Earthquake (no kidding!)

Well, for those who haven’t heard (or felt!), Japan had a petty sizable earthquake at about 6.30pm last night. Believe me – it was a shaker. I work on the 22nd floor, and the whole building was wobbling for nearly 5 minutes. We could look at another building currently under construction, and see the bare electric bulbs swinging violently – and construction workers holding on to the super structure. I didn’t see any damage in Tokyo, so that has to be a good thing. I must admit that during the tremor I made a cup of tea – since the swaying of the building was making a few people feel quite ill. Since I’ve been here I’ve witnessed quite a few quakes, but that one was certainly the longest, and felt like the most likely to get nasty. Let’s hope it’s just the plates letting off a bit of steam gently. BBC did a story here.

Sun and wine

Nice. After a sun splashed weekend, it’s now a national holiday, and yet another beautiful sunny day. Having already spent an hour on the balcony with a book and a glass of red wine, it’s now time to get serious – and head to the park armed with a bigger book, a couple of bottles of water and enough energy to lie down on the grass. Truly a tough life 🙂

The throat is now much better.

UK post

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!

Snowboard owari :(

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.

The Returner

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.

Films, Fish and Yokohama

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 bit of this

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, 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…

Gaikokujin Torokusho

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!