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            Thursday, December 30, 2010

            John Fluevog Shoes

            At the airport at YVR on the way to NRT with our John Fluevogs. I know I rarely have self portraits, and even more rare is a picture of my wife....... as per usual, I'm doing Blue Steel.....

            Japanese Love Waffles

            A typical line-up at the Sugar-Fers counter at Seibu Department store food floor at Ikebukuro. The line-up continues to the far right, and out the other door and around the corner out into the train station...... this happens every single day!!

            Typical waffle dessert at one of the many dessert cafes in Tokyo..........

            I don't what it is about waffles, but it's pretty huge in Tokyo this time around. Every dessert cafe place sells some sort of waffle type dish. Even in the department store food floor (usually floor b1 or b2) there was a certain waffle dessert boutique Sugar-Fers that had line-ups all day, as you can see in the above picture.....I could barely get the above shot off because it was always a zoo surrounding the counter......

            The second picture is of my favorite waffle dessert found at the UCC Cafe Mercado in Takashimaya at the Times Square building in South Shinjuku. Our favorite, not-too-busy and not-too-expensive coffee break place..... it's in the middle of the 8th floor, so check it out.......

            P.S. both pics taken with my i-Phone 4...... not bad eh?

            Friday, December 10, 2010

            Japanese Bob Dylan Busking in Shinjuku

            I love street musicians. I love the whole concept of it all. The guts it takes to throw yourself out there and try to win over someone's musical taste in like 5-10 seconds, or else they can just walk away. This fellow had this Bob Dylan type singer-songwriter vibe going, and his harmonica playing was really good!!

            I was actually impressed, and this is coming from a huge Dylan fan, an avid guitarist, and singer-songwriter!! But did you notice something about the audience? I couldn't help but notice that every woman who passed by all gave him a chance.... I mean every woman. Every age group, every height, every fashion type, every hair colour. They all cranked their heads as they passed by. Not that he was ugly, but he was by no means a Brad Pitt. I think a guy holding a guitar and singing his heart out has a certain appeal to women? I don't know....

            Darth Vader: Selling Out?

            So you've seen some of the pics I've posted of Lost in Translation-esque scenerios where Hollywood actors go to Japan to sell their faces to sell products, although they would never do so back home in their domestic market. And as I mentioned, I'm not judging them or their decision to do so. Money is money, and work is work. It's just curious, that's all. It's weird seeing some huge actor in N.America selling underwear or pop drinks or whatever in Japan.

            That's why I was totally surprised to see Darth Vader peddling cellphones. I mean, for him, is it really about the money? Isn't it about universal domination and control? Is he a sell-out? In one way he is achieving part of his purpose of control, by trying to penetrate the Japanese cellphone market, perhaps trying to help Docomo to monopolize the entire market? That would be totally a Vader move.........

            Gadget Man

            In Japan, more than anywhere else, people embrace technology. There's nothing geeky about carrying around an iPhone and an MP3 player, or wearing two watches at once, or like this fellow, having a speedometer, GPS, and his phone attached to his handle bars. Notice the bell? Sweet touch. At least there's one thing that doesn't run off a lithium-ion battery. I can only imagine what's in his red pouch under his seat (titanium digital air pressure gauge? Back-up solar powered GPS?) or in his huge backpack ( iPad, Sony Vaio P-Series computer, fold-out keyboard, mini-rice cooker, etc.)..... go Gadget Man go!!

            Robot Park in Roppongi

            I was walking through the embassy district of Roppongi and I stumbled across this public park with robots as it's theme. Robots!! If I were a kid, I would have peed my pants for sure. As an adult, I must admit, I almost did so!! So cool. It took all my will power not to run around and play!!

            Wednesday, December 1, 2010

            Chabuton Ramen

            We took a chance and ate at Chabuton Ramen. They say they won on a famous tv show called TV Champion. It's a cool show where often common people compete the best of the best of whatever field. I've seen the best origami artist, or the best kite maker, and in the end of the show, the winner doesn't win money or anything. It's just the honour and recognition of being the best of the best in Japan. That's very Japanese. I like it.

            Anyway, since he won best ramen a few years back, I thought I'd give it a try. I tried their tsukemen, which is basically ramen, but the soup and noodles are served seperately. No particular advantage or disadvantage I guess, it's just a different way to eat it. But the soup is usually more concentrated because there is a bit of water still saturated in the noodles, which would further dilute the soup. Anyway, it was pretty good. Where can you find this place? I'm sure they have multiple locations (even outside of Japan), but we ate at the location in Akihabara (electric town) at the Yodobashi Camera store, upstairs on the food court level.......

            Bathrooms at OIOI

            Okay, everyone knows how clean the bathrooms are in Japan right? They think of everything, from hooks to hold your umbrella while you use the urinal, to counter space to put your bag down above the urinals, sinks, and in the stalls, and countless hooks and shelf space to make your washroom experience enjoyable. Even the little things like seat cleaning equipment, emergency button (in case you run out of toilet paper or something is not working), the stalls comes right down to the ground for total privacy, and let's not get into the washlets......heated seats, built in bidet, some have built in blow dryers, temperature and pressure controls. Some seat lids automatically come up and then drop down as you come and go. I've had friends say they would never try a washlet, but would cry once they leave Japan, feeling... well, not as clean!! In fact, if you came to Japan just to experience their washrooms, it would be totally worth the trip!! Seriously!!

            The cleanest and coolest washroom my wife and I found was at the Marui Department Store (OIOI) in South East Shinjuku. 8th floor where the Starbucks is. It was totally futuristic, and yet still very charmingly Japanese....... the women's stall even had a private sink that lights up when you put your hand under the sink!! Sorry, I had to get my wife to take those shots. Check it out!! I've got other washroom posts coming up, and a special vending machine report as well, all coming up in the next few days!!

            Not only is this urinal futuristic looking and clean enough to prepare food on, it makes sense. No drip marks along the bottom.... it makes total sense!! Notice the counter space at the top to put your shopping bag or man bag.....

            Super clean sinks, no touch operation, and notice even the umbrella hook on the left side of the wall. Good thinking. Again, lots of counter space to put stuff down..... and look at the greenery inset into the wall as you come in.... it's calming isn't it?

            Women's stall. The stall lights up when you walk in. Smart. Notice my wife's purse stored along the back counter space? Extra counter space to the left as well, and most stalls have more than one hook on the door.......

            Built in sink inside the stall!! How awesome is that?

            And it lights up when you put your hand on it? Not necessary, but totally awesome!! I want one for home!!

            Thanks Cynthia for taking these pics!!

            Super cool washlet controls. Yes the far right button is the artificial flushing sound, just in case you're making too much noise doing your business and are shy about it, make fake flushing sounds to cover the real sounds of you dropping the kids off at the pool......

            This is the mother's/father's room. A couch, a baby chair, sink, warm water maker.....

            A crib, etc..... some bathrooms even have an actual powder room, for women to do their make-up..... and remember, each floor of the department store has these duplicate washrooms, and this is only building one of two, and Marui probably have 20-30 locations just in the Tokyo area!! So awesome. I went in twice, even though I didn't have to go!! Same as my wife!! I love washrooms in Japan!! In Canada, you just hold it in until you get home, or you slyly sneak into a hotel washroom, and even then, it's usually just acceptable!!!