Archive for February 17th, 2010|Daily archive page

Spotted in Japan

In all about the ride, bike, japan on February 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm

If you don’t like photo’s of bikes you may want to skip this post. As below is a selection of bikes I saw in Japan, which I felt the need to photograph because they were lovely, interesting, or just plain weird.

As a note there are lots of off the pegs (fully built bikes from a manufacturer, that you can buy in a shop and ride away on) out there and mostly the Japanese will ride Bianchi’s in weird colours, pinks, blues, that we don’t get the choice of over here in the west. But they will also ride Gorilla’s, Pake’s, Volume’s, and even Charge’s. The fixed thing is big here and most just want a bike they can afford, and ride straight away. Rather than spending twice as much as a whole bike on a really nice Keirin frame, and then the same again on parts to get it rolling.

So I present for your viewing pleasure Spotted in Japan, well really spotted in Tokyo, Osaka, and nothing at all from Kyoto.

If you want to, and aren’t all bike spotted out there are more photo’s on the Flickr




Tiny little baby feets

In japan on February 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

The Japanese are either stamping or dragging their feet. This annoys me no end. I have issues with that sort of thing. I was told you never dragged your feet, or you’d wear out your shoes, and mum didn’t have the time, inclination or the money to keep buying me shoes, because I couldn’t be bothered to raise my foot off the floor. This information was often punctuated by a cuff round the ear. So I learnt early on to lift my foot and not drag them around. But everyone in Japan seems to do it, maybe it’s the cultural habit of wearing slippers, and if you lift your foot to high, then the slippers come off, but it grates on me. I just want to grab them and shake them and tell them to lift up your foot, be light on your feet. Its another of the reasons why I hate Ugg Boots, and the Japanese girls seem to Luuuurve their Uggs.

And another thing I’ve noticed is the amount of (bad, my interpretation) feet/legs, knock knees, toes turned in, pigeon toes, bow legs, does the leftover cultural residue of the geisha and bound feet mean that the Japanese don’t have an issue with these things? Or is it a case of they have more important beautification issues to sort and crooked legs and feet don’t rate that high.

Answers on a postcard please..

Ghibli museum

In japan, travelling on February 17, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Even though I was still full of cold, and only able to travel by train JR and metro, I’ve made the trek out to the Ghibli museum. Ghibli, creators of Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Laputa, Castle in the Sky, and others. A studio devoted to the enchantment of children and adults who are still children at heart. A magical moviemaking company, that has won the hearts of legions of people around the globe. And as the rain starts to fall, I exit the train station at Mitaka, with the clock ticking before I’m supposed to be there (you have to book in advance, and get a time slot, mine is at 14:00 and it’s a fifteen min walk which I’m not looking forward to as the rain descends, as its almost two right now), but I make the petite technicolour bus, which whisks me and the others, via a couple of quick stops, to the museum.

There’s no photography allowed inside, so find below my notes, trying to describe what its like inside there.

A big glass cube, like ten foot by ten foot containing all the hand drawn animation sheets thick envelopes/folders numbering over 950.

Kids all around excited by stuff, small sections of scenes which you can animate by flicking the pages. They really want you to get hands on with the animation, if your not flicking, your turning, or pushing, or holding gently one of the books which contain storyboards and scene breakdowns, each one brilliantly drawn, even if it is a rough sketch.

Different rooms show different films, one is like a study, desk sheets of paper, full ashtray, cup of coffee, presumably the desk of the creator, books all around on English and Japanese about lots of different topics, different aspects of the process, watercoloured locations for kiki’s delivery service, the creation of the city and the world she inhabits, all beautifully realised.

Another room full of models and diagrams of the vehicles and crafts used in the films, it’s like they have to build them to make them real, full of sketches and character designs pen and ink, watercolours, everything is hand drawn, there seem to be no computer realizations of anything, first and foremost is the imagination of the artist, and their ability to make it flesh with their own hands.

On another floor they have their research for everything that appears in their films, from food – pictures of bento boxes and what they contain, to mushrooms that grow on certain trees, fish that characters are trying to catch, games school kids play.

The building has a spiral staircase that is enclosed and are just slightly bigger than kid sized, but the kids they scream and yelp as they curve tightly around the interior up to the higher floors.

There’s a room at the top with a big furry Cheshire cat which has windows and doors like a car and kids are running and climbing all over it, with the tears inevitably flowing, parents coming to their rescue and console them, even as the kid is pulling away trying to get back in, and then having to be told that they will have to queue up again, because it is someone else’s turn this time round.

There are things to prod and to turn, to push and to pull all to keep the kids, both the young uns and the young at heart, entertained.

It’s still pissing it down as I follow others out to the rooftop garden, just like grey old London, its umbrellas at the ready, which makes seeing the robot on the roof, from Laputa, Castle in the Sky a trying experience, but it is huge, like what twenty feet tall and with the rain spitting in my face I take a couple of shots, not really caring how they come out, just wanting to show people that I was there.

The final viewing room has a tall zoetrope (revolving container which shows objects animating, powered by the eyes persistance of vision) robot (from Laputa) arms aloft as birds spiral upwards from it. A kind of advent calendar house for their films, which you can open the doors of and see stills or models behind the glass, boxes with different layers of images which when you look through them and move your head reveal different parts of the scene, new characters and features.

The cinema which will screen a short made exclusively for the museum, has low seats designed for children by the way, my knees feel like they are pressed up against my cheeks (exaggeration for comic effect) and your ticket for the cinema is 3 frames of celluloid from ghibli, I will be keeping it as a souvenir.

Apologies for the first blurred photo, it was cold and rainy, and I just wanted to take the photo to give you a sense of how big the sculpture is.

we apologise for the delay

In japan, travelling, writing on February 17, 2010 at 1:36 pm

just a quick note to let you know I’ve been without internet access for the last couple of days for a number of reasons, and trying to find a free wireless hotspot in melbourne, without spending money in mickey d’s or starbucks is nigh on impossible (why have your wireless network named after your business, but when I ask for the password, tell me you don’t have one, or have a wireless network, which isn’t actually connected to the internet) so even though I wrote these posts about a week ago, uploading and naming photo’s took an age and then the interwebs went down and I had some emails to reply to, some sun to swan about in, and a bike to ride up and down swanston st.

anyway the last (pretty much) of the tokyo/japan posts follow this one and the ozstraylia ones will following fairly shortly after that.

so sorry for the delay, thanks for holding in there, and hopefully the posts that come next make up for it.