• Japan 08.03.2009 No Comments

    The Studio Alta building in Shinjuku, Tokyo is an icon of Japan to the rest of the world (here it is on the map). I don’t think the Japanese see it that way but it has a strange magnetic power over western journalists. If you send a news team to Japan to do a story about anything they’ll be drawn to Studio Alta and film their anchorman standing in front of it. It certainly isn’t hard to find. One of the northern exits of the massive Shinjuku train station leads to an outdoor plaza across the street from the massive outdoor video screen. Read more…

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  • fandom, Japan 07.03.2009 No Comments

    Meiji Jingu Bridge (Meiji Shrine Bridge) is a landmark in Tokyo for fandom of all stripes (here it is on the map). Free of motor traffic, it is a large foot bridge that has become a gathering place for fans of anime cosplay, heavy metal music, rock and roll and pop music, and fandom in general. Its location is the reason for its success among young people. It is located right by the entrance to Yoyogi Park (a favorite place for rock bands to hold free concerts), right by the Harajuku JR train station and a block away from Takeshita Dori (a street that serves as the preeminent shopping area for teenagers and fans of various subcultures). Read more…

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  • Japan 04.03.2009 No Comments

    One of the fun things about visiting Japan is seeing poor English printed in large signs. There isn’t nearly as much poor English as there was during my first visit to Japan in 1991 but there’s still enough to amuse a traveller. A placard inside a car read “Be particular, whatever in your car life.” A soap dish in a Japanese home read “Adams is leading┬áthe way to a whole new world of bathroom.” In 1991 there was a car on the road called MU. Underneath, in smaller letters, read “Mysterious Utility.” In Karuizawa, a resort town, there stood a cigarette vending machine that had, in large, bold letters, “How green is my crater.”┬áCan you think of a better way to sell cigarettes? Read more…

  • Japan 27.02.2009 No Comments
    click to enlarge

    click to enlarge

    The Kyoto Train Station is the central train and bus station for the city of Kyoto, Japan. Here it is on the map. I’ve been there many times and every time it impresses me. Kyoto Station (it’s official name to the Japanese) is an immense complex. You might be tempted to call it a building but after you’ve been there you’ll drop that word. The complex rises many stories into the air and many stories below ground. It houses a very large train station, a large bus station, a shopping center with many restaurants and countless other things that would take days to explore. The underground section extends over a larger area than the part above ground. As impressive as it is, Tokyo has even larger stations. Read more…

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  • fandom, Japan 25.02.2009 No Comments

    jtown-01

    In October of 2007 I visited Japan Town, San Francisco. I spent a lot of time here in my younger years. It’s a shame I’ve had to stay away for so long. The aromas of fresh Japanese food mix with the enticing scents of incense and other imported items to transport me back to my teenage years when I walked these halls and learned about Japanese pop culture for the first time. Read more…

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  • Japan 23.02.2009 No Comments
    click to enlarge

    click to enlarge

    When I planned my trip to Japan in 2006 I wanted to visit Kyoto and Tokyo. In the minds of the Japanese, Kyoto is Japan’s past and Tokyo is Japan’s present. Although it wasn’t my first time in Kyoto it was the first time I got to choose where we stopped. On the way to a temple I happened upon a large graveyard by a river. I wish I would have spent more time trying to learn the name of the place. The photos here don’t give a very good sense of how immense the place was. I’ve visited a number of graveyards in Japan during my past trips but I don’t remember seeing one this big.

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  • My brother (left) and I

    My brother (left) and I

    During my May 2006 trip to Japan I had the rare opportunity to visit the memorial of The Great One. Yes, Godzilla. The king of the monsters and an integral component of Japanese pop culture. Godzilla has been one of my heroes since childhood and, in my opinion, no trip to Japan is complete without paying respects at his statue.

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