Saturday, January 02, 2016

Happy New Year (あけおめ)

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy year of the monkey (2016). Here are a few pictures I snapped while walking around Tokyo.



The koi from Asakusa’s traditional Japanese restaurant. I first met these guys (girls?) nearly ten years ago when they were little babies. Look how much they have grown!

The National Diet Building (with unrelated school field trip photo in the foreground). I spent some days researching at the National Diet Library and snapped this picture of Japan’s legislature.

Picture of the Christmas Market at Hibiya Park. This wooden tower was imported from Germany specifically for the event.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Looking down the famous Takeshita fashion street in Harajuku.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Wako Building in Ginza is always a stunner. It was one of the locations Godzilla destroyed when he went on his first rampage in 1954.

Not in Ginza, but here is a look at the still new(ish) Skytree in Asakusa. The weather has been clear for the most part and oddly mild for winter, so there have been some nice views of the tower. I’ve never been up to the observation decks but I think there is a Star Wars exhibition going on there now in conjunction with Episode VII.

Thought the snake wrapping around the building was quite nifty!

Ginza Street was all decked out for Christmas with lighted trees lining the avenue.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Back to Kyoto (京都・オン・マイ・マインド)

I had the privilege of giving an invited lecture at the Kyoto International Manga Museum on the influence of manga artists on early Japanese video games.

For this I travelled back to Kyoto for a few days. I reunited with host mother from the Stanford Overseas Studies Program some ten years ago. 

While the city was positively overrun with holiday tourists it was still great to walk around the old sites. I also made a trip out to Ritsumeikan University to visit the fine folks at their Center for Game Studies.

I’m now in Tokyo for a few weeks before heading back to Vancouver.


Always nice to be back in Kyoto!

The Kyoto International Manga Museum (京都国際マンガミュージアム) building as seen from the outside. I never even knew this place existed (shame on me!), but they had a nice exhibit on the early roots of manga in the Edo period as well as a featured gallery of artwork from various seinen manga for adult men.

The Phoenix (火の鳥) from Tezuka Osamu’s manga of the same name watches over the entrance to the Manga Museum.

Here’s the poster for our mini-symposium The Hidden Layer: Video Games as Indebted to Comics. My talk was titled “8-bit Manga? The Unlikely Friendship Between Manga, Anime and Video Games,” but they went for a much more generic title in Japanese.

Then I headed off to Tokyo. I always enjoy riding the bullet trains and the yummy o-bento you can buy for the journey.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Back in Japan! (ただ今)

I’m back in Japan for a short research trip this December and looking to posting some fun pictures and stories. Here is a shot of Mt. Fuji taken from the bullet train on the way to Kyoto.

More to come!


Sunday, August 03, 2014

Mount Takao (高尾山)

My last full day in Japan was spent visiting Mount Takao. Takaosan is located a little over an hour outside of Tokyo by train and is a nice day trip for those looking for a hike or a chairlift-assisted trip to a scenic picture taking spot with vending machines.

The soba shop lined street at the base of the mountain offers many places to eat lunch. My friends and I picked one of the many local soba shops. Soba with "tororo" (sticky grated yam) seems to be the speciality of the area based on all the menus I saw.

Takaosan offers some great views of the surrounding area and even Mt. Fuji on a clear day. The hike we took down was a bit strenuous but not overly long. It only took us 1.5 hours to get back down to the base. There are several shrines located on the mountain associated with the kami Tengu.

There is also a monkey habitat theme park where you can pay 500 yen to see sad monkeys in cages. I didn't pay admission because I had already seen a wild Takaosan monkey climbing on the chairlift system. He somehow managed to crawl inside one of the pillars before I could take a picture.


We took the chairlift up the mountain and hiked down. The ride was pretty fun and made me wish that the chairlift option had been open when I visited Whistler in BC. As an aside, I appreciate how touristy chairlifts and cable cars only cost around $5 in Japan compared to something like $30 in the U.S. and Canada.

Here is the view from atop Mount Takao. It was a bit hazy when we went so you couldn't see very far. Word is that on a clear day climbers can even spot Mt. Fuji.

Can you spot all the tiny stone statues hidden in the grass?

ANSWER: 5 (I think...)

Here is the adult tengu guarding the top of the mountain. There was also a "child" tengu who looked more like an eagle. While I have seen many tengu in my day, this is the first one I had seen with such a realistic human body and strange angel wings. He looks all ready for his anime debut!

We took a 1.5 hour nature hike down from the top of the mountain. This photo represents the most treacherous part where we had to balance on rocks so as to not get the bottoms of our shoes wet.

On the way down we stopped to visit the waterfall. Sadly they had already chained the gate to the small viewing area, forcing us to love nature from afar. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Yokohama Snapshots (横浜の写真集)

I have been staying with my friends in Yokohama for the past week. I had only been to the city two times prior to this trip, so I have been enjoying walking around and seeing the sights.

Below are a few pictures I snapped, mostly of the city skyline, while walking around. Yokohama contains lots of preserved architecture from the 1930s as well as a muted internationalized atmosphere that contrasts nicely with the hyper-illuminated bustle of Tokyo.


Presenting Yokohama's beautiful skyline as seen from the Minatomirai neighborhood. Included is the Landmark Tower (left) and the Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris wheel.

A similar view of the skyline taken behind the Akarenga "red brick" warehouse, one of Yokohama's premier tourist attractions. The building looks pretty neat from the outside, but inside it features your standard selection of food stalls and overpriced clothing shops. They were setting up some sort of Pokemon themed beer garden. Sadly they were not yet open for a Pikachu beer.

Here is a view of the dock area near the station home to the (formerly) world's tallest ferris wheel and the Nippon Maru Japanese museum ship.

Yokohama's Landmark Tower used to be the tallest building in all of Japan. Now it is sadly reduced to number two behind some building in Osaka. Or, number three if you count the Tokyo Skytree Tower. Honestly, with all this former glory, they should just name the place, "The City Formerly Known as Yokohama."

The Minatomirai neighborhood of Yokohama is having a special summer Pokemon campaign in conjunction with the new film. Here is a strange overstuffed Pikachu balloon piñata in one of the major shopping malls near the station.

Here is another installation art from the train station. I call him (her?) Trash Man.