Blog - March 2007 Archives
March 2007 Archives
.31 Usagi Race v. sakura
.30 Sakura #2: Shimura Shiroyama-kōen
.30 Fun night at Mixrooffice
.29 Sakura #1: Jōhoku-kōen
.25 I finally met Maki!
.12 NMEA to Gmaps Pedometer
.10 More windmill
.05 Totan Gallery and Asagaya-jūtaku
.02 Tennis madness
March 31, 2007
Usagi Race v. sakura
I made a sakura version of my profile image I use here and there (Mixi, Flickr, and now MySpace). It's still the same rabbit as before though. :) I cut & pasted bits of a sakura photo from today and tried to make them look like trees in the back.
Now here's bit of background about this curious rabbit...
Its name is "Usagi Race" and it's from the Usacolle Friends series (usa=usagi=rabbit, colle=collection).
I found it at a conbini three years ago, the box was dusty and without a price. Anyway I liked it, so I brought it to the counter and its barcode wasn't even registered in the system, proving that it was an old leftover item. The lady asked me "is 100yen ok?"... You bet! :)
Usagi Race is even the only rabbit with wheels in the series, definitely the coolest, so I think I was quite lucky!
(Shinkansen sold separately.)
March 30, 2007
Sakura #2: Shimura Shiroyama-kōen
Today's cherry blossoms are from Shimura Shiroyama-kōen (志村城山公園), in Itabashi-ku.
Fun night at Mixrooffice
A few days ago was friend Tomoe's birthday party, held at a small club in Shibuya named Mixrooffice (it's actually located in the basement of a regular office building) of which the owner is VJ Ukawa Naohiro! Even though I had to work the next day and would definitely miss the last train, I of course couldn't refuse such an invitation.
I had a good time watching the DJ sets by Tycoon To$h, Afra and Ani (Scha Dara Parr), and of course Tomoe's 4-song mini-live!
That's as much as I will say, but here are a few photos that will speak for themselves.
March 29, 2007
Sakura #1: Jōhoku-kōen
It's official, sakura season has began! Today I dropped quickly at Jōhoku-kōen (城北公園) (same starting point as last year) and took these few photos.
More to come!
For the better or the worse, I finally gave in and joined MySpace. My main purpose is to "bookmark" the MySpace pages of my friends and artists I like, as there are now too many of these and I've been losing track. At the same time I'll be able to read all of my "friends"' blogs aggregated in one place.
So those who have an account, feel free to add me. :)
Confirming the impression I had as an outside viewer, generally speaking, the usability of MySpace is a total disaster... The layout is confusing. "FAQ" and "Help" both link to the same place. I couldn't figure out what "subscribing to a blog" really means (will this send me an email every time? and how do I unsubscribe?) until I found the "Blog" page. It took me a while to figure out that "Home" goes to my account's page, not the MySpace home page... Just to name a few.
I guess I just have to get used to it like the billion of others.
March 26, 2007
While in Shibuya on Sunday, we went to check out the Obey Giant vs WK Interact "The East/West Propaganda Project" exhibition held at Tokyo Wonder Site (just across from Parco Part 2).
I've been a fan of the Obey Giant ever since I first saw a poster somewhere in the street, it reminded me of the film "They Live" where artist Shepard Fairey obviously got a lot of his inspiration. Recently I even rented that film out of nostalgia (it was still good, but the end sure is abrupt).
First we checked out the largest room where there are huge Obey and WK murals, and also smaller framed works.
In the next room were the pieces I think I liked the most. They were 12" record sleeves on which Shepard produced his high quality artwork. Unlike most of the rest of his stuff, these didn't look like propaganda but were rather music-related designs, like you could see on a record's center label, but in his own style. It looked vintage and just great!! I didn't take photos of these though (maybe next time I drop by).
In the central room were exhibited a few posters, and also the Agnès b. collaboration T-shirts... When I had seen these on the web I had thought "hmm, maybe I'd fork out ¥6000 for one of these", and I felt generous as I usually won't afford that much for a T-shirt. Well the ¥10000+ price tags were enough to make me forget about ever wanting one. Call it resistance.
Next to those though were very nice books of Shepard's works. There was a heavy one titled "Supply and Demand" that really felt like a keeper. On the back there was a price tag of about ¥10000 too, and this one didn't feel out of place. (Actually it can be found for ¥6000 on Amazon Japan or $37 on Amazon U.S.! I think I'm about to give in.) There was also a thinner one titled "Post No Bills".
Speaking of Obey goods, I recently had a look at the official online store where I found out about an original A-Trak mix CD available for only $10! Being an A-Trak fan, that's a steal. When trying to order it plus a set of badges, I found out that they'd charge me an evil $27 to ship to Japan, while regular air mail shipping should really be below $10. I had emailed and asked nicely but that didn't work...
Out of the gallery and back in the streets, we walked some more through Shibuya only to find more and more fresh Obey stickers everywhere. Here's a selection:
The Obey Giant vs WK Interact "The East/West Propaganda Project" exhibition is going on until April 22 in Shibuya, and is definitely worth checking out!
March 25, 2007
I finally met Maki!
Today I went to Shibuya for Nomiya Maki's book signing event! And sure enough, I finally got to meet her and shake her hand! :)
Her new book, "oshare ni ikiru Hint" (English title "50 Tips to Live in a Fashionable Way"), contains 50 short 2-page tips to be oshare. While definitely ladies-oriented, I'll try to give it a read and see what I can get out of it. :) In the center, there's also a small photo diary of her recent trip to Berlin to prepare her show "Joy". (For those reading her blog, the photo diary will feel a bit déjà-vu.)
By the way, I did go see "Joy" last Tuesday, and it was of course fantastic! I've been preparing a monster review/summary, expect it shortly.
March 12, 2007
NMEA to Gmaps Pedometer
Already being addicted to the great Gmaps Pedometer, a tool that lets you plot a route on Google Maps and tells you what distance it sums up to, I made this little script that converts the receiver's raw NMEA data (specs) into a Gmaps Pedometer URL.
There's probably plenty of software that shows you a GPS route on a map, but I love that Gmaps Pedometer lets you save and bookmark your route, and it doesn't even require to create an account.
March 10, 2007
Yesterday I went to take more photos of that windmill, its surrounding cherubs (they now had some decorations perhaps because of an upcoming matsuri), and some ducks in the nearby lake. The weather was a bit better than the other day.
This time, I used a Sony GPS-CS1 GPS receiver gadget (Amazon Japan, Amazon U.S.) that Paul lent me (thanks Paul!!) to trace my route and geotag the photos automatically. This thing is a lot of fun and I actually just ordered my own so that I can always be geotagging from now on. :)
Check the individual photo pages at Flickr to see where each photo was taken, or see all of my geotagged photos on a map!
Also, I found this sign along Kanpachi-dōri indicating the way to Yakushi no Izumi that I took photos of in December. Just don't expect another sign showing you where to take a left. :)
March 5, 2007
Totan Gallery and Asagaya-jūtaku
Yesterday we had beautiful weather, with temperatures around 18C, so we rode our bicycles to Asagaya. Our route included buying some bread at Bagel, buying some Japanese sweets at Usagi-ya (where the specialty is rabbit-shaped sweet red beans manju), and eating lunch at Indian/Nepalese restaurant Kumari (my shrimp curry was great!).
We then headed down to Totan Gallery (open in October 2006), located in building #25 of Asagaya-jūtaku, to check out an exhibition of works by Shimodaira Akinori. His colorful works portraying mostly animals covered all walls, ceilings and floors (there was even some paint on the tatami mats!).
The gallery felt very free, with all doors open and people walking in and out. We were offered some very nice tea too. Some local young girls were in and out playing, and they greeted me "Hello!" a few times. :)
The artist was also around, probably about to prepare for a live painting event at the end of the afternoon. We didn't stay until then though, but bought a badge and a postcard.
On our way out, the girls were back from a bicycle ride with some yakiimo, and one offered us pieces saying "I am yakiimo...? hmm.. You please yakiimo?" Hmm, 2 morceaux de robot for effort. :)
Asagaya-jūtaku is a quiet neighborhood that was built in the late 50s, and is set to all be destroyed at the end of 2007 to then be rebuilt. There's a lot of garden and park space among the 52 buildings which hold a total of 350 homes. Unfortunately, many of the buildings are in poor state and have already been shut, though near half of the homes remain occupied.
It's a bit frightening to think of what the place will become next. Will all of this be replaced by boring 6-floor apartments too close to each other like the rest of the city? Even if it might not make any sense economically, we definitely need more places like this, not less.
Visit while you can!
Asagaya-jūtaku: 4-3 Narita-higashi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Totan Gallery: Bldg #25, apt #4 (map)
Bonus karaoke (also in Minami-Asagaya).
On Saturday, we got out [relatively] early to go to the 10th Japan Media Arts Festival, held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu. Actually the first priority was to get tickets to the free screening of Komaneko. The film was to start at 12:05 but they gave away tickets at 10:00. We got there a bit too late, but fortunately our friend Sakiko had been there on time and grabbed tickets for us too!
Since we still had some time, we visited the 2nd and 3rd floors where was being shown all sort of artwork of different media (as the festival name says): photography, video, interactive works, etc. We saw the video for Cornelius' "Fit Song", a pika pika film by Tochka, and I got to test play Elebits for Wii, a game I had been quite curious about.
What got most of my interest was Nakae Masaaki's "Rocket" photography, in which he has fun planting huge rockets downtown Shinjuku and Shibuya and nearby temples. I would have gladly bought a photo book if only one was available commercially, but all I could get my hands on was a free postcard. I really hope his works will be published sometime soon!
Back to the theater we went to watch Komaneko, a stop-motion animation film that was shown in theaters starting in December. I had only heard about it when it was about to close though and I hadn't been able to see it. This free screening at the festival was just what I needed!
The 1-hour film starts with the 5-minute short titled "komaneko: hajime no ippo" that was shown at Cinema Rise Shibuya one minute at a time during 2004 (I had mentioned it back then). This can be seen online for free at Excite Cinema.
The rest of the movie contains several stories in 3D stop-motion (like the short film) and 2D stop-motion, with some animated interludes. My biggest surprise was that Komaneko meows...! In the short film it was quiet most of the time, but in the other stories it keeps going "nya nya!". I'm not sure whether I'd have preferred for it to really speak or maybe to stay quiet instead, but anyway!
All in all, it was all very cute and well done with lots of detail work!
Out of there, we headed for lunch at Café Le Lion, a French café/restaurant in Ebisu. I had a pork roast set for ¥1000, and it was well worth it! On the wall in front of me at the café was a poster of Théâtre Guignol, which struck me with childhood memories. I then remembered that I used to watch this stick-puppet show on TV when I was very young. I dream of seeing it live in Lyon someday!
Then doing some more walking shopping in Ebisu, a sign directed us to Market, a small indoor flea-market held at rental space MmMmFC that's just like an apartment. I bought some cookies from a girl who speaks French and teaches baking under the name tiroir.
Last, here's a Space Invader found near Daikanyama station.
March 2, 2007
Wow, I just ran into a really hilarious bug(?) at Wii Sports tennis!! I was playing on my own, with and against the computer.
It was me (パト 639pt) and Hiroshi (ひろし 0pt) VS Sera(?) pro (セラープロ 1900pt) and Tetsuaki pro (てつあきプロ 1900pt). Sera served a fast one that I hit pretty clumsily, sending it all the way into the audience. Booo.
It would have ended there, but would you believe that Sera ran and jumped over the fence into the audience... and hit my ball back! I hit it again (this time keeping it on the court), but Sera was still stuck squirming in the audience and couldn't get back to defend! Hahaha!!!
Of course I won the match! :) Now I'm at 711pt or something like that, getting closer to becoming pro (at 1000pt).
Update: I found this interesting list of all of the computer's players (Japanese) in order of skill. Sera is 2nd, Tetsuaki is 3rd. My loser of a teammate Hiroshi (ok, sometimes he tries) is 60th, the worst!
When looking at Flickr Map yesterday, I found this photo of a windmill, located in a park in an area where I sometimes go during lunch time. Needless to say, windmills aren't too common around here!
So today I went down there to have a look. It's located by a pond in a large park (Ukima-kōen in Ukima-Funado, Itabashi-ku), there were people around there eating their lunch and also fishing!
I was curious about why they'd put a windmill there, although it's probably just for decoration, but I couldn't find a historical plate telling about why and since when it's there. The signs on the windmill itself only appeared to tell about the people taking care of the flowers around it. The flowers sure weren't in too good condition, though perhaps it's because it's not yet the season. There were also some angel statues around the windmill, but most curious was the big digital clock on the front!
The weather was cloudy and it did contribute to make a few of these shots look good, but I'll probably be going there again soon on a sunny day to take more pictures.
March 1, 2007
A random construction shot from Ukima-Funado, Itabashi-ku (Tokyo).