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May 27, 2006

Sorry - long overdue

I have been lazy about the blog recently! Sorry. Here is a little bit aboutt what I have been doing over the last ten days.

Last weekend in Kamakura
It is a rainy Saturday today, so it is a good time to catch up on things. Last weekend, I went to Kamakura - this time on the temple side. It was a beautiful day (in stark contrast to today) and that made it very nice to be outside.

The picture on the left is me at one of the temples - I do not remember which one and I am too lazy to look it up! I am not extra shiny - there was some moisture on the lens and all my pictures had a distortion in that area. Well, almost...the one on the right is inside a small cave at the same temple.

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I really like Kamakura - it is always a bit cooler there and there are so many places to explore. It was a fun day.

Lots of sayonara parties
Last week, we took out Kaz to celebrate his last day at work. He is one of the first people I met in Japan and we have worked together for six years. It is kind of a shock to see him go, but he is moving on to better things, I think.

I did not take my camera, which is why there are no pictures. And that is probably a good thing. The party was on Thursday night and I had a hard time on Friday morning. I am getting out of practice, maybe?

And last night, we had a sayonara party for Aya. She is leaving the company because her husband is working in Fukuoaka for the next 18 months. She is another person who I have known for all of my time in Japan, and although I did not work with her directly for awhile, it is hard to imagine the office without her there. We stayed out until 1am to wish her well - we may have overdone it as she left around 1030pm.

There have been sayonara parties every week this year and every week there are fewer people in the office that I know. It is a bit creepy.

My baseball curse continues
What is it about me and baseball in Japan? Kaz and I decided we would go to a game on Wednesday, but that coincided with a fairly big storm and the game was cancelled. Something like this seems to happen whenever I make a plan.

We had planned to see the Yakult Swallows play Rakuten at Jingu Stadium, which is super close to my house. Our other plan is to go see Chiba Lotte Marines at Marino Stadium in Chiba. Considering the weather, maybe we should have tried to watch the Giants play at Tokyo Dome...

Posted by Kirk at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2006

Mad Zico...and we thought he was sleeping?

Can anyone explain this to me? Zico seems to have taken a page from Sven-Goran Ericsson's playbook by putting out a seemingly daft couple of choices for Germany.

His lineup for Japan in the World Cup does not include striker Kubo Tatsuhiko. Considering he is the most prolific of the Japan forwards and that Japan seems to have trouble scoring, it is a bit odd.

His explanation does not really help me:

Team coach Zico defended the controversial choice up front. "Kubo was not right physically and Maki is an interesting player who gives us another option," he said. "He's shown he can be a threat in the penalty box."

...another option for what?...a threat to whom? I have no idea whether this is a smart move or not, so anyone with reasonable knowledge of the Japanese team, please leave a comment.

He has also included Inamoto Junichi, who peaked in the opening stages of the 2002 World Cup and done little since, but as one of the few Japanese players in the Premiership one imagines he has to be selected. (Does anyone remember that Arsenal famously dropped Inamoto after the World Cup in 2002?)

For the BBC writeup and player list, click here.

Posted by Kirk at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2006

Meiji Jingu and Harajuku

Another weekend, another small trip. Yesterday, I went with Phurbiji Jingu and Harajuku

Another weekend, another small trip. Yesterday, I went with Phurba, Hannah and Christine to Harajuku. The weather was not really very good, but we managed to do quite a bit.

We started off with a quick trip to Meiji Shrine. I am sure anyone who has been to Tokyo already knows all about this place so I will not go into detail. Because of the rain, it was not too crowded, which was nice.

After that, we walked over to Harajuku and went through Takeshita Street, which is well-known for being the style capital for young Japanese. I spent most of my time dodging umbrellas (see picture below), so I do not have much to report on the latest fashions. Fortunately, this also left us close to Spyros, a very nice Greek restaurant with good food at amazingly low prices. The service is also very good. I really like that place.

After lunch we went to the Ota Memorial Museum to look at this month's exhibition from its collection of ukiyo-e. They have the largest collection in Tokyo (and probably Japan?). I am not an expert by any means, but they are very beautiful and worth a visit - if you live in Tokyo and have not been there, you should go.

We finished up with a coffee and chocolate croissant at Choco Cro, which I have mentioned before. Despite the crap weather, it was a very good day.



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Posted by Kirk at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2006

Subway stylish

I almost forgot: when I hopped on the subway at 8am this morning I saw the strangest thing. As we waited for the doors to close, a man slipped onto the train.

At first, I noticed the maroon trousers, leather jacket and the most atrocious perm I have seen in awhile. It was so bad, it took a minute to realise he had rounded out the outfit with a large can of beer. I suppose I would drink to if I looked like that in the morning.

I wish I had a picture, but you should be glad that I do not.

Posted by Kirk at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

Japan 1 Bulgaria 2

I haven't written about sports recently, so I thought I would take the opportunity to do that while watching Japan play Bulgaria in a pre-World Cup friendly.

It has to be a disapponting match for Japan in some respects. A little confusion early on and they were down 0-1 before two minutes had passed. For most of the rest of the match they were very aggressive and it seemed they spent most of the match in the Bulgarian half of the pitch. Eventually they equalised, although it seems to have been more accidental than anything.

And all was well until Bulgaria scored again from a free kick with less than ten minutes left. Oops. It was so late in the match that I had already started to write this. Japan seemed to have problems with finishing but I would not read too much into it as the Europe-based players did not participate.

It was very exciting. Scotland is next up on Saturday, which should be an interesting match. At least until the FA Cup final starts.

I thought I would use the match as an opportunity to improve my Japanese language listening skills, but I am crap at listening in any language and I was trying to do my homework at the same time, so I doubt I have made any improvement. Ugh.

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

May 06, 2006

Crowded Yokohama

Have you been wondering where all the Japanese go on Golden Week? I know where: Yokohama.

We went down there yesterday to check out the Ramen Museum near Shin-Yokohama station. Unfortunately, a lot of other people had the same idea. When we arrived at noon, there was a line down the block to get in. That is the line of yellow umbrellas in the picture on the left below. It was not raining - the umbrellas were to provide some relief for the mid-day sun.

The attendant told us it would be thirty minutes to get in, but that was only the beginning. Once inside, there were waits of 45-60 minutes at the individual shops (the picture on the right shows the sign board). I like ramen. I love ramen. But an hour and a half was too much.

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We headed to Chinatown instead. It was also insanely crowded...most restaurants had lines out the door and along the sidewalk and you did not walk down the street as much as shuffle along in a chaotic queue. Satomi knew a few places that were good and we eventually found one, served our time in line and ate lunch. I thought it was very good, but I could have eaten cardboard and thought the same thing.

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Fortified by lunch, we walked over to the waterfront and over to the Landmark Tower/Minato Mirai shopping area. It was nice to be outside, but there were too many people out. And I still want a ramen.



駅からラーメン博物館に7分ごろ歩いて行きました。おおぜいいました!一番上の左の写真で、多くれつにならっているの人がみえます。れつのかかりは「30分ぐらい待って入ります」と行きました。そして博物館の中に45-60分のれつがありました (一番上の右の写真)。おなかがすいたから、横浜中華街(ちゅかがい)に行きました。


Posted by Kirk at 02:35 PM | Comments (1)

May 02, 2006

Asakusa and Odaiba (浅草とお台場)

This week is Golden Week in Japan, which means I am on a week-long holiday! I met up yesterday with some of my Japanese classmates to go to Asakusa and Odaiba. The weather was great, so it was good fun.

As I have to write a journal in Japanese for what I did this week, I posted this entry in Japanese...killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. The pictures are self-explanatory, so take a look.


11時ぐらい浅草駅であいまして、なかみせどりでゆめのせんそじへ行きました。写真をとって、ひるご飯をたべました。左の下の写真で雷門の前にいました。右の下ので(five-story pagoda*)です。
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トヨタショーカースをみて、Venus Fortでぶらぶらして、晩ご飯を食べました。9時にお台場でゆりかもめせんにのって、新橋へ行きました。あこでいろいろの電車にのりかえって、かえりました。


* すみません..."five-story pagoda" は日本語で何ですか。

UPDATE: ありがとう!えとさんは ”five-story pagodaは五重塔(ごじゅうのとう)です。”とこたえました。

Posted by Kirk at 11:44 AM | Comments (2)