Well, this is my first post from Grimsby in the UK. I’m back in my old home town for a while, and taking advantage of my ISPs global roaming and my trusty old G3 Powerbook to make this post.
It’s good to be back in many ways – lots of nature and catching up with old friends and family is always a good thing, so I’ve taken the opportunity to take a few photos too, especially in the beautiful spring sunshine. On the subject of photos, I’ve also found a whole load of photos from years past – and a lot of pretty funny ones I’m going to try to scan and distribute to people as I go along.
So what’s happening in the UK? Aside from everyone avidly following events in Iraq, this weekend had the Grand National, the highlight of the British jump horse-racing and the Oxford/Cambridge university Boat Race along the Thames in London. This year it was won by Oxford in one of the closest competitions ever! So it’s been a good weekend for sports and such – and the weather was pretty good too.
On the subject of sports, I’ll be going to a football game on Tuesday night between my home team (Grimsby Town) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (aka ‘Wolves’). So I’ll update how that goes!
Well, that was the final weekend of snowboarding for the season – 2 days at Joetsu kokusai in Niigata. The weather was beautiful, such that not only could I snowboard in a T-shirt, but I could get a nice pink sunburn effect too (despite my massive application of sun-cream). I’m seriously thinking of going to New Zealand later this year to get MORE snowboarding – maybe Mt. Hutt this time. Good NZ snow site here. A couple of years ago I went to a small club ski field called Temple Basin near Christchurch, staying in a wooden cabin hanging off the side of a mountain, and have to say that I had a great time.
I must stop playing C&C Generals too actually…check here…. Maybe it’s not tasteful playing a war game in the middle of the middle-east situation, but I can’t see it making it any worse either.
Well, a film I was waiting for finally came out on DVD here, and with English subtitles! “The Returner” is a sci-fi film starring Taiwanese born Kaneshiro Takeshi, but this is very much a Japanese film. It’s sort of ET/Matrix/Terminator but a worthwhile watch. They went a bit long at 2 hours, but it’s good to see a decent Japanese film which doesn’t involve a lot of sadistic violence – it has some violence, but not the level of say Kitano ‘Beat’ Takeshi films; it also has some very cool action sequences. On the negative side, some bits look like a made-for-TV film, but most of it looks amazing – especially the scenes in Tibet, and the 747 which turns into a robot spacecraft! The special edition DVD also has a load of printed pictures, a full printed A5 storyboard booklet, and a DVD with a ‘making of’. Worth a watch for anyone.
Well, another busy week, but just a few things to go up.
Managed to go to a few places I haven’t been for a long time – the first was Tsukiji Sushiko for some quality sushi close to the fish market, and the second was down in Yokohama – actually Sakuragicho, where the Landmark Tower is, and Ishikawacho, where there used to be a great bar called Dakota, which seems to have disappeared. However, just across the road, there’s an equally good bar called Stagecoach.
I also went to see the new Bond film “Die Another Day”. I quite liked it, a bit more tense than usual, but with a great selection of gadgets and explosions. Very Bond. I do kind of agree with those who say that Madonna’s theme song isn’t suitable – new doesn’t always mean better. I have no problem with a dance track for the title, but a good one would’ve been nice.
I also went for a cup of coffee in a small coffee shop just off Alta Plaza in Shinjuku; it’s a small specialist shop in the basement (B1), which will stick in my mind for 4 reasons – it has an original Mac being used as the register, the coffee can cost 1000 yen (GBP6) a cup (!), the cake slices are huge, and it’s a damn good cup of coffee. Of course, for 1000yen, I’d want a damn good coffee. It is. Very. Too many people think that Starbuck’s hot milk effort is coffee (wrong), this is the real thing, albeit expensive.
This week actually promises to be a bit quieter as I have a lot or non-social things to do – such as my mountain of Japanese homework…
Another thing is that the 10Kkm run I was due to do was unfortunately full (which surprised the person organising it at the company), so that’s not going to happen, however, I think I better just keep training if I *ever* want to do this damn marathon.
A few things today…
As a few people who know me will be aware, for the last 6 months I’ve been going on about running a marathon, but doing very little about it. However, that changed today when I volunteered to do a 10K run in 2 months….I’d better get training!
What else? A friend pointed out to me today (over raging laughter) that if you go to the consumer part of www.avantgo.com, set your location to Japan, language to English, with filters on, BRIGHTBLACK comes up at 10!!! And further, click entertainment and I was no.1!! I’m not sure why this is happening, but thanks to all those people! I’ll put the screenshots on this page ASAP.
Also, I got “Command and Conquer Generals” game today…hope it won’t interfere with my training…
Just a quick update here as to what I was talking about regarding the area office. Well, as a foreigner, if I move, I have to inform the local City Hall, though in Tokyo, it’s the ward office – Tokyo being split into 23 Wards (‘ku’). I moved from Katsushika-ku to Setagaya-ku, so I went to the Setagaya Kuyakusho (Setagaya ward Office) and re-registered my address, and they wrote it on the back of my alien registration card (gaikokujin torokusho or ‘gaijin card’), which I should carry at all times. I’m guessing this is pretty much the same for residents everywhere. Certainly the Ward offices all look pretty much the same!
The gaikokujin torokusho used to cause a stir as all foreigners were fingerprinted and that was put on the front of the card, near your photo (and usually neatly hidden behind an official seal inside the plastic wallet). I was fingerprinted twice by employees who were very apologetic (in Japan, as in many countries, is a sign of being a criminal). Now, the fingerprint is gone, thanks mainly to the work of ethnic-Korean rights groups, many of whom, despite being born and raised in Japan are denied citizenship…but that is a whole different blog!
Having a couple of quiet days here before the weekend erupts again – joined a gym though, as I haven’t really exercised over the last 8 months since I was in Bali. Also managed to register myself at the local area office to show that I have a new address, which is something else I’d been meaning to do. Fun stuff. Planning to go down to Isehara in Kanagawa this weekend sometime, and visit old friends…should be a good laugh.
Had this sent to me last week, but forgot about it. If you want some fun and see what you *should* look like…
Late post for the weekend – went to see “The Bourne Identity”, which was pretty good – and is also and example of how long it can take some films to reach Japan. I also had a great time at a friend’s birthday party on the Sunday.
I’ve also just started reading Alex Kerr’s book “Dogs and Demons”, and am currently about 80 pages into it. It’s about the Japanese government over the last 40 years, and some of the things they’ve been up to – so far it’s somewhere between fascinating and scary.
Also – snow today in Tokyo again…not quite enough to board on though.
The weekend…you have to love it. well, after a night on the beers last night in Nihonbashi, I woke up his morning and decided to convert a couple of great tape comedies I have into MP3/OGG. I’ve decided to try “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” first as it’s a classic. I’m using Audacity as the recording software. Whilst all this is going on, I think I’d better clean my balcony. The fun never ends.