Saturday, May 23, 2009

What's Bobby eating?

I just moved into my apartment and don't have a refrigerator, microwave or rice cooker yet, so I haven't started cooking. Mostly I rely on bentos from the conbini (convenience market) to keep me alive. But one of the great things about living in a new city is finding new places to eat!

Our table at a yakitori restaurant near the Oimachi train station. We were there for six hours and rushed back to the station to catch the last train home! The restaurant was in a narrow alley lined with tiny pubs. Inside it was decorated with natsukashii (nostalgic) Japanese pop culture memorabilia, which is common here and I love it.

A hot pot rice bowl from Churari, an Okinawan restaurant in Shibuya. This one is kalbi and kimchee (not very Okinawan I know!) and cost 880 yen. They also have a taco rice bowl, and by taco, I mean a Mexican taco, which is a very Okinawan dish.

Okonomiyaki at a restaurant in Ebisu. I think it's more fun when you cook it yourself, but then mine wouldn't of looked this good to eat.

500 yen bowl of green curry with chicken and eggplant from a booth at the Thai Festival in Yoyogi Park.

A deluxe bento from the basement food court under Tokyu Department Store in Shibuya station. It's pricer than the combini, but they have a huge selection of goodies.

The Ebi Filet-o at McDonald's! It's a shrimp sandwich and oh-so tasty!
(Youtube video:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Room with a view

Here is my mansion! (What they call a modern style apartment here in Japan, older apartments are called apaato.) Basically it's one room with a phone booth for a bathroom and the kitchen is in the hallway. I live in Meguro, next to Daikanyama, but I'm about a 15 minute walk to Shibuya station.

I have a great view of Tokyo! I live on the 12th floor of a 14 story building.
This is the view from my balcony. It looks east over Meguro Ward.

Looking to the left you can see Ebisu.

This is the view out the front door. On the horizon you can see the skyscrapers in Shinjuku.

My mansion is right next to a freeway! This is looking to the right in the direction of Shibuya station.

Design Festa 09

Design Festa is a huge community art event held twice a year in the Tokyo Big Sight convention hall on Odaiba. 1000 yen gets you a one day pass to explore the 2500 plus art spaces set up inside. Most of the "creators" are amateur artists and hobbyists, but their skill level and creativity is well developed and you won't be disappointed. I went on Saturday, May 16 and after spending seven hours there, my feet were worn out!

There is a fashion section with hand-made apparel, funky t-shirts and accessories for sale. The craft area is chock full of dolls, paper craft and other original creations. But the bulk of the event is devoted to art. From illustrations of cute characters to live performances to inventive photography, you will be overloaded by the amount of talent. And in-between all this creativity, you're sure to find a number of surprises and just plain wackiness.

What I enjoy the most about Design Festa is the spirit of the people. They are there not just to make sales, but rather to share their art with others. Even with the language barrier, everyone I spoke with enjoyed telling me about their works. For more info check out

Many of the artists offer postcards of their work for sale for 100 or 150 yen. It's fun to collect the art you like this way. I bought ten postcards.

This young girl made these stuffed creatures. The detail of each doll is amazing!

This guy was wearing a signboard offering to take a photo of you as you jump. On his table he displayed postcards of jumpers from previous Design Festa events. After I did it, I asked him to jump for me!

Some of the artists offered to draw your portrait for only 100 yen! I want to get mine next time.

A young artist in her booth space. A small space costs about $200 for the two day event.

Some Design Festa fun!

For more Design Festa pics, go to my Flickr.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Electric Eel Shock @ Shibuya Yaneura

I was planning on seeing Detroit7 in Shimokitazawa and while looking for directions, discovered that Electric Eel Shock would be playing in Shibuya that same night. They came to the States a lot and I kept missing them every time, including a chance to see them when I was visiting the folks in Olympia. (I found out a few days late! Was so bummed.)

I was torn between a cool girl rock band and a crazy boy rock band. Since I had seen Detroit7 live in LA, I went with Electric Eel Shock.

Date: May 8, 2009 (Friday)
Venue: Shibuya Yaneura
Cost: 3000 yen, includes a drink ticket

Line up: Jighead, Kirihito, The JFK, Electric Eel Shock
EES set lasted about 30 minutes plus one encore song

In Japan, a club that plays live music is called a "live house." I never quite figured out if we use the same term in English. One thing for sure though is that the music mix in Japan is sooo much better than the places I've been in LA. I've been to three live houses and in all of them you can hear the vocals and the mix is solid.

I got to meet the band and also the lead singer for The JFK, and no, the band name has nothing to do with Kennedy. The JFK was the perfect complement to EES - very rock and a great performance. Also check out the drummer of Kirihito - he looks like the Japanese Curly from the Three Stooges!

With Aki, vocals and guitar. I need to work on my rock'n'roll face.

With Gian, drums and Kazuto, bass. Gian is wearing clothes in this pic, but on stage, he's naked except for a sock on his johnson! I need A LOT more work on my rock'n'roll face.

This picture is why I need to buy the Canon G10! No more blurry concert pics!

The event was called Rock'n'Roll Fisherman. Electric Eel Shock loves to fish when they aren't shredding on stage. After the show there were giveaways from the sponsors. The crowd played rock-scissors-paper to win. I kept losing to paper! But then got lucky and won this Gary Yamamoto custom baits jacket! Sugoi!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tacos, Togo and Totoro

I haven't started working yet and so I've taken advantage of my free time and done some wandering around Tokyo. A couple things that strike me: they've really cut down on smoking in public and I wonder why there aren't more alternative energy cars in Japan. You would think it makes more sense for Japan to go electric and get off of oil. Ok, on to the pics.

It's not Kogi, but they have taco trucks in Japan too! They're just smaller. Mmmm, tuna taco for $6.

On Omotesando Street, there are a lot of luxury brand stores. Took a picture of this Takashi Murakami giant stuffed figure at the Louis Vuitton store.

In Harajuku, the Togo Shrine flea market offers up Japanese antiques on the first and fourth Sundays of the month. It's small but plenty of interesting things to browse through like World War II sake cups for 500 yen. It's located just off of Takeshita shopping alley and you would never know it's there unless you looked for it.

A woman who was visiting Tokyo asked me if they bargain. I wasn't sure, but it was a flea market after all and I'm sure a reasonable counter offer wouldn't be taken as an insult. She told me the vendor told her 3000 yen for a small globe she was interested in. She had countered with 2000 yen, but the vendor refused to sell it at that price and she didn't understand why he kept saying 1000 yen. I asked what the price was. The vendor clarified that he made a mistake. The selling price was really 1000 yen and he was refusing to take the 2000 yen she was willing to pay. Sugoi!

Wedding at the Togo Shrine and photo op for tourists!

I went to the Studio Ghibli Museum just a short trip ride out of Shinjuku. It cost 1000 yen, but you will have to buy your ticket ahead of time, no walk-ins! They don't allow any picture taking inside the museum. It is a must see if you are a fan of any of the Hayao Miyazaki films like "My Neighbor, Totoro" or "Spirited Away." In the museum store I had planned not to buy anything, especially not anything expensive. But the collector in me came out like a dog finding a bone. I bought this Noritake collectible plate, limited edition and the artwork changes every year. And it is only sold at the museum. Don't need it, won't use it, but someday it will be worth something.... woof.