Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Picnicking

I went to a picnic in Yoyogi Park.Wave decorated our spot with these felt flowers from the ¥100 store.

There was this pile of white things to eat.

I know everyone goes to Yoyogi Park for picnics, but there's a good reason. Yoyogi Park is really great on the weekend. It's full of people, bustling, everyone being all social and happy and doing strange stuff. Playing badminton, doing yoga, practicing their dance routines. People flit from group to group, even talking to strangers. It's one of the most social places I've been here, and much more fun than a bar.
J. made aloo tikka because she is a goddess.

K. made hobo coffee.
I highly recommend it. It's all raining and crappy now, but autumn is long and beautiful and I think there will be a few more chances before it gets too cold to sit outside.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Imagine Café

There's a little kissaten-style coffee shop near my home station called Imagine Café. It's a pretty place, of the kind that Beth mentioned: old-fashioned, run by little old ladies and serving menu items like Hayashi Rice and coffee jelly.
The name of the place might tip you off, but they only play Beatles songs on the hi-fi. And Beatles covers. Which can be lame. There was a Japanese bossa nova singer lady they played covering the Beatles in English and it wasn't that good. But the rest was nice.

My friend Danny played live there last week, and unfortunately I missed it. But he's playing there again on October 18th. There are a shit-ton of acts. Entry's free, just buy a drink. If you feel like coming out to Machida, come on out.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I couldn't help it.

I made chocolate pudding pie. Like this. Except I used soy milk.

Friday, September 25, 2009

We'll always have Shit Axe.

I went to karaoke in Shibuya.
I didn't mean to, but I met up with an out-of-towner at an izakaya there and when I mentioned karaoke, his eyes lit up. He really wanted to go.
And Shidax was right down the street. (Aside: what are they trying to get at with this name? Another friend complained that their branding is bad because unless you know what it is, you have no idea what it is.) As it happened, out-of-towner is an architect, and one of his co-workers designed the first floor of the building, affectionately called Shit Axe by architect and co-architect. Actually, it's a monstrosity, which they freely admit.
Shit Axe had the best slogans printed on the walls of the rooms. And now it will forevermore be known by me as Shit Axe, where the Sloth Floats while the lazy oar plies harder.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I would just like to register my extreme affection for the band name Ogre You Asshole. Their music is pretty good too. They're a little Built-to-Spill-ish.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Putt putt!

Mini golf, putt-putt, bahn-golf, putter golf. I don't have much use for the real thing: I'm sure golf is a lovely sport, but I'm not very sporty and the time and money required to get going at Real Golf is too much for my relative lack of interest. But mini golf... mini golf is another story.
Mini golf is called bahn golf here, and though it doesn't seem to be a widespread phenomenon, there are a few courses sprinkled around the island. One of these is on the top of the World Porters building in Yokohama, overlooking the bay.
You can do a nine-hole "family course" or an eighteen hole course. The 18-hole course cost ¥900 and took a couple of hours to get through. Bring sunblock. Try the Indonesian restaurant downstairs afterward and tell me how it is.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Matt Sever at Café Goatee

video
Sorry that it's so dark; this was taken with a point and shoot digicam. The sound's not bad, though.

Matt playing Train with his banjolele.

Monday, September 21, 2009

yes

Hokai temple, Kamakura.
宝戒寺、鎌倉

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Relics!

I've mentioned before that my house is chockablock with relics. There are so many dusty things in all the corners, things collected by my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents, locally and all over the world.

This girl wrote a post about having a case of anal retentiveness when it comes to her bathroom cabinet, and her fixation on using things all the way up. I relate to that so much, and it extends to not being able to throw things away even though they've been collecting dust for a really long time. And the packaging! Oh, the tins!

So here are a few things in the bathroom series of relics that I am unable to toss, convinced that I may still be able to use them someday somehow.
This one has a business address in Ghana. WTF.

Oh, mama.

The most stylish ethanol I've ever seen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The aforementioned Matt Sever is playing tomorrow at the aforementioned Café Goatee in the aforementioned Kamakura, along with Scrappy Jud Newcomb. This makes me so happy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dear Jehovah's witnesses,

The best way to curry favor when you ring my doorbell and interrupt my morning is not to exclaim, "Oh! You're a foreigner!" before asking me if I've accepted Christ into my heart.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You flatter me.

"You're almost as pretty as her."

"My dream girl is a green-eyed redhead."

"I think you're pretty, even if no one else does."

"You have knuckles like E.T."

"I showed my friend your picture, and he thinks I'm crazy for liking you."

Thanks guys.
(Exes, of course.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

rooftop pretty


This girl
mentioned the roof garden at Takashimaya in Futako Tamagawa, and since my company's head office is there I had to go check it out. I've been in that Takashimaya quite a few times, but never knew there was such a treasure up top!

I got bread from my favorite bakery in Japan, Paul (try the sesame flute), and went upstairs. I don't do Starfucks, but there is one up there and they had a classical quartet playing! There are several other restaurants and cafés adjacent to the garden. But I just grabbed a drink from a drink machine and pulled up a table and read and studied for hours. It was wonderful!
Windy paths.
Cutest sculptures ever. Yes, the bottom turtle is talking on a mobile phone.

Pull up a chair.

A small shrine to Inari.

Friday, September 11, 2009

He offered me a hankie, but he had ulterior motives.

I must have been doing something right - or very wrong - yesterday, because the tissue-pushers accosted me.
Not those tissue pushers. Not the innocent ones who want you to buy life insurance or change your mobile phone carrier or eat grilled meat for dinner tonight and every night.
One of the major mobile phone companies, au.

Please mind your manners when riding the Yokohama Subway.

No, the ones that I speak of target a certain kind of girl - youngish, fashion-y, wearing heels and with lots of make-up and hair product. The pushers are always men, and their usual method of attack is to zero in on a girl and walk with her, talk to her, trying to get her to take the tissues, sometimes for half a block. The girls usually stick their noses in the air and ignore them.

They never seem to target (visible) foreigners (especially in this part of town, I reckon) and they loiter around 109 and sometimes near the station entrance.
I approached their gauntlet with no sense of trepidation because they never bother me; I'm not what they're looking for. Except I must have looked a little less foreign, or perhaps a little more ho-ish, yesterday, because they jumped me.

The first one stepped in front of me and proffered his pack, and I was so shocked that I took it. The second one was right behind him, less than a second later, and into my hands it went. As the third one approached I had started to gain my composure and told him no, but he shoved it into my hand, already full with the others, and backed away. Flustered, I dumped them all in a shopping bag I was carrying, at which point a fourth ventured up. He politely offered me his colorful pink-printed pack and I just as politely declined. Dame? (No go?) he said. I affirmed that indeed, it was a no go. Too bad, because the last one was an ikemen (hottie) wearing a cute fedora.

The tissues are ad-packs soliciting hostesses for clubs and there even seems to be one up there for a maid café. Perhaps not the best thing to pull out of one's bag on a date or to wipe the snot of an errant preschooler? I guess not. Still, free snotrags are free snotrags.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rinko Park

One side of the Intercontinental Hotel: enter the park behind the distinctive sail-shaped building.

Everyone goes to Yamashita Park when they go to the waterfront in Yokohama. It's crowded with people, lovers occupying every bench. But for my money, Rinko Park (also called Seaside Park, 臨港パーク) is the spot. A short stroll from Yamashita Park and Minato Mirai, this place is much lonelier and more scenic.
It's vast and green with a few benches and lanterns dotting the spacious, undulating grounds. The crowd is sparse, and there are lots of places for interludes. There are a few sculptures, and the smell of the sea, and, if you're lucky, a group of teenaged boys will strip down to their skivvies and plunge into the bay.

Board a pleasure boat at Pukari-san Bashi

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A couple different people now have told me that they don't like the smell of tatami. One complained that it smells like wet cabbage. What a shame. I think it's one of the good smells of the world.

Monday, September 07, 2009

crunchy

Now that fall is in the air, I finally feel like baking and cooking again. Good thing, because there are so many bags of flours and bottles of vanilla and spices just languishing on my shelves, forlorn all through summer.

I have a bag of dried fruit that my boss gave me, and with it nearing expiration, this recipe grabbed me. I eat a lot of granola and granola bars for quick breakfasts and tucked into my work bag for a fast snack.

I've modified her modification, and made it as follows:

2 c. old fashioned oatmeal
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. shredded coconut (sweetened is what I had)
1/2 c. wheat germ, flax meal, or oat bran
2/3 c. liquid sweetener - I used the end of a bottle of pancake syrup, the end of a bottle of kuromitsu (black sugar syrup), and 1/3 c. of honey
1 1/2 t. vanilla paste (or extract, but paste is what I have open)
1/4 t. (sea) salt (Okinawan is what I have now)
1 c. chopped dried tropical fruit: papaya, mango, pineapple

I bought this bottle of honey tonight because I liked the jar.

Combine the first three ingredients and toast on a sheet pan in a 300º oven for ten minutes. Add the wheat germ or whatever you have. Add the sweetener, vanilla, salt, and mix to coat. Add the dried fruit. Press firmly into a baking pan (about 13X9 inches) that is lined with baking paper and greased (this step is important or else it's really hard to get them out of the pan, and you'll scar your pan all up trying to chip it out with various utensils and increasing degrees of frustration) and bake for about 30 minutes at 350º, until lightly golden. Cool for a few hours, then remove from pan (if you've used baking paper, you can just lift it out) and cut. The baking paper also serves as a nice dividing sheet to keep the bars separate - just cut the paper along with the bars.
These are so delicious, dang.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Real


I do love my soy latte at Doutor, but for trying to keep it indie, I like Sepia Café in Machida. It has better tea, better ambiance, and better signage than Starfucks.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Go girls.

My cousin is in high school. She has a band. They're a four-piece, all girls, 17 years old. They're called "A", pronounced Ace. They've been playing little gigs around Tokyo for a year or two, and last month they won the gold prize at the 2009 High School Music contest, or 音楽甲子園, which was held at Yokohama Arena.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Harajuku in a typhoon

I hate the advent of autumn, because it means that summer is over and winter is coming.

But I love autumn in Japan. I love the colors and the long sunny days. Like one of my students once said, "sunny days continue easily".

Before all that can start, we have an in-between season, one that heralds the coming of fall and sends summer a-packin'. And that's typhoon season. This weekend, a typhoon came walloping onto this part of the island. What to do? Go shopping, of course.

Princess J. and I headed to Shibuya and then Harajuku to hit up Omotesando.
With all that rain, it made sense to take refuge in Caffé Solare. They have boba coffee there.

And cute decor. I think I saw a tutorial of how to make this in Readymade magazine once.
A stop at Kinji (a 古着屋さん) for a sweater dress to welcome the season. And a stop at H&M to ogle the staircase.