Underneath a “Wild Layers” wig, in “bitter cinnamon blend” color, a person claiming to be the Anti-Christ was spotted in Koenji. It was Friday, Dec 21, 2012, and the world might have ended that very day according to Mayan prophecy. Instead, he shared a fish sausage with SanTanuki and a sad smile with a restaurant worker after a delicious bowl of Vietnamese soup.
Tatsumi pool is a shrine to swimming
Almost in Chiba, Tatsumi swimming pool is my new shrine, demanding a cross-city pilgrimage. Since the Taiikukan in Sendagaya is closed for one year of renovations, I discovered this amazing facility. It has enormous windows facing a former lumber dock that now features decaying piers and flying fish. Not only is the main pool 50 meters, so is the so-called “sub-pool.” There’s a separate area for diving, including a 10 meter platform.
The clouds that day against the blue sky were spectacular. In the distance, at the end of the walkway, you can see Sky Tree to the north.
Hakuho, sumo champion again in Tokyo
Undefeated in two weeks, Hakuho won the tournament two days early. He is celebrating by holding up some lucky “tai” fish given by a wealthy admirer. I would have a big smile, too, if someone gave me two giant expensive fish! Hakuho is adorable!!
Random men in Shibuya
In keeping with the moe theme of this blog, I would like to end this year with a completely shamelessly, inappropriate and vulgar medley of random Shibuya men. With 10 minutes to spare for a business meeting at Hachiko, I turned my new Canon S90 on the crowd.
The photo above is perhaps the best: the central subject fetishized, the public zipping by, and one woman in the background smiling knowingly towards the lens.
If you asked me what is my favorite Japanese uniform, I would say the mask: ubiquitous, a sign of danger inbound or outbound, of dubious functionality, and quintessentially Japanese. Above this boy rocks his mask with ipod, shaggy orange perm, and the skinny pants tucked inside some girlish boots. I am slayed.
Continue seeing and reading more after the jump.
Call me shallow, which my husband often does, but I was disappointed that Japan’s new Prime Minister Hatoyama, who defeated the long ruling LDP in a landslide yesterday, has the looks and charisma of a dead fish. So of course I was thrilled that the TV news coverage included endless coverage of former PM Koizumi’s attractive TV star son who managed to inherit daddy’s seat in a rare LDP and father-son win.
My favorite part of the coverage was when the expertly coiffed son teared up at a campaign press conference. This clip was on constant rotation last night. The boy knows how to act! If anyone can find the Youtube clip, I would be thrilled to post it. Here’s a small still:
Shinjiro, can you become the John-John Kennedy of Japan?
I also savored the grumpy old men who lost and complained that they were defeated by “assassin” female candidates who “stole” votes because they were young and pretty. Although I doubt the new party will change much, if anything, it was satisfying to see the old guard lamenting their lack of appeal.
Here’s one English language video clip about Koizumi Shinjiro and daddy-son politics in Japan.
Two meals: Japanese and “Western-style”
I don’t often post photos of food, but I liked the presentation of both these meals. And they are oddly different and alike. Above is sanma (さんま), a fish dish at Hinaya, our favorite izakaya in Nakano. Served whole, the fish was delicious with a simple lime and radish garnish. The fish is translated into English as “saury.”
At the bottom is a hamburger lunch at a Ginza restaurant that specializes in “Western-style” food, or youshoku (洋食). Youshoku are dishes that any post-war Japanese instantly associates with foreigners, yet they are so thoroughly Japan-icized so that they become simultaneously familiar and exotic to us foreigners.
Note that the hamburger is served without a bun, one perfect watercress garnishes the baked potato, the mustard has its own ceramic holder, and the whole meal is served on a cast iron pan. But the best part is the soy sauce in the white dish, which is meant to be combined with the grated radish and green onion as a dipping sauce.
I was also reminded of the difference between regular “rice”– called gohan (ご飯)– and “ra-i-su” (ライス). The same substance but the former is in a bowl, while the latter is flattened out on a plate, and considered more Western-style.