Archive for August, 2008

Thank you. Please come again.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26, 2008 by pigsofdarkness

 

Actually, this has nothing to do with Apu really. I just havent seen an episode of The Simpsons in the 6 weeks Ive been in Japan. Which cant be healthy.

What I was wanting to to show was an example of Japanese car park attendants. Pretty much every customer car park belonging to a larger business or local government has car park attendants to keep carnage to a minimum. Due to the narrow roads, it can be necessary to stop traffic to allow cars to enter or exit parks. And because motorists arent legally obliged to stop at pedestrian crossings, the keener businesses will employ efficient citizens with a penchant for blue uniforms and bright red wands to shuttle shoppers toward the tills. Smaller car parks or council funded jobs usually only have one keeper of order, quite often from the greyer end of the career spectrum. Because they are a bit older, these chaps generally dont understand english, so they can be entertaining to have a conversation with. These photos are from outside our local mall.

Walk toward my brightly coloured wand! Can you do any less? This is no place for loafers!

Silly Lady. Im not taking your photo. You Silly Lady. Check out the complex arrangement going on in the background. Thats what a donut free diet does for you. Yes Jeff, to do this you would have to make some sacrifices. Although you might be able to wear a blue gimp suit. Now that’d be something…

This dude is an artist. Im sure this is a calling rather than just a job.

I wasnt sure if it was illegal to photograph a bowing car park jockey, so I was in stealth mode – wearing black and drinking a coffee. It was a lot of effort, but Im dedicated…

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Beachy keen desu.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12, 2008 by pigsofdarkness

Not long after arriving in Japan, I noticed that it was summer. I think the first inkling I had was stepping from the plane into the tunnel leading to the terminal. Despite this being Japan, the tunnel a: wasnt air conditioned & b: didnt talk to you. But the Japanese women behind me made up for that – my soundtrack to the terminal was “Chotto! Atsui desu!”. Being an observant gaijin, I had already noticed that it was hot. Then, when the shuttle train thing that carried us to the main terminal began chatting away about not falling over and doors opening and suchlike, I thought that I might be suffering heatstroke. Or going a little troppo. Later, when we were driving home from Narita, and the car thanked us for allowing the government to fleece us each time we sped through a toll gate I began to notice a pattern. Most appliances and vehicles in Japan either play a natty tune, or speak to you, or both.

Which has nothing to do with our trip to Enoshima beach, except that I had noticed quite early on that it was warm. And I’d been seduced by a TV ad extolling the virtues of a Beer Garden style bar at Enoshima beach. We didnt actually make it to the beach bar, but it was a pretty flash day all told.

This is the Enoshima Beach railway station. When a railway station looks like this, the temperature is 32deg c. & you can smell the sea, life seems quite good.

Here is one of the many shops selling beach wares. They seem quite keen on inflatables here.

When near the sea it is important to be prepared for any emergency situation. For example, should a flash flood strike a sunny side street near the beach, should you be wearing your inflatable, you may just float safely out of it.

This is the Enoshima River, just past the railway station that you cross to get to the beach. I was coming over all Summer Bay at this stage.

There are small police stations and kiosks all over the place here. The cars arent this small just to amuse the gaijin – there are some pretty narrow streets that they sometimes need to drive up. In the background is Enoshima Island. There were a couple of reasons I wanted to visit this…

I kept looking, but couldnt see Crockett or Tubbs anywhere.

This is one of the bridges leading to the island. One for cars, one for bikes & walkers. Sweet as.

One of the reason I wanted to visit Enoshima (It wasnt all about the beer) was that I had seen an article on NHK news about how the sea eagles who nest on Enoshima Island had gotten a bit lazy (or crafty – depends how you look at it) and had taken to swooping on unsuspecting tourists and stealing food from them as they hold it. This unsurprisingly was causing some consternation as these birds could probably take your hand almost off. Given the zoom limitations of my camera, I was keen to stage a foodnapping for the sake of a good photo. Fortunately Yuka was the voice of reason…

The sight of these chaps circling overhead as we crossed the bridge to the island was pretty cool. Japan always seems to set a special atmosphere whenever you visit something new. Maybe that is why the language tends to describe things as a natural state rather than a personal point of view. Or not.

This is as close as I got to Satoru the Eagle.

This hotel greets you as arrive at the island & Im told it is quite pricey. Which is a shame, because I’d rather like to stay there. For a year or so.

The island is basically a hill with a couple of shrines on top. The street leading up to the first shrine is quite narrow and features many tourist friendly businesses. Much like other parts of Japan.

Also like other parts of Japan, pedestrians, bikes & scooters coexist happily. Im almost learning to get out of the way of scooters, which is good.

Would it surprise you if I mentioned that the machine that dispenses the “Soft Cream” plays a tune and thanks you for being an effiecient citizen (or something similar) when it has finished dispensing?

Here is the entrance to the first shrine. Quite elderly Japanese people were attacking the steps with vigor (it’s legal to posess vigor in public here and the steps seemed pretty much undamaged).

The shrine has it’s own police kiosk. And a flash bike. Which almost ran me over on the way down.

After climbing a few steps, I thought that it might be a good idea to turn around and take a look. Glad I did really. Enoshima beach is in the background. Im sure there is a beer garden down there somewhere.

Here’s the first shrine, where you wash your hands, throw in a coin and wish for good fortune and an efficient family and suchlike.

Here is the veiw from further up. The two bridges are easy to see and comfortingly, the beach is still there.

Every self respecting beach settlement needs a marina. This looks northward up Tokyo Bay.

Would this be to police scooterer that almost ran me down? Hai so desu!

Somebody Hara’d me Juku!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 6, 2008 by pigsofdarkness

The Saturday before last we caught the train into central Tokyo to visit Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya. The middle of the hottest Tokyo summer for years may not be the best time for the central city, but that didnt seem to stop too many.  We may save the return trip until it gets a little cooler, then again, it is pretty cool…

Thsi is Shinjuku Station. As I took this photo a boozed old geezer was yabbering away at me. He must have started pretty early…

Here’s Harajuku. Even my Freshie Gaijin enthusiasm couldnt tempt me to battle that crowd. At this stage it was 34c.

Yep – that baldie gaijin IS taking your photo.

Those awful bloody coloured sandal things are all over the place here as well.

My manus camera skills missed most of the crazy outfits, but next time we will return on a Sunday – that’s the Photo Opportunity time…

Im quite fond of Vans. So I liked this store rather a lot…

I had to have the Iron Maiden hightops. Im going back for the lows…

If I hadnt taken a photo of this dude with his Rock & Roll helmet, I would have been ashamed of myself.

Occasionally I have a “Woohoo – Im in Japan!” moment. This was one…

Cars in Japan arent required to give way to pedestrians at crossings. Didnt take me long to find that out.

Im sure those grapes are worth $30nz a bunch.

This is what Wasabi looks like before it is cruelly beaten into the familiar green paste. We have been eating a less processed version that looks a bit like Tartare Sauce, but is a lot more grunty than the green paste stuff. I dont think that I have sinuses any more..

Bikers of the Orient…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 6, 2008 by pigsofdarkness

Heaps of people ride bikes here in Japan. Obviously traffic congestion and the hot damn public transport system contribute to this, but the government have also made it very safe to ride pretty much anywhere. Bikes and pedestrians share the footpaths and everybody accepts that if they walk anywhere, someone on a bike will at some stage need to get past them, so it all works quite nicely. There is also an extensive network of walking and cycle paths (which serve as access roads for emergency services in the high density residential areas) away from the roads, so gettin’ on yer bike is often the best option for moving about. I found a SE OM Flyer for 60000 yen in a local bike shop recently. So then did some checking & could get a Floval Flyer for a similar price… If I did that I could race in the old man class… Is Japan’s BMX community ready for this? Japan does have a very efficient A&E system. & I do have full medical cover…

Here is the bikepark at our local train station. Im sure it is easy to find your bike at the end of the day…

These are the photos of my neighbourhood…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 3, 2008 by pigsofdarkness

Im not sure how to add Sesame Street music to this.

But you could hum it.

No?

Fine. Be like that.

 

Here is the Citroen 4CV coffee van outside our local Carrefour supermarket. They seem keen on the French ’round these parts (I said parts!) for some reason. I asked the coffee vendor (who we tend to visit every day – the iced coffee rules) “What about the Rainbow Warrior?”, but he pretended not to understand my crazytalk…

After your coffee you tend to pat whatever dog happens to be chained up outside the supermarket. Especially if you are an elderley Japanese man. But Im not Japanese. So there.

There’s an “Outlet Mall” opposite the Carrefour called Grand Berry. Which is where that crazy petshop with the dog outfits is. I hadnt noticed the name of the place initially. That explains a few things…

This place is so French it gives me the crepes…

I even found some Pigs of Darkness! At (as you would expect) a French themed homewares store. Not sure who those whiteys think they are…

This is Route 16. There are more than 16 however. This is the road people take when the just want to drive right on through Machida without even stopping to say Konnichiwa. The traffic is 24/7 here…

…and if I was to turn around on the bridge I was standing on, I could show you the local Ferrari shop. Blimey!

This is in the centre of Machida city. I think this building needs some more signs…

This is still in Machida. Weather looks nice doesnt it?

Vending machine? In Japan? Not far from here I spotted my first Yakuza minion. Spicey!

Here’s that blue gimp suit that Jeff was after…

Here’s a cheezy sunset shot. This is opposite our house. The crazy old bat who lives there has a very nice looking traditional garden, but she does sweep the road outside her place (being one lane, as is the norm for a residential street here – it is pretty close to us) at 5am sharp every day. With a noisy straw broom. Banzai!

Walking around here I keep hearing Caw Caw! Gives me nasty flashbacks…