Scott and Makiko’s Wedding, Niigata

MJG Guides, Japan 12 Comments

2 weeks ago my good friend Scott and his long-time girlfriend Makiko had a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony, in a hotel up in Niigata. I say ‘had a ceremony’ rather than ‘got married’ because of course- as things are done here in Japan- you get married first in secret at a local ward office, just by signing some papers. Then, when its too late for the parents to protest, you notify them that they’ll need to pay for the ceremony.

Hay-ah! How do you like that, parents?

I went up with some friends on the Shinkansen to attend. I’m on the left in the picture below, alongside Scott and Makiko.

Click ‘Read more…’ below for the full video and details.

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Push Pops

MJG Food / Drink, Japan 7 Comments

Push Pops!

When I was a kid in England we had these. To have a Push Pop was a total status symbol.

Adults may have walked around with ivory gilt gold-headed canes and peacock feathers in their caps, but for kids the only thing that mattered was the Push Pop.

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Youtei Yusui Political Water

MJG Food / Drink, Japan 3 Comments

Lots of things get politicized in life. Rock has been political for a long time- Band Aid, Live Aid, U2 are heavy into politics. Food got political with Freedom Fries vs. French Fries for a while. Environmental concerns politicize a lot of regular products, as they switch their packaging and production methods to more eco-friendly ones.

This is the first time I’ve seen water politicized though, especially for such a short term duration. This water is from Mt. Youtei in Hokkaido, where the 2008 eco-summit will be held for 3 days next week.

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Arakawa Cyclo-Campers

MJG Guides, Japan 5 Comments

The Arakawa river stretches up out of Tokyo Bay and into the Saitama mountains, passing straight through the bulk of the city, picking up stray cyclists looking for a place to go as it meanders above and below ground. Some of the cyclists that accrete to its bike-pathed banks come prepped with tents and gear to camp out, BBQ, and generally make merry.

That was us.

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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 few instances of Hollywood, Japan I’ve gathered recently.

That’s Arnie on the Fukutoshin line, grinning at me and telling me to come to California.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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