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February 26, 2006

And an old Tokyo favourite

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I got back to Tokyo on Saturday morning. If I was worried that I had missed a key element of the weekend, my concern was soon moderated.

I met Nuala, Yoko and Yoko's friend Julien for dinner in Shibuya Jyu followed by a nightcap at Hub. I had assumed that would be the end of the night as it was getting late, but Melanie called Nuala and said she would be in Castillo later and that we should join.

And we did.

Castillo only plays 70s and 80s music and there is a serviceable dance floor at the back of the bar. The waitstaff has not changed in the six years I have been in Japan and you tend to run into a lot of people drifting through at various times (that means you Martin). It is good fun. By the way, this is the same place we went after Nuala's BBQ last summer and it was just as crazy then.

After several hestitant attempts at leaving, we finally did at 3am. Staying out that late is not the best way to get over the jet lag, but I did enjoy it.

Posted by Kirk at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

Two great London pubs

I told you I would write about this! I went out with Glenn for my last night out in London. We met up at De Hems on Macclesfield Street, a Dutch pub snuggled in between Soho and Chinatown. Probably, this is a great pub if you are Dutch - it is simply excellent otherwise with good beer like Oranjeboom and Grolsch on tap. In the summer, the front windows are open and there is lots of room out front, but even in winter it was a good place to start the evening.

Despite a good bar menu, after a few (3?) pints, we popped into a casual Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown for a bite to eat. The menu looked suspiciously Chinese, but the waiter assured us the cook was Vietnamese and that the food, therefore, was Vietnamese. It is hard to argue with logic like that. In any case, it was filling, which is all we needed.

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We finished the night at Dover Castle, which is on Weymouth Mews in between Marylebone High Street and Oxford Circus. As should be expected, the beer was very good (I guess you should assume if I write about it, this is likely the case) and very cozy. It felt more like a country pub, although I am not sure whether that is because it was tucked away on a mews with little outside traffic, that there was not a truly level surface in the place, or that there was an odd mix of people.

The worst part about the last pub is that it was a three-minute walk to my hotel, which is good...but why did I have to find it on my LAST night in town?

By the way, the picture and the links are from www.fancyapint.com, which is a highly recommended starting point if you are at a loss on where to do your London drinking.

Posted by Kirk at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2006

Back in Tokyo now

Can I start this year all over again? It has been a horrible two months to start off 2006 - starting to wonder what else could possibly go wrong. But life usually has a way of reminding you, so I am not wondering too much. The good news is that I am back in Tokyo after a four days in Barcelona and ten days in London. Whew...it is nice to be home.

I was told it could be snowing in Tokyo when I got here, but it was at least 10 degrees and very sunny. What was that all about.

Hit two great pubs last night in London...will write more about that later. No, really, I mean it this time.

Posted by Kirk at 06:05 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2006

More English TV in Japan?

I guess someone told the prime minister that I am not paying my NHK fee. Why else would he say this:


TOKYO — Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Friday that Japan Broadcasting Corp (NHK) should offer more English-language programming in Japan for the benefit of foreign residents, according to Administrative Reform Minister Koki Chuma and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe.

At Friday's cabinet meeting, the prime minister said more programs in English could be aired, "considering that NHK possesses a good number of channels including the main channel, another one for educational programs, satellite TV and FM and AM radio channels."

Koizumi told reporters Friday that more foreign-language programming should be offered to people outside Japan to let them learn more about the country. He said he has instructed Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Heizo Takenaka to study the matter.

Koizumi's comment followed his talks Thursday night with well-known foreigners working in Japan, in which they said NHK, the public broadcaster, should dedicate at least one of its channels to programming designed specifically for foreign residents, instead of the simultaneous translations of Japanese-language broadcasts, Chuma said.

Koizumi responded positively to the idea, the minister said.

At the cabinet meeting, other ministers also said NHK should do more to inform foreigners about Japan.

Science and technology minister Iwao Matsuda said, "Japanese who take part in international conferences are not disseminating sufficient information about Japan."

Foreign Minister Taro Aso said, "The British Broadcasting Corp receives advertisers' sponsorships for its overseas programs and NHK should do so if necessary."

At present, bilingual NHK news and other programs offered in Japanese and a foreign language total 11 hours a week on the broadcaster's main channel and the figure is 81 hours for its satellite BS1 channel. English- and Spanish-language news programs are also available on NHK's No. 2 radio channel.


Posted by Kirk at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2006

Off to London now

I am leaving for London this morning. I will spend the next few days there before traveling down to Barcelona for four days. Unfortunately, that is work-related, but it could be worse, right?

Posted by Kirk at 06:35 AM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2006

Hmmm...trying to get back into this whole blogging thing

I have been somewhat lax in updating this recently. There are a number of reasons - general fatigue after months of traveling around, winter, and some personal issues pretty much covers it.

Suprisingly, the travel issue is the easiest to resolve. When I am not at home, any picture and comments seems interesting to me, and therefore blog-worthy. Fortunately, I am off to London again on Thursday and Barcelona soon after that - so that is easily resolved.

Winter is a bit harder to deal with, but that is my own fault. I just feel less motivated, for one. In summertime, it seems like more people are out and less inhibited by the camera. And I seem to take my camera out with me more often. (Also, I live in a (usually) snow-less city, so there are not lots of cute winter scenes to snap pictures of and discuss.)

As for the personal issues, I have struggled with this and decided not to put anything here about it. If you know me, then you understand and please be reassured I am dealing with things in my own plodding way. If you don't...you do not need to worry about it.

I am hoping this entry is a turning point and that I will start to write more often. And, yes Kaz, I might even try to be funny and entertaining from now on.

Posted by Kirk at 10:53 PM | Comments (1)

February 05, 2006

Wow! 10,000 visits and counting

As of last night, there have been 10,000 visits to this sight. Thank you very much! Traffic has really accelerated over the last few months, mostly because of Google.

Meanwhile, I have been pretty lazy about providing updates. I will do better from now on.

Thank you for stopping by.

Posted by Kirk at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2006

The Lovable Tramp (なつかしい風来坊)

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We watched Yoji Yamada's "The Lovable Tramp" last night. It was made in 1966 and is one of his first movies. It was surprisingly good. He is a movie-making genius.

It was a struggle for me because the DVD copy I have does not include any English subtitles. I put the Japanese subtitles on in hopes this would help, but it was more distracting then anything else.

I wanted to write more about it, but I have to go to the embassy this morning and have some documents certified. Lovely...

Posted by Kirk at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)