Friday, November 30, 2007

Images from Day Four, Sunday Oct 21

For a description of the day click here.

Starting with the flea market at Hanazono jinja. Cindy is checking out many of the interesting small items this woman had. I'm looking at an old photo album of early, mainly silent, Japanese movie stars. Alas no images of Bando Tsumasaburo, one of my favorite early actors.

During the photo session at the shrine Steven and Cindy both spent a great deal of time taking pictures of this small inari shrine. The main gate, at the end of this row of red torii included a very large wooden phallus.

Eventually they started running out of things to photograph and I suggested we head to Golden Gai, a place neither knew much about but which was my major interest for the day. This picture is of the first street and sign you reach as you head there from the shrine.

As I mentioned in the description linked above we lucked out in that we happened to be there on the day of the twice a year Golden Gai flea market. This fellow made the best coffee I had in Tokyo, and all the coffee was great. Each cup was brewed individually. His shirt says “Toast, Butter, Crumbs”.

This view shows the narrow two story buildings that compose this neighborhood of bars and the larger modern buildings surrounding it.

Cindy getting her picture taken while she is taking a picture of plants and both of them are being photographed by Yusuke Komiyama on the far right, and of course all three are caught by Steven who took this shot.

Another street scene, there were potted plants everywhere, not just here but in almost every part of Tokyo we were in.

Cindy looking at a set of small dolls she bought for her daughter. That’s me in the red Zeta Gundam t-shirt in the background.

This is one of the streets on the way to the station after we left Golden Gai. While the streets often had large numbers of people it ever felt crowded as people kept moving and if they needed to stop stepped off to the side. The fashions were incredibly diverse, forget what people say about the Japanese being conformists.

We headed to Shibuya but it was getting dark so we looked for a nonsmoking place for dinner. We ended up a few blocks to the North West of the station in a place that had great noodle dishes and tempura. Here Steven is digging into his udon while enjoying the late 50s rock and roll they were playing.

Well that's enough for today. I put these together rather quickly so please forgive typos etc.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Images from the Third Day

Images from Saturday the 20th. For greater detail check this link for a description of the day.

Our morning walk again brought us back to Kappabashi dori.

This image of the Nimi store is of the main building across the street from the one I posted yesterday. Who could resist going back to photograph that chef's head on the buiding. Not Steven.

After the morning walk we headed to Akihabara. That famous electronics district transformed into a shopping mecca for anime, manga and video game fans. This shot is of an older part of the area that shows it's electronic shop splendor.

On the edge of Akihabara is the Kanda River. We saw tour boats and other traffic while taking photos of the older stone concrete structures near here. The long building to the left is actually under the railroad tracks, right under they form the roof.

Another view of Akihabara, each of these tall buildings is full of shops sell all manner of delightful objects. This area was actually much bigger than I expected.

While waiting for Adolfo we headed to a nearby shrine, Kanda Jinja, if you ever go to Akihabara or the Kanda bookstore area take time to walk to this beautiful shrine.

Back in Akihabara, after meeting up with and walking around with Adolfo, he and I took a rest while Steven took this shot. What is interesting is that you see so few people in this picture, there were people everywhere at that time.

OK all for today, check back tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No images tonight

Sorry folks.

I'm beat so there will be no imagestonight as I'll take a break.

However I'll take my laptop to the coffee shop tomorrow morning and work on new entries before I have to head to work.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Images from the second day

Images for October 19.

We started each morning with a walk in the neighborhood so Steven and Cindy could take pictures. The previous day started this way as did this one.

One of the secrets of Tokyo's transportation is the bicycles. They were everywhere on the sidewalks and the pedestrians simply made room for them. It helped that the cyclers kept a polite pace slightly faster than the pedestrians rather than dashing around.

Nimi is a very large restaurant supply store, actually series of stores on Kappabashi dori a street where you can get everything you need to stock a restaurant from kitchen supplies to signs to plastic food models even antiques to make the place look rustic and old. Check out the coffee cup shaped fire escapes.

Japan has a relatively low rate of unemployment. One reason may be large numbers of small businesses like this barbershop are found in every neighborhood, often with the family home upstairs. Makes for an easy commute for the owners.

Steven often spent time photographing temples and various things near them. This image taken at Tokyo Honganji is an example of a major temple in close proximity to a very active neighborhood. The large apartment complex in the background is where the earlier photo of bikes was taken.

After our morning walk we headed to Nakano Station to meet Steve Bennett. As we got there early we headed to the arcade for some food. We each had various noodle dishes, the food was cheap, tasty and the staff friendly.

After we hooked up with Steve he showed us his old haunts from when he was a kid. This stationary store owner remembered him as soon as he walked into the door. I picked up a nice compass to help navigate, it was useful after dark.

This old poster of Space Battleship Yamato has been over the door of the stationers for 30 years, some of the tape must be from about as long. The colors are faded but the crew looks as young and brave as when this anime was a new show on Japanese TV.

Small Inari shrines like this one were common in many areas. This one is next to a parking complex in Steve's old neighborhood. Shortly before this photo was taken a man was praying at this shrine. Such prayers were a common sight everywhere we went.

This is part of Arai Yakushi temple. During the fire bombings in 1945 Steve's grandmother took refuge here with his mother. They survived in this island of greenery while the entire neighborhood burned, except for the temple and their house. When Steve was a child he often visited this temple with his mother.

Three suspicious fellows. From the right: Steven Bennett, Senno Knife and me.

Looks like I had success today, I'll try to get another batch of images up tomorrow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Finally the pictures

OK it's been a busy few weeks. But I'm caught up on much of my writing for the month and rested. So here we go the first images from the trip. What I'll do is post images from a single day each day or so.

Lets start with pictures from our first morning, on October 18.

This is the famous Kaminarimon gate, usually you see pictures of it with crowds filling the space. But we were there pretty early.

Beyond this famous gate is the famous Nakamisedori, a street of shops. However if you get there early like we did you get to see the murals painted on the shutters of the shops. There are so many of them you could do a small book on just these images and what they represent.

One thing we saw on a temple building was this onigawara end tile. These represent a river deity and are considered a charm against fire. We would later see many of these on traditional buildings.

After a short rest back at the ryokan and breakfast we again ventured out for what would become the Ueno Death March. This first picture is of the Hanayashiki amusement park, a very small park that was originally built in the 1920s.

As we walked towards Ueno park we kept getting sidetracked which resulted in a zig zag route that had some really cool stuff like the Shinto shrine above.

Another factor was the diversity of architecture, of the old and the new, like this run down building in the middle of a very modern block of shops.

By this point were were almost at the park and end of the day. Tomorrow I'll attempt to post images from October 19th.

Someone else's photos

When we were in Golden Gai we met a photographer named Yusuke Komiyama. I just dug out his business card and did a search for him on the web. This led me to a blog with the following images .

In the top group that is Steven in the upper left showing off his t-shirt, Yusuke is in the picture to the right of that one. I am on the right side, not far from the bottom, in a red t-shirt with a Lupin and Fujiko figurine set I picked up at the flea market. Cindy is behind my left in that shot.

The fellow in the lower right brewed the best cup of coffee I ever had in Tokyo and all the coffee I had was great.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Place, food and a cute mascot

I apologize for being late in getting the pictures from the trip up. I hope to start this tomorrow as I have to work today.

3 new entries added to the Anime Companion Supplement:



Pipo-kun (police mascot)

Monday, November 19, 2007

gardens, mothers and a symbol easily confused

This week's new entries are:

karesansui (sand garden)

kyôiku mama (education mama)

manji (swastika)

Thanks go to Kyle T. Pope who back in 1998 suggested I do an entry on manji. It took awhile.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Anime Companion Supplement - More fuzoku

While I did add new entries to the Anime Companion Supplement last week I not post a list of updates last week as things have been busy since getting back from Tokyo.

Last week I added three more entries related to the Japanese sex industry. This week I have two and a half, half in that one is only partly related to the industry.

Last weeks entries:

fasshon herusu (fashion health)
ferachio (fellatio)

This week's entries:

matto sâbisu (mat service)
sokushaku (immediate fellatio)

This pretty much ends my regular string of sex related entries which I have been doing over the past year. I had delayed on doing such entries for years until I could find reliable secondary sources.

My main secondary sources for these entries have been:

Peter Constantine, Japan's Sex Trade - long out of print, a friend located a copy for me at Book Zoo, a fun and eclectic mess of a bookshop.

Joan Sinclair, Pink Box - The author became interested in the subject of the fûzoku (sex industry) when she was teaching English in Japan. Years later she spent several months researching and photographing this alspect of Japanese entertainment producting a well crafted work which I picked up as soon as it came out last year.

Looking over my notes I notice I still have a few more entries to do but need examples from anime and manga to do them. Sources who prefer to remain anonymous and who follow ero-anime have given me good advice, manga was much easier to research as I could easily skim through volumes to see if they hav any useful material. What I did find interesting is that almost all erotic and pornographic anime and manga have little to say about the sex industry, their tales take place in everyday life. Instead non-erotic and non-pornographic seinen set in modern Japan have been my major source of useful examples.

If you know of any examples of US commercially released anime and manga with references to the sex industry which I have missed please let me know.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More to come on the trip

While we are back there will be further reports on the trip. I plan to do a series of reflections and include plenty of photos. I was having trouble with posting images for some reason in Tokyo so I decided to wait until I was home, and there are plenty of images to choose from so keep checking back.

Tuesday the 30th Ueno Park at last

On the final full day we caught the subway to Ueno Station and headed out towards the park. Heading along the south side of the park going away from the station we soon came upon Shinobazu pond with it's massive amounts of lotus leaves. Steven started taking pictures at this point, Cindy had left her camera at the ryokan as she planned to just enjoy the sights. In the pond is a small temple to Benten a deity who is considered a patron if the arts. The present shrine is larger than the original structure as the building was expanded in the 20th century and the island it was on connected to the land by a pathway. On the sides of the pathway were various stones and statues as well as a passed out salaryman in his suit, probably left over from the night before. After steven took pictures of various sights we started to head for the zoo. We were fortunate in that the weather was nice after the previous day's heavy rain. Abandoning Steven to a photo frenzy I followed Cindy towards the zoo. Losing track of her I went in and headed to the monkeys, get separated from someone when you first enter a zoo, just go to the monkeys and they will eventually wander by. Soon I spotted her and Steven and we wandered together. The zoo was quite nice with plenty of school kids ranging from preschoolers to middle school students. later we would spot high school students at some of the museums.

Leaving the park, after a lunch, we headed to the Natural History Museum. A;long the way we spotted an acrobat, stands selling food and drink, a musician with puppets; this fellow was European and had the audience in stitches as he ran a puppet dog in front of a women with three dogs on a leash that wanted to head for the puppet. His outfit was vaguely East European with a beak of a nose to match. Heading further on we entered the museum and spent some time enjoying interesting exhibits. Before we exited we headed to the gift shop where Cindy purchased some small items including a rock sample from Japan. Steven bought a high quality set of beetle replicas.

We continued to wander in the park listening to jazz musicians and enjoying the walk. Now this was a Tuesday and the park was filed with people ranging from the students to people waking their dogs, to elderly out for a stroll, mothers with children and the homeless to live n the park in small shelters they have built. The authorities allow the homeless to stay as there are few of them ad they usually move on after they find work. At one food stand the owner was having a friendly drink with some of the homeless as they chatted.

Before we left the park we went to the Shitamachi History Museum with it's replicas of full sized buildings from the Meiji through early Showa periods. This is a very small museum on two stories but it has several nicely done exhibits, you can even take off your shoes and go inside the buildings.

Then we searched for a place to get dinner and headed back to the ryokan for the last night.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Monday the 29th Himiko, the Sumidagawa, Odaba, a bridge and even more.

We got up about our usual time and when the office opened I checked the schedule for the Himiko water bus. This boat was designed by Matsumoto Leiji the famous manga artist who is well known for his Captain Herlock and Galaxy Express series. The boat is a very beautiful, streamlined looking more like a spaceship than a water craft. The walls and ceiling are a single curve covered in windows.

As we rode down the Sumidagawa towards Tokyo Bay Steven took photos of most of the bridges and much of the view from the river. Tokyo's rivers are at different heights and are connected by many canals. For this reason locks are used to travel between the rivers as well as to help regulate water flow during storms by diverting some water to another river. One also sees floodgates in this low part of the city.

After going down the river and past the daiba we landed at Odaiba. The daiba are a series of island fortifications built in the 1850s to protect the shogun's castle from possible European and American attack. Given the history of imperialist attacks on other East Asian nations such a defense was wise even if ever used in battle. As this part of Tokyo Bay was filled over the second half of the 20th century some of the daiba were surrounded by fill ceasing to be islands. The remaining ones are still there with one now a park connected by a narrow pathway.

After landing at Odaiba, this part of Tokyo is named after the daiba, we sat for a bit enjoying the view, Steven took pictures of the exterior of Himiko, then we walked in search of brunch and coffee. We located a Korean restaurant where after some confusion we ordered our meals. Confusion as the staff did not speak English and we did not read Japanese. This resulted in Steven and Cindy ordering child plates instead of adult meals. After some amusement over this fact, Cindy got the Shinkansen plate, Steven the Hello Kitty one, we dug into a great lunch.

Then we wandered the halls of the Odaiba shopping complex in search of a smoke free coffee shop. We exited and walked outside until we spotted tables and seats where Cindy and I ordered two cups. Fortified with our preferred starter fluid we wandered towards the beach. Our goal, the pedestrian walkway of the Rainbow Bridge. The beach area was nice, not as busy as I imagine it is on the weekends. We did observe a group of bare chested young men with wooden swords and blindfolds attempt to break a watermelon on the beach. Now this is normally done by one person at a time, not a group. There was a fellow filming this with a tripod mounted camera. as we left the melon was intact, tho' some of the young men now had bruises.

At the end of the beach was the ramp leading to the bridge. None of the signage was in Roman letters so an attendant pointed the way for us. If you find yourself there look for a small office next to a wide ramp and head upwards towards the bridge. At first the pedestrian walkway is separate from the traffic, in time it is alongside the traffic lane.

The view were nice and the walk is 1,700 meters, not all that long. Cindy and Steven took pictures. Exiting the West side of the bridge we worked our way inland crossing over several canals. This part of the city is a very active port with truck traffic and people bustling back and forth.

We crossed the train tracks at a station and headed in a vaguely Northern direction with me checking the atlas to find exactly where we were. Soon we were on our way to Zojoji Temple and Tokyo Tower down a major avenue that passed the temple.

After hoofing it for awhile Cindy asked we stop and rest. Luckily we were approaching a park so we walked into it. After a short time Cindy was back on her feet, Steven had not sat down but kept taking photos. I steered them in the direction of the temple and soon we arrived at the gates. Zojoji is one of the more impressive temples of Tokyo with a long history and connection to the Tokugawa shoguns. The Tokugawa graves are located in a walled area behind the temple. One thing a visitor will notice is that there is a very large number of Jizo statues on the grounds. Offerings are made to these statues by women who have lost an infant or who suffered a miscarriage or had an abortion. A few hundred years ago one of the priests of the temple played a role in changing Japanese views towards young children and influenced the government in establishing orphanages and outlawing the abandonment of infants. The grounds of the temple are impressive, there is even a small shrine with crows carved on some of the stonework. I was informed the national soccer team prays at this shrine before te World Cup.

As the sun was setting we walked to a nearby subway station for an easy ride home.