Friday, July 24, 2009

The Great Wave at Kanagawa

This woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai, from A Series of 36 views of Mount Fuji, is one of the most popular, most frequently reproduced works I've seen since moving to Japan a year and a half ago. I mean, this thing is on mouse pads and magnets, coasters, notebooks, T-shirts ... name it, it's on there. And yet despite the overexposure, I still like it. And then today I go to see my eye doctor in Manhattan (the kids and I are in the U.S. for most of the summer) and there's a framed print of it hanging up in the waiting room, with a caption that reads, "Department of Far Eastern Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The damned thing has been here in the home city all along! And so now I must go see it. The boys are due for another visit with the arms and armor anyhow...

Monday, July 20, 2009

in trees

Terry's Forest Adventure, zip-lining in the woods near Sai-ko (Lake Sai is one of five lakes around the northern foot of Mt. Fuji)

Terry's the one in the red cap, gray shirt and tan shorts. He's got two friends with him-- Rory (in hot pink -- so hot) and James (in the black tee). Three summer bachelors, left behind while the wife and kids holiday back in the home country.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

for day trippers

Here's a worthwhile day trip from Tokyo: Kawagoe, a suburb in Saitama prefecture about a half hour from Ikebukuro on the Tobu Tojo line. An old Edo castle town, its main draw today is the downtown shopping street lined with old kurazukuri (warehouse style) buildings, protected through the ages by their fire-proof walls.

There's a bell tower

And on the grounds of the local temple complex, Kita-in, there's a cool collection of
Rakan statues, 540 disciples of Buddha carved in stone.

(my sister-in-law Sarah)

Unlike the virtually identical Jizo statues at the Hase temple in Kamakura -- worth seeing in its own right -- each Rakan has its own look, pose and expression.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

pole vault

Today a big black crow landed on the rope of utility lines that extends just beyond our balcony wall, hopped up onto one of the transformers and then took off.

The boys and I fly to New York tomorrow.

think of the children

poster spotted in Kamagoe

"we buy used gear"

store in Kamagoe

Tokyo, vending machine drink capital of the world!

new favorite (that tastes a lot like many other sweet and citrusy sparkling sodas we've had here -- it's all about the packaging): "Zooce"

happy birthday Terry

It's not a party 'til the cops come

scented toilet paper

Tokyo metro

Took this with my iphone camera about 1 pm, Wed., July 8, on the Nanboku line from Meguro to Azabujuban. From left: young man taking a nap; stylish dude primping with hand mirror; salaryman reading a courteously folded newspaper; another guy reading a paperback with brown paper cover (bookstore cashiers will cover your books upon request); two schoolgirls in uniform having a quiet chat; man in a suit.

This shot below is better, but now the primper has put away his mirror. Guess he needed both hands.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lion Bus!

Love the Tama zoo...

Hunks of raw meat are hooked to the side of the bus, right next to the window, guaranteeing a close encounter with at least one big cat during the 10-minute tour

field trip

Yesterday we spent the day with friends at the Tama zoo. First stop: Insectarium.

Giant bush cricket

Cavern Club in Roppongi

My brother loves the Beatles, so when he flew over with his family from New York earlier this month, we took him and his wife to see the next best thing: a Japanese tribute band! These guys killed Ticket to Ride, Yesterday and She Loves You, among others (click the titles to see video). They did both our requests -- Help! and Helter Skelter -- really well too. Cavern Club is a nice space. Dancing is forbidden, but you are allowed to clap along with the music, as long as you stay seated at your table.

summer style watch

June-July 2009
Shibuya crossing

Omotesando crossing

on the metro to Azabujuban

on the JR train to Kaminoge (that's Dylan on the DS)

Takeshita dori at Meiji dori, Harajuku

Takeshita dori, Harajuku

Takeshita dori, Harajuku

Takeshita dori, Harajuku

outside Harajuku station

Tamagotchi doughnut shop, Harajuku

Kabukicho, Shinjuku


Shibuya station, Hachiko entrance


outside Bic Camera in Dogenzaka

Starbucks, Meguro JR station
(man in white linen blazer + sunglasses = ... )

Ameyoko market street, Ueno


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Men With Hats

The Edo-Tokyo museum in Ryogoku is loaded with miniature models of old-Edo style buildings and street scenes including this festival parade, featuring a pack of Shinto priests. Took both visiting families there last month and it was a two-time winner.


A video clip worth seeing (and hearing): my 3-year-old niece Clare, window-shopping on Omotesando street one Friday morning when I had her all to myself.

Click here to view.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


We love this restaurant Kaikaya, located in Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku -- very close to the Shinsen stop on the Keio-Inokashira line (or a 10-minute walk from Shibuya station). The last time Terry and I ate there we were with Pat's family, visiting from California. We arrived after having spent the day in Kichijoji --a suburb 20 minutes west of town, also on the Inokashira line, so it was basically on our way home. (Brilliant planning on our part!) As usual, the sashimi, fish carpaccio and tuna jaw were all excellent. Photos by Patrick:
'No Fish- No Life'!Sake

Oh, and Leo-sama is also a fan