Wednesday, December 31, 2008

game room - yet again!

It's new year's day! So not much time to write today - this is the holiday in Japan. But I thought you might like to see more of the game room. Those drums are just as popular as Guitar Hero.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

convenience store POWER!

There's nothing like a convenience store in Japan. Not only do they have limited exclusive things (like the chocolate covered Cheetos you see here), but you can pay your bills here, get salads and hot foods for lunch, soft serve ice creams, play instant lotteries for prizes you see behind the counter, send mail, and probably 10 other amazings I'm forgetting at the moment.

Monday, December 29, 2008

eating in Japan

Last week we went to a tasty restaurant in Kyoto, and here you see the result. Mayu really likes what is essentially baked rice with seafood, coated with a lite layer of cheese (neither of us like cheese; she scrapes her off). Baked rice is common here. It's funny, because we made that (minus the seafood) ourselves at home often in the USA, based on my grandmother's old recipe of baked chicken and rice, using cream of chicken/mushroom soup.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

yet more from the game room!

You can win chocolate bars, DS games, stuffed animals of any icon, just about every kind of prize you can think of is in a crane game here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

more from the game room

Want to win a Santa Stitch? Yes, the Japanese love their Disney. But if you want to win that Pooh you see, who is teetering on the brink, it's going to be a lot tougher than you think. These goodies are strategetically placed on the edge of all machines. It looks easy. But if you look at the crane above, it only moves in one direction. There's not much control. I've even seen a worker at the game room carefully place the prize in just such a locale, studiously going by a diagram from either the machine maker or the game room company!

But. I have also seen people win! So, it's all a slot machine, folks. But fun. :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

the game room

I've heard from a few people lately who are more interested in the Japanese side of this blog, so I'm happy to oblige. I thought you might be interested in some pictures of the local game room here. This is on the top floor of what you might call a mall, or Large department store, next to a 100 yen (like our dollar store) shop. There's a good Variety of games, but not a large selection of each, except for a few. For instance, if you like crane games, you'll be in heaven here. See the one with ice cream treats here? First time I saw anything like that. Of course they are very hard to grab hold of. I'll show you more tomorrow!

snowing today!

It snowed most of today. Sometimes cold, sometimes not today. I've been warm, catching up on work here while the USA finished with Christmas. Tomorrow is going to be the big day - all kinds of sales. Have fun!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

it's Christmas day!!

It's Christmas! I'm busily working now to answer emails and get my work done so that after 4 pm Mayumi and I can take the evening off. We're going to a Japanese-Italian restaurant for a set dinner tonight at 5 - from starter to Christmas cake desert. It's her favorite restaurant, and just a few weeks ago I had the best spaghetti I've ever had there. It was great. Alas, it was also merely seasonal, so it's gone now! :(

And then we'll watch It's a Wonderful Life tonight, which Mayumi has never seen. I'm glad we could rent it here with Japanese subtitles, because you know how fast talk is in old movies!

Here are a few misc. pictures of Kyoto. If you want to see a lot of bikes, come to Japan!

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for reading - the blog and our books!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

my 200th post!!

I started this blog after I married the wonderful princess Mayu, and things are still bright and happy. To all those who wonder how I'm adapting to Japan I say - great! Frankly, I'm not the most social person in the world anyway. Most of my time in America was spent working and going out to a movie a couple times a week. And watching DVDs at home. Except for the # of movies I go out to now (because 3 or 5 films don't start every week like they do in the States), nothing has changed for me. A couple weeks ago we finally got a 42' TV and I've already got a Lot of DVDs which I started cheaply hoarding from Walmart, and which I can still get cheaply sent from amazon. Plus there's a very good DVD rental place not far from here where everything, even the new titles, is 160 yen (1 yen = approx. 1 cent) per week each. I rented the first Cube the other day, which we both liked (I like the series so much, I got one of my authors to start a book on the horror series!). I didn't know about Cube Next, so I'll have to get that soon. So I'm not wanting for films here.

I'm just enjoying the beautiful country, the freedom of having more Time to work on the biz, and the happiness that goes with having my lovely wife back in the country of her choice. :)

Oh, what's that box of bright yellow balls? That's a box of Delicious tangerines! Generously given to us from Mayu's father. They're always getting wonderful fruit. I'm afraid fruits here are quite Tastier than in the States, generally. For instance, you would not believe their sweet potatoes. You'd swear they were laced with sugar. No. They are so naturally sweet, it's amazing!

driving in Japan

This is a typical sight I see every day when the wife and I are out. Mountains all around. Beautiful.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas time in Kyoto

I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but this mall goes up and up, each floor teeming with Christmas decorations. We were here just yesterday (Sunday). I'm not a shopper at heart (limited time in book and dvd/cd stores is good), so I'm happy for Mayumi to browse around a lot, as long as I have a place to sit and a book to read and a notebook handy for ideas (to do list, story ideas, marketing thoughts, etc). So yesterday I was carrying one of the old 25 cent paperbacks of a Perry Mason book (they are Easy to read, being mostly dialogue) and I sat for about an hour before closing (8pm). Stores are open 7 days a week here, as is the post office. I think this is Wise. It's one thing to close for Sunday in the USA, it's another to close even if the worker wants to Work and earn more $. I don't think chains like Chic-Filet-A and the post office should close on Sunday. But, that's just me.

I saw The Day the Earth Stood Still yesterday too, which was good. Not Very Good. It was a drama, like Independence Day, which has all the effects in the trailer. And a nice message. Though I do wonder what the point of a message film is. Like Bob Dylan singing about poverty and making a lot of money doing it. Talking about change does little good. Oops, sorry, that's as deep as I'll go today. The big cartoon robot that turns to dust is Really funny to me. I still wonder at who thinks effects like these are better than when Star Wars was using models rather than cartoons.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Alan Reed & Mel Blanc

I just wanted to share with you all my nice Christmas present: the ever popular Mark Evanier mentioned my Alan Reed book on his blog today! He also mentioned the coming Mel Blanc book - which has taken Years, off and on, to do! Blanc will be out this summer - thank god!! Anyway, click on the cover to check out Mark's site. Thanks.

Christmas at Kyoto train station

Beautiful, huh? It's a huge tree!

By the way, if someone can tell me how to move photos right away up on blogger (I know I could do it Before using blogger), let me know. Thanks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

salad & desert!

Pictures from our dinner out the other day. Good place called Gusto!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the choice in Japan

A cake shop, and a shop of cute things for the house (next to the bamboo forest). We went here last year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

it was cold, wet, but fun

Me, fishing, last year.

I think one of the things I like most about the Japanese is their respect for privacy and feelings. Now, I'll admit, before I had Any interest in the orient (apart from the vague wish to visit Disneyland in Tokyo), I based my opinion on orientals (which I now call asian, being the word of preference here and now) on the few times I saw them driving and in stores. They seemed single minded to the point of tunnel vision - i.e. not looking in the rear view mirror when driving, etc. But I have nothing negative to say about the Japanese - they are so sweet, friendly, helpful, yes and they are business minded, but that is a good thing. In this world of slackers and so many Americans being on the dole, it's good to see a country that takes success seriously. I mean even the common man. Here, if you're not nice and energetic, you get fired. In the USA, McDonald's is always understaffed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Rolling Stones

Here I be. In Japan. With a lovely wife (not pictured!). Yesterday we went to Kyoto (train) Station where we had a Very good Chinese dinner. After I watched Shine a Light, an Excellent concert film of the Rolling Stones. I was never a fan of them much. I didn't think they could sing or play terribly well. But after seeing that movie, oh yes, I'm a fan. They are So energetic, and they haven't stopped. They don't stop. They are champions that I really admire. Like Rocky, Rambo, Indy Jones, they don't let age get in the way of what makes them great. In this youth-obsessed age we've inherited, it's SO good to see this. The teens and 20s of today will only realize this when they feel their youth slipping away. Which is a shame. I wish they could understand the importance of using older people now. Alas, for most, those thoughts only come with age. That's why obits - to be remembered - only happens after the best people pass on.

Friday, December 12, 2008

the beautiful Japan

Right now I'm listening to J-pop in my office as I answer emails and order books. And I'm opening the massive boxes of cds that will stay in this room, because I listen to a Lot of music during the day as I do everything (but talk on the phone).

And I'm reminded that Japan is a beautiful country. I know it's a Long way from America, but really, if you have the time and $, you should come here. It's not a tourist place like Hawaii. It's a place to explore lovely surroundings and the nicest people you'll Ever find. I thought people were cheerful at Disneyworld. But that's Nothing compared to the average worker here. Someone asked me on the blog, when I talked about workers treating us like kings, if that was because I get special attention because I'm American. No, this is just me observing it, everywhere. Besides, I can't speak the language, so my wife talks to all the people. Energetic and friendly people.

And of course you'll marvel at the choice of food and electronics here. I really have to take more pictures. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff here. Oh and if you're a game player, there are SO many more Ninendo DS games Here than in America. Of course I don't have time to play games, but still...

everything is food, food, food

Another shot from the same Kobe area. Right across from that Snoopy store. Here you can vaguely see how much the Japanese really like their seafood. I like cooked fish and shrimp, but that's it for me and seafood. Still, the variety of dishes (and not just from the ocean) on this island is Incredible. In many ways, much more varied than America. I'm going to have to get a 2nd camera so I can snap more pictures of average grocery and retail stores, just so you can see the difference. It's amazing.

(By the way, the title of this entry is the name of a song from Popeye, a terrible film with a Great soundtrack.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

my Snoopy girl

This is my lovely wife, Mayumi, standing in front of the Snoopy store in Kobe. I always call her my lovely wife, even to her face. She is. And she's an expert driver - you've never seen someone back into parking spaces with such skill! - a wonderful cook, and a gentle, fun companion. She is what makes Japan special for me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

an American Catmas

This is my brilliant friend, Martin Grams, Jr., one of the hardest working writers I've ever met. Here he's hard at work researching his new book, Cats on Radio. He's one of the most prolific people ever, and a good friend. With a good taste in Christmas trees.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kobe part 4

This is the Disney concert I mentioned. Well worth seeing.

Kobe part 3

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kobe part 2

While in Kobe, we took a cab to what was essential a shopping district right across the street (long bay between sides) from our hotel where we found a Very cute Snoopy shop. Very surprising! We're both fans of the characters, the cartoons, the music. Of course they weren't playing Vince's music in the shop, but the stock made up for it. EVERYTHING Snoopy there, including clocks, toaster, plethora of pencils, towels, TV, anything you can think of. Well, it's a smallish store, so don't think too big.

Friday, December 5, 2008


To all those Americans who still ask "where's the beef?" I give you Kobe. Where I went there were no cows, but this is the city famous for its beef. We came here last weekend to see a concert called Classics on Disney, which was Disney music performed by a full orchestra and singers. VERY good show, with some moving songs (done with animated slide shows in the background). I think this is a Japan-only thing, because they do like their Disney here.

Here am I in the lobby of our hotel overlooking the bay.

the beautiful river

Whenever we take the train into the big Kyoto city, about 30 minutes away, we always pass this river. Beautiful, eh?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the Kings of Japan

Just a note about something I've always noticed and liked about Japan. The customer, of whatever shop you go in, even if you buy a train ticket or a donut, is treated like a King here. You get the complete and utter attention of the person serving you. After being in Albany, GA many years, this is an AMAZING reversal!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Japan - a nation of trains!

That old man there is waiting on his train to take him to Kyoto City, land of a million+ lights. Luckily when he gets on, it's near the end of the line so he'll have a place to sit. But these trains can get Crowded. He tries not to go anywhere during rush hour, including restaurants, but sometimes it's hard.