industrial robots
Cranking out widgets in search of meaning...

Tokyo 2005


I always liked travelling in autumn, and there were some bonuses this time, since there was an election and some cool autumn equinox activities going on. I also stayed at my new favourite place... Ryokan Sawanoya.

three story japanese bulding with traditional style entrywaymiddle aged japanese couple wearing traditional house clothes


I was tempted to buy a Gameboy Micro, which was released while I was here, but the screen is way too small. I did a bunch of game shopping though and somehow managed to fit everything into my suitcase.

a poster reads happy mario 20th with a grid of game screens and hands holding small portible game consolesa suitcase stuffed full with video game cases


I went to the Sony building in Ginza and checked out their stuff - probably the coolest thing was seeing some Aibo prototypes and a Blu-Ray Disc DVR hooked up to a really huge flat screen. On the way to lunch I saw this psp ad display in the basement of the Sony Plaza but I couldn't get anyone to take my picture since I was wearing my psp shirt... ah well.

a tall grey building with the sony logo on toppillars in a subway station are wrapped in repeating images of the playstation portablea colourful building with a wavy front and a large fujiya logo

I checked out the Pokémon Centre to see if there was anything suitable for my nephews. I also saw a store promoting the new Gameboy Micro that was released today.

a curved blue entryway with a large pokémon logo on a grey buildinga woman looks curiously at a display and signs for gameboy micro at a store entrance


Today I did a bit of shopping in the morning and then met up with Zoltan's cousin Kenjiro for lunch at Kujira-ken, a great little ramen place. We then went to a bookstore in Harajuku where I bought a couple of books for my niece. We met up with his girlfriend Yuki and then went to a bunch of great CD shops where I spent way too much on Mondo Grosso and Mad Capsule Markets, but at least they were mostly used. We hung out in Shibuya for a bit and then went for dinner near Akihabara at this cool mom & pop tempura place that was new to all of us. Good food and a nice visit too.

a mannequin dressed in mostly pink makes a metal horns gesture in a clear case outside a store
a caucasian man with a long dark beard flanked by a young japanese couplethe indoor entrance to Kujira-ken with the logo on a curtain

Hibya Park

I went to Hibya Park on the way to the Imperial Palace East Garden, which is quite nice in its own right.

a sign with a map of the parka bust of Dr. Jose Rizal 1861-1896 national hero of the phillipines a pond surrounded by treessmall shrubs at the edge of a pond a carving on a large stone to the side of the patha plaque revealing that this is a monument in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Arctic air route. It uses the ancient Nordic epitaph of the Scandinavian Vikings as a motif. a grassy area with large trees in the backgrounda fenced off area with a large plant in the center an egret drying off on a rock in water with a stone wall and shrubs in the backgroundwater and shrubs with trees and office towers in the background

Imperial East Garden

The Garden is really nice, with different areas with different types of plants and trees. There was even a small air-conditioned building to relax in, since it gets pretty hot there under the sun.

the moat with the garden walls in the distance with treetops visiblea corner of the moat and the arched bridge to the garden entrance the bridge and a grassy portion of the moat walla flat grassy area with manicured trees like giant bonzai a view of the pale palace building across the moatone of the garden's buildings through thin manicured trees a view of the wall and part of a building reflected in the moata small building near the entrance dwarfed by trees low manicured hedges and treesa building in the distance surrounded by trees a closer view of the buildingrounded hedges line the path a variety of flowering shrubs, hedges, and trees surround a water featurea small pond with a traditional lantern on a stone area and many trees in the background a small waterfall surrounded by low plantsgrasses surround trees with only slight foliage a stone path among low plants and small treesa thatch of bamboo stalks manicured trees and a rounded hedge frame a curved stone walla group of trees that stops at the wall a sideview of the inside of the entrancewaya view through the entry gate to the city buildings outside trees line the sidewalk along the outside of the moat

Meiji Shrine

It's smaller and there's a lot less walking than there looks to be on the map (thank whoever). There are a few torii gates that are really old and kickass looking (I always liked them) and some votives you could have read by the priests the next morning. There was also something going on, like maybe a wedding or something. I bought one of Meiji's poems (you get one of fifteen randomly) and it seems pretty good.

a large unpainted torri gate framed by treesa display of barrels of donated sake with many colourful characters and symbols a large wooden torii gate serves as an entrance to a fenced areathe main shrine area a large tree dominates the spacewooden votive tablets for personal prayers to hang on the tree the main shrine building with the blinds opena closer view of the dark shrine building where lanterns and curtains are barely visible


Saturday I mostly stuck around Ueno and saw some great houses and also checked out the cemetery.

a pedestrian walkway leads above the streetsthe local post office a traditional three-story housea traditional house behind a gated fence a stone wall and ornate gate to a propertya large traditional house with a car parked under a roof stalks of bamboo grow alongside a buildingmore plants and a water fountain in the building's courtyard a traditional japanese building with tile roof and wooden screensvarious ceramic pots and bottles on wooden shelves a sign with a map reads yanaka strolling guidecurtains blow in the wind at the entranceway to jomyoin temple a statue of buddahsmall gravestones among flowering trees a tall rectangular gravestone engraved with japanese charactersa small torii gate flanked by stone lanterns leads to a stone burial mound gravestones of various shapes and sizesa large tiered gravestone flanked by lion statues

I also did some 2nd last minute shopping in the market and found a store specializing in Okinawa stuff, so I bought yet another CD.

the Tomy digital biology building sign reads Providing new technologies and solutions that will revolutionize Life Science Research.a store with a bright sign and tables of goods out front a sign reads 3F and dynamite in japanese with a photo of a short-haired woman in an urban camoflauge vesta sign outside a store shows hot dogs, one with lettuce added the entrance to a pachinko parlour is crowded with bright signs and baskets of flowersa paper bag from beard papa's pipin' hot cream puffs featurs an illustrated bearded man with a pipe

There was an election here on Monday, so I took pictures of all the posters, since they are propagandesque and some are pretty funny. There's also an MP (I think) who just came out last month at pride day and there's an interview with her at The Japan Times. I was also tempted to see Madagasukaru, but since I think it'll be playing in Japanese on the way home, I might go see the new Initial D (race car manga/games) movie that opens on Friday for a laugh. Oh yeah, the dude with the most hair that looks like a soap star won and I talked to a Japanese guy on the way home today about the gaijin candidate... Chris W.

an election poster of a suited japanese man raising his fisttwo posters, one of a woman smailing and raising her fist and the second is a closeup of a greying man's facea poster shows three candidates, two japanese and one caucasiana poster for the animated film madagascar

I also took this picture of Yamashiroya's FFVII Advent Children display - it's really hyped here (DVD comes out both here and NA in a day or two) but it's not even listed on yet. Sidenote: between menus and product packaging, katakana is really starting to stick now - yay!

posters decorate the outside of a storea glass case filled with assorted final fantasy figures and items

It's Autumn Equinox this weekend, so there are celebrations at the shrines and small parades in the street where groups of people carry these huge things around and chant. There are also boom-boxes playing traditional music all over the place. I followed some of the marchers and checked out the mini carnival at Nezu Shrine a few streets over from the ryokan, then headed back and there were people dancing to a drummer right outside here. Definitely interesting and there was more happening the next day as well.

a portable shine beside the sidewalka procession of people dressed in blue and pink along a street men carry the lit shrine at nighta man at the front of the procession turns and gets them to stop momentarily a food stall lit up at nightlaterns frame the entrance to nezu shrine a group of young women in yukata make peace signsnezu shrine with a line of people outside a crowd on the streeta drummer on a raised platform in the street a procession of festival dressed people in daylighta van with election slogans and banners on it a close view of people dressed in festival garbthe procession includes a small decorated truck with people in the bedthe procession continues along the side of the street

Last Night

I went to the market for a final look around and bought a friend a gachapon from the machine outside of a porn shop before going out to dinner with Nakamura-san and Kanashiro-san from work and their friend Steve at a place called EN. Great food too. I guess I should have taken pictures of the dishes, but oh well... I was too hungry and it was nice to talk to someone in English for a few hours ^_^

a gachapon machine shows a photo of a japanese woman in bondagetwo japanese men and a caucasian man pose together

The family who run Ryokan Sawanoya are amazing, and it's highly recommended.

middle aged japanese couple wearing traditional house clothes

Nihon TV!!!

So I finally saw Kenjiro online again today and it turns out he was able to capture the show about the ryokan I stayed at (it was on at 4:30 am and after I had left Japan). It's pretty goofy, which I figured it would be based on the interviewer's general flakiness, but it's a cool little souvenir if nothing else I guess. Besides, I can say I was on Japanese TV!!! Woo!!!

screenshot from a TV show with a woman interviewing Earl at a table.  There is text over the image that includes I went to expo aichi.