Looney Lodge

You must be crazy to stay at this hotel.


Old Phones Off

One thing people notice when they visit Japan is how unusually quiet it is inside trains and buses. This is mainly because there are signs and announcements asking people to refrain from talking on their mobile phones and turning their ringers off. On most mobiles here the silent vibration setting is even labeled as "manner mode." People still use their mobiles, of course, but mostly just for checking mail or playing games.

In recent years, the courtesy seat area (see this previous post) of trains has been designated as a "no mobile phone" area, and you are requested to actually turn the power off if you are sitting or standing there. Supposedly the signal from a mobile could adversely affect anyone with a pacemaker in the vicinity. The area is sometimes designated with yellow grab handles adorned with the message pictured above.

What strikes me as odd is how outdated the mobile phone graphic is. Unless you have a really old handset, no mobiles have external antennas anymore. The first phone I had in Japan back in 1999 actually looked like this graphic and had a screen about that tiny: J-Phone's JP01 by Panasonic (I had the dark blue one on the right). Wonder when this logo will be phased out to be replaced by a generic smartphone icon.


Alone With Lene

I love Lene Lovich. Who doesn't? Well, back in the day, a lot of people didn't. They thought she was too weird. She wasn't, though. She was just ahead of her time. (Unlike Lady Gaga, who only seems weird to people over 80, and is therefore easily cashing in on ground previously broken by more risk-taking artists like Lovich and Nina Hagen.)

Apparently, thinking that Japanese audiences would love anything weird, Lovich chose to record both an English and nihongo cover version of Tommy James and the Shondells' "I Think We're Alone Now" in 1978. The Japanese version appeared as the b-side to Lovich's hit "Lucky Number," way before Tiffany's cover topped the charts in the 1980s.

Japanese pop idol Chika Nakamura covered the song again in 1989, but it was probably the success of teen pop-star Tiffany's version that inspired her. The lyrics for both songs, however, are completely different, with Lovich's being more of a literal translation.

Nearly two decades later, Lovich's song made it onto the soundtrack of Beverly Hills Ninja, a movie I will probably never watch (sorry, Chris Farley, RIP).

Compare the two versions here, via youtube:

Lene Lovich, (I Think We're) Alone Now (Japanese version)

Chika Nakamura, Hitori Bochi ni Kaeranai

If you want to sing along with Lene Lovich in Japanese, see her lyrics after the jump. . .


Preggers On Board

The trains in Tokyo have courtesy seats for the elderly, disabled/injured people, parents with babies or pregnant women. But it's not always easy to tell if a woman's pregnant. You don't want to embarrass someone who might just be a bit chubby by getting up and offering her your seat. Solution: pregnant woman can wear or attach to their handbags badges that look like the window sticker on the right. The Japanese means roughly, "There's a baby in my belly."

I've got a bit of a belly, so I am considering trying out one of these badges. Since I'm a guy, I'm not sure how well it would work. It'd be funny to see people's reactions, though.

In the meantime, I just walk around carrying a cane and sit wherever I like. 


Butt Security

For 24-hour protection of your backdoor. . . Call ASS.

Whoever came up with this acronym must be a real A-hole.


Zombie Bentos

If it smelled like natto, it would be even more realistic!

funny food photos - Horrifying Bento
see more My Food Looks Funny

Jelly Juice

Anyone who knows me knows that I love jelly beans. I've even been on the Jelly Belly factory tour twice. So this Jelly Belly Very Cherry drink in the convenience store fridge caught my eye. I didn't taste it, but I'm pretty sure it's just cherry-flavored punch.

The funny thing with the name of the product is that the Japanese katakana pronunciation of "belly" and "very" are exactly the same. Belly is also pronounced the same as "berry," so I wonder how many people here misunderstand the meaning of the jelly bean's brand name.


Eyes Without a Face

This is an anti-crime sticker created by Tokyo Metropolitan Police that I see all around the city. The watchful eyes look like a kabuki face (or a lost member from KISS, depending on your point of view). I am sad to report, however, that the police here don't wear any face paint.



No matter how cheap a breakfast combo might be, seeing only a half a piece of toast in this ad makes me feel like I'd be getting ripped off.

Even if it includes unlimited drink bar AND a hard-boiled egg, who thought this was a good idea? Was it because a whole piece of toast wouldn't fit on that plate?


Cucumber Contribution

Kappabashi is a neighborhood in Tokyo that's famous for shops that sell the plastic food displays used in restaurants windows. The area is named after kappa, reptile-like river creatures often mentioned in Japanese folklore. Last week I visited a small shrine dedicated to kappa tucked inside the side streets. I laughed when I saw cucumbers, in varying stages of decay, adorning the shrine's offering box and statues. According to legend, kappa like to eat cucumbers. That's why cucumber roll sushi is called kappamaki.


My Little Pony

For some odd reason, Kanda Myojin Shrine has a pony. Her name is Akari. I took the top photo a couple weeks ago. The bottom one was taken yesterday when she was being walked. At first I didn't think it was the same horse, but I am pretty sure it's Akari with her hair shaved off.

According to the shrine's official website, Akari is going to be 2-years-old on May 15. When she gets older, her coat will eventually turn white. I am not a fan of caged animals, and I wish she she could be living on a farm somewhere instead. I am no equestrian expert, but she doesn't seem to energetic or happy.

The new haircut really shows off her legs and fabulous figure, though.