Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Aerosmith In Tokyo

Last year I was lucky enough to finish work on Mondays early enough to be able to go to quite a few live concerts.

Unfortunately most touring acts do their concerts on weekdays and start and finish early, and this year all my lessons finish late in the evenings.

It's been a while since Aerosmith came to Japan last (2002), and they're one of the classic rock bands I'd been wanting to check out. I thought it'd only be worthwhile if I could get an arena ticket for Tokyo Dome.

I was almost prepared to spend double the face value for a B area ticket, but luckily I found one that was cheaper than the selling price and still a reasonable D section one.

So how was it?

Although my seat wasn't the closest in the house, I was pleased where I was positioned, a little off centre on the right-hand side. I mirthed when I saw the advertising for the language school I work at high above in the stands.

The show was polished, and judging by the setlists online they don't change their presentation too often.

For a band being around this long I guess it's hard to please everyone. My favourite songs are the ones from Pump and Permanent Vacation. I liked the harmonies of "Love In An Elevator" and "Janie's Got A Gun".

I kinda wished they played "Rag Doll" and "Dude Looks Like A Lady" or "Pink".

The mix was sometimes lost, losing some of the punch in the choruses, but I guess that was probably due to the less than ideal acoustics of Tokyo Dome. Still I got into "Jaded", "Cryin'" and "Sweet Emotion". Like usual, I listened to a mixtape of Aerosmith to be psyched up for the concert.

I think there was a lull in the performance when they went on a prolonged blues trip, and sometimes the songs went longer overstaying their welcome. And drum solo? While the drummer is a fine player my eyes and ears glaze over when there's this 80's self indulgence.

The crowd revived itself when "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" was played. I get the feeling the band doesn't really like to play this one. Among their other songs it feels almost completely out of place.

Having said that, I had a fun time, and was happy enough to endure the crazy merchandise stand line to get myself a t-shirt.

Everyone should have an Aerosmith T.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mt Mitake Take Two

We came here last year a little earlier in November.

Although there wasn't as many colourful leaves from what I vaguely remember last time, it was a pleasant walk through the wilderness. This time we caught the cable car both up and down to maximize our walking time.

In doing so we covered a much wider area over six hours. By the end my calf muscles would be aching for another day or two.

Well worth a day trip out this way if you like hiking.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Yoyogi Park Sunday

Usually if I go here, it's usually a Thursday. It was too late to go to the mountains, so the next best thing was Yoyogi Park.

It's been a while since I came here so I was surprised to see how many people were here. Especially so as it's getting colder and colder these days. We walked around the back end of the park to find a dog running fenced-off area.

We watched as the dogs were chasing each other, barking, and sniffing their asses. Dogs being dogs. One black dog was adamant to mount a girl dog which was quite fun to watch the owner prying him off.

Going out an alternative exit we made our way towards Shinjuku. Along the way we ran into an 88 yen shop. This place was quite cool. Not only did they have 88 yen stuffs, but also a lot of secondhand gear like um.. music gear.

I've been wanting for a while now to see Aerosmith live in concert, but getting a desirable Arena ticket was nigh on impossible without paying an exorbitant markup.

As luck would have it, I managed to score one at a bit of a discount as well!

To "celebrate" we had some sushi. Good way to end a Sunday, ne?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

St Mary's Cathedral and Seoul Market

She wanted to go hiking, to see the Autumn leaves around Mt Mitake, but.. as usual I was drinking the night before and I didn't get up early enough to make it worthwhile to do a pleasant hike among the browns and yellows.

So.. What to do eh?

At the Metabolism exhibition I was wondering which of these places would be cool, (and not too far away) to go check out.

One such place was St Mary's Cathedral in Waseda. It just so happens that it wasn't too far away from where we live, so getting there wasn't going to take too long.

The church was designed by Kenzo Tange. What makes this church particularly different is that the walls ARE the ceilings and the whole building is shaped like a cross. With the silvery shine of the roof, it looked a bit Guggenheim to me too.

Inside the place was very peaceful. It was calming and relaxing. I wanted to stay longer. Although there were signs not to take photos, I snuck one in. I hope God didn't see that one. I'll have to do a few Hail Marys I suppose.

I wanted to go to Shin-Okubo to get a few Korean things. Along the way we came across a Korean market selling good luck ornaments and yummy food. I got a cheap ¥120 cheese-filled cake. Yummy indeed.

Shin-okubo is SO busy on Sundays. We went to the main Korean supermarket. I was looking for sauces to do my own yakinuku, but somehow I ended up with Topokki spicy korean snacks, and drinking vinegar.

For some reason drinking vinegar seems to be the next big thing. With popularity with Korean girl's groups, their image on the bottle helps to sell the overpriced bottles.

I bought some. Not the ones with the girl's faces on it. The cheapest one ;) The pomegranite flavour tastes pretty good and it's supposed to be healthy too.

I saw another guitar I liked and tried it. Got to be strong.. Or a least sell one of my other ones.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Cheese Day

I've done Cheese Day twice before in the past.

This year was QUITE different. Last time I came on a Thursday, but this year, Thursday was invite only, of which I didn't have :(

As soon as I got there on Saturday, I noticed a line! While it didn't take THAT long to get in, it was a sign of things to come.

This year they decided to make it more orderly. In other words more "Japanese". I mentioned before how people were like animals getting the cheese when it came out in past years.

This time it was queue time, and I panicked at the length of the lines, that I used all my tickets in the first round that I went in. Initially I was disappointed that they used this system, but later it made sense.

I watched a talk I didn't understand in order to get more samples, and even snuck back out and in to get more tickets. I went back AGAIN, but this 3rd time I just asked. I played dumb gaijin so it wasn't too difficult.

In the end I bought some Dutch smoked cheese and American Pepperjack. It's been a while since I finished the Swiss cheese I bought in America, so this was a welcome return to that sweet cheese taste.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Number 5 Is Alive

If there was a Jeopardy game show question about a word that comes into your head when you think of Japan or Tokyo, I'm sure one of the top answers would be "robots".

And so it is, when the International Robot Exhibition rolls into town, you better have a good excuse not to go, right? I first saw a poster with a gorilla with it's robot equivalent, when we were in Yokohama for the Music Fair last week, and decided then and there that I had to go.

I was ably informed that it would run from today till Saturday only, so I had little choice but to go today. This year it's being held at Big Sight, a suitably futuristic venue if there ever was one.

It's open from 10-5 every day. I didn't leave my apartment till around 1ish so I had to rule out my usual Rainbow Bridge walk, instead catching my trains to link up with the nearby Rinkai line.

As soon as I walked in, I was surrounded by salarymen in suits. I was tragically underdressed, but revelled in my individualism.

I was quite disappointed at first to see the "robots" were merely mechanical arms performing menial tasks. In the most cases quite yawn inducing. There were few booth babes, but even if there were it would've felt truly perverted to ask any of the girls for a photo.

The first exhibit to catch my interest was an air driving demonstration. It used the wii concept without a controller like kinect. Myself, and all the other geek boys wanted to have a go, but I didn't bother to wait.

After all the industrial machinery I finally found what I had been looking for.. *real* robots!

They were cute, voice responsive, and in some cases freakingly life life. A few gave me the flashback from "Short Circuit". I can't watch that movie again. It'd totally destroy my childhood memory.

I took a long time to see everything. Even once they played the closing song ("Auld Lang Syne *natch*) a lot of people were still milling around the exhibits.

Before I went back I decided to look around Venus Fort. I vaugely remembered the Lego shop, and decided to get a ¥500 Buzz Lightyear keyring.

Yeah they had cool Darth Vader, Jack Sparrow, Spongebob, and Indiana Jones that I also wanted, but being a "robot day" Buzz seemed the right choice for this occasion.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Running With Scissors

It's been over two years since I got my hair cut, and recently there's been some pretty big changes in my life. So..

They say a change is as good as a holiday, but I want a f*ing holiday!

I did it myself. I tied my hair back and proceding to cut, hack away. It was much harder than I expected. My hair was so thick it was literally like slashing my way through a forest.

Maybe it was not the best time to cut it seeing as we're heading towards Winter here, but I really needed to do this. I needed to react against what is happening around me, and it's an act of regeneration.

I kinda needed a new me.

And I had way too much hair.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Yokohama Music Fair 2011

I had an almost all-nighter last night. Against my better judgement, I thought I'd do something different and go with some co-workers to small bars in Dogenzaka and Shinjuku.

Preceding a public holiday you'd expect them to be a little better patronised. Both places we went to were quite sparse in people, but made up for it in exorbitant beer prices. The loud Belgians in the Shinjuku bar convinced me NEVER to do this again. I got shortchanged on my beer too which didn't make me happy either.

We DID make a deviation beforehand at my favourite English bar in Shibuya, so not all bad. I got home around the 430am mark.

I woke up slightly later than my usual at 1030am to the sound of right wing extremists blaring their propaganda from their vans. I wanted to go to the biannual Yokohama Music Fair at Pacifico in Minato Mirai. I've been good and haven't bought any more guitars (for now). But not so good for other musical things.

By the time I could drag myself out of bed and make my way, we'd arrive there a little bit after 2pm. Because I was going to a music exhibition I thought I'd do the rockstar thing and wear my hair out which I rarely do. Always worth repeating a bit of the Halloween scares I did last week!

Like last time ESP had the most impressive guitar display with weird shapes and colours. Fender also had an interesting stand with some very nice flower-cloth covered telecasters inspired by the paisley Fenders, or Flower pattern JEMs. It's surprising I've never seen Ibanez at these events. I REALLY liked the black one, so I tried it out.

Yes, I like it!

I also tried the Moog guitar. I expected it to be a better version of my Sustainiac-equipped Steinberger, but it was overly complicated, and for the money I like what my guitar does more than this did. Good. A guitar I can cross off my "want" list.

While most of the gear I could easily have tried already in a music shop, it was nice to try them here without the added pressure to buy. I saw the new Boss RC-300 loop station. I didn't get to try it, because a Japanese guy was hogging it for a long time. Korg has a few interesting new virtual analog toys.

I haven't touched the guitars I already have for a while now, but this Fair has encouraged me to get off my ass (for a while at least). After we left Pacifico we walked in the dark into the adjacent Rinko Park.

It's funny that I've never been here before. By night it looked quite nice. My camera is with Panasonic to clean a bit of dust behind the glass in the EVF that was bothering me, before my warranty was up. They say that's going to take 3 weeks!

Sometime after I get it back I'll come back here during the day to take some photos. The Music Fair is on till Sunday. It's not just guitars, so anyone musically inclined should take the opportunity to check it out.