Wednesday, April 28, 2010

raising the bar

I've lived in Japan a few years now, I'm used to fancy toilets.  My toilet seat heater is always set to warm and it's a shocker when I go somewhere that doesn't have this basic creature comfort. So this is old hat to me.
The toilets at Haneda are outfitted with all the usual frippery, like the sound princess, bidet, and powerful deodorizer, and the automatic toilet flush sensor.

Braille kind of defeats the purpose, don't you think?

But this was a first for me, in-stall tvs with ad networks.
Consider me impressed.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


This weather sucks. What the fuck? It's almost May. What happened to this?
It's a distant memory.

I'm going to Okinawa for a few days. If you have any おすすめ、by all means, send them my way!

Monday, April 19, 2010

now that you mention it

Tonight I was talking to this bartender, and the subject of hair came up, as it does. 

Actually, there were several hair interludes that made this a very appropriate conversation topic: 
1. A guy who was probably a stylist, judging from his mad skills (both with hair and with the ladies) was doing some girl's hair at the bar, with all these swirls and twirls and a high volume poufy front. I totally wanted that guy's hands on my head.
2. There was some movie playing on the bigscreen on the wall, and the guys had fabulously bad hair. One dude had a mullet and one dude had hair that I likened to the Leningrad Cowboys. Bartender got that reference. Points to him. That movie is awesome.
3. PJ had curled her hair into a wild early Mariah-Careyish lion's mane, which drew many admiring glances. I mean circa first album. Do you remember her hair? Not all straightened and blond like it is now. It was kinky and big and New York.
So all this set up made hair a natural topic, and Bartender told me that Vincent Gallo was his favorite actor, and that VG was his hair muse. Okay, fine, he didn't use the word muse, that's my intervention. But he did say that he modeled his hair on Vincent's, using, he said, wax, oil, and grease. And a perm.
L, who's visiting from the States, said that she found this admission very weird, and further asserted that though some people might have hair muses, they would probably not admit it and then go on to describe in such detail their styling regimen. Maybe I've just been here too long, because it's become normal to me. Like, okay, I don't have such elaborate rituals, but everyone else does, right? Can someone explain more eloquently than me why things that are totally not okay back home are just fine here?

Stripper shoes?
Beautiful man bags?
Waterfall hair?
Please don't take them away from me.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I've been meaning, lazily, in the back of my mind, to visit a cat café at some point, just to experience it. Even though my house is basically a cat café.
And then on a long cold meandering walk, with the promise of spring in the trees but the reality of winter in the air, chilling our cheeks and fingers, we happened upon a tiny station on a four-station line running an intermittent two-car train. Hoping, hoping for a warm place to rub life back into our fingers, we found one little structure, little more than a lean-to made of corrugated plastic and wooden timbers, and a bright brave open sign, next to the little country station.
 The menu was standard kissaten fare, and I ordered the cinnamon toast and a cup of very good coffee.
PJ branched out, though, and had the grilled peanut butter banana sandwich. You read that right. For heaven's sakes.
And there were dogs running all around the place! Slobbery, fluffy, furry, nuzzle-faced dogs. Dogs that refused to be photographed! Delight!
I can justify putting off my visit to Nekobukuro a little bit longer.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

space 12

Yikes, I've been meaning to mention Space 12/Enjoy Kitanaka Hall for some time now, but a year has passed! 
This spot in Koenji is an infospace of sorts, where you can find vegetarian food, quilting and craft circles, indie music, zines, handmade stuff, dumpster life, activist literature, and tha punx.
Kim worked on her huge awesome quilt while we shared smuggled-in betel nuts and plates of vegan deliciousness from Vege Shokudo, across the street.
Incidentally, this spot is run by some of the same people, like Yoyoさん and Yukoさん. Go for sewing, food, and community.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Well, I meant to submit this to a website but someone beat me to it.
I had a lovely date a couple of weeks ago with a great girl, and she seems to know all the good Gallic spots in town.
Viron is a boulangerie and patisserie in Shibuya, and though I didn't get to try the downstairs bakery, I can attest that the wine and dessert bar upstairs is very good.

Nice coffee.

Pretty atmosphere, open late-ish. Curiously, they don't seem to have a website, but you can check the CNN link for information.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

wiggly fingers

Sunday morning,  Den-en-toshi line, first train. After a night of birthday partying, darts, billiards, and roaming the streets with the other poor tired fuckers at 4 a.m., we finally secured some sweet corner seats on the slow local ride home and fell into a lazy doze as the train chugged its way west and south.

I woke up, confused, five or six stops later. I couldn't figure out why, for a second, then I felt something touching the outside of my thigh. Still sleepy, eyes closed, I wondered what was happening. A few seconds later, it couldn't be denied: I was being felt up by a chikan, a pervert.

After a few seconds of making sure and getting my bearings, I opened my eyes, turned to him, and loudly said,


Bordering on shouting.

Freaked out, frazzled, he nodded meekly and then stumbled out of the train car, dropping his wallet on the way and fumbling to retrieve it as he retreated. He was young, early twenties, maybe 23.

This is my second time being felt up on the Den-en-toshi line, which, I'm told, is full of hentai, along with the Chuo line. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to deck him, rip off his nipples, or haul his ass to the station police, but in my vulnerable confused state, it was all I could do to shout at him. In that state of mind, I couldn't even summon more than basic Japanese and yelled at him in English. My  message was clear, but it's easy to talk about what you would do when you're not in the situation.

Next time. Next time there will be a man with severe damage to his family jewels.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

hairdo, oh yeah

I went to a gross smoky place and then to a friend's house. I couldn't handle the stench in my hair anymore so I took a shower. And they were all, you can use the hair dryer. I was like, you have a hair dryer? They were all, of course!

Of course? That is not my world. I mean, I have a hair dryer, but I never use it. It's not mine. It's from the 70s, and I love it. It's one of the relics. But I never turn it ON, for chrissakes. I mean, I barely owned a comb for awhile there.
Awhile ago Beth posted some videos about how to make simple, fabulous hairdos. I pretty much always have messy hair but I'm trying to do better, really.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


The plums were in full bloom in Ibaragi a couple of weeks ago, so north we went. 
There's a beautiful little macrobiotic soba restaurant called Nagomi in the town of Kasama. They have handmade soba and amazing vegetable tempura. It's so lovely. (Photo from their site.)
Next came the plum blossoms at Kairakuen.

The Tokugawa museum was pretty boring, except the parts where the Dark Side was winning.
And 袋の滝 (fukuronotaki) has all the minus ions you need to fight off the baddies for a week.

Friday, April 02, 2010


My mom taught me a new word today: it's the word for bridal veil.

Trans.: hides her horns.