Shibuya Walkers

MJG Japan, People / Culture 6 Comments

Hachiko Crossing in Shibuya is the Times Square of Tokyo- big streets intersecting, hordes milling and meeting and crossing, massive LCD screens flanking the sidewalk and up and down the nearby buildings. Stand outside the JR entrance for long enough and the world will walk by you. No cooler dude than this.

Yoyogi Poodlers

MJG Japan, People / Culture 2 Comments

Yoyogi Park is the consummate Japanese melting pot- perhaps the most varied and vivid spot in the whole country. On any given weekend you’ll find Cosplayers and Rockabillies near the entrance, frisbee throwers and spinners, hula-hoopers, and dudes doing comedy in leather face masks in the first stretch, African drumming groups, badmintonners, the artist with the stereo, the cyclist with the drums, folks rehearsing a musical with brooms in it, and all kinds of instrument-players and circus-skills practisers by the empty water pools, couples canoodling, photographers, dog-fanciers, partying gaijin, kite-flyers, hacky-sack-ists and more on grass beyond the fountain. Oh, and …

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 …

Barry Eisler (Author of John Rain)

MJG Japan, People / Culture 3 Comments

Barry Eisler is the author of the world-wide bestselling John Rain hit-man series, now 6 books in total, translated into 20 languages, winner of multiple awards and plaudits. He was in town this past week for a sneak preview of the movie made from his first book- ‘Rain Fall’- to which he’d invited his Tokyo fans via his website. I found out about the preview the day before and just managed to snag a seat in the screening room, in the process briefly meeting the man himself: Me and Barry Eisler.

Shimoda Beachites

MJG Japan, People / Culture 7 Comments

Shimoda has some of the most beautiful and pristine yellow-sand blue-ocean beaches in all of Japan. Commodore Perry certainly picked a choice spot to roll up at in his black ships- further up the coast other trade envoys were met by steel-toting Samurai’s stood on the grey-sand grey-ocean cock-roach infested trash-havens of Enoshima and Kamakura. Not for Perry though, and not in Shimoda. Shirahama, Tatadohama, and Ohama beaches are gorgeous, sun-kissed, and every time I’ve visited them- about 50% empty.

Hiratsuka Beach Skimboarders

MJG Japan, People / Culture 12 Comments

Skimboarding is a lesser-known cousin to surfing, though quite different in the approach. Where surfers go from the sea to the beach under the sea’s power, skimmers go from the beach to the sea under their own power- which is to say, basically they run at the sea carrying a short board, drop it in the shallows, and jump on. Perhaps then it’s more like skate-boarding than surfing.

Kugenuma Beach Hole-Diggers

MJG Japan, People / Culture 11 Comments

I’m something of a life-long addict when it comes to digging holes at the beach. I’ve been digging holes since I was a kid alongside my Dad, fending off the sea, arming sea-shell soldiers along a sand-fort battlement, willing the walls to hold and the moat to stay fast. These days however I forsake the battlements and soldiers and just go for the biggest, widest, and deepest kid-swallowing hole I can dig:

Meiji Jingu Newly-Weds

MJG Japan, People / Culture 5 Comments

Last month my buddy Canadian Mike had his wedding ceremony. It was held in Meiji Jingu- the huge central shrine in Harajuku right next to Yoyogi Park- and I went along to check it out. Here are some of the highlights: – Drinking sake during the ceremony. – Mike telling me they took hours to strap him into his groom-kimono, even longer for his wife Kumi. – Promenading around the shrine courtyard, a dude with a big red umbrella leading us. – Getting gawked at by tourists (who scurried after Mike and Kumi like they were paparazzi) – Being greeted …

Showa Kinen Disc Golfers

MJG Japan, People / Culture 16 Comments

Hidden away in the massive bulk of Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa lies the best dosc golf course in all of Japan; 18 holes of longish straightaways, doglegs round hills and trees, paths cut through bamboo forests, and leaps over water. Disc Golf is a lot like regular golf, but with a specially moulded set of frisbees instead of balls and clubs. You toss the disc towards the ‘hole’, a metal chain-link basket, counting your throws like in golf. You use variously shaped discs like a driver or putter just like the various clubs in golf. You shoot for under …

Namie Amuro, Double

MJG Japan, People / Culture 9 Comments

In mid 2008 Namie Amuro and Double got together to shoot a music video- Black Diamond, and I was one of the extras on the shoot. I didn’t get to meet them, nor take a photo with them, this is the story of my experience on the shoot. The photo is me with one of the other extras.