Yamagata enjoys eating pulverized brine shrimp, dragging his decorative finnage around and snapping his jaws menacingly. I like to think that his new life is pretty sweet in comparison to the horror that must have been life inside a UFO catcher. Just the thought of feeling the vibrations of UFO catcher music all day long is horrendous. If fish get post traumatic stress syndrome, this little guy may very well have it.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
The Norfair theme has long been one of my favorite video game tunes of the 8-bit era. It does as good a job as it can of conveying the feeling of being the only human on the planet with its jilted waltz feel and dissonance. It also does a good job of suggesting that Metroid music composer Hip Tanaka was a fan of Erik Satie.
Of course, like most 8-bit soundtracks, Metroid's was doomed to become repetitive and end up getting turned down on TV sets across America. Even I grew tired of the jaunty "Hey! Let's Explore Brinstar" march, the mysterious ambiance of "Annoying Beeps and Boops in the Elevator Room" and the psychological horror of "Miniboss Hideout II: Descent Into Insanity." Of course I got tired of the music. It's hardly surprising when you consider the fact that I was the only kid I knew who didn't have the game's layout and item locations memorized. It took me so long to finish the game, I should have gotten some tragic ending where Samus takes off her suit and turns out to be a genetic hybrid of Regis Philbin and a kangaroo.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Finish time: 10:45 PM
Total time: 12 hours
Percentage of time spent walking: Less than 50%
Distance traveled: 16 km
Green tea . . . 1 L
Aquarius/Pocari Sweat . . . 1 L
Mango juice . . . ??? L
Fosters/Corona . . . 1.4 L
Money gained by selling PS2 games: ¥15300
Money spent on arcade games: ¥800
Video arcades visited: 2
Convenience stores visited: 5
Photos taken: 24
We stop at Hub in Ueno to drink some beer, eat fish and chips and watch the first half of Japan's World Cup warmup game against Malta. Then it's time for me to head home because I have university classes to teach the next morning. Big Walk II comes to a close.
Let me take this opportunity to make a recommendation. If you ever find yourself in the same room as a Taiko no Tatsujin 8 machine, do yourself a favor: drop in some money, choose the highest difficulty level and play the "Super Mario Brothers Theme." That's some good taiko.
Soon after Iidabashi, near Suidobashi Station and the Tokyo Dome, the Outer Moat disappears underground and magically reappears as the Kanda River, one of my favorite Tokyo features. It's a well-vegetated, steep-walled channel of dark green water feeding into the much bigger Sumida River, and is one several tributaries created out of water supply needs during the development of Edo. The Kanda River began as a means to carry water from the Inokashira Spring in present-day Kichijoji (Inokashira literally means "Head of the Well") to low-lying Kanda, just north of the site of Edo Castle. Despite being obviously manmade, its "banks" are home to quite a few popular cherry blossom viewing spots in the springtime.
(Right now you are saying, "Jesse, you should have taken a picture of this Kanda River, if it's as awesome as you say." And you know what? You are right.)
With the river as our guide, we are led to Ochanomizu, Tokyo's focal point for musical instrument shops. The area is called Ochanomizu ("Tea Water") because the shogun used to drink tea around here on the way home from a hawk hunt, making the local water famous...and early form of celebrity endorsement, I guess.
We follow the Outer Moat and the adjacent Chuo Line to the northeast. Near Iidabashi Station, we find ourselves sucked inexorably into a game center, where we experience approximately 45 minutes of Final Fight and Tekken 5. Urban hiking is cool and everything, but sometimes you need to sit down and let your fingers do the walking. Or in this case, the ass-kicking.
After 3:00 we are ready to leave the stench and squalor of Shinjuku Station's higashiguchi district behind and continue the journey. We follow Yasukuni-dori east past Akebonobashi Station. You may remember last year's Big Walk having a "boring zone" in the middle, between Shinjuku and the Imperial Palace. Similarly, this particular stretch of road has nothing particularly photogenic or memorable. Plus, after leaving the familiarity of Shinjuku, we don't really know anything about our surroundings that we can't learn from my Tokyo mini-atlas. We push forward, however, knowing that we'll eventually contact the Chuo Line.
While waiting for the Trader guy to total up my goods I get a call from my ex-roommate Craig, who will meet me in Shinjuku for lunch and join the Big Walk from Shinjuku onward. Ehhhh-xcellent.
Lunch is Vietnamese food and several glasses of mango juice.
After Tokyo Opera City I pass the triplet stair-step spires of Shinjuku Park Tower, one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in Tokyo. It's 235 meters of "intelligent building," the top 14 floors which compose the Park Hyatt Tokyo (the hotel where Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray are seen moping, skulking and wondering, "Why do they mix up their L's and R's?" in Lost In Translation).
Sasazuka Station. Hatagaya Station. At 11:35, right before Hatsudai Station, I spy something I've never seen before: A vending machine on the sidewalk stocked with two-liter bottles. Obviously a two-liter bottle would be cumbersome regardless of its contents, so I take a picture and walk on by.
So, just like last April's Big Walk, I started at the entrance to Setagaya-Daita Station (the station with the most-est...now with an all-new super inconvenient upstairs-downstairs approach to the train platform!) and marked the occasion with a hasty keitai photo.
The time is 10:45 AM. I am ready to ambulate. I switch tenses in mid-blog.
If there's something strangely familiar about this, it's probably because my clothes are nearly identical to the ones I wore on last year's Big Walk. Refer to the April 2005 archive for proof of this.
I make a quick stop at the Daily Yamazaki for some green tea and a Snickers (my first Snickers bar in about two years, in fact) and start north on Kannana-dori.
FUN FACT! If you do a Google search for "Kannana-dori," Google will incorrectly ask you if you meant to type "Kanana-dori." Congratulations, Jesse. I guess you know more than Google.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I'll get over it, but my PS2 died while I was in the middle of Monster Hunter 2, a game I had been playing for months and hadn't yet gotten tired of. Now the little voice in my head is telling me to just hold my horses until the PlayStation 3 comes out this November. And this time I'm going to obey the little voice.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
click to enlarge
"Shimokitazawa" (working title)
"King of Fighters"
Hear MP3s of "King of Fighters" and "Monica" at MySpace.