I had a chance to go check out the life-sized Gundam Model in Tokyo this month!
I’m not gonna lie. I have never watched a full episode of Gundam. I am not a true Gundam fan. I do however appreciate a giant robot anime every now and then… So, I’m not a “true” Gundam fan… but I still enjoyed seeing this unbelievably huge and intricate model!
Boom. There it is. Look at the size of the people on the ground to get an idea of the scale. Apparently it’s 80 18 meters (60 feet) high.
It was great seeing this Gundam. Not only is it technically cool, but it was a lot of fun seeing all the different people who enjoy it! There were all kinds of people there! I was most surprised to see how many young women were posing in front of the giant robot getting their picture taken. Yes… Japan really is a country where girl geeks exist. A little off topic, but when I was in Japan last year to see Evangelion 3.0, I was surprised to see how many twenty-something year old girls were in the theater watching it as well. It’s a wonderful thing.
If you visit the Gundam you can also shop at the Gundam Cafe and at Gundam Front Tokyo for some exclusive Gundam swag. If you’re in Odaiba for any reason during a trip to Japan, make a point to check out Gundam. It’s pretty amazing.
Anyway, you don’t need to read about Gundam here — I’m late to the show. This Gundam model has been covered to death.
Here is an older video that shows the Gundam in its previous location also in Odaiba.
Here is a video clip of it at night, showing it emitting exhaust, and also showing the head turning side to side and looking up.
Here they are lowering the hed onto the Gundam… in Shizouka. They move this Gundam around!
Here is a video of the Gundam in Shizouka holding a sword and lighting up at night. A sword?? Is this the same one? Epic.
Thanks to geeking out on Evangellion I recently stumbled upon this classic Japanese song called 365-step March.
This song is appears in EVANGELION:2.0 YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE when the new character Mari is fighting an Angel near the beginning of the movie. Being the crazy character that she is, Mari sings this song as she rides into battle.
三百六十五歩のマーチ by 水前寺清子
365-step March by Suizenji Kiyoko 水前寺清子 (すいぜんじ きよこ)
You can sing along by watching this video some people decided to take in a Karaoke bar.
Here is another clip from 2005.
This is one of those songs that literally everyone who grew up in Japan knows, so it’s a good chunk of knowledge to add to your Japanese culture database.
It’s very personal. Basically when I see something I don’t know, I write it down, and then some day I stuff it into Anki. I have been using Anki for years, so this deck is monsterous. It has like 700+ cards and they are of no particular difficulty level. You may find some of the cards useless, and others may be quite practical.
Let me know what you think. Also let me know if you find any typos and mistakes in the comments and I’ll go in and clean them up.
One of the stops on my trip to Tokyo with @GuideYu a few months ago was to a Tenugui shop in Harajuku called Kamawanu.
Tenugui are a traditional Japanese multipurpose cloth. To name just a few of the many uses for tenugui, back in the Edo period people would use tenugui as small towels, or wrap them around their heads to keep the sweat or hair out of their eyes. Tenugui are usually are decorated with traditional Japanese patterns and designs.
Tenugui that I bought at Kamawanu - Click for larger image
One of the tenugui I bought at Kamawanu depicts cats… I don’t like cats, but my wife does, and this was pretty cool artistically, so I grabbed it. It may seem a little weird to put a tenugui in a frame and hang it on the wall, but I swear I got this idea from the shop in Harajuku itself, and the art on this particular tenugui is a recreation of some traditional Japanese art from the 1800s, so I’m going to say that it’s wall worthy. To further justify my wall-hanging case I learned that one of my Japanese friends, @ukti2009, also has a tenugui framed and hanging on her wall. She has the 蚊取り線香 katori senkou pattern tenugui.
Kamawanu is a cool shop. If you are interested in Tenugui you should stop by. The shop name, Kamawanu, is a play on words. The first image is of a sickle, followed by a circle, and then the hiragana character nu. The following image explains everything, but basically in Japanese a sickle is “kama” 鎌, and a way to say a circle is “wa” 輪, and then you have the sound “nu.” In Japanese the phrase “KAMAWANU” means, “I don’t mind” and sort of expresses a feeling of indifference.
It seems that the original artwork for my “cat tenugui” was done around 1848 and is called 猫飼好五十三疋（みょうかいこうごじゅうさんびき）(Cats suggested as the fifty-three stations of the Tokaido). I didn’t realize this until I started writing this blog post, but it seems that the images of the cats are also a play on words.
The image on my Tenugui is a small slice of the original much larger image featuring more cats. You can see the entire image here in high resolution thanks to wikimedia commons.
(Click for larger image) 猫飼好五十三疋 Cats suggested as the fifty-three stations of the Tokaido
So, each cat and its pose are a play on words that describe one of the stations on the Tokaido train line.
The cat in the lower left of my tenugui is running away with a blue fish.
The blue fish he is running away with is called サバ SABA in Japanese.
The cat is a tabby cat. A tabby cat is called a ぶち猫 (BUCHI NEKO) in Japanese.
So, the train station the image is referring to is FUJISAWA train station! Because FUJI sounds like BUCHI and SAWA sounds like SABA.
So, in my tenugui there is a picture of a cat dragging away a huge red octopus.
A huge octopus in Japanese is 大ダコ (OODAKO).
Huge octopi are heavy. Really freakin heavy. “Really freakin’ heavy” in Japanese is おもいぞ OMOIZO.
So the station being referred to is 大磯（おおいそ）OOISO, because OMOIZO sounds like OOISO! And if you roll up OODAKO and stuff, I guess it’s even tighter?
Had some delicous steak in the Kitashinchi area of Osaka a while ago after I saw it introduced on a Japanese TV show. If you’re looking for an awesome lunch in Osaka check it out. You can walk to Kitashichi from Umeda station (closest to Nishi-Umeda) in about 15 or 20 minutes, but there is also a Kitashinchi train stop on the JR line.
We had to line up to get in at lunch time. Also, the TV spot featured their hamburg lunch, but when we sat down at 1pm we were told the hamburg had sold out at about 12:30pm that day. Apparently the TV spot caught them a little off guard and brought in a ton of new customers so they had been scrambling. We did however get to try the steak lunch and it was delicious.
The lunch course is very filling. You get the main dish, a mini curry, and a coffee or tea at the end. The shop allows smoking, but when we were there for lunch there were very few, if any, people smoking.
Go eat meat.
Steak House Fuubi
Hamburg Lunch 1,575 yen
■ 住所：大阪市北区堂島1-3-11 スタックビルB1F
Address: Osaka-shi Kita-ku Dojima 1-3-11 Stack Building (sutakku biru) Basement Level 1
■ 営業時間：ランチ 12:00～13:30 ※平日のみ
Hours: Lunch – 12 pm to 1:30 pm *weekdays only
Dinner 17:00 to 21:30
Regular Holidays: Sunday and national holidays
Steak Lunch: 2,625 yen
Tender loin Steak: From 12,600 yen
※ Dinner only
Looking for something touristy to do in Osaka? Consider a visit to the observation deck on Umeda Sky Building! The views are pretty spectacular, and it’s conveniently located near Umeda station. Admission is not too expensive either!
The Japanese name is 空中庭園 which means “sky garden,” but most people will understand if you say Sky Building as it is written in Katakana, like スカイビル (sukai biru).
You can walk to Umeda Sky Building from the Umeda Station Area. It is closest to Osaka JR station and it’s about a 10 minute walk from. Not far at all.
When I visited just a few days ago tickets for adults were 700 yen. There were slight discounts for certain groups, like senior citizens for example.
Once you get up there you can walk 360 around the deck. This is quite nice as you can take a wide variety of photos. There is no glass between you and the outside. For me this was a great thing, as it meant I could take glass free pictures!
Another great thing about the sky building complex is that it offers other entertainment beyond the Sky Building itself. The basement holds an eating area that is made up to look like Osaka did in the 50s and 60s. There are also some pretty fancy Japanese places that offer a view of an artificial waterfall. Finally, they also have a cheesy gift shop that could be handy if you’re still waffling about what travel souvineers to bring back home. The complex even houses an art movie theater. Good stuff!
That’s all for now! If you’re in Osaka and looking for a while to burn a few hours in Umeda, check out Umeda Sky Building. Good stuff.
I had the opportunity to witness Daimonji yesterday with some friends. We all met on a friend’s balcony in Sanjyo. Pretty spectacular view!
The wikipedia entry on Daimonji, officially called gozan no okuribito, does a better job of explaning the event than I could ever attempt. So read it.
At the most basic level daimonji is entertaining because there are five giant bonfires lit in the mountains… on a deeper level, it is an ancient ritual that marks the end of Obon, sending dead ancestors back to the spirit world.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a zoom lens on me, (actually I don’t own one…) so these photos were all taken with a 35mm. Still I was pretty close huh?