Ryogoku Sumo

MJG Japan, People / Culture 12 Comments

Sumo is the traditional Japanese sport, beloved of retirees and tourists alike. On any tournament day at the Kokugikan in Ryogoku you can see them lining up for tickets at the single ticket box; the old folks nose-deep in their rikishi listings, the tourists in their guidebooks, coming up for air every now and then wide-eyed with anticipation, wondering if something awesome is happening around them, secretly hoping to see something as cool as Edmond Honda’s hundred-hand slap or torpedo head-butt. Well, I can dis-abuse them of that hope. To the sumo novitiate without 15 days to kill watching hundreds …

Kiwi Pocky

MJG Food / Drink, Japan 3 Comments

Pocky have been coming in a wild and weird range of souped-up flavors for decades- I myself have witnessed creme brulee, deep-sea tuna, cauliflower-mango, and flugelberry (oddly enough- a flavor pioneered by the Beatles!). But this new flavor- kiwi, that just takes the cake. Even better- this is tsubu tsubu kiwi- which translates roughly to- kiwi pocky like your mother made it. Wow, those crazy Wonka-ites, what will they think of next? Tugging on our heart strings for that old-style religion, while simultaneously playing our tongue string like a hillbilly banjo. Kiwi Pocky posing on my balcony, despite high wind.

Edo-Tokyo Museum, Ryogoku

MJG Architecture 13 Comments

The Edo-Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku is one of the ugliest and most pointless buildings I’ve yet seen in Tokyo. A giant clunky trapezoid on 4 legs in grey concrete, fissured with juts and wedges and all manner of go-faster stripes, layered with a shrine-like blocky hat, faced with a child-like mosaic paddling pool, dashed round with white umbrella-like gazebos, it adds up to precisely nothing. It’s just ugly, and pointless- in no way calling back the Edo period, or for that matter the Jomon period, or the Meiji period, or any period from any history in the world. It’s just …

Weekly Links

MJG Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Every Saturday I’ll be posting a list of links I’ve enjoyed in the previous week (if I’ve found any, if I can be bothered): Something Wicked Zine – Buy a copy now! Colbert Report – Enjoy the satiric news comedy of Stephen Colbert via streaming. TOHO Cinemas Roppongi – Great resource for finding out movie times and booking tickets. Andrew Jones Art – Amazing artist- go look. Thing Asian Press – Travel guide book publisher who will be putting out a guide to Japan called- ‘To Japan with Love’ featuring a haikyo article and a cycling article from yours truly, …

Nichitsu 2. Elementary school in a Ghost Town

MJG Ghost Towns, Haikyo, Saitama, Schools 16 Comments

At the dead-end of a blast-hewn road snaking up through the mountains north of Tokyo, imprisoned by sheer moss-rocked walls looming overhead like rotting Gothic colonnades, the Nichitsu mine ghost town lies in wait, wreathed in a low mist and perennially dusk-lit by the overhanging crags. It hums with a crippling weight of nostalgia, of enfolded memories playing out again and again in its boarded up buildings, of invisible ghosts standing guard at the mine entrance, looking out of cracked windows, walking their habitual paths to and from and back again.

Freemantle Mons the Leviathan Smile @ Something Wicked

MJG Books, Jabbler's Mons, Stories, Story Art 4 Comments

Freemantle Mons the Leviathan Smile is my first story ever to find publication in a print medium, and I couldn’t have asked for a better debut. The cover-art on the right is a specially commissioned artist’s impression of a scene from the story: the Grammaton looming up from a city in flames. I had no idea Freemantle was going to take the cover like this- so when I saw it I was effusive in my thanks to both editor (Joe Vaz) and artist (Hendricke Gericke). What an honor- thanks again. You can go buy a copy of this magazine, or …

Beer Drops

MJG Food / Drink, Japan 7 Comments

As we all know- sometimes liquid beer just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you have a thirst so deep and true that only a solid will really cut to the chase, really drop the A-bomb, really nuclearize that aching need inside. Up until now, the best solid beer we had was jelly beer, beer-tots, and beer-steak. Ha. Now- the real thing; pellet-sized beer-crystal rocks of deep beery satisfaction, ready for you whenever you think you’re ready for them.

Akihabara Maids

MJG Japan, Manga / Anime / Cosplay 19 Comments

In Akihabara electric town, a district a bit north of Tokyo and jam-packed with a riot of tech-shops selling all manner of computer gear and accessories, the Akihabara maids roam. Decked out in frilly French maid outfits, wide-eyed and gushingly friendly to perps, they prey on the nerdy ‘otaku’ that inhabit Akiba’s warren of back-streets like level 3 kobolds in a beginner dungeon. Pretty in pink.

Waseda Clocktower, Waseda

MJG Architecture 6 Comments

Waseda University, also affectionately known as ‘So-dai’, is one of the top private universities in Japan. Built in 1882, it has since serviced up such cultural and historical giants as the writer Haruki Murakami and the ex-Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (he was PM for not quite a year 07-08 before wimping out). It was founded by samurai scholar and ex-PM Okuma Shigenobu, upon whose death the Okuma auditorium, AKA Waseda clocktower, was built. Waseda Clock-tower.

Japan’s ropeway that died

MJG Haikyo, Ropeways, Saitama 9 Comments

Scrunched up behind thickets of winter-boned brush off the banks of a man-made lake, the last remaining carriage of the Okutama Ropeway hangs slack in its berthing perch. Once a completely false folly, a gaudy ride of a few minutes across a narrow artificial lake, taking in the view of TNT-blasted canyon walls, unnecessary ringing roads, the bridge beside it enforcing its redundancy, it is now consigned to be the most natural thing there, with clotted brown leaves as its only passengers, vines clinging to the station walls the only attendants.