My photo in the Royal Academy of Arts

MJG Architecture, Japan 3 Comments

Two of my Tokyo architecture photos are currently on display in the Royal Academy of Arts, in London. They are part of an exhibition entitled Weird, Wacky and Wonderful in the Architecture space. That is pretty cool. I was contacted a month or so back about the exhibition- with regard to this funky Gundam building in Shibuya: It’s actually part …

Pros / Cons of Life in Japan #1 Walking

MJG Japan, Pro / Con 28 Comments

City-walking is both an art and a science. As any seasoned city-walker knows (I’m looking at you, New York), success depends on an endless stream of complex crowd-motion algorithms executed with the balletic grace of Neo slow-dodging bullets. Like a persistent spermatazoa wriggling for the egg, we city-walkers waggle, chicane, and drive our way through the crowds of human dreck …

Vanilla Ice Second & more Japangrish

MJG Japan, Japangrish 0 Comments

Perhaps you’ve always wondered. Perhaps you used to protest to your friends until they branded you the group’s uncool pariah- “No, but listen, a Vanilla Ice comeback really WOULD be awesome.” At which point you probably broke into song: “Alright, stop, collaborate and listen-“ I recommend you listen to Ice himself while reading the rest of this post. Ice on? …

Hackman Gachapon

MJG Japan, Toys / Games 0 Comments

You can buy odd things in a Gachapon. Perhaps attention too often goes to the wadded-up knicker-vending machines (so sought-after these days), and not often enough to those cute little machines sitting so innocently right at your kids’ eye level. In the past I’ve experimented and come up with the rear end of a fire truck and a piece of …

Orange Injection Candy

MJG Food / Drink, Japan

Drugs designed for kids often taste like candy. I remember getting to love the taste of the cold remedy Sudafed, and looking forward to taking it- lovely goopy syrupy sugar. If I could’ve chugged it freestyle, I very well might have (and actually did once, when my sister and I sat under the kitchen table around 6 years old and …

Japan’s sexy Coca Cola

MJG Food / Drink, Japan 5 Comments

It’s not often this site gets sexy. Occasionally you’ll get your dabblings in Coppertone bikini girls or your Girls Generation Cheetos, but never explicitly sexy. Here though we’ll get explicit. We’ll get sexy. If you’re a minor, avert your gaze. Everyone else, buckle up and batten down, cos here we go: Phew, somebody get a dehumidifier in here, it is …

Girl’s Generation Cheetos

MJG Food / Drink, Japan, People / Culture 12 Comments

Girls Generation is a big news 9-member pop group from South Korea. They are currently breaking into Japan and other Asian countries in a major way. This can be seen in their cute same-looking legs gracing the covers of many product ads, from cookies to Cheetos. Girls Generation prep for launch. My favorite is probably, um, the leader? 9 different …

Pros / Cons of Life in Japan #2 Fighting

MJG Japan, Pro / Con 9 Comments

Fighting in real-life is pretty dumb. You’ve gotta be a drunk or some kind of psycho to go around initiating fights with real people, though there are doubtless plenty of both. I remember being yelled out countless proposals to fight while walking pub-to-club on the night-streets of Bolton, UK, as though they were casual invitations to dance. There was the …

Sweet Tomato Jello

MJG Food / Drink, Japan 10 Comments

Tomatoes are the great pretenders; spies who ply both sides of the aisle like double-edged moles in a John le Carre novel. One day they’re cropping up as vegetables, hidden amidst a salad, getting all the juicy low-down on what the peas are really up to with the carrots, and the next they’re in bed (are they gay? bisexual? I …

Ice-Flock Gulls @ Kizuna Anthology

MJG Books, Featured Story, Japan, Writing 0 Comments

Kizuna: Fiction for Japan is a charity anthology of 75 stories from authors all around the world, with all proceeds going to benefit the orphans of the disaster-stricken Tohoku area, through the charity Smile Kids Japan. It includes a story by me- The Ice-Flock Storks of Soroya – one by Michael Moorcock, and 73 others ranging across all genres- Horror, …

Japan’s abandoned animatronic John Wayne

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, People / Culture, Theme Parks, Tochigi 10 Comments

Japan’s abandoned wild west theme park Western Village (closed in 2007) is filled to the tip of its ten-gallon hat with animatronic cowboy dolls. A Stagecoach-era John Wayne with cyborg heart exposed stands by the park entrance, silent now that the tourists have stopped coming. Animatronic John Wayne with hair peeling back to reveal flesh-toned speakers reprises his Stagecoach (1939) …

Western Village: Japan’s Abandoned Cowboy Theme Park

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Japan, Theme Parks, Tochigi 29 Comments

Western Village is a quantum pocket of the Old West Disneyfied and transplanted wholesale from the American collective unconscious, replete with a $29 million replica Mount Rushmore, Western saloon, ghost house, jail, post office, shooting gallery, actual fake Rio Grande, and vast Mexican barrens. It was built in 1975 and shut down in 2007, likely due to its remote location …

Tokyo’s Urban Battleship

MJG Architecture, Featured Story, Haikyo, Japan, Residential, Tokyo-to 15 Comments

Tokyo’s urban battleship glides through the ever-changing cityscape like a predatory shark- its mad crescent fin stocked with slate-grey torpedoes and radar foils- hunting out fresh prey for the saw-blade teeth ratcheted down its flat-iron side. Built in 1970 by the retired Imperial Navy general Watanabe Youji, the urban battleship building (GUNKAN) was apparently inspired by a World War 2 …

Japanese Bread Vending Machine

MJG Food / Drink, Japan 2 Comments

You can buy a lot of things out of vending machines in Japan. Vast ranges of tiny plastic toys, Calorie Mate snacks, hot drinks, cold drinks, hot soup, cooked food (chicken and chips at motorway services), oxygen canisters (at the top of Mt. Fuji), manga (in train stations), beer, cigarettes. Infamously some machines sell panties. Many are outfitted with cameras …