Sunday, April 29, 2007


Very odd reading this from where I am sitting. Like the world had been turned on its head. I was trying to work out if I knew anybody who might have been effected.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Can a virtuoso busk it?

Joshua Bell tried it out. And here is the full audio of his Metro Station Performance.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The difference between Persians and Arabs.


(Hey, I get to use my "Iraq" and "Silly" tags on the same post!)

Neat graphic

On US campaign contributions.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Map Museum, Tokyo

For anyone venturing out in search of the Map Museum in Tokyo, take food
and warm clothing. It seems to have a liminal sort of existence, only
definitely existing in the world of maps (Time Out, Tokyo, p. 62). I
existed mainly in the world of irony as I wandered about the Kudan
district this weekend holding my map in front of me asking all and
sundry whether they knew where the Map Museum was. Eventually, I walked
through one museum doorway and asked the receptionists (in Japanese):
Me: "Do you know where the Map Museum is?"

Receptionist 1: "The Cheese Museum?"

Me: "No, the Map Museum, as in one of these things." (Waves map desperately)

Receptionist 1: "The Map Museum. Uh, no. We do old art and stuff here." (Calls to friend) "Do you know a Map Museum?

Receptionist 2: "Uh?"

Receptionist 1: "What's the address you've got there?"

Me: "2-1-36 Kudan Minami"

Receptionist 1: "2-1-36..."

Receptionist 2: "2-1-36..."

Receptionist 1: "No."

Receptionist 2: "Hey, 2-1-36. That's us, isn't it?”

Receptionist 1: "Yeah, you're right! Weird! We're not the Map Museum are we?

Receptionist 2 (Suddenly uncertain):"Don't think so."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ginza stroll

There is something funny about that picture. At the weekends they shut off all the traffic on Ginza's Chuo Dori, Tokyo's main upscale shopping street. It is wonderfully liberating. Suddenly the city feels less dangerous and unpleasant. Young children are running helter skelter down the street. There is laughter and chat. It feels really transgressive walking down the middle of the street as if you owned it

Makes you realise how locked down by the combustion engine major cities are, how walking humans are peripheral, subsisting at the edges of the main business of the city.

They have been doing this since the 1960s in Tokyo. It was the inititiative of Ryokichi Minobe, a man who in this single act dwarfed the achievements of the risible and offensive Shintaro Ishihara, who was reelected last weekend.

Lithuania's favourite personality:

PC 1064 of the Norfolk Constabulary.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Cadbury Eggs

Maybe it is the overwhelming guilt that is driving me to this but I want to talk some more about eggs,specifically Cadbury eggs.

You can't get Cadbury eggs here in Japan, so I can't check this out myself, but it seems the Cadbury people are in a pickle. In the US, chocky lovers have been getting the feeling that their eggs are getting smaller.

Cadbury have clearly been receiving complaints because on their website (scroll to the bottom) they put everyone right with a straight denial:

"Why has the size of the egg changed? It hasn't you've just grown up!"

So, I would like to know how Cadbury explain this:

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

Today is the day I have been dreading.

The day I have to admit to G. and A. that the little eggs sent by Grandma and Grandpa to put inside G.`s big chocolate egg have, purely due to the peculiar climactic conditions prevalent in Japan, become somewhat reduced in quantity. You can just about see the surviving eggs at the bottom of the tube there.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The "Kouyou" or Autumn leaves are spectacular in Japan but there is another, slightly less violent riot of colour in the spring. "Kouyou" means "red leaves". Aoba means "green leaves".

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Religious observance

Somewhat relieved to report that my two-year old son`s religious fanaticism seems to be on the wane. For the last few months he has been insisting on stopping at the temple on the way to and from the nursery, walking right up into the gateway, pressing his hands together, bowing and doing his "namu namu namu namu" (praying) mumble mumble mumble "o-rikosan desu" ("I am a good boy"). Think he must have learned it on a nursery trip or from his O-baasan or something. He was quite punctilious. If we walked past without doing our observances, we would have to retrace our steps to assuage the divine. If Dad didn`t do his "namu namus" he was roundly told off and put straight.

Anyway, over the last couple of days, we seem to have become a bit lax in our devotions, little more than a "namu"mumble mumble "...riko...", as we run past the temple. Have to admit to a slight lifting of the heart as we pass. Quite frankly, it is a damn sight more British (and more Japanese) to keep this organised spirituality thing in its place. I wasn`t sure I fancied having a 3-year-old religious zealot in the household. Not sure the Buddha fancied it either.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


The blossoms have been out for a few days now. They really are spectacular. You think you know what they are all about and then, every year, they surprise you with their beauty.