Archive for January, 2006

The Arabian Nights

Last Sunday, after school (I go to an English College in Shinjuku), I went to Akasaka to see the exibition of The Arabian Nights at The Japan Foundation Forum.

There introduces Antoine Galland who translated the book of One Thousand and One NIghts first, lots of valuable source books, the present Arabian world through scenery pictures, colorful clothes, belly dance, musical instruments, and Arabian world through media; movie posters, picture books etc.

What impressed me most was the exhibition of Arabian caligraphy. It’s an art itself as Japanese calligraphy. It seems to give the importance on composition. If there’s only this kind of calligraphy exhibit, I think it’s worthwhile to see it.

It opens at 12:00 and closes at 20:00. Actually today (Jan, 3rd) is the last day! 500 yen (for adults) is very cheap to see such a wonderful display, I think.

Tokyo Station


This is Marunouchi North Entrance of Tokyo Station. Currently, I am coming here once a week because of my job.

I like here — red brick wall building, many working people rushing at their office in the morning, homeless people sitting on stairs sometimes.
There is a gallery and hotel inside This building.

If you have spare time at Tokyo Station, it might be a good idea walking around this nice building.

Tonight: Mobile Monday Tokyo – New Year Shinnenkai

MobileMonday Tokyp

This is a reminder that tonight (January 30) is the first MobileMonday Tokyo event for 2006 — the
MoMo Tokyo New Year
, at Ruby
in Azabu-Juban, starting at 7pm (日本語版).

Directions: There’s a map to Ruby Cafe available online. But looks like it’s very easy to find: Just ride the Oedo subway line to Azabu Juban station, take exit 7, turn left once you get above ground, walk 5 meters, and you’re there.

There won’t be any presesentations tonight because this one looks to
be purely a
networking/social event to start off the new year. Presentations will start
up again at next
month’s event (planned for the MTV cafe in Harajuku). And the MobileMonday
team’s record for
putting together past
has been outstanding and has covered a lot of ground
(Opera Browser for 3G Mobile Phones, Chaku-Uta, mobile Flash, and
color codes
, to name just a few) – so I’m sure we have
some interesting things to look forward to at upcoming MoMo Tokyo
presentations this year.

Advanced get-in-for-free registration for tonight’s event is now closed,
but you can still attend. Just show up at Ruby
in Azabu-Juban after 7pm (日本語版) and bring
along 1000 yen to pay at the door. When you get there, look for a guy
with keitai in
one hand, tallboy in the other
. Chances are, that’ll be me,
though I might instead be
posing as a solid citizen for the evening.

Shinjuku Ni-Chome II: Arty Farty

Shinjuku Ni-Chome II: Arty Farty
Back home now, typing this from my PC, and tired, so this’ll be the last thing I write up for the weekend (if 3am in the early morning on Monday still qualifies as the weekend). Just posting to say I finished off the evening/morning with friends at Arty Farty in Ni-Chome (who I reckon are still there talking and dancing), where (by the way) a friend gave me a great idea for a birthday present for Satori (more about that another day).

Anyway, Arty Farty is in Ni-Chome, right around the corner from Advocates Cafe, where I posted an entry from my mobile about a little earlier. Advocates closes around midnight on Sunday, so Arty Farty is always a convenient place to retreat to when they shut the doors at Advocate. I’ve heard Arty Farty has an all-you-can drink wine thing (like the beer blast at Advocates, except, well, with wine), though I’ve never been there for it.

Had some news from my friend Monty just before I headed back, of the kind that causes you remember to try to make the most that you can of the time you have with people you care about, which I guess I managed to do this weekend, and which is more than I can say of every weekend, so I guess I can rank this one as a success in that regard.

Shinjuku Ni-Chome: Advocates Cafe

Shinjuku Ni-Chome: Advocates Cafe
Now at Advocates, a bar in Shinjuku Ni-Chome, not too far from Yotsuya, where I started out the afternoon with Satori. I’m now with some friends, talking about some other friends who may or may not be on the way.

Shinjuku Ni-Chome, by the way, is a part of town with a lot of gay bars. Advocates is one such, though that’s not to say that it’s a place that makes non-gay people feel unwelcome or anything. I’ve always felt welcome here, at least.

Advocates is small but it opens out to a wide sidewalk, and when the weather’s nice, you’ll find dozens of people here, and “Advocates” becomes the sidewalk and even the street around the bar instead of just the physical environs of the bar itself. Particularly during the time of day (7 to 9) when they have “beer blast” going on (all the beer you can drink for 1000 yen).

Anyway, it’s a very nice place. Plan on stopping by some time — especially on a day when the weather’s clear and comfortable.

Gaienmae: The Office

The Office
Right now I’m at a place in Gaienmae called “Office”. If you’re in Tokyo and looking for an interesting place to while away a couple of hours alone or with friend(s), you can’t go wrong stopping by here.

It has a bit of the feel of a college coffee house, except that instead of having a view out to some “quad” or whatever, it has a 5th floor view out to a neon-lit busy Tokyo intersection.

Other particulars: a full drink menu, including liquor, sake and shouchu, beer, wine, juice, tea, and coffee. Nice lighting, nice staff, usually good music. Seating for about 30 people and not usually crowded (so a good choice for impromptu gatherings). A selection of decent light food. And reasonable prices. A variety of interesting books and magazines you can borrow and enjoy along with your food and drink.

Also, a real rarity in Tokyo: outlets into which you are free to plug in your laptop’s AC adaptor and/or keitai charger.

And to top it all off: it’s open until 3am every night, including Sunday and Monday.

To find it, just ride the Ginza line to Gaienmae station, take exit 3, and you’re there. Well, almost. What you’ll see at the street level when you come up and out from the exit is a place called “Sign”. Office is in the same building, just on the 5th floor. So just go around the corner, left from the entrance to Sign, and climb the stairs (no elevator) up to Office, and enjoy.

Yotsuya: 247 Photography Roonee & Gallery Niepce

247 Photography Roonee & Gallery Niepce
Headed out with my daughter Satori today to Yotsuya and stopped by 247 Photography Roonee and Gallery Niepce (next door) for a couple of photography exhibits that were ending today. Both were nice and I’ll try to post details when I get back to my PC.

Also attempted to find a new place nearby called Lotus Root Gallery — somewhere in the midst of a mostly residential area. But once we got to the general area where it’s supposed to be, could not spot any sign for it even though we probably spent 10 or 15 looking and had to have been just a few meters away from it, wherever it is. At one point Satori pointed out a young hipster-type guy to me and said he must be looking for the same place because she had seen him already, circling around just like us.

Anyway, that little side trip wasted at least 30 minutes altogether — on a day when we had already gotten a late start — so Lotus Root Gallery is now officially on my shitlist.

But we did manage to get back to Le Deco and I did have time to see more of the Tokyo College of Photography “apartment” show, and to talk with one of the photographers, Priyash Karmacharya — who was kind enough to bring us some tea. Also, Funiku Ookami of the “7” show there (also ended today) gave Satori a couple of shoe creams, and another photographer from the “apartments” show gave her some cookies, so she went away pretty happy for the day and fairly successful as far as scoring of sweets swag goes.

Black cottonbuds

black cottonbuds

Caught my eyes at 100yen shop. I guarantee these will drive you crazy once you start picking ears. it is embarassing to say but I spent two picks at one time.

Today only: 7 photographers — and more — at Le Deco

7 at Gallery Le Deco

Yesterday from my mobile I posted some info about the “7” photography exhibit at Gallery Le Deco. Today I’m just posting to remind you to get out there if you’re interested, because it ends today at 5pm.

For maps and directions, including a QR code you can use to grab details to carry/view on your mobile phone, see the TAB page for Gallery Le Deco. You can also find some info at the Le Deco site.

The seven photographers who have works on display as part of the show are listed below. Follow the links to see some online samples of their work, including images of some of the photos on display at the exhibit.

You can also find profiles of all the them online, with links to their own individual sites.

Note that there are also two other visual arts events ending today at Le Deco. The first event, a group photo exhibit titled “apartment”, is on the 2nd floor and has works from eleven students in Haruo Kobayashi’s current class at The Tokyo College of Photography. Some of the photos are excellent. I didn’t have enough time to see them all yesterday, so I’m headed back today to look at more. The second event, a group exhibit titled OUR LIFE, has computer-generated photo and video work from 17 students in the Department of Information Design at Tama Art University. What little bit of the video work that I managed to see yesterday was very interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing more if it today.

Lots of stuff. Get out there today before 5pm to see it all.

Hikikomori in other country = Sotokomori

khaosan.jpgI did not know the word "Sotokomori" until I read the news magazine "SPA" yesterday. But I do know it is getting to be an issue.

Do you know Hikikomori? Hikikomori people withdraw themselves at home. Soto means "outside" in Japanese, then Sotokomori is 20s-30s people staying a long time in foreign countries where the general prices are much lower than Japan. They do part-time jobs in Japan, then after they make a certain amount of money, go to foreign countries. For what?  Maybe to escape from reality.

Usually tourists enjoy the tourist places or communication with the local people. But Sotokomori people just stay at cheap hotels and spend time as they want. Some buy game machines and enjoy playing all day, some play guitar, some draw, some sleep, some hung around with other Japanese, they don’t see around the country to save the cost.

Meccas of Japanese Sotokomori are Bangkok in Thailand and Mumbai in India. Kahosan Traveler’s Lodge in Thailand is a well known place for Sotokomori. A one night stay costs 360-700yen, food is 90- 300yen, big beer is 90yen with edamame. The cost of living is about 30,000yen for a month there. Near the lodge, there is a big manga cafe and the Internet cafe, so nothing is inconvenient for living. If a young man has 300,000yen, he will survive two month in Japan…maybe it will be possible if he will be in survival mode. But in Bangkok, he can live 10 months without any worry, without pressure of family, friend s , job, etc. Here is a live camera of the lodge, you will see some Japanese enjoy beer in the daytime.

Until the 90s, college graduate – white-collar working for a big company was the typical ideal life model for many. (graph : blue is college graduate, dark red is white collar) But after the bubble, many students could not find jobs, and also they saw the destruction of permanent employment. Then they lost their incentive to get a job in a big, good company. In a good way, they got greater choice for the future and type of job. So some made their own company, some choose to becraftsmen. Although in the 80s, these were rare cases, it is not rare anymore and they succeed in their new field, and people think they are cool.

On the other hand, many couldn’t find their way, and there wasn’t a model anymore. Sotokomori might be people who failed to find their way to adjust in society. They had the excuse of a depressed economy, difficulty of finding work before. (Hikikomori includes students, lower age s who can’t go abroad by themselves.) But not anymore. I guess Hikikomori and Sotokomori think they have to to do something, but it is not today for them.

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