Archive for travel

Hot & Wet. Not in a good way.

Posted in Bah. Winter., blog manus. no - youre a manus., plantlife. and death., Yikes. Sweaty. with tags , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2009 by pigsofdarkness


Meh. Rainy season sercks.

Back in Ichigatsu, we knew that we still had a couple of wintery months to deal with & I was feeling just a little jaded by the samuiness. Winter, incidently, having begun a little early on Jyugatsu Kokonoka at Fuji Speedway. The day previous had been quite warm, so manus here didnt take a jacket. Yep.

These people all had jackets.

Aaanyhizzle, silly old nature (the crazy joker) decided to throw a late January curve ball (baseball season still several months away, so quite a masterstroke. Ha ha. I said…) our way with one 26C Saturday. Followed by a sub artic Sunday. But I’d like to go on, and on, about the Saturday. I was so discombobulated by this state of affairs that I even went to the park. Twice. With the missus. Both times.

As you might expect, if youve suffered through my previous rantings, it took me next to no time to go quite troppo. Thus I did some unseasonable lurking in the undergrowth. Being technically mid winter, the undergrowth was somewhat sparse. The overgrowth was just sticks. Pretty poor effort really.

My little bird buddy here couldnt believe his crazy warm weather luck.

It was all going swimmingly until the pidgeons turned up.

Followed by the Americans.

This sign was only here during winter.

Presumably these noisy little creatures get all sweaty under the helmet (Ha ha! etc.) in warmer weather, thus staying away from the park, rendering a nattily crafted warning from the municipal authorities somewhat redundant.

Of course, if one was to take one’s  inu for a pleasant sampo in the koen on an unseasonably warm Doiyobi, then one would need not be concerned about rowdy midgets with potential under helmet sweat.

Although old Hat’n Jacket’n Sausage Inu here seemed to be running from something…

…Gajin Four Eyes trying to steal his soul perhaps?

Or maybe those racket making Americans with their warlike aeroplanes of wardom.

Not just I had gone troppo. Here, a local tree attempts to fly a kite.

Ultimately unsuccessful, but kudos for giving it a bash.



Happy Inu Year!

Posted in Bah. Winter., Beasts, shoppin' jp with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2009 by pigsofdarkness

I know. Puns are rubbish. And it is most certainly not Year of the Dog. And we are over a month into 2009. What hey!

2009 dawned cold (unsurprising, given the whole middle of winter thing) and clear, which happens a lot here and is much appreciated by myself. Shochu for breakfast (again, appreciated, etc) and a stroll to the Shinto shrine at the end of the street was the first plan of the year…

Others seemed to have the same idea. Fortunately for us all, the shrine was right where it had been last year. The vaunted Japanese efficiency comes up trumps again!

My atama may have been a little itai, but the sky was blue, the air was fresh, apart from the smoke from the fires lit to give elderley men a place to stand, and I was heading for my first dose of Shinto sake.

The first inu of the year is a corgi! Smashing.

The people on the left are attending a small shrine where you throw in a coin (usually a “lucky” 5 yen piece) and say a little prayer wishing for good stuff, like health, prosperity and a slightly more efficient family than last year.

My father in law (the taller one to the left) was highly amused by the antics of the small fellow, who in turn seemed quite entranced by the movements of the chap carrying the skateboard.

The main shrine up yonder was holding Shinto New Year services, where you could also go through the coin/health/efficient family ritual. As we did.

Light the fire, the old blokes will arrive. Actually, slightly off the subject of New Years Day, today we were discussing the geriatric aspects of driving a Honda Fit and surmised that to fit the Fit, as it were, I would perhaps need an old bloke hat (although the Fit has no parcel shelf to display said hat as a warning of slow, yet erratic maneuvering to the line of traffic following behind), a pipe and a tweed jacket, possibly patched at the elbow. In the interests of New Year efficiency (the 5 yen worked!) I have decided to settle for a tweed hat (unpatched) and shaking my fist at pidgeons. Even shook at a few pidgeons this afternoon. Quite a lark. Although I couldnt find any larks to threaten. I did however stare balefully at a crow. Because codgeritis hasnt consumed me fully, I can remember what I was on about before, so back to January 01.

You wouldnt believe how many Honda Fit owners I had to elbow aside to get this close to the fire. Shouldve brought along some pidgeons to distract them…

Inu Nichi! I wouldve thought that this fellow was much more worthy of entering a shrine than a corgi, but Im no expert. I cant really even intimidate a pidgeon…

Enough of this tradition madness – there are more dogs to greet and a mall to loiter at!

This is Yuzu-chan. She lives on the way to Glandbelly Mall.  A little pungent, but always good to catch up.

If you squint your eyes just so, you’ll look a bit strange. Also, you might notice that there is a Ferrari F40 behind the white thing. F40 lives across the road from Yuzu-chan.

Since you were wondering about what other cars we saw on the way to the mall, here is a Lotus Exige making all kinds of racket on the way to Minami Machida railway station. Almost at the mall now!

Turning to face the other way, there’s a New Year’s glimpse of Fuji San. Aki Mashite Cobber! I know, you want to get to the mall. Those two look like they have already been. Meh. We aint goin’ to shop yo. We goin’ to loiter.

Crickey. Another corgi. Wearing a Mickey Mouse coat.


That’s better. A real dog. That pushchair thing in the background is not for a small child. In there is a pathetic excuse for an inu which most certainly is not keepin’ it real. Homies.

It was a pooch-o-rama on these here stairs. I tried to capture both with me soul stealer, but ended up failing with both. Pretty cool how the front one casts a tail shadow that looks like a palm tree. Not sure how many parties that trick would work at, but worth a try.

It seemed that several others shared our mall idea. Some even came without dogs. Madness.

Holmes here didnt even have a dog, but that didnt stop him. No Sir.

I guess a canine kimono has to be better than a pouffy little Mickey Mouse jacket.

You can’t see my dog because I put it in this bag! Watch me lift it above my head, because I’m quite strong!

This may be the dog version of a pink muscle shirt. Go the Rabbitohs!

Oh bloody hell. Some things you should just leave at home.

Almost Taiko Time!

Sure the photo is blurry. But you takes what you gets when you snap the Poodle of Darkness.

Oh yes. It’s Taiko Time!

I hadnt begun my pidgeon threatening campaign at this stage, so these two were safe for now…

This dude strode up and down the line of patronage, menacing the young and elderley alike with his manic drum beating and wildy contorting facial expressions.

Then he was joined by a tomodachi. No-one in the crowd was safe. Unless, perhaps, they were equipped with inu… Surely not?

Why not start the year with an ’80’s suburban cowperson revival? I could think of a few reasons, but why not follow your dreams. It’s winter, after all.

My guess is that little Fido here had left an unchi on the tatami and was being made to wear the Flouncey Blouse of Shame as a punishment.

I wanted to finish with this bit of awesomeness. Definitely less owls than pooches, in fact this seemed to be the only one at the mall.


Mmmm… Festive…

Posted in Bah. Winter., purdy, shoppin' jp with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2009 by pigsofdarkness

Given that we are now about half way through January, it is about time to post our Xmas day gaddings about. As Japan doesnt shut itself down for Xmas, I forwent my usual fizzy wine breakfast and jitensha’d my way into downtown Machida for a Nihongo lesson in the morning. In fact, I didnt touch any squiffy juice until after the sun departed these shores. Fortunately, being winter, that was before 5pm.

Our first port of call was Jiyugaoka. In the name of information sharing, I can tell you that Jiyogaoka was voted Tokyo’s most desirable neighbourhood, or, if you would prefer, “the most want-to-live city in Japan”, in 2008 (now get this!) by residents! Given that it is a totemo takai area to live, even by Tokyo standards, it is probably not surprising that the residents didnt vote it “most sucky suck of all sucks” or anything along those unfavourable lines. And it is very nice. I would live there. Sadly, I may never be that full of yen.

I still hadnt had any cake for Xmas (not that awful Brit style fruit rubbish – any cake goes here – Im partial to chocolate with whiskey…) and when Xmas day finished, still hadnt. I seem to have recovered quite well, all things considered. I really wanted to alter on the sign in the shop so it read “Sweet – Christmas”, but the missus is trying to keep my acts of public vandalism to a minimum. Next time maybe.

What a bitchin’ name for a hair salon! No time for an Eyelush treatment.

As I am a quick adaptor, it only took me about two hours to not have a funny turn each time a train rushed overhead. Others did seem more at ease.

Like this guy.

Hello Kitty! Ok – sorry about that. This was so cool – this area was seriously loud, & busy, with trains roaring past about a metre away from Felix here, but he (or she) wasnt bothered – more intent on giving PhotoOpportunity Boy the evils. In hindsight Puss was quite likely profoundly deaf. Urban Grittiness!

To quote the illuminated sign: “The way that a ball this store. Love a ball is, this store. Love a ball is, ORIENTAL PASSAGE”. So now you know.

If you consider the location, the street value of this tag is probably quite high. And that is an utterly nonsensical statement made because I’d posted a few too many photos without a caption. Check out how clean the area below is. Not even a cigarette butt, which is pretty flash given the amount of fag puffery going on in this land.

Lincoln Continental perchance?

To pilot a barge this size around streets this narrow you’d probably need some sort of guide boat. Later I even saw a Hummer H1, but was too appalled to take a photo. I mean really. The ridiculus girth of the Lincoln is more acceptable due to it being the automotive eqivalent of a porno soundtrack. A Hummer H1 is more of a Kid Rock ballad about an attractive teenaged cousin. Not that Im suggesting that Kid Rock has recorded such a ballad, simply trying to paint a picture, you understand. Word.

After such unholy musings, I figured that we needed a shrine. This was directly around the corner from the Lincoln. Ahhh… contrasts…

Apparently Top Gear has a retail outlet here, selling used watches. Who knew?

I cant confirm that the lower one on the left is Richard Hammond’s tag, but lets just assume that it is.

I saw these lighters and thought to myself “Surely not…”…

Surely does! Feel the heat from my twin nostril fires! Can you do any less? I havent uttered this is a blog before, but, Radness.

This place was cool’n all, but probably needed more bikes…

Watch out Xmas tree! There’s bamboo behind you!

Eventually the sun said “Screw you hippies!” and sodded off to China. And beyond. Cor blimey – theres another train.

And another.

This one was quite high & next to a skateshop, so must be Jeremy Clarkson’s tag.

Im not sure if this is a sign, or a statue, or a sculpture or whatever else, but when we first saw it, the boob thing on top was red. We waited for several minutes for it to turn red again, but nope.

So had to settle for blue, which was a poor substitute, but places to go, wine to drink…

This here crafty shopkeep had managed to trap a Microbus. Almost better than a Jeremy Clarkson tag.

‘Lil Bow Wow here had been howling up a storm and attracting quite a crowd, but as soon as I whipped out me pointy shooter, found something of great interest in the gutter. Meh.

My favourites were the golden Xmas horse and the earthy Maid Marion-esque Santa costume.

This street was very busy with people, but somehow Ive managed to not show that at all. Guess that’s what comes from lurking in the fruit baskets.

We found Castle Greyskull, but there was no sign of He-Man. Perhaps he was away lurking in some fruit baskets…

The widest street was right outside the railway station. Helps the taxi drivers perfect their mad dorifto skills.

Stop ni was Futako Tamagawa. And isnt that the Takashimaya department store? Why yes. Yes it is.

No time for manipulating silver balls – time for my Xmas drunkening…

We did go into Chanel. I think they were jealous of my Bad Brains t shirt.

Ha ha! Seahorse knobs!

This cool roof garden was part of a restaurant aimed at people far richer than us. I took special care not to fall in the pond.

Several other people chose to take the same train as we did. I guess they were all pleased that I hadnt fallen in the pond.

We found this at the Australian themed restaurant at Gland Belly that we stopped at for a beer on the way home. We were punished for visiting an Ocker caff by having to wait 20 minutes for a seat at the bar(!), then ended up with a booth. The waitress had heard me say “Sweet as”, so asked me where I was from. Turns out she had spent six months in Carterton on a school exchange. We both agreed that the stay was about 5 and a half months too long.

Thats fine, but what if you were playing Knifey Spooney?


Slightly warmer. But still not enough for sandals.

Posted in Bah. Winter., Gran Touristmo, plantlife. and death. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2008 by pigsofdarkness

Unable to help myself, I plunged back into hippydom at the local park. I cant seem to stop the clickery when the leaves go all aka. Maybe Ive gone all aka in the atama. I blame the weather. And those damn F-18 flying Americans, with all the booming and roaring and carrying on. Meh.

Hey! This is kiro, not aka! Kuso!

Not too many large dogs to be seen here. Maybe because the poo bags (what’d you call me?) are only available in small sizes. Or the chiisai houses. Or maybe large dogs are less efficient.

I dont subscribe to the notion that a red bag enables you to sneak up on the tree to take a photo before it realises you are there. In fact I prefer to whirl like a dervish and shriek like a banshee, so the tree has ample warning of my intentions. Doesnt sit too well with the natives, but I havent heard the trees complaining. Too much.

Here’s a new one. It’s a tree. With red leaves. That’s right. Purdy.

For a short time the train drowned out my whirling and shrieking. Only a short time, so dont worry – Im ok. Anyway, how are you?

Here are some nice seats, so you can relax under a tree with red leaves. Whilst people go to the toilet behind you. Hopefully using the facilities provided.

Mitte! Mitte! One of the red-leafed trees has escaped from the park!

Dont worry – turbo here will catch the other one.

These yellow fellows (heh) glowed in the sunlight for about three weeks in an almost ethereal manner. Then it blew like a (whatever!) a couple of days ago and now the trees are naked as a (whatever!) on Grand Finals night. I think nature decided that they were getting a bit smarmy in their finery. Also, a frigid anti-cyclone blew over from the Asian mainland. “Gosh – it’s brisk!”, is probably what I may have exclaimed at the time, given my well known aversion to profanity.

After the excitement of our adventures in the park, we stepped out for some Minami Machida night action. Here is a blurry capture of the madness of Route 16 when the sun has Run To The Hills. The apartment building (manshon in the local parlance) in the background actually has no residents. But they can leave the lights on because we dont have to worry about running out of power here. Ahh – plutonium. Or uranium. Ha ha – I said!

This is looking toward Yokohama. Dont be shy. Say Konbanwa.

And this is west, toward… ahh… China.

Leave it to Japan to provide an efficient way to get off of the bridge.

Im pretty sure that it is easier to sneak up on a tree at night, but I whirled and shrieked anyway.

Little did the locals realise, that a nattily behatted gaijin was skulking about, stealing stouls in the early evening gloom.

Of Doom!

More gloom… And then…

…the dazzling wonderousness of the bicycle parking lot. Here wait the steeds of the Bikers of the Night. Most have Baskets of the Night on the handlebars.

Not just any bicycle parking lot. This one is beholden to Gland Belly itself. Which is all snazzed up for Xmas.

Local folklore suggests that if you wish to find an Eskimo, firstly check beneath the glowing tree.

I sat beneath this glowing tree, but the Eskimo were scarce. Perhaps startled by my whirling and shrieking.

The excitement of glowing trees lessened somewhat, but may return when I find another Eskimo.

Now there’s a funny word to put on your shop.

The quickest way home happens to pass one of the local Ferrari dealerships, which is a shame…

It’s too cold to wear sandals…

Posted in plantlife. and death., purdy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2008 by pigsofdarkness

…but I can still take hippy photos.

Sunday was sunny as all heck, but samui to the same degree, so we stepped out for a sampo with the trusty soul stealer. I have it on good authority that this garden wouldnt cut it in Kyoto, but we werent in Kyoto. Or at Fuji Speedway for the Nismo Festival. Or at Odaiba for the MSC Exhibition. So I’ll start with a couple of cars that made me blabber on like a gaijin car otaku…

I was all upset because Id missed getting a shot of a very nice Hakosuka Skyline as I had handed the camera to the missus for a moment, but 30 seconds later this F40 blasted by on Route 16. This location is smack bang (wallop?) between two closely situated Ferrari shops. So there you go.

Fortunately my dream car-isms are at a slightly more realistic fiscal level, although still wholly impractical for my current situation. This Nissan Gloria is kind of a chrome laden regression from my much missed A31 Cefiro. I.e. perfect.  And the colour is flash as. Dull mud perhaps? Anyway, moving right along…

As you may know, it doesnt take much to reduce me to slack jawed yokelism, and this has been happening more frequently since Ive been in Japan. But really. These trees are insanity plus. I saw them for the first time on Saturday, when it was as overcast as the Nissan Gloria’s paintjob, so when it dawned bright & cold on Sunday it was photo opportunity!!!! time. Without doubt. In case you had any.

Heh heh. Purdy.

Thats rustic, that is.

In a few weeks, all of these leaves will be gone! Then it will be winter! Of Doom!



I know. You wanted to see the shed again. Here you go. Caring and sharing. Thats the way.

Ok ok ok ok. Ok. One more of the shed. But please stop asking.

I thought that keeping the wall in the bottom (ha ha I said!) of the shot would make it look better. Seems I was wrong…

A cheesy through the hole (ha ha! I said) in the wall shot to finish.

Cheers Japanese Nature!

There are even more (Noooooooo!!!) photos in this flickr set:

Some look pretty flash in larger sizes.


Wanna see my JR Yokohama Sen?

Posted in off and on the rails with tags , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by pigsofdarkness

Ok, it’s not actually mine as such. But after paying ni-hyaku ku-jiu en I was allowed to travel along it. And I’d like to invite you to see some of what I saw. Unless you are one of those infidels who are enjoying an incoming summer whilst I shiver and whine. You people can bloody well just go and play outside.

Just jokes. You can stay.

This is Nagatsuda Eki. Eki means station. Did you know that? Now you do. The woman in the shot is the only one not quick enough to run away from my marauding camera. Mwaaahahahahaha!

It seems that the driver of this densha (densha means… ok I’ll stop) didnt realise where we were and drove right on by on the wrong track. Dont worry. A less directionally challenged fellow turned up with his train slightly later. And it was just as good as this one.

Whilst the national sport here is still cigarette smoking (although I dont think they teach smoking in schools any more), texting whilst walking/driving/cycling/eating is sneaking up behind (ha ha – I said) and may take over the numero uno spot if for some reason smoking becomes unfashionable. Although from what Ive seen, as long as breathing is legal, durries will remain Ichiban.

And in at number three – taking a nap on the train! Seems all age groups are keen on this one, not something I think I could manage. Id end up crashing to the floor, which would be less than efficient.

Proof! The Tilty Headed Aliens are among us!

I had searched for so long to find a train that would greatly appreciate my kindness. Now I can concentrate on the quest for the Jade Monkey.

I think the woman on the escalator has spotted a Tilty Headed Alien.

I had intended to take a photo of Nissan Stadium, where Yokohama F Marinos (two places ahead of the Mighty S-Pulse in lower mid section of the J-League table) play, but was too slow, so here is a completely different scene, including a silver chimney and some flash pylons. No need to thank me, Im just happy that the train appreciated my kindness.

I wanted to make amends for my Nissan Stadium failure by recording some cool looking houses we densha’d past, but that other flippin’ train got in the way. Maybe at the bidding of the Tilty Headed Aliens.

Using a mobile! What are the odds? Pretty high Id say. As we all know, all telephone companies are evil, perhaps controlled by Tilty Headed Aliens.



I think I may have discovered something about the Internet…

Posted in Hmmm with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2008 by pigsofdarkness

Earlier this week I uploaded some photos to my flickr site. Ive not been one for taking photographs of food much before, because, well, I have better things to do, but there are some pretty funny looking foodstuffs served here, so I figured that I might make a few exceptions. Crikey! 5 comma’s in one sentence. My first gastro-capture was a Beanfish (or Taeyaki if you want to go all Nihongo), which are served all over the place ’round these parts (ha ha – I said). Available with a sweet red bean (oishii desu) or custard (pleh) filling and served warm, these are worth a return ticket for. Pretty much.

I felt that a nicely focussed shot of the sweet sweet beans would be too prissy. Went for Edgy instead. Im thinking of preparing a manifesto. Then any accusations of my photography skills being substandard would be simply churlish.

I suggest mastication accompanied by a delicious coffee.

Yep, so I uploaded me Beanfish and within twelve hours the first image had been veiwed 250 times and each of the others 200 or so.

I wonder. Do you think that there might be web geeks out there sitting at a computer obsessing about food?