I live in Tokyo now but most of my friends and family do not. The main idea here is that I can tell these people about interesting things that happen and are seen.

Monday, April 23, 2007


The metropolitan elections ended yesterday... this is as merciful as the coming of Spring. The past week saw an escalating tumult of Tokyo-style electioneering that culminated in me losing a sock because I was so agitated that I tore it off my foot and threw it across the room and now I can't find it. It's hard to throw a sock far without bunching it up pretty tight, so I'm not sure how I contrived to lose it but I guess that's politics.

It is generally accepted in Tokyo that the best way to relay information to the public is by yelling at them through a megaphone - the busy commercial districts ring with the shouts of touts, sometimes as many as four or five outside a single storefront. They often experiment with wild variations in pitch and volume, though it's not clear whether this is intended to crack the public's unassailable ability to ignore stimuli, or to relieve their own boredom. (They have been known to keen and ullulate, modes of expression formerly restricted to "things being described by H.P. Lovecraft").

This is a pretty tolerable practice once you're accustomed to it. One does not go to Shibuya to stroll about doing maths problems in one's head, after all. In election season however, the practice extends to every part of the city. Nowhere remains unmolested as volunteers mobilize in support of their preferred candidate. The main streets are worked by small cars - roofs buckling under the weight of speakers, ladies dressed like the Queen Mother (RIP) wave gloved hands at pedestrians and chatter into mics. No-one waves back, or reacts at all if they can help it... the seasoned Tokyo citizen effortlessly deflects all incomings, like Daniel-san pretending to wash a car window.

Narrower streets, such as that on which I live, are visited instead by small parades of supporters in headbands and fluorescent windbreakers, armed with banners and loudhailers. Occasionally the actual candidate will accompany these parades - identifiable by a different colour windbreaker and a look of replete satisfaction on their faces. I even saw one women bellowing away with her PA aimed into a tiny alleyway flanked by just three doors.

There are certain parts of these tirades that I can understand and they do not vary much. I will attempt a translation (for this example, I am imagining that there is a politician named "Tanaka")

"He's Tanaka!"
"Let's have a good relationship! (with Tanaka)"
"Good relationship, please!"
"Tanaka! Tanaka! He's Tanaka. (I can say his name in a variety of tones!)"

(repeat until out of earshot... as the old story ends, "and for all I know, they may be yelling still")

I have no idea what the issues were in this election (suppression of touts and hawkers, anyone?) - there is some suggestion that a sum of 10,000,000,000 yen may be missing, or required, or at stake, or is desired by some person or persons, or you can buy Odaiba for that amount... I dunno.

Anyway it's over and I'm glad. I belatedly noticed that some of the election posters are pretty amusing and I have put some up on the flickers with mildly acidic commentary. I feel no shame in gently ridiculing these strangers as there's every chance that at least one of them woke me up while I was trying to sleep off a hangover on Saturday morning.


PS: This is now the #1 hit for "Murray Dixon" on Google Japan - run it through a translation engine if you feel you'd like to become more confused.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Mystical Fortune Update

Well, I took the folks up to Nikko today, a place about 150km or so north of Tokyo, up in the hills. The tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu is located there, and it's a World Heritage Site... now having spent a few days in Kyoto, one can get a little jaded about World Heritage Sites, National Treasures, Designated Important Cultural Properties, etc. Sometimes it seems all you gotta do to get registered is stick a crappy bird on the roof of your temple. Baby, it don't even got to be gold.

However, Nikko is the bidniz. I recommend it - the buildings are exceptional and, to my knowledge, no-one has burned them down yet (most historical buildings in Japan are reconstructions... the famous Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) in Kyoto for example, was most recently burned down by a buck-wild monk in 1950, but had been razed and rebuilt at least four or five times prior to that). Moreover, the temples and shrines at Nikko are set amidst towering, grand old cedar trees - you expect to see an Ewok in a kimono at any moment... that's scarcely a recommendation I suppose - let me re-assure you, no Ewoks were observed. (Though one fanciful carving of an elephant bore a passing resemblance to "Watto" the annoying thingy from Episode One who was apparently supposed to be a Jew or an Italian or something).

Photos will be up on the flickarz in due course (I have taken a bungload since getting my new camera and it will take a while to sort out what's worth uploading and what ain't).

Anyway, I also have a new fortune (see the old one here), procured at Rinnoji Temple.

Your Fortune: Excellent (result!)

Everything you want to do can be done well. No problem in your family.

(I like to read this as "No problem in YOUR family!!! ...many problems are implied in the families of others)

Wish: Everything goes as you expect. You can sell or buy any house, any land.
Expected Visitor: He(or she) will come very soon.
Missing Thing: Keep calm and look around with patience.
Travel: Business trip will do good.
Business: All right, but be cool.
Study: No problem. Continue studying.
Speculation: Just wait, or you'll lose.
Game and Match: You will surely win. Be calm.
Love: Get along with your partner faithfully.
Removal: No problem. (This may refer to tumours)
Childbirth: Don't worry.
Illness: Be faithful, and it will soon be cured.
Marriage Proposal: Leave it to others. You can realize it.

Friday, April 06, 2007


i feel like i oughtta have a bunch to say after a long period of silence but hell you know what NOT REALLY

don't wanna get started complaining about how 70s bands that i liked keep rolling up to Tokyo and doing Vegas type shows for upwards of 8000 yen... i can't be investing that type of bank on the off-chance that they haven't started sucking in the last 30 years... (YEAH I'm looking at you "Cold Blood" but you ain't alone)

anyway i got at least one gig to look forward to

my folks is here and that is alright. there's a certain confidence that a man can only obtain and renew by showing off to his mother. so i'm feeling fresh in that regard. plus they are spoiling me rotten and got me a new camera and 6 (count 'em!?!) kilograms of extra dark chocolate..... yeah apparently it was on special. i suppose a fondue party may be immanent, or else i gotta develop some new fetish. i don't know what else can realistically be done with that amount of chocco

let me re-iterate NEW CAMERA: so there will be new flickrs pretty soon -- i mean what happened to our flickr scene, doggies -- who'd have known i was the heart and soul all along?

ALRIGHT MY SKINWALKERS maybe more later i never really know whats i'm gonna do next (just what i probably won't)