True story…

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July 23, 2012
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Gion festival -
a painted lady dances
and rests on my nose

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See also: Snapshots from Gion Matsuri

Most cynical movie lines ever?

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July 18, 2012
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Fortunately for you two we’re reviving a cancelled undercover police program from the ’80s and revamping it for modern times. You see the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas, so all they do now is recycle shit from the past and expect us all not to notice.

- Deputy Chief Hardy in “21 Jump Street”

The movie itself? Very silly. Lots of fun.

Snapshots from Gion Matsuri

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July 17, 2012
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Lovely weather for a ramble round Gion Matsuri yesterday and my mind went rambling too. To me Gion Matsuri isn’t simply a special time, it’s an island in time; a special place that magically reappears once a year, and as I wander the crowded streets my mind takes me back to all the other Gion festivals I have attended over the years… In a way I wouldn’t be surprised, to bump into my younger selves wandering about too. You always bump into someone you know at Gion Matsuri…

Here are some images…

After a couple of hours the heaving streets became too intense, so we escaped to Taisho’s apartment where he was holding a rooftop party. It was nice to look at the crowds from above.

And then after wandering through the streets a little more, we retired to bar Kisui and had a photo session with our friend Setchan.

And then we went home, following a smaller parade that we encountered by chance and which took us through the streets practically to our door.

Moth

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July 12, 2012
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a torn leaf -
no, a hawk moth
with army surplus wings

A Visitor…

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July 10, 2012
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Very nice to meet up with my old friend Anne Kobayashi and her husband, Jason at the weekend. Hard to believe it has been 8 years since I left Tokyo and she left Japan…

What I did on my birthday…

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July 9, 2012
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I turned 42 last Thursday. Here’s what I did.

Had ancient Egyptian beers with my good friend Ted Taylor at the Kyoto University cafeteria whilst looking at a revolutionary clock tower.

Had sparkling nihonshu and some kind of ratatouille appetiser at the restaurant Yoshina on Pontocho.

Got to go out on the yuka balcony when it stopped raining and gaze lovingly at the early evening Kamo river…

Ate cake.

Goodbye Rui

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June 6, 2012
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The very first time Mewby and I hung out she showed me pictures of her dog, Rui, and talked a lot about how cute she was. It was clear she really loved the animal, but never having been a pet owner it didn’t really mean much to me. That was until I went to visit her house for the first time, and was greeted by this little, white, fluffy bundle of affection, joy – and an irrepressible desire to lick my face. Naturally I fell completely in love and have continued to look forward to seeing Rui whenever I have visited Mewby’s home, or on occasion, when Mewby brought her to visit me. A sweet, gentle, kind dog, she never barked except to complain when we left the house and she followed Mewby everywhere in evident joy in their companionship. But she was also a very delicate animal and sometimes when I looked at her I would feel a strange twinge of pity that for some reason always manifested itself as a mysterious pain in my arm… Rui was born with congenitally weak organs and had to go on a special diet some time ago because her liver wasn’t functioning properly. Some time ago she also went blind. Nevertheless she remained enthused with love and still had an uncanny ability to find the exact right moment to surprise me with a quick lick to the face. However, in recent weeks she stopped eating completely and her condition worsened. I’m sad to say that she passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but glad that Mewby was with her and that she went peacefully. She was just a little over 5 years and 8 months old – very young for a dog. However, that little dog had a big impact and we will all miss her. My thoughts are with her family in their time of grief at losing their youngest member. Goodbye gentle Rui. Thank you for bringing us so much happiness. And a safe and happy journey to you.

Happier times: Mewby, Rui & her mum last New Year's Eve.

The Great Debaters

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May 14, 2012
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Last night Mewby and I rented this great movie about the 1935 debate team of historically all black Wiley College in Texas. Based on true events it depicts the efforts of educator Melvin B. Tolson to inspire his students through knowledge and training to challenge the discriminatory world of the Jim Crow south they have been brought up in. The movie does a great job of recreating the atmosphere of those times; the social upheavals, the class struggles, as well as the fight for racial equality and the general all-pervasive sense of fear that black people had to endure in the segregated south where lynching was all too common. Many of the characters in the movie are based on historical characters: 14 year-old debate team member  James L. Farmer, Jr. (Denzel Whitaker),  later went on to co-found C.O.R.E., the Congress of Racial Equality) and Tolson himself (played by Denzel Washington) was an  educator, columnist, social activist and politician. At the end of the movie we are told that he went on to become a world renowned poet. “Why have I never heard of him?” I thought to myself, and promptly stuck this volume on my amazon wishlist.

Altogether, this is a wonderful movie with outstanding performances and a palpable sense of tension and excitement throughout. The movie is also graced by the presence of two Oscar winners in Washington and Forest Whitaker. Very highly recommended!

Valentine’s Day 2012

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February 14, 2012
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As all Japan-dwellers know, it is the custom in this country for girls to give boys chocolates on Valentine’s Day (regardless of whether they want them or not). This is what Mewby got me:

A water purifier for my tap! 嬉しい!Now I can enjoy great tasting water direct from “our mother” Lake Biwa! And believe me, it DOES taste better! Mewby knows me best!

Our 4th Anniversary

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February 7, 2012
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Last Friday, Mewby & I celebrated our 4th anniversary together. Many thanks to Eric Johnston for recommending Valencia, a wonderful Spanish restaurant by Utsubo Park. Charming staff, great service, lovely food and a perfect atmosphere it gets four thumbs up from us!

They do cute cappuccini too!