Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Carols in Tokyo

DVC00048 It’s less than a month left until Christmas and I feel like I have been in the Christmas mood for a couple of months already. If nothing else, I have definitely been listening to carols for more than a month. So you can imagine the pleasant surprise I had walking up the stairs at Mitaka Station today and I heard carols!

It turns out a church in Mitaka is arranging a Christmas concert and this was a group from that church singing all to familiar carols, albeit in Japanese. I still stopped for a minute and hummed along in English. Even if these people were not professionals, it still beat listening to mp3s :)

There are decorations all over the city – in train stations, certain restaurants, etc… I definitely appreciate the festive mood.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Japanese arcade machines continue to innovate


Not many people realize that the smash hit that is Guitar Hero was once an arcade machine in Japan (in fact it still is). The Japanese arcade scene is extremely creative. While in some other countries “arcades” mean your traditional small cabinet with a joystick and a couple of buttons, in Japan one can find touch screen machines, machines with musical instruments, machines that you need to use collectible cards to play among others.

Every time I step into an arcade here in Tokyo, I find something cool, something new… In this case it was this – a shooting game where you travel between floors in a building, going all the way from the basement to the roof. The twist? Well, there are two – There are “quick time events (QTEs)” where you need to drop the gun and use the three buttons to get your character out of tight spots and as you move from floor to floor you take the elevator. This elevator taking would not be so significant if it was not for the fact that the machine actually has elevator doors closing and opening between the floors. It’s such a small thing that it might seem like a gimmick but it is more than that. Since it is something physical it definitely helps with the immersion and when it gets stuck with enemies rushing from left and right it is definitely a rush.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Premier toilet

I am supposed to write on more involved subjects – after all I did spend almost a month away from this blog but the workload and the crappy cold weather is getting to me I think. I feel like I have zero initiative to write here, at least about something substantial. So what am I going to do? Well, I am going to write about something small, and hopefully something that will put a smile on my, and your, face…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         This gem comes from the mall in Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have seen free public toilets in malls before – heck, they are dime a dozen in Japan and most of them are actually extremely high quality with auto-warmed seats etc.  I have also seen for pay public toilets in other countries but I have never seen a mall containing both. It’s similar to upgrading your plane ticket to business class I guess. I just have trouble seeing the point given the free ones and the for pay ones are so close to each other. I suppose the free ones maybe really bad or these are really good. I didn’t feel up to checking either of the two scenarios – I did not have any RM that I could use as exact change and I definitely did not want to check how bad free bathrooms would be…

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back to Tokyo


Oh, wow… It took a long while to update this I know but I do have a good excuse – I was in Cyprus, Maldives, Malasia and then finally back to Tokyo on Wednesday last week. As you might imagine, I was quite a bit tired. I will get to talking about each of those countries hopefully but for tonight, it will just be me typing about what I did today – a very sunny and uncharacteristically warm day given the time of year. I was in Omotesando (表参道) walking around. I heard about a good Portuguese restaurant called Perola Atlantica (Madeira cuisine) from a friend who was here last summer and decided to check it out. Unfortunately for me however, the restaurant was hosting a private party today and it was closed for anyone else.  I ended up lunching at the French restaurant next door (which I must add was a VERY French place, almost surrealistic in fact: French music, all but one of the waiters were French, etc…). I took the above picture at Omotesando Hills  - a very nice, if expensive, mall close to the restaurant. The place is already in the Christmas mood…