Izu’s Shirahama Beach

Mike GristGuides, Japan 2 Comments

Going to Izu and digging holes on the beach is now a firm tradition with me. It started two years ago, when a motley group of frisbee friends and I packed up our rental cars and went to dig and surf and camp on the beach. The second year was a smaller group but we did basically the same things. This year I went without the group (with SY), didn’t camp on the beach, but made certain to get down to Shimoda to dig a big hole. Perhaps you’d like to see a few other holes I’ve dug? March 08 …

Healing Villa Spa Resort

Mike GristGuides, Japan Leave a Comment

Last week one of my students told me about a great onsen/spa/resort he frequently visits, called Healing Villa, located somewhere in Chiba, with huge outdoor pools, a great big sauna, and an overall healing and chilled-out vibe. I’m all in favor of those things, had a weekend coming with no plans, so decided to head off to check it out. Generally I’m not one for spas, or massage, or any of that ‘relaxing, healing’ stuff. People in Japan often go on onsen holidays, and while I’ve always liked onsen myself, I could never imagine spending a whole day dipping in …

The Naked Doctor

Mike GristAds / Signs, Japan Leave a Comment

The Japanese health system caters to each and every sub-section of society; Akihabara maids, cos-players, otakus, and the naked. When the naked first arrived at the Doctor’s office it was quite uncomfortable, contributing to the ever-present Japanese angst about station and rank- factors which play into every strata of social behaviour, determining how to talk, how to stand, how deep to bow, etc… From this discomfort sprung a wide range of etiquette questions: Did disrobement lower or raise the status? Was it gender specific, did naked women around naked men go up a few degrees, necessitating deeper bows and more …

Put the Shout From a Soul

Mike GristJapan, Japangrish 4 Comments

I was instantly hooked by this T-shirt, on the train journey back from Izu where I and SY recently went to get sun-burned. This guy was chilling in the most lackadaisical manner, almost as if he knew I was trying to get a shot of his back. Wow, that is cool. Look at his back, what a great message. I cannot count the times I have WANTED to put the shout from a soul on heavy voice, and to send, but because I didn’t know how to do it, I couldn’t. That’s a little bit like when Abraham Lincoln used …

Step into your Virgin Grave

Mike GristJapan, Japangrish 2 Comments

I know everybody out there longs for a Virgin Grave. Who would want a used grave, a second-hand grave? Chu-ko Haka, as they say in Japanese. How much better for a Playfull Mind is a brand-new Virgin Grave, sharp-cut, deep, loamy, fresh. Mmmmm. Imagine stepping into your Virgin Grave as a dead person and just KNOWING you were in good and capable grave-hands? I know it’s what my dead body would want.

Kids Beer

Mike GristFood / Drink, Japan 13 Comments

I’ve always said more things should have beer in them. Beer is after all one of the 5 food groups, along with rye, barley, gin, and malt liquor. Sometimes sure the product people get it right, with Beer Candy, Vegetable Beer, and Beer flavored Kit Kats, but I often wish they’d just try a bit harder, go the whole hog, really commit, and inject beer into more of the things that we love. When will we have beer medicine? When will we have beer tobacco? When will we have beer books that are written in beer? Here from the sunny …

Kabuki-za, Kyobashi

Mike GristArchitecture 5 Comments

The Kabuki-za is a fancy-pants theater in Ginza for the screening of Kabuki- a highly stylized and traditional (read ‘boring to most people’) form of storied stage performance. The Kabuki-za is famous as the principal theater for this kind of show in Tokyo- with a long and varied history dating all the way back to 1924.

Shizuoka Shimbun Building, Shimbashi

Mike GristArchitecture 4 Comments

The headquarters of the Shizuoka newspaper in Shimbashi, Tokyo, is another Kenzo Tange building- he of Fuji Terebi and the Tocho. It resembles nothing so much as a giant mutated baobab tree, vivid rust-colored and sprouting fat boughs that elide in stubby endings, on one side its groping knubs reaching out to latch onto the closest building.

Ueno’s Ojarus

Mike GristHeaven Artists, Japan 4 Comments

Ojarus are a couple of tea-cosy aficionados gone mad- either that or they’ve got some outlandish head-shapes. I caught up with them in Ueno just as they were finishing their bit of Heaven Artistry, and so I really don’t know what they did for their act. Perhaps poked people in the eye with their long blue head-hats? Tuned into to long-wave AM radio and danced along to Thrash Elvis out of Missouri (the home of Thrash Elvis, or so I’m told)?

Heaven Artists- FourLegsMAN

Mike GristHeaven Artists, Japan 6 Comments

FourLegsMAN is the creation of Heaven Artist Chikurino, a delightful fusion of creepy black-clad stalker, entrancing four-legged mime and hilariously shocking legs akimbo flasher. Like the Black Widow he draws in his prey with mesmerizing foot-work, four legs walking him smoothly on and off his box and round his den until all eyes are set on trying to determine- ‘how is he doing that, and which are his real legs?’ Then he ups skirts, the two fake legs hoist like a giant maw opening, and he charges down his unwitting prey- normally school-girls who dash away laughing hysterically.