Monday, 31 May 2010

3 Years In A Fishbowl

I'm actually writing this almost a month later (28 June) trying to sum up my three years of living in this country, and I'm virtually speechless.

I really don't know how to say how I'm feeling right now. Looking back at last year's post, I admit that my feelings are pretty much the same as what I said before.

Lately though, I've been going out drinking socially a bit more with like-minded associates, which has given me more of feeling of belonging, whereas previously I felt like a high school outsider looking in.

Also too, I've been attending a few parties which have been enjoyable, so I think things have gotten better. How long can I sustain this? I have no idea.

When the ride's over, I can hopefully say I haven't had too many regrets.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Chara at H & M

I hinted at it last post. Finally I have gotten to see Chara live in concert.

What I like about her is that she has that "Cyndi Lauper, Macy Gray, Bjork" vibe that makes her stand out from all the rest.

She's 40-something, but she looked great. Dressed like a banshee, fully in control of the about 500 or so Japanese crowd that filled the Shibuya H & M store. I was happy to hear "70% - Yuugure No Uta". It's one of my favourites of hers, but I was a little disappointed she didn't sing "Call Me", that turned me onto her music in the first place.

She has a fairly quiet voice, so at times I felt I couldn't hear the full nuances of her gentle voice, but when it was a little softer she sounded as good as she does on record.

The photo nazis were out in force, but I managed to take a few snaps of the occasion.

The event was for "Fashion Against Aids", so there was an abundant supply of condoms to push the cause, as well as a 25% discount on all the clothing for the night. I bought a nice blue and white striped shirt and some cargo pants.

What made it great and a hindrance to good judgement, was that the night was sponsored by Suntory, so getting a lot of Highballs and Cocktails made the buying decisions a little hazy.

If you're "lucky" you might see me on Mtv Japan. A comedian interviewed me. I don't know how well it went, but I mentioned that I'd like to play guitar in her band. That'd be great.

The night came to an abrupt end when after all the finger food and drinks we were in dire need of a bathroom. Looks like H & M didn't have any facilities so we had to rush to Bunkamura to relieve ourselves.

Great night though. Thanks Chara!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Issey Miyake Trapezoid Watch

I first saw this Issey Miyake "Trapezoid" watch a few years ago at the MoMA store in Omotosando. At 45,150 yen, I thought it was priced quite a lot higher than my budget. Lucky then, that Yahoo Auctions has come to the rescue!

I was a bit worried when the seller didn't communicate when he received my payment, or when he was going to send the watch. From auction's end to today when I finally got it, it has been a week. When I bought the concert tickets it only took two days.

I'm really happy with the watch. Apart from a few minor scratches on the metal band, it looks new. Very classy indeed. Another one to add to the collection, but one that I'll be proud to wear out and about.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

John Mayer In Tokyo

We went to the Lawson Loppi machine to find out that John Mayer tickets were sold out.

Other guys have told me to wait outside the venue to find scalpers to buy them, but an easier way is Yahoo Auctions. Usually I'd be paranoid about being ripped off by counterfeit sales but with Yahoo's feedback system it looked like these were legit.

Using my own UFJ ATM guide, I managed to do the bank transfer myself for the first time. Talk about liberation.

I paid a small premium over the normal ticket price, but we did manage to get 7th row from the front. It wasn't in the centre but I could see all the performers quite easily. There was seating for the arena ticket holders. As soon as the band fired up with " Waiting For The World To Change", everyone decided to stand up. Still, my view wasn't compromised.

The set was chosen well, although I would've like to have heard, "Bigger Than My Body", "Heart Of Life", and maybe a few songs off "Room For Squares". He interspersed Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" with one of his own songs, and played Petty's "Free Falling" as well. Personally I prefer the original. I like his version of Hendrix's "Bold As Love" though, but unfortunately we didn't get to hear it.

He changed guitars every song. It was funny to see him play a Minnie Mouse telecaster for "Perfectly Lonely". He's got great tone from his rig. Fender Strats aren't my favourite guitar, but I really like the sound he has. The whole mix was well-balanced, and he has great players backing him up.

JCB Hall in Suidobashi was the perfect venue to watch the show. Not only being close to home, it's not too big a show as to being in a stadium. I'm really glad I went. It's inspired me a little bit to work on my own stuff more.

I want to see more live music too. Next week I've got a special invite to another live event. Fill you in about that soon.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Tickle Me Miku

It's been a while that I hadn't gone to Nakano so seeing that I had an extra day off before the Golden Week holidays sadly come to a close, I thought it'd be better than staying home.

I'm glad I went. Lots of nice toys to buy, see.

I almost bought a Tickle Me Elmo off Yahoo Auctions. I'm glad I didn't. They had quite a few here. I took a while deciding to get it. I also saw a bit out of sight, a Miku Hatsune figurine doll that was only 525 yen 'cause it was out of the box so I picked that up as well.

Here's a few more of Miku for your um, viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Lucie Rie at National Art Center

When she said she wanted to go to a pottery exhibition I wasn't too enthused to say the least.

The National Art Center is situated in Roppongi. It's an interesting building.Lucie Rie's work is actually pretty good. They played a doco showing how she created her pots which brought to mind the Unchained Melody part in "Ghost" for some reason.

We were thinking to get tickets to Regina Spektor's concert at Billboard Live but the box office was closed.

We tried some more bagels at Junoesque Bagel in Tokyo Midtown. To me it tasted just about the same as Bagel & Bagel, not bad, but not great.It looks like the closest to what we had in New York is Maruichi Bagel. Number one indeed, so far.

We also went to the Ricoh building in Ginza for a small Alex Prager photo exhibition. It was free and also gave me an opportunity to take a Ginza scene from above.While we were in Ginza we picked up some anpan from Kimuraya. Since I haven't been working at the Ginza school for quite a while I really missed them.

After that we went to nearby Yurakucho for some Red Tiger restaurant Chinese food.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Oku-Tama Hiking

I'd like to have gone somewhere outside Japan for Golden Week but they hike the prices up so much it doesn't seem worth it. I thought we'd be staying home but today we got off our asses and went to Okutama.

It's about a two hour ride on the Chuo and Ome lines from Shinjuku. From Oku-Tama it's necessary to catch a 500 yen bus to the lake.

From the floating bridge, we did a 2.5km walk around the lake which took about an hour. At the end there's this nice place to chill and have a picnic. It would be a fantastic camping spot if there wasn't that "No Camping" sign.

We wanted to do the 12km walk around the lake but by the time we would have arrived back to the bus it would've finished for the day so we just went back the way we came.

The bus back was packed with people. It was like a peak hour Yamanote on a bus. They still let more and more people on. My wrist was sore from holding tightly to keep my balance.

Usually we'd go to Takao, but I think this was a nice deviation. The nearby Mt Mitake might be a nice place to go next time.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Rooftop Balcony

I've lived in this Tokyo apartment for about two and a half years and I never knew there was a rooftop balcony!

I think the landlord recently opened it during the repainting. Funny that I never ventured past the second floor of my room. This would be a great place for a Summer party but I can see it as a fail for two reasons - 1) no railing and 2) foreigners on a roof drinking? I'm sure the police would show up in no time.

Still, it's been a nice place to drink a beer and watch the sunsets. Good thinking time.