You know what's fun? Looking at pictures of other people's vacations. My man Jimmi Heiserman has been in Tokyo for work? Fun? Not really sure. He's been posting tons of pictures to Facebook of all the cool stuff he's doing and I think we can all agree that he and his globetrotting lifestyle can go eff themselves. Jimmi, by the way, is the guy who designed Quadradius, the online flash game that I wrote about a few years ago, and that I was hopelessly addicted to for a long time.
He was nice enough to share some of his pictures from his current trip to Japan and his last one with you good people below. I think they're pretty cool, because they confirm my suspicions about that weird, awesome country: that it's weird, and awesome. Text and photos by Jimmi. ALL CAPS "JOKES" BY ME.
Property is dense here. And if you are one of the ones lucky enough to have a front lawn 4x8, you turn it into a driveway. Kind of like the way you shove a book back onto a packed book shelf.
Chilled, room temperature, or body temperature?
I tell people in Tokyo that I am from Boston, which is true for the past 1/7th of my life and is an internationally recognized city. But sometimes I wish I could explain my home town to the Japanese . Perhaps I should explain it though a karaoke song... アレンタウン.
[BILLY JOEL'S AN EVEN WORSE LYRICIST IN JAPANESE THAN HE IS IN ENGLISH. TRUE STORY.]
Beyond punk rock. These shoes are designed to kick some ass in the future mid-21st century. A mid-21st century that we envisioned in the early 1980s.
Gas stations don't have ground based pumps here. They dangle from above and attendants pull them down and pump for you.
[IS IT RACIST THAT I WANT TO TOSS A PLASMA GRENADE INTO THAT BASE AND FIGHT THE FLOOD (VIA HALO) FROM THE TOP OF ONE OF THOSE THINGS?]
A franchised convenience store out here. A lettter K, with shoes... A hat... And an erection?
Guys fashion here would be considered feminine in America. These teenager's look was a common site. Check out the blonde Japanese girl's black boots. Nice camel toes.
[I LIKE HOW THIS ONE REMINDS ME THAT NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE RIDING THE SUBWAY IS FUCKING HELL.]
This bathroom distribution actually makes sense. Since girls take about twice as long, having the men's bathroom be optional as a woman's is a good idea.
Plastic models of food are everywhere, displayed outside of restaurants to entice you to come in. They are an art form in themselves, and are very detailed. Here is a pizza with shrimp on it.
[YOU KNOW WHO HAS THE BEST PIZZA EVER? THIS ONE PLACE NEAR WHERE I LIVE, COINCIDENTALLY.]
Very hungry, I saw a shop with the plastic food models outside. I snapped a photo of one of the dishes, then went inside and showed the photo to the lady behind the counter so she knew what I wanted to order. After it arrived, I noticed it looked like tripe. I think it was. It tasted good though, so all is well.
People love wearing clothing with English words on them, no matter what it says. Unless this a brand over here, this hoodie says "License Plate"
[I HAVE A JAPANESE CHARACTER TATTOO THAT TRANSLATES BACK INTO LICENSE PLATE. TRUE STORY. SO I GUESS WE'RE EVEN, CULTURALLY SPEAKING.]
Is this reference to Boston's Freedom Trail?
Two different clothing stores right next to each other in Harajuku with odd English names.
[YO THAT'S COOL BUT THERE'S A FUCKING RABBIT DEMON STANDING GUARD OUTSIDE. PROBABLY DON'T GO IN THERE?]
I decided to venture into one of the more obscure places I normally avoid. Some of these establishments are so well hidden from the American eye, it reminds me of secret passageways in old Nintendo games. This one was a two foot wide concrete stairwell next to a residential apartment leading into a basement. Once down there, I explained I knew no Japanese, they told me they had no menus in English, and I communicated that I was fine with that *Phew.* Once I showed my ordering sheet, I was welcomed in, told to remove my shoes, and was seated among other diners. I showed the phrase "Please bring your recommended dish", and was given the VIP treatment and smiles from everyone around me. Then came some appetizers. The first one, I was told was on them! "Pig" + <tug on ear lobe>. The second, "Seaweed" with "Vinegar", but looked like fish eggs growing on a vine. The main course: Salty "Pig" with chives. I ordered some "aka" wine.
THIS is what I was trying to escape from Boston.
[IT HASN'T SNOWED HERE ALL WINTER. THAT IS BORING TO TALK ABOUT, BUT IT'S ALMOST MARCH AND I'M GETTING A LITTLE WORRIED.]
Ever hear of Coriander? I just learned it is what the rest of the world outside of Spanish regions and America call Cilantro. There is a restaurant in the Kyodo area called paxi house tokyo. Everything on the menu is made with a plethora of of this stuff. From rolls, rice dishes and salads, to ice cream, sherbet, and mojitos. It is owned by Kyo Satani, who also owns and runs a PAX Coworking space upstairs that I work from sometimes. I have been there three times so far and I think I have had one of everything on the menu by this point.
Always searching for new ways, like Ponce de León and his fountain obsession.
Most toilets here are fitted with these bonus toilet features. Some of them include heat, water squirts, power seats, sound effects f flushing toilets to mask other sounds... And this one was in a 15 seat bar called "Punk Rock Garge" in Shibuya.
[KIND OF MAKES OUR OLD FASHIONED BINARY TOILET OPTIONS SEEM LIKE AMATEUR. MY TOILET HAS A "SHIT DISAPPEARING" BUTTON AND A "LEAVE SHIT IN BOWL" OPTION.]
Another toilet controller.
Max in his new Host Boy clothes. This is big in Shinjuku and Shibuya among the non-sexual, hetero male prostitutes. Yeah, you heard me right. Guys being paid by girls to be emotionally and conversationally entertained at a bar.
[DUNNO, THAT SOMEHOW SEEMS LIKE MORE WORK/MORE DEGRADING THAN BEING AN ACTUAL PROSTITUTE. AT LEAST THERE'S A FINITE ENDING TO THAT GIG]
This is prepackaged bar food, equivalent to our pickled eggs, or beef jerky. It has the consistency of a hot dog, but is made with fish parts.
Side of a building
A Chicago guy teaches an australian guy how to shot gun a beer in public like a "true American" while other Japanese folks look on in amazement out of shot.
[USA! USA! USA! SO PROUD RIGHT OW TEARS UP BALD EAGLE PUNCHES OUT A PUSSY FIXES TRUCK]
Some game shop, but more importantly, this is how people park their bikes at night; No locks. And yet my first day in Boston, with a lock chain, and it was stolen. grrr.
Another bike parked at 1am, no lock. The honor system runs rampant here. Actually, I take it all back about their bike locks. They strap these mini locks to their back axels. They can still be easily carried away, but they can't be ridden.
So you pay ¥100 on the honour system, shake a can with sticks until one comes out, then read the stick and open the appropriate draw of many. This is your fortune. Many are bad. If it is bad...
...you get to give it away ceremoniously by tying it to these fence poles.
[HAHA THE TYPE OF MAGIC THEY BELIEVE IN IS DIFFERENT THAN OUR MAGIC.]
Skyway above the city. You get around many blocks in this part of Tokyo while never going back down to street level.
This is an advertisement on the city streets.
[YO MAYBE THAT'S WHY NO ONE STEALS BIKES, TOO HARD TO RIDE OFF WITH A BLOCK OF WOOD IN YOUR SPACE PANTS.]