Monday, March 28, 2011

Tokyo Decadance: White and Yellow - Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami Relief Aid



Tokyo Decadance that wild melting pot of subcultures hosted its monthly event this March. Normally the March event is to celebrate White Day March 14th which is the opposite of Valentines. On Valentines, girls give boys presents and on White Day the boys return the favor.


This year however the day before the originally schedule event there was a massive earthquake 80 kilometers off the northeast coast of Japan which caused destructive tsunamis which wiped out whole towns and caused enormous destruction and loss of life along the northeast coast of the Tohoku region.


Tokyo Decadance was postponed for two weeks and renamed White and Yellow. White for the original White Day and Yellow for support of Japan. Yellow is a positive color in Japan. A percent of the party's profit was donated to the Red Cross.


There wasn't as many people out as usual events but there was still a good showing. Kaya was there singing a duet. We had great music played by DJs like Rina Nekko, we had a seppuku (ritual suicide) simulation with lightsaber, a lightsaber dual between an angel and a gaijin samurai, and as always cute sexy girls.








Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquake in Japan - A Tokyo Perspective



March 11, 2011 a massive earthquake hit 81 miles off the northeastern coast of Japan causing tsunamis which created huge amounts of damage and as of yet untold loss of life.


In Tokyo we felt the affects over 200 miles away. That was the worse quake I had ever experienced. My room shook violently and things began cascading off my bookshelf. There were hundreds of people outside not sure if the next Great Tokyo Earthquake had come. There were some sizable aftershocks minutes afterwards and we are still feeling them now.


The worst though is up north where whole neighborhoods have been washed away by the tsunamis. There was even fear of a nuclear meltdown at one of the plants in Fukushima but it seems (knock on wood) that the situation is under control


Ikebukuro Station packed with people who can't get home



People bedded down for the night in Tokyo stations


Panic Shopping in Tokyo - shoppers fill up on water and food

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tokyo Decadance - Old (Nintendo) Video Game Theme with YMCK




A sexy Yoshi with a .....?

Tokyo Decadance is a semi-monthly club event in Japan and Europe with different themes sometimes reflecting the holidays and sometimes related with Japanese pop-culture. I went to one event where the theme was old video games such as from Nintendo. There were also some people dressed up as characters from video games or variations of them - a mustacheless Mario (I know - wrong! wrong! wrong!) for example. Some people were apparently dressed as characters from video games that must have come wrapped in brown paper.

One DJ played remixes of old video game tunes particularly around 2:50-3:45 and Japanese Chiptune band YMCK made a brief appearance (4:30 in the vid). I could recognize one or two tunes - the mario one was pretty unmistakable but others I have no idea. I never had a Nintendo though I did have SNES and 64.


Whoa! I want to play whatever game she is playing!







Jesus and a mustache-less Mario



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sapporo Beer Museum

Sapporo Beer Museum Offers History and Beer
Museum visitors learn about brewing history in Japan while sampling the wares




The Sapporo Beer Museum

Ever since man raised himself from his animal-like state of existence and achieved conscious rational awareness, he has used his thought process to devise various and illicit ways of removing this burden of consciousness and returning to his former state. One of the earliest relievers of this burden was the divine elixir known as beer. Beer brewing can be traced back over 6,000 years ago to the resourceful Sumerians. The Sumerians were so taken by this brew they dedicated hymns praising their gods for this divine drink. They even had a goddess of beer brewing.

Old Beer Bottles from the turn of the century

Beer came late to Japan -- about 6,000 years later. The Japanese, however, were not slack in the "altering of consciousness through liquid means" department. They had been brewing their rice wine for countless generations before beer found its way over. Beer was first tentatively introduced to the Japanese during the nation's seclusionary Edo Period (1615-1867) by Dutch traders. It did not catch hold at the time.

The perfect combination: Geisha and beer

In the Meiji Period (1867-1912), Japan opened its borders to foreigners and allowed its own citizens to travel abroad. Seibei Nakagawa went to Germany where he earned a Beer Brewery Engineering License. With the discovery of hops in the northern island of Hokkaido, a beer brewery was planned with Nakagawa as its first brewmaster. In 1876, the first Sapporo Beer was sold in Japan.

A display showing that Sapporo Beer is apparently made by magical gnome-like creatures.

Over the following decades, beer drinking increased in popularity and became an established pastime. These days it's hard to imagine a Japan without beer, as it has become so firmly entrenched into the Japanese lifestyle. What helped is the fact that a good percentage of Japanese food, from sushi to yaki-tori (chicken skewers), simply goes great with beer.

The Sapporo Beer Museum in Sapporo is a good place for beer lovers to go to learn more about the history of beer brewing in Japan. The Museum has a collection of beer bottles and cans that date back to the late 19th Century. Visitors can also watch beer commercials that span several decades. There are two small bars where one can -- for a small fee -- sample the wares. Two of the beers -- Kaitakushi and Sapporo Classic -- are only available in Hokkaido.

Commemorative Beer for the 1972 Winter Olympics which were held in Sapporo

The taste of Sapporo beer, which its admirers harp on about, comes from unique hops that are only produced in certain areas around the world -- areas known for their exceptional beers. Sapporo Brewery prides itself in its quality ingredients and the skill of its brewers. Sapporo beer can be seen as a delicious result of German brewing practices and Japanese attention to detail.

Samples for the studious beer connoisseur

At first, visitors to the Sapporo Beer Museum may be a bit shocked to find a red star emblazoned on its building, and suddenly worry that Communist China has gained a foothold in the Hokkaido Island as a precursor to invasion of the mainland. The red star actually represents the North Star, which was the symbol of the early pioneers in the 19th Century. The red star logo was later changed to a gold star, no doubt to avoid any confusion that Sapporo Beer might be a communist brewski.


Jingisukan (Genghis Khan): a sizzling plate-grill of lamb meat

Visitors shouldn't try to get too involved in their study of Sapporo's finest brew at the Museum's bar, however. Attached to the museum is the Sapporo Beer Garten, where for just under 4,000 Yen a person can help themselves to all the beer they can drink for 100 minutes. Accompanying the beer are strips of lamb meat cooked on a grill at the customer's table by the customer themselves. This dish is named after the famous Mongol conqueror: Genghis Khan. After 100 minutes of incessant beer guzzling and lamb chomping, the only kingdom you'll be interested in sacking will be the one with the porcelain throne.

All's Well in Magical Beerland


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ryuhyo - Japanese Drift Ice in Hokkaido

Hokkaido’s Drift Ice: Nature’s Masterpiece
In northern Japan, one can commune with nature and hungry sea gulls






Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido offers winter-loving visitors not only incredible man-made structures of ice and snow — the most notably being at Sapporo’s internationally renowned Yuki Matsuri– but along the northern coast one can see nature’s own winter masterpiece in the form of drift ice. From mid-January to mid-April, the Sea of Okhotsk is choked with ice fragments drifting their way south to oblivion in warmer climates. The Hokkaido coast is the southernmost area in the Northern Hemisphere to experience drift ice.

In ages past, drift ice would be a thing to be avoided at all cost by sea-farers. Though not as dangerous as icebergs, drift ice could catch unlucky vessels in its clutches and hold them for long stretches of time, sometimes till death took the crew. Nowadays, with the aid of modern ice-breaking ships, drift ice has become a tourist attraction.

In the northern coast city of Abashiri, tourists can take an hour cruise for JPY 3000 (US $25) on the ice-breaker Aurora ships. Abashiri is famous in Japan for a spartan prison that was set up there at the end of the 19th century. Getting sent to Abashiri was equivalent to getting sent to Siberia in Russia. The weather can be harsh and unrelenting in winter and Japanese prisons have never been known for their comfort.

Drift-ice cruises offer visitors the chance to catch a rare glimpse of seals and seal pups in the wild. Most of the time, however, the drift ice wildlife around Abashiri is confined to opportunistic sea gulls. Sea gulls follow the ships closely looking for free hand-outs from the tourists. One popular way of feeding the sea gulls is to hold out a piece of bread or a potato chip and let the sea gulls snatch it while in flight.

The tranquilty of this frozen world of the northern sea is broken only by the sound of the crunching ice under the steel hull of Aurora’s ships and the old Enka music blaring from the ship’s speakers.

Drift ice has a significant impact on global climate conditions. It redistributes fresh water and latent heat energy, which has an effect on regional climates. The freezing process of drift ice removes the salt from seawater creating freshwater. If too much freshwater is released it can have damaging effects on the climate. It is believed that such a release caused a disruption with the Gulf Stream, resulting in a small ice age 11,000 to 12,000 years ago.

Hokkaido’s drift ice has unfortunately become a casualty of global warming. In the last twenty years the amount and thickness of the drift ice has lessened. The season for viewing drift ice has shortened, as well. Drift ice is important to the area because it stimulates the growth of plankton, the base of the food chain of the region's diverse wildlife.

An ice-breaking ship of the Aurora Fleet




















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Tokyo, Japan
Vagabond traveler currently hold up in Tokyo. I've done a far bit of traveling and had a few interesting adventures along the way. This blog is a chronicle of adventures past and present and those yet to come. I’ve been to about 30 countries though some no bigger than a kitchen table. I’ve run with the bulls of Pamplona, hiked the Inca Trail, got mugged in Mexico City, floated down the Nile in an old boat, climbed the Great Pyramid of Egypt, got ripped at Oktoberfest, and rode the notorious Tokyo Yamanote Halloween Party Train.