Thursday, July 23, 2009


A couple of weeks ago now, I think, we went to Tokyo and Yokohama for a couple of days to do some shopping and see a concert. First stop was Tokyo and we went to Ginza to pick up Mami for the concert, after she finished uni. It was a hot day and, such are my requirements, we had to stop at a coffee shop every hour to drink and replenish bodily energy. Unfortunately, Ginza is the high-class shopping district of Tokyo, and we just couldn't seem to find a regular place like Starbucks. In the end we bit the bullet and went to a fancy place - though I assure you this was in name and cost only, the service was hilariously wooden and the tea nothing special. I was pleased to have a chance to order camomile tea, however, with honey and bourgeois sand-timer.

And despite my curse, I was served first! The ladies had to look grumpy as I played with the tea set...

After footing a 4500 yen bill for tea and cakes (and subsequently finding a Doutor, regular coffee shop, around the corner), we made our way to a small art gallery where Kiyo had some T-shirts she designed and made on display, along with others by students at her fashion design college. Kiyo had died her T-shirts, with tea, I believe, so literally Tea shirts, and printed some bagel patterns on them. They looked pretty stylish and cute I thought, and the manager of the gallery said they had had some good interest. Thinking about it now, I should have tried to see if they smelt of tea.

Saying goodbye to Kiyo, we popped on the subway to Yokohama and what has become our hotel of choice in these parts, the Royal Park hotel in the Landmark Tower.

They look more cheerful here in the luxury of a 62nd floor room.

The view from the window.

But no rest for the wicked, we left almost straight away and met up with Meg at a small amusement park near the hotel. We went on a rollercoaster, and a crazy small coaster where the car moves and a water flume (is that even a word or did I just imagine it?)... it was great to get my head out of my book, which incidentally got wet on the water ride. Books are, by the way, a necessity when going shopping with more than one lady - if just one lady then you have to give full attention lest you want to start an argument in the shop.

After that we went to the concert. It was held next to what is called the "Red brick warehouse" on the dockfront in Yokohama. This place was traditionally a storage area for western traders coming to Japan, and this year celebrates its 150th anniversary, to which the concert was loosely associated I believe. The artist performing was Kimura Kaela, who is half British half Japanese, and is quite popular in Japan for cute, quirky pop-rock. The area of the concert itself was imaginatively called "Kaela-land" and various places corresponded with parts of Kaela herself. Here are the ladies standing in front of Kaela's mouth (in Japanese "entrance" is "iriguchi" which literally means "enter-mouth").

The concert was pretty good, went for about three hours (long) but she sung all her best stuff (unlike the disappointing Mogwai concert where they changed all the songs to make them boring... grrrr). This is one of her songs I like the best...

After the concert, having been up since 5am and travelling all day we were exhausted and ambled back to the hotel saying goodbye to Meg.

Finally, Nami had booked a table at the Skylounge on the 70th floor for 11pm, so we went up for a drink. I had a glass of whiskey that cost 2000 yen, and bought a bottle for the same price the following week. Sigh!
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hula Hoop

Today was Hula day again! After staying up 'til 4am watching Battlestar Galactica and drinking sherry and whiskey (everyone drinks on that show), I wasn't feeling tip top, but made it out of bed, walked to the station, went to Shimizu and caught a taxi to the Marine Park just in time to watch the Nami's dancing. To the bottom of the picture you can see hula-girl, a daughter of one of the dancers who, with much encouragement from her family from the sidelines, tried to copy some of the moves. I think Nami is getting better, more relaxed when dancing and kind of smiles rather than looking like a deer in the headlights.

The temperature display outside city hall reckoned it was 36C today. And Nami ordered a bread-making machine. And we booked a holiday to Guam in December.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Stairway Hobo

Walking up the steps to the apartment a couple of weeks ago I raised my head from its usual lolling, staring at the floor position and jumped when I saw a bird on the 2nd floor windowsill. It didn't move, and appeared to be sleeping, so got my camera and quietly tried to take a picture with no flash...

The next morning, hanging around the apartment before work, I could hear a continuous tweeting from the poor chap. He had flown up to the third floor, my apartment's floor, and seemed to be trying to attract avian family attention. I really didn't know what to do, here! I remember trying to get a bird out of the house when I was young, and it was chaos. So I ruled out trying to herd him down three flights of stairs. But I was equally concerned that with all the tweeting he might dehydrate, anyone know how long birds can last without water? So I filled a small plate with water from the cooler, and slowly put it on the sill near him.

I don't know if that helped, but after another couple of hours the tweeting got louder as another bird arrived, and 30 minutes later they were gone. Before he left though, very politely, he flew up the the railings in front of the apartment door, tweeted a loud "thanks buddy!" and defecated on the floor.
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