Kyoto Transit Snap

March 9, 2009




An advert at a pachinko parlor. (Update: This guy is a narcissistic idol named Hiromi Go who did a Japanese version of Livin’ La Vida Loca. Click his picture to visit his home page)


Where to, boys? To the FUTURE! I love their facial expressions


Authentic hillbilly music….Japanese style


Me too.




This Indian Curry is best prepared with buffalo meat and lentils.


Nowhere near me, please.

Shiga on a Snowy Sunday

February 27, 2008

Several weeks ago my friend Chuck borrowed a big van and six of us drove north of Kyoto into the snowy mountains of Shiga Prefecture to visit Chuck and Tomoko’s friends, Yoko and Muneo, who are both potters and recently moved into a one room cabin they built in the woods. The night before it had snowed heavily, and when we arrived everything was covered in a beautiful, pristine blanket of snow. We ate stew and apple pie, drank hot tea as we warmed ourselves around the wood burning stove, and, of course, we had wicked snowball fights.



This is a station on the Eiden line in Kyoto. This is another fine example of the Japanese honor system. These pictures were taken from outside the station. Notice the relative positions of the ticket vending machine and the “turnstile.” In the first picture you can see two people purchasing tickets for the train. In the second picture they are waiting for the train. Is there a problem here? Apparently not



February 27, 2008

She’s cute as a button, isn’t she? She’s going to kill me too for publishing her pictures on the internet….


Killing time

February 27, 2008

On Tuesdays I have a thirty minute break between lessons. I often get a snack at the local Family Mart and stare at the kaleidoscope screen down the street from the cafe my second lesson is at. It’s sure a great way to kill time.



January 18, 2008

Japan is rumored to be one of the safest places in the world to travel. They say that the items most subject to theft are umbrellas and bicycles, which I personally find hard to believe judging from the abundance of obvious strays of both breeds lurking in the entryways and on the curbsides of every neighborhood in the country. Last year, on my first visit to Kyoto, I was amazed when I witnessed an old lady standing in the middle of a crowded corridor in Kyoto station fumbling in her purse with one hand and in her other holding in plain view at least 50,000yen (about US$500). At the time I thought she was just plain lucky that no one snatched it from her, and just wrote it off as one of those foolish things that people do from time to time, being stuck in a situation where you temporarily lose your head and leave yourself exposed and vulnerable to being ripped off. But, now I know I’m mistaken. She was waving that money around because she’s a Japanese in Japan, and in Japan people just don’t steal. This is a culture built on trust. Credit cards still haven’t caught on here, so Japan is largely a cash economy. In Shimanto City my coworker and I were paid in cash, which meant that my boss, a small unathletic woman, would at least once a month sit in her office with the doors unlocked at night in plain view of the street with thousands of dollars on her person, and she never thought twice about this. Likewise, any given convenience store in the country has just loads of cash in the register, but apparently all that’s needed to deter any would be stick up men is the watchful eye of security cameras. I couldn’t resist snapping this picture of a thick wad of cash left next to the open register by the clerk who went to fetch my chicken bits on a stick for me one afternoon last week.


The other night on my way home I witnessed another mind boggling example of trust: a second-hand goods and antiques store that actually left its stock on the curbside at night while the store was closed. I was really tempted to take a nice tea pot, but I felt that all too familiar feeling of shame that’s probably not unlike that of the proverbial taking of candy from a babe…oh, and the security camera, too.