Star Wars Kabuki

Star Wars Kabuki

For one-night only, Three Shining Swords took the stage at the Meguro Persimmon Hall in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward on November 28 for an unforgettable night of cultural storytelling. A unique adaptation of George Lucas’s 1977 brainchildthis Star Wars kabuki play focused on the franchise’s latest episodes, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, and stars one of Japan’s most renowned kabuki actors, Ichikawa Ebizo, as Kylo Ren. 

Skip along to 17:00 to start the fun.

Japan travel resources

Japan travel resources

Black Buddha – Excellent experiences and shops not found in the normal guide books to hit up in Tokyo. https://black-buddha.com/tokyo

TimeOut Tokyo – a great list of local events, reviews, and current events to attend. Great to check out right before you head out.

  • Time Out Love Tokyo Awards 2017
  • Top 100 best shops in Tokyo
  • Particularly interesting
    • Tokyo Hotarudo – a shop of Taisho period (1912-26) merchandise.
    • Shin-Yoshiwara – unique souvenir shop that captures the spirit of Yoshiwara, Edo-Tokyo’s legendary red-light district.
    • Beams – 6 floors of dizzying clothing, crafts, and art.
    • Tokyo Kitsch – Unassuming little shop selling traditional, quirky and, as its name suggests, kitschy Japanese souvenirs
    • Kagaya – One of the city’s longest-running smoke shops and deals in everything from standard cigarettes to cigars, pipes and lighters. You’ll find fine Cubans alongside product from places like Dominica, Honduras and Nicaragua
    • Kakimori – Specialist stationary shop. Kakimori’s has a massive range of pens, inks and letter sets. Best of all are the made-to-order notebooks, prepared in five to 10 minutes.
    • Hanashyo Nihonbashi – specializing in Edo Kiriko glassware
    • Atelier Sougeikan – Atelier Sougeikan offers calligraphy lessons where you’ll get a chance to decorate an item of your choosing, such as a fan or a lantern, and take your creation home with you.
    • Karimoku 60 Shinjuku – Turning out exquisite, retro handmade furniture since 1940. The company’s creations are all made from domestic wood and designed to suit Japan’s smaller homes.
    • Tokyo135° Shinjuku Alta – An offshoot of the nationwide Tansuya chain, Tokyo135’s Shinjuku Alta branch attracts a diverse crowd looking for slightly funkier kimono for all occasions.
    • Pass the Baton – modern recycle shop. You’ll find a range of second-hand items, including antiques, furniture, clothing and art – many of which have been previously owned by well-known celebrities.
    • Solakzade Solakzade’s Harajuku boutique is home to a distinctive range of unused vintage and antique frames sourced from Japan and around the globe. The shop has a particularly broad selection of styles in its 10,000-frame trove, including a few shades that date back all the way to the 1800s.
    • Mask Shop Omote – a favourite among the city’s actors, mask-makers and headwear enthusiasts. The selection ranges from the usual to the fetishistic, including Venetian-style masks, medical gear, Hyottoko (Japanese-style clown masks), and items with animal motifs.
    • House @ Mikiri Hassin – high-concept clothing by up-and-coming Japanese designers alongside select secondhand items from overseas
    • Nude Trump – long-standing vintage clothing shop with a chaotic jumble of outré garments and accessories with all kinds of studded, sequinned and fur-print oddities.

BucketList – top 50 things to do when in Tokyo

Love Tokyo Awards

Tokyo Foodcast – Insider food and sake discoveries in and around Tokyo, with occasional side trips thrown in just for fun.

Conde-Nast 25 things to do in Tokyo

Tokyo Illuminations for the Christmas season

Random and interesting things:

Coded Field

Coded Field

Coded field is part of “Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13” organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture).
This is a public art program that takes place surrounding the Zojoji Temple in the historical and traditional Shiba district.
Structural and geographical data of Zojoji Temple will be analyzed by using programming “Code” and is generated in virtual “Field” with this coded information embedded. That invisible information will be translated into light and sound and experienced in real space through balloon-shaped special devices developed independently by Rhizomatiks. Dance numbers are performance by ELEVENPLAY

Learn more here: https://coded-field.tokyo/

Sim cards in Japan

Sim cards in Japan

Traveling abroad has never been easier – and one of the things that makes it so easy is having an internet connected cell phone. Access to google maps, train schedules, email, video chatting, and IM’s makes travel a breeze. Finding free wifi, however, isn’t always easy/convenient. It’s much better to have data through your cell plan.

Sadly, US telecom carries are barely above highway robbers compared to most of the world – especially when it comes to overseas travel plans. The cost of adding overseas for even a few days/month can far outstrip the cost of just getting a local country plan.

Turns out, someone has done a good job of comparing all the different sim plans in Japan. Just figure out which one works best for you and buy. You can often pick up the sim in the airport, or even have it mailed to you before you even leave home. Now that’s convenience.

Just don’t forget to bring a paperclip so you can do the request brain surgery. 🙂

Pre-paid sim plans:

https://prepaidsim.visitjapanplaces.com/prepaidsim

Pocket WIFI plans:

https://prepaidsim.visitjapanplaces.com/wifi

Garmin Fenix 5x and custom maps

Garmin Fenix 5x and custom maps

A good GPS can save your life out in the wilderness. I always carry one with me when heading out climbing or hiking. But GPS units are somewhat notorious for being expensive, heavy, burn through batteries, and often have clunky UI’s and features. Some units charge you money for map updates. Things are getting slowly better.

I currently own a handheld Garmin Oregon, but had a friend who has the Fenix 5x watch. I was amazed how well the interface worked and the quality of the GPS. The Fenix 6 was just announced, and older units went on sale. I recently saw the Fenix 5X on sale for $299 during an early Black Friday sale and couldn’t pass the opportunity up.

The next question is – how are the maps for hiking. The default watch now comes with Garmin’s excellent maps and are upgraded regularly for free. My well-healed hiking friend says he has yet to find a trail in the Pacific Northwest that’s not in the default maps.

I was even more happy to learn that the Fenix 5X allows you to upgrade your maps yourself – including open map packs and systems. I tried out the maps on GMap – which include more details and topo features than the default maps. Using the free Garmin BaseCamp software package, you can copy the free maps from GMap into the tool’s list of maps, then load those maps onto your watch. I found the process to be really smooth and worked without much fuss.

Follow the directions/links on the Hiking Guy’s website for instructions on how to upload maps too.

Links:

Black Mirror Bandersnatch: origins

Black Mirror Bandersnatch: origins

Black Mirror’s choose-your-own-adventure style episode Bandersnatch presents the story of a game developer set in 1984.

However, what if I told you that the inspiration for this story was based on the real life Imagine and Ocean software in the UK. The 1984 UK documentary called “The Rise and Fall of Imagine Software” outlines the last days of those companies that is shockingly similar. The real life game being developed was even called Bandersnatch.

Check out these relevant parts in the actual documentary to see how close Black Mirror stuck to the source material. Even the interactions in some of the meetings.

Oh, and the real-life Megagame Bandersnatch? It was modified and released in 1986 by Psygnosis under the name Brataccas.

Best capsule hotels in Japan

Best capsule hotels in Japan

I found this to be an excellent list of genuinely good capsule hotels in Tokyo. They refer to ones I’ve seen reviewed consistently well by other sources. The following 3 in particular:

9h nine hours

Very modern capsule hotel experience – but found it really, really minimal for my tastes. No frills beyond lockers/showers. The capsules themselves seem like they might be overly claustrophobic as you basically seem to be sleeping in a giant bathtub.

First Cabin

On the top end of the capsule hotel experience with an airline themed experience. especially if you pick a first class cabin. The sliding door doesn’t lock and is almost as much as a hotel makes it a good high-end choice if in a pinch.

Capsule Hotel Anshin Oyado Premier Tokyo

This was a surprise for me. Cheap, but the building comes with all kinds of amenities – including massage chairs, some spa services, and onsen soaking pool. The one in Shibuya seems particularly nice.

What sold me was the individual temperature controls and much more spacious pods. The decor and use of wood feels decidedly like your dad’s era Japan – but looks to be one of the quaint points to me.