Well, as has become a rather disturbing trend here in Japan, today we had rather a strong quake. Estimates seem to place it at about 5-6.5 here in Tokyo, and I can tell you that even though I was on the ground floor of a building, you could feel the building shake quite hard.

Friends on the 22nd floor of the Maru building said the building moved *very* noticeably. I guess the silver lining is that this is the faults letting out energy gradually rather than as a huge event. Let’s hope. (Another link here.)

Ready to slide

It’s November, which always reminds me that soon, it’ll be December, and that means time for snowboarding. I spent a few hours in Jimbouchou today with my personal shopping advisor for the 3rd time so far this season to see what’s in stock.

Jimbouchou is to outdoor sports a bit what Akihabara is to electronics – it’s a huge street and side streets of purely sports shops, which at this time of year focus on snow sports. The main players (despite some having different names, they’re owned by the same companies) are Minami and Victoria, but to be honest, it’s the small shops and the side streets where the best selections and prices can be found. That’s not to say that the big shops haven’t got like that by accident – they stock an amazing selection of stuff at good prices, but if you’re looking for the full range of Flow bindings, it’s time to go down a dark alley on a rainy day (as I did a few weeks ago).

A bit like last year, there doesn’t seem to be one dominant fashion (a few years ago it was short skis, before that, snowboarding, before that skiing and so on). I think this is a good thing, if only because it means a better variety of kit in the shop.

Again this year, it’s nice to see a variety of smaller brands, not just Burton bindings, Deeluxe boots and Oakley goggles. Not just that, but the variety of colours and sizes has improved too. When I started boarding about 4 years ago, we could only find a single pair of boots to fit me, and they were from somewhere in Indonesia, and they only just fit. This year you can get quite a few different sizes of boots, even beyond my 29cm size. (I’ll be using my Burton Ruler boots again).

It’s always good to see what’s good this year, and I’m looking forward to getting on the slopes…then getting in the onsen…then not being able to move the next day. Game On!!

24Mbit ADSL

One of the best things about living in Japan, and specifically Tokyo is the excellent ADSL and broadband connectivity. After 2 years with ADSL at 1.5Mbs, I finally upgraded to 24Mbit, which costs me a mere 200 yen more per month (still coming in under 5000yen a month flat rate).

It meant buying a new modem, but also a new LAN router as my old one ran at only 10Mbit on the WAN side. I got an NTT MN3 modem, and a Linksys BEFSR41C-JP router. So far it’s excellent, and yes, you don’t get a regular 24Mbit connection, but it is a lot faster than the 1.5 which would top out on a good server at about 1Mbit. So far I’ve recorded over 3Mbit with US servers, so I’m pretty happy with it.


I finally got to see ‘Zatoichi’ with Beat/Kitano Takeshi a few days ago, thanks to an English subtitle version at Virgin Roppongi Hills. I have to say that although it’s a bit slow, it’s actually a good film with a fairly complex plot and some well acted character parts. The fighting is well done although some of the computer effects aren’t well done.

The most impressive part of the film has to be the soundtrack (including the tap dancing samurai at the end of the film) – the sounds of people chopping wood, walking, sowing rice and other facets of everyday life are woven into the soundtrack – it’s very atmospheric. I still have no idea why Takeshi dyed his hair blonde for this role…

A good film, check out the DVD, or, for the sake of the soundtrack, try to get to see it at the cinema.

Bits and pieces

Bit of a catch all post this – everything from Linux to Japanese politics 🙂

Early in the week, I was glad to see that Takenaka-san had held his job in Koizumi-san’s cabinet as the Banking Sacrificial Official. This is the guy whose job it is to try to sort out the Japanese banks. You know he’s doing a good job for 2 reasons: banks are slowly admitting to some of the bad loans they have (trillions of yen – no one seems to know exactly how much) and 2) all the banks *hate* him!
Check out stories on Koizumi-san’s re-election within his own party here, and here.

Non-tech freaks miss this bit: This week, I upgraded my windoze box to an Athlon XP2500, and bumped my Linux to XP2000. I need to sort Redhat 9 on there now. I also got some decent sound recording software called Audio Hijack Pro for my Mac for getting sounds out of DVD and so I can get the whole ‘Hichhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ from my tapes into MP3.

I’ve been reading a pretty good concise History of Japan from Tuttle (a very interesting subject), and for some reason I got thinking about another of my pet subjects – Thomas Paine – so I’ve kind of semi-decided to write a much bigger article on him, because there just doesn’t seem to be enough good stuff on the Net. Just thought I’d mention it.

Song of the Day: ‘Guilty’ – John Belushi – “Made in America”
Phrase of he day: The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster – like being smashed in the face by a slice of lemon, wrapped around a gold brick.


There was a slight earthquake yesterday (Saturday), just days after that story about an imminent earthquake – so was he right or wrong? It wasn’t a major one – in fact, had I not been on the 21F of an office building I may not have noticed – gave a bit of a jolt though, and it left the lights swinging in the canteen.

On a nicer note, I saw “Hero” last week starring Jet Li and Donnie Yen amongst others. Another great Chinese film with an intricate plot around 6 main characters. Beautifully shot, it once again stars the stunning Chinese desert, and features some great camera work. I was fortunate enough to be able to catch an English sub-titled version here in Tokyo (it had Japanese subtitles too, and the original Chinese vocal track!

News from Japan

It’s been an interesting day in Japan for 2 stories which came my way.

The first is regarding an earthquake analysis team, who think there will be an earthquake around Tokyo either on the 16th or 17th.

Understandably this has got a few people scared, and a few more filling up baths, buying water bottles, and generally checking the torch batteries. They base their claim on the fact that certain vibrations and RF fields are behaving the same way they did before other earthquakes. It sounds plausible, except that one of the team has apparently become something of a celebrity (as scientists go I suppose) for getting these things wrong. No disrespect to the man, but I hope he’s wrong again.

The Yahoo Japan story [Japanese]

Another story was a bit sadder, but interesting in some ways I’m afraid – a man from Nagoya killed himself and two others after dousing his old workplace (and himself) in petrol, and then detonating himself. BBC have a story and picture here. Apparently he just wanted 3 months more severance pay after getting made redundant – and he worked for a delivery company, making you wonder if Japan is finally going postal.

Sorry for all the depressing news.


Dear all, welcome to This is basically an extension of the blog I was testing on Blogger, but wanted the space and freedom to kind of do my own thing. I’m currently working on getting something set up for other people to contribute, a picture archive, and categories, so hang in there. I also need to set the Japanese language pack in here.

ASCS 2003

A late update here – last weekend was ASCS 2003 – the Big Annual Airsoft gathering.

Basically, airsoft is a bunch of people in military gear running around with realistic looking air and electric powered guns firing plastic pellets at each other.

This year’s games were 250 vs. 250 affairs over a huge playing area – woods, streams and open hills. A lot of fun, but a bit repetitive, even though the teams were made up of 5 small teams and were rotated.  Previous years had similar team sizes of 30 or so, but it was a 1 on 1 style in smaller areas, with specific objectives – capture the flag, defend a balloon, or such. This year’s was 5 games of the same thing – find coloured cans and bring them back to base. Unfortunately the lack of knowing your team-mates and having no overall strategy meant that the games often descended into stalemate small unit activity.

Our team is called Tokyo Gaikoku Butai [TGB] (aka Foreign Devils or just ‘those gaijin’), but only 7 of us made it up, so we joined with a few other small clans and made one team. We make up a pretty small percentage of the 500 or so participants, but the reception is always friendly, and doesn’t affect the game play at all. I’ve been playing for about 3 years now, although I only seem to make a few games – but I always go to ASCS. If you fancy giving airsoft a go, have a look at that group, or Google it!

The weather for the weekend was warm on Saturday and raining on Sunday, and today is pretty miserable too. I hate to whine on about the weather here, but for Japan, this is really odd…middle of August and I’m not melting.

I survived Disney Sea!

A late post, but just to say that I went to Tokyo Disney Sea this weekend.

Let’s just say that I don’t like Disney. Actually, that doesn’t go far enough. I HATE Disney, blah blah blah.

But there I am, the day after a typhoon, in sweltering heat and sporting a very tasteless wide brim hat, there I am wandering around the latest Disney Park. I have to say that it’s less Disney than it’s neighbour, Tokyo Disneyland. The rides aren’t bad and it’s a bit more ‘real’ than it’s saccharine cousin.

There’s also no characters walking around, which is good because I’d just want to push them in the harbour. Walking around is nice (if you avoid sunburn), but what about the rides. Well, they’re better than TokDis, but not really white knucklers.

Still, top 2 were Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and the Indiana Jones ride. After that, maybe Storm Rider. The restaurants are OK, and generally service was good. The finale fireworks show is so much better than the old (now retired) Fantillusion, which used to bore me stupid. An interesting aside is that Tokyo Disney Sea is built around themes rather than films, and with the exception of Ariel the Mermaid, and that ‘Under the Sea’ track, there was a dearth of recent Disney characters, but then, can you name a Disney character from the last 8 years or so? If you can, chances they’re from a Pixar made film…Toy Story, Bug’s Life, and the new Finding Nemo.

None of them are here – odd given the last one’s marine setting. Licensing issues? Who knows. However, despite Disney’s decline, the parks are still a good day out, but at 5,500 yen to get in, make the most of it.

OK, I had fun 🙂
Still hate Disney though.