my recent reads..

Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters; From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima
Power Sources and Supplies: World Class Designs
Red Storm Rising
Locked On
Analog Circuits Cookbook
The Teeth Of The Tiger
Sharpe's Gold
Without Remorse
Practical Oscillator Handbook
Red Rabbit

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tsukiji Market

Spoiler alert: not advised reading for those who can't stomach the idea of "real" food!

10th July 2010: Up at 6am to sleepily jump on the train to the Tsukiji Fish Market, only a few stops and a short walk away.

I knew we were going in the right direction because of all the old men with wellington boots and wicker baskets.

Although we didn't arrive in time for the auctions, there was still fearsome activity underfoot, and a seemingly infinite selection of seafood fresh from the boat.

The prize catch is of course the tuna. A fish may have lost it's life, but there's something terrific yet beautiful in the way it it is treated with such reverence.

The true pleasure in visiting the market comes afterwards ... finding a nearby sushi restaurant to enjoy the morning's catch in the best way possible.

The Chutoro was divine as could be expected, but the real surprise was the Kampachi which absolutely knocked my tastebuds out of the ballpark. And even weeks later the thought of the Uni+Ikura sushi immediately makes my mouth water in anticipation of the salty creaminess!

Which leaves me with only one question: is the princely ahi and maguro tuna in ANY way related to the sad excuse for nutritious cardboard that ends up in tins on the supermarket shelves?

Blogarhythm: Fresh - The Lost Fingers

NB: I am retro-blogging Tokyo which is why this post is a little delayed

Monday, July 19, 2010

三鷹の森 ジブリ美術館 Ghibli Museum, Mitaka

9th July 2010: lazy morning before jumping on the train to Mitaka and from there a short walk through the suburban backstreets to the Ghibli Museum - the showcase for the work of Hayao Miyazaki and his スタジオジブリ - STUDIO GHIBLI.

I've always wanted to visit, but discovered on past trips that tickets are extremely hard to obtain! There are some international ticket agents, but most of us need to buy at a Lawson's outlet once in Japan. The problem is that unless you are in Japan for some time, the odds being able to get tickets at Lawson's are not good .. and you also need to struggle with a Japanese touch-screen system;-) Luckily, this trip I was able to get my Uncle to buy tickets in advance.

The museum is one of the very best I've ever visited. I absolutely recommend you put it on your itinerary when visiting Japan!

Whether you are a Miyazaki fan or not, this place can't fail to enthrall. The exhibits are fascinating, many using stroboscopic effects to produce live animation. All have clearly been designed, constructed, and maintained with loving care. This is not your typical two-blocks-of-wood-knocked-together-by-a-work-experience-student-and-probably-not-working-today kind of museum.

There are many hours to be enjoyably lost simply browsing the huge collection of paraphernalia from Miyazaki's life and work - sketches, paintings storyboards, models, research folios, books, books and more books.

Although Totoro is perhaps the most widely-known character created by STUDIO GHIBLI, I think Porco Rosso remains my favourite film of all. What's not to like in a movie about a seaplane-flying pig who fight's off air pirates and rediscovers his secret love?

Walking back to catch the train from Kichijōji turned out to be a good choice; found lots of places for a late lunch near the station. I must have had pigs on my mind, since we ended up at Tare-Katsu where they soak the katsu medallions in lovely brown sauce straight after frying. Yum! Note what they stamp on your loyalty card;-)

Blogarhythm for this post: War Pigs(Black Sabbath cover) - Faith No More from the album Real Thing

NB: I am retro-blogging Tokyo which is why this post is a little delayed

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Paragraph -節- Live Stage! House of Rocks Yotsuya

8th July 2010: First night in Tokyo and we took a chance on a random live stage to see what's up. Joe bargained our way in at a small basement stage in Yotsuya (House of Rocks - Outbreak!) but really had no idea what we would discover.

Turned out we stumbled upon the 国吉亜耶子and西川真吾Duo, and one of the most inspiring performances I've seen in a long time.

Ayako is an amazingly talented fruitcake of a piano player with unbelievably strong vocals that waver between haunting classical Japanese and Jagged Little Pill. Somewhere in the middle she evokes Wong Faye 王菲, and would possibly be as depressingly maudlin if it wasn't for Shingo laying down a solid groove on drums. Together they are a treat to see and hear.

The live performance is really LIVE, and they come over well on CD (Paragraph -節- is their latest), even if I do miss the quirkiness and humor of the live set. Like the poetic diatribes inbetween numbers that make you laugh even if you do not understand a word that is being said.

I don't know where you can buy their albums (the CD is mine!) and have no idea how to find them performing ... but look out for them, and if you do manage to catch them live, you won't regret it!

The Freeze by Phrase is a nice ohrwurm to get you started..

NB: I am retro-blogging Tokyo which is why this post is a little delayed

Yokoso Tokyo!

My Nexus One and the Japanese telcos had a 'lost in translation' syndrome over the past week, but I am back home now in Singapore with all the broadband that entails! I think I'll be retro-blogging for weeks to make up for the few fantastic days spent back in Tokyo. Big props to my uncle and his family who were great hosts and helped us make the most of a short trip..

After stumbling off the Airport Express bus and checking in early, what else to do but hunt down the lair of the famed Godzilla (ゴジラ, Gojira) near Ginza (銀座). She's HUGE! (No, that is sarcastic. Artistic camera angles are required)

Blogarythm for this post: Back in Black (Tokyo 1981)

See other posts in the Tokyo series:

Saturday, July 03, 2010

iPhone, smiPhone

Looks like DBS have decided that iPhone is now the official generic name for any kind of smart phone!

Click on their Win an iPhone ad and read the not-so-fine print (it's an HTC HD mini ;-)

iPod has arguably already attained genericized trademark status for any kind of MP3 device (taking the mantle from it's predecessor, the Walkman).

And it seems Main Street has long since given Apple another category winner with iPhone joining the likes of Escalator, Zipper, Butterscotch, and even Heroin(!)

Which can really piss off pedantic technologists and the people who have to sell the phones - as brilliantly captured in the iPhone vs HTC animations by the guy that Best Buy wants to fire.