1.30.2009

Pink Slips

When I first arrived in Japan about ten years ago, phone booths in some parts of Tokyo were literally covered with paper fliers and even tiny booklets with photos of nude women advertising all sorts of sex services. An anti-flier law was passed several years ago, and you no longer see that kind of excess. About two years ago, though, I caught this "indecent fliers collection box" on the corner of Roppongi Crossing, a busy intersection of the nightlife district. It amused me. I haven't been to the area in a while, so I don't know if it's still there. Generally, there are no pubic trash cans on the streets of Tokyo, but this particular kind of trash has been targeted as something worthy of a special bin. I wonder what the real purpose of this box is, and what happens after the fliers are collected. Is the paper recycled? Or are the fliers simply reused and redistributed on the streets to save printing costs? It's also interesting to note the pink color of the box. These dirty fliers are called "pinku chirashi" in Japanese. Pink in Japan is the equivalent of red, as in red light district. (Editors note: As I am writing this, I am worried that perhaps the box is not really pink at all. I am color blind, and this is one of those colors that really baffles my eyes.)

1.29.2009

Sondheim's Japan



I seem to have stumbled upon some weird Japan/Stephen Sondheim connection lately. Following my post about how Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" looks and sounds odd when performed by Japanese actors, I have to say the same is true in reverse. Until now, I had never seen Sondheim's "Pacific Overtures," which tells the story of the opening of Japan to the West in the 19th century. Although it is not available on video, it apparently was broadcast in Japan years ago, and someone's put the whole thing online (although in somewhat poor video quality). I like the Japanese aesthetic and even the use of Japanese actors, but the lyrics in English just sound unnatural. Maybe if I saw it live on stage I'd be swept into the world of the play, and I wouldn't care. But I actually think this musical would work better if it was translated and performed in Japanese.

1.28.2009

Poison Puffers

I'm thinking that if tourists keep wreaking havoc at the Tsukiji fish market, maybe the vendors there should just start serving up some fatal fugu.

"Blowfish testicles prepared by an unauthorized chef sickened seven diners in northern Japan and three remained hospitalized Tuesday after eating the poisonous delicacy."
Blowfish poisoning sends 7 to hospital in Japan

1.27.2009

TV Party

This seems somewhat inappropriate to post just after I talked about foreigners behaving badly in Japan. But this video of the Beastie Boys in Japan from 1987 rocks! Adam Yauch sticking a sausage out of his zipper is just wrong in so many ways, not just because he rubs it against the hostess of the show. It's even funnier because in Japanese sausages are called wieners. And the whole performance with some porno actress on a bed is out of control! Yes, this kind of activity in public is B.A.D. As entertainment, though, I give it a big thumbs up.

Ain't Not Misbehavin'

Everyone knows that tourists act dumb no matter what country they are in. Its hard to even say the word "tourist" without it sounding derogatory. But for some reason, tourists in Japan, as well as some long term foreign visitors, feel compelled to act even stupider and ruder than your typical out-of-towner. A couple months ago there was the British guy who stripped off his clothes, jumped into the moat of the Imperial Palace grounds, and swam around while police tried to catch him. I have to say, when I saw the video of this incident, I found myself laughing at the insanity of it all, and the Keystone Cops aspect to it.
But I didn't laugh when I saw the video of drunk white guys licking fish and joyriding in forklifts at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. Behavior like this forced the market to temporarily place a ban on tourists. The ban was lifted on Jan. 19, and I am sure that the antics will begin again. You can read the AP story here. I remember how the Lonely Planet guide book for Japan that I read back in 1998 suggested going to Tsukiji in the early morning hours when you are wide awake due to jet-lag. It's also common for people staying out all night drinking to take the first train to the market, which accounts for some of the alcohol-induced retardedness. There's talk about the market moving further out of central Tokyo by 2012. Will it be far enough to keep gaijin from getting fresh with the tuna? I doubt it.

1.26.2009

Sweeney Todd-san

My mom took me to see "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway with Angela Lansbury when I was 9. It scared and amazed me. Definitely my favorite musical/tragedy/gorefest of all time. Apparently, maybe to tie in with the Tim Burton movie version, there was Japanese version staged in Tokyo last year. I missed it, but after catching this rehearsal video on YouTube, I don't think I missed much. Something a bit weird about this story being performed by an all Japanese cast in Japanese. Doesn't do much for Sondheim's music or lyrics.



On a similar note, this Korean actress seems to get the voice sounding right on another "Sweeney Todd" song.

1.20.2009

Yes, We Can!


I am waiting for the inauguration, and with that in mind, I have to say that I love this Obama mask. It's called "Mr. Obama." It's only 2,310 yen. It's made in Japan. And it looks NOTHING like him! Well, maybe it does, a little. . . if I squint. You can buy it at Loft department store.

1.16.2009

Double Vision


Interesting. Photographer Shouzo Maruta is suing another photographer, Shinichiro Kobayashi, for taking photos of the same ruined buildings in Japan. Some of the angles are similar, but the color of the images and feeling appears to be pretty different. I think this is just a case of sour grapes for a guy who didn't put out a book and establish a reputation for himself like Kobayashi did. Kobayashi is pretty much the preeminent haikyo (ruins) photographer in Japan.

1.15.2009

Octopus Slide



Haven't been posting at all. Here's just some random photo I want to share. An octopus slide in a park in Ebisu.