Out of the Blue...Into the Black

Art turns me on.

I don't know exactly why or how but every once upon a star you walk into a room and it just grabs by the heart and squeezes.

So yesterday I strolled over to Galerie H2O,P1000718.JPG


tip-toed through the entrance and slipped into a dream.

The Goods were supplied by a Kyoto Artist/Woman whose work you may have already seen even if you didn't know it. She's shown her work in Tokyo, designed supercool covers for the Ipod, splashed a Tour Bus with her visions and favored several Gion hotspots with large pieces that make you feel cool just by sitting in front of them.
Do yourself a solid and take a look.


Something about her work both calms and arouses me in a way that makes me feel happy to be alive and hungry for more.
She makes me see things more clearly and want to look more closely and, for me at least, that is no small mountain to climb but please see for yourself and enjoy.


The Bad News?
This particular exhibit is about to close (Sunday, 8th) so sorry for the late heads-up but if it makes you feel any better I got robbed too. I missed what I heard was a kicking Opening Party (F *****g duty called) and barely managed to make it yesterday.
Yet make it I did but, as with all things natural and beautiful, of course photos are at best a poor substitute for the Real Thing so if you want to feel your blood pump a little bit faster or light a fire in your mind then stop in and soak up the soul. P1000728.JPG

posted by Billy at 18:49 | Kyoto (Japan)


The Thrill of Victory and.....you know the rest.

Saturday was the Time, Kyoto Station was the Place, Team "YES WE CAN!" were the Players and Stairs were the Mission.
I am proud to report-



You know............kinda....sorta.

It's definitely true that We came, We saw and We conquered but it is perhaps even more factual to convey that about 63 other teams beat us to the Summit of this particular Man-made Mountain.
Hey! Cut Us a slackburger with cheese.
We were up against Olympic Gold Medalists and Professional Bicycle Racers with thighs that were as big as my waist so all in all I think We did about as well as can be reasonably expected and while We certainly didn't set or break any Records We (and everybody I think) had a BLAST!

What a Party!

If you happen to be in Kyoto next Feb. and are looking for a good time I can highly recommend this All Day Event.
There were Dancers, Drummers, Cheerleaders and TV cameras everywhere to go along with the great crowd who showed up to hoot and holler and at the very end we all got to partake in some DEElightful, DEElicious Sake from Fushimi.
No charge and Bottoms up!

Wait 'till Next Year!

posted by Billy at 17:09 | Kyoto (Japan)


Knockin' on Heavens Door!

Well it's Feb. in this Ancient Capitol and that means−

1. It's COLD! Fact is it's snowing as I'm typing these words...oops......stopped.

2. It's time for the Annual Kyoto-Eki Daikaidan Kakegari Taikai (whew...say that 3 times fast)!

More simply put- The Kyoto Station Staircase Race!


Yes each and every year for over a decade now hundreds of local StairClimbing enthusiasts (maniacs) sprint from the bottom of those intimidating steps you see to your left to the very tip-top or die trying.


It's exactly 14 sets of stairs and 171 steps to everlasting Glory or crippling exhaustion, depending on how you look at it but you can't keep good Men and Women down so this '09 180 Teams have entered (you have to have a 4-person Team to qualify) which makes it exactly 720 Hardcore Challengers taking on the daunting task at foot this time around.

Why do we do it? Yea.....I wrote WE.

Why Not? What the Hell else you gonna do in Feb. around here besides wait for March?

Your Taxes?

Play with your Keitai?

Stare at the Boob Tube?

Search for Work?

Well we're gonna Run for Fun and enjoy this Saturday the 21st as much as is legally allowed!

Hey.....720 Elvis Fans can't be wrong!

And to all my Great and Good Friends who were too busy/chickenshit to join the Team- Thank you very, very little and see you at the Top.


posted by Billy at 12:04 | Kyoto (Japan)


One Thousand Cranes

There is an ancient J-Land proverb which states that the building (folding, making?) of 1,000 cranes will grant the Builder any wish He/She desires.

Health, Wealth, Romance, Luck.....whatever. You get the picture.

Of course by Cranes they mean the Paper/Origami type.

The Crane (the bird, that is) is believed to have meta-physical/mystical Powers which can be called upon by Us mere mortals in times of need.

Nice idea, right... and you know we sure do need some just about everywhere.

Well around these parts lately I've been noticing a trend which may not be the slightest bit mystical but which I find nonetheless positive and encouraging in all ways Earthly and/or real. Behold.


Now I will grant you that this ain't precisely 1.000 cranes and these may not be the exact type of bird we may have all been hoping for as long as you grant me one minor concession-


And let me assure you that I found all of these within an easy 5-minute bike ride from my door and that is indeed a very tiny geographic portion of Kyoto proper my Friend!
Who knows how many more are in their Kyoto Flock.

Color me crazy (or any other color you may prefer) but I really feel like this is Good News and Good Fortune for this Great City and its Future!
Which is more than I can say for Dubai which currently looks like a 5-year old's X-Mas jigsaw puzzle (that is to say, only about halfway finished and not getting any closer) or Ground Zero.
It's been 7 long years and We haven't even laid a single brick or riveted a lone rivet.
President Obama?
I'll carry the heavy stuff if you need me.


I'm hoping (wishing) these Kyoto Cranes are part of the positive progress that will be tomorrow.


posted by Billy at 19:37 | Kyoto (Japan)


The Teppanyaki side of the Street!

The Osaka Squad landed hereabouts this weekend and nothing would do for dinner but Teppanyaki!
(Conceivably any kind of food, all prepared on an Okonomiaki-style open grill)
We wanted it, we needed it and Dammit, we were on a mission!

And so we marched just seconds East of Higashioji on Maurutamachi and invaded KARASU.
Now Kansai people (especially Osaka-folk) are often considered somewhat unsophisticated compared to their more cosmopolitan Kanto brethren but let's make one thing crystal clear-
Osakan's may not know which fork goes with which plate or how to negotiate a linen napkin but their ravenous taste for deeeeelicious Grub is unrivaled and their olympian standards for all things culinary are unmatched so when you're ridin' with them.....


If you make it over to KARASU you will likely find the menu a delight. The selections are numerous yet straightforward and the variety of dishes surely will have something to please most any palate.
Example- I submit to you, P1000590.JPGP1000576.JPGP1000585.JPG

Shrimp. Oysters and Beef but don't ask me which I liked the best because that's like asking me to choose between a Lear Jet, a Ferrari and a Harley-Davidson. Depends on the mood. Baby.

We finished the evening with 2 different and equally excellent types of Okonomiaki and then hit the door with blissful bellies and beaming smiley faces, the Osaka Crew giving it a lively thumbs up!P1000583.JPG

KARASU has 2 large tables and about a 12 seat counter and is slightly on the upscale side so I imagine that it's good for any occasion whether it be Family, After-work or Dating dining that you seek. Don't forget the Beer!
Reservations are accepted.P1000591.JPG

By the by.....Both Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kyoto Native Hideki Okajima approve!
posted by Billy at 12:15 | Kyoto (Japan)


Like a Virgin

The Kyoto HQ recently discovered this somewhat obscure Art exhibit by the renowned Kyoto photographer, Mika Ninagawa and seeing as we were heading in that direction on Saturday's sunny, tourist-packed, freezing-cold afternoon, we thought we'd stop in and warm ourselves by the Porno Fire.
And what a flame she makes! http://www.kyobase.com

If you happen to be in the area (the studio is located directly across from Kiyomizudera's main parking lot) why not stop in? P1000547.JPG It don't cost nothin' and you will get some kicks, giggles and you Ladies out there just may get some good ideas......(wink, wink, nudge, nudge)......as you soak up Mika-chan's joyous, playful photos. The exhibit is decidely on the PG-13 side of the scale so, personally, I'd think that Children of All Ages would be welcome and comfortable but if you're worried about your teens/tweens witnessing this then I feel sorry for them and even sorrier for you.

Plus Mika-san is having FUN!
This really seems to be the plot and the point as She frolics flirtatiously with all the subjects and ideas of her work while evoking a definite and delightful innocence inside what some might consider suggestive or (GASP) raunchy imagery.

When you hit the door it's kind of like walking into an explosion between a neighboring Fingerpaint Factory and the Hollywood Hustler Store- WOW, there's high-heels, black leather, fishnet stockings, fetish outfits and primary colors everywhere! P1000549.JPG

I thought the childishly whimsical nature of the work slyly and simultaneosusly captured a very real schizophrenic spirit of J-land's suffocatingly uptight and anything-goes, obsessively adolescent and depressingly consumerist, aggressively cutsiepie come-on and repressively disconnected, cultural split personality towards all things Adult/Sexual as Mika-chan clearly demonstrates control and command of Her Grrrrl Power inside this most overwhelmingly Male-Dominated environment where Soaplands and Chikans coexist peacefully.

Or maybe I just like looking at half-naked Chicks...you know...one or the other.

Yet how can you not enjoy a wholesome/wicked Girl playing around with gender/sexual stereotypes and male/female fantasies while keeping everybody smiling all along the way? Sigh.

Right now my Mind is> clear yet focused, my Body ready for action and my Heart feels warm but not the slightest bit fuzzy and ,yes......

That's the way.....UH HUH, UH HUH.....I LIKE IT!

posted by Billy at 14:42 | Kyoto (Japan)



This Holiday Monday we here at Kyoto HQ had time to break from our normal routine and trip over to a friend's House (and Hair Salon) next to the Kamo for power relaxing and assorted hijinks but were quite pleasantly surprised to discover that they were busy making Mochi! The Old-Fashioned way! With a wooden sledge and a wooden bowl and some hot steamy rice getting lovingly pounded into this New Years' sweet sticky treats.

And so, of course, we took our own maiden spin at Mochitsuki (making Mochi) and commenced swinging away on this lovely, clear winter afternoon.

OK, OK, OK, this was our very first attempt ever at this ancient, traditional practice so please cut us some slack about our form (or lack thereof) in the beginning. Hey! We're slow starters, alright? If you can hang in there I think we really begin to hit our stride and find our stroke right around the 2 min. mark.

The delishulous result of all this hard labor?

Reach in and grab one for yourself!

Home-made, all-natural, eco-friendly goodness for Boys and Girls of all Ages with Nature nor nary a living Soul harmed in the process. Just remember potential Mochi Fans- It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!
Sometimes the not so simple things are the best and I am positve that any Westerners in possesion of a genuine sweettooth will savor this very unique J-Sweet. Enjoy!
And as a lengthy aside to my Western Friends- J-Folks don't neccessarily see a Man-in-the-Moon when gazing at that lunar Globe in the night sky.....what do they perceive, you say? Why of course they see a Rabbit-Making-Mochi! Look up and try to spot that hammer swinging Bunny if you can. He's right there if you just open your mind a teeny bit.

posted by Billy at 11:33 | Kyoto (Japan)



P1000511.JPGThe simple answer is that it is now GO time for all those luckylucky undergrads at Kyodai (Kyoto University, and yes, that is the famous Clock Tower therein)). Yes it's time for those hardworking slackers to crack those books (and those beers), once more dive fearlessly into the warm utopian waters of academia and float as far away as humanly possible from the Real World! How I wish I were adrift with them, but.......Duty calls.P1000518.JPG

And for the rest of Us?

It's nose-to-the-grindstone time as we brandish our weapons and do daily battle with the Dragon of '09. But fear not, Ye' Faithful Knights, because there is a treat in store on these cold Jan. evenings and it can be conveniently found inside the very same building as the aforementioned Clock Tower, real nifty KU Gift Shop on the Ground Floor.
Just walk through those doors and it's all yours!

It's Kyoto University President's Special Curry!P1000515.JPG

You might have seen the TV commercials but if you haven't yet tried it then I strongly suggest you do and quickly. Stuck home alone and want a quick, easy and Dee-licious meal?
You won't go wrong with this curry Kids although if your palate is on the tender side you may want to be cautious as the President's Brand is somewhat on the spicy side of the curry scale...but oh so pleasantly so, I think. Sure you can order it via phone or fax but where's the fun in that?

If you're in the Neighborhood of this lovely, pastoral, peaceful, spacious and splendid Kyoto U. Campus (look for that Clock Tower) then why not stop in and do yourself a solid!P1000508.JPG

670 Yen and you got yourself an express ticket to Curry Heaven, Baby!
posted by Billy at 15:24 | Kyoto (Japan)


Smappy New Year!

P1000482.JPGSeeing as how '09 just landed (on us or with us I'm not yet sure) we here at Kyoto HQ thought we'd trip over to Heian Jingu (Heian Shrine) to test our luck and peek ever so carefully yet hopefully into this most uncertain of futures.
Our Method?
In J-Land one of the many New Year Traditions is to drop a couple hundred yen and pick up your own personal Omikuji (new years fortune) for your own select perusal and, if you work it just right, enjoyment. The process is definitely on the fun side as first you have to shake, shake, shake a golden can(see photo) full of metal straws and then draw one out which, as they say, will absolutely, finally and forever determine your Luck for the upcoming Year.
Scarycool and ShakyFun for all Ages, Boys and Girls!

We managed to make it over on the 3rd of this Newest Year and although Heian Jingu is one of the more popular of tourist spots around these parts I was still somewhat surprised to see thousands of J-Citizens on a similiar quest as the day was bitter cold and depressingly grey with flashes of icy rain mixed in for bad measure. But if there's one thing you will learn while living in or even visiting Kyoto it's this-


Yes Sir, the Food Vendors were out (yakisoba on the grill, takoyaki being turned, corn on the fire and money changing palms), young couples were strolling hand-in-hand-in-umbrella, families were allowing the shorties to romp, smiles were abundant and the cameras were Legion! If you happened to have or demonstrate any Holiday Blues you may very well have been arrested 'cuz de Blues was just outlawed 'round heah!
No way my fine, fellow J-neighbors were going to let a little rain spoil the next-to-last day of this their longest Holiday break so............Bust out that Happy Face Homey!

On the Good News side of the day I somehow managed to draw the Daikichi (the very best, most lucky fortune)
P1000490.JPG this fortuitous time and I certainly do hope that this means something to someone.

posted by Billy at 13:36 | Kyoto (Japan)


The 2008 R-Pool Office Karaoke Awards are Here!

Well Kids, '08 has finally (and gratefully) been put to rest and what better way to cap off this wacky, whirlwind, rollercoaster of a Year then with KARAOKE?

And plenty of it!

In brief, the Office Bonenkai came off without a hitch (and I believe that's the best that can be said of the Event) before we hit the streets along with about half of Kyoto's population and then proceeded to march en masse on the nearest K-Emporioum where we all whipped out our karaoke hand grenades and pulled the pins.

But due to the noticable abscence of some key players (Our Fearless Leader bailed out early and headed into the evening for his solo kicks) this year the Home Office HQ in Osaka decided that instead of individual rankings we would, instead, hand out Individual Awards!

And so without further ado......

The Comeback Singer of the Year Award goes to.....
And this one was a no-brainer. After the dismal, abysmal, pathetic excuse of a performance that was 2007 K-san didn't have anywhere to go but up yet despite our collective trepidation upon handing him the Mic- Suprise, Suprise! He went way up!
I don't know if he's been pumping his Karaoke muscles all year long but whatever he did he did it right! While he won't make anyone forget Hirai Ken anytime soon his voice was steady and strong throughout and he even managed to hold up his end very decently on a nifty little duet with Kumi-chan (our sole resident songbird).
Kudos, Kimura-san! We knew you had it in ya!

Best Supporting Performance goes to.....
The Mystery Man arrived again to confound expectations. In 2007 he tore the House down and walked off easily with the MVP. This year (perhaps because of the global financial crisis) he was........well..........subdued. While his performance was effective and uplifting he seemed to be keeping a somewhat tight rein on his usually infectious energy. All this despite the fact that it was the first time I have ever seen him drinking beer!
"a walking contradiction, partly truth, partly fiction."
He singlehandedly facillitated the Sophisticated Adult Beverage Procurement for the entire Party all evening long and, Brothers and Sisters, let me assure you that this was no mean feat.

The 6th Man Awardgoes to.....
Actually, our entire Bench!
From Part-Timers to Newcomers and everyone in-between the Men off the bench brought their A-Games and then some! Man, these guys came to score and score they did!
While us gai-jin merely play at Karaoke the Hometown Crew charged out of the dugout, stepped up to the plate and ROCKED IT BABY!
Their energy was the 2nd-Stage rocket we all needed to lift Us into the Stratosphere and they Lit it Up!

The Rookie of the Year Award goes to....
Greg-kun in a walk. The Freshman displayed no fear as he aggressively teed off 1st then proceeded to rock the Mic all night long. Whatever he may have lacked in vocal skill he more than made up for with his jacked-up energy and off-the-charts enthusiasm (possibly aided and abetted by one or two tiny little sips of J-sake) coupled with a continually flawless selection of crowd-pleasers that had us whooping!
Yes indeed, He made Canada proud and Us real happy!

And finally the MVP Award goes to........(drumroll)
the envelope please.....

Sweet and Sexy, sleek and smooth, soft and lovely, sharp like a razor with a smile that can melt even my cold, black heart......oh.........and she can sing too!
But man I mean really sing!
Yea, us Boys just didn't stand a chance as she peeled off one heartbreaker after another bringing the Hardleg crowd to our knees as she softly body slammed us all into blissful submission. I don't want to go on and on but when she ripped into "All I want for Christmas is You" I felt like a virginal teenager in love and I'm pretty sure I've been in Strip Clubs that were less rowdy as she brought it home with a KA-BOOM finish, lust charred bodies and scorched hearts scattered everywhere.
I've said it before and I'll say it again- Girl, whatever they're paying you................IT AIN'T ENOUGH!
Her brand new nickname?
That's right, she was a Technical Knock-Out!

Oh....yours truly you are probably not asking?
Well, during and after my chances at the Mic none of my fellow Partiers attempted any Physical Assaults despite what they may have been thinking, the staff (as far as I know) did not ask me to leave and the Police were not summoned so.........yes............I have to measure that as an unqualified success!

See Ya' Next Year!

posted by Billy at 13:10 | Kyoto (Japan)


On the 1st day of X-Mas......

My message today is simple.

Gear up Kids because the Holidaze are on us like White on Rice! No need to panic, that's the main thing but instead let's glance back into Nov. for a moment and recall those lovely, relaxing Fall days.P1000413.JPG

This is the view from one of my many offices. Sweet, no?

And then we have a similarly placid, peaceful sight the other way...

I usually don't go in for this sort of stuff but now is exactly the time to take a DEEEEEP BREATH...........

and slam it into slow-motion no matter what madness the Man may be pressing you into.
In Kyoto the weather is coming on cold and the New Years Invites are already starting to fly so put down that keitai and look out!

This is me heading back to the Ranch...
posted by Billy at 18:46 | Kyoto (Japan)

OkoPa* Anyone?

I'm fairly certain that one of he main reasons most Westerners visit J-Land is the variety and sublimity of Japanese Cuisine in all its delicious glory. Yes, you have come to the right place!

But for those visitors culinarily challenged or possessing timid palates out there (you probably know who you are...did you eat fast food today? Konbini grub? yes, you) then fear not because if there exists a dish in J-Land that I know everyone will enjoy, surely it's Okonomiaki!


I've heard it described most simply as Japanese Pizza and I would have to admit that, while somewhat inadequate, this an accurate description.
Think of a scrumptious, hot, steaming slab of just about anything you love or can imagine-pork, beef, shrimp, squid etc.- mashed into one juicy, saucy pancake and you're close to home:

Then add ice cold Beer!
(Please be cautious when ordering drinks my Western Friends as it is a Federal Offense punishable by up to 365 days in Jail to order anything other than beer with this dish.)

And while for my money the place to go for the Goods is Osaka we are living, breathing and hungry here in Kyoto so let's deal.

So just a block North of Maurutamachi and about a 30 second walk East from Higashioji you may see this small sign.P1000432.JPG

The Moon and Cat(sorry about the photo...hey...gimme a break, I was famished)

Hang a hard right and stroll into the Dead-End Darkness and in a bit you'll spot the warm, inviting entrance.

The Master and his Wife run the Show and you'll be greeted like family. The place is smallish (2 tables seating 4) but has a very spacious counter that should fill your needs. The Menu is fairly extensive and may require some language skills so prepare well or point and smile. P1000419.JPG

Either way you should walk out as I always do, with a warm, happy belly, a song in my heart and a smile on my face!

* The Younger Set refer to their Okonomiaki Excursions as OkoPa's as in- Okonomiaki Party
posted by Billy at 18:31 | Kyoto (Japan)


Get your Ramen Face on!

What’s that you say? You need some warm comforting relief from this seasons chilly clutches? You want to feel oven warm on the inside because…..Baby it's COLD outside? Look no further than my neighborhood Ramen shop my friend, where you will certainly find the steamy respite that you seek and so richly deserve and even if you don’t (deserve it that is) it’s there for your very real pleasure all the same.
Belly grumbling but your pockets are a little light due to a tad too many adult weekend indulgences? Craving a hearty meal that will both soothe and satisfy without breaking the bank? Tired of toting plastic bags full of fat crap (crap fat?) back from the konbini? No need to fret because your Kyoto gastronomical hotspot heaven is located just north of Nijo on Higashioji and is somewhere close to Ramen Nirvana. The name is “Karako” and it looks a little something like this.


I stumbled across it quite accidentally many months back and have since visited on dozens of occasions and have nothing but the fondest of memories and most satisfying of smiles to show for it. Indeed, at this point in our relationship I actually feel like I owe them money and that ain’t no bad feeling. If you’re looking for a place to impress that special lady on that crucial 1st date then Karako is not for you! This is no dating destination. If you’re in the market for some upscale ambience in a new age setting with elaborate menus and uptight waiters, well, don’t bother. You could walk in here butt-naked and no one would bat an eyelash because everyone is hunkered over their grub and digging in with full concentration and maximum joy. Let me make it clear lest we misunderstand each other-


One unique feature of the joint is the FREE (yes you read right) appetizers displayed along the length of the spacious counter. I like ‘em all but you can pick and choose as you please while you wait for your Ramen to arrive. Umemoto-san, the Master, mixes the selection up regularly but it’s always satisfying and ranges from steamed greens to fresh fruit, all lip smacking, all the time so dive in and don’t be shy.

My normal starter is Genki Gohan. Beef, rice, spicy Kim-chee, raw egg and the lot of it mixed with chunky roasted garlic. MMMMMmmm….
If you’re feeling macho try the Kara age (fried chicken to you). The portion is American-sized, delicious every time and will surely remind you of home cooking no matter where you might be from.
I almost always have TanTanmen (spicy ramen) as my choice and brother does it ever do the job and then some but I’ve tried almost everything they have to offer and you really cannot go wrong.
I defy you to find a heartier bowl anywhere in Kyoto and if you do, please let me know because I stopped looking.

A side note- The very first time I came to Karako I sat next to a tiny J-teen (the place is a haven/heaven for Kyoto U. students) who was dining alone and could not have possibly weighed more than 60 kgs. He ordered Genki Gohan, Kara age and Karako-Ramen (the house speciality) then proceeded to polish off all of same with frightening decisiveness and utmost élan before paying up and breezing out the door. I’ve since tried the same combo and have never even come close to finishing (always having to waddle home, my belt loosened 2 notches, with a giant doggie bag in my mitts) so to this day- I DARE YOU TO TRY TO TOP THAT PINT SIZED SHARK! I DOUBLE-DOG DARE YOU! IT CANNOT BE DONE!

Anyway the staff is friendly, efficient and fun, the menu basic, no nonsense and hearty (if not exactly healthy...what.....pipe down and go hug a tree) and you will feel like a criminal after you get your bill. Also, Naoki-san (he of the killer smile) will hit you up with some bonus tickets that you can use toward future meals or, if you save up 30 tickets, you can utilize your freebies to become a Karako Member and snag this nifty t-shirt which I personally already own and sincerely approve. P1000410.JPG

Night time is the right time for me but you can go when you get ready as they have fairly liberal hours (11am-2pm then 6pm--midnite) but are closed on Tues.
Don't be intimidated by the army of bicycles you'll probably see parked outside because they offer ample parking space just 2 doors North.
If you're one of those slackers that insist on driving everywhere....yes....yes, they have space for you too.

posted by Billy at 17:44 | Kyoto (Japan)


Chinese Democracy...with a side of gyoza, please!

C'mon, admit it......everybody likes Chinese. It's delicious, juicy, spicy, easy, fun and fast.
I am of course speaking of Chinese Food not a girl I used to know or any girl you used to know for that matter. Ahem!

Yes even though we live and breathe in this culinary Japanese playground that is Kyoto I know that every once in a while we all get the hankering for some down home hash slung by our Asian Brothers from across the water and while Chinese grub is not particularly difficult to find in Kyoto it may be somewhat tricky for my foreign friends to locate with the ease they are accustomed to at home.
Hence, my humble suggestion.


Located just east of Higashioji on Maurutamachi, walk about 15 seconds east of the light until you see the above sign then hang a tight right.
The service is delightful and the menu diverse and surely will contain something (and many somethings) for everyone!
Go ahead and take the whole Family, your visiting friends or your horde of famished Huns, the place looks somewhat small upon entrance but they have a spacious (and I mean spacious, about 50 tatami) 2nd floor and will gladly treat you and your gang of ravenous outlaws to it if downstairs is full.
My guess is anyone would be comfortable here but it really is a good choice for your larger parties although I'm sure daters will also enjoy.
Solo diners will like the counter where there is usually a seat open.

As I mentioned the menu is vast but unfortunately you will need a language other than English to successfully negotiate it so if your J-skills ain't up to snuff then bring at least one somebody who is!

Everything is affordable and your tab for the evening will not cripple you financially no matter what you order so don't dip your toes, the water's fine, just dive right in!

posted by Billy at 13:40 | Kyoto (Japan)


Breakfast Bonanza!

Last Sunday somebody around here got the swell idea to rise at 7 in the ungodly AM to get some eats and, somehow, I got roped into the deal.
We ended up at Inoda Coffee (cafe?), a Kyoto institution.


You can believe me or not but there was an actual line to get in even at that indecent hour but, when all was said and done, we waited for perhaps 3 minutes before we were escorted to our seats on the patio outside.
As the weather was (and remains) somewhat disagreeable I left my jacket on as we waited for the grub.
I am happy to report that if you're in need of a choice breakfast, perfectly prepared and graciously served you need look no further than this Kyoto Delight. No, my Western friends, you may not order 6 eggs, 17 slices of bacon, half a loaf of toast with butter and a diet coke to wash it all down but if you can tolerate a human sized portion of eggs, potatoes and salad then you are in for a treat as whoever prepared that plate did it like he meant it! Thanks!

Then wait for the Joe!

Few things in life please me as much as hot Java on a cold morning and Brothers and Sisters, Inoda does not disappoint.
Please treat yourself to the fresh baked (on the premises) croissant as you sip their wonderful, soul satisfying coffee. As I mentioned it was a somewhat chilly morning and so I was deeply satisfied when the coffee arrived piping hot and remained that way. The good people in charge of the beans apparently preheat the cups before they pour so your coffee stays hot and righteous no matter how long you may linger (and we lingered quite a little bit)!P1000235.JPG

Distressing news?

When we strolled out around 9ish to a lovely sunshiney day the line outside was a good deal longer then when we entered. But.....
All good things to those who wait.
posted by Billy at 19:12 | Kyoto (Japan)


The Empire Strikes Back...

images-1.jpegIt got ugly last night for all us Dragon Fans as the much despised Giants took out the whipping stick and went to work early and often.

The final tab was 11-2 and it wasn't even that close!

The Yomiuri's brought the wood and it was Home-run Derby all night long for the happy fans in the Rollerdome.
Samurai Toughguy Michihiro Ogasawara got the party started with a 2 run shot in the first and then, as an encore, blasted a Grand Salami in the 3rd that pretty much decided things at 6-2.

Later on Alex Ramirez ripped another 2 run shot into the bleach to make it 9-2 and Giant 1st basemen Lee rubbed salt into the wounds after that when he added a solo shot in the 8th to finish the scoring at a crooked 11-2 with the Hated Giants up 2 games to 1 for the Series.

Well Chunichi fans.....

Nobody said this was gonna be easy!

posted by Billy at 12:51 | Kyoto (Japan)


The Dragons Claw Their Way Back to Even!

Well Sportsfans, it was the 1st game of the CL Championship series last night in the repulsive Tokyo Dome and there were enough heartaches, heartbreaks, chills, spills and thrills to satisfy any True Yakyu(that's Baseball to you) Fan.

It was a humdinger of an opener with a slambang start and a heartpounding finish.

Of course none of us Fans got to actually see either one due to the vagaries of Japanese Baseball Broadcasting which insists on beginning the Telecast when it begins, sometime around 7 in the PM (usually around the 3rd inning of the actual game) and then ending it whenever the Network sees fit which is around 9:24 (and I shit you not, this is usually around the 8th or 9th inning).


This would fall under the heartbreak category I earlier mentioned as last nights' broadcast of this scintillating sizzler abruptly signed off the Tube in the middle of the 8th with the score knotted up at 3-3 amidst a jaw-grinding duel between managers Tatsunori Hara (of the Hated Yomiuri Giants, yes...that is their official name) and Hiromitsu Ochiai, the Beatific Buddha of Japanese Baseball and Stonecold Maximum Leader of the Chunichi Dragons!
Both men were dealing 'em fast and loose while somehow keeping their cards close to the vest.

Final score?

If you don't already know then I am ecstatic to report that Fatboy Norihiro Nakamura (see above photo) smacked a Marc Kroon slider into centerfield to plate Masahiko Morino and thus end the contest in the 9th, 4-3!

The Series is now tied at 1-1(yea...I know I said this was the Opener but last year the Giants owner got so pissed about his team being bounced after they had won the Cl Title that he forced the NPB to change the rules, so that this year the CL Title Winner(Giants again) gets an automatic 1 game advantage going in....and people wonder why some of us hate the Yomiuri's) and we get to do it all over again tonight!

I'm very happy to report that both squads look equally determined to fight to the finish so tune in tonight if you like to see Baseball played with passion, talent and guts!

Party starts at 7!

posted by Billy at 17:27 | Kyoto (Japan)



Last Monday was the Holiday around these parts and so we most properly observed. We blitzed down to the Asahi Beer Oyamaszaki Villa Museum of Art (Whew.... say that 3 times fast) and soaked up the sunshine, cool vibes, Monet's and even a Picasso.



Also had coffee, delicious. Sorry (and please believe me I do feel some degree of shame) but I did not sample the brew although as we sat on their lovely terrace I did notice that almost everyone seemed to be greatly enjoying their brewski's as we all basked in the close-to-perfect weather.
As we arrived at an indecent hour in the AM I was just not fit for Adult Beverages and wisely stuck to caffeine but if you visit I don't think you can go wrong with the Asahi Premium that was being served in an absolutely beautiful glass.

Oh, yea......

The Villa was pretty spanky too although for my money I think they got lost somewhere along the way and just decided to slap it all together in the hope that it might somehow gel.

The Modernist Ando addition, however, was strangely fitting and natural in that most natural of settings.

While we were chilling in their lovely picnic area I noticed two young lovelies who had wisely decided to bring Bento and picnic proper.
As there is no food to speak of in the Villa while the surroundings beckon you to linger, I thought that this was a most delightful idea and strongly urge anyone to consider the same course.


I only have one question.

Is it a real Holiday if you have to get up at 7 in the morning to enjoy it?

Just wonderin'.............

posted by Billy at 13:06 | Kyoto (Japan)


At the Movies!

For the confirmed Kyoto Dwellers we all realize that a night at the flicks in J-Land (and in particular Kyoto where the last show may be only slightly after sundown) is not quite as simple as one might think.

A scarcity of theaters+prohibitively pricey tickets (\1800)+an up-to-3 month delay for the latest Hollywierd release= a cinematic wasteland for us Westerners.
But fear not my cinephile brethren!

I've found cool celluloid water in this barren moving picture desert.

Nijo/Toho Cinema (conveniently located on the Tozai subway line) has \1000 Day on the 1st and 14th (don't ask me why) of every month and each and every Weds. if you happen to be soft, pretty and can fill out a dress.

I, myself, being hard, ugly, lean and mean had to wait for the 14th.

The Theater itself is exactly what any Westerner may be expecting- Giant, soulless, gleaming cube of the xeroxed Mall of America here, there and everywhere, chockfull of grinning comatose consumer zombies gratefully massaged into capitalistic submission by bright lights, smiling faces and Muzak.

But as Vincent Vega so accurately stated, "They got the same s**t over there but...........it's a little different."


For starters upon purchase of your ticket you are required to choose your seat and are thus obligated to fulfill that social responsibility lest all Hell breaks loose and Chaos overwhelms the Universe.

The snacks are relatively affordable, all within the \400 to \800 range.

You can purchase and legally enjoy a BEER to go along with your film! No need to sneak the contraband in under any false pretenses. They even offer you a choice- Large \700 or Not so \500 ( I went L, best pick).

The typical J-audience is eerily, almost disturbingly quiet.

Coming from the Land of the Free where it is almost a requirement to declare your emotions to the darkness-
the absolutely silent decorum of the J-crowd will be either an uncomfortable shock to your senses or a calm and wondrous entry into polite society. Either way enjoy the silence because there's gonna be plenty of it before, during and after.

And I don't know if it's an unwritten rule but it seems as if the J-audience is legally bound to remain in their seats until the lights come on.
I've been to the Movies in Kyoto more than a few times now and every single time the flick has ended, credits are rolling and I'm walking out like the last man in a gunbattle. Nobody moves a muscle.

No problems with a clean getaway!

This time I got what is known as the Premier Screen. I couldn't detect any difference in the screen size but the seats were like ubercomfortable, upholstered, reclining adirondacks with plenty of elbow and leg room and a nifty footrest to ease your barking dogs,
No extra charge!

No movie reviews today but I will say this-


posted by Billy at 19:27 | Kyoto (Japan)


Lazy Kyoto Sunday- A Lovely Beast

I don't know what it is with me and Sundays but this one was strange indeed. Despite a debilitating hangover I managed to fulfill my earliest professional obligations before repairing to Starchunks just south of Shijo/Karasuma around about 5ish.
I grabbed my drink and, seeing as there was no seating available indoors, headed to the small patio that faces the street to wait for my meeting. The only open table was next to a fashionably young, hip, J-couple (She- Slender, lovely and stylish, He- Handsome, slim and yet more stylish) and I moved straight to it.

As I dropped my bag and planted my ass a sexy young girl wearing capri pants and a cute, flimsy yellow blouse came running off the sidewalk, high heels clicking the beat, and made a very definate, malicious beeline for the fine filly cozying up to Mr. Playboy.

“DARE GA.......?” (Who the f**k is that?)
Was all she managed to say before said Playboy very wisely intercepted her, forcefully grabbing her by both arms, and pulled her away from the scene before she could inflict any damage.

And please trust me...this girl wasn't there to argue, she was there to FIGHT!

That little cutie had murder in her eyes and violence coursing through her slender body and any blind man could see it as plain as day. Somewhat amazingly, considering her reckless disposition, Playaplaya somehow managed to keep hold of her as he wrangled her down the sidewalk and away. Crisis and bloodshed gratefully averted!

I glanced over to the Other Woman and she greeted me to a warm, open, wonderful smile that said,

shrug, “Well....Shit Happens.”

Slightly confused, as I often am on those rare occasions when women smile in my direction, I did not instantly respond to her invitation as perhaps she was expecting and has expected all her adult life. But the smile was wonderful so I glanced back and soaked it up again. She was about 5 feet away and burning a hole in me so I smiled back.
It was the cue she was waiting for.

She got up and moved to my table, sitting next to me, and we instantly began an easy, casual conversation as if we were long lost friends meeting by lucky chance. We both tried Japanese at first before I, gratefully, abandoned it and stuck to English. She was fine with this. She had spent a year in the USA in High school and her English was delightfully fun. She had visited the City I was born in and liked it just fine. She had also worked in France and could speak passable French she informed me. She now lived and worked in Osaka. She expressed interest in my tattoos. She gave absolutely no impression that she was anything other than calm, cool and perfectly collected on this lovely Sunday afternoon.

Her name was Kana.

I have no idea why Kana-chan chose to sit and talk to me other than the fact that my face (perhaps entire persona) probably looks like good company if there's going to be trouble but we did not discuss either the incident or the possible repurcussions until she asked me about my immediate plans.

I have a little business in about 20 minutes, I told her, and yourself?

“Oh.....I don't know.......I'll probably wait for him to come back and then just go home.”

I expressed my sympathy but gently mentioned that, given the passionate nature of the volatile Female done wrong, I doubted very seriously that Johnny Studwell would be showing his face in the vicinity....at least today.

We both laughed long and hard at that one.

Kana guessed my age (30, so I knew she was lying), I guessed CrazyGirl's relation (Wife) to Mr. Playboy and we both laughed some more before, lo and behold, Playplaya actually came slinking back up the sidewalk to retrieve his abandoned booty.
He looked like he just walked through a lions cage wearing a pork chop suit but Kana-can did not hesitate as he grabbed her hand. She glanced back at me as he lead her away and treated me to her alarmingly sweet smile before they exited, stage right.

Ain't Love grand?

That's what I was thinking when the Drama kicked into the next level.........

for the complete Adult Version please go to


posted by Billy at 16:51 | Kyoto (Japan)




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