Blog - August 2007 Archives
August 2007 Archives
.31 Fukushima #4: Tō no hetsuri
.30 Fukushima #3: Ōuchijuku
.29 Fukushima #2: Higashiyama-onsen, Tsurugajō
.29 Fukushima #1: Hibarako, Goshikinuma
.24 Haneda date
.19 X-COLOR legal wall at Mito station
.18 Canada 2007 #3: Toronto
.13 Pe Yangun vol.2: report
.05 Gallery Scene
.05 Asagaya Tanabata matsuri 2007
.03 Shinjuku 7pm
.02 Canada 2007 #2: Chromeo, oh-oh!
.02 All about Recohan
August 31, 2007
Fukushima #4: Tō no hetsuri
Next tourist stop was Tō no hetsuri (塔のへつり or 塔の岪, translates to "the tower's steep cliff" or something) in Shimogōmachi (下郷町).
This site consists of a tall cliff indeed, on which apparently 10 similarly shaped rocks can be seen. There's a suspension bridge to cross the river, and there you can walk into a concave part of the cliff where is located a shrine and an Elmo doll..!?
August 30, 2007
Fukushima #3: Ōuchijuku
Having just visited the castle, we were off to yet more historic sightseeing. Ōuchijuku (大内宿) is a small village nearby Aizu, where all houses of the main street have traditional kayabuki roofs. Most of these are shops of all kinds, with their front doors wide open. The people seemed very friendly too, and they'll happily talk your ear off about the village in their local accent.
There are canals on both sides of the street carrying cold and fresh water. Merchants selling drinks or fruits put their goods in it.
August 29, 2007
Fukushima #2: Higashiyama-onsen, Tsurugajō
After seeing the lakes, we headed to Aizu (会津) and by Higashiyama-onsen (東山温泉). We had lunch at a small restaurant named Yoshinoya (no, not that one) which seemed to only attract locals, while the rest of the area is quite touristy. I had some great sauce katsu-don (a meal most often served with egg on top, not sauce) for ¥850!
Then we went to the nearby free foot onsen which healed our feet for the rest of the day. The water was pretty hot though and I couldn't keep my feet in for very long.
Next, we headed for Tsuruga-jō (鶴ヶ城, aka Wakamatsu-jō or Aizu-wakamatsu-jō), a large castle with history back to the 14th century. However, it has been demolished a few times along the line, and the current castle is mostly from 1965. Inside the castle is a museum telling its history.
Fukushima #1: Hibarako, Goshikinuma
Last weekend we went to spent a night in Fukushima prefecture, and we did quite a bit of sight-seeing! I'll keep it short and let the photos speak.
After a quick stop at Hibara-ko (桧原湖), where some guy was trying to sell us a ride on his boat, we headed to Goshiki-numa (五色沼, translates to "Five-color ponds").
Goshiki-numa is, as the name says, a series of ponds where the water is said to be of five distinct colors. Some of the ponds are named after their color, like Aka-numa (赤沼, red), Ruri-numa (瑠璃沼, azure), Ao-numa (青沼, blue)... We took a short walk along Bishamon-numa (毘沙門沼), the largest of the ponds. There were small rowboats for rental, and as time passed there were more and more rowers on the lake.
August 24, 2007
Yesterday I had the day off and we went to Haneda airport. It was the first time I went to Haneda, and also the first time I went to an airport without any plan to take the plane (or to meet or say goodbye to someone).
With no interest in the large boards announcing the flights, and no hurry of having to check in and be at a certain place at a certain time, the airport felt more like a big mall with plenty of shops and restaurants of all kinds.
Ok, so the main reason to go there was to buy some JAL commemorative airline bags, which have started selling just this week and are limited to 1000 each! Each is inspired from a design of the 60's and uses the old JAL logo with the crane. I got both of them!
The red one has the same design as the two blue bags I had already (those two are real vintage, it seems), and the white one is same as the official JAL bag for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, though instead of the Olympics logo is the JAL logo on both sides.
So if you spot a white guy in the city with a JAL airline bag with the old logo, whether blue or red or white, it's probably me. :)
After securing the bags, we walked around the airport for a little bit of window-shopping, and then headed to the observatory (roof). There I was surprised to find a kids' playground like those sometimes found on the rooftops of department stores. Most of the rides looked quite aged, though the direct exposure to weather probably helps to that, and I took a bunch of photos.
Then we walked some more around the roof while watching a bunch of planes leave, at least one every 5 minutes.
August 19, 2007
X-COLOR legal wall at Mito station
On Friday while waiting for a bus at Mito station (Ibaraki prefecture), I took this panorama of the large legal wall located at the south exit. This was created by artists featured in the X-COLOR exhibition in 2005, which I had reported back then.
Writers: ESOW, KRESS, DICE, DEPAS, ROM, SUIKO, SASU, ICHI, KAMI, SKLAWL, NEIM, CASPER, PHIL, KRESS, MAKE, TABU, BUTOBASK (some of these artists' parts further the right have been removed since)
August 18, 2007
Canada 2007 #3: Toronto
Time to get back to summing up the Canada trip, it's been like a month! Now I just spent the week in the countryside, and my Kakuro addiction hasn't been helping my productivity.
Our short stay of 2 nights in Toronto was quite pleasant. We stayed at Gladstone Hotel all the way west on Queen West, the trendy art district where can be found several galleries and some interesting shops. A bit further east are a bunch of restaurants too, such as Terroni (720 Queen W) where we had some delicious pizza on the first night.
The Gladstone Hotel is unique in many ways, mainly being the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto, and also having one of the few remaining manual elevators in the city. This one operated by the proud Gladstone Cowboy, a friendly old man named Hank who recently debuted as a country singer (not surprisingly considering his looks).
The hotel was completely restored a few years ago and each room was designed by different designers. We occupied #411, "Offset" which has a concept of wooden "lines" that run through the ceiling and walls, and are part of the original bed frame and desk, with a bright white neon bar running around the room. By the way, there's even a room where the designers used an image of Hank for wallpaper (#414, "The walls are speaking").
The next day saw a lot of walking. In the morning we went down to St. Lawrence Market where we got some great cranberry and pumpkin seed bread at Stonemill Bakehouse, among other stuff. Then we walked down a bit to the east, past The Sun newspaper, to 55 Mill St. aka The Distillery District.
At this one address is an old district full of old industrial-style buildings, most of which now host galleries and cool shops of all kinds. There we checked out Soma Chocolate, a chocolate factory which makes some confectionary chocolate of many flavors and also sorbets. We found out while there that one chocolate maker is a Japanese girl.
After some tram and bus rides and some mall shopping at the Eaton Center, outside of which we got free smoothies part of a promotion, we got to Kensington Market where we had some jumbo empanadas at Jumbo Empanadas.
I didn't go up the CN Tower, but I did take some photos of it whenever it showed up in the landscape.
That night was the Chromeo show after which we headed right back to the hotel until our departure the next morning. It was a short but nice stay!
August 13, 2007
Pe Yangun vol.2: report
Tonight we dropped by CD shop Janis in Ochanomizu to check out the free indies music event Pe Yangun vol.2, in particular Hosaka Akane (MySpace) who played first. The live space was very small, with only 10 stools (plus some room to sit at the back), but still it felt very nice. There weren't many spectators so we could watch up close unobstructed.
Akane played 5 songs, most different than her set last time, performing on her Stylophone, a Korg MIDI controller and a Casio VL-TONE, plus her computer that streamed the backtracks. Hearing those happy melodies played live is delightful! :)
We also stayed to hear her. who played next, as I was intrigued after having heard the cute music on their MySpace. The unit of two girls, both singing while playing bass and guitar, played some quiet rock songs. They said that while their recorded music also have some beats, their live shows of late are bass and guitar only.
Then it was time for some curry at Ethiopia (where those who like it spicy can choose to have up to 70 times the spice, I went for 7 times which was just fine for me) before walking all the way to Shinjuku to help digestion.
August 5, 2007
We ended up especially liking JONJON GREEN's stuff. His works currently on display have a transparent acrylic board placed over a print, giving some interesting 3D effects. His music-themed works with lots of speakers are a lot of fun.
This was also accompanied by some graffiti watching. This wall nearby the record shop district has great works by KAMI and SASU. The last picture below is of Flying Fortress seen on Dōgenzaka.
And last but not least, check out this huge advertisement for a book, being painted on a wall outside Parco! While at a first look it may seem to be posters, it's completely hand-painted. I've heard before that theaters (play and cinema) in Japan used to always have their "posters" painted, and I think some still follow the tradition to this day.
Asagaya Tanabata matsuri 2007
Last night we went around for some matsuri action. First we dropped by a local matsuri where we had korean toppoki (dokboki? ddeogboggi?!), yakisoba, a [mexican] taco, and a grilled corn. It was still early evening and as we left the parade of dancers was just starting. Then we walked to Asagaya to check out the Tanabata matsuri, where each year most shops display huge hand-made decorations. There we had ika-dango from Chinese restaurant Kōya and takoyaki.
1, 2. Kitarō and Medama oyaji from "Gegege no Kitarō"
3. A meat shop famous for making meat on a bone that looks like it's out from a cartoon. If you've ever wanted that meat, this is the place!
4. Tanabata classic decorations
Asagaya's Tanabata matsuri is going on until August 8.
August 3, 2007
Shinjuku, as seen near the Kabuki-chō exit on Wednesday.
August 2, 2007
Canada 2007 #2: Chromeo, oh-oh!
Leaving Tokyo on July 10 to first spend 2 nights in Toronto and then head for my home town, I realized that it wouldn't be possible to catch Chromeo in Montreal on the 12th. But then I noticed that they would be playing in Toronto the night before... oh-oh!! I really didn't imagine we'd need pre-bought tickets to get in there, but I was glad that I had bought them online when I saw the long line of people waiting outside the Spin Gallery on that night. The show was sold out!
Opening was Fritz Helder & The Phantoms, newcomers who gave a kick ass show full of energy and retro kitschness. They were a perfect match for Chromeo. They haven't yet released anything, so meanwhile check out their MySpace!
Then there was some DJing by U.S. DJ team Flosstradamus. They played a mix of classics and new stuff, I remember there was some Daft Punk and Deee-Lite, and Kid Sister's "Control" that I love (produced by her kid brother J2K of Flosstradamus, out on A-Trak's new label Fool's Gold).
And then the two Chromeo guys got on stage and gave a great set with a lot of tracks from the new album "Fancy Footwork" and also some hits from "She's In Control". The set list went something like this:
Me and My Man / Tenderoni / Rage / Bonafied Lovin' / You're So Gangsta / Fancy Footwork / Momma's Boy / Mercury Tears / My Girl Is Calling Me (A Liar)
One of my favorite of the new tracks is My Girl Is Calling Me (A Liar), which ends with a hilarious part where Dave A calls P-Thugg on the phone for some advice. I'm really glad it was part of the show. One of the best moments was during the song Momma's Boy, one of the album's most quiet tracks and certainly the one with the cheesiest lyrics. Nevermind that it's not quite a party track, the audience was dancing and cheering like crazy, and at some point P looked up to Dave with a huge satisfied grin that looked like "can't believe we could even make them dance on that, man!". Loved the complicity!
After Chromeo, the party went on with more DJing, but it was so hot in there that it was enough. I bought a cool T-shirt and we walked back to the hotel.
All about Recohan
東京レコハン～渋谷系セレクト (Japanese, "Tokyo Recohan ~ a Shibuya-kei selection")
For those who can't read Japanese, and won't torture themselves with some Babelfish non-sense, here's my own translation of the interview that was conducted in Japanese.
Tokyo Recohan ~ a Shibuya-kei selection
Guide: Shikata Hiroaki
The 3rd installment of the record shop series is Tokyo Recohan (Tokyo Record Hunting Service), an online shop ran by a French-Canadian. Record hunter Patrick's interest for Shibuya-kei (and then some) is reflected in the selection of used Japanese CDs. I have asked him to tell me about his shop, the Japanese music scene, and Canada.
August 1, 2007
Today is Hozumi, that's a way "August 1st" can be read in Japanese, although it's not common and probably not everyone knows that. There are several days of the year like that which have one or more special readings. Here are the ones that I could find.
April 1 = Watanuki, Tsubomi
May 1 = Satsuki, Ao
May 7 = Tsuyuiri
June 1 = Urihari, Murihari, Kusaka
August 1 = Hozumi, Hosomi, Hosomichi, Hotsumu, Hassaku, Yafumi
August 25 = Nakaaki, Akinaka
August 31 = Hatsumi, Hozunomiya
November 29 = Tsumezume
December 1 = Shiwasuda
December 31 = Hizume
Hozumi is my birthday. :)