Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There is a new Street Fighter movie?

So watch the trailer and check out the official site first:

OK... A couple of questions:

  • Why is the lady who is supposed to be Chun-Li not even Asian? Doesn't that violate some fundamental law of physics or something?
  • Why is the official site and the trailer in Japanese when the movie is clearly full of westerners and is completely in English?
  • If the lady is supposed to be merely "channeling" Chun-Li how are other Street Fighter characters like Balrog and Vega seemingly in the movie?

And last but not least... Did CAPCOM learn nothing of their last foray into trying to make a Street Fighter movie? Does anyone remember that catastrophe of a film?

I am so hoping this is some bad joke but with the SF4 logo... I don't know...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A good place for grabbing a burger in Tokyo

F1000052 Just like any other big city pretty much anywhere else in the world, Tokyo is home to global giants like McDonald's which offer burgers for the burger connoisseur who may be on a tight budget. To top that off Tokyo also offers its share of local fast food joints like Mos Burger which is home to burgers with a local twist like the rice bun burger. These are all nice places and all for a quick bite but if you are the type that has a bit finer taste when it comes to burgers I just found a new place in Shinjuku which may be what you are looking for ;)

The J.S. Burger in Shinjuku was the place I found online when I searched for burgers and I am glad I did. The place is right next to Shinjuku JR Station's New South exit so it is very easy to get to even though there is usually a line inside, even during non-popular hours for restaurants like 3 pm, since people seem to know about the quality of the burgers there. I had myself an avacado burger (your typical hamburger with avacado slices) and it was one of the best burgers I ever had in my life. At about 1000 yen a pop with fries on the side it is a pretty good deal and I feel I will be back for more soon.

You can check out their full menu (they have item names in English as well ;)) on their homepage - http://jsb-cafe.jp/index.html.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Some Christmas observations...

PB300025 I have not been able to write for a few days but believe me it was not for the lack of trying. As it happens Christmas season, as festive as it is in Tokyo, is not necessarily the best time of the year to relax in Japan - especially for those working for Japanese companies. See, Christmas is not an official holiday in Japan even though Japanese people do get a bit overboard with Christmas shopping and Christmas illuminations. I think the latter is mainly due to the fact that Japanese people seem to love lights in general. I mean, go to Shinjuku or Shibuya at night and you will see exactly what I mean. Of course you can alternatively watch any (Western made) movie that takes place in Japan - they usually make sure to show Shinjuku and/or Shibuya. Couple this with the traditional concept of Christmas lights and you get things like Caretta's Christmas decorations which are made up of literally thousands of LEDs. But I digress...

OK so a few observations on Christmas in Tokyo:

  1. Japanese people seem to love Christmas, even though an overwhelming majority (easily more than 90% I believe) are not Christians.
  2. Chicken seems to be the food of choice for Christmas in Japan and apparently KFC is really popular with huge lines forming on Christmas eve.
  3. Lights and Christmas trees abound - as I mentioned in the not-so-short intro.
  4. There are Christmas concerts some of which are your usual classical music fare (like Carol of the Bells) but some are Japanese singers singing songs with melodies that sound Christmas-y but with Japanese lyrics.
  5. Christmas is not a public holiday even though the 23rd of December was a holiday this year because it is the Emperor's birthday.
  6. Some foreign-owned companies or companies with lots of foreign employees seem to give the day off (like Berlitz for example).

I spent Christmas having dinner at home and watching two movies - "Bangkok Dangerous" on DVD (starts out pretty nicely but the ending is predictable and pretty anti-climactic if I may say so) and "Bridget Jones - Edge of Reason" on Wowow TV (I don't usually watch romantic comedies but there was nothing else to watch and I am glad I watched this. It is a very sweet and funny movie that does get a bit silly at times but it did actually make me regret not watching the first one.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mission: Christmas Tree in Tokyo

Wow, this was much more difficult than I initially thought it would be... So, I decided to get a real Christmas tree (for the first time in my life mind you) and decorate it. Buildings are really close together in Tokyo and there is not much space saved for gardens usually. I am lucky compared to a random Japanese though  since my apartment building is next to a school which has trees so I do see some green outside the window but I still thought adding a bit of green inside the apartment would not hurt.

christmas tree carry The first challenge for me was finding a real Christmas tree. See even online services like Rakuten/楽天, let alone actual stores that sell Christmas accessories, overwhelmingly sell fake Christmas trees and one with a decent size is actually pretty expensive (more than 10,000 yen typically). So, what did I do? Well, as it turns out big stores like J-Mart carries real trees and not only that, they are much cheaper! I got a 150 cm-ish tree for less than 5,000 yen! Of course there was a slight problem the tree being that big and me being without a car and all. See, the public transportation is great but I doubt the bus would have let me on with the tree and the two bags of soil and the huge pot :P Thanks to 石垣さん though I did not need to try to convince a bus driver or a taxi driver ;) He very graciously offered me his car for carrying the tree which I really appreciate.

christmas agaci

Well, two bags of soil, a bag of little rocks, a pot, and may be a little too much of Christmas decorations after this is what the little tree looks like. I am pretty happy with the end result and yes I do realize it is not a pine tree but I still like it just fine ;) I think it makes the apartment all festive and stuff and that's never a bad thing. Of course I will leave this tree around far longer than just Christmas - after all it is primarily a New Year's Tree for me ;)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fazil Say concert at Sumida Triphony Hall

PC060001 As I mentioned in my previous post, Fazil Say, the famous Turkish composer and pianist was in Tokyo, giving a concert. I really enjoyed the music and how he uses the piano in pretty creative ways (check out the video in the previous post about his "plucking" piano strings, making it sound almost like a guitar...).  He is clearly one of the most gifted people I have ever seen in my life, harnessing creativity with a natural talent for piano. I have listened to his music, both with him playing his own compositions and him playing classics, and have always enjoyed the experience but listening to it live and seeing him "perform" is a completely different beast.

PC060008 The Triphony Hall is about 5-10 minutes walk from the 錦糸町駅 (Kinshicho Station). It is not the biggest concert hall I have seen but it definitely has a nice aura about it. The hall has nice acoustics and if the pamphlets they gave on the way in are any measure it is very active with lots of Japanese and international talent performing for the audience. I have always been very much impressed with the big pipe organs in concert halls but alas, perhaps quite unsurprisingly, it was not used for this event either.

PC060007 For this concert I was lucky enough to get a front line seat (second time in my life for any live performance, after a Cirque du Soleil show in Seattle) so I caught a close ups of one of the notes on the stage. You can check out the hall and get more information through their official website.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fazil Say was in Tokyo

Fazil Say, who is a very famous pianist and composer from Turkey, was in Tokyo giving a series of concerts. I was lucky enough to attend one which I will write about tonight or tomorrow but I came across this video clip, introducing him to the Japanese audience on TV and it also has him re-interpreting one of my favorite piano pieces - 君を乗せて from "Castle in the Sky" in the end of the clip. It is worth watching even if you don't know a word of Japanese :)

This is another interpretation of the song from "Castle in the Sky" with scenes from the movie... If you have not watched it, I strongly recommend it. It is clearly one of Miyazaki's masterpieces.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another instance of "funny English"

F1000048 See, this happens a lot. There are no articles like "a" or "the" in Japanese so when someone whose native language is Japanese is learning English, this concept is potentially one of the harder concepts to grasp. Unfortunately this does not happen just with individuals. On the left is a picture I snapped a few minutes ago of my shaving cream which seems to have the same problem making it sound like you can shake a can (as opposed to "the can"), any can, well and that's all you need to do...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Lights in Caretta, Shiodome (汐留)

PB300005 Caretta at Shiodome is a upscale shopping mall with quite a few nice restaurants including a Spanish tapas place and a theatre where they currently put on a Japanese version of "Wicked". It seems like every Christmas they put literally thousands of lights, decorating the entrance. The lights are not static either, every half an hour or so there is a show with the lights dancing to the music and changing color based on the theme of the show.



PB300015 Inside of the building is also adorned by multiple Christmas trees, each with a theme. This one is from the top (46th floor I believe) which you can get to with a really fast elevator while you watch the lights below get smaller and smaller. There is a small observatory for checking out the buildings down below but it is really small. The best part of this floor is the restaurants here which have better views but of course are on the pricey side.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The new mural at Shibuya Station gets a lot of attention

If you happened to go through Shibuya Station (渋谷駅) these days, you have no doubt seen the new mural that has been put in place. Even if you have not recognized the fact that they painted the whole wall you might have noticed people stopping by to take pictures and the guards guarding the mural. Well, this new mural was apparently painted by a very famous Japanese painter and it depicts the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (I was able to guess the theme by myself though I had no idea it was painted by a famous painter or that it was an original prepared by hand and not a replica printed with a printer)...

UPDATE: The artist's name is Taro Okamoto. Thanks for the info, Kota! :)