Sunday, November 30, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
I never once look up before Mejirodai.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I'll miss this job when it finishes. Maybe even enough to come back.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Skimming down, there was a house four streets away from me, a former councillor for South Shields (Progressive, ironically), email addresses proclaiming englishloyal and sexymisscrosby, a businessman (international, but then who isn't nowadays?), 73 Squadron Osnabruck and, more frequently, proof of entitlement seen (not only foreigners sponging of the state, then).
How to beat the BNP, squalled the odious Hazel Blears in the following morning's Guardian. Judging by the state of their members, they're doing a pretty good job of it themselves.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I've been here before. When I left Korea for the third and final time I had telephone interviews for Warsaw, Turin and Istanbul. Just before Christmas I turned them all down, on a whim. A few hours later I saw the advert for Sicily. I've never once looked back.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
For the hour and a quarter to the top of Mount Otsuka we tramped ever upwards, from narrow paths that had conifer roots sticking up like bones, through deep, biscuit-brown piles of birch leaves with the texture of tracing paper, to railway-sleeper risers scattered like matchsticks. We hurried on to Fuji Peak Garden, finding only a few picnic tables in the woods and a path to the Mitake-san cable car, where we hit a slow-moving town of concrete pavement, metal drains, electricity cables strung above hiking trail signposts, beer vending machines, souvenir shops selling wooden Buddhas and buckwheat noodles, bags of lemons and turnips for 200 yen (you paid by leaving two coins in a moneybox), and a two-hundred-year-old shrine that doubles as a mountaintop.
Continuing on to Mount Hinode, we lost the crowds within a few hundred metres, dropping down through conifer forest until the final climb to the circular summit. In the distance, Shinjuku stood like a citadel in a dusty brown haze, far across the urban sprawl. There was the sound of a transistor radio, a couple putting orange peel into an empty tin of Pringles, an plastic box of sushi and the hiss of camping gas. In the corner was the sign pointing us down to Hinatawada.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
With the majority of Japanese working sixteen hours a day then coming home to flats the size of a litter-tray, life can be hard for pet-starved Tokyoites. Luckily, help is at hand in the form of the imaginatively-monikered Nekobukero, where for the small sum of just 500 yen (about two quid fifty before the pound went through the floor) you can spend all day stroking, feeding and generally bothering the hell out of a bunch of flea-ridden moggies in a themed cats' house (good job someone spotted the need for that possessive s or they'd have some seriously disappointed male visitors on their hands).
Sunday, November 16, 2008
And next Saturday I'll be getting up at noon.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Although this seems to suggest that number might be a bit of an underestimate.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
In my experience this never ends well.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Afterwards I whizzed round town Japanese-style, on the back of a mama-chari (mother's bike). The centre
had been closed for a festival. Stall fronts flapped in the wind, there was the smell of red beans and fried noodles, teenagers jumped around to hip-hop on a stage under traffic lights, a jazz band played in front of a cafe, a dance troupe blocked a street. By the time it got dark, we were already halfway home.
That even for a story about a Sunderland supporter becoming chancellor of Sunderland University, the mackems still need to go to Newcastle to take a pretty picture.
Joey Barton is actually a very good footballer, but still an accident waiting to happen.
A Confederacy of Dunces gets a whole lot better one hundred pages in.
A single vowel can make a very big difference (For the record, go-con is an innovative Japanese dating strategy whereby five men and five women hook-up in a public place; gokan will get you twenty years in jail - and a certain kind of respect from at least one of your male students).
It's possible to get sick of tofu. And curry rice.
Going to Shibuya dressed as Andy Warhol gets the girls. Going to Starbucks with a Teach Yourself Japanese book doesn't.
Lemsip really works. Eventually.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Twenty-six, twenty-one, eighteen kilometres to go. The speedometer flickered around 40, we entered yet another concrete tunnel. Over my shoulder middle-aged Japanese sat quiet and uncomplaining on fold-out seats in the aisle; two women picked up a conversation in French. The engine strained, the driver pushed a button to start another loop of adverts, traffic built-up patiently on the road behind.
The walk to Myojin Pond was flat and sunny, but the Japanese were dressed for a National Geographic expedition: waterproof boots, gaiters, retractable hiking poles, top-of-the-range Nikons with metre-long lenses and tripods, Gortex hats, designer jackets, and bells on their backpacks to ward off bears.
Which is slightly over the top when the biggest danger you face is the threat of a falling leaf.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
This is, indisputably, a bastard.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
There was a moment's silence. "Who...who`s McCain?"