Style Free!

Do you want to be style free? Do you want to drink a product that has no style? Asahi Breweries thinks that you do and they are proud to offer アサヒスタイルフリー – Asahi Style Free beer! Yes, this beer has no style.

Tasty Style Free Beer


I think, probably, the idea of the beer is that its style is free from calories, as a matter of fact it has 0 calories but 4% alcohol. Hey, that’s a deal.

And for the body, it is zero, but for the throat it is tasty!

Tasty for the throat


I saw the advertisement on the train today. I wonder how many times I’ve looked at the ad and never seen the name. Probably not often since it is a new product.

Hey, I’m a mosquito

Tomo and I are going to see a Muse concert tonight. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, our tickets are floor general admission, so if we line up early enough we are able to get to the front of the stage. Yippee. Tomo is a dedicated live music aficionado, so he thinks nothing of arriving at a venue many hours before a show in order to line up to get in. And so it is today. I may not have the energy for the front row as I’m a little sick today.

The venue is actually pretty close to my apartment, so I said I would walk to Starbucks and then the venue with Tomo to help him get there. I was joking around in the elevator and pulled my faux-fur edged parka hood over my head. It is quite a large hood and my head was buried deep inside. “Hey, you are a mosquito,” said Tomo.

“What?” I could imagine a reference to Kenny from South Park, but a mosquito? It made no sense to me.

“No, no, not a mosquito, an Eskimo.”

Am I a pest?

[photos in public domain, Eskimo family by Edward S. Curtis, Library of Congress]


Ah, yes, that made a lot more sense. Indeed, I did look like an Eskimo. And here was a perfect example of two words that you don’t think could ever get confused, yet have enough similarities that it is just possible to accidently confuse. I thought it was funny.

Now when I say kowai (怖い, こわい) and kawaii (可愛い, かわいい) interchangeably, I won’t be so embarrassed. Kowai means “scary” and kawaii means “cute.” There is a big difference of course, but I always mess them up.

I found The Messiah in Nagoya

I found The Messiah in Nagoya. I am not talking about the great work by Handel. Although it is as much an Easter piece as it is a Christmas piece, I haven’t seen any production listed here recently. Nor have I had any particular epiphanies and found, you know, Him.

While killing time before I got my haircut, I walked around the neighborhood of Hair Make Arm’S. Yes, that is the name of the place where I get my hair cut. I have NO idea why the last S is capitalized, but it is. As I was walking, I noticed a restaurant and found that, strangely enough, it is called Messiah. According to the dictionary on my Mac,

mes·si·ah |məˈsīə|

1 ( the Messiah) the promised deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible.
• Jesus regarded by Christians as the Messiah of the Hebrew prophecies and the savior of humankind.
2 a leader or savior of a particular group or cause : to Germany, Hitler was more a messiah than a political leader.


mes·si·ah·ship |-ˌ sh ip| noun

ORIGIN Old English Messias: via late Latin and Greek from Hebrew māšīaḥ ‘anointed.’

In this case, the Messiah appears to be Italian, and even offers a Messiah Party Plan (メサイア·パーティープラン).

Restaurant Messiah

Restaurant Messiah

Restaurant Messiah Menu


Interesting. I do hesitate somewhat posting this as it is sure to generate some even stranger hits and more spam comments. Oh well.


What a nice weekend. A gaijin friend who lives in Tokyo came down to Nagoya to visit for the first time since I’ve been here. I’ve been to his place in Tokyo countless times and appreciate the hospitality. We didn’t do much, just walked around and talked and watched a couple of movies.

As we were walking around Nagoya, I decided to go to Osu Kannon. This area is just on the oustskirts of the main commercial center in Nagoya. It is a commercial area itself and boasts a HUGE covered shopping area and has many temples. These shopping areas are prevalent in older parts of cities all over Japan, and are called 商店街 (しょうてんがい – shoutengai). If you’ve ever been to Milan, think of the galleria between the Duomo and La Scala, but on a much less grand scale and filled with a lot cheaper shops. I’ve never been a big fan of this area, but I wanted his impression.

A couple of weeks before, Tomo and I had also been there looking for a vintage ジャイアントロボ (Giant Robot from Johnny Socco) figure for a US colleague whose just-turned-10 son is fighting cancer. With the help of my interpreter at work, I had several stores to visit, and they were all in the Osu Kannon area. We found the shops to be amazing and scary at the same time. If I ever want to do Cosplay and dress up as Sailor Moon, I know where to go!

Anyway, back to this latest trip. Over 25 years ago, my friend did missionary work in Japan. These were the types of areas that they would do their proselytize so it holds a nostalgic place in his heart. Although there doesn’t seem to be any place that I would actually buy anything (except perhaps Mandarake), he is correct that these areas are uniquely Japanese. We had a really good time wandering through the shop area. Even more interesting is getting on to the side streets and finding uniquely Japanese things.

Temples in Osu cannon,

Osu Kannon temple


Osu Kannon temple


And the 商店街 (しょうてんがい – shoutengai)

Osu Kannon shopping street


Osu Kannon shopping street

The streets around Osu Cannon, including a barbershop and a very old looking hotel.

Osu Kannon barber shop


Osu Kannon hotel


Besides Nagoya, I have been to an area like this in Tokyo. I actually got my iPhone in an area like this. I figured a Softbank store wouldn’t be so crowded on the opening weekend in a less “famous” location. I was right. I’ve been to these shopping areas in Nara, Himeji, and Mito. Some of the areas are thriving, and some are dying. The dying ones are sad.

In Nara,

Shoutengai in Nara


On our walk, we also wandered past some good Engrish and saw a b-boy dance festival. Apparently I wasn’t supposed to take pictures. Ooops. The b-boys were good – very athletic dancing and clearly some ex-gymnasts in the crowd. All those hours practicing in front of large plate glass windows in city centers paid off for them.

Perhaps this is Bridal?


Dance contest


Also during the weekend I was able to catch up on work email, get a couple of blog entries done, and finish reading a book. Nice.

A typical weekend day

I’ve presented a lot about odd things here in Japan, and things that are different from the US. I’ve never spent that much time talking about the mundane. Perhaps, because, well, it IS mundane. However, when it is a half world away, the everyday is a little bit different.


tennis bag
Today I decided to go to the Aeon Mall across from the Nagoya Dome on a quest to find a tennis bag. I want something like the bag in the picture. You know, I have to carry twelve rackets with me all the time. Not really, but when you don’t have a car to dump your stuff in and you have to take a train, it is nice to consolidate so you are not balancing a bunch of stuff on your lap. You can put shoes, change of clothes, balls, etc inside. They are harder than it sounds to find. I’m going to have to use my Japanese internet search skills to find a tennis shop in Japan. I struck out, by the way. No shops in the mall that carried what I was looking for.

Ben Sherman flight bag in the bike basketI also was looking for a general sports bag that would function as an overnighter. In Japan, you need a bag for every occasion. I have my general purpose Ben Sherman flight bag, sometimes called my man purse. It is good for running around for the day. It’ll hold a couple books if I am studying, and easily my iPhone, iTouch, and BlechBerry (I know, I don’t need an iPhone AND an iTouch but for some reason I think that putting music on my iPhone will take up too much space even though it won’t). It also fits nicely in the basket of my ママチャリ, so I don’t have to worry about things rattling out of my pocket as I go down the street. But the Ben Sherman bag is too small for a weekender that requires me to take my computer. We won’t even talk about the bulky backpack I bought that holds nothing (North Face Recon “backpack”). I use it and curse it every time. Well, it works for some things. I found kind of what I was looking for at Aeon, but they didn’t have enough selection for me to decide. I think I’ll just take a bag from a sleeping high school kid in the train. That’s the kind of bag I want.

I decided that I really don’t like malls, whether it is in the US or Japan. There is so much concentrated consumption, yet still I don’t seem to find anything I want. Why is that I wonder? I did find the source for all the bright colored clothing though. Yikes! While I was at the mall, I thought I would put together a bit of a “day in the life” as I headed home from the mall to my home. There is a lot I haven’t shown in photographs, primarily because I see them every day. I need to do better documentation of my time here through “stock” photography.

Let’s start at the mall. As you can see, it is a very big mall, much like a suburban American mall. This is almost suburban. It is indeed an architectural masterpiece.

The mall


The mall is out at the Nagoya Dome, where the Chubu Dragons baseball team play. The subway entrance hallway is completely dedicated to the team.

The subway concourse


The mascot of the team is, from their name, a dragon. I’m not sure how this equates to a dragon. It seems more like a mouse to me, but I guess the mascot had to be cute.

Is this really a dragon?

Is this really a dragon?


Arriving at the entrance, there is always the subway map with fees above the ticket vending machine. I always have a 5000 yen pass with me, so I never pay attention to the price and rarely look at the map. I should look at the map because I have taken the wrong subway a few times when I thought I knew where I was going.

Subway decisions

Ticket machines


Once you get your ticket, you have to pass through the entrance wickets.

Subway decisions


You wait for the subway by the track. In some stations there are walls that keep you from being able to jump into an oncoming train, but in most cases it is like this station. The yellow strips are for blind people to make their way around the station. The ligher yellow is where the door will be when the train stops. The geek in my always looks at the center of the doors and the center of the tiles to see how good the conductor hit his marks. You can see the raised dotted yellow tile in front of the door.

The track


Here’s my local exit for this line – the Hisaya-odori (久屋通) exit of the Meijo line (名城線). After one year, I’m discovering that this is a rather convenient subway line, and I like that it runs every 5 minutes on the weekends instead of 10 minutes like the other line closer to my house. However, it does not take me to Nagoya station. It takes me about everywhere else though. There’s abundant information on each track, including a timetable, a map of the stops and the time to each station, a plan of the station, the location of the exits, and local bus information including line a bus stop location. The time table is in white for weekdays and pink for holidays and weekends.

Subway info

Subway info

Subway info


Before you go into the wickets, you have similar information including the general subway map, general train information including the time table (for two lines), and advertising. Also a map of the area also with advertising is available.

Subway info

Subway info


This subway station happens to be in the city center, and like many Japanese cities, there is an extensive underground network connecting stations to stations, and buildings to buildings. Of course, there is plenty of shopping and dining underground as well. Although I prefer to stay above ground, this can be very convenient on super hot days, cold days, and wet days.

The underground city


The subway entrances are typically easy to find, and they are always marked with their icon and also generally have the same architectural look. You can always count on any number of bikes parked out in front of a subway station.

The entrance / exit

Subway logo

Typical scene


This is the biggest intersection near my house, and is the home to two subways lines and my local Starbucks. Traffic seemed to be really thin when I took these pictures.


Looking down Sakuradori

Looking down Utsudori

My local Starbucks and study spot


Walking home from the subway stop, there are many things to see, including:

Tearing down another building for yet a new, unoccupied building?

Making room for a different empty building


A wedding center.

A local wedding center


A typical view.

Looking down Sakuradori


My bank, which happens to be a 7/11. It has an international ATM that allows me to withdraw from my savings account. Rare in Japan. It is not really my bank, but I use the ATM there all the time.

Thank heaven


An import car. Odd.

A Citroen in Japan


A ubiquitous Yama-chan. They are everywhere in Nagoya and specialize in Tebasaki (手羽先), which is basically chicken wings.



And the Lawson’s in my apartment building. It is a convenience store where I can also pay my utility bill. One is due, so I should pay.

I make too many purchases here


A view of my apartment building, and one of the bike parking areas.

My apartment building

Bike parking


I toured around my neighborhood a little bit too. The streets were very quiet, but I was able to find another Yama-chan. I told you they were ubiquitous.

My neighborhood is quiet on a weekend

Another Yama-chan in the neighborhood


And for those of you who wonder what taxis are like, here is an example of two different types. The blue one and the black one. There is a white one too, but I was unable to see one stopped to take a picture. They are actually different sizes and different prices, but I’ve never really noticed the difference. I don’t often take a taxi anyway.

Blue taxi

Black taxi


Oh, and this morning, I finally got a picture of a Hate Bus. Yes, both yesterday and today I heard them.

A white hate bus


Unfortunately, more noise is coming. I recently read this:

Official announcement of the campaign season for the Lower House general election.

It was decided that the Lower House general election is to be held on August 30, after entering the campaign period on August 18.

Please endure noise from vehicles of candidates [ed. emphasis added].


I noticed a little Engrish on my walk as well. It is a flower shop.

Did someone have a lisp?


And finally, tonight was the last night of the Nagoya Castle Matsuri. I went for some yakisoba and a beer, and then stumbled across a lantern ceremony at a local temple. 5000 lanterns are offered for the spirits who were killed in World War II. Today is the anniversary of the end of World War II. I’ll post the pictures from the Matsuri and the lantern ceremony another day. I think this is enough for now.