Behind Enemy Lines

On Tuesday night the Mission was to infiltrate enemy territory, probe their defensive systems, disrupt any and all lines of communication then, hopefully, return safely with the best intel my Team could manage.

So we moved into the den of the Beast to reconnoiter Osaka Dome
and the wildly popular (and widely despised) Defending Champions-
The Yomiuru Giants.


Yes I'm a Hardcore Hanshin Tigers Fan (HHT, Represent!) along with a huge aficionado of Koshien (the home park of same) and after our visit to the Land of the Self-Righteous I can safely say I am now, officially, even more passionate than I was before concerning Tigers baseball.

The Dome?

Well......if you happen to be a big fan of shopping malls then this is probably your kind of place.
Modern, functional, convenient, comfortable, climate-controlled, clean, safe and with about as much soul and warmth as a pre-prison Martha Stewart on the worst day of her period.


Of course the simultaneously over and underwhelming presence of legions of bloodless, lifeless, listless and near useless Giant Zombie Nation (GZN, booo) contributed to the otherwise dreary atmosphere and no doubt subtracted greatly from any allure the Dome itself may otherwise contain.
Imagine being trapped among thousands of upper-crusty retirees, sedated by decades of success and bloated by the sense of their absolute superiority, who arrive late, leave early and spend more time fiddling with their keitais and glancing at their watches than they do following the action on the field before they bolt for the exits and their very,very important lives.

And did they run out of beautiful Girls in Osaka recently 'cuz i saw fine examples everywhere getting there and back but sadly there were precious few in the stands that lonely evening.

Leave it to GZN to line up for KFC.

Boring. i was stunned to learn that they serve only Beer in the stands and finding the beer girls wasn't exactly easy!
I had to trek for some minutes until I finally located what must have been the only stand that sold Chu-Hi (a soda/shochu blend) and in J-Land this must certainly be some cruel form of joke and definitely societal sacrilege.


All in all a dull game punctuated by a duller crowd framed in a generic Mallmosphere for the polite if distracted enjoyment of a grossly spoiled fan base.

Yea,yea,yea. The Giants won 2-1.


posted by Billy at 14:22 | Kyoto (Japan)


Cheap Eats in Gion???


It's TRUE!

This most rare of K-Creatures does exist and is named-



Located a stones throw West of the Kamo River (go to the Hankyu Department store, hang a left) and 3 corners South (one more left) of Shijo (perhaps not exactly Gion but close) this low-cost, low-rent, low-down, feel-good joint should be easy to locate no matter who you're riding with, what you're riding on or what condition you may happen to be in when you get there.
Last Saturday was Gentlemen's Evening Out around here so me and an outlaw Amigo saddled up as Butch and Sundance then hit this saloon with a hunger to match our powerful thirst.

Now I've seen cops handcuffing criminals who were friendlier than the greeting we received upon entrance and our waitress was almost as bubbly as the guy who wands you down at the airport but before you scratch this one off your list and head for the exit please check the menu because the prices come in 3 very basic, easy-to-understand categories-

1. Cheap
2. Cheaper


Suprisingly decent if infinitely forgettable. And with a very commendable selection of chow.
No, you won't be writing home about this one but just keep aggressively pounding them drinks and the dishes will keep getting better and better.

If you happen to be over the age of, say...25, you may feel somewhat out of place as this is primarily a student/backpacker hangout but I can assure you that the other tables will not care and will likely steer most clear.

Business dinners, Families meals, Ladies Night Out?
Definitely NOT a date place (unless, perhaps, you don't enjoy getting laid) I'm not even sure if grown women are allowed in here (although sexy young girls are sprinkled in liberally) so what, you may be asking is your incentive?

The Check!

On Sat Sundance and I greedily slammed around 6 beverages each (beer, sho-chu), scarfed an equal number of dishes, closed the place for the night (yes, perhaps frightened away the other diners is more accurate) and our tab for the evening?

\5090 BABY!

And in the Gion area, not to mention this economic climate......If you can beat that, I'll eat that.

On our lonesome ride off into the night we ran into a couple of friendly fellow patrons- "We're Japanese PUNKS!"- and exchanged restaurant opinions along with our most solemn philosophical beliefs.

Turns out we agreed on Everything!

posted by Billy at 12:55 | Kyoto (Japan)



Well, faithful readers and bold adventurers, all good things must come to an end so please join in as Team Kyoto bids farewell to this year's wondrous Cherry Blossom beauty.


This was after Midnight on a gorgeous Saturday Night Time at Maruyama Park and these were the only lights still shining, the blissed out crowds still drawn to the splendor like Sakura moths to their very last flame.

The food stalls were shut, the shops shuttered, the lights dim, the adults had gone home for the evening and rowdy, reckless, heedless, glorious Youth was served.
Mobs of partiers had the run of the park and the cops wisely stayed at a safe distance like grateful squirrels at a hungry Lion party.

You gotta love J-Land.

Yesterday the skies opened up and poured buckets all day and half the night so if there's any Blossoms remaining around these parts they're certainly, and only, to be found on the ground.

Adios, Sweet Season and thanks!

posted by Billy at 10:10 | Kyoto (Japan)


The Party Clock is ticking!

I was most graciously enjoying the economic downturn yesterday (hey, somebody has to) along with the perfectly, wonderfully warm, inviting Spring breezes and so I was blissfully carried along to Maruyama Park.


A traditional gathering spot for Young, Old and In-between, the park is a genuine, original K-Land gem centrally located, easily accessed, absolutely free and open to all manners of Hanami Parties
Sakura Season is ON!


This shot was snapped around Noon so as you can see...
It's free but it ain't gonna be easy!

The crowds may have, and likely will, beat you to the Hanami punch but don't be discouraged because, despite appearances and for at least once in your Kyoto Life, there's plenty of room for everybody.
Yes, K-Towners get there early, often, ready, willing and definitely most able to Party!

A better time cannot be found (not with your pants on anyway) anywhere else inside the City Limits in this very Cherry Blossomy time of the year but as you may be able to tell by the pics, you have to move fast because the Season (both Party and Cherry) is fleeting so fire up your cameras, oil up your smile, lace up your drinking shoes and dive in!

It's come-one,come-all and get in where you fit in so don't be shy or overwhelmed because (and I almost never say this in J-Land) no one else is and big happy smiles are everywhere.

And I sincerely don't wish to crush anyone's buzz but if you're reading this you might already be too late so your Standing Orders are-

1. Drop what you're doing...NOW!

2. Gather your Posse.

3. Obtain food, booze and whatever else makes you happy.

4. Double-Time over to Maruyama.

5. Hit it, don't quit it and don't stop 'till you get enough!

You're Welcome.

posted by Billy at 17:40 | Kyoto (Japan)



Got Cherry Blossom Fever?
Here is Dr. Billy's prescription-

Now is the Time...
Kyoto the Place.

Sharpen up your elbows, bring your walking shoes, don't forget a warm wrap and remember to stretch those camera fingers before flexing and after shooting.


Optional- Blue plastic tarps, booze, foodFoodfood and any number of rowdy friends willing to assist your gang in maintaining precious elbow room and the elusive piece-of-mind.

Good Luck to one and all and
posted by Billy at 12:07 | Kyoto (Japan)


The Baseball Gods smile upon us.....kinda, sorta.

Until yesterday I never realized that my post-analog, near rainman-like obsession with reading newspapers would ever bear any positive fruit but, lo and behold, I opened the Sports page only to most unexpectedly discover that the good people from the Daily Yomiuri had treated 4 of us Basesball geeks to some very decent seats for the games of our choice.

That was the Good News. Thanks Daily Yo!
Better News?

The Tix are Tits!
Right behind the plate and absolutely 1st Rate! (and considering that it actually took me longer to text my entry then to complete the Q's and I don't guess it was any different for my other 3 lucky compatriots, it's a baseball windfall indeed)

Less Good News?
Somewhere I miscalculated and thought we were all vying for the Tigers (think Cubs/Red Sox) games but...it turns out the hated Giants (think Yankees) were the only Osaka Dome option and I picked the wrong door.

My bad but there's little sense in looking a gift horse in the mouth so it's off to Osaka to get my drink on and abuse the Legions of uppity Kyo-jin (Giants) fans that will no doubt be in attendance.
You can't beat fun at the old Ballpark!

Go BayStars!

posted by Billy at 18:09 | Kyoto (Japan)




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