Thursday, April 27, 2006

I'm such a baby

Tonight I met some friends at The Lockup, a prison-themed izakaya in Shibuya. (The homepage makes it look innocent enough, but believe me, it isn't!) I had never been there, and I was running late because of work. I found the entrance to the place, which was nothing more than a wooden door lightly marked "entrance." Strangely enough, you had to push the door open to go in, and then I found myself in a dark room with no visible exit. Most restaurants in Japan have staff waiting at the entrance to shout "Irrasshaimase!" ("Welcome!") when you walk in, but this place had no one.

I couldn't even see well enough to tell where I was supposed to go, but I thought I saw the faint outline of a hallway to the left so I took a slight step toward it. As soon as I did, BAM!! Flashing lights, a fake skeleton popping out of the wall at me, and a tinny laugh coming out of speakers. I thought this was a prison-themed place, not a haunted house!!

Unfortunately haunted houses are not my thing, and after a long and frustrating day at work I just could not force myself to walk through a semi-scary attraction. Thank goodness for mobiles. I called a friend who was waiting inside and begged for her to come meet me at the entrance.

She led me through the haunted house portion of the restaurant with ease, laughing the whole way at what a wimp I am. In retrospect, it was quite embarrassing that I had to call her. I don't think I'll ever live this one down.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pretty flowers!

I love the vase.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy Birthday, Bijou!!

Happy 5th birthday, Bijou!!
It's hard to believe it's already been five years. He's grown into such a sweet, handsome, and well-behaved guy.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Corn soup

Corn soup is sold in vending machines in Japan as a warm drink, and it's usually limited to winter only. I thought the snowperson next to this can was a nice touch. I'm pretty sure most hot corn soup has been taken out of vending machines already to make room for the summer drinks. This one was a straggler.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Hmmm...I'm not quite sure how I felt about Shopgirl. I haven't seen the film yet, but I was curious about how Steve Martin is as a writer, so I decided to read the novel. It's a short read (just about 100 pages) but much darker than I expected. There is some complexity to the characters, but the ending leaves you wondering exactly what the point of the story was, or if maybe there was some message that you missed. I must say, however, that Steve Martin's writing was better than I thought it would be, though it's perhaps not going to win any awards.

I would say this is definitely worth a read if you're curious, and based on the positive reviews it got on Amazon, maybe you'll find something to the novel that I didn't.

I think I'll try renting the film soon so I can compare.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What I'm listening to

It's rather embarrassing when you line them all up like this... I mean, who really admits they're listening to the Pussycat Dolls, right? :-)

The best non-fiction book you've never read

As I have mentioned before, I love books. For the most part I will read anything, but I tend to stay away from non-fiction. For some reason, when faced with the choice of reading a non-fiction book or a good, light, fluffy chick lit novel, I'll often choose the chick lit novel.

But this time I hit the non-fiction jackpot. I read about Candyfreak on the Internet, and decided to check it out. Wow!! What an enjoyable, informative, and funny book - a great read by a fabulous author. If you have a sweet tooth, you will enjoy this wild ride with author Steve Almond on his trip across the US to research old regional candy bars. It's hard to read this without wanting to meander into the kitchen and find something chocolately to eat. The descriptions of candy bars alone are mouthwatering!

By the way, I didn't know before I read this book that U-No bars and Big Hunks are West Coast products!! I loved those! I see that the mint U-No bars have now been discontinued, which makes me a little sad. My friends and I in elementary school took many trips on our bicycles to the local Quik-Stop in search of those! Is anyone else a fan of U-No bars and Big Hunks? If you know what those two candy bars are, leave a comment and let me know. If you don't know what they are, leave me a comment and tell me that, too!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Happy Easter!!

Easter is not celebrated here in Japan at all, so sometimes it's hard to even remember the date. But nonetheless I love Easter and everything it celebrates...spring, rebirth, fresh beginnings, and new life. Happy Easter, everyone!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Awesome dog

I think this has been making its way around the internet, so it's probably old news old, but this skateboarding dog is hilarious.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I like to think I know sushi. I live in front of a sushi shop, I have eaten at sushi shops all over Japan and the US, and there are very few pieces of sushi I don't like. But I realized tonight I really don't know sushi at all.

Tonight I had the privilege of dining at Kyubei in Ginza, and all I can say is WOW! We had the omakase course (where you leave everything up to the chef) and I ate sushi I have never seen before. Bitter but luscious eel livers, transculent shrimp that were still twitching and shivering on their beds of rice because they were so fresh, beautiful red melt-in-your-mouth bonito with garlic and scallions, and so much more.

Thank goodness I wasn't paying for it, though. 120,000 yen for four people. Ouch. Might be a while before I go back.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Spring, are you here?

The cherry blossoms are out. The weather feels warmer. People are wearing spring coats on the trains.

Spring, are you here yet?

I would like to think so, but I'm going to wait for further proof before I start celebrating. I've been deceived by you before.

There's a saying in Japan that describes spring as arriving after it has been cold three times and warm four (三寒四温). I think this describes this season perfectly.

Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.

I had to stand in line to take this photo because this is such a famous place at Nikko. The complex of temples at Nikko is packed with amazing examples of architecture and intricate craftsmanship. This is only one of many.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Penguins are invading Tokyo...

Thanks to the mascot that JR East (the major railway line in Tokyo) has created to promote its IDC-chip encoded train pass, there are penguins everywhere in Tokyo!! This one strikes an incredibly cute pose from the side of a vending machine on a train platform.

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