September Approaches!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2010 by slackplan9

So…

What has happened since I blogged last? Well, one of Tempetown Lake’s dams broke. I posted some pics a couple of years ago, of some buildings across this manmade monstrosity. Now, you get to see some pics after the water went “bye bye”…

DSC_0027 DSC_0028

Needless to say, this place SMELLS now. You’ve heard of EYESORES, well, this is a NOSESORE. I have to go by this every day. Almost as bad as the garbage dump, also on the way to work.

I went on a super secret, sonic bonic, L.A. trip, back in July.

Take a GOOD LOOK at what I found at the Airport (And PHOENIX SKY HARBOR, Not LAX!)…

DSC_0015 DSC_0016

My favorite issue of my favorite magazine – Monocle! Tokyo, like I mentioned in my last blog, went down to #3 on the most liveable list. Phoenix was nowhere. BTW, L.A. and NYC were not on the lists either.

DSC_0001 DSC_0003

I went to the Original Bob’s Big Boy, restaurant, with my Tokyo friend, Mr. Tamura. On the NEXT Tokyo trip, a trip to one of THEIR Big Boy restaurants is a MUST! Has to happen – WILL HAPPEN!! End of FRICKING story…

DSC_0005 DSC_0004 DSC_0008

Well, here is a pic of the original BIG BOY, himself! As you can see, the creepy kid stares at you INSIDE the place, as well as eyeballs, outside, as you go into the place…

DSC_0011 DSC_0013

Well, ahem…What can I say? I was HUNGRY. That burger was INHALED before I could bring EL GRANDE NIKON into position. Damn…Anyway, I did get some of the outside of the place when we left…

DSC_0027a DSC_0019

Here are some jovial people who converged on the Goldman residence. To the LEFT of this the camera, was the view you see in the right pic.

We also went to the Tibet Nepal House, in Pasadena, which has real good cuisine. I didn’t bring the big camera, so I had to use the camera on my mobile to catch these pics (Didn’t get pics of the exterior, gomen nasai…).

TNH7 TNH9 TNH10

They really made you feel like you were in the Himalayas, including the Lhasa Beer. However, this food was GREAT, beer or not!

TNH2 TNH3 TNH11

The “Mystery Meat” is in the center. I will let YOU guess that one. I LOVED EVERY BITE, like I was back in NEPAL…

Needless to say, the vacation balance will be reset in September, and this time around, I am budgeting several things – Investment funds, which I want to use for incorporation and moving fees, and another major trip. I smell TOKYO again…

Here are some more of those Tokyo pics that didn’t make the blogs…

Day 6

Higashi-Jujo (The ROOM)

DSC_0001 DSC_0003 DSC_0004 DSC_0011

Shinjuku

DSC_0064  DSC_0061DSC_0072  DSC_0092 DSC_0074

Day 7

Ome

DSC_0002 DSC_0007

DSC_0022 DSC_0023

DSC_0027 DSC_0041 DSC_0050 DSC_0051 DSC_0052

Day 9

Ueno

DSC_0019 DSC_0024  

DSC_0020 DSC_0021 DSC_0025a DSC_0026a

DSC_0033DSC_0035

DSC_0038 DSC_0039

DSC_0058 DSC_0059 DSC_0064 DSC_0066

DSC_0078 DSC_0081 DSC_0083 DSC_0107 DSC_0108 DSC_0105

Along Asakusa Dori

DSC_0111 DSC_0112 DSC_0119

DSC_0122 DSC_0125 DSC_0121

DSC_0127 DSC_0128

DSC_0132 DSC_0133

No more pics to post for Tokyo 2010. All the rest will be stuffed away. Hope you enjoyed the ones I WILL post…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Monocle Quality of Life, 2010: Tokyo #4; Phoenix area? KIA (Again!)

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28, 2010 by slackplan9

Seeing that Monocle Magazine’s 2010 Quality of Life Survey results for 2010 on “The Top 25 Most Livable Cities in the World” was just released, It doesn’t surprise me that my most favorite place, Tokyo, Japan, was #4 on the list. The only reason why I think it dropped down one notch, is because Tyler Brûlé & Co. needed to throw all three of their favorite Eurojaunts right up on the top all cozy prime. Ok, fine. He can do that, as long as they give “Brand Tokyo” the credit it has earned.

WHAT? Why is SCOTTSDALE missing?? Well, it’s not MISSING. It simply didn’t make it on the list, as usual. The highest American city on the list, is, AGAIN, Honolulu, in at 13. The only other American city on the list was, to every Zonie’s 120F baked brain horror, Portland, Ore.

I won’t go anymore into this. Every year, I always get on my soapbox and explain why Tyler & Co. will never put this place in their magazine, and how great Tokyo is…But, I won’t do that.

What it IS time for, since it will soon be 90 days since I took the trip, is to show stuff that never made it into the previous blogs:

Day 3

Akihabara and Shinjuku":

DSC_0111 DSC_0112 DSC_0119

DSC_0118 DSC_0137 DSC_0116

Day 4

Ochanomizu:

DSC_0149 DSC_0150

Sangenjaya:

DSC_0196   DSC_0200

DSC_0206 DSC_0211

Shibuya:

DSC_0219 DSC_0225 DSC_0223

DSC_0226 DSC_0227 DSC_0238 DSC_0246 DSC_0241

“The Warhol Device” captures Shibuya Crossing from ground view:

Shinkawa: 

DSC_0274 DSC_0276DSC_0287

DSC_0291 DSC_0295 DSC_0298

DSC_0303 DSC_0325

Tokyo Station Area:

DSC_0328 DSC_0330

#4, Tyler? I still think it should be at LEAST #2.

That’s it for now. Next time, I may add some more pics for Days 6, 7, and 9.

 

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Sayonara, Tokyo-to…For now…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2010 by slackplan9

I clean the Weekly Mansion I was staying in, and turn in my card key. Here is where I take that long, final walk to Joju-ji temple, when Mr. Tamura is at. While waiting for the time when I take off to the airport.

DSC_0005 DSC_0006 DSC_0007

I have a Pepsi, for Sergio. 500ml for ¥100. Not bad, for around here.

When we were ready, we took off to Narita airport.

DSC_0026

The tower in the background is the Tokyo Sky Tree, still under construction. I will take a better pic on the next trip.

DSC_0027 DSC_0033

More highway shots…

DSC_0038

If you look VERY carefully, you can see the Magic Castle at Tokyo Disneyland.

DSC_0040 DSC_0041

Then we arrived at Narita Airport. After turning in the Cell that Mr. Tamura rented for me, then checking in at the ANA counter, they, crediting the miles for this flight too, we had lunch.

DSC_0045

“Whenever I fly out at Narita, I eat at this Chinese restaurant.”, Mr. Tamura mentioned to me.

DSC_0043 DSC_0044

This was my final meal in Japan: a Chinese style ramen, fried rice, and a Chinese style gyoza (Not pictured, unfortunately), that I have not seen before.

DSC_0046

Then when I got to the security area, this was my final glimpse of my friend, for 12 years, Taimei Tamura.

The security check was lightning fast. Even though they went through my backpack a second time, it was still lightning fast, and far more professional than the goons we have in America doing this.

DSC_0047

Flight NH008, the ANA flight back to the USA. A B777. On the flight back I had the Pork Fricassee. The movie I watched was called Kaiji: Jinsei gyakuten gêmu. I would buy that on Blu-Ray, actually.

San Francisco…Had to go through the LONG-assed lines at customs. Afterwards, I had to go to security (ugh…AGAIN). LONG lines, unprofessional…Then I hit the United Airlines flight to Planet Phoenix (ugh).

I then arrive at Phoenix Sky Harbor.

Then I get to get over the Jet Lag and start work all over again…UGH…

Sayonara, Tokyo…

…Until the next time…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 9

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2010 by slackplan9

The “WARHOL DEVICE” decided the blisters on my left foot were too excruciating for even a small camera like that, so it decided to stay at the room. I, however, took off to Ueno station, also on the Keihin-Tohoku line, as the Higashi-Jujo station.

DSC_0017 DSC_0018 DSC_0022

I took a pic of this monk on the way to Ueno Park.

DSC_0025 DSC_0026

Here is an interesting statue for you.

DSC_0027 DSC_0029 DSC_0031

This is “The Last Samurai”, Saigo Takamori, leader of the Satsuma rebellion. Sorry, people, he was Japanese, not Tom Cruise.

DSC_0040 DSC_0041

DSC_0043 DSC_0044

DSC_0055 DSC_0056 DSC_0061

These are pics of temples in the local area.

DSC_0095 DSC_0100

This guy was feeding the crows.

DSC_0093 DSC_0103

These crows reminded me I was hungry. I had to get back to Higashi-Jujo so I could jump into Mr. Tamura’s car to go to his house for dinner with the family.

DSC_0177 DSC_0175

We had Sukiyaki. Here are the ingredients.

DSC_0179 DSC_0176

Of course, It is now being cooked.

DSC_0184 DSC_0185

And Mrs. Tamura puts on more veggies…

DSC_0192 DSC_0193

After this week, I guess you get the idea…

MMMmmmmmmm…

I return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 8

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 by slackplan9

Well, Today’s my scheduled visit with Ms. Hisao Muto. She is a Professor and Lecturer at Hosei University. I have known her for 15 years, and most of that time, I haven’t been able to meet up. Because of the left foot, again, this was going to be kind of light.

Prior to that, I have a shot of the “Challenge Round” of canned coffees.

Fire_Black

I can understand the FIRE part of this name. I have a jar of some of the most drank instant coffee in Japan in my room:

DSC_0006

Trust me, the CLASSICO is better. This stuff tastes like they flash fried the coffee beans to ASH first, THEN made the stuff to coffee, THEN freeze dried. You cannot put barely a fraction of a teaspoon of this stuff in your cup until it seems like you are drinking PAPER ASHES. Anyway, the FIRE BLACK is the “Challenge Round” of this. How was it? Well, my kidneys are getting a workover right now…ugh…

After this, I readied myself up, then took off for my 1PM meetup with Ms. Muto.

DSC_0020

I guess, because of her University status, they did this meetup in a traditional Japanese businessman way – in a reserved conference room. WOW! did I deserve this? Anyway, after this meetup, she decided to take Mr. Tamura and myself out for a late birthday dinner. (Get ready PHOODIES!)

DSC_0022 DSC_0024

This was the plate of sashimi. Well, I guess I get to take a hit for the cause.

DSC_0025 DSC_0027

This was the place of assorted tempura.

DSC_0026 DSC_0028

This was the chawanmushi. That is a particular seafood chowder, almost in the consistency of a custard, served in a formal teacup.

DSC_0034 DSC_0031

This is a SEA SNAIL. Yes, the bowl is on fire. I have to admit, this had the consistency of liver pate.

DSC_0035 DSC_0036

Deep fried sardines, and a bowl of pickled ginger, pickled cucumber, and pickled daikon.

Then…The Main course…

DSC_0037

The UNAGI! This is marinated, grilled river eel. I had Unagi on the ANA flight out of LA to here, but, of course, this was a LOT better.

Also, there was LOTS of…

DSC_0029

Sorry, I forgot to take pics of the sake.

Tomorrow, I will attempt to do another short trip, then my dinner with the Tamura family.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 7

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 by slackplan9

My original plans were to take off to Ome, to run an errand for someone, then I was going to try to hit Kamakura, then to Odawara, then back. If I hit the rapid trains, this was possible. It started to rain when I took off to the Higashi-Jujo station. Again, I took off late. When I got to Shinjuku, I tried to take a Special Rapid to Ome, or to Tachikawa and transfer to an Ome train, however, the train that I was on that was marked as a “Special Rapid” had changed its markings when I got on, and became a “Local”, eating up my time, getting to my destination. I had to change trains at Tachikawa, because this train was going to Takao. Really good, if I was doing the tengu pics, like I should be, however, I needed to get to Ome. So, after time being drained getting there, we emerge at the Higashi-Ome train station…

We emerged to more rain. It got worse, as these pics show.

DSC_0001 DSC_0003

Normally we could be treated with a view of Mt. Fuji from this place. Nope. Not in this weather. However, regarding this weather and the place we are going to take pics of? “PERFECT!!” I exclaimed. Does it kill the other plans we have? Well…Including the fact that we left at 11AM, when we should have taken off at 7AM? Yes.

DSC_0005 DSC_0009

With this weather, these trees look more nice, I expect archers from another era to start firing arrows.

We eventually reach our destination: the Rinzai Zen monastery of Tennei-Ji.

DSC_0043 DSC_0011

Tennei-Ji was a Shingon Monastery until the ancient Takeda clan reformed it, and made it conform to Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

DSC_0024 DSC_0028

I took these pics because this is an example of classic Japanese large temple architecture. Later you will see a giant contrast with the architecture of a vastly more modern complex.

DSC_0029  DSC_0033 DSC_0034 DSC_0035 DSC_0036 DSC_0037 DSC_0038

The rain worked out real well with these pics. As the rain got worse, however, it was painfully apparent that Kamakura and Odawara Castle would have to wait, possibly even for another Tokyo trip.

However, I went into the 7-11 on the way back to the train station, and I ran into another surprise…

DSC_0044 DSC_0046

I found the dumpling that the heroine in my comic series eats at the beginning of Pt. 1! YEA! I purchase the bready dumpling and hurry outside to get some pics…then I close my eyes, and recite the line in my script…

“…Dump-ling…”

When I open my eyes, I see that I have taken my bite and have savored this treat…

DSC_0047 DSC_0048

It’s little things like this, that I DON’T find in the barren sand heap of Zonie Land, that brings tears to my eyes. Even the little things here are ART.

So, our plans for Kamakura and Odawara scrapped, because of this rain, I decide to go back to Shibuya and another treat.

The “WARHOL DEVICE” wasn’t finished yet, as we went on the pedestrian overpass. “El Grande Nikon” refusing to come out of the backpack until we were under some shelter…

After getting under the overpass ahead of us, The big camera came out and took some shots of its own.

DSC_0053 DSC_0054 DSC_0055 DSC_0058

I discovered, after about 15 to 20 minutes, that I was at the wrong side of the station. I needed to be at the WEST side instead of the EAST. I made this correction and took off to our next destination.

On the way there, I discovered an interesting building…

DSC_0059 DSC_0060 DSC_0062

Granted, it is a major pain in the fraheerhein getting ANYWHERE in this area. This is around that Dogenzaka hills area where Monocle magazine will broadcast at the J-Wave studios, when they are in town. Anyway, after navigating these hills, I arrive at our next stop, the more modern temple complex of Jyosen-Ji.

DSC_0064 DSC_0063

This temple belongs to the more modern Honmon Butsuryu Shu, which is a school of Nichiren Buddhism. With its ferro-crete construction, and its use of lots of flat lines, you would think they had Frank Lloyd Wright design it.

DSC_0066 DSC_0069

This modern era complex does differ in comparison to the complex in Ome.

Ok. It was about 5PM and time for me to get some dinner. Needless to say, I had to eat at my little hideaway in Shinjuku one more time…

DSC_0070

This time, I ordered the LARGE…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 6

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 by slackplan9

During the daytime, I was going to be light. My blisters from Day 4 were excruciating. I don’t care – I am taking a hit for the cause. Mr Tamura was having a house meeting with some people (Which is one of your duties as a Buddhist monk.), and he took me along. I didn’t photograph the meeting. As the foodie I am, I DID take a pic of the spread of home made food, the ladies laid out.

DSC_0038 DSC_0036 DSC_0040

This food WAS good. They complimented me on my hashi (chopsticks) skills as I proceeded to escort all the food on my tray into my stomach. This was the first home made meal I had in Japan in a long time, and the first one on this trip. It won’t be the last, as I have been invited for dinner with the Tamura family.

On the way back to the hotel, to get off this foot for a while, I noticed this:

DSC_0042 DSC_0043

These cigarettes are that “I dare you!” type that have to punch a hole in the lungs. Like a video game. These cigarettes are the “Challenge Round”. Of course I discovered that American cigarettes around here also have this “Challenge Round”

DSC_0045

I guess “BLACK GOLD” means you earn a solid gold IRON LUNG, if you survive the pack. Ok, Sergio! TAKE THE CHALLENGE ROUND!

Upon getting back to the room, I ripped some of the CDs I purchased.

DSC_0021 DSC_0022 DSC_0023

The first one, is Kaela Kimura’s “5 Years”. The second one, Ayumi Hamasaki’s “Rock ‘n Roll Circus”, you will remember in the shots and video of Shibuya Crossing. The Third one, Geisha Girls’ “The Geisha Girls Show”, I had purchased once, when I was in the Air Force. I found an unblemished used copy for a little over $2. I ripped it too. Produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto (“The Last Emperor”), this comedy-rap album was, at the time, “The damndest thing I had ever heard”, and, after giving it a once over, still retains this title. I laughed my ass off again.

Ok…Plans for tonight…

Yesterday, I bought an instant bowl ramen from 7-11. By the way, the link is for ordering a 5 pack This bowl was ¥268. I examined this bowl before making it.

DSC_0012 DSC_0017 DSC_0016 DSC_0035

So, this is a “Ramen Houses of Japan” kind of series. I also notice that this is a 7-11 exclusive product. I also notice that it mentions SHINJUKU! Well, that’s nice. The writing down the middle on the tan stripe says “Mochi Mochi Noki”. So, now, I eat this bowl and…WOW! I loved this! Best bowl ramen I had ever had! I had to have MORE of this, but NOT the instant ramen…TRIP TIME!!

Of course, the “WARHOL DEVICE” decided it wasn’t going to miss this, and tagged along…

Google Earth (I am SO glad I have that!) pinpointed this place north of Shinjuku Station, and west of the tracks.

I spotted the landmark, the Shinjuku Prince Building.

DSC_0065 DSC_0089

I proceed under the overpass to the left, so I am west of the train tracks.

DSC_0069 DSC_0073

I had to include the above two pics, because, for years, Sim City has included the building with the curved base, in their series. I thought you might want to see the building they copied.

I got to around where this place might be. I couldn’t find it… AH! I spotted a 7-11, and…I HAD THAT LABEL! I walked in, showed the part with the addresses (the bottom right pic, above), and asked them exactly where this is. they showed me on a very detailed map of the surrounding 2 blocks, the building this place is in. Well, going that way, around the area of that building, I accidentally ran into this:

DSC_0078 DSC_0081

No wonder I couldn’t find it, it’s in the BASEMENT. Well, I go downstairs and attempt to order a “Regular Shoyu Ramen” They got the idea, and about 5 minutes later, they bring out the sacred bowl…

DSC_0076 DSC_0077

This place is TINY. It wasn’t jam packed when I went. It is an intimate room. You definitely take a date here, though I would go here, by myself, just on the quality of the contents of this bowl, which was worth the pain of the left foot again. I tend to like Miso ramen (Like the other Shinjuku ramen house, on Day 3 Night.), but I think this ramen here, is the KING of Shoyu Ramen. It cost about ¥660, and NO CREDIT CARDS – CASH ONLY. Sorry people. However, a great deal of Japan still operates from CASH, I discovered.

I decided to take a few more pics of Shinjuku at night, before navigating the highly efficient rail system to get back to my room.

DSC_0049 DSC_0053 DSC_0055

DSC_0083 DSC_0088 DSC_0104

DSC_0093 DSC_0098 DSC_0101 DSC_0094

So, I want you to know, that if you ever encounter this particular instant bowl ramen, 7-11 did faithfully reproduce what they could, without the extra bells and whistles, the finest Shoyu Ramen in, at least, Tokyo, in their series.

DSC_0107

Tomorrow, we will do MORE exploring…

Until then…

I return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 4

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19, 2010 by slackplan9

I have to acknowledge that I didn’t get going until about 10AM, so some things I wanted to do, I had to leave out. However, our first stop was one place I didn’t get to go to yesterday, that was BAKER BOUNCE.

On the way there, a building caught my eye, so I got off the train, and the “WARHOL DEVICE” catches our emergence from the Ochanomizu (“Tea Water”) JR station…

Upon exiting the station, I go to the nearby bridge and capture a couple of shots.

DSC_0147 DSC_0151

DSC_0154 DSC_0152

What? that green image that had me get off the train was a temple complex…I crossed the bridge and had a look.

DSC_0168 DSC_0159 DSC_0161 DSC_0163

Confucianism was a theme at this temple/shrine. Looks like there was a university here. Though the map shown suggests there is a lot more here to look at, we didn’t have time. We had to get to our next stop, or else we would be waiting a very long time once we got there.

The first thing we learn from this is that this isn’t the only Sangenjaya station. This is a little bit of a walk from the one we thought we were going to be at. The station near the Carrot Tower is a tiny trolley, and it goes NOWHERE regarding the routes we have taken. So, WOW…I now need to orient myself because of my being where I didn’t know I would be at. I walk into a 7-11 and ask directions to the Gorilla Building, because that would be the next landmark on our way to our next destination. She says, “Soft Bank”, then gestures to the right. I thank her and proceed to walk. About one block later I discover a famous Jedi Master lives on this street…

DSC_0169

You really have to WALK to find all this cool stuff…Anyway, I thought the person who helped me originally was originally talking about a bank. Was she REALLY? Did she mean “sard…bank<gesture>” like telling me take a right at the third street corner?” Well, not long afterward, I ran into this…

DSC_0171

Well, there you go! I take that fabled right, and a couple of blocks later, I have THIS staring at me…

DSC_0174DSC_0173

The infamous GORILLA BUILDING. Well, infamous to BAKER BOUNCE fans. I take a left here, and proceed on.

DSC_0175 DSC_0178

More BATHROOM TILES on the OUTSIDE! I hope the people who clean this grout get paid handsomely!

Well, we make it to Baker Bounce! Alas, I found that I had to wait 20 minutes. This place is a small burger place. Its Roppongi counterpart is large, however, this is the original residential location, and I had to eat THERE – no exceptions whatsoever. So, you get to see two interpretations of my waiting here. The first pic is mine. The second one was taken by a local with my camera.

DSC_0179 DSC_0180

So, we finally get in. I took a couple of pics of my environs…

DSC_0183 DSC_0184

When my burger arrived, I had to take a pic of it, of course. After I did, one of the wait staff wanted to take a pic of ME with the burger.

DSC_0185 DSC_0186

I want to go on record as to say, “BAKER BOUNCE MAKES THE BEST BURGER IN ALL OF TOKYO, IF NOT OUTSIDE OF THE USA.” I am delightfully awaiting the burger in Japan that will top this. Afterward, I take some parting pics of our humble hamburger shop, then proceed to our next destination.

DSC_0187 DSC_0181

I walked past the landmark I was talking about, the Carrot Tower.

DSC_0214 DSC_0195

More buildings with the bathroom tiles, again…

DSC_0191 DSC_0189

Well, we finally made it back to our train station and went to our next stop…

After leaving the station, it was a matter of a couple of right turns, and then….

Ladies and gentlemen…

…We have arrived…

Though it wasn’t as crowded as I would have liked it, this is Shibuya Crossing, made famous in the Sofia Coppola film, Lost in Translation.

DSC_0229 DSC_0232 DSC_0237 DSC_0235 DSC_0243 DSC_0248 DSC_0249

I went up to one of the most famous Starbucks outlets in the world, had a frappucino, and watched the view from the location where Sofia Coppola shot her famous scene…

DSC_0251 DSC_0252 DSC_0255 DSC_0258

I then took off to Tokyo Station, and our next stop. The “WARHOL DEVICE”, and I, by that matter, were tired enough to where it decided to get a rest, and no video of this emergence took place.

However, when we did get to the area in Shinkawa, that was our final destination for the day…

DSC_0266 DSC_0268 DSC_0278 DSC_0280 DSC_0284 DSC_0300

I want to make a note that, at this point, I felt the blisters, and my feet were 100% killing me. I was very tired. I started to make my way back to Tokyo Station.

DSC_0326 DSC_0331

DSC_0333 DSC_0327

When I made it back to Tokyo station, I was going to take the trip to eat at Restaurant Gusto, however, my feet won, and I ate at one of the ramen houses in the train station.

DSC_0337

This ramen was real nice, and the gyoza went with it real well. I dare say it was better than the place in Shinjuku (See “DAY 3 – NIGHT”).

DSC_0338 DSC_0339 DSC_0340

So you just look at the pics, buy your ticket(s), then go inside and eat.

So, when I get back to the Higashi-Jujo station, the “WARHOL DEVICE” wakes up and captures us once again…

Day over. Needless to say, I am lucky to have feet, though I would do this same thing all over again…I crashed. Good Night…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Day 3 – Night.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2010 by slackplan9

Well, once I was back to the room from helping Mr. Tamura, I got the cord to convert to the local wall outlets, and get this computer running. I also got onto the Internet here. I discovered that with the computer plugged in, I was able to get internet access. Of course, I went into the device manager, and something I thought was unchecked was checked, which is the option to allow the computer to disable the Ethernet. I unchecked that in a hurry. I decided, however, to go out and take some night pics.

I ACTUALLY brought the WARHOL DEVICE. I have to fight to keep it from jumping out of my hands as it smells TOKYO. It managed to capture my emergence from the train station at our first stop in the evening, Akihabara…

DSC_0103 DSC_0104 DSC_0105

Well, I managed to get some pics from the OUTSIDE because They didn’t seem to want me to take pics within the places. Granted, if you have a camera phone, that is one thing. I brought “El Grande Nikon”. I guess it looked like some cannon you would see on the DEATH STAR.

DSC_0108 DSC_0110 DSC_0109

I went into this building to check out their wares. Granted, I didn’t take from the money tree this trip, however, I wanted to check to see if that had a couple of things I happened to be looking for. The magazine I wanted was not here – sold out. I found the Moleskine pocket journal on Tokyo (BTW, I can find the one on Beijing, or Paris in Tempe, but NO FRICKING LOS ANGELES, OR TOKYO. Go figure.), and I also got the latest release by British-Japanese singer Kaela Kimura. It is a compilation CD, with her recent hit single, “You Bet!!”. I tried to find @home Maid Cafe, however, when I DID find it, they didn’t even want me to take pics OUTSIDE the place. Just as well. You might say I am scouting out places for the NEXT trip.

The WARHOL DEVICE decided to give it one more, extended go, as it recorded my emergence from Shinjuku station, our last stop before I went home for some rest.

DSC_0121 DSC_0120

Studio Alta. It used to be THE SCREEN the world talked about when they were not mentioning the one in Times Square. I have slides of this, I took back in 1995. However, I was never able to get any decent night shots of it until tonight. Right underneath the screen is a small TV studio. If course, the only TV they broadcast to is the BIG screen above it. People from around the world watch this programming, while lounging about, across the street, in the big area near Shinjuku station.

DSC_0122 DSC_0123 DSC_0126

I said that not a lot has changed here. Well, a lot of the places HAVE changed. A lot of the signage present in the movie, “Lost In Translation” is gone. It doesn’t remove the excitement of the place at night.

As I found that familiar building, the Shinjuku Prince Hotel, with the Seibu Shinjuku train station underneath, I walked the street (If you want to call the little bike path looking things, “streets”.), to the right of it, I found my familiar path to the Ramen house I always loved – only to find it gone, like a lot of other things here. However, nearby, I found a NEW Ramen house..

DSC_0131 DSC_0129

I decided to walk in and order their ¥700 Miso Ramen, with 5 pork slices. If you look carefully in the above PIC, a fiberglass pig does lounge around the outside.

DSC_0128

Here’s MY bowl. The Mama-san kept handing out the glasses of water to the crowd along the bar (These places should actually be called Ramen “Bars”, and not “Houses”.). This bowl was not bad. I had tasted better, but this hit the spot at the time. I then decided to take a few more shots while trying to navigate the Shinjuku maze back to the JR station, and Higashi-Jujo.

DSC_0133 DSC_0134 DSC_0135

After meandering this maze, I found the street I needed to cross to get to the right path in my memory, to the station. When I crossed the street, and went down that path, about 30 feet later, I found this:

DSC_0136 DSC_0139

I took these for Andy, my co-worker. I wish I could have found the MAC CAN, while in Akihabara. He would have liked that. Well, when I take off for Day 4 of pics, Akihabara station is still one of the stops. I will try to hit that then.

By the way, remember I showed the “western” toilet in my room in the previous blog? Well, I want to show you why I was relieved.

DSC_0141

I was afraid I would run into THIS EVIL BEASTIE. I kind of think this is WRONG. You squat down, grab the bar in front of you, then HANG ON FOR DEAR LIFE. You feel like you are taking the runaway elevator to HADES when using this. I am glad they actually provided the toilet paper. 13 years ago, you had to pay ¥100 for that. This was at the Kanda train station. I am relieved this was not in my room!

Well, get ready for more pics tomorrow.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…

Days 2 and 3.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2010 by slackplan9

Well, I have been around the past two days helping my friend, Mr. Tamura, with things. I will be ping ponging across Tokyo Tomorrow.

DSC_0054 Well, there it is! Weekly Mansions Tokyo, Higashi-Jujo. The room isn’t the best place in town, however, on an ultra budget, you can’t beat it.

DSC_0041 DSC_0033 There is the vault-grade door. NOTHING is getting through that. You can also see that I have a tiny little transition area where I have to take off my shoes.

DSC_0034 DSC_0035 The bed is not bad. They gave me a yukata to sleep in, as you can see there, on the bed. Also, for a place that went to digital TV, I am still not surprised to see a CRT TV in the room. Cell reception sucks, and, on that night, I had decent Internet. I currently have no Internet access in the room, so I am trying to post these blogs when I can.

DSC_0039 DSC_0040 What?? The shower is attached to the SINK? Well, first of all, what do you expect for $31 a night in the most expensive city on planet Earth? Also, they DID provide a “western style” toilet. Plus, look! I can actually COOK in the room.

DSC_0043 DSC_0047

When I leave the building door, in the back, this is the view I am greeted with. I did say this was RIGHT NEXT to the train station, and I was NOT kidding. The higher overpass is for the Shinkansen (Bullet train). As you can see, in the second pic, I have both a regular, limited express train, and a Shinkansen in the pic. By the way, you hardly hear any racket made by these trains during operating hours. Around the time I sleep, they are not running. It still wouldn’t matter because, again, it is still very quiet.

So, lets look around a little bit…

DSC_0050 This shrine is right around where I was standing when I took the pic of the hotel.

DSC_0053 For all you people who said I was full of crap when I said there are 7-11s in Japan, well, here’s one for you, guys.

DSC_0056 See the funny looking T sign with the bar above the T? That designates a Post Office. You will see that sign on mail next to the ZIP code. So, if I lived here in Tokyo, this is where I would go to send mail out.

DSC_0062 DSC_0063 DSC_0064 DSC_0068 DSC_0069 DSC_0073

I don’t know a thing about this shrine, however, it cried out to my camera to have pics taken of it, so, here are some of them. I took these pics around 8AM here, and there were a LOT of people venerating on and off. They kept out of my way – in fact they were more encouraging about these pics than you would expect. I showed these to them and they liked them. Out of respect for them, however, I refrained from taking any pics of the people who were actually venerating at this shrine.

DSC_0078 This look always baffled me, and here is a pic for me to share it with you. BATHROOM TILE on the OUTSIDE of the building. Now, how masochistic is this? Just when you are so tired of cleaning indoor bathroom grout, now you have to pull out that fricking toothbrush and clean OUTDOOR GROUT!

DSC_0079 DSC_0080 I must admit, I LIKE THIS BUILDING! It screams “PRODUCTION 1011101”! If I had the cash, and what other legal things I need, because I have fallen in love with the Higashi-Jujo area, and Kita-Ku, the ward it is in, I would buy this whole building in a HEARTBEAT.

DSC_0091 DSC_0089 The Sagenjaya area. Seems, busy, full of life, actually. CLEAN streets. Many people thought I was full of so much bull on that too. They have lived in Arizona, or Jefferson City, Missouri too long. By the way, in doing this assistance for Mr. Tamura, I was wearing SUIT AND TIE. The climate in April is nice enough for this. I didn’t break a sweat, honest. (I am still wearing that suit and tie.)

DSC_0092 DSC_0093 Well, people, here is the last stop, before I end this blog – the famous (At least, in MY eyes) burger joint, and rated as #3 in Tokyo, by CNN, incredibly speaking, BAKER BOUNCE. This is the original one, not the one in Roppongi. I didn’t get to eat here, because it was crowded. I may try again tomorrow. Mr. Tamura will be in Kyoto, so I am going to do a LOT of photos tomorrow.

So, there are some pics for now. I said it once, I will say it again, and again, and again – I LOVE THIS PLACE.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled websurf…