Blog - December 2003 Archives

December 2003 Archives


Japan .31 Goodbye Year of the Sheep!
Cinema .30 Panda Kopanda
Other .29 Vacation!
Tokyo .27 Tokyo Millenario
Music .25 이박사 (E-Pak-Sa)
Other .25 Merry Christmas!
Japan Nakano Tokyo .24 After Hours Postal Service Counter
Food Tokyo .24 dish/Organic Cafe
Other .21 Glasses
Music Music .16 Kahimi Karie and early Christmas
Japan .16 Dropped apple
Cinema Music .14 Sob-a-mbient Super Deluxe
Cinema .14 Totoro
Other .10 Asia Weblog Awards 2003
Japan .09 Mikey's Cafe
Japan .07 Level X
Cinema Tokyo .04 Monsters invasion at HMV
Cinema .03 Godzilla × Mothra × MechaGodzilla
Cinema Music Other .03 Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Music .02 Music Related 7"

December 31, 2003

Japan Goodbye Year of the Sheep!

The Year of the Sheep is about to end, leaving place to the Monkey. Earlier we had toshikoshi soba (end of the year soba), as it is the tradition.

toshikoshi soba

"Buckwheat noodles are very long and thin, which has led to the belief that if one eats these noodles they will have a long and prosperous life." (Source: Ajinomoto)

In a few hours, we'll be off to the shrine to start off the new year the Japanese way!

Posted on December 31, 2003 at 22:12 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

December 30, 2003

Cinema Panda Kopanda

Panda KopandaIn my preparation to go to the Ghibli Museum next week, I've watched another film tonight!
I actually was going to rent Nausicaä, per Antonin's recommendation, but all 3 DVD copies were rented out. Better luck tomorrow, hopefully. :)

So I picked Panda Kopanda (パンダコパンダ) (1972-73). The DVD contains two short films, telling the story of a little girl, called Mimiko, who lives with her grandmother.
When her grandmother is absent on a trip for the first time, Mimi-chan is left the house to herself, and two pandas (Papanda (papa panda) and Kopanda (child panda)) show up from nowhere (actually having escaped from a zoo) and they decide to all live together in the large house. This was quite funny!

An interesting fact is that the characters from these films later inspired ones in later works. Mimiko became Heidi, and Papanda became Totoro!

Something else cool about it is that the theme song is sung by MIZUMORI Ado!

Posted on December 30, 2003 at 01:13 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (3) | Tweet |

December 29, 2003

Other Vacation!

Today was my last work day of the year, and now I'm on vacation for a week!
It was a pain to work everyday through Christmas and I was longing for this break. Now I can finally relax a bit through the new year.

Also, my E-Pak-Sa CDs should be arriving tonight, so I'll have new pon-chak to listen to!

Posted on December 29, 2003 at 19:41 | Permalink | Comments (5) | Tweet |

December 27, 2003

Tokyo Tokyo Millenario

Today we were out in Ginza, mainly to catch a movie (Jim Sheridan's "In America") and check out the recently opened Apple Store.

Tonight we went to see Tokyo Millenario, the large end-of-year street illumination, located between Yūrakuchō and Tokyo stations.
It was quite crowded, the worse being all the over-excited obasan fighting their way ahead of everyone. We left the crowd after walking about half of the corridor, having had enough.
It looked pretty nice nevertheless!

Tokyo MillenarioTokyo MillenarioThe crowdTokyo MillenarioTokyo Millenario
Click the thumbnails for larger images.

Posted on December 27, 2003 at 23:08 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (0) | Tweet |

December 25, 2003

Music 이박사 (E-Pak-Sa)

E-Pak-Sa "EPAKSA 003"I just ordered 3 E-Pak-Sa CDs from the Korean online CD shop SoundSpace in Tokyo, including the new album called "EPAKSA 003" which just came out last month!

E-Pak-Sa is a pon-chak singer, pon-chak being a Korean music genre that's a cross between cheap synth pop and traditional vocals. He says that anyone with a cheap keyboard and a mic can do pon-chak. :)

E-Pak-Sa had a small hit in Japan when introduced by Denki Groove in the mid-90's.

Posted on December 25, 2003 at 15:07 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (1) | Tweet |

Other Merry Christmas!

It's now Christmas here! We had a beautiful dinner and way more cake we could manage to eat, and plenty of gifts!

I will probably be seeing Godzilla × Mothra × MechaGodzilla tomorrow night (I managed to drag my girlfriend's sister Yuko there by giving her a pair of tickets!), and on January 5 we will be going to the Ghibli Museum! I also got Godiva chocolates and much wanted velcro straps to keep my pants from getting caught when riding my bicycle.

Our Christmas dinnerChristmas cake #1, kirsh torte from DemelChristmas cake #2, chestnut and caramel from Kihachi, thanks Yuko!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas!!

Posted on December 25, 2003 at 00:22 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (4) | Tweet |

December 24, 2003

Japan Nakano Tokyo After Hours Postal Service Counter

Some people who I've told that my local post office is open 24 hours have trouble believing me. So here are some pictures to prove it. :)

Some large post offices in Tokyo are open 24 hours. Nakano post office actually has an "After Hours Postal Service Counter", open when the main post office area is closed.

Busy Sunday afternoonOpening hours: Weekdays 0-9/19-24, Saturdays 0-9/17-24, Sundays/Holidays 0-9/12:30-24When the clerk isn't around, wake him up!

From left to right:

Posted on December 24, 2003 at 19:43 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (4) | Tweet |

Food Tokyo dish/Organic Cafe

dish/organic cafeLast Sunday we went to check out dish/Organic Cafe in Yoyogi-Uehara. It's a follow-up to Nakameguro's popular Organic Cafe, though it's a bit more tame (no Chappie greeting you at the entrance, no colorful early-FPM-ish artwork) and less crowded, perhaps because of the odd location.

The menu is different from Organic Cafe's, and mostly focuses on pies of all kinds. Their slogan is actually "the pie that changed my life". I tried the "F Cooke cheese", a nice meat pie with cheese, with plenty of mashed potatoes. It was delicious!

I was wondering who F Cooke is, and after a bit of googling I realized that it must be a reference to a London restaurant called F. Cooke's Pie And Mash.

dish/organic cafe
1-33-16 Ōtsuka bldg 2F, Uehara, Shibuya-ku
Near Yoyogi-Uehara station (Odakyū line)

Posted on December 24, 2003 at 15:24 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (3) | Tweet |

December 21, 2003

Other Glasses

Today I bought my first glasses, not to wear all the time, but rather mostly for when watching TV and movies.

I have relatively slight myopia, but for a while it had been at a point where I can't read subtitles comfortably and it was annoying me. It was now about time for me to do something about it!

No picture yet. :)

Posted on December 21, 2003 at 01:10 | Permalink | Comments (10) | Tweet |

December 16, 2003

Music Music Kahimi Karie and early Christmas

Kahimi Karie original wrapping paperToday I received in the mail this original wrapping paper designed by Kahimi Karie!
It was a giveaway by Parco Shibuya, in a promotion for their wrapping paper that you can design by yourself.

By the way, Kahimi Karie sings Marilyn Monroe's "I Wanna Be Loved By You" (from the movie Some Like It Hot) on a new TV commercial for Mister Donut, advertising their new nikuman. You can see the 15 second commercial here.

It's a bit like early Christmas already, since I've received some gifts from my friends Erik and Larry!
Early this month we received chocolate from Erik (who we met in September in Amsterdam) for Sinterklaas, the birthday of St. Nicholas, celebrated on December 5th. And now I've just received more Geisha chocolate from Larry in Sweden!

Also, yesterday I pre-ordered our Christmas cake at Demel located in Takashimaya Shinjuku. It's a black forest cake, my favorite!
I just can't get enough. :)

Posted on December 16, 2003 at 22:19 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (0) | Tweet |

Japan Dropped apple

Today a crow dropped this big apple piece on our porch!

Posted on December 16, 2003 at 00:30 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (5) | Tweet |

December 14, 2003

Cinema Music Sob-a-mbient Super Deluxe

男女7人蕎麦物語Last Friday I gave in and bought the new DVD+CD set "Sob-a-mbient Super Deluxe", even though I already had the included CD "Sob-a-mbient: Music for your Favorite Soba Shop", featuring songs by KONISHI Yasuharu, Yann TOMITA, TAKAGI Kan, SHINDŌ Mitsuo and many others.

The DVD's main feature is a new short film by SHINDŌ Mitsuo (CTPP), called 男女7人蕎麦物語 (roughly translates to "soba story of 7 men and women"). The film is quite funny, featuring KISHINO Yūichi in the role of the moustached widow, YOKOYAMA Ken (Crazy Ken Band) in the role of a gangster, and also features Aoi Heya's owner TOGAWA Masako who appears out of nowhere to sing "La vie en rose".

The action takes place in a soba shop where clients are impatiently waiting for their soba. Links between the people who don't know each other are drawn using double-sense words and swift camera movement from a table to another.
We get a peek of the clients' love stories: an upset girl waiting for her married yakuza lover who keeps coming up with new excuses for being late, a widow with a prominent moustache hitting on a student, and a manager trying to get familiar with a campaign girl depressed about having to wear a bikini at work everyday. The 7th person is a guy reading a book in a corner.
The soundtrack consists of songs from the Sob-a-mbient album.

The DVD also contains a video clip for the KONISHI Yasuharu song "chirinuru o", and making of's for this video clip and the SHINDŌ Mitsuo film, and also a long outtake of the actors eating soba on the film's set.

Posted on December 14, 2003 at 14:45 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (5) | Tweet |

Cinema Totoro

Satsuki, Mei and TotoroWell I've been in Japan for over 3 years now and even though I like anime a lot, I hadn't yet seen the classic My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ).
Finally I rented it tonight, and it was great!

Don't wait as long as I did before seeing it. You can even get it for cheap at Amazon.

I still have a bunch of Studio Ghibli movies to see, since the only other ones I have seen are Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫) and Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し).

Posted on December 14, 2003 at 00:57 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

December 10, 2003

Other Asia Weblog Awards 2003

Asia Weblog AwardsYesterday, William told me that I've been nominated for the Asia Weblog Awards in the Best Newcomer in 2003 category.
If you have a few minutes and haven't yet voted in that category, please vote for me! :)

Also make sure you check out the Best Japanese Blog category where many of my favorite blogs are fighting their way to the top!
William's blog Robot Action Boy is also making it's way up nicely in the Best Taiwanese Blog category!

Posted on December 10, 2003 at 07:37 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (6) | Tweet |

December 9, 2003

Japan Mikey's Cafe

Mikey's CafeTonight we went to eat at Mikey's Cafe!
Mikey is the main character of a popular TV series, called Oh! Mikey, which consists of short episodes featuring an American family living in Japan, with the twist that all characters are manikins.

For 2 weeks Mikey's Cafe is serving the characters' favorite foods and drinks: Tony & Charles' tomato cheese cake, Time-kun's hot white chocolate drink, nande-kun's yogurt drink, and Tracy-sensei's "special" cocktails... just to name a few.

Mikey's CafeI had James & Barbara's dinner box, the priciest item on the menu at ¥2000(!), though it was a bit disappointing. It was like rather bad airplane food, but oh well... The thrill wasn't much for the food but mostly for the interior, featuring many characters from the show!

We were sitting just next to kawaii Emily-chan! I was a bit intimidated that she kept staring at me the whole time I was eating.

Now here's all of the cast!

Emily-chanLola-chanBarbaraTracy-sensei & JamesBrown-niisanTony?Charles?Time-kunnande-kunMikey's Cafe
Click the thumbnails for larger images.

Above: Emily-chan (Mikey's girlfriend), Lola-chan (Mikey's naughty cousin), Barbara (Mikey's mom), James (Mikey's dad) with Tracy-sensei (Mikey's private teacher), Brown-niisan (Emily's brother), twins Tony and Charles, Time-kun (with Mikey in the background) and nande-kun.

Until December 13 at Foret Harajuku (next to LaForet).

Posted on December 9, 2003 at 23:41 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

December 7, 2003

Japan Level X

Level X posterYesterday we went to Level X, an exhibition of vintage video games at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu.

Most of the exhibition consisted of old game cartridges, mostly Famicom (the Japanese equivalent to Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)), and also game consoles of all makers from the 70's and 80's, a lot I had never seen. All consoles had an explanatory card saying their name, maker, year, and original price. I was surprised at how some were expensive (up to about ¥45000 for a console!), and how some were reasonable (like the Gameboy at about ¥3500).
Also I was surprised at seeing an old, huge and ugly Sega Game Gear, about twice the size of the Gameboy.

Some of the coolest things exhibited were original sketches of Mario and Donkey Kong (see picture below)!

There were also dozens of console/monitor sets where people could play nostalgic games. However most were busy and some even had lineups so I didn't get to play any.

Entrance is only ¥250, and the exhibition is open until February 8, 2004.

Original sketches of MarioThe gamesThe gamersINAGAKI Mario in Shibuya
Click the thumbnails for larger images.

The last picture, of "INAGAKI Mario", was taken just a little while later in Shibuya. Mario was recently impersonated by SMAP's INAGAKI Gorō in a TV commercial.

Posted on December 7, 2003 at 11:40 | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tweet |

December 4, 2003

Cinema Tokyo Monsters invasion at HMV

LeavesToday I passed by HMV Shinjuku South (at Takashimaya), and they had this big installation of Godzilla, Mothra and MechaGodzilla. :)

Also today I bought the ¥500 promo DVD they sell at the combini. It has a music clip of Mothra's theme, sung by the Small Beauties. This time it's in a bit more of a pop-ish version. The DVD also contains comments from actors and the director, and also a bunch of previews. It was worth its price!

I'm not yet sure whether I'll go see the movie at the theatre, but I'd like to!

Posted on December 4, 2003 at 23:26 | Permalink | Comments (12) | Tweet |

December 3, 2003

Cinema Godzilla × Mothra × MechaGodzilla

20031203godzilla.jpgThere's a new Godzilla movie called "Godzilla × Mothra × MechaGodzilla — Tokyo SOS", probably featuring all three monsters rampaging Tokyo!

The movie does feature the Small Beauties (小美人) from the original Mothra movie, but this time they're not played by The Peanuts.

At the combini they're selling a preview DVD including a making of and other stuff for 500yen. I may have to give in and check it out. :)

Posted on December 3, 2003 at 14:50 | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tweet |

Cinema Music Other Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

This week I'm trying to go to work a bit earlier.
For over a year I've been starting around 10:00 and sometimes a bit later, and I'm trying to get back to my old habit of starting around 9:00. That way I can finish one hour earlier and enjoy the evening a bit more. This morning I started at 9:20!
However until I get used to it I feel a bit tired.

This entry's title actually refers to Daft Punk. Yesterday I bought the Interstella 5555 DVD! I had seen the movie at the theatre in August and am looking forward to seeing it again!
I did a little mistake though and picked up the French international edition. I'm going back to the store tonight to get the Japanese edition instead, which is only 500yen more and includes bonus features.

Posted on December 3, 2003 at 14:21 | Permalink | Comments (6) | Tweet |

December 2, 2003

Music Music Related 7"

ml-011Today I received my copy of the MacDonald Duck Eclair and Micro Mach Machine split 7" out on the new U.S. label Music Related.
This is the first U.S. release for these two Japanese indie bands from Usagi-chang Records' circle of friends.

The 7" has an impressive design. First of all it's on bright orange vinyl, and comes in a transparent vinyl sleeve that completes the artist and song names when matched with the 7"'s label. The real thing looks even better than the image here!
Most impressive is the price: $3USD! (for pre-orders anyway), and the fact that it contains no less than 5 songs!

As for the music, it's just great! "Power electro-pop"? If you aren't yet familiar with this trend of the Japanese indie scene, check out Usagi-chang Records' Web site for sound samples.

Posted on December 2, 2003 at 22:53 | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tweet |

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