08/31/2008

OH YEA MAN! (The Gods, indeed, must be Crazy)

P1000105.JPGSometime last month Iyemon opened a new restaurant (they insist on labeling it a Salon) just west of Sanjo/Karasuma and for reasons unknown to mankind they invited me to come and sample their efforts.

I arrived on time. Empty stomach. Hungry eyes.

The joint did not dissapoint!
P1000120.JPG
My 1st impression was satisfying suprise at how upscale and hip the interior was upon entering and I write surprise because I, myself, am neither upscale nor hip and am usually immune to these qualities. The place practically glows with relaxed cool and this is not neccessarily what one might think if you are just walking by but step in and the story is quite pleasantly different.

But I came to grub so let's get to the news.

The menu (Bilingual for us English Handicapped) was reasonably priced, clever yet very manageable. The selections were diverse without being needlessly confusing and so I went with the daikon salad to begin followed by the beef patty with potatoes.

Why, you may not be asking?

'Cuz I'm a Red-blooded American Carnivore, that's why!

Food was indeed served.

The salad was delightfully fresh, satisfying and damn plentiful. You veggie types will likely achieve Nirvana.P1000109.JPG
The burger followed, piping hot and right on time! I couldn't stop smiling as I ripped into that juicy, luscious, tender patty but the real joy was yet in store.
I scooped me some potatoes, commenced chewing and it felt like I lifted off my chair as my toes curled in orgasmic delight!
I have no idea what the Chef put in those spuds but Brothers and Sisters...

IT WAS PROPER!

I felt like buying that Man a car, that's how good those smashing potatoes were so do yourself a favor and order same if you visit and if you don't it's your loss.

To give an idea of the Menu's originality I must state that normally I am not a dessert type guy, I generally leave that stuff to chicks who know best, but the Matcha (powdered green tea) Kakkigori (iced dessert) Summer Special looked so damn good I could not resist.P1000117.JPG

Evaluation?

If I die and go to Summer Heaven I'm sure that it will include a daily dose of this dish. Period.

We then repaired to the Tea Bar for a serving of traditional Japanese Tea.
For the uninformed, Japanese Tea Service is an experience that cannot be conveyed through this medium but if you have the time and the temperment I would strongly suggest you stop at the Bar and take your time sipping.P1000118.JPG

The final analysis?

This is a Date Place. Trust me.

While the food was indeed great and affordable this is probably not the place you want to hang with your posse and knock 'em back.
Not to mention the fact that the Servers were a bit sluggish and slightly uninteresting, most likely part-time University students with lots of....stuff....on their minds, as most people in their 20's tend to be, and their ennui might make you slightly perturbed after a few beverages.

But if you got that special someone......

You lucky dog........

Then your orders are as follows-

1.) Get her ASAP to Iyemon Salon

2.) Order whatever her heart desires

3.) Enjoy/Pick up Check

4.) Transport her immediately home or to the nearest Love Hotel

5.) Throw away your keys and let her do the driving because, my friend, you will be in for the ride of your Life.

and if she don't know how to drive...
Trade her in for a new one.

You're welcome!

posted by Billy at 15:30 | Kyoto (Japan)

08/27/2008

It's All Over...Including the Shouting!

Last week I woke up rather abruptly for a very unusual reason considering the fact that the A/C was NOT on.

I was Chilly!

That's correct, for the first time in perhaps 2 and 1/2 months I actually felt a refreshing snap of cool in the previously sweltering air. I sleep in the raw so it was almost delightful to be slapped into consiousness by the very real need for warm coverage.

But these wonderful days have finally arrived.

My J-Friends say that after Obon the Kyoto weather typically cools off as it slides pleasantly into Fall but Man, this is like somebody flipped a switch in K-Heaven. I went from swimming in my own sweat nearly every moment of every day (AND NIGHT) to suddenly enjoying the very pleasantly warm sunshine then the invigoratingly brisk night air the very next day! And every day since!

And it just keeps coming!

As I type these words a luscious cool breeze is blowing through my streets and home like somebody left the Mountains Gods refrigerator doors open.

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

If it gets any better than this, than I want to check that out!

New Rules- Wear whatever you want.
Drink whatever you want.
Eat whatever you want.

And Enjoy!


posted by Billy at 16:10 | Kyoto (Japan)

08/19/2008

Beat the Heat- Womens Backstroke

And now, at long last, it's time for the Ladies. Where to begin, where to begin?

First let's just state the obvious- The Heat-beating options for you girls here in J-Land are extraordinarily diverse if somewhat bizarre. From sensible items like folding paper fans, Sun Parasols and SuperWide Sun hats to the more, shall we say, uniquely Japanese selections like those strange and slightly frightening arm gloves (fingertip-to-bicep sheathes and seriously Ladies, you look like you just been released from the Burn Unit of the hospital) that women of a certain age seem to prefer to go along with their vast scarf, towel, Darth Vader Visor and radiation-proof Sungoggle collections.

Now let me state the perhaps less obvious- Girls, if you are under the age of 30 and you are choosing to dress yourself like the Mummy while parading around in Public,

PLEASE STOP!

Either lock yourself indoors or avoid the glare of the Evil Sun like a Vampire but please, please don't run around loose in Kyoto looking like the Crazy Cat Lady from back home. There's already enough of those gals to go around and more than enough.

For the more Mature Female I know that nothing I write will change your obsessive/compulsive fixation with covering every single square centimeter of your skin's surface so....

Enjoy your creamy complexians in all those rare moments when/if anyone actually, finally gets to enjoy them with you.

While we're at it, for you under30ers, what is with the pantyhose?

I'm not talking about the sundry and sexy hosiery selections that the younger gals RAWK (pinstripe, fishnet, polka-dot, knee-high, thigh-high, thank you, thank you, thank you) I mean those hideous, beige, waist-high things with the gut cinching Control tops that I think my Grandmother used to wear.

Aren't those things HOT?
I mean I start sweating just looking at you trapped in those sausage skins and I don't mean sweating in a good way either.
And where on Earth did you get those fugly flesh pants anyway?
Do you have to time-travel back to the 70's to find those relics (and if you do could you pick me up a Farrah Fawcett-Majors poster while you're there...you know the one I'm talking about, the red suit, the smile, the.....well, you know.....thanks loads)?

My unsolicited but completely free Tip today is that you take those repulsive throwbacks and burn 'em, bury 'em then place a big, fat rock on top of that unholy spot. Trust me you'll be doing the whole World, and yourself, a tremendous favor.

And the great Good News?

KyotoGirls....I eternally thank you for rocking your Yukattas and even your Kimonos in this most unforgiving season.
If there is a more lovely feminine treat than a beautiful K-Girl gliding down the street dressed in her best Old School finery klok klokking her wooden sandals with her dainty toes painted just so...............

Sorry, I have to catch my breath.

Where was I?

Oh yea.

Let all the Hardleg Nation give their most sincere thanks and praise to those sparkling examples of Japanese Beauty, Elegance and Grace.

And you Western Gals?

I L-U-V ya' and many things about ya' but please don't try to copy the Look for anything other than novelty purposes. It really, really doesn't work and, well, the entire effect is kinda......you know......silly.

And please don't forget!

Less clothes=More Comfort!


posted by Billy at 16:41 | Kyoto (Japan)

08/12/2008

Beat the Heat- Mens Freestyle

Due to the enormus response from my last Heat-Beating post (over 2 people commented!) I've decided that it's my civic duty to relay further instructions for the long suffering survivors of this desperately scorching Kyoto Summer.
This time I thought it best, for reasons that will become obvious, to seperate my Timely Tips by Gender and due to the fact that we are in the Land of the Rising Sun we must properly begin with the Men First (Ladies...Ladies...please be seated.....I don't make up The Rules here, I simply observe and then mostly casually ignore them).

And my advice for my Brethren?

Quite simple.

Men- BUCK UP!
Yes, it is very, very uncomfortably hot but this ain't the Sahara, it ain't the Sudan and it ain't the boiling surface of Mars. This is the Ancient Capitol where cool, clean drinking water is bountifully abundant, fresh, delicious food is easily accesible and plentiful, life-affirming Mountain breezes are a manageable 20 min. hike away, the A/C's are pumping 24/7 every 30 feet or so, precious shade is readiliy available for use, the Kamo is cutting a refreshing swath right through the center of town and there are beautiful Women...Women everywhere...and there is plenty...Plenty to drink!

Now I'm not saying that K-Town is Heaven on Earth right at this particular moment in time but it just has to be some sort of Fool's Paradise if you're lucky enough to have something swinging between your legs!

Please remember that Kyoto Natsu is a Woman and, like most of them, I'll be damned if I know what She wants but don't fight with Her!
Don't argue!
Don't struggle!
Don't wrestle!
Don't tangle!

YOU CAN'T WIN!

The very best we can do is sweetly smile and thank Her most graciously for any favors that She is kind enough to grant us at any time.
A cooling breeze...
A brief shower...
A mild respite from the unforgiving Sun...

And keep your damn head down and out of Her sight!
If you're lucky She may not notice or target you and you just might safely escape Her wrath.

Of course odds are you won't and she'll burn you to the ground but.....

Like James Brown said, “It's a Man's World”

So enjoy.

And by the way...

Jump in De Ribbah!
It's knee-deep, cold as ice and just what the Doctor ordered.

Yea, go ahead...nobody's watching and even if they are. They'll get a laugh, you'll get refreshed and everybody'll be happy.
And isn't that what we're here for?

It's all Win/Win Brothers!

posted by Billy at 14:54 | Kyoto (Japan)

07/31/2008

Shirahama Mama

CIMG1327.jpg
The Gods smiled upon me once again and I was able to trade the Kyoto Heat for the Shirahama variety last weekend.

Conveniently located about a 2 hr. drive from Osaka, Shirahama offers all that may soothe and please one's soul-

Lovely, clean, life-affirming Specific Ocean with fun, fun waves to wash away your everyday worries.

Delicious, fresh seafood and plenty of it.

Abundant Natural Beauty (even on the Golf courses).

Bikinis Everywhere! (Sorry...no pics)

We ate, drank and made most merry for a short Summer escape from K-land and a very good time was had by all before the drive back to reality. If you're looking for a fun weekend getaway I would highly recomend the white sand beach of this loverly, easygoing Kansai Party Place.

If you're Old, you could do worse.
If you're Young, you couldn't do any better!








posted by Billy at 14:54 | Kyoto (Japan)

07/30/2008

Beat the Heat

OK KyotoFans let's all agree right now that we can talk about anything your little hearts desire as long as we DO NOT talk about the Weather!

YES! It is Hot...very very hot (for my Celsius friends the thermo reached 37 several times last week, that's about 110 or so, math is not my strong point, for you Farenheiters), threatens to only get Hotter in the upcoming weeks with little or no relief in sight, the Dog Days are upon us and so, considering these circumstances, leave us please, please move on to a more constructive conversation.

Thus I humbly offer Billy's 7 Timely Tips on how to survive and thrive in a typically scorching hot Kyoto Summer.

1). Carry water with you at all times and sip it as frequently as you possibly can. This simple edict achieves 3 goals simultaneously- It keeps you hydrated, supresses your appetite and gently flushes your system. Don't Think, Just Do It!

2). This may seem too simple but...STAY OUT OF THE SUN! Always and forever. Suntans are not appreciated here and do not suggest radiant health. They suggest those bizarrely orange-skinned Tokyo/Osaka Girls who are addicted to tanning booths. If you want to fry your brain there are many, many other (much more fun) ways to accomplish this. Think about it.

3). White reflects Heat, Black absorbs Heat. It's Science, man. Don't argue.

4). Please remember that both Coffee and Alcohol dehydrate your body and regulate your intake of these accordingly. Or do like I do and wait 'till the sun goes down and your next best destination is your bed before chugging the Sophisticated Adult Beverage of your choice. Coffee is your problem.

5). Men- CUT THAT HAIR! What are you a model or something? What is it with the hair? Somebody paying you to look like that? Bro', don't try to be cool just be cool.
Ladies- You're on your own on this one. Although, if you cannot adhere to this particular suggestion, please consider my alternative- You may want to forego the use of undergarments and please wear as little clothes (in both size and quantity) as you possibly can. No need to thank me, I'm just a naturally caring sort of person.

6). At home use the A/C sparingly. I know, I know...this seems counter-intuitive but trust me it works. If at all possible (and it is) use it only when preparing for sleep. It won't kill you, it'll only make you stronger.

7). Slow Down! And I mean waaaaaaaaaay down. Concentrate on moving your body at a fat-lizard-sleeping-on-a-flat-rock-in-the-desert pace at all hours of the day and night. Remember that in these current conditions you should only use your body in a vigorous manner if you are

a. Getting very well paid for it.
or
b. In Love.

Follow this simple hints and I personally assure you of a Happy, Healthy Summer in KyotoLand.

And as always- No Charge!






posted by Billy at 14:10 | Kyoto (Japan)

07/23/2008

28 Dishes Later!


CIMG1265.JPGSeveral weeks ago I was scanning the Tube and I came across one of the ubiquitous JTV-Talent-Visit-Somewhere-Taste-Local-Specialities programs when I noticed that the Somewhere this time was Kyoto.

My interest was, somewhat surprisingly, piqued.

The TV Duo went on to visit a Takoyaki/Wine Counter Shop. Yes...you read that correctly.CIMG1266.JPG

Takoyaki and Wine. Takoyaki being a sort of fried octopus batter ball considered by many Kansai Dwellers as Down Home Comfort Food (think Onion Rings or Nachos my USA friends) and not necessarily cuisine one might associate with Wine.
But the Master swore by his combination and the TV Duo was properly pleased.

Subsequently a friend (Thanks Yuriko-chan) told me that she has been numerous times and that both the Takoyaki and the Wine were-

A). GOOD
and
B). CHEAP!

Now I was really intrigued.

So I hauled it to Koin-dori about a 5 minute stroll just NW of the Omiya Station to test the wares and get my Drink on.
Unfortunately timing of the bad variety ensued. A Magazine Photo shoot had apparently been arranged beforehand and the crew arrived ready to work just as we arrived ready to enjoy.
The Master was equal to the task, however, and much beer was tilted by me. I let the Girl do the Wine swilling and her report came back AOK.
CIMG1256.JPG

The menu includes a wide variety of items (Takoyaki is only one of them), we sampled a great deal, and quite a decent selection of wines and I can safely say that Yuriko-chan was most definitely correct in her assessment.

GOOD and CHEAP! She neglected to mention Fun and Interesting but it truly was.

Downsides?

The place is tiny (about 10 seats), a tad out-of-the way and not exactly the elegant dining experience you may be imagining.
More like a Late-Night-Hanging-with-your-Posse-and-it's-time-to-tie-on-the-Feedbag-before-heading-home type of experience.
But don't we all need at least one place like that?

CIMG1268.JPG

The name is 28 and it's closed on the 8's of every month so don't go there then. The hours are 5- midnight weekdays and 6- 2am on the weekends.

Bring a little money and you'll go home full, bubbly and satisfied.
Bring alot of money and you'll go home full, bubbly, satisfied and with a little extra jingle in your pockets!
posted by Billy at 16:21 | Kyoto (Japan)

07/22/2008

HOKO LOCO FIESTA!

hoko2.JPGLast Weds. evening we managed to brave the tidal waves of Summer celebrating, yukatta wearing, beer drinking, takoyakki eating Kyotoites (and their friends) and make it into the heart of the Party the night before the Big Parade.

The fact that this was the middle of a work week may have slowed the rush a tad but everyone seemed to be enjoying the festivities nonetheless, Men, Women and children with plenty of smiles and happy faces to go around and nary a bad vibe to be found anywhere.

Highlights?

Lots and lots and LOTS of lovely ladies sporting their feminine best (and looking DAMN cute while doing it) in their Yukatta finery looking like a dream.

Kakigoori (Big Sno-cones to you) everywhere and plenty of it! Beating the Heat with the cool and sweet!

Heartland Beer \350 per icy cold bottle. Tough bargain to top around here.

Back home by 11, rested, ready and refrehed.

Thanks Kyoto!

posted by Billy at 13:02 | Kyoto (Japan)

06/30/2008

Choppers Keep Flyin' Overhead

(Please sing to the tune of... "Raindrops keep Fallin' on my Head")

Choppers keep flyin' overhead,

The G8 is here or at least it's what they said,

World Summits ain't for me, no

and I can't stop these choppers or these gangs of Riot Po-liiiiice,


But there's Cops everywhe-er-ereeeee

you know,

With helmets, shields and clubs so they can beat me

when they meet me.

It just too much

these World Leaders gotta go completely


Choppers keep flyin' everywhere

hoverin' overhead 'till I got no patience

left to spare,

Riot cops ain't for me, no


Choppers keep flyin' overhead, they keep flyin'

Yet I'm still freee-ee-eeee,

But these Riot Troops are worryin' mee-ee-eeeee!


(Repeat as needed)
posted by Billy at 15:00 | Kyoto (Japan)

06/24/2008

iMac vs Windows- The Throwdown Showdown

Been using Windows for 6 years or so but recent circumstances have forced me (and I mean forced me) to make the cataclysmic shift to the dreaded and fearsome iMac.
Please trust me when I say that I am deeply, pathologically, perhaps genetically Analog and I loathe and distrust all things Digital and Cyber (YOU DAMN KIDS....AND STAY OUT OF MY YARD) so this change is no small portion of my existence.

But.....

Duty calls, Work demands, Friends request and Family beckons so I place my nose next to the Digital-grindstone and dive into the chilly subhuman Cyber-waters of the mac.

Yes, I've entered the 7th level of Hell.

But thus far I have survived and continue to move......well........about sideways actually as I attempt to navigate this awesome new turf.

This is my news for the day. That is all.

Carry on.


And also, this has nothing whatsoever to do with Kyoto so...you know.......sorry.




posted by Billy at 16:17 | Kyoto (Japan)

06/19/2008

Lazy Sunday- Kyoto Version

Eyes open, 12:45.

Apparently not dead yet.

Eyes still open, body failing to respond, 1:15.

Catch delicious scent of bacon/eggs then rise, stumble, fall and eventually crawl to the dining area.
Breakfast is served.

Announcements are proclaimed and it appears as if the In-Laws will be making a somewhat impromptu visit.

The Wife requests that I shower lest the Parents think we are keeping a herd of beer swilling goats in the house.

I stick my nose in the paper, sip my 3rd cup of coffee. Request denied.

2:00pm, Parents arrive, gifts and pleasantries exchanged. I retreat to the shower.

Floss, brush, shower, shave, splash on some smell-well, gaze intently into the mirror. Is it possible that I'm actually getting better looking as I age?
I have to allow that this is a distinct possibility.

Plans are formulated. They will be going to Gion for an early diner, i will be going to work. Sometimes it breaks like that.

3:00pm. Time to make the doughnuts.

Jump on the bike, hit the streets, head for the river. It is simply a beautiful day.

Sanjo Ohashi. A crowd of rubbernecks are blocking my path, I hit the bell and treat them all to my best scowl. They smile in return and move out of the way. A TV Show is being taped, cameras are rolling, the Talent is miced. i keep pedaling, fast.

Shijo Ohashi. The river is full of geriatric anglers fishing for Aiyu, a real delicacy. I've personally never seen anyone pull anything out of this water but that don't stop these Old-Timers from their Good Time. Good Luck Gentlemen.

Nearing the Station some knucklehead in a single-engine prop plane swoops down from nowhere and buzzes Kyoto Tower. If King Kong were sitting at the top he could've swatted him out of the sky, as it is the pilot heads straight south and gone.

3:50, make it to the coffeeshop. The girl serving me is young, lovely and seems to enjoy treating me to her flawless English. Curves like a mountain road and a smile like Sunshine. If there's a better combination then that then I've been waiting 4 decades to see it.

Meeting productive.

5:15. Next appointment calls to cancel, stuck in Tokyo and can't make it.

YEA!

I'm going to DisneyLand!

for the rest of the lazysunday after hours....go to

http://www.everybodylikespizza.blogspot.com/
posted by Billy at 16:16 | Kyoto (Japan)

06/05/2008

Did you just call me a TASPO?

Visitors may be interested to know that the J-Government (in all its bureacratic wisdom) recently decided to cut down on the scourge of underage (-20) smoking in Japan.

How, you're probably not asking?

By requiring every last Citizen or Foreign Resident (at least the ones who wants to use a cigarette vending machine) to register and use a TASPO card, a nifty credit card sized ID device that allows (effective June 1, 2008) the vending machine's built-in scanner to read your card (proving your legal age) thus enabling you to purchase your early Death while, theoretically at least, teenyboppers (who cannot legally possess a card) have to inconveniently settle for youth, beauty, pink lungs and robust health.

No TASPO, no Tobacco! Or get thee with haste to a Konbini my foreign chain-smoking Brethren!

Personally I think it's all just one more tricky armlock by Big Brother forcing an unwitting populace to voluntarily plunge deeper into the Matrix, handily delivering them the ability to easily pinpoint your exact location on a daily basis and keep track of your every movement.....

Or not.....

You know, just sayin'.....

posted by Billy at 16:40 | Kyoto (Japan)

05/30/2008

Viva Cerveza Fria!

vivalife 002.jpgOK, KyotoFans.....it's gettin' hot in here!

Recent days are most definately Sunny and scorching followed by nights that are cool and easy breezy.
This is otherwise known as Perfection or, as some (OK....Me) might call it,

Beer Drinking Season!

Yea, just stash those jackets, hats, neckties and long pants and break out the T-shirts, shorts, sunscreen and flip-flops then crack that cold one, downshift, kick it waaaaaaay back and indulge.

Snacks are Mandatory (Yaki tori,Baby)

Baseball on TV is optional but highly recommended (Go Tigers!)

Smoking is at your discretion (and your very own Adult risk).

Hot Fun in the Summertime has graciously arrived to play so let us embrace the Heat and give thanks and praise to whatever Gods you got.

And I don't know who came up with the name, label and marketing strategy for Sapporo's most recent Seasonal Brew (pictured above) but whoever that guy is.....they ain't paying him enough!

Pure Genius!

Kanpai!

posted by Billy at 18:20 | Kyoto (Japan)

05/27/2008

One Step Closer to Burger Nirvana...

The Sacred Quest for the Perfect Hamburger continued today as we gratefully pulled out of the blazing Sun and into the fresh, cool and burgerlicious 58 Diner.58diner 011.jpg

The Diner is located just East of Higashioji-dori on Nijo and is mere minutes West of the Major tourist track that includes Heien Jingu and all its environs so if you're in the neighborhood doing your sightseeing thing and want to downshift and get your grub on, drop in!58diner 013.jpg (downstairs)

Don't be intimidated by the vast variety of options you'll certainly encounter on the (English available) Menu. I would suggest closing your eyes and pointing as most likely all the choices will be juicy, hot and mega-delish. I had an Avocado/Corn chip Burger (seriously...the Chips were on/in the sandwich) and Brother it was a Proper Whopper! 58diner 009.jpg Fantastically great combo which, personally, I never would've thought of myself but I'm Damn Glad somebody did.

Fries? Check.
Tabasco Sauce? Check.
Ketchup? Check.

Bob Marley on the House system? Bonus Baby!
58diner 006.jpg(upstairs)

You may want to stop at the cash station before visiting 'cuz the goods ain't cheap but if you want cheap then go to CrackDonalds.

The Wife claims that one might want to avoid the House wine but if you actually choose to order wine with a Hamburger you should probably be arrested and prosecuted on the spot anyway.

58 is open 12 to 12 everyday except Mondays.

See you there!
posted by Billy at 18:23 | Kyoto (Japan)

05/23/2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

mayoplayground 008.jpgSo I'm scoring my caffeine fix at StarChunks (yes, my gai-jin friends, it's safe to visit...there's Star____'s everywhere just like home) and waiting to make with a little meeting when I happen to glance out the window to the scene in the photo.

THEY'RE STEALING MY BIKE... AGAIN!

The Kyoto City Bicycle Pirates made the snatch as I was forking over the cash for my iced java. Yes, it happenend that fast!
I might begin to feel targeted for Municipial retribution but as even a casual glance will show you, they jacked everybody else's wheels right along with yours trulys.
To more accurately paint the picture allow me to explain that each and every one of those bikes was scooped from the same location just spitting distance to the door.

KCBP One-stop Shopping Baby!

I dropped my Joe along with my sense of humor and hit the door flying, no way on the Planet I was going to allow this to happen twice in a single month. I managed to catch the truck just as they were making the getaway and not so calmly explained my position to the Bandit Crew.
Whether it was the maniacal gleam in my eyes or just standard Kyoto style Etiquette I'll never know but, somewhat suprisingly, they handed me my wheels promptly and politely.

As I was taking possession (repossession?) two other Salaryman rushed to the curb and plead their cases and the bandits likewise accomodated them without a hint of drama.

Final Score?

Citizens-3
Bike Bandits- 27


FIGHT THE POWER!

and when you park your wheels...Keep your Head Up!
posted by Billy at 18:11 | Kyoto (Japan)

05/18/2008

I got JACKED!

daimonji & Monomayo023.JPG
I would love to be the bearer of Happiness, Light and all that is Good but this week......

I ain't in the mood.

The Kyoto City Bicycle Pirates swiped my wheels last week (for the 2nd time) while I was trying to be an honest Man and make a decent living.

I've mentioned the Bandits in a previous post (mmmmmmm...maybe someone is reading this after all) and they hit me where it hurt this time causing me a long, loooooong day of manic and ultimately frustrating scrambling everywhere for Father Time who, I assure you, waits for no one.

The Upshot?

I spent my single day off taking the train to another train to a brisk hike to the bike Pound somewhere South of Kyoto and North of Australia then pedaled my rusty wheels all the way home.
I was absolutely prepared to treat the denizens of the Pound to a good earful of my very best American style cursing and perhaps a tasty knuckle sandwich until I arrived and met the lone elderly gentleman manning the lonely outpost.
He was the approximate size of a Sumo wrestler and had hands that looked like they could twist my, or any, bicycle into a pretzel.
So we made nice.

The tab?

2300 yen to retrieve my stolen goods,

1000 for train fare,

and a full day wasted in the beautiful Spring sunshine.

The Lesson Learned?

Priceless!

(by the way, the photo above has nothing to do with any of this, I just thought you might like the birds eye view)

and for the full horrible story go to

http://www.everybodylikespizza.blogspot.com/
posted by Billy at 14:29 | Kyoto (Japan)

04/25/2008

Another Wondrous Sign of Spring

IMG_0565.JPG

Along with Cherry Blossom Season, warmer weather and the appearance of large construction cranes along the banks of the Kamo (setting up the Yuka-outdoor dining decks so popular during the Summer), another sure sign that Spring has landed is the Annual Performance of the Miyako Odori Dance Festival at the Kaberenjo Theater in Gion.

If my math is correct, not my strong subject, this is the 136th Year the Good People at the Theater have been sharing this grand spectacle with the citezens of Japan in general and Kyoto in particular and, Brother, it is indeed a spectacle most spectacular and well worth the price of any admission.

I was very priviledged to watch the 134th Edition (Domo Arigato Naruhito-san!) and the experience was absolutely one-of-a-kind. I can very seriously garauntee my Foreign Friends that you have never seen or heard anything quite like this before so if you happen to be in Kyoto during this lovely time of year...

Do yourself a favor.

Treat yourself to a Kyoto Original unlike any, or the many, you've enjoyed before. The costumes, the Geiko, the Maiko, the Music, the Dance, the sets, there are just so many features of the Show that will ring your bell.

There are 3 performances daily for the entire month of April and tickets are not at all impossible, although somewhat tricky, to obtain so ACT FAST!

The Theater space is refreshingly intimate and I firmly believe that there are no bad seats in the entire House but if you've got the chance I would strongly urge anyone to get the 1st-Class Package. A tour of their Garden is, by itself, worth the very reasonable price.

So if you want to feel like a King/Queen/Prince/Princess step over to Gion and Enjoy!

Now that's Entertainment!
posted by Billy at 11:36 | Kyoto (Japan)

04/13/2008

Miracles do Happen!

I must admit that I jumped the gun a tad bit when I called a cease-fire to all Hanami Viewing/Photoing in my previous post. It seems as if there was a little loverly life left (say that 3 times fast) in those Bursting Blossoms of Cherry.
We went for a pleasant stroll last Tues. and, as so often happens in Kyoto, we got blissfully lost then stumbled upon a beautiful oasis of tranquility somewhere East of Shirikawa and West of California.lasthanamishrine 007.jpg

We sipped the cool water from the natural spring and power relaxed amid the lush greenery while vacuuming the fresh mountain air as we recycled our lungs. If you happen to stumble across this spot in your own wandering please heed the sign, Beware of Monkeys!
We, fortunately or not, didn't encounter any of our simian Brethren so I guess they saw us but we didn't see them.

The Miracle Part? Just this.
I hate to pat myself on the back but somehow I managed to snap this pic with absolutely no guilty bystanders in the frame. As this was taken along the popular Philosophers Path believe me this was no mean feat. Trust me, you could've found less foot traffic at Kyoto Station during rush hour than at this particular spot on that wonderful day.lasthanamishrine 010.jpg
The herds of visitors thereabouts didn't seem to faze Mr. Van Gogh, however, and my man quietly reproduced the scene to his liking as I stood behind him with my digital.
I think, in the final analysis, both of us (or is it all of us) were pretty pleased with his effort.
posted by Billy at 13:42 | Kyoto (Japan)

04/08/2008

It's all over but the shouting.....

polaroidendhanami 003.jpg
Sorry, Friends and Neighbors but it rained Noah's Ark Style yester day and night and so the Hanami Season is now officially over.

Move along people...

Nothing to see here.....

Put the camera down, Sir.

As the frenzied Cherry Blossom Gangster crowds of the past week slowly make their way home we can now breath a bit easier and quite a lot more freely.
A J-friend of mine recently expressed a unique, at least to me. idea. He said that because the end of Hanami season brings him such deep abiding sorrow, he wishes that it never happened in the first place.
After experiencing my 3rd Season I now feel as though I can truly appreciate the fleeting, ephemeral beauty that is Cherry Blossom Time in all its madness and glory.

So I say (or maybe it was Billy Shakespeare) it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all!
posted by Billy at 16:53 | Kyoto (Japan)

04/06/2008

7 Nation Army

Hanami Season (Cherry Blossom viewing) is most definately here and in full force and I mean

FULL FORCE!

It is now basically impossible to walk the streets, sidewalks or riverside pathways of Kyoto without ending up in someone's (or actually everyone's) vacation photos or videos. You can't swing a dead cat without smacking into somebody flicking a pic of something somewhere and everywhere!

So.....

I beat it to the Botanical Garden between Kitaoji and Kitayama and found a second green respite (Gosho being the 1st and Best) far from the madding crowds.http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/plant/

Plenty of easy space here to go along with a sweet treat.

The Garden of Fine Art. A Tadao Ando designed building/museum dropped right into the middle of Mother Nature's best work.http://toban-meiga.seesaa.net/

AndoArtMusuem 028.jpg

Ando-san's symetrical concrete ingenuity always pleases me (he designed a magnificient Modern Art Museum, MCA, back home) and this one was no exception.
I really like how his clean, cool, modern (post-modern?) lines blend into and yet stand in bold contrast against the beauty of the more Natural World.AndoArtMusuem 009.jpg

At one point inside you can walk around a man-made (Ando designed) waterfall and enjoy the serenity of the only sound you hear being the water tumbling gently along the walls. No people, no traffic, no crowds, no scooters, no Ipods, no madness.AndoArtMusuem 005.jpg


I forgot what I payed to get in but, Brother, whatever it was it was worth it!

AndoArtMusuem 016.jpg

And outside a good time was being had by all!

So come out, relax, put your camera down and breathe a little bit.

or go here and go crazy
http://www.everybodylikespizza.blogspot.com/
posted by Billy at 13:11 | Kyoto (Japan)

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