Monday, October 30, 2006

Rock around the block

Often on a Sunday afternoon, especially if it's sunny, the Rockabillies come out to dance, groove and twist.

There is a wide plaza area outside the south exit of kanayama station, just in front of the ANA Grand Court Hotel (more to come) that they have chosen for their stomping ground.

They wrap black tape around the toes of the winkle pickers and wear all leather despite the mid-day sun. They seem to like an audience but don't mind if they annoy everyone either.

See the flickr link for more pics.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Plastic Factory

These snaps from a series of photos of the new gallery space above The Plastic Factory club space in Imaike, Nagoya.

The new owner has completely renovated the second floor to provide a wallet friendly alternative to the expensive galleries uptown. Seriously, 500 pounds a week compared to 2 or 3 thousand! Not bad.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


This not so little beauty was my bike until the early afternoon today. I got home and it wasn't there. Still, I got to ride in a police car today so it wasn't all bad.

I flagged down a passing patrol car, explained the situation, and they said they would drive me to the station a few hundered meters away. Just like being in a taxi really. Perhaps a little cleaner?

At the station, the young and very new officer took details of the grand theft. It must have been his first time. He often used his electronic Kanji dictionary to check how to write the characters his senior dictated.

It took 40 minutes to get the form filled out. Because I had forgotten to take my Inkan (name seal) with me, I had to put my fingerprint at the bottom of the page, and over any errors that were made in the filling out (this proves that the details weren't changed without my knowing).

The senior officer then explained to me that there are 2 possible ways to recover the bike. If they catch them riding it, or if it gets dumped. I don't hold out much hope on either.

I will have to take the subway to my Japanese lesson on Monday. Goddam crime.

Nuclear Japan

Japan has enough natural threats (earthquakes, landslides, floods), without the threat of North Korea's missiles, its recent nuclear test, and the threat of more to come.

Now Japan, a country that has never tried to develop nuclear weapons of its own (it says) may be open for discussion on the matter!

We don't have to do anything.... we can just talk about it....

Monday, October 16, 2006

Street Performers Festival 1

As mentioned in the Osu Kannon post, last weekend was a two day street performers festival. Just 15 minutes walk from my house (25 if you're short) and a whole weekend of entertainment, festival foods and booze (~o~)V.

This (left) is one of the members of the Oiran-Douchu parade. Based on a practice that reaches back to the Edo period (1603 - 1867), the Oiran-Douchu parade depicts beautifully made up and attired courtesan walking the streets with their attendants.
The participants wear a special type of Geta (wooden sandals) . These Geta are about 9 inches high, and the performers spend a lot of time practicing walking in them before the parade itself.

This group is a Chin-don-ya from Osaka. Chin-don-ya groups perform using various instruments, traditional and western, and dance. They are not seen now as often as they were, but they are still sometimes employed to advertise the opening of a new shop, just like a noisy sandwich board.

These two go under the name of 'sesame street' (セ三味 ストリート).
They are a performance unit from Tokyo, and perform using the shamisen (3 string cat skin covered instrument) and a variety of physical humor.

"Gamarjobat", the name of this pair of 'silent Comedy' performers.
I was almost too busy laughing to take photos... no really!

Belly Dancers!!!! Japanese Belly Dancers!!!

Street Performers Festival 2

This is the night time performance from the Kin-pun show (the gold show). The dancers, men and women alike, are covered head to toe in gold and wear only a thong.
The dance group only uses gold for their performances in Nagoya.

They perform three times in a day. The night show is the most spectacular and performer friendly. The daytime shows are hot, and the dancer's sweat runs gold.

Here, a fire eating, fire twirling acrobat...

... and here a performance artist keeping the crowd and the subjects alike entertained with her picture and her banter.

There was a monkey show too, but I didn't go to see it. One of the trainers was standing outside of the marquee announcing the last show as I was passing by. The monkey spent the time picking it's nose.

The Ayatsuri puppets date from the Meiji period in Japan (1968 - 1912). There are about 25 strings controlling the puppet's movements, and the puppetry, though based on the European style, is unique to Japan.

This was a very bizarre performance incorporating live music, puppetry, dance and, as you can see, other forms of physical performance.
The show told a story, but I admit to being lost as to what kind.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What is Yaki-tori?

It's not easy being vegitarian in Japan! The price of vegitables is high, and vegetarian products are few and far between.
If you eat meat and fish however, the world is your oyster.

One of the best of the Japanese eateries is the Yaki-tori-ya (cooked-chicken-shop, or the "Every bit of a chicken on sticks, cooked on a charcoal grill" shop).

Sat at the counter just in front of the charcoal grill, a strong fan above whipping the smoke from the cooking chicken, we ordered chicken liver, heart, neckbone, cartilage, chicken chunks grilled with leek, chicken meat pattie grilled on the stick with a sauce dressing which was finally served on a plate with a freshly cracked raw egg (not without a sense of irony the Japanese), and we would have had the grilled chicken skin too but it wasn't on the menu (the asparagus wrapped in pork done on the same grill, we had that too, even though it wasn't chicken).

Like everything else that's fun, it isn't cheap, and probably not too healthy. Some places use too much salt, some don't cook the chicken properly, and some just charge way too much for the beer and sake. I was told this morning that a diet of too much Yaki-tori and beer will give you Gout!

Well I don't plan to be there every night, but the little by little, order when you want to eat style suits me very well. You can choose a minimum of one stick at a time, try a bite here and a bite there. It's never cold in a Yaki-tori-ya, and in the city there is usually one nearby. With the cold weather comes the warm sake 'atsukan', and the feeling of having done this some time before.

The majority of the Yaki-tori shops serve good chicken, well cooked, and don't overcharge on the drinks.
I tried vegetarianism once before, but fell foul to a roast duck.
Keep up the good chicken Japan.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mei-eki wishes it was Boston

Mei-eki is the name of the area around the main Nagoya train station.
It has cinemas, izakayas , bars and traffic to make kings cross sigh with envy.
Not really a pretty place, but it is the home of the twin towers, Nagoya's landmark building. Landmark in the literal sense and landmark in terms of size..... that was until

.... this came along. The new Toyota building that pipped the towers height record by a metre or so and was built directly opposite the towers (to provide balance?).
Whereas the towers are home to a hotel, department stores and restaurants, this monolith is dedicated office space. Mitz starts working there sometime this year when her current company moves in.
You wouldn't get me up in one of those!

Osu Kannon

Originally uploaded by japanlight29.

This is the Osu Kannon temple in the central district of Nagoya.
To the east of the temple are the covered shopping streets of Osu (click full screen button on the linked page for best results).

Next weekend on the 14th and 15th, the temple will host the Osu Daido-chonin Festival, a yearly festival that is famous for it's street performances.

Monday the 9th was a national holiday, taiku no hi (physical activity/education day), and both the shopping streets and the temple alike were busy.

The temple and shopping streets of Osu also host the Nagoya St. Patrick's day parade each March, the first of which was held two years ago when yours truly took to the streets as the famous saint (who I had always thought was Welsh, but some say Scottish and some just don't say....).

Friday, October 06, 2006

stats from the CIA

Read what the CIA has to say about Japan

and then see what they have to say about the UK

Points of note:
1) The percentage of foreign residents in Japan. Just how the CIA worked these figures and whether they included 3rd generation 'foreign' residents and other 'grey areas' into their stats or not, Japan is Japanese. To experience this yourself, try living in a liberal multicultural area of London then moving to a backwater village in the fens.

2) The last few lines on drug imports into the U.K. Anything you'd like to say there chaps?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Party beneath the highway

Middle of the city, open space, what else are you going to do with it?
Whilst scootering to the city center passed under the elevated highway between Kamimaezu and Sakae. There's usually someone doing something there; skateboarders, hip-hop dance practice,
band practice. It's open space, and you don't have to rent it.

This time it was the combined musical talent of three of Nagoya's universities who had rented a sound system and support staff to hold a one day event. Each band got to play one song.
The guy on the left is engrossed in the lead of a cover of The Eagles 'Hotel California', other bands played their own origional tracks. The range was astounding, the ability high, and the ocassional guitar smashing was most entertaining.

The Entire event lasted about four and a half hours, after which the musicians/audience gave a mass thank you to the sound support team, and then spent the next hour packing gear away and cleaning up after themselves.