Friday, March 28, 2008

Obligatory cherry blossom picture

Waaaaa kirei da ne! I love this time of year, people get so smiley. Took this one at Kudanshita yesterday.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Walk like a pigeon

To me the sight of a Japanese woman waddling along bowlegged in high heels is pretty comical and for years I was under the impression that there was something wrong with their legs, not so. This style of walking has a name 'uchimata' (according to Culture Shock by P Sean Bramble) and is adopted deliberately by women who consider it cute. It apparently originated because of the suffling-style of walking women in kimono were forced to adopt.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Where to get pussy in Tokyo

The woman with the mobile phone is not in a steady relationship with this feline but a client of one of Tokyo's new cat cafes, where you can pay for some no-strings-or-vet-bills-attached furry fun. Please read my article about it for Japan Times.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I met Noriko Tujiko!

A few weeks ago I interviewed Noriko Tujiko for Japan Times. Please read about it here.

Bring your own bottle

Some shameless self-promotion here. I've just become the new wine columnist for Japan Times. Please read my article about matching food and wine here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Horseradish fire alarm

News Now reports that Japanese scientists have developed a fire alarm for deaf people which emits the scent of horseradish into the air when activated. In tests 13 out of 14 people were woken up by the scent, which I imagine was a pretty eye-wateringly unpleasant experience but I guess beats being burned to death.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Katsumi Watanabe exhibition

Made men, made-up men, drunken men and fallen men (and women) are among the characters Watanabe took photographs of in a career that spanned 40 years. This retrospective at the Watari-Um Museum of Contemporary Art in Jingumae is on from now till April 20. The photographer was interested in taking pictures of the cast of dubious characters who populated the streets of the entertainment districts in some of the dodgier areas of Tokyo, capturing the melting make-up, frayed carpets and piss-stained streets in all their gaudy glory. I loved the gawkishness with which some of the subjects posed, slightly awkward, caught out by the camera's flash. There is a touching mix of humour and tragedy in these pictures, which are hugely sympathetic towards its subjects.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

No sex please we're Japanese

In a survey conducted by Durex, the numbers of sexually active Japanese couples is woefully low. The average number of times people actually get down to it are 46 a year which looks pretty measley when compared with the global average of 103 times. This result is said to reflect the high numbers of couples who are just too busy for sex. Businessmen work long hours, usually followed up with drinking sessions with their colleagues and finally a long commute home. This leaves the exhausted salaryman with no time for any hankie or indeed panky. The wives who get to stay at home all day, inevitably feel the slow burn of sexual tension but have no outlet. Men's sexual needs end up being serviced at dingy massage parlours while often the women either grin and bear it or have affairs. One can't help but wonder whether the taboo on displays of public affection further adds to problems.