Ultra Can

I'm more of a 100% fruit juice kind of guy, so I almost never buy soft drinks. But how can I resist this? Ultraman-themed cans of cider! Unfortunately for me, cider here does not mean real apple-cider, which I love, but a clear sweet soda. There are six cans representing six versions of the superhero character from over the last four decades, including Ultra Seven. The beverage manufacturer, DyDo, is selling them for only 100 yen to encourage people to buy the whole set. I think if I downed six cans, I would have an ultra sugar rush.


Green Computers

There's all this talk about green computers lately. Well, you can't get any greener than this Gachapin notebook PC. Not sure whether it does anything good for the environment, but it's loaded with Gachapin and Mukku pics, icons and sounds. Buy it online at LaLaBit Market.


Big Cans

Most canned coffee in Japan comes in little cans. Not American Coffee. Everyone knows that we Americans like things to be BIG. Our coffee, our cars, and our women.

As most canned coffees are here, it's got tons of sugar in it. I bought a can of it a while back just because I liked the design. It's so retro, I figured it must be intentional, but maybe it actually is an old logo that's been around for decades.


Bad Manners

It's not uncommon in Tokyo to see posters in train stations that tell people how to behave properly so as not to offend their fellow passengers when riding the rails. I was a bit confused, though, when I came across this one that says "Please do it at home." Do what at home, exactly? Eat heart-shaped snacks? Or fondle my crotch like the man in the illustration is doing here?


Pig Out

I'm not usually a fan of fried food, but this tonkatsu at Tonki in Meguro was fried pork cutlet heaven. Diligent servers dressed in white kept piling free cabbage on my plate, and I think eating it all helped soak up the grease that would have otherwise collected in the bottom of my stomach.


Two-story Slice

Tokyo's got a lot of wedge-shaped buildings. This one in Meguro is no Flatiron Building, but it's got its own charm.


Presidential Pachinko

Obama's already President in the U.S., but it looks like the campaign for "CHANGE" is still going on at this Shibuya pachinko parlor. Actually, the place is just advertising its grand reopening.

No Yatai

This sign near Tokyo Dome made me laugh. No yatai, or street vendors, are allowed on this corner. The use of a black and white photo of a yatai on the sign is what really struck me. These mostly wooden carts are a remnant of another era, yet there are still enough around that they don't normally strike me as particularly anachronistic. But here I think that the use of the modern-day internationally recognized prohibited symbol (red circle and slash) over the clip art-style photo totally overemphasizes just how outdated these two-wheeled contraptions really are.


Waste Not, Want Not

Here we have what is known in Japan as a gomi-yashiki. Basically, that means a house full of garbage. This one is near Jimbocho. You can see that this place is filled to the brim with trash -- so much so that junk is spilling out of the windows. Oh, another thing. This is not an abandoned building. Someone actually lives in here. There used to be a little wooden building in the small lot in front, but it was demolished. I walked past it the day it was being torn down, and I thought that was the end of the gomi-yashiki. I didn't realize until after it was gone that the larger building behind it was also part of this garbage-hording compound! Gomi-yashiki are a somewhat common phenomenon throughout the country, and I often see sensationalist news stories on TV about these places and their mentally-ill owners.


Fisher-Price is Right

If only I still had my Fisher-Price mini-van. This thing's going for 5,040 yen at some boutique toy store in Shinjuku. And the little people themselves are going for 714 yen a piece!


New Sky Building

The New Sky Building in Okubo looks like a battleship in dry dock. Built in 1970, it is no longer new. Rather, it is in a beautiful state of disrepair, with gray paint peeling from the walls and netting covering the facade. But the elevators work, and signs for businesses on some of the apartment doorways suggests that there are still some tenants working and/or living in the 15-story tower -- though how many is another question. This place reminds me of the something out of Terry Gilliam's "Brazil." If only I could see inside the individual units. A bit of urban exploration got me outside to the 14th floor balcony, where the wind was blowing so hard it was as if the building was riding the high seas.


Showa Staircase

This staircase is in a building full of hostess clubs. It has a retro-Showa look that I like. The way the openings in the ceiling line up with the staircase makes it seem as if the staircase is actually an elevator that descended from above. Or maybe I am just crazy.


Ganji Curry

Stopped by my favorite Japanese curry rice place, Ganji, in Shinjuku yesterday for a late lunch. As you can see from the restaurant's sign on the street, it's located right next to Mania Shop Slum. Their beef curry has just the right combination of sweetness, spice, and big chunks of meat. I've had beef curry at many other places where I am left feeling like Clara Peller in the Wendy's commercial, but here I definitely get my 950 yen's worth. There's always some good classic rock playing in the background, and the Charlie Chaplin posters and old record album covers decorating the walls give the place a warm, worn-in atmosphere.