Bruce, Cameron, Arnold, and Tommy

MJG Ads / Signs, Japan 8 Comments

Hollywood actors often do ads in Japan that they would never do back in the US. I don’t know why really, though I suspect it’s because that kind of ‘selling out’ in America is more likely to negatively impact their status than it would here. A few years back they had David and Posh Beckham in small cars saying- ‘my beautiful small’ at us. Brad Pitt has done low-key advertising for Edwin jeans for as long as I’ve seen Edwin jeans. Back when 24 was huge Kiefer Sutherland reprised Jack Bauer to sell Calorie Mate energy drink. Below are a …

Ikebukuro Excavation Card

MJG Ads / Signs, Japan 2 Comments

On my way through Ikebukuro the other day I spotted this poster for an Ikebukuro ‘excavation card’: I had a look around and found the same poster on this pillar: “Curioser and curioser,” I said to myself. Just what is an excavation card?

Meiji’s Acerola and Lemon

MJG Food / Drink, Japan 2 Comments

Acerola and lemon, yum yum. It’s so delicious that stars will come out of your mouth. When I first came to Japan, I had no idea what an acerola was. Now, thanks to drinking plenty of acerola juice, and also thanks to Wikipedia, I know.  

Meiji Memorial Gallery, Aoyama Itchome

MJG Guides, Japan 2 Comments

The Meiji Gallery in Aoyama Itchome holds 80 works of art depicting scenes from the life of Emperor Meiji (1852-1912), half painted in the Japanese style and half in a Western style, each about 3 meters square and really quite stunning. I discovered this Gallery unconventionally. In fact, I’d thought a long time ago that the museum/impressive building scene in Tokyo was played out for me. I’d been through several solid guide-books and already visited every place that seemed of interest. It seems I was wrong.

Fukutoshin Shibuya Station

MJG Guides, Japan 6 Comments

The new subway station on the F-line in Shibuya is remarkably large, spacious, and modern. It reminds me of the subway system in Washington D.C. for all its brushed concrete blocks and cavernous oval underground spaces. Even now a week after it opened there are still lots of people with cameras snapping away at its sights- of course, including me. This is the concrete hub squatting over the escalators down.

Stopped by the Police

MJG Guides, Japan 9 Comments

Last night I was stopped and questioned by the police. I was riding home on a friend’s tiny BMX-like bike at around 2am, just coming to the hill on Meiji Dori before my house, when I heard something from behind me. I turned around and saw a policeman running up behnd me. I did a double-take, for a second dis-believing that he was following ME, then realized he was, so stopped the bike. He came over and explained he was doing a bike-theft check, and proceeded to ask me questions: was it my bike, whose bike was it, was I …

Kit Kat Triple Berry

MJG Food / Drink, Japan 8 Comments

Kit Kat in Japan exemplify the gad-fly product life-cycle model that rules the confectionery business here, in that they constantly release colorful new but very short-lived product variants. To see a wide range of past Kit Kat flavors- check out my friend Mike’s website, including white, peach, strawberry, bitter, orange, cherry, and cherry blossom.    

Stunning Graffiti in the Ruined Keishin Hospital

MJG Grafitti, Haikyo, Hospitals, Kanagawa 16 Comments

The gutted shell of the abandoned Keishin Hospital stands blank and ghostly on the rural Kanagawa sky-line. It once housed state-of-the-art radiology and cancer departments, now the only pieces of equipment remaining are the chairs bolted to the floor in the dentist’s office. Up close its walls are a vibrant cacophony of ever-changing grafitti, its forecourt a wash of shattered glass and empty spray-paint cans, its encircling car park overgrown with a thick smog of twisted brown underbrush. All record of its previous life has been erased by decades of vandalism, theft, and neglect.

Fukutoshin Line Opens

MJG Uncategorized 4 Comments

On Saturday June 14th the latest and possibly last subway line through Tokyo, the Fukutoshin F-line, opened up, and I was one of the first people on it. The line runs from Saitama down through Ikebukuro and on to Shibuya, with extensions into other train lines at both ends. Trains run around every 5 minutes. I boarded early in the morning, but the whole of Zoshigaya was already a-buzz like I’d never seen before, I suppose chiefly due to F-line tourists checking out the stops along the way. I imagine this new station will inject new capital into the area, …

Gachapon Toys

MJG Japan, Toys / Games 6 Comments

Capsule Stations or ‘Gashapon’ are a big deal in Japan, located outside any place that kids or otaku (nerds) might go. They are basically toy vending machines, like gumball machines, but for toys in plastic egg-shells. The name Gashapon is onomatopoeic, where the ‘Gasha’ is the sound of you turning the handle, and the ‘Pon!’ is the capsule toy popping out. They dispense a whole range of toys, from super-cheap garbage up to higher-end ‘adult-content’ type stuff.