Monday, March 21, 2011

Shunbun no Hi

Today is a public holiday in Japan – Shunbun no Hi or Spring Equinox Day, a day for the admiration of nature and living things. It is not yet time for Hanami, but in the parks and cemeteries of Tokyo, the first cherry blossoms have started to bloom. To celebrate Spring Equinox, here is a photo I took last Sunday at Hama-rikyū Onshi Teien, a surrealistically beautiful garden in the heart of Tokyo.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bicycle Parking (OR Why I love the Japanese)

The Japanese have a reputation for being exceedingly particular. I appreciate this quality immensely; maybe I am a bit like that myself. But sometimes, they surpass themselves.

I keep my bicycle in our hotel’s bicycle parking lot, and they assigned me a number and a stand. I found this amusing, not least because there are few bicycles and plenty of empty stands. A few days back I got a letter from the front desk saying that my stand was broken, and requesting me to move my bike to another stand. I could see nothing wrong with my old stand, but I complied.

A few days later, I got another letter.


They also attached a copy of the previous letter “for my reference”.


And lastly, they attached a diagram.


Now perhaps you have been following the news for the last week (or perhaps, like me, you have been watching MTV), but Japan has not been going through the best of times. Thousands of lives were lost in the Tōhoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami, thousands more were left homeless. There are power shortages and fuel shortages. Fears of nuclear radiation are spreading across the nation. But Japanese hotel staff still find time to write detailed instructions – incredibly detailed instructions – for parking a bicycle.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shibuya, Ginza


Oh. For a second I thought they were real.

These cats, however, were definitely real. Wearing frilly collars, they perched on a street sign while scores of people milled around taking photos. In Tokyo I see more inexplicable things every day than I have seen anywhere else.


Which is why I wander the streets quite a lot. Maybe one day I’ll run into the girl who loves to levitate.

Friday, March 11, 2011

8.9

OK, no more flippancy about earthquakes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eventful Days

There has seldom been a dull moment since I touched down in Tokyo. On Monday it snowed, taking everyone by surprise. Tuesday was my first day at work in the Tokyo office. Around lunchtime on Wednesday there was an earthquake. This occasioned much less surprise than the snow. And today, on the walls of Tameike-Sannō underground station, I saw what could only be a depiction of – of all things – the Taj Mahal.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday: Extract 7

Sorry, no Extract 7. I missed the midnight deadline, plus I am getting bored of this game now. Before you jump in and point out that Extracts 2 to 4 also appear to have been published a day late, allow me to explain.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday: Extract 6

Extract 6 is from Conversation:
OK, enjoy Tokyo.
—Random stranger in Aoyama, Tokyo
This is the sixth of seven posts in the Extracts series. In the comments section you can, if you want, post extracts from what you have read/heard today.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday: Extract 5

Extract 5 is from the internets:
“Everyone,” she repeated through slightly clenched teeth, “has to be counted.”
Globe and Mail, Census in India
This is the fifth of seven posts in the Extracts series. In the comments section you can, if you want, post extracts from what you have read/heard today.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday: Extract 4

Extract 4 is from Packaging:
With a great breakfast inside us, we feel we can do just about anything: change the nation’s eating habits, revolutionise farming, and look sexy while line dancing.
—Rude Health Daily Oats Porridge package
This is the fourth of seven posts in the Extracts series. In the comments section you can, if you want, post extracts from what you have read/heard today.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday: Extract 3

Extract 3 is from Work Document:
Although financial markets have shown some degree of stabilization and economic recovery has continued in 2010, the recovery has been fragile and uncertainty about future developments of the market remains.
—Base Prospectus for a €30bn EMTN Programme
This is the third of seven posts in the Extracts series. In the comments section you can, if you want, post extracts from what you have read/heard today.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday: Extract 2

Extract 2 is from Public Sign:
Please refrain from smoking in this area as the children can see and smell you.
—The Little Unicorn Childcare Centre, Canary Wharf
This is the second of seven posts in the Extracts series. In the comments section you can, if you want, post extracts from what you have read/heard today.