a The Transit Lounge: October 2009

Back in the Day: I had a quarter life crisis, headed to Osaka, Japan for the unknown–only to discover that a passport plane ride are not necessarily a ticket to escape. Some Years Later: Settled back in Oz, the man of my dreams ended up in Tokyo for work–which is how a passport and plane ride showed me home is where the heart is. And Now: Well as luck would have it, we are about to embark on Japan Mark 3, with a baby in tow and another on the way...

Friday, October 30

Oh The Horror

This thing has been going off at Itoyokado for the last month...


Usually there are kids just standing around it, cacking themselves. I don't see the attraction.


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Thursday, October 29

Make Every Day Halloween

I knew the Meiji Shrine Dwellers would not disappoint with Halloween just around the corner...



Happy Halloween!

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Wednesday, October 28

Small Fry

This little Spiderman was rounding up the Kiddyland parade. He was not the least bit interested in anything but this empty bag and he decided the middle of an Omote-sando street was as good a place as any to plonk himself down and investigate properly.


I hate to say it but here goes: KAWAII NE!

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Tuesday, October 27

The Hounds of Hell

Thank you to Kiddyland for providing some Halloween Crazy with their annual Halloween parade on Sunday. I love this shop, they never fail to disappoint!

Dogs in Japan really cop it hard around Halloween. Many dog owners think that their pooch is purely an extension of themselves and their own costumes. Some of the pups were none too happy.






I wonder how many mutt-owners were admitted to emergency with dog bites after this parade?

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Monday, October 26

Halloween Happiness

In the lead up to one of Japan's most scared holidays, I thought I would pay homage to what is such a hallowed time in this country: Halloween. So all week I will be showing you what the city and its people are in turn showing me...

Saturday October 24, 10am: Cows n Stuff.

Clearly milking the attention for all it was worth!

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Saturday, October 24

Erubisu is Alive!

Yes Elvis is alive and well - and riding the Sennichimae Line in Osaka.

Those sun glasses have not done a very good job of disguising him.

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Thursday, October 22

Puppy Love

I was looking through some photographs I took of Tokyo when I visited my fiance here last October/November. This one was taken outside of the Studio Ghibli Museum (more on my SG visit another time, that was an effort and a half!). I swear I first thought this couple were proud parents holding their baby! Also take note that in Japan "taking the dog for a walk" does not necessarily mean the dog will actually walk.



I love his little jeans, though I wonder if he is toilet trained?

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Wednesday, October 21

5 Signs of Osaka

This is a shout out to Ian...


I recently wrote a post on the Top 15 ways to tell you are back in Osaka, so I guess you can look at this post as a photo-blog follow up. For me seeing these Osakan icons always makes me smile. Feels like home!



SU-PA TAMADE! SU-PA TAMADE! SU-PA TAMADE
Super Tamade, I salute you. Ahhh the thought of filling up your trolley for less than ¥5000 and shopping with the homeless. Just don't buy chicken from here. Guaranteed to be full of salmonella and have you vomiting for days.





The Running Man on Dotonbori needs no introduction.
Keeping an eye on the streets of Osaka's very own bladerunner set.



Don Quixote Ferris Wheel
Ahhh - the world's first oval ferris wheel, standing proudly atop of superstore Don Quixote. The ride is an interesting one. You can only face one way and just as you are about to see over the tops of the buildings you realise you are on your way down...



Cho Times in Da'Cho.
803/805 was once the centre of my world.



280. Plus tax.
Torikizoku, the izakaya where EVERYTHING is 280...plus tax. It was the only place that seemed to get cheaper the more you ate and drank. Many a birthday has been celebrated here, many a night has started here.

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Tuesday, October 20

たけしたのたけのこ

Takenoko on Takeshita Street in Harajuku is always pimping out their wares - or wears. It is best described as Glam 80s Rock meets Hostess Charm.



This place gets photographed a lot, but I have never actually seen anyone come out with a purchase. Although Halloween is around the corner and I will be back in Harajuku on Sunday...

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Monday, October 19

Pretty in Pink

Something caught my eye from from the view of my favourite coffee shop in Shibuya - Starbucks. I know, I know BUT it has the best view in Japan. It is not like I go there for the coffee. No it wasn't the Men's Egg ad, but rather the vision in pink.


Her pink bits were strewn everywhere. Even her phone was pink. I wonder what her bedroom looks like?

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Saturday, October 17

Ginza Girls

Ginza is one of my Must Sees in Tokyo and on the weekend, Ginza is even better. The main road is closed to traffic so you can wander around and about. It also means it is THE place to see and be seen. You never know what you will see out and about on the weekend in Ginza - aquariums, ice sculptures, pet monkeys being carried, pet rabbits being walked on leads, the world's tiniest dog...and dolls of course.






So girly and so pretty. That is Ginza. All we need now is a dollhouse!

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Friday, October 16

Football Fury

The Japanese never like to do anything by halves. And that includes watching their sport. Here we are at a J-League Football/Soccer match supporting our local Chiba team JEF United.


Now have a look at the footage...


From start to finish, the supporters are on their feet chanting, screaming, singing, dancing and moving. Even when a goal is scored (in our case only 1 and by the opposing team) the noise neither increases nor decreases....because it is set to crazy from the blow of the whistle so it makes no difference anyway!

By looking at how packed the stadium is and at how enthusiastic the supporters would you believe that our beloved JEF United is coming in at second last? And they still manage to pull an average crowd of 14,084 per game...seriously recommended viewing for anyone in Japan.

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Thursday, October 15

Happy Happy Joy Joy and More

Has been a stellar two weeks and I can't seem to wipe the smile off my face!

I got an internship at a magazine here in Tokyo which I started at this week, my Japanese lessons have been going well and I will interview Ewan Pearson tomorrow night and see him mix on Saturday night at the infamous London Calling. I am really enjoying getting back into the music writing - I forgot how much fun I had doing it. I tell you what researching with those kinda tunes playing in the background make it much harder to work because I have trouble NOT grooving away.

The internship could not have come at a more appropriate time. In the past I have not been able to take one on due to circumstance. I saw the ad for this one and thought "How could I not apply?" The job description was me all over. By the time the interview was over, I had the role. It fits in well with my schedule - as in I can work around my hours around my fiance and his days off.

Everything is coming together nicely. Time to get back to my interview questions...

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Wednesday, October 14

Go-Go-Gadget Go!

Some specials of the day from the Go Kart Exhibition in Odaiba.


1. Enter The Dragon


2. Takoyaki Madness



3. The Attack of the Giant Squid



4. Waste Not Want Not


5. Butaman Heaven


Would have loved to have seem them actually move!

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Monday, October 12

The Guts and The Glory

My fiance came across a Go Kart exhibition in Odaiba yesterday. Everyone was out and about. And some people were just hanging out...


I would love to know what this guy was texting about on his mobile phone. Could have gone a little something like this.
Tanaka-san: "Yoshio, are you at the Go Kart festival?"
Yoshio: "Yes Tanaka-san, I am here. And this freaky foreigner won't stop staring at me!"

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Sunday, October 11

Oasis Radio

Check out an article I wrote for Oasis Radio, which can be found here. Scroll down, it is the article about one of my all time favourite parties, London Calling.

London Calling has been a part of my Japanese social calendar for nigh on many years now and has featured heavily in the earlier parts of this blog. The guys behind it do an incredible job and it is by far my number 1 pick of parties each month whether it is in Tokyo or Osaka.

Oasis Radio is also another great site, dedicated to bringing quality electro music and sound to the masses. Started by Oasis Dan of Oasis, my favourite bar/dance space in Osaka (since closed down & which was also featured heavily in the earlier parts of this blog), the content of music being streamed features a combination of hosted, live shows. It is also a great way to hear those sounds of Osaka I miss so much!

I laugh out loud when I think of the high jinks and tom foolery of the London Calling/Oasis halcyon days. Spas, drag queens, dance routines, Dan's zebra doona, upstairs, montages, downstairs, VIP rooms, interviews, DJs, articles, broken bones, NYE (how many times?), videos, so much dancing, Dan's place, photos, lots of love, and best of all great mates, fantastic beats and times I will never forget.

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Thursday, October 8

Stayin' Alive

As you all know, the family that masks together stays together.


Anyone thirsty?

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Wednesday, October 7

The Big O

You know you are in Osaka when...

15. Takoyaki is more readily available than cash from an ATM.
14. You find yourself doing the running man by the Running Man.
13. Maido, okini, wakarahen, miehen, shinjirarahen, all the 'hens are the spice of life: Hello Osaka-ben!
12. You see 33 people you know between exit 14 at Namba Station and Exit 15 - and that's just crossing the street.
11. Every foreigner you meet is either an English teacher/DJ or bar/restaurant owner.
10. You can stop off for just one drink at at least 15 bars in between meeting up at Zerro and actually having dinner at Absinthe.
9. The Mother Ship still hasn't taken off - or is waiting to land, depending on which way you look at it.
8. It's honma-ni not honto-ni thank you very much!
7. Torikizoku signs blind you by night: everything is ¥280 (plus tax)...and the more you eat the cheaper it gets.
6. The garbage truck music sounds so happy, until it doesn't after you realise it has been playing for 23 minutes and has no intention of stopping for another hour.
5. You decide to go out to your favourite bar only to find in the space of 3 short days it has closed down, refurbished and re-opened as something else....another bar!
4. You can get a taxi for at least 10 minutes and still only pay ¥660 - or ¥500 if you manage to hail a cheap one.
3. There are toilets in the conbinis.
2. Alcoholic drinks cost ¥500.

And the number 1 way you know you are back in Osaka...

1. You automatically queue on the right hand side of everything. While the resst of the nation queues left, Osaka for some lovely quirky reason chooses to queue right.

And that's just the way it is.

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Tuesday, October 6

Strapping

Phone straps are serious business in Japan. I mean, you really wouldn't want to lose your phone in your handbag now would you?


It really is a case of what came first - the chicken or the egg? Was it that she could never find her phone in her bag which therefore necessitated all the bling or did the bling get so much she needed the bag to carry her phone around with her?

Amazingly, we will never know.

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Monday, October 5

Let Them Eat Cake

One outstanding aspect of Japanese culture is the nation's ability to adopt ideas, customs, inventions, tools and methods from other parts of the world and intergrate them so well that you are sometimes left wondering who did it first. Some examples of this are Kanji, Buddhism, ramen, yakiniku and how can I not mention Hip Hop?! This way of Japanese life goes back to the intricate dealings of the ancient kata - the rules by which Japanese people live their lives. I will touch on this in other posts.

Anyway so it brings me to the point of my post. And that is how well the Japanese do cakes.



Some of these patisseries are more French than France - ignore the fact that these places have names like Ducky Duck or Sunmerrys. They are just delicious.

Ohh ra ra!

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Sunday, October 4

Don't Push Too Hard

We all know that exercise is of great importance...





Need I say more?


But just in case I do, I will leave you with the below picture depicting おならBOY (yes his name is Fart Boy)...





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Friday, October 2

Facebook Follies - The Ex Factor


Facebook (FB). It can be as frustrating as it is freeing. I both love it and hate it. Love it because it is a great way to keep in touch with my mates, as we are spread out all over the world. Photo-sharing, quick notes and a bit of fun. Plus for networking purposes, at times it is much easier to tell someone to look you up on FB than exchanging numbers. Hate it because of the access and information it provides if you are not careful and every now and then people I don't want anything to do with somehow pop up.

The problem is, these days because of the accessibility FB has created, people from all areas of your life, both past and present, no matter how insignificant, almost feel as though they have a right to be a part of your life, and feel insulted when you do not let them in (granted not all people feel this way, but some do). It is also scary when situations present people you think had absolutely no access to your life.

I remember the first FB wake up call i had was a few years back when I started dating a Kiwi, who was living in New Zealand at the time. I changed the relationship status on FB to "in a relationship" (that stamps 'official' all over it right?) and went off to bed. Awoke the next morning to find an angry and hurt message in my inbox from the man who I had met once and flirted with over an evening of drinks. He could not believe I was in a relationship and hadn't had the audacity to tell him. I had not yet fully understood the inner workings of FB and how to control what gets published and what doesn't and so of course my happy status change went out to my FB world and my friends found out my happy status in a matter of minutes rather than a few days which is how long it would take such information to spread pre-FB.

Although that relationship did not last, we remained friends. When I did start dating my fiance, the Kiwi was one of the first people I told (actually via a phone call) and when the Kiwi chose to no longer have me as a friend on FB, I respected that and didn't go chasing him for explanations.

Which brings me to my next point. I think if someone deletes you on FB, you do have to respect that. A friend of mine briefly dated a girl who, upon finishing with, he deleted her as a friend on FB because they really had nothing in common, including friends. For a while, she sent messages and friend requests on a monthly basis. It all got a bit freaky when my friend, who thought his profile was set to private, got a message from her stating she had been reading his page and was congratulating him on his new relationship. The thing is, my friend says he never once wrote back to her or accepted her new friend requests. Yet she just kept trying. I also have an ex who keeps trying and sending the friend request. He finally sent me an email asking me why we weren't friends and I answered him honestly and has not contacted me since. Some people even think just because you slept with them, that is an automatic pass into your world. Yet you can't demand to be a part of a person's life.

Just recently, someone my fiance dated for 5 minutes over 18 months ago - and someone who he thought had no access to his profile whatsoever - decided to get in touch with me via FB because of a comment she did not like on a photo. Who even knew she still had access via a photo? She seemed to think that somehow she was a feature in it all. Crazy - it really set alarm bells off for both of us that she was still out there with access to us and information, that was not for her, after all this time, and that she could possibly think it was for her. It was a real eye opener for us in terms of settings and privacy of social networking sites, knowing that these kinds of sites can reset your settings without you knowing it (something I think FB is under scrutiny for now). In a situation like that, all we could do was laugh, and put some blocks in place.

More problems can arise when someone is upset. Many people use their FB statuses to send extremely pointed messages at people. I know of a few people who carry on in this way and if anything, it only, serves to make them look insecure and angry. A friend has also experienced an ex defaming him on FB, which only stopped well after he had blocked her and mutual friends pointed out to her it is in fact very illegal to do that.

The sentimentality that FB often creates can lead to other issues too. I have had a man I dated years ago get in contact leaving me to think "Oh enough time has passed, they seem to be acting decently" only for him to then unload a barrage of anger and resentment - even though this was nearly a decade later. Clearly things meant more to him than they did to me....and clearly time does not heal ALL wounds.

If anything, FB is a very unique social exercise that reveals many things about the modern human psyche and about how communication is moving forward. The thing is, can the average human being handle it with dignity?

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