korean food, if not politics, is sure to be a lasting part of the culture in Japan. they can't get enough of it. neither can I. kimchi, bibinba, barbecued beef, dog. kimchi, the chinese cabbage and chili sauce combination, takes pride of place in most supermarkets these days: it's getting to be as much a part of popular japanese culture as the boulangerie and white earphones have become.
researching manbags, with the idea to design something like han-solo's holster, you can imagine both my happiness and disbelief at stumbling upon this. this great 'wallet', via cool hunting, is of a similar vein. nice stuff. In japan of late, the old boys still tend to go for the classic leather toilet bag, whereas the 30 somethings can often be seen with cell phone and wallet in a rock climbers chalk bag.
Posted by stupot at 08:48 PM Monday 27 Mar
happy and sad
it's funny riding the train - the grey suits and sad expressions surrounded by all the cheerful, cute and colourful advertising. I spotted this poster, half cut, on the way home the other night.
in the sobering light of day it still seems rather offensive.
fags are finished
this week seems to be another one that pushes scotland into the global spotlight. winning the gold in the cycling pursuit at the commonwealth games made me particularly happy and from the land of dolly the sheep, I was also grateful to read that scottish scientists have made a break-through with eczema treatment. the smoking ban is also set to start on sunday.
in japan, fags are still well under 300 yen (£1.50) and people smoke like troopers. the mind set still seems to be about a decade or so behind. combine the post-work, stress-relieving beer and beef diet and we're coming down to WHO averages.
Posted by stupot at 08:16 PM Monday 20 Mar
out today to see a friends exhibition in horie, I came across some new post-it-notes in a kind of 'easy-to-carry' sketchbook form. there's also a credit card size which I didn't buy. I always felt like a bit of a geek when I bought stationery in scotland but now I'm in the majority. people spend lot's of time deliberating over which line-weight of pen to go for. it is, after all, a very important question when you have to write miniscule kanji.
Posted by stupot at 07:59 PM Monday 20 Mar
wooing in another language
being at home in the mornings often brings with it the chime of the door bell. more often than not it seems to be the nhk man, apologising from the off like he'd actually seen some of the crap they air. I feel like I may be one of the few punters who doesn't give him a hard time. last week, though, brought the rice man to my attention and today was a miso rep from kyoto. strange.
as the rice guy was from only a block away he didn't do too much hanging around - the miso chap, on the other hand, was happy to explain the finer points of his no doubt delicious fermented stodge. we quickly switched back to sketchy japanese after he asked if my husband was around.
Posted by stupot at 01:06 AM Friday 17 Mar
things are hardly ever perfect. perfectly designed things are scarce, except perhaps in nature. I was watching the 'skeleton' from the winter olympics recently and noticed that the winner, despite having a very expensive helmet, had had to seal up the sides with gaffer tape. it's good to see people improving and personalising products as designers rarely have sufficient experience to design perfect things. you can never predict every user. products which assume completely new roles are equally fascinating and japan is full of both.
I saw this guy at the station the other day in work gear who is a student at honda's motorsports college in south osaka. I like the kit. I also know a guy who designs fishing goods at shimano and he told me about how they have to wear these same short jackets (with obligatory logo) and work trousers. he wasn't filled with enthusiasm but it got me thinking. Everyone knows that Japan is a country obsessed with uniformity and so it is no secret that uniforms act as a big part of daily life. The black suit, the sailor uniforms, and more recently the maids outfits that have become a staple part of the odd urban makeup.
The new ad campaign for kirin's nuda drink reminded me of the hidden katakana characters for kirin found within the mythical mascot. They are pretty much invisible at first glance but a while back I was told that you can find them if you look carefully (I've highlighted them above). So the next time you settle down for an ichiban, see if you can spot the cryptic message.
Posted by stupot at 11:18 PM Saturday 11 Mar
strange things unite the modern world. it warmed my heart the other day to see some local government workers doing some beautiful street-scaping. here we see what were two perfectly functioning telephone booths (probably due for decommission) and an innocent lamp-post, now surrounded by standing stones and cobbles, possibly suggested in a wild fit of artistic expression which japan's local government officials are well-known for. some other folk I talked to last week moaned about the recent and mounting road-works. no doubt the financial year drawing to a close has nothing what-so-ever to do with it.
and there was me thinking it was just a british phenomenon. it is indeed a wee world.
Posted by stupot at 10:40 PM Tuesday 7 Mar
Today's ride started in the bitter cold. the rising sun was trying to help and mist clinged to the distant mountains as it so often does but the slight head wind kept limbs cold for most of the outward run. Yokan got broken out at half time - as is common on our rides - it's a kind of jellied sweet (usually made with red beans). Very sweet, very heavy, very nice. I bought some a few christmases ago for my folks, and although it may have been a nice thought I think the postage ended up costing more than the gift. Rice paper next year.
yuka takes leave, gary held back
in the week that saw gary glitter being found guilty of lewd acts in vietnam and tens of thousands protesting against the government in thailand, yuka came back from her week away there, relaxed and none-the-wiser.
the food was, as I'd suspected; exotic; sweet; creamy; hot. her fascination with the seriously sugary vietnamese coffee continues and a trip down the mekong river was as close to a scene out of apocalypse now as we might imagine - the sound of helicopters apparently just out of ear shot.
the sex industry in thailand also lived up to the stereotype and lots of geeky, shady japanese guys were easy to spot around the well known spots in bangkok, salivating over the local product. I have to say it's the reason why I've never been drawn to the country, but yuka loved vietnam and is sure to return although she's not sure how my serious nut and fish allergies would fare. amongst the food brought back was a bag of rambutan, a kind of lychee-like fruit that is opaque in the middle and has a slightly creamy taste.
Posted by stupot at 05:58 PM Sunday 5 Mar