a The Transit Lounge: January 2010

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, January 29

Lucky Me!

Where else in the world could you wander into a convenience store and wind up taking part in a lucky dip at the cash register?


Thanks to the Atre conbini located at Shin-U station for my Roots Royal Milk Coffee - woooooohoooo!
How can you go past coffee in a can, especially when it is hot?

That is SO Japan baby!

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Thursday, January 28

Man's Best Friend

I took these pics at at Green Dog in Midtown, which is a one-stop "pet station", including pet accessories, food, grooming, vet and hotel.






Note the industrial fur dryers! Long gone are the days of tying your dog to a tree in the backyard and hosing him down!

Tuesday, January 26

Hiroshima

Fragments of Hiroshima:




The Peace Park and the museum are very touching. The message about the A-bomb, its atrocities, after effects and consequences is very clear.

Yet I find what happens in this part of Japan, the local way of thinking and looking at the world, is so contradictory to the attitudes of Japanese people and prefectural governments in the rest of the country that it is very hard to take. Unfortunately, the objective view of the world, the wars that have gone on and Japan's part and place in it all is only seen in Hiroshima. Outside of this small city, most Japanese do not even know their own part in this war, let alone any other.

Does the Yasukuni Shrine mean anything to anyone?

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Sunday, January 24

Take That!

I love Takeshita Street in Harajuku and everything it throws at you. Takenoko is especially cool and is one of the defining stores on this street. Their front windows are always different and always rock.





I wander in and out of here a lot and am waiting for the right occasion to purchase something. Or maybe I just have to buy something and wear it anyway...

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Wednesday, January 20

Looking the Part

A big thing in Japan is looking the part of whatever it is you are trying to do. So for example, if a Japanese person tells you they surf, chances are they have the surfboard, the wettie, the rashie, the wax, the hair and the clothes....but it might not mean they have the skill.

I took this pic in Chigasaki about 18 months ago and I love the confusion of it all. To me, it is just so wonderfully mismatched. Heels and a boogie board anyone?



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Tuesday, January 19

Animalia

You never know what you will come across being walked when you are in Japan. In Osaka I once saw someone walking a racoon, I have seen people with rabbits and monkeys in Ginza, and recently in Odaiba I came across someone with a 4-foot iguana. So really seeing a ferret shouldn't do too much to me...


The dog wasn't too happy about his mate getting all the attention!

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Monday, January 18

Serious Stuff

Some good old-fashioned Harajuku Engrish:


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Friday, January 15

Jet Coaster-ing About

Japan loves a good Jet Coaster (rollercoaster), particularly when it is plonked on top of buildings. First there was the dodgy Festival Gate jet coaster, in Osaka's Shinsekai area. Fortunately this one is closed now. I did ride it twice and the view of Osaka's minami area, including Tenoouji and Ebisucho, was incredible, though I am not sure that was worth the ¥700 coupled with 30 seconds of ride stress that came with not knowing whether I would make it through in one piece or still in my seat...

Tokyo has this one, Thunder Dolphin. It sits on top and weaves in and out of Tokyo Dome City, a mall encompassing shops and an amusement area. It is pretty cool, although I don't know what dolphins have to do with roller coasters. And there was no fear of losing limbs or life, so the view is definitely worth it.





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Monday, January 11

Sleep Commute

Sleeping can be very painful. Just ask this guy.


He was emitting quite a snore and doing it all standing up. The train was so chock full of people that this guy was been held up by the other passengers, which allowed him to sleep quite easily - apart from the fact we had to stop every every 4 or 5 minutes at various stations. The doors would open, he would stumble out, push his way back and be snoring again all within 30 seconds.

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Friday, January 8

Eat Me - or Else!

At a restaurant in Lalaport:


This is one angry chicken. I just wanted to run past it as fast as I could! Would you eat here?

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Thursday, January 7

The Bendy Life!

Until I lived in Japan, I never gave much thought to vending machines. But here these goodness dispensers - or bendies - are a way of life. The fact that you can go cold or hot as the cool weather sets is the icing on the cake. Yes that's right. You can choose hot coffee, hot tea or even hot soup to warm your hands and your belly...

See above: Your typical vending machine


Upon close inspection you see the red section and notice the word "あったか〜い”。This means hot/warm.



Feel like something refreshing? Oh and look! There is a "つめた〜イ”section as well for those in need of a cold drink.

Bendies also come with ranges of food, porn (yes I have seen one out in Izumichuo, Osaka, next to the business English school I taught in back in 2004), toys etc. But I am yet to see the infamous ones selling worn women's undergarments...

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Wednesday, January 6

Modernizing

Believe it or not, Sunday was the first time I walked the entire Harajuku-Shibuya "track". Normally, I don't make it past Omote-sando! Anyway, even though it was different, I instantly recognised a building from photographs my fiance took about 18 months ago. What a difference a year (and a half) makes!

July 08:


Jan 2010:


I love seeing the old getting incorporated into the new, but still the original building had more character and personality. Hopefully, the black cover in front means they are reconstructing it but I guess only time will tell.

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Tuesday, January 5

Meiji Crazy

Again, just a usual Sunday hanging out at Meiji-jingumae.




The most awesome thing about this is the location and date. Right outside Meiji Shrine on January 3, one of the most religious public holidays of the year.

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Monday, January 4

Fashion on the Field

The skiing in Japan is great. The fashion hitting the mountains is even better. My theory - which is actually a Darwinian Theory (literally) - is that back in the day of Japan's bubble economy, so going back to the late 80s/early 90s, skiing hit the big time. Everyone in Japan wanted a piece of it. And so they bought up big from equipment and kit to the clothes and gear. Because in Japan looking the part means you are 90% of the way there (never mind ability).

Now think about what was fashionable during that time. Yes men in neons and pinks, parachute material, shoulder pads and a somewhat ghastly mix of it all. And the people skiing back then are still skiing today, wearing that same kit (and possibly passing on old outfits to their own kids too). And it literally applies to the skiers only as boarding really only took off in Japan after the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Have a look:





Pretty much impossible to have a white out on the summit with this much hot colour going on.

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