Behind the mask

Look at these jokers. They think they are so cool. I found this photo on facebook after looking through the profile of one of the people on the "People You May Know" suggestions. That's the girl who was suggested, the one in the center with her eyes closed. I don't know her, but I have to admit that her super thick eyeliner and blonde hair sort of turns me on. HOW DID FACEBOOK KNOW THAT??

Anyway, what I am curious about, though, and have been curious about in Japan for some time now, is the use of masks. People wear masks here to cover their bad teeth or when they have a cold or when they think they are going to catch a cold or when they have allergies or when they don't want to catch a cold or when they just feel like wearing a stupid surgical mask and looking like a surgeon who got lost on the way to the hospital or like there is some SARS outbreak or worse.

But the thing that really gets me is that people have no shame in posing for photos with a mask, as can be seen here.

People talk about Japan being cool. Sorry, Japan. Wearing a gauze mask on your face is not cool.

Or maybe it's so uncool that it is cool? Again, look at these jokers. They obviously think they are the shit. (I'm not even going to mention their matching t-shirts or the fact that they are drinking ZIMA cause they are probably in a gang and will kill me.)

I am really getting tired of seeing people wearing surgical masks. Really. Not just on their faces, but pulled down under their chins while talking, eating, smoking a cigarette. Or hanging off one ear while chatting on the phone. And especially in photos, smiling and posing as if it is completely normal.


Toilet trouble

I hate this bathroom symbol cause I don't know which is the men's room and which is the women's. I am color blind. So don't tell me you can tell by the colors because the two figures on the left look almost like the same color to me. So imagine you can't see the color. Which is a man and which is a woman? I would think the one with the big pointy breasts is a woman, wouldn't you? And the one with the protrusion around the waist is a well-endowed man. I hate having to walk into a bathroom and look for the urinals to know that I am in the right place. It's embarrassing. Seriously bad design.


Dead tech

Saw this poster in a bar in Kichijoji. Remember when Japan seemed like it was ahead of the rest of the world because everyone used Mini-Discs? I even bought an MD player/recorder Walkman around 2000. MDs never took off in the US, and then came the iPod. Even though it's a dead format, they are sort of a beautiful piece of design, as this ad clearly wants to emphasize.



Cracks on display

Look into the eye. The eye of decay. A mosaic of death. From the Showa Era.

Star of David

Subliminal Jewish stars on the Nanboku subway line.


Ginza legs

I need a better camera.


Don't retweet

Big birds in Akasaka.


Eating enclave

I have heard of theme restaurants, but this going a bit too far. I assume because they have to emphasize that it is "happy dining" that they are not doing Jewish ghetto. Maybe it's more Harlem ghetto, which would be decidedly more upbeat and funky with no worry of pogroms.


Surely not a temple

I am confused by this church sign that I pass every Sunday on my way to my comedy group practice. The congregation appears to be mostly Filipinos. Obviously it is a Christian church, but why "Shalom," a Hebrew word that means "peace" and is also used as a greeting.


Battleship Island

Now that Google has made it to Hashima, Nagasaki (AKA Gunkanjima "Battleship Island") is there any reason to visit it in person? There are even official boat tours of the place. I was more enticed by the idea of photographing it a few years back when the island was still relatively unheard of (even within Japan) and off-limits.

Hey, Ladies

I am convinced that at least one of these "women" is really a man. Maybe that's because it was advertising flights to Phuket.


Butt buddies


The only redeeming thing about this poster advertising this dumb movie is that the title when pronounced in Japanese sounds like "After Ass."


Angel of the Moaning

Massage sign spotted in Yurakucho.

"Chinese massage has 4,000 years ago history. Record you got the physical and mental meet and demand."

Sounds like a bad wikipedia entry. At least they correctly spelled Lily with two l's.


Hoppy trucks

Don't worry, be hoppy.


Crazy Candy

The tagline on this grape-flavored gummy candy reads "If you eat it, you'll understand." Cue theme music from The X-Files.


Hot dogs

The Japanese name for this hot dog shop is Machigaine, which loosely translates as "no mistake."  Well, there's no mistaking that she's double-fisting those wieners, that's for sure!


Not bad pics

This photo booth machine is definitely not competing with Glamour Shots.


Sapporo Station

Sapporo Black Label Beer featuring an illustration of the newly renovated Tokyo Station. On sale at Tokyo Station, of course. 


Cylon Toilet

Whenever I use the urinals in Japan, I feel like humming the theme from "Battlestar Galactica."


Tiger mask

This man is often seen walking the streets in Shinjuku. He carries a portable stereo and blasts enka music. I have no idea who he is. He must be some sort of superhero. Or super homeless.


Sloppy snowman

Someone's been busy. A rare snowy day in Tokyo. Good thing it's a national holiday.


Mystery Drink

Behold the "Mystery" beverage. You may get a Coke, green tea, Aquarius Sportsdrink, or who knows?  The only thing you know for sure is that it'll be cold. I wasn't brave enough to buy it. I prefer to exercise my freedom of choice. Life has enough surprises for me as it is.


Buddha vs. Christ

Standing silently, a Buddhist monk begs for alms in exchange for chanting a sutra to passersby. Nearby a guy holds a sign that says "Return to God." Attached to the pole is a loud speaker, which blares about how we are all going to HELL. Not sure who arrived first. If it was the Jesus guy, I'd say "what a dick." (He's a dick anyway, regardless. . ) If it was the Zen practitioner, I bet he thought "life is suffering, so suffering a little more by enduring extremely obnoxious proselytizing at high decibels won't do any harm."

Year of the Snake

New Year's window decorations at the Wako Building in Ginza. Caduceus, the winged snake staff carried by the Greek god Hermes, is copied here from a symbol carved in stone near the entrance to the famous Tokyo landmark. (Forgot to shot a pic of the actual engraving!) While used as a symbol of medicine in the U.S., in other parts of the world it is known as a symbol of commerce.