Saturday, October 30, 2004

Photo Album

I've also added a link in the section on the right to my new photo album. It's the Artsy Fartsy one with the B&W that I have taken in the last month, and well as some 35mm and Polaroid that I've taken with a heavily modified Chinese plastic camera.

The Facts on the Bush Administration

Just incase anyone has any doubts in the next few days about who to vote for, please read this. I will let the facts speak for themselves.

The Nation: 100 Facts and 1 Opinion

Friday, October 29, 2004

My Bike!!!

My wonderful mother got my bike sent to me really cheap through FedEx, so now I have a real bicycle. It was supposed to get here Wednesday, but it got delayed in customs a little bit, so it didn't end up getting here until Thursday night. The road that I live on, as I have probably mentioned, is really small. Down the street and around the corner, the road narrows into what looks like a walking path between the railroad tracks and a sandstone bluff. If you can fit your car through there, then you have to negotiate a 90 degree corner between two old houses, with concrete walls on either side. The final part up to my apartment building is half taken up by stairs, so you have to squeeze between them and a drainage ditch. I don't think the delivery truck made it past where it narrows past the railroad tracks because I heard a clanking sound coming up the street for a couple minutes before I had a knock on my door.

I got my bike put together pretty quick, but I had to walk it past the next station to a decent bike shop to get the tires inflated. Most regular bikes in Japan use this really weird type of valve that I really hate, and my bike uses European valves, so I didn't think any other shops would be able to do it. Plus I needed some other stuff.

Once I got air in my tires, I rode home and WOW!! I'd forgotten what it was like to ride that fast! I've gotten pretty good on my other bike at predicting the movements of Japanese pedestrians, who care even less that you're coming at them than US pedestrians. If I was driving a car going that fast, people wouldn't go out into the street, but on a bike, it's like they assume you wont be going that fast, so they walk right out in front of you. I was looking forward to going on a ride today, but it's rainy. I might go anyway.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Rocking and Rolling

Tonight starting at 5:30, we had a few strong earthquakes. The main one was 6.7 on the Richter scale, about 150 miles from Tokyo, but where I was at Ai's house in Tokyo, it shook pretty good for about a minute and a half. It wasn't as strong where I was as the one a few weeks ago, but near it's epicenter in Nigata, it collapsed some tunnels, houses, started a few fires, knocked out power and telephone, and derailed a bullet train. In the hour after the earthquake, there were at least 4 or 5 more that we could feel.

After the earthquakes subsided, Ai and I went to her grandma's house and she made us Sukiyaki, which is vegetables and thinly sliced beef cooked in a broth in a pot on the table. It was really good.

I got a scanner finally, so I will start uploading pictures to my Flickr page, and a new one I have set up at Lomo Homes. I will put a link to that site up when I a chance.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Originally uploaded by noexit.
Tully's Specialty Coffee to go. In a convenience store near you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

More Cool History

They area that I live in, though seeming like an uneventful place compared to the mega-city a short train ride away, is loaded with history. My first cool history discovery was way back around when I first got here, and found a park where Matthew Perry (Of the US Navy, not friends) first landed in Japan, opening Japan up for broad international contact. A few months later, I discovered that my area was also the place that the first Japanese Constitution was drafted, a direct result of the influences and disruptions that international contact brought.

Today I ran across something that's been staring me in the face since I got here. I was looking up Gulliver's Travels in Wikipedia because, having never read it, I was wondering what all the fuss was about him in Japan (Japan was the only non-fictional place mentioned in the book). So one thing lead to another, and I ran across A Brief History of William Adams.

The story of William Adams may be familiar to people who have seen the movie Shogun or read the book by James Clavell. Though about as accurate as a child in a coloring book, the character John Blackthorne is based on William Adams. Adams was an English pilot on a Dutch ship that became stranded in Japan in 1600. Being told by the Portuguese that they were pirates, they were immediately captured by the Shoguns forces. The Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, took a liking to Adams and made him a vassal. But he could also never leave Japan, so Tokugawa William Adams dead, and gave him the name Miura Anjin and rank of Samurai. Since Adams was legally dead, he could remarry, so he married a samurai woman, and was given a fife.

Fast forward back up the the 21st century, and I find myself living on the Miura Pennensula, and passing through a station called Anjin-zuka every day. The Miura Peninsula is the domain that was given to Miura Anjin when he became a samurai, called Hemi at the time. Now, Hemi is the name of the station 3 stops from mine, and Anjin-zuka is the next stop, probably close to where he lived. There have been westerners in the area for far longer than I had ever imagined.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Damon's Party

A friend of mine from the little english conversation school that I taught at the last time I was in Japan had a little party last night. In the few years since I was last in Japan, he's been very busy making connections, and now, he barely teaches anymore. Instead, he's gotten into the entertainment industry I suppose. His main job seems to be producing promotional stuff for a fancy restaurant owned by a friend, and doing shows. Also, his photography hobby is becoming something more than just a hobby.

Given this background, his party last night was huge. It was hosted in a trendy night club in Aoyama, one of the most expensive and trendy areas of Tokyo. He had giant prints of his and a friends photography on the walls, and two giant video screens playing a film they made.

The interesting thing about this whole thing was how he was able to hype his photo's to get people to pay $30 to see. He came up to where Ai and I were sitting and said "look at this! If you ever want to show some of your photos, just let me know. I can set up anything. Just low key at a resturant, or a club thing like this. Just add a little hype, and you can turn anybody into a legend. "The place wasn't packed, but it was pretty full. Lots of the normal club-goers, plus more than the normal amount of foreigners and some really strange arty looking people. Luckily we didn't have to pay to get in (I didn't expect him to let us all in free, but there was some confusion with fliers that he was supposed to send, and then not being on the guest list like we were supposed to. I was kind of disappointed about that. I've always want to be on a guest list) because Ai invited 3 friends, and they didn't really like the kind of music that was playing, so around 2 am, we left and went in search of a new place. We thought about going to a place than one of her friends works at, but it was way to fancy (dress code and all that) and drinks were $10 a peace, plus a table charge, so we eventually settled for a Japanese style bar until they closed at 5 am and we all went home.

Now I have a cold and have turned nocturnal.
Check out Damon, Will Rob, and others at Lomo Box

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Body snachers!

I went to quite a few department store looking for bed sheets that weren't pastel pink, pastel blue, or pastel green. I didn't have much luck. Some, but not much. I was able to find some non-pastel at a reasonable price.

But who really cares about all that when you're confronted with the pictures to the right? That first picture looks suspiciously like a sign in a Walmart store. I'm was pretty sure I wasn't in Walmart, but it turns out that Walmart has invested a large sum in the Seiyu Department store chain in an effort to break into the Japanese market.

Martha Stewart has also made an effort to break into the Japanese market, but I don't know how many people have actually heard of her here. The only thing I saw with a Martha Stewart label was in the clearance rack, so I don't know how well she'd doing. Maybe it's not pastel enough. Ai knows who she is and likes Martha Stewarts' pronounciation of Arigato Gozaimasu (a-RIG-e-toe ga-zai-mas as relayed to her by Kelsey, so it's fifth hand information by the time you read it here.)

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Still not there

On the other side of Yokohama, all the trains are clogged up. There is no scheduale right now, the train just gets there when it does. On the train on the other side of the landslide, there was a group of navy guys oblivious to the blockage until a Japanese guy tried to tell them that they had to get off. Even though they couldn't understand japanese, they had plenty of warning signs, like huge hand written signs in red letters, station workers talking into megaphones, groups of confused looking people standing around in front of the station, and the trains actually being late. It all should have made them think "huh, I wonder what's going on?" but it didn't. Most of the navy guys that I've been unfortunate enough to come across don't pay attention to much, and they were completely oblivious, so I had to explain it all to them.

No Train

When I posted this morning, I said that I heard trains going by, so I thought everything must be okay. But, it was saspiciously quiet. As of now, trains are running on a very limited schedual, and stopping a few stations away because of a landslide blocking the tracks. There are two ways around, either JR from Zushi, or the Yokohama Subway. They're giving everyone free passage on the Subway, but it's really not too crowded. I think most were smart enough to stay home.


Bed Boxes

What a week it's been for natural stuff. First a pretty strong earthquake, and yesterday, the first direct hit by a typhoon. It was the 22nd Pacific typhoon, and the I'm-not-sure-what-th to hit Japan. (but a lot higher than usual)

Yesterday morning I woke up at about 9:30 wondering where my bed was. I got online and found the tracking site for the shipping company, and found out the my bed was shipped from the factory on the 29th, and had been sitting in a warehouse in Yokohama for a week. I called them to figure out what was going on, and arranged a delivery the same day. At 12, I got a call from the delivery truck driver saying that they'd be there at around 2. By this time the rain was pretty hard, and I think they were worrying about it getting worse. At 2:00 I went outside with my umbrella, and both corners of my apartment building were dumping huge columns of water. I walked as far as the train station and by the time I got back, the bottom part of my pants were drenched. At 2:30, my bed arrived, and delivery men carried all the boxes up to my room.

I spend the next few hours putting my bed together and watching stuff blow by at an increasing rate of speed. When the bed was done I turned on the TV to watch NHK's Typhoon report showing the eye passing just about directly over where I live. Just after the strongest part of the storm, the power went out, and I was in the dark.

Once the bulk of the storm passed, I decided to venture outside to procure food. Outside, it had stopped raining much, and most of the wind was gone also. Few people had umbrellas, and the ground was littered with the skeletons of dead umbrellas, potless plants, and plantless pots. A small tree in front of my apartment building had snapped in half. The train line that runs past my house had stopped. NHK was showing footage of landslides covering the tracks south of Yokohama, so there were a lot of people stuck down here, just standing in front of the station waiting for it to open.

It seems like everything is back to normal now. I can hear the trains going by, so they must have cleared up the landslide on the tracks which is good since I'm going to meet Ai in a few hours. I really didn't want to have to take the JR line.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


There was just a pretty strong Earthquake! In Japan's classification, it was a level 4 where I live, and a weak level 5 in the center. The Japanese system is based on what is felt by people, so a one is weak, felt be people that aren't moving. Level 2 rattles doors and windows. Level 3 shakes buildings and rattles things loudly. 4 is supposed to shake buildings strongly, knock over objects, splash water out of water holding containers, and cause people to panic and run outside, while five can cause cracks in walls. I would say it was a weak 4 where I live since nothing fell over, but I could defiantly feel my apartment building swaying. The TV says that Tokyo and Yokohama were level 4. I think I'll live in a reinforced cement building next time I move.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Under Construction

My blog is under a little construction right now since Dansen is bored and doesn't like my colors. So try not to breath in any of the dust, I'm not sure if it's toxic or not.

And that person who always does a yahoo search for get out fast, if you type 'ctrl-d' it will add a bookmark and you won't have to search for me anymore. Or better yet, add it to the bookmarks bar.