Posts Tagged Tokyo

Jul
27

I didnt know Tokyo as well as I thought

Posted by on Sunday, 27 July, 2008

tokyo-by-night.jpg
…at least that must be the case, since I only scored 6 out of 10 correct in National Geographic’s Tokyo Quiz.

It started out easy, and my being full of conceit, thought to myself that this is will be a walk in the Ueno Park so to speak; but no… They really threw some difficult questions in there, so do hop over and give it a try and see if you yourself can call yourself an expert on Tokyo, as I thought a mere 5 minutes ago….

Jul
12

Changes

Posted by on Saturday, 12 July, 2008

If there is still anyone reading this (I wouldnt blame you if you didn’t, looking at my past record of, oh, 1 post every 3 months) I would like to update you on some changes which have kept me busy the last few months…

I’ve moved from Ota-ku (大田区):
Nishi-magome in Ota-ku

to Setagaya-ku (世田谷区):
Dog Cafe in Setagaya

If you’re not familiar with Tokyo’s geography, Ota-ku is the ward in Tokyo which is farthest to the South-west, bordering Kanagawa-ken (where Kawasaki and Yokohama are). Setagaya-ku is North of Ota-ku, a bit closer to the city centers of Shibuya and Shinjuku. Setagaya feels like a more urban neighborhood than Ota – it’s more youthful and active with schools and universities.

What are the “hot” spots in Setagaya-ku then? The following three I rank as top 3 as far as shopping&dining is concerned.

Futagotamagawa
Shimokitazawa (in Japanese)
Sangenjaya (in Japanese)

Apr
06

This picture sums up what Japan is all about

Posted by on Friday, 6 April, 2007

Monk and Louis Vuitton
This picture, which I snapped today in Ginza while riding the Skybus tour, sums up what Japan is all about in one picture, don’t you think?

Jan
22

Over-priced chocolatier Noka coming to Japan

Posted by on Monday, 22 January, 2007

Noka Chocolate
On 30th of March this year, new fashionable shopping/business/leisure district Tokyo Midtown opens in Roppongi, Tokyo (it’s situated in the old Self-Defense Force Agency Headquarters location between Roppongi and Akasaka).

I browsed through the list of shops which are to open in the complex, and one of them was, to my big surprise, Noka Chocolate. If you haven’t lived under a rock without Internet-access for the last few months you would know that this is a Texas-based chocolate company who produces ridiculously over-priced chocolates with, if you believe their critics, little to no value added to the original chocolate bars they buy from France.

You can read the whole expose on Noka Chocolate here: Dallas Food expose on Noka Chocolate
and there are various of other sites commenting on this:
Slash Food, Boing Boing, Crunchgear

So, the “the world’s most expensive chocolate” is coming to Japan. It’s been here before, temporarily, as part of various department stores’ Valentine’s Day specials (for instance at Mitsukoshi), but now they are also opening up shop permanently. I did a quick search in Japanese for ノカ チョコレート (Noka Chocolate) and did not get any relevant hits commenting on the recent news, but only links to where you can buy it, and some reviews: Enjoytokyo reviews Noka Chocolate (To sum up this review, the reviewer was impressed by the luxurious packaging, the high price and a deep, dark, bitter taste.)

Unfortunately, I think the Japanese will flock to this new store and happily line up to get a piece of the exclusive goodness which they promise their customers. The brand image is extremely attractive for the Japanese market, it has a definate “high end” and “exclusive” air to it; which Japanese will literally eat up (pun intended). Secondly, the price. The price will probably be ridiculously high, as it is in the US as well. I think they will manage to squeeze out another few 100% mark-up just for the Japanese market – and if there is anything that Japanese consumers are suckers for, it is exclusive brands which are highly priced.
“Price = Quality” in the minds of many Japanese shoppers which plays right into the business plan of Noka…

Of course, I have nothing personally against Noka – if their business works and they make money from it, fine – but I do not approve of shady business practices where companies are not honest about what they do and do not do.

Aug
22

The Gaijin Nod

Posted by on Tuesday, 22 August, 2006



Japan train

Originally uploaded by ALEX FOUQUET.

We’ve all done it, or at least, seen someone do it. Some dislike it, some think it’s great – what am I talking about? The gaijin nod of course!

In short, the gaijin nod is when you meet another gaijin (means foreigner in Japanese – but not in polite terms) in the streets of Japan, you mutually greet each other with (usually) a slight nod and a smile. In certain situations, you could even say “Hi” or “Good Morning” (but that is a more advanced form of this gesture). Some people, mainly foreigners suffering from so-called “Gaijin Complex” do not particularly like the notion of the gaijin nod. They either don’t like it because a) since they are suffering from gaijin complex, they dislike contact with all other foreigners in Japan and would rather be left alone; or b) they think it’s racist behavior to acknowledge some unknown person on the street simply because of race or nationality.

I disagree. I think the gaijin nod is not about racism at all – it is simply a nice gesture towards another human being who happens to be in a similar life situation as yourself. When you see another foreigner looking slightly lost walking around in the outskirts of Tokyo, you cannot but smile and think “yes, I have been in the same situation as you” and at that instant you feel some kind of small connection to him/her and gladly give them the gaijin nod.

I would argue that the chances of a gaijin nod occurring between two random foreigners is reverse proportional to the size of the town you are in. Lately, you will probably not greet every single foreigner you see in Tokyo, but when I was living in Kobe, you would not pass a single opportunity to nod to your fellow man. Granted, when I nod a greeting to the 6ft Thai transvestite I bumped into in Shinjuku, I cannot honestly say we share much common experiences….but that is probably the exception to the rule. So, the next time you see a dumb schmuck of a foreigner on the train, why don’t you make his day by greeting him with the gaijin nod?

By the way – I blogged this directly from Flickr, thus the slightly different layout. I think it looked pretty OK with the image floated to the right, so I might try this layout more in future posts.