Sunday, April 1

On the run.

This is a shot from Shinagawa Station in Tokyo. I took it just before 9AM on a weekday a couple weeks back. In my opinion, it is one of the 7 Wonders of Tokyo. In that station, there is a long covered hallway that runs for about 100 Meters. It is FULL of people walking from the station to the many office buildings in the area. To be in the midst of that crowd is just amazing: so many people, so quiet, so orderly. The picture doesn't quite capture the feeling, but it was the best I could do. The next time I wake up at the ass-crack of dawn, I will try again. Speaking of getting up early, that is what I have been doing for the last couple weeks. I am taking my big lumbering body for a run 3 times a week. Not so fun, but I have found some interesting things along the roads and alleyways around my apartment.

I found this creepy thing at a elementary school. Yeah, if that thing was my school when I was a kid, I would have never gone. Ever. To be honest I haven't run that way since that one morning. I think I'm scared of it. It is by far the most frightening thing I have seen yet. I don't often bump into scary things, but one thing I have seen a lot of is...

...vending machines. They are everywhere. I have become so used to seeing them, they tend to fade into the background. But seriously....they are can be found in every shape and size.

There are even skinny ones. That one didn't have much selection. But most are not so limited. And to make things interesting...

...sometimes they travel in packs. They sell a grand variety of drinks, both cold and hot: soda, juice, coffee, tea, anything you could possible want. In that tribe they even had an ice cream machine! Besides offering refreshments on every block, they light up your way at night.

Those are the good guys, but sometimes you come across the rebel gangs.

The cigarettes selling ones. Trying to tempt all those wholesome Japanese youths. Actually, when I first visited Japan 8 years ago, you could find cigarette and beer vending machines everywhere. In the last few years, since a new law was past and enforced, they are becoming harder to find. And some of the newer high-tech ones you need to have an ID. But of course...if you are an underage kid, you can still get your smokes if you're clever enough. Besides, I have NEVER once seen someone get carded trying to buy beer or smokes. On my morning runs I have found some pretty rare vending machines.

I had to take a closer look at this one. It looked all old and busted, next to those discarded TVs and microwaves. But, to my surprise, it still worked.

That's right, a battery vending machine. For those times, when you just NEED to get your remote control to work!! And last but not least, I give you the most unusual vending machine yet...

Did you figure out what it is for? A hint: it would come in handy late at night.

It is a condom vending machine! I'm all for using protection, but I do have one question. How do they decide where to put these? Do they take a poll? Do the monitor bedroom activity in a certain area? It is a question I will most likely go to the grave not knowing the answer. Oh well.

I live in a residential area, close to Shinjuku, but by no means a rich area. Anyways, I have run into some killer cars as I have explored my area. Exhibit 1.

Yes folks, it is a Ferrari 550 Maranello sitting on some decent aftermarket wheels. Yellow might just be the perfect color for this car. Without the bright color, the car might just slip by without getting the proper respect. Gorgeous car. It looked to be sitting in a one car showroom. It stopped me in my jogging shoes to be sure. This did too...Exhibit 2.

I believe it is an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. Dope looking car...crappy reflective pic. It was also sitting in a tiny one room dealership. At least this one looked like a regular dealership: signs, prices, cardboard cutouts, etc. By the way, the price is ¥19,800,000. ($168,000...give or take a bit) And then, just as I was ending my run one day last week, I had to catch my breath as I ogled this monster.

That's right, it's the new Toyota FJ Cruiser. Not super rare or expensive, just good. It's the first time I have seen one in the flesh. I remember when I saw the concept a couple years ago and fell in love it. I can't believe how close the production model is compared to those first drawings.

And contrary to what the Digable Planets might say, this thing is phatter than a '94 Land Cruiser. (Is this the best track the Digable Planets ever made?? Discuss.)

Topic Change:

As I stated a couple weeks ago, spring is in the air here. And for Japanese that means one thing hanami. Hanami is the celebration of cherry blossom viewing. You would not believe what a big deal is made out of this short period of time. After the flowers bloom, the first rain storm effectively ends the season. So, it is all about getting while the getting is good. Never one to shirk from our we went, twice actually. Off with every other person in Japan, and their cousins, to look at the pretty flowers.

Of course there are different varieties of cherry blossoms. Above we have the pink kind, and below the white ones. Those are scientific classifications, I assure you.

There are basically two ways of viewing the flowers: walking through a park and taking pictures of every flower or having a picnic under the trees. Last year we only did the walk through and found it to be lacking. So this year, we stocked up...

...and had ourselves a picnic. We had a nice time both times we went. One word of warning though, these parks fill up fast.

Wake up early and stake out a good spot, and a short time later you will be surrounded. People just end up getting closer and closer. Soon, they arepractically on each other's blankets and picking at your neighbor's bento. Oh well...that's what we get for living in the city. For the most part, I like hanami. And this year, I discovered another thing I like about picnics in the park...

...sneaker photo shoots! I had a blast trying to take some nice pics. Here are some of my favs. First: keeping things on the down low.

An extreme close-up of my Air Max 1 from the Evolution pack.

And my most artistic shot ever.

And then on the other picnic date I rocked a different pair.

My Air Max 390/90s from the "One Time Only" pack from the front.

One more from the side so you can see the infrared color within the air.

And lastly from the back.

If any of you poor souls have worked your way through ALL of that crap, I will reward you with a teaser of my latest purchase. Shockingly, they are NOT shoes!

More on that soon. Maybe next time.

Last, but far from HERE to hear the best Dizzee Rascal track ever. (slightly NSFW lyrics) It is off his new album. Act fast...the mp3 will be taken down soon I'm sure.


Sumochewsgum said...

omigod... cherry blossoms, bentos in the park and shit that face thing in the school was scary (i wouldn't have gone either. )I miss japaN!!!!!!!!!
ps wahhh u trade marked ur photos. ekekekeke

Anna said...

i like your "most artistic shot ever". if i could get my RAs to shoot video like that, i'd be SO happy.

i am also very happy that you are publicizing the idea of picnics right now, as i am trying to convince a certain someone that picnics are romantic and even more fun than video games. keep talking about picnics.

Anonymous said...

Now that the Xbox died, picnics are all I have left...

Not feeling the yellow Maranello (I only understand red Ferraris, unless it's an Enzo in which case I understand black too), but I love the Vanquish. My feeling is that the Brits really know how to design rad looking cars; Aston Martin, Lotus, and Jaguar are three of my favorite manufacturers.

Speaking of which, I'll take this opportunity to point out that my favorite, and coolest looking car ever is the Jaguar XJ220. Bad pictures there, but the thing looks like a doggone spaceship!! And I think maybe Anna can recite my XJ220 speech by heart now.

Keep up the good car pics. No one in Boston is even close to badass enough to drive something like that.



Anonymous said...

Well, I didn't think the "face" at the elemetary school was looked like a stylized (sp?)picture of "Hello Kitty" to me. So call me crazy!!!

I thought for a second there you were going to show us up close varieties of individual cherry blossoms, a la Davy Crockett! But it was nice to see you went out TWICE on a picnic.

Cool to see all the vending machines, funny that you never told us (8 yrs ago) about the cig and beer ones?!?!!!

Great post!

Lisa said...

Oh...I forgot something I had intended to say: Do you really think you need ANOTHER jacket?