Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I've often complained about Japan being too bright. I like low brassy light, soft lamps or whatever. In Japan, cafes and bars and restaurants and drugstores and grocery stores are equally super florescent.

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

Don Quixote

If you buy a per-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rsonal item at Don Quixote, it is lovingly wrapped in very discreet cloud-patterned paper. Then it goes into an opaque black bag. Duh. I guess ran into some apathetic cashiers in Shibuya on this particular day. Thanks, Donki. Let's have no shame. Surely my reputation was only mildly affected among salarymen-in-the-know as I wandered home.

Anytime Anywhere

Where I come from, you can't buy booze after 2AM. In Japan, I sometimes head for the station at 6 in the morning past bars full of grisly owls still throwing back beers -- and hard liquor is sold alongside instant noodles and potato chips in convenience stores.