So, after spending a whole five days back in my exciting Kansai countryside, I was on my way to Tokyo again on Friday night, this time to fulfill a very specific (and lovely) calendar imperative.

This 48 hour stint in Tokyo was much more compact than last week’s but we still managed to fit a couple funandhappythings.

Saturday, Ken and Shizu drove us to Design Festa where we spent the afternoon looking for those elusive two or three pearls of awesome/weird/crazy, usually lost in a sea of homemade flea-market t-shirts and Tokyu Hands-style jewelry (hey, starving art students need to eat too). To be honest, nothing mind-blowing (and not even that much of the usual WTF shock stock that people tend to expect from Design Festa)… but some entertaining live shows:
Dora video played drums while random bits of video samples (including at some point, a strident Japanese CM for toilet air freshener) played in the back. The result sounded at times not quite unlike a Death Metal band, from which you’d remove everyone save for the drummer: loud, energetic and quite funny.
Somewhere on the main stage, three butt-naked guys covered in gold paint and sporting massive fully-erect fake penises (also covered in gold) were executing some sort of butoh-like contemporary dance involving a chain and the music from William Tell overture. Somehow, Design Festa always seem to feature a few naked guys doing strange contemporary dances. Never twice the same guys.
The last act we caught before leaving, Crazy Angel Company wasn’t breaking new grounds, comparatively, but did a nice job of livening the venue a bit with their energetic Japanese-style brass band music and accompanying choreography. They closed with their own rendition of the Soran Bushi, a famous Japanese folk classic with an infectious back-and-forth chorus, of which H. eventually grew very tired, after a weekend of constant humming from my part.

On the way back and after running a couple errands for the following day, we lucked out in grabbing a table at Chacha Yufudachi on a saturday night with no reservation (strange, I know, to be going to a Kyoto-cuisine place while on a trip to Tokyo, but both Chacha branches are among my favourite restaurants in Shinjuku, both for the food and the atmosphere). We capped the night with a few drinks at Albatross’ brand new extension in Golden Gai: in fact, merely the first floor of their previous location, which has been added as a semi-independent branch to the second-floor’s bar. Same familiar faces and friendly crowd as usual, although we unfortunately had to make it home for last train in order to be fresh and rested for the next day.

And next day was awesome, indeed: lovely people, gorgeous groom and bride, delicious food, excellent wine (of course) and charming surroundings… But I won’t bore you with the details of my gorgeous friends’ happiness: after all, if you are of those who care, you were probably there (and if you weren’t, you know where to find much better reports than my own very incomplete remembrances of that wonderful day).

One (short) night and a nozomi ride later, I am back at plotting world domination, one DNA strand at a time… Which reminds me I might finally get to that piece about the why’s and how’s of Bioinformatics this week, if I can escape the tempting embrace of procrastination long enough…

Last week was Golden Week: a string of bank holidays eagerly awaited by every last Japanese salaryman. Four or five days usually spent busy sitting in massive traffic jams in order to reach one of Japan’s perennial vacationing spots, presumably amidst a few million other people intent on same.

Yes, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that you are better off staying at home during Golden Week and wait until pretty much any of the remaining 51 weeks in the year to take your vacation at half the price and half the crowds.

Unfortunately, things being what they are (and my days off being what they are), Golden Week vacation or no vacation, were my only options.

After securing two extra days to make it an actual week (Golden it may be, but that “week” ends on a Wednesday night), I took a rest from the deadly boring lovely Kansai countryside and headed back for my hometown: Tokyo.

Although I would have been just happy sharing my time between sitting on the grass in Yoyogi and drinking under the bar in Shinjuku, relationship diplomacy dictated that a compromise be found with the traditional holiday activities and a 2-day trip to nearby Choshi was on the program. Considering its proximity to Tokyo (about 2h by train from Tokyo station), Choshi peninsula is a pleasant enough destination for a weekend, provided you do not stay anywhere close to the main city (your usual ugly mix of generic concrete jungle and urban decay that make 99.9% of all Japanese cities in rural areas) and head out for the smaller villages along the coast. Although the sea still wasn’t warm enough for bathing, we kept busy with a couple walks around the coast (cue obligatory lighthouse, seaside temples etc.) as well as inland crossing through countless patches of cabbage (a local specialty, apparently). Among the locales accessed through the picturesque Choshi Dentetsu railway line, Choshi boasts of Inubō, a station whose name literrally means “Woof” (or, in a less vivid translation, “Dog’s Bark”).