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  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:56 am on August 27, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asahi Beer Hall, Asahi Breweries, , , , Kyoto, metal buildings, , Political geography, Samurai Jack, Sapporo, ,   

    Deadprogrammer Visits Japan Part V: Japanese Architecture 

    Pilot: Welcome to Japan, folks. The local time is…tomorrow.
    The Simpsons, Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo

    If you want to know what Japan is like architecturally, go watch Samurai Jack cartoons. The future world created by Genndy Tartakovsky looks a lot like present day Japan.

    I picked some photos of buildings to give you a general idea of what I have seen. Here’s a Habitrails-inspired otaku-infested electronics shop in Akihabara.

    Here’s a very elegant Stalinist-style skyscraper somewhere in Tokyo.

    Philippe Starck blemished Tokyo skyline with a giant golden turd on the top of Asahi Beer Hall. It’s supposed to symbolize a flame that in turn is supposed to symbolize the company spirit of Asahi. Giggling tourists take a lot of pictures with creative shot framing. By the way, I’ve tried a lot of different beers that Asahi makes, and they all taste like, uh, flame. I, personally like Sapporo much better.

    The Japanese society is highly stratified. For instance, in the hotel complex where I was staying there were at least 5 different classes of buildings (each of a different prestige level) and the ANA plane in which I travelled also had 4 or 5 types of seating. On this picture you can see two layers of Japanese society: well-designed plastic huts built by homeless with a backdrop of what I’m told is company-provided employee dorms.

    Here’s an amazingly eclectic little building (I think it’s a firehouse). It combines elements of Art Deco, Modernism and traditional Japanese architecture.

    And this building is pretty typical of modern designs. I love the huge wrap-around windows, the dna-like staircase and the efficient use of space.

    I was most shocked by architecture in Kyoto’s Gion, the geisha district. Near all-traditional Japanese buildings there was a number of super-futuristic mostly metal buildings that looked like spaceships. I think they were nightclubs of some sort. I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else.

    Many building tops had antenna clusters, one more cyber-punkey than the other.

    As we all know, land is pretty tight in Japan. Here’s a pretty typical small house somewhere in Kamakura (I think).

    What makes construction in such tight quarters possible is this marvel of technology: a cute pocket-sized excavator.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:17 pm on June 29, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Benzaiten, Cloth painter, , , , , , , Kyoto, , Restaurant worker, Ryokan, , Shinkansen driver, Zeniarai Benten temple,   

    People of Japan in 25 Pictures 

    A policeman in his booth.

    Rikshaw and his passengers in Arashiyama.

    Outdoor eatery – Japanese really use a lot of space heaters.

    Ryokan owner in Kyoto.

    Snack vendors. The surgical masks are worn mostly by allergy sufferers – which due to a high number of pollen-producing Sugi trees planted are about 1 in 5.

    Some take pictures of the cherry blossoms, others take a more traditional approach.

    Riding on the Shinkansen.

    Kids visiting Zeniarai Benten temple.

    In a museum.

    Akihabara girl handing out promotional packs of napkins – kind of like a booth bunny without a booth.

    On a JR train.

    Consulting a fortuneteller.

    I was rather surprised at home many people wear kimonos. I noticed that a lot of shopkeepers wear traditional clothing, it must help with projecting the traditional image

    Another snack vendor.

    Shinkansen driver. Don’t the white gloves make you feel safer somehow?

    Squid on a stick vendor

    Celebrating Hina Matsuri – Girl’s Day.

    Cloth painter. My wife bough a shopping bag with sakura blossom design.


    Lumber vendor in his shop.

    Restaurant worker.

    On bikes.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:24 am on July 17, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Kyoto, , ,   

    Matcha doing? 

    I’ve been to Joe’s today and had one of their iced lattes. And then another one. It’s so nice to finally have a high quality alternative to Starbucks in Manhattan. I really, really hope they take off. I mean think about it — every espresso drink they make is light-years ahead of the same Starbucks drink. You can taste burnt beans and probably ass in Starbucks iced lattes, the Joe’s version is smooth and almost chocolaty, and tastes like the coffee smell (that’s the best way I can describe it).

    I told Jonathan, the owner of Joe’s about Matcha teaa long while back, but he totally blew me off. I even offered to come over and make some for him. Anyway, *$’s is pushing Matcha based drinks and having some success with them. Why wouldn’t they – Matcha to tea is what espresso is to coffee. Maybe now he’ll consider it, and do it right for a change. Matcha should be enjoyed whipped in a bowl with water, although mixing it with milk, and even spreading it on a toast with butter is acceptable to me at least.

    I guess I should stock up on Matcha though – Starbucks purchasing might raise the prices a lot. Somehow I doubt that they buy the good stuff from Kyoto. Maybe they figured out a way to get it someplace cheaper — at a couple of bucks a gram I don’t think high quality “thick” Matcha is attractive to them.

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