Wednesday, June 30, 2010

retirement

The motor on my ancient blue-bladed Mitsubishi fan is busted and I'm so bummed.
We took it apart and twiddled the gears and cleaned out some gunk but it just hums and won't whir.
 Stop looking at me like that.
I'm sorry, okay?
Rest in peace, old friend.

Monday, June 28, 2010

more stuff from my cupboards

Because you're soooo interested.

I found this stuff under the sink and I'm not sure where it's from. There's a chance I bought it in Malaysia or something, I just can't remember. Or it could have been there since kingdom came. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it.

Turmeric skin cream. Supposed to also guard against sun damage. This should be useful now that the sun has come out.
Dhoop. This is a kind of incense and it smells really good but I can't figure out how to keep it burning. It's thicker than the usual stick incense and it's not mounted on wood. It's stickier and pastier than cone incense, and it doesn't stay lit when I try to get it going. Does anyone know how to use this and am I being sacrilegious by doing so? What if I put it in the altar?
Zarqa henna! I want to put this in my hair. Maybe. I've never dyed my hair except in high school when I had a brief flirtation with Manic Panic midnight blue. PJ says I will look cheesy. Have you ever done this? Advice!

Queen Sheba

Well, I was meaning to tell you about Ethiopian food in Nakameguro but then I wrote about it elsewhere and it went up today.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Get 'em before they go

It's firefly season you guys, but only for a couple more weeks. They are impossible to take pictures of, so here's one from the interweb.

This year, I went to Chinzanso, a really pretty hotel with beautiful grounds that's famous for hotaru, and last night to Shikinomori Koen (四季の森公園) near Nakayama station in Yokohama. Right now is Heike firefly season. Heike fireflies are smaller than Genji fireflies, I guess because the Genji clan won.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kama eatin'

I was in lovely Kamakura again a few weeks ago. I ate lunch at Tom Tam again and visited some new shrines (it seems you can never run out).
And then we wandered into Arkadas Turkish restaurant, on Komachi-dori. I think you should drop in! Gorgeous meze: hummus, tomato-based dip, eggplant, yogurt sauce, fresh bread, and beautiful strong coffee.
 (screenshot from their site)
Do it. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

bandwagonesque

I too took pictures of the strange beefcake that started gracing cigarette machines a few weeks ago. I see him every day on my way to the station.
Ok ok but then first Tokyo Moe and then Sarah and then Beth posted about it. Actually Beth and I talked about how she should post about it or send it to Tokyo Moe for him to post it but he beat us to it. Less talking, more action, people.

Then today we were in Ueno and saw a new version of the ad and I just had to throw my hat in the ring.
Come hither.
I really wanted to ask this guy what he thought of the ads, since he was smoking right next to the poster, but he steadfastly ignored me.
This reminds me of those old Doublemint Gum ad commercials. Except: triple your pleasure. Triple your fun.
Although I'm pretty sure I saw this guy in a biker bar in the SoMa district of San Francisco, I don't think Winston is actually trying to target Japan's gay demographic. I think they're trying to equate smoking with healthfulness, in some desperate twisted way. Smoking = virility! Smoking = muscles! Finally, the cigarette that will give you bodybuilder buff has landed in Japan.

Friday, June 18, 2010

brrrrrunch!

Do you miss brunch? I miss brunch. I miss it so that whenever I go back to the States, I eat brunch like a madwoman. I insist that everyone meet me for brunch and eat vegan cornmeal pancakes and hash browns and soysages and tofu scramble and drink potsful of coffee. I might also sneak some donuts in there. Dough naughts.

And one of these days I'm totally going to have another brunch party and everyone can come over and I'll make muffins and we'll listen to Desmond Dekker.
But anyway until then, you can go to Suji's. They have big-ass stacks of pancakes with all kinds of toppings and bottomless coffee and omelets and home fries and outdoor seating. It's in Roppongi and okay that's kind of a hike in the morning for me but actually they're open for brunch from 10-4 on weekends and I can make it by two or three probably. Then you can go to a museum or something.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

and then I'll shut up

I never finished talking about my Okinawa trip and I just want to say a few more things to recommend the place.

I only visited the main island, but even without going all deserted-beach resort (it was too cold for swimming anyway), it is still such an interesting place and quite different from mainland Japan culturally.

There was an old man playing the sanshin on Kokusai street, and there are stray cats all over Naha.
And other wildlife too.
Shuri Castle doesn't let you forget how close Okinawa is to Taiwan, and how this used to be the Ryukyu Kingdom. The culture really is an intersection between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Austronesian.
It's really pretty, especially the grounds near the Ben-ten.
And we went to Chatan Beach, a bit north of Naha. This is how it felt. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

meow baby

When you think of Shimokitazawa, you think of hipsters, right?
Hipsters and music clubs and funky shops and vintage clothing. And cat cafés.
Oh, you don't? My bad. Well, Jen suggested that we check one out, so one sunny day, we did. JB's sister came out too, and Beth joined us. Oh yeah, and she already wrote about it. Look at us, bunch of lazy ass bloggers.
The Cateriam is open from 10 to 9, closed Mondays.
It's 1,000 yen for an hour and a drink; they also provide toys and cat munchies to help you interact with the kitties. There are about ten cats in residence, and some of them even have their own mixi pages.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

baagaa

 I've mentioned in passing my affection for Freshness Burger before.
 Lately they've had even more of my attention because they released yet another veggie burger (the third one on their menu): the beans burger.
And it's really good. Made from three kinds of beans and oatmeal, topped with tomato, onion, and mango chutney. It's a whopping dose of protein, very filling.
 And nicely washed down with one of their refreshing drinks. I know this is basically an Italian soda - lime syrup and seltzer, but they put half a freaking lime in there! Try it.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

At Henoko

I was born in San Antonio, Texas, and when I was little I used to swim in the Gulf of Mexico. I have good memories of many days jumping waves, eating PB&Js, getting sand in my shorts, and taking home a bottle of salt water every time to put on cuts and scrapes because we thought the salt water was good for healing ills. It was beautiful there.
We are such bad stewards of the planet.

A few days ago a dead dolphin washed up on the coast of Louisiana. It's now being tested to see if its death is related to the spill. What do you think?
I was in Okinawa during the 県民大会, the huge anti-base rally that attracted more than 90,000 people in Yomitan village. I was astounded by the number of normal, everyday seeming residents that came out for this issue. There were gaggles of seniors, so many people in their sixties, seventies, and beyond. There seemed to be more oldsters than young people, and certainly more average-looking people than activists. Yet. They all showed up to register that they don't want this new base on their island. They are fighting for their quality of life, a life that has been disrupted by noise pollution, violence, hamburgers, and helicopters crashing into the university (prompting some professors, students, and other locals to form a protest group called No Fly Zone). An oft-cited poll from a few years ago in the Okinawa Times puts the percentage of residents against the bases at 85% opposed.
Okinawa is the poorest prefecture in the country, and the last prefecture (formerly the Ryukyu Kingdom) to join the nation. Its total landmass is less than 1% of Japan, yet this area has half of the U.S. military population, and the bases take up almost 20% of the prefecture. Does that sound like a lot? It comes into clear relief when you drive around the island and are constantly confronted with barbed wire and beige, areas that, though your family may have lived here for many generations, you are not allowed to enter. It's a stark contrast, all that razor wire and heavy machinery, when set against the backdrop of blue skies, sand, palm trees, and hibiscus flowers. 
Some Okinawans don't identify as Japanese, but only as Okinawans. It struck me, looking at the protest signs, that most of them were demanding both the US and the mainland to get OUT.

Now a prime minister has lost his job over his inability to resolve this situation. He campaigned on getting the base out of there and then backtracked on that promise, enraging people who have done their damnedest to mobilize a tiny island community. The people that I met said they would NEVER allow new base construction. They will not back down easily.
The activists at Henoko have been sitting in for a very long time. They have been keeping watch on the shore and have also done sit ins at sea, in boats. They are not going to stop any time soon. The existing artillery depot and proposed site for the new base is on top of a coral reef and also serves as the northern boundary for a dugong habitat. Dugongs are classified as vulnerable to extinction.
At the border of Camp Schwab, at Henoko.
I recognize that it's naive to say that we can just instantly do away with all military and go straight for diplomacy. I come from a military family and I know that many of the people in the military are intent on protecting and serving. And I know that North Korea is just a skip and a jump away and have done lots of crazy, scary shit, including sinking a South Korean boat only just recently.
Former base site, now being used to grow sugar cane.
But these people are making an argument for their quality of life, for the environment, for animals, for peace, and for anti-colonialism. I think it's best we listen. I am not at all confident but I hope that the new PM can bring about a solution that respects people, place, and potential threats.

I want to go hug a tree.