Tokyobling's Blog

Patlabor – Roppongi Hills

Posted in Places by tokyobling on November 1, 2014

If you are into the manga, anime and now proper movie, Patlabor, you should most definitely head over to Roppongi Hills as soon as possible to check out the scale 1:1 Mobile Police mecha suit they have on show right now. I walked past it yesterday and took these photos. It is really quite cool. I was a big fan of this manga many years ago, when it was still set in the future. These days a manga set in 1998-2002 does not feel quite as SF.

The movie this prop is promoting has an official site here, and it looks pretty cool. The reason it is in Roppongi is most likely due to the Tokyo Movie Festival taking place last week.





Halloween Extravaganza – Tokyo Disney Sea

Posted in Places by tokyobling on October 31, 2014

Halloween is upon us and for many a young person in Tokyo that means either a trip to the costume shop or a trip to see some of the best costumes out there – at the Halloween extravaganze at Tokyo Disney Sea, one of two disney resorts here in Japan. Technically they are located not in Tokyo but to the east of Tokyo in neighboring Chiba prefecture.

The mainstay of the Disney Sea Halloween shows are their Skeleton Dancers. They put on a massively popular evening show where you have to be in line for hours to get any of the good seats. I am never much for waiting in line but I did an hour of waiting to get even very mediocre seat quite far from the stage itself. Luckily I had a 200mm camera lens with me so I did my best to take a few photos despite the darkness, quick dancing and smoke.

The show is a glittering 1920s themed Charleston dancing number with even the non-skeleton dancers dressed up in amazing quasi-period dresses. It was great fun despite my bad spot in an ocean of Halloween lovers!









Hiroshima Streets – Yagenbori

Posted in Places by tokyobling on October 30, 2014

I often forget just how strange (or interesting maybe) ordinary Japanese cities can look to foreigners, so sometimes I like to play tourist and just walk around with my camera and try to see the streets with new eyes, like this are, the Yagenbori (薬研掘) district of Naka Ward, pretty much in the center of the large city of Hiroshima. Yagenbori got its name from the outer castle moat of the old feudal castle. There are many kinds of moats in Japan but this one got its name from the similarity in shape with the tool knowns as yagen, which is a v shaped trough where you roll a wheel to crush herbs for medicine. Think of it as a wheeled mortar and trestle. Usually moats have flat bottoms but the yagebori is V shaped.

Today Yagenbori is the red light district of Hiroshima, and one of the biggest red light districts of western Japan. I deliberately avoided taking photos of the seediest establishments but you can still get a feel for the area from the photos I think. During the daytime (when I was visiting) the place is almost deserted but at night it comes alive with huge crowds looking for fun or food and drink, neon signs and taxis ferrying people back and forth. One of the main thoroughfares into the Yagen district is the Nagarekawa (流川) street which is named after the river that flowed here, almost exactly 100 years ago.

One “feature” of the Yagenbori is the Poplar (ポプラ) convenience store which was born in 1974 when an old family owned liquor store decided to refocus. It is now one of the smallest but still nationwide, convenience store chains of Japan, and the only one originating in Hiroshima. It has 655 stores all over the country, 102 of which are in Hiroshima prefecture and 98 are in Tokyo. If you look hard you will find the original, first, Poplar store in one of these photos.

Yagenbori is one of those places I wish I knew more about, there are tons of sites and books dedicated to the history and back alleys of this neighborhood! In Tokyo the comparable neighborhood would be Kabukicho.









Kawagoe Matsuri – Dashi

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on October 29, 2014

More photos from the grand Kawagoe Matsuri that took place a couple of weeks ago in the city of Kawaoge, just north of Tokyo in Saitama prefecture. The center point of the festival are the many dashi that get pulled around the city during the two day festival. Pulling them requires the strength of the entire neighborhood and to maneuver them safely require the skilled supervision of dozens of volunteers and staff members. I took these photos of one of the dashi as it was taking a break on the main street of the festival.









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