May 2009

Via Japan Probe:

Japanese singer Hikaru Utada (one of my favorites) is canceling her US tour due to illness:

Singer Hikaru Utada, who is in the United States to promote her new album, has announced on her site that she must cancel upcoming appearances due to illness:

While on a Shinkansen I wanted to record exactly what it felt like. They ride so amazingly smooth. It feels just like what you are feeling right now, sitting in your chair and watching this video of the countryside float by. A car has more bump and vibration than a bullet train. 

There is a big controversy going on in Japan over building a new bullet train route from Tokyo to Nagoya. The desire is to build a Maglev train for even greater speeds. However since the French TGV reached its record speed there are a lot of people balking at the expense of building a new maglev train when it seems that older technology (steel wheels on rails) is not at the top of its capabilities.
To record this I simply set my camera on the ledge of the window and pressed the button. So smooth the camera never shakes or bounces.

Sorry for not posting lately, will make it up to everyone  though with a huge amount of photos and videos from Japan.  Over 580 photos and videos on my camera cards.  

Aggghhh, I looked up directions in Google maps to get from one place in Tokyo to another and all that kanji  broke my brain. I wish there was more hiragana in use for the names of the trains and stations. I am afraid of missing a station and getting all fouled up in Tokyo. I have barely begun to decipher kanji. This video helped me a lot in deciphering what was going on. Thank you IES and YouTube uploader … (gotta love the GIJoe reference he throws in at the end  ^_^)

(I also love this time lapse video of riding the Yamanote loop in Tokyo, thanks to J Train Freak on

oh ok, i got it now … thanks to this Wiki entry that explains the Odakyu-Odwara train line. I can even count the number of stops we would need to watch for. What did people ever do in the days before Wiki?

First up is a fun article from Nihon Sun about the 25 things that are must do while in Japan. Shane uses the communication power of Twitter to add to a unispiring list from Japan Times with very interesting results. Boarding the Yamanote line at 7:27 sounds likean invitation to a crushing death, Going to Sado Island for Earth day and seeing the KODO taiko troupe would be simply indescribable. Those are from the original Japan Times article, but the suggestions from the twitter responses add so much more:

@ajep would like to find a quiet suburban temple on New Year’s Eve & listen to the temple bells at midnight before hatsumode.  He also wants to watch sumo basho (tournament) from the front row

@JapanMike suggests seeing a Soran Bushi (traditional Japanese folk dance song and dance) performance live. He says “It’s one of the most awesome spectacles I’ve seen, especially when it’s on stage.”  View Soran Bushi on YouTube

@tokyotopia wants to go to the Nagano tree rolling festival – and hopes she won’t die doing it!

next up is 10 things NOT to do while in Japan. I know it would be hard to adjust to a squat toilet but I did not think the Emperor of Japan posed for photos. 

Number 4 –  Go for overly priced cocktails at The New York Bar overlooking the lights of Shinjuku in a lame attempt to recreate a scene from Lost in Translation.

no worries there, those scenes were my least favorite in that movie..

Number 2 –  Attempt to order a California roll at a sushi restaurant and wonder why the chef is giving them a funny look – it’s sushi after all isn’t it?

this kind of stuff mystifies me … why the hell would some go thousands of miles to eat McDonalds’ or the same kind of sushi they get at home? Yeesh …

This guy either had to much sake or pulled a double shift at work. Via TokyoMango:

John says:

I took this photo with my iPhone on the Hibiya line in Tokyo. I patted the guy on the back and said Naka-Meguro a few times (the station was coming up) but got absolutely no response.

Photo by John Kostiuk

Who is Maru? Maru Desu …

how long does it take for Maru to get the hang of getting into a box?

I keep working with chopsticks but my hand cramps up after a few minutes. Need to keep working at it …

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