hits. Once enough of the pin came through I yanked it out proper with the pliers. All in all I had to remove four links to fit my wrist.

Putting it back together was just the reverse of what I did. I put the pins IN the opposite direction of the arrows this time. Sometimes I pushed the pin in from underneath with the phone directory, or with some extra hammering with the pliers so the pin was again flush smooth with the edge of the band.

For a first attempt I think I did really good. I looked at a few other sites to do the procedure including this one to make sure I didn't mess it up.

It feels good to fix things with my own two hands. "Look Ma, I can fix stuff!"

She's gonna be real proud of me now. It wasn't a total waste of a national holiday after all.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

I Think He's Gonna Make It

I haven't posted for a few days.

I'm sure no-one's been too worried about lil' old me. What doesn't kill you, makes you.. nervous.

The worst thing was looking for a doctor in my poor state.

After a second visit to the same Japanese doctor, he actually suggested a cat scan! I wasn't sure what it costs, but from looking at the going rate from online sources, it's not cheap. What surprised me most was he didn't suggest a simple blood test.

So.. I decided it was a good idea to find an English-speaking doctor.

There're actually quite a few around and it's not too hard to find. If you're in Tokyo and haven't been looking for an doctor that speaks English, it's a good idea to do it before you get sick. I started my search from here.

You can thank me later.

After being absent from work up until friday, I gathered my strength to weather a saturday shift in Tama Plaza. I was still feeling a bit weak, but much better than earlier in the week. Thankfully I didn't have to work too hard today.

Last night we had a tabe-hodai at Gyu Kaku because I had a craving for MEAT to hopefully give me a bit of extra energy for today.

Usually it means "all you can eat" but last night it was more like, "all you can eat BUT, we will bring it out really, really slowly, so you are really just paying us to eat less in the 90 minutes we give you."

Quite disappointing. More so when they tried to charge us almost 9,000 yen for the meal that wasn't even close to that if we paid for each plate separately.

On monday there's a Marine Day national holiday, so I have an extra free day to recuperate from this.

Lucky me.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Unwell

I thought I'd be ok. I got myself ready even though I still felt dizzy.

It was about an hour from my start time and I wasn't feeling any better, so I called work once more to say I wasn't feeling well enough to go.

It's really bothering me. I don't want to waste these days, either annual leave days or unpaid absences. I think the heat of summer is prolonging it as well.

I was bed-ridden all day today and up to now I don't feel any better. I'm really hoping I don't miss another day tomorrow.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Tokyo's Giving Me Vertigo

Today there was no way I was able to go to work. I have a very bad case of vertigo.

To anyone who doesn't know what that is, it's when you feel continuously dizzy. Even walking makes you feel uneasy. Lying down helps somewhat. I really don't think I would have made it to Tachikawa. The motion of the train would've made me queasy.

I'm not one for calling in sick. I usually have to be on my death bed not to go to work. I did call in late (at least before the subs would call in), because I was hoping I'd feel better before the time I had to get ready.

One other reason I wanted to go to work is because here in Japan I don't get any kind of sick leave pay. In Australia I had seven days paid sick leave and I never used them. Great timing.

Later in the afternoon I paid my first visit to a Japanese doctor. Luckily I had the gf with me to explain my ills.

I just nodded my head and hoped he'd give me the drugs to make me feel better. He thought I might have had a cold too and prescribed some cold medicine with the vertigo tablets.

I'm glad I have health insurance here. Even with it, it cost me 4,170 yen for the consultation and another 490 yen for the drugs. My insurance pays 70%, but this 30% still seems like a fair bit of money to pay.

That's all I can write for now. I need to go back and lie down some more. I hope I feel better tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Guess Who Got An iPhone?

No not me, but you thought I did didn't you?

I had the opportunity to try it from a co-worker today. He also has the same Windows phone as me that he now wants to sell for 30,000 yen if anyone's interested.

Looks like there was a bit of a queue here in Japan for the impatient and easily excited Japanese today. Just another day for these guys. If you have to wait, the Japanese have nailed it down to a fine art.

It did make me want one. The operating system makes Windows seem slow and pokey. It's also not as sexy as this baby.

I will try to hold off for a bit longer. Like maybe when I need a new phone, AND a new iPod. The audio sounds pretty good to me through headphones too.

Anything not to like? Well, it doesn't do video recording which surprised me (yet). The pictures are only 2 megapixel, but don't look too bad for that resolution.

The lack of a removable battery is a concern, but I can't think of a mobile phone I've had that I ever replaced the battery.

Today I went to my secret shop and picked up another DOA boob mug.



I also got this one.

Weird, it looks like she has carrots aiming for her ass, but I think these are some kind of "rocket carrots" attached to her waist. Oh, it also has a carrot bulge instead of boobs. Mouse over the picture for the back of it. Nice. Did I mention it's red?

If you're interested you can read more about this anime character here. Apparently Mina's quite a popular figure in otaku circles.

By the way, my skeleton watch with a fair bit of winding lasts at least a whole day which suits me fine.

Day off tomorrow. Just what I need.

Friday, 11 July 2008

LK Colouring Skeleton Watch

If I see something I like, I should just buy it then and there. Instead, as soon as I get home I curse myself for not just getting the item I really wanted in the first place.

Exhibit A : Lk Colouring Skeleton Watch

Yesterday I checked out this Lk Colouring skeleton watch. It was a very reasonable 4,000 yen.

I like the Swatch "Body & Soul" one, but that costs about 16,000 yen around here. You can see a cool video of the Swatch in action here.

I went home without it.

Today I couldn't help myself, and forced myself to go back to Akihabara before work. I got it in the same place I picked up my cheap "Italian via China" belt.

I looked on the internet and couldn't find much information on this company at all. I think it's made in China and usually sold in online auctions. I have to get the metal band adjusted. The sales guy wasn't that helpful. He looked as disinterested as he was yesterday.

I'm pretty happy with it so far.

It's a mechanical watch so it doesn't need a battery. I just need to wind it up to keep it going. I'm not sure how many times I have to turn it. I only turned it a little today and it only lasted a few hours. I gave it a few more turns now so I hope it keeps the time longer than that.

This is a little video I made so you can see how the movement works. Nice..

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Please Do Not The Stabbing

Sheete.. Here I find myself in Akky yet again.

Thankfully this week no stabbings.

It's been a while, so I've actually brought my camera with me.

A student brought in a cool enlargement of a flower (you had to be there), and it made me think to get off my lazy ass and take some daym pichaz!!

From memory, I think this is the first time I've actually taken pics with my Nikon in Akiba.

Unfortunately, I took a whole lot of photos of the Akihabara maids but as soon as they saw my camera they turned their shy selves around. The guy in this pic looks pretty pleased to meet them ("otaku!!!").

Where's the love, or should I say where's the moe?

It looks like they love their job from the looks on their faces. Yep, if I said "Welcome home, master", I'd feel pretty good right now.

I haven't felt compelled to go to a maid cafe yet.

That, and Pachinko. Maybe if it was in English, I'd want to play the juvenile alligator game with them. Maybe not. Sexy uniforms though.

My reason for going to Akihabara was to get a belt.

The one I have is looking worse for wear. Last time I saw one for 680 yen which I thought was reasonable. The label says, "Rocco Italy". Inside, Made In China. What tha.. ?

What's funny is the bag the sales guy put it in says "Electronic Parts". Okay then.

I found a 100 yen shop that sold belts too. I should've known.

Still, this one may have at least been designed in Italy, right?

I had a McPork for lunch. My McDonalds boycott is on hiatus for this brief moment. 100 yen can't be beat. It served it's purpose for now.

I tried the skeleton watch that was 4000 yen. I didn't buy it, but going home I was kicking myself. Sometimes I WISH I was an impulse buyer. I hate regretting things after it's too late. I may have to go back there tomorrow. What a hassle.

On the way home I passed by Yasukuni shrine. They had some lanterns outside. I thought I should take some pictures before going home. Mouse over it for a close-up.



Sunday, 6 July 2008

Summer Sale Off, I mean ON!

Summer sales are officially in full swing and by the looks of the crowds, no-one is immune from it.

Although my only plan today was to go into Shinjuku specifically to get some coffee and juice from YaMaYa, I couldn't help but get caught up in the shopping frenzy.



The shirts you see here are my purchases from none other than Uniqlo. I know I dissed them a little here, but I kinda liked these polo shirts they had, 2,990 yen for two.

I think my mother would be laughing right now. She knows I'm not really a polo shirt kind of guy but I liked the cut of these and the material feels nice and cool to wear this summer. Hold the mouse over the image and you'll (eventually) see the blue one I bought.

I also got some drying inner-wear shirts from here to hopefully beat the heat (or at least my sweating).

Moving right along, I hit the Jackpot at a store by the same name, opposite the Kabuki-cho precinct.

Here I found a nice pair of red Doc Martens shoes.

I used to have a black, and green pair that I bought for about $120 each, something like fifteen years ago, and that was on sale.

These days they are priced well above that.

Lucky for me I picked these up for 14,490 yen. Usually around here they average for around about 23,000 yen, so I think I did good with these. These will be great to wear for work.

I was surprised to find some more frogskins. I didn't buy them. They only had the grey pair and "dalmation" ones. Neither of which I'm interested in.

Later we had some crepes for an early dinner. I'd mention the name of the place if I didn't have the unfortunate incident of throwing it up on arrival back home.

I can't say for sure if it was food poisoning or not, but the gf had the same as me and she's fine. Maybe it was the moving in and out of air-conditioned shops and the almost unbearable humidity that did it.

I guess I'll never know.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

I'll Drink To That

Alcohol in Japan is cheap. It's not written in guidebooks, or "How to live in Japan" books. It's much cheaper than buying it duty-free.

You can buy it in a supermarket, or at the nearest convenience store.

Tonight I went to the local Bic Camera, an electronics store (!), and picked up a 700ml bottle of Kahlua for 1,180 yen, and the same size bottle of Smirnoff Vodka for 980 yen.

In Australia the total wouldn't pay for even one of those bottles. Because I have a points card, I added my purchase to it, but with what I spent I don't think it gave me more than a hundred yen. Still, better than nothing.

Arriving back in Yotsuya, the gf wanted to eat out so we had an all you can eat shabu-shabu.

It's a cool party trick. Watch as I swish thin slices of pork through the boiling broth, and hey presto, it's cooked! Very neat, and tasty too.

Before we went home we stopped into Hanamasa for milk. I had a milk and Kahlua mix before bed. I used to love this stuff. I probably added more Kahlua than milk but it doesn't taste as good as it used to. Lucky I didn't buy the one litre bottle.

I think after these are finished I'll go back to my four litre Shochu bottles. They're real cheap, and they last me for ages.

Kampai!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Oakley Frogskins

I hadn't been having much luck finding a vintage pair at the recycle shops, and Yahoo Auctions wasn't the best place to find them either.

Unlike in America where they have sold out, it's not too hard to pick up a limited edition re-issue of Oakley Frogskins.

I got a rootbeer/fire iridium one for 17,850 yen at the Oakley store in Harajuku.

A little bit pricey, but they were the best pair of glasses I used to have, and putting these on brought back some memories. They still have a few other ones to choose from.

Neon yellow anyone?

Buying from the official store I'm sure I didn't buy a fake. Unfortunately there wasn't much sun at all to really see how good they were. I'm really hoping these don't give me a headache like the other Oakleys I bought and subsequently took back.

At another store they had a pair with clear see-through frames and purple lenses.

They weren't as dark as the ones I bought, but there was something about them I liked.

I was close to buying them as well, but I'm just going to see how I go with the ones I have, and if I REALLY want to blow some more money I'll go back for them.

They were about 2000 yen cheaper too.

I just wish they hadn't released these as a limited edition. I might have been able to get these for much less.

The other blue (cheap) sunglasses I bought from Donki (that's Don Quijote) recently were ok, but I wasn't 100% satisfied with them. Light and wind were leaking in from underneath making them less than perfect.

I'm finding Yahoo Auctions a bit disappointing lately.

You can't snipe at the end of auctions like on eBay. If you do a late bid, it just adds more time for someone to bid it up even higher. Those Japanese are real sneaky with their bidding too.

Unless you have a premium account you can't bid over 5000 yen, so although there's a lot of stuff I'd like to buy, the prices get inflated far too quick.

We had a big day today.

From Omotosando and Harajuku, to Daikanyama and Roppongi. We settled on TGI Fridays and a "World's Greatest Burger" for dinner. A little expensive (1,780 yen), but these are big burgers with a side of fries as well.

We stopped briefly in Akasaka Mitsuke for some coffee before finally going home.

At last a day off I could do something other than stay home because of rain.