Nominated for best Best Specialist Blog / Best Personal Blog

•February 23, 2010 • 2 Comments

In the Irish Blog Awards.  I also recently hit 10,000 hits which is properly mega. 

http://awards.ie/blogawards/2010-irish-blog-awards-sponsors/

Sponsered by iqcontent

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Yudanaka / Nagano – Snow Monkeys

•February 21, 2010 • 3 Comments

What a week!  I am in Kyoto at the minute.  Here are some photos of my trip to the snow monkey onsen on Tuesday.  It was pretty incredible and quite the pilgrimage to the onsen too.  I went to one myself after the trek.  Here is a taster…. (I have many more, but I don’t have alot of time here to sort through them all).

My two week Japanese trip starts now..

•February 14, 2010 • 3 Comments

Koenji

Wow, time really does fly over here.  It’s kind of scary how things creep up so fast.  Well,  I finished work today and I am leaving my amazing guesthouse (link) in Koenji tomorrow morning which is a little sad to be honest.  I will officially not live here any more.  I could write an essay on how good Koenji is but, I just don’t have the time or energy right now.  In short, happy people, happy smiles, happy music and a killer atmosphere.  I think anyone who has visited me over here  or any other foreigners who are lucky enough to live here would agree with me.  It’s one of Tokyos if not the number one most attractive place in Tokyo I think and I was very lucky to accidentally end up living here.  I had the most incredible time staying here with some of the nicest people I have met in Japan to date –  Australians, Koreans, Italian and of course Japanese… Just brilliant really.

Anyways, back to the actual blog..

I am leaving Tokyo tomorrow to go on a two week trip!  I am VERY VERY excited as it’s my first Japanese holiday (with no work) since I arrived.  At the minute I am heading alone but a work mate might be joining me for a good part of it too!  Here is my rough itinery:

Nagano/Yudanaka – snowboarding lessons I guess and some snow monkeys in onsen.
Osaka – maybe my favourite place in Tokyo?  Great food, great people too, more relaxed than Tokyo,
Kyoto – I want to see some of the temples I missed out on last time. and Golden Temple again!
Kobe – I want to sample the best beef in Japan.  It’s here.  Oh Himeji Castle!
Nara – deer and temple area.
Okayama – This might be just a stop over although they have a VERY crazy festival on next week!!!
Hiroshima – Serious history, I think so and maybe a trip to Miyajma.

Here is a map so you can see the distance etc.

Shomben Yokocho (….Piss Alley) – Shinjuku

•February 12, 2010 • 4 Comments

Although commonly referred as the latter.  I think it’s called that because there is only one toilet that is used by all the bars and it’s not meant to be so nice.  This alley is one of my favourite spots in Shinjuku.  It’s great to break away from the concrete/neon/noise/shouting touts and wander up this amazing traditional Japanese alley of old ramen/curry/yakitori bars just feet away from the train tracks.  It’s a common hang out for salarymen after a days work so black and white is usually the dress code although you can wear what you like.  I went to one bar called Albatross with some peeps where we had to literally climb up three sets of stairs (ladders) and eventually find our seats/planks of wood… on a shakey roof.  It was pretty unique and I highly recommend it even if it was a bit on the chilly side.  They even gave us nice blankets!  Here are some photos and a video of me walking down piss alley

Joanna Newsom – Unit (Daikanyama/Tokyo) – 7th February

•February 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Joanna Newsom played her second gig in Japan last night in Daikanyama – Unit.  I am not entirely sure why the gig was on here as it’s a terrible venue which can only be described a big corporate club type black box.  Surely one of the 1000 or so other venues in Tokyo would have been more suitable for her or even a theater.  When I arrived (super late because of work), the already sweaty crowd were restless and obviously not happy being wedged up against each other.  I did manage to wriggle (?) through the rammed sold out venue to get a decent view and I was not stuck behind pillars like some unfortunate folks at the back were.  Joanna’s stage time was delayed for some unknown reason and my heart nearly exploded when a Japanese announcement came on over the PA.  I had no idea what it was but it all sounded very serious.  It was funny to see every foreigner (about 10% of the crowd) look blankly at each other as it came on.  I thought it was all canceled.  Thankfully none of the Japanese budged so it was a good sign that everything was still going ahead.   She eventually appeared, half an hour late, with 2 other musicians – one playing banjo/flute and doing backing vocals and the other guy was quietly drumming and doing backing vocals.  All of her old songs were rearranged for her new band and tour.  New instruments, new rhythms and even new chord progressions thrown in for good measure.  Set list… hmm.

She opened with a new song and the (1 song) encore was a new song.  She also played Emily, Peach Plum Pear (piano version at the end of main set), The Book Of Right-On, Bridges and Balloons and recent song ’81.  Her set was half new and half old.

I can’t wait to hear he new album as the songs tonight sounded brilliant.

More photos and video of Bridges and Balloons.  The footage is awful as I was kind of up against a wall.  I just wanted to capture the live sound really.  I did record another song but it’s over 10 minutes (expect long songs on her new album!) so it’s getting no you tube action!

Tsukiji Fish Market Tokyo (Tuna Auction)

•February 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

One of Tokyo’s main tourist attractions although it does require a nasty early rise or in my case – an all nighter drinking whiskey and eating rice balls in my tiny bedroom with my sister and mate from Melbourne.  *shudder*..  We got the first train from Koenji at 4.45am and then transferred at Shinjuku to the Oedo line and we arrived at Tsukijishijo station at about 5.30am which is right in the middle of the early morning madness.  You need to walk past the speedy buggies (they will stop for no one!) and fish stalls to the very back of the market to the main warehouse where the Tuna Autions take place.  It was pretty amazing to hear them shout, dance and sing with such energy at such an early time when most other people are sleeping in their warm beds.  The surrounding fish markets were pretty amazing too.  Everything was sold and I mean everything… Well, no Dolphin.. maybe.  Here is a video I took of the Tuna Auction madness!  (if you are going check the 2010 calendar to make sure it’s actually on >  red dot – tuna auction is not on)

Koenji snow

•February 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

1st February – one day of snow in Tokyo