Panda Gone Wild

Panda Gone Wild
Originally uploaded by Braincell Jupiter
Weird panda stuffed animal near Tokyo Station.


Parked Whale

This whale is in a park by my office.


I've mentioned my new phone, but haven't talked about it in detail. I got a Panasonic Viera 920P from Softbank. I am not some cellphone fanatic, but it's nice to have an up-to-date phone in Japan, where it seems like people replace their phones as soon as a new model comes out. Like most new phones in Japan, it plays one-seg TV. This TV service is free, and in addition, the channels broadcast additional digital information. Last night, I noticed that the TV drama "Mito-Koumon" includes maps and historical quizes you can look at and navigate while watching the show in a split-screen mode on your phone.

Nice Backside

Ever since I started working near Ochanomizu, I've wanted to take a photograph of this building. It reminds of the back of a refrigerator; it's not pretty at all, just functional. There are all these exposed metal ducts and air conditioners, and the color is just so faded and grungy. Actually, it's not that unusual to see buidlings like this in Japan, but the angle of this one, looking up from the street, added to its charm.

Now that I've at least got a digital camera in my phone (still have yet to get a stand-alone camera), I'll be able to snap a few pics of architectural details that amuse me as I wander around.


Bombs Away

We went to Chofu to eat soba and visit Jindaiji Temple on Sunday. Unfortunately, we picked the worst day to do it. What should have been a relatively short express-train ride turned into a roundabout train and bus ordeal. An unexploded bomb leftover from World War II that had been found in the area was scheduled to be removed that day, and as a result, train service was limited. According to Yahoo News:
The Self-Defence Force's explosive ordnance disposal team began an operation Sunday morning and successfully removed the one-tonne US-made bomb buried some 3.5 metres below the ground, officials said.
And, as luck would have it, the way back was even more of a mess because someone decided to go and jump in front a train. What a way to end the weekend. . .

Robot Sidewalk

Got a new cellphone on Saturday, but still haven't replaced the digital camera I lost in Seoul. For now, I guess I will be posting some of the cellphone shots that I take when I am out and about. Today after lunch, despite a cloudy sky that threatened to rain any second, I walked through Akihabara and snapped this pic of the sidewalk. Akihabara is a neighborhood famous for all its electric appliance stores. The sidewalk has several colorful tiled pictures along the main street, kind of like a walk of fame for gadgets. This pic is of a robot. It says in Japanese, "Hello. Welcome to Akihabara."


Animal Cookies

The first time I came to Japan I bought a bag of animal cookies in Tsukiji, and I loved 'em. Now whenever I see some for sale, I usually buy a bag. They are much better than the animal crackers that are available in the U.S. The main reason they taste better is that they've got icing on them. On Sunday, I bought a bag of them in Sugamo. 200 grams worth. I just finished the bag at work. I often buy them at Muji stores, too. The Muji bags are much smaller, only 80 grams. The shape is a bit cuter than average ones, but the taste is about the same. The cookies are called doubutsu youchi. Doubutsu means animal, but I didn't know what youchi meant. After some research, I found out that it comes from the word for kindergarten, youchien. The name apparently comes from something called "kindergarten biscuits" that came into Japan from Britain in the late 19th century.


Delicious Dekopon

I've recently "discovered" a new fruit here in Japan. Dekopon. Basically, it looks like an ugly orange with a protruding navel. I always avoided them for some reason. I think I judged the book by its cover and simply assumed that the ugly exterior must mean it would be sour and full of seeds, or be tough on the inside. Well, I was wrong. So far in the last couple weeks I've eaten about 10 or so, and they are sweet, almost always seedless, and super soft, almost like a gummy candy. I would probably even say, "Move over mikan," but it seems the dekopon season starts around the time the mikan season ends. Winter for me in Japan means eating bags of mikan. Now spring can mean pigging out on dekopon. Maybe my belly button will soon start to stick out just like the fruit.