Posts Tagged ‘ Tokyo ’

Redstone Science Fiction: My Photo as April ’11 “Cover Art”

Redstone Science Fiction is “publishes quality stories from across the science fiction spectrum. We are interested in everything from post-cyberpunk to new space opera. . . .”  I’m honored that it’s once again chosen one of my photos as its monthly cover art:

As you can tell, this is a rather grim image of Tokyo.  I took this photograph during the third week of May, last year.  Redstone Science Fiction Editor Mike Ray (yes, I know Mike) writes in pertinent part in this month’s Editor’s Note:

His intense photo of Tokyo makes an outstanding cover. Richard has a lifelong devotion to Japan and the Japanese people, and in the weeks since the devastating earthquake and tsunami he has worked to provide information about Japan, encourage positive action, and to counteract misinformation. I encourage you to visit his website, LetsJapan.Worpress.Com, to get a point of view about what’s happening in Japan that is quite different from, and far more encouraging than, what we get from the news channels. [I would add that this post, from about 10 days ago, helps make that point.  Anyway, I truly thank Mike and Redstone Science Fiction for these words and all the meaning behind them].

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Another one of the images Redstone Science Fiction has used was much more colorful and, if a little on the sterile side, is not necessarily “ominous” (this one from Kyoto Station, taken in the autumn of 2009):

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Please allow me to note for the record that Tokyo is not, in fact, a grim place.  That photo was just a photographer’s mischievous imagineering, a purposeful twisting of an image to, indeed, make it depict close to the opposite of what I was actually seeing through the viewfinder as a clicked.  Thing is (to paraphrase Penn & Teller), I’ll tell you when I’m twisting and lying about the truth, as opposed to, say, many a contemporary journalist.  I met Penn once.  In Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  He was kind of a jerk in person.  But, you know, I still respect his craft.

Back to Redstone Science Fiction, and Tokyo.  As mentioned, Tokyo’s not grim at all.  In fact, it’s kind of like the world’s biggest amusement park.  I’m not sure why anyone would want to go to into Tokyo Disneyland when outside, in Tokyo Tokyoland, is altogether fascinating and so altogether real, and surreal.

Here’s a kinder, and altogether more honest photo of one little sliver of Tokyo which I took on the same day and from the same hotel (the Shinagawa Prince), just looking in a different direction as that featured cover photo:

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Here’s a little vid (from my YouTube channel) I shot in the Yurakucho District of Chiyoda Ward of Tokyo, in front of the famous Bic Camera store.  See, bright and upbeat, not grim at all:

And, yes, Bic Camera’s still open post-earthquake.

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Yet They Always Pronounce “Nicaragua” Flawlessly…

Tomorrow I’ll post an in-depth piece on the Flyjin Phenomenon. But this (below) won’t wait.

Wincing & Cringing.

Jim Zarroli is a “business reporter” for National Public Radio (NPR).  He’s in Tokyo now.  He’s also, I’m afraid to say, a tool.  I’m still wincing, cringing and gagging at a Jim Zarroli report from Tokyo which wound-up about a half-hour ago.  In that piece I and millions like me had to endure listening to him murder Japanese, the language that is.  He couldn’t even say the 3-syllable “Shibuya” correctly.  Shibuya is a central Tokyo ward.  Anyway, Zarroli wasn’t even in the ballpark.  So here’s this reporter in the middle of a city of 13 million and he can’t or won’t bother to find one person to double-check his pronunciation of a 3-syllable word before broadcasting to the world.  Lord love a duck.

And what’s even worse:  Zarroli was doing this vapid, puff piece on the electricity cutbacks in Tokyo . . . while a humanitarian crisis continues on the Northeast Japan coast.  One of the people he interviewed even said as much, said that some electricity inconveniences were the least they could bear in Tokyo when so many people up north are suffering.

NPR:  shockingly mixed-up priorities coated with the added insult of bunging-up simple words.


So, I’ve been going back and forth via email with an NPR Regional Bureau Chief all day long.  If I may summarize his many, many, many paragraphs:

“We’re NPR.  We know more than everybody.  I know nothing of Japan, and don’t speak any Japanese but I’ll correct yours .  We’ve dumped lots of reporters on the scene in Japan.  Shut up about about quality, look at our quantity!  By the way, did I mention we know more than everybody?  I speak Spanish and French.”

I’m sure I’ve left out some things, but that’s it in a nutshell.

Silver lining: I’ve found out that one of the local program directors is a pretty cool guy and we both share a lot of the same musical tastes.  So it hasn’t been an entirely wasted effort.

Small world.

If both you and I visit Washington, DC, even if our respective visits are two years apart, it would not be so odd for us to both have photos of the Lincoln Memorial in our photo albums or digital archives.  Same with the Spanish Steps in Rome or the Gateway of India in Mumbai.  But what about a tiny, tiny, little restaurant in sprawling Tokyo, a city of almost 13 million people (and, seemingly, about as many restaurants)?

Yesterday on one of my LinkedIn Japan-related groups I noticed that “Robert” in the UK had posted a comment saying that he and his wife would soon be traveling (back) to Tokyo and Kyoto; he asked for any suggestions on cool places to check out.  Regarding Kyoto, I responded with a laundry list of restaurants, a coffee shop, a particular temple and the National Museum of Modern Art.  As for Tokyo, my only suggestion was to visit the “gahdoshita” (gah*doh*shee*tah), little, very informal, working class restaurants under several different viaduct arches of the Yamanote train line.  Besides many kind thank yous, Robert said that he thought year or so ago when he and his wife had first visited Japan they may have passed by the “gahdoshita.”  Well, it turns out he was right at ’em, though not the particular ones that are my favorites.  Nevertheless, he sent me this photo yesterday with this message:

“Re:  the Gahdoshita restaurants.  I think we may have walked past them last time we were in Tokyo on the way home one evening.  I took a photo, is this the place?”

Robert's photo from 2009.


This was a photo I took, just a snapshot really, in October 2007:

My photo from 2007.

O.K., it’s not the exact same place, but it’s the same little franchise and within a block or two of one another.  But one had caught my eye, then two years later, Robert’s eye.

The name is “Manpuku Shokudo” which, roughly translated, means “All full (on food) Eats.”  Tiny little “mom and pop” franchises like this dot Japan, sometimes the same franchise will have 2 or 3 restaurants within a few blocks, a la Starbucks.  It’s not Tokyo Tower, Osaka Tower, Hiroshima Peace Park, the Washington Monument, the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall.  Just a couple of tiny little restaurants within a couple blocks of one another that an American, then 2 years later a Brit, thought they’d take snapshots of.