Saturday, 27 February 2010


OK, so the comments haven't disappeared, don't blame me, I was just passing on what they told me, or what I thought they told me. Whatever, the comments are all still there and new ones can be added so I don't know wtf is going on (hah! like that's any change...), but as long as I don't have to change anything with the template I'm good with that.


They're everywhere, man, just everywhere. And I'm just, like, OMG! It's sooo kinda out there!!! Ooops, sorry, a bit of the princess dippy blog there spilling back into the Arakawa universe (see the comments section of the last post if your really want to).

No, signs, they really are everywhere, telling you what to do or passing on information that you really don't need. Then again, every now and again you see a sign or two that makes you think 'yeah, see what they mean' or 'hmm, useful info, thanks' or even 'wtf?'

This is a long way of getting around to talking about a couple of signs the Guru and I saw the other day. Last Sunday we were in Kudanshita (I know, on a Sunday! Believe me not a lot goes on in Kudanshita on a Sunday but there we were, actually, not a lot goes on in Kudanshita most of the time, I reckon) as we were taking the little fella to a birthday party. "What, in Kudanshita? On a Sunday!?" Yes, believe it or not. Kudanshita is the bit of Tokyo just to the north of the imperial palace compound, with a bit of moat, a lot of cherry trees for spring, Budokan (if a concert is on - I saw Oasis there many a moon ago, maybe 1998), Yasukuni Shrine (enshrined class A war criminals (read the archives for more)) and not much else. But one of Marcus' school chums' fathers works for OUP and probably has strong embassy (which is close by but round the corner in Hanzoumon) connections and so for some reason chose a restaurant, no, a Bar & Grill, in Kudanshita for his daughter's 5th birthday party. Maybe it's because his wife is Russian, I don't know.

Anyway, we dropped the fella off (does this make us bad parents? A birthday party - here, you look after 20 kids with too much sugar intake for 2 hours whilst the wife and I have a Starbucks, just the two of us, for the first time in 3 months... No, sensible parenting, if you ask me) and then went to find the aforementioned Starbucks. The cafe in question was on the ground floor of an office building, which had the following sign affixed:

Now, doing business is the purpose of an office block, if you ask me, so what is it that people have against pets in Kudanshita? Worried that a bunch of market-savvy corgis are about to move in and clean up, or maybe a syndicate of Siamese are about to move in - that's probably a good idea as the area looks like it needs a high class pussy or two around to liven things up (ba-dum-tsh, I thank you!)

Anyway also spotted on our wanderings was the next sign:

It's the 1st floor that is of interest here. Now, think about James Bond (bear with me), when he is under cover and trying to get that all important first meeting with Blofeld he doesn't call up and say "This is James Bond from MI6" does he? No, he says "James Bond, Universal Exports" - it's called a 'cover', from what I am to believe reading John Le Carre novels. In Japan they don't bother with this sort of cloak-and-dagger stuff when it comes to espionage, they just play it straight and tell you how it is.

So I couldn't believe it either when I saw the sign above which says (roughly translated)

1F Office Japan Secret Service

Of course it could all be a front, I mean there was me, a shaven-headed foreigner taking pictures of the Secret Service building and so far no SWAT team has jumped through our living room window spraying bullets and tear gas...

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Haloscan comments, they just can't go on...

Apparently they are going all Rita Hayworth on us and discontinuing the service - it looks like a pain in the ass to transfer the comments (to a service that costs $12 a year!), so I may just not bother - I can't import them into Blogger template anyway.

So they will all probably disappear, quite possibly tonight, so if you have any personal favourites, go read them now...

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Who are you all?

Now here's a weird thing - usually, in your average week, about 10 or so people inadvertently stumble into Arakawa Riverview's universe, realise they have made a wrong turn somewhere in google and bugger off. Occasionally one of these persons may stop and read a post, possibly out of sympathy or maybe they are trying to find inane ramblings to comfort themselves that there are sillier people out there than themselves.

Anyway, for some reason, from 29th January onwards, my viewing public has increased alarmingly, averaging about 80 views a day, with a high point last Thursday of 112 poor unsuspecting souls reading my missives about dodgy thighs and trying to run. And I haven't even posted for about 3 weeks.

So come on, just who are you and what are you doing here? And how are you getting here? The blog stat thing Site Meter just says you are all coming from the blogspot navigation bar, but not much more than that, so why now and what do you want...?

Other stuff

Anyway, other stuff. So the 6 Nations has kicked off, well last week really, but a jolly good kick it was, with us beating the Welsh. Can't wait for this evening's game against the Italians - hopefully England will put in a performance to match the French dispatching of Ireland last night, 80 minutes of the best the northern hemisphere has to offer, come to that the Wales:Scotland was even more exciting, but more because both teams seemed more intent on losing the game than winning it - Wales in the 1st half were rubbish and Scotland in the 2nd just shaded it in the 'anything you can do we can do worse' stakes.

My dodgy thigh is now, almost and yet not quite, better. There is still one stretch that I do where I can feel that it is not right, but even that one is getting better so I think, hopefully, this Thursday, I will go for a run for the first time since December 20th. That will be February 18th so almost 2 months to the day - what a pisser it has been, my whole body feels fat, apathetic and lethargic. I can't wait. But I will take it very easy, a nice short run - or even go to the running track about a kilometre upriver and use that as it is obviously a much better surface to run on.

I have devised my own new training regime after talking to Andy, my triathlete workmate, who had some sensible advice. He reckoned that my old regime of plodding along at the same pace for session after session was a big contributory factor as you begin to get a sort of repetitive strain injury if you don't vary what you do. So, when I'm back up to a proper level of fitness my schedule will be: Tuesday night - interval training at the track (essentially sprint-rest-sprint-rest etc over varying distances); Thursday night - 8km run at brisk pace; Saturday - 1 hour biking along the river bank; Sunday - 10km+ run at normal plodding pace. The biking is in there to use different muscles and reduce the impact stress on the legs (whilst still having a good aerobic workout). Who knows, hopefully it will be better for me.

However it might all go out of the window as today we, as a family, discovered ice skating. Actually I ought to rephrase that to be more accurate, last week Marcus discovered he doesn't like ice skating very much, which was reconfirmed today; today the Guru found she doesn't like ice skating very much either; however I, much to my surprise, found that not only do I quite like it, I was actually quite adept in a 'first time in skates for 25 years' kind of way. It all started because some of the little fella's friends arranged an ice skating playdate for Friday this week, as it half-term. As he has never been on skates before the Guru thought it sensible to have some lessons, so signed him up for 2 Sunday morning classes in central Tokyo where they have set up a temporary rink for the winter. Lesson one last week seemed to be an hour of falling over and getting up, whilst today was how to skate. Well, it would have been if the fella had mastered the art of getting up, but as he hadn't he went into the 'not so good kids' class and from here he did quite well. He still resembles Bambi on ice, but by the end he wasn't falling down all the time, just a lot of the time.

The Guru realised that when she takes the fella to the playdate she will probably have to skate as well, so today, after the lesson, she strapped on a pair of skates and tried it out herself. The idea was the the fella and I would join in as well, but, scarred for life as he is, the little 'un declined so I stayed on the sidelines with him. Phew!

But then, the curse of the 4 yr old struck, "Daddy, I'm bored...". Unfortunately there wasn't too much else to do so he finally said that he wanted to go skating again. By this stage the Guru was almost done but no, "of course you can come and join me" she beamed. Now, I had been skating before, when I was about 13 years old, one afternoon after school. I didn't remember it being too bad, but then again, I didn't remember ever wanting to put a pair of skates on since that afternoon, and that lack of desire is usually a pretty good indicator. But now I was trapped, so, on went the skates and out the little fella and I hobbled. But, I had used my time on the sidelines to good effect, thinking that this might happen, I had been watching both the skating lesson and what able-skaters had been doing since, so I figured I had a pretty good bead on what one was meant to do.

Of course remaining upright is the first priority and though I had a few moments of panic, I didn't go immediately arse-over as soon as I stepped on the ice. So far so good - now, I have to move... What I'd figured was that it looked a bit like skiing - bend your knees, weight forward - but then use the spiky bit on your toe to push-off with and "glide" (like a le[a]d zeppelin in my case) on the other foot, hence all the one-foot practices they made the kids do, and then do the same with the other toe. And it worked, after a fashion. Now I know this blog won a skating gold at the last Olympics but I'm afraid I don't think we are going to repeat that feat this year. However in an hour of skating I didn't fall over once (came close on a lot of occasions) and by the end I was going around quite well, even if I do say it myself. Of course this may well mean that I will be one taking the little fella to the ice skating play date on Friday, but at least I won't look like a complete idiot on the ice - and that it pretty much the best I could have asked for.