Friday, September 30, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
That's the museum, that's all I've got. Hey, sometimes when you live in a big city for awhile, you get used to it and you get bored and you forget about all the cool shit that big cities get, like in museums, like paintings and fossils and artifacts. I try to get out once in awhile and catch whatever's in town. Or just the dinosaur bones in the Nature and Science Museum.
It was just getting cold that day.
This is from the 12th floor of Takashimaya Times Square on the South side of Shinjuku Station, overlooking Shinjuku Park. You can test your cred by picking out the distant landmarks of all the neighborhoods you've been drunk in. Or taken walks or something, whatever, I don't know what you sickos get up to.
One floor up is a patio space. The top three floors are all restaurants and cafes so you can grab a coffee, although after nearly 3 years in Japan I still make a face at paying $4 for a little cup of iced sludge.
I've always had a weird relationship with Shinjuku.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
There are 56 members in the idol group AKB48, all girls aged 12 to 24. AKB stands for Akihabara, the notoriously eccentric Tokyo neighborhood where the group was invented, and where they perform for creeps on the 8th floor of Don Quixote every day.
AKB48 members usually appear as schoolgirls, popping cute little blinky faces and wiggling their limbs in talent-show dance moves. When they're not dressed in school uniforms, they're in bikinis or sexy (but sweet) lingerie.
AKB48 is used to promote an incredible variety of mainstream products, and you see images of the group in convenience stores, on train platforms, on magazine covers, on drink bottles. Sometimes it seems like AKB48 is everywhere. This distresses me because in my dreams, Akihabara is a quarantine for this kind of gross lolita bullshit. The neighborhood, famous for its concentration of game and electronics shops, has cultivated a similar concentration of shopping and entertainment catering to the anime, video game, and pornography subcultures. What you can find in Akihabara ranges from awesome (vintage game consoles and offbeat memorabilia) to distressing (pornographic comic books featuring toddlers). Unfortunately, the neighborhood leaks.
This is a group that was invented specifically for otaku men who fetishize young girls. The idea was to assemble a bunch of fresh young female faces and bodies to be sexually idolized, and keep them close and accessible to the guys who idolized them. AKB48's fans get chances to meet them at events in Akihabara all the time, and, like most idol groups, AKB48 makes it a point to acknowledge its otaku fanbase and ply them with sweet comments like "I consider myself an otaku, as well!"
Akihabara bothers me. Idol groups like this bother me. Adults drooling over young girls bothers me. Encouraging cuteness as a major female virtue bothers me. That a sizable portion of men in the world can only think of girls as a mystifying and intimidating species, approachable only when they act like talking cupcake babies, bothers me. But AKB48 in particular bothers me.
It's disturbing that someone can create a product as a porno fantasy for men who like underage girls, and then, having cornered that market, push the same product onto children through heavy mainstream exposure with singalong songs on the radio and advertising tied to bottled soft drinks, chocolates, and snacks. It bothers me that parents of young boys and girls aren't disturbed by the idea of their kids sipping this sickly sweet lolicon brew.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
sakino-yu, shirahama, a photo by hopemeng on Flickr.
This time I made it to Saki no Yu, an outdoor hot spring in Shirahama, one of the top 3 in Japan I guess. Look at it! It's amazing! A week ago I was in that far pool at the edge of the ocean, naked and simmered and splashed by the waves, yelling "POSEIDON!" It was excellent. I've wanted to go to this famous onsen for a long time and now I've been and it was awesome. Mid-April was the perfect time to go to Shirahama. No crowds at all, and it was just warm enough to kick back.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Post-earthquake/tsunami, we've been threatened with blackouts, so everyone's trying to save power, and the city's been dimmed. At first I sort of liked it -- and still kind of do, I mean, my eyes are spared the usual florescent assault, and we're saving electricity, and it gives a sense of community, kind of, like we're all working together to get through this.
Then I went to Shinjuku tonight, and here was the neon jungle, switched off, in the dark.
You know where this is. It's where Bill Murray first arrives in Lost In Translation -- one of the most recognized tacky blinking flashing electric vistas in Tokyo. And now the screens and signs are shut off, and you can barely see the faces of the loiterers.
It's spooky. See Kimura Takuya up there atop the ALTA? He's been there for as long as I can remember. He is the holy guardian of the East Exit and his majesty is now cloaked in shadow! You get used to seeing things as they essentially are, and then you see them like this, and it makes you uneasy. You know?
Here in Tokyo, we're just reading the news, hoping for the best, mourning for those up north. Some have left for other countries or for the south. Some of us still have emergency bags packed. Most of us are fielding scary emails from abroad, pleas to get away from here. It's a strange time to be here, but me and mine are okay, and I hope the same for everyone else. Best wishes, best luck.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Last week a student asked, "Ms. Roeser, how many boyfriends do you have?" "About 507," I replied. That was a lie. I have a lot of extra chocolate in pretty boxes. Who's lonely? I can help.
Friday, February 11, 2011
I am the sweater king, I am the bathroom photo king, I am the snow prince when I feel like it!
Ever so more where that came from.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
So check it out -- that is one cold city. But it is very pretty, the people were warm and friendly, and they know what to do with a lot of snow -- party with it.
I guess the military brings in truckloads of snow and snow and snow to be piled and sculpted. There's Snoopy, and behind him Mister Potato Head, and behind him, men at work.
My companion instantly recognized this baseball player. I was like SWEET, GIANT SNOW GUY WITH CORN!
This is a pretty unbeatable picture of Selena on the ferris wheel. Mountains! Mountains!
Dreamy guy sculpting an ice Pegasus with a chainsaw while a cheesy beer ad mirrors our delight. You're welcome.
Let me tell you about highballs in Japan. I came to Japan two years ago drinking whiskey and soda. A few months after I arrived, Suntory started this HIGHBALL ad campaign. A highball according to Suntory is Suntory scotch, soda, and lemon. The campaign was so giant and successful that now when I go to a bar EVERYONE is ordering highballs. There are special HIGHBALL BARS. What? Even this snowy festival has an ice sculpture devoted to highballs. The thing is, at some places, like big chain izakaya, if you order a highball, you get the cheapest scotch in a big mug of soda with a squirt of sweetened lemon syrup and a slice of lemon. Sugary and nast. So it's smarter to order whatever whiskey you want, plus soda. Then you have to explain to the table why you ordered a whiskey and soda instead of a "highball." Okay, every time I explain this, I can't remember why I'm annoyed by the highballs in Japan thing, but nevertheless, I usually am.
Whoa! Giant owls and foxes or something with a big snow building!
But you know what I really came for, right? FUCK YEAH!
The dinosaur centerpiece commits a minor faux pas...
MINOR? OMG IT GETS ME EVERY TIME! STEGGY! This video is the sole reason Stegosaurus is my favorite dinosaur.
If you're in Japan, fly around. I've gone to Kobe and Sapporo for about 20,000JPY using Skymark. You can reserve tickets online and buy them at a convenience store with your reservation number. Flying long distance within Japan is often cheaper than taking trains!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I should have bought some sleek ceramic number like this I guess. It looks kind of psychedelic to me. If I designed humidifiers I would obviously start with dragons and stoner gnomes, but whatevs. Anyway, humidifiers are sold everywhere here. Which makes sense. Because it's so dry. I could have figured this whole thing out a bit faster. I spike mine with a peppermint, frankincense, rosemary and lemon essential oil blend. Happiness. So I have got winter DOWN, man. Electric blanket, humidifier, Vaseline lotion from home, Heat Tech leggings/tights/undershirts = this is under control.
Edit: Hahaha of course someone has already made a dragon humidifier, duh. But I think we have a lot more places to go with this...
I work out in the fucking suburbs, way out in the suburbs. I hate suburbs. But almost any place looks pretty once at least in awhile, if you can see the sky or the ocean. You know why? Because Earth is an awesome planet. Try to remember that once a day.