Saturday, 27 November 2010

The ongoing saga of illegally parked bikes

The point of bike parking restrictions is

a) giving bike nazis a forum to assert themselves
b) raising money for local government coffers.
c) stopping bikes taking over the footpaths / public space esp. around railway stations.
d) creating rules to irritate the citizenship.

The correct answers are A and B and D.
If you answered C  you are suffering idealism induced delusions.

Take a look at the photo below.
Barriers erected to stop illegal bike parking.

Hey wait a minute..... aren't parking restrictions meant to free up the footpath....
The difference betweens bikes being here and the area being simply cordoned of is.........
See answers A and D.

See answer B.  (11/ 24) is the last day that they collected bikes to take to the bike repository. 4,000Y to get it back.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Meguro Shizen Kyoikuen - Meguro Nature Study Park

 Yesterday autumn weather was optimal. We took the opportunity to go to Meguro where there is a amazing primal forest about half way between Shirakane Takanawa and Meguro stations.. It doesn't feature on tourist lists of Tokyo for some reason, but it's beautiful - the Meiji Shrine outer garden is the only place that is in anyway comparable in Tokyo.  Walking around there yesterday was like being in a Renoir autumn painting. Soft light, yellowing brown leaves, bridges over ponds, aging pines - a lovely day out.

In my eagerness to get back under google's 1 GB limit on photos, I have accidentally deleted photos - which I will try to relocate.
Meguro Shizen Kyoikuen
Meguro Nature Study Park
Tokyo Nature Study Park Meguro

Sometimes the human wildlife is more interesting than
the non human varieties...

Park entry details

We finished off out trip to the area with soba at a
traditional little shop on Gaien Nishi Dori, just around the corner from the park.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

uni update

An update on the uni front, for anyone who is interested.

Things are going well.  It's a big advantage being a native speaker to keep up with the volumes of reading.  When it comes to research though I will be constrained by my semilinguality (monolingual might be overstating my competence somedays). I'm doing ten credits this  term - 4 subjects. I give myself to the end of the semester in these glasses. The reading and writing load is huge.  Today after handing in an essay and doing a presentation, assuming I have counted correctly, I have 21 writing tasks to complete before the end of January - all of which require either deep or extensive reading...   Lecturers and classmates are good, as are facilities - printing and photocopying costs are included in the semester fees and the printers are more likely to have toner than not.  It's very international - the biggest national grouping would probably be US, Japan, France, Germany and the Philippines but also Estonia, Hungary, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Senegal, Sierra Leone, UK, Morocco, Canada, Russia.  It's think on Africa, the Subcontient / central Asia and also South America. Most people are trilingual at least....

I am in stale mate with the uni on Japanese classes.  I didn't sign up for classes this term, but will do so next term even though I will miss one in 4 classes...   I may have to enrol & withdraw (no financial cost, it's just a pain to have withdrawals on my academic record) but hopefully will be able to sufficiently endear myself to the teacher that I can still remain in the class after I withdraw officially.

I'm impressed with the railway subsidy - there is no such thing as a general student card for public transport discounts, but they give a 30-40% student discount if you buy a monthly pass.

I have yet to find the pool at the uni, but apparently there is one there - with some luck it won't be heated to the 28 degree hydrotherapy temperature that the local pool is...

But so far so good.  I'm basically on top of the workload though teaching and working on a Zen translation on the side are keeping me very occupied.   It's good to be using my brain and it's good to have to be organised in my thinking.

Uninspiring train manners

The subways have come up with the next installment of the manners campaign. They are starting to clutch at straws though... Usually I get a good chuckle... but this time it's just lame.

 For some reason Japan still seems to think mobile phones stop pacemakers.... The rules say no speaking on a phone on the train (or any public area really), but near the priority seats the mobile phone is supposed to be switched off completely.  This is the point of the poster.

 I once saw a very indignant woman getting stuck into someone text messaging on a phone in the priority seats.... hmmm... if only such passion could be used to do something a bit more worthwhile. Needless to say, our station has again decided either residents here are either beyond educating or too advanced to require signs.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Tokyo Sky Tree

 Tokyo sky tree,  Tokyo's answer to Dubai's Burj Khalifa Tower, KL's Petronas Towers, and Taipei's 101 building,  is on an upward march.  We went out today to have a look at it close up, though from much of central Tokyo it is already quite visible.   The main reason for the 634m height is apparently Tokyo is in need of a tall structure from which to broadcast digitally.  I thought Oshiage, where it is located,  was reclaimed land, but it seems not, though it is very definitely river flats.  The seismic technology is supposed to be state of the art... but I think they are rather brave building something so high when "the big one" is already overdue.

If you get impressed by towers, it's probably impressive.  I am impressed that unlike Roppongi Hills it seems that it is making an effort to integrate into public space rather than being a self contained fortress.
As of today it's 497metres, and  going up at the rate of 1m / day, at this rate it may be finished ahead of  its Nov 2011 schedule.
1 April 2010 near Nippori Station

23 December 2009
3 November 2010

Genmori bridge near Oshiage
14 April 2010

From Genmori bridge 3 Nov 2010

14 April 2010

3 November 2010
The non descript tower block on the left seems
like a wasted opportunity.
497m as of 3 Nov 2010
Onward upward to 634m

Monday, 1 November 2010

Autumn fare and...

Autumn, the season of mushrooms, new rice, sanma (pacific saury), chestnuts, apples, nashi, persimon, has arrived. Hiro's mother sent us a box of food the other day - mushrooms from their mushroom picking trips to the mountains, boiled chrysanthemum petals, rice from Hiro's uncle's rice farm and veges from the vege patch.

Not from Hiro's mother - seen at the local supermarket.
I kid you not - even Hiro was grossed out -
they were half price, so we weren't the only ones hesitating to buy.....
Halloween was yesterday, perhaps there was a connection????