last updated December 30, 2004

japanese houses aren`t insulated


It seems a very obvious thing to say but it also seems a subject not discussed often enough. It strikes me as being even more relevant after the intense heat and humidity of the summer.

The Japanese winters are dry and bring with them the hightened threat of fire. It is the busiest time of year for the fire service, as the majority depend on varied heat sources throughout the house sucking energy resources dry and the atmosphere even drier.
an eerie, traditional bell circles neighbourhoods by night to remind of naked flames and their hunger for timber.

from October the 1st in central honshu, and for 5/6 months (a long time to eschew extra padding), the air temperature drops and many devices are employed to act as deterents to the cold:

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Posted by stupot at 01:21 PM Thursday 30 Dec

bikes and trains


the sight of bicycles on trains in japan, much like in france and italy, is rare. however the reality of taking a bike on a train is made particularly easy with the use of a bag.

japan, in being the 3rd biggest user of bikes after China and the US, have many bike related problems not least parking, theft and accidents (cyclists account for approximately 10% of the 9,000 road accident deaths each year - but this figure appears to be dropping - source: national police agency).

The positives surely outweigh the negatives though, as vast numbers commute, shop and even use cycling as a sport (there are approximately 1 bike per person of working age in japan).

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Posted by stupot at 06:42 PM Tuesday 28 Dec

make up

a source of frustration on japanese trains, for some, is the application of make up by young women.

this is not simply an update of lipstick, but rather too often, full face make up. involving as large a mirror as possible (resting delicately on a moving lap), foundation powder (flying everywhere), mascara, liner, blusher and lipstick.

although this has travelled like an uncontrollable virus, it is obvious by the facial expressions of fellow passengers that it is still not accepted. make up doesn`t affect pace-makers, it doesn`t really interupt the silence and it is surely a right of the individual. so the rail companies have not instigated any laws.

for many the problem seems to be embarrassment. it`s surely a personal activity. a private activity? making yourself beautiful is really telling people on the train that you`re pretty average looking. perhaps even unsightly.

for others, it`s the invasion of their privacy that is concerning. consider a mascarra brush falling on your good coat. it happens. it has happened.

perhaps some guerrilla tactics/environmental art is needed. comments welcome.

Posted by stupot at 03:58 PM Tuesday 28 Dec


hair is a constant fascination in japan. whether it be the seeming humiliation of men losing it or the continual changing of the colour for women.

so yes, most cultures enjoy hair dye, but the trend in lightening hair for women is wide spread. probably caused by everyone having a similar shade of natural dark brown/black hair.

the money to be made by large companies through ageing males seeking a bit of pride is also vast. hair implants - often quite noticable and very expensive - are popular, as well as wigs. a more inexpensive, unsightly and common option is the `comb-over`.

to contrast head hair - facial and body hair is kept to a minimum. beards are almost non-existent and are seen, by some, to be dirty.

Posted by stupot at 03:36 PM Tuesday 28 Dec

kyoto style


although associated with temples, geishas and tea ceremonies, Kyoto this year, with its first designers block, has shown that it's anything but old fashioned.

the details and subtleties of old have been transferred into making the city truly modern.

Posted by stupot at 04:29 PM Wednesday 22 Dec