Jul 092010
 



 
Another exclusive item for sale in the Tōkyū Foodshow — a watermelon grown in the shape of a heart. I have seen cubic melons, pyramid-shaped melons, even round ones, but this was the first time I saw a cordiform melon (ハート西瓜). I mean, it looks nice and probably makes a fantastic present, but the price tag is rather steep… ¥9450 (about $108/€85) for just one fruit…

 Posted by at 20:41
Jul 092010
 

The Nippori neighborhood close to the Nippori Station (serviced by the Yamanote JR line) is the place to go if you want very cheap, fashionable clothing Tokyo’s teenagers wear. Crammed stores like Pop Girl and Heiwadō (ヘイワ堂) are much cheaper than similar shops in Shibuya and Harajuku, and their outfits are just as weird and crazy as well. On top of it all these stores have a huge amount of stuff with strange Engrish that we all love so much.

Now this was easy to spot: "Beutyful" on this striped girl's t-shirt.
Now this was easy to spot: "Beutyful" on this striped girl's t-shirt.
A yellow t-shirt with the almost incomprehensible print "This heart is very very ner you - Fllowe - love should also be subtle".
A yellow t-shirt with the almost incomprehensible print "This heart is very very ner you - Fllowe - love should also be subtle".
The highlight on this cat-oriented t-shirt is "Bloeing away the cobwebs".
The highlight on this cat-oriented t-shirt is "Bloeing away the cobwebs".
Unfortunately very small: "Why do you breathe? I seem to have totally I'm breathing from the beginning".
Unfortunately very small: "Why do you breathe? I seem to have totally I'm breathing from the beginning".
This was from a collection of very strange and over-the-top punk style t-shirts. Please note the place where the "Open House" sign is pointing at.
This was from a collection of very strange and over-the-top punk style t-shirts. Please note the place where the "Open House" sign is pointing at.
No Engrish, but still a ridiculously overdone t-shirt for Japanese males in my humble opinion.
No Engrish, but still a ridiculously overdone t-shirt for Japanese males in my humble opinion.
 Posted by at 19:05
Jul 062010
 



 
At night Tokyo turns into a glittering sea of lights. It is one of the brightest cities I know and especially in the more frequented areas it is definitively one of the most beautiful. Unfortunately, I rarely go out with my camera at night-time to shoot the city. But this picture was taken on one of these occasions — as I walked from Roppongi back to Shibuya along Roppongi-dōri (Metropolitan Expressway No.3).

 Posted by at 23:59
Jul 042010
 



 
This Sunday I visited the Shōnan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa outside of Tokyo. Tanabata is a Japanese star festival that celebrates the stars Vega and Altair which are two lovers in Japanese folklore. The Tanabata in Hiratsuka is actually the largest of its kind in the Kantō region with about 4 million visitors from across Japan. It is a multi-day event with tons of food stalls, several stages, parades and lots and lots of decorations in the downtown area, which is closed for traffic while the festival lasts.

All said, it was a typical large-scale matsuri with entertainment for everyone. Parents (especially dads) spent times with their kids, young people met with friends or went on dates, children played with the decorations and had a fun day. For me it provided lots of photographic opportunities shooting pictures of Japanese dressed traditional summer clothing (like yukata).

Japanese girls in yukatas petting a bunny rabbit.
Japanese girls in yukatas petting a bunny rabbit.
Young girl in yukata under red streamers.
Young girl in yukata under red streamers.
Young boy holding a part of a mobile-like decoration.
Young boy holding a part of a mobile-like decoration.
The decorations were a big hit with the young children who liked playing with them.
The decorations were a big hit with the young children who liked playing with them.
Young girl wearing a yukata and a blow-up anime bear.
Young girl wearing a yukata and a blow-up anime bear.
There were tons of sweets and candy for kids.
There were tons of sweets and candy for kids.
Another Japanese child mesmerized by the hand-made decorations.
Another Japanese child mesmerized by the hand-made decorations.
A very intense performance of Japanese drummers on one of the stages.
A very intense performance of Japanese drummers on one of the stages.
The mobile of stars really captivated many young kids like the boy in a blue yukata.
The mobile of stars really captivated many young kids like the boy in a blue yukata.
A young girl on her father's shoulders checking out colorful decorations made from plastic bottles.
A young girl on her father's shoulders checking out colorful decorations made from plastic bottles.
A young girl and her plastic toys.
A young girl and her plastic toys.
A popular pasttime on festivals: Boy fishing for goldfishes.
A popular pasttime on festivals: Boy fishing for goldfishes.
 Posted by at 22:51
Jul 022010
 



 
Towards the end of the day the Tokyo mass transit becomes rather crowed as the last trains are the last chance to get back home quickly and cheaply. So like on virtually all lines the cars of “my” Keiō Inokashira Line leaving Shibuya turn into cattle cars with people packed in as tightly as possible. I took these photos of the next-to-last train while I was actually waiting for next, the last, train as this one was already too crowded for me when I arrived at the platform… but still people kept entering into the completely filled passenger cars.

This train car was pretty much already full, so people queued up on the platform for the next train.
This train car was pretty much already full, so people queued up on the platform for the next train.
Still people entered the car by simply walking backwards into it.
Still people entered the car by simply walking backwards into it.
Surprisingly, with the passengers crammed like sardines the doors closed without external assistance.
Surprisingly, with the passengers crammed like sardines the doors closed without external assistance.
 Posted by at 23:59
Jul 012010
 



 
The current popularity of Blythe dolls in Japan almost makes you forget that this toy was neither invented there nor that it is actually a new doll brand. Blythe originated in the US and was first only produced in 1972, but that all changed around the year 2000 when Blythe was discovered as a fashion doll. Since then dozens of new editions of Neo Blythe dolls have been sold and and the doll has been featured in books, magazines, advertising and exhibitions. As a fashion doll it is a popular “canvas” for professional and hobbyist fashion designers, resulting in a large community of Blythe enthusiasts in Asia and internationally.

To celebrate the 9th anniversary of the introduction of the modern Blythe doll there is currently (beginning of July 2010) a special charity exhibition of designer Blythe dolls in the posh Omotesandō Hills mall in Aoyama, Tokyo. So I went to this Blythe 9th Anniversary Charity Exhibition which has the motto “Manga Girls Inspiration” to take photos of styled Blythe dolls dressed up as chic and cute characters from Japan’s pop culture of anime and manga. However, most of the dolls were wearing regular Japanese fashion brands, but there was also the 5th Annual Blythe Beauty contest of customized dolls from fans from around the world.

The Blythe charity doll "Why is she carrying roses on her back?" by the singer/performer/tarento Chiaki (千秋).
The Blythe charity doll "Why is she carrying roses on her back?" by the singer/performer/tarento Chiaki (千秋).
The "Dark Marchen Girl" Blythe doll beauty contest entry from the team L'Ange noir.
The "Dark Marchen Girl" Blythe doll beauty contest entry from the team L'Ange noir.
The Blythe dolls outfitted by the gothic lolita fashion labels Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (left) and Angelic Pretty (right).
The Blythe dolls outfitted by the gothic lolita fashion labels Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (left) and Angelic Pretty (right).
A Felix the Cat Blythe doll designed by Michiru und Over the Stripes.
A Felix the Cat Blythe doll designed by Michiru und Over the Stripes.
The Queen of Heart's Tea Time Blythe doll.
The Queen of Heart's Tea Time Blythe doll.
Yoyamart's Icicle Princess Blythe doll.
Yoyamart's Icicle Princess Blythe doll.
Fairy*Kitten messie's¹ 6%TOKIDOKI (left) and Anna Chambers Blythe dolls (right).
Fairy*Kitten messie's¹ 6%TOKIDOKI (left) and Anna Chambers Blythe dolls (right).
The Blythe doll designed by FREDDY TAN (Dollz Inc Pte Ltd).
The Blythe doll designed by FREDDY TAN (Dollz Inc Pte Ltd).
The Blythe doll beauty contest entry "Ayu's Sunday" by Atelier Nina.
The Blythe doll beauty contest entry "Ayu's Sunday" by Atelier Nina.
 Posted by at 21:22
Jun 302010
 



 
The Japanese football team got into the round of sixteen of the 2010 FIFA World cup. Unfortunately, their match against Paraguay was at 11 p.m. local Tokyo time on a Tuesday night (where the last trains leave downtown well before 1 a.m.). Nevertheless I went to Shibuya crossing after having heard that there would be public viewing on the large advertising screens. When I arrived there were already a few thousand football fans gathered on all sides of the scramble crossing but traffic was still ongoing. However, each time the pedestrian crossing lights turned green, the people would roar and run towards each other in the middle of the intersection, dance and jump around while shouting “Nippon, Nippon!” and leave the intersection again after the lights turned red.

Unfortunately, it became clear that there would be no public viewing at the Shibuya crossing as the advertising screens continued to show their regular commercials. After half an hour after I arrived at Shibuya, a large number of Japanese police turned up and began to control the crowd. First they tried to talk the people out of their dangerous behavior, but in the end they changed the flow of traffic by changing the sequence of the traffic signals and herding the crowds with yellow police tape.

Since it was drizzling all the time and with the fun activities curtailed, I left the crossing and went to watch the game on a tv screen in an izakaya in Dōgenzaka. After a long and rather uneventful game Japan lost 3-5 in the penalty shootouts and I had to walk home in the rain.

Spirits were running high and the Shibuya crossing was a large party zone every time the people ran on the intersection.
Spirits were running high and the Shibuya crossing was a large party zone every time the people ran on the intersection.
These Japanese guys were dressed up as some kind of ninjas with their DIY masks.
These Japanese guys were dressed up as some kind of ninjas with their DIY masks.
The Japanese football fans were really excited about the game against Paraguay.
The Japanese football fans were really excited about the game against Paraguay.
Despite the intervention of the police these two Japanese girls were still in a festive mood.
Despite the intervention of the police these two Japanese girls were still in a festive mood.
Japanese soccer fans celebrating with the white-and-red hinomaru flag.
Japanese soccer fans celebrating with the white-and-red hinomaru flag.
People gathered in front of a small restaurant watching the game in the light rain.
People gathered in front of a small restaurant watching the game in the light rain.
In this goalless match the Japanese fans were hoping for a game-winning goal all the time.
In this goalless match the Japanese fans were hoping for a game-winning goal all the time.
As the evening wore on, each free kick was accompanied by intense invocations.
As the evening wore on, each free kick was accompanied by intense invocations.
The penalty shootouts provided lots of tensions for the Japanese football fans.
The penalty shootouts provided lots of tensions for the Japanese football fans.
 Posted by at 04:20