Interesting Japanese Playground Structures #23

Many of the parks and children’s playgrounds in Japan, particularly in Tokyo, are quite poor compared to other countries in terms of space, surroundings and a lack of grass. However, a handful of them do tend to possess extremely creative structures and they will be explored in this series.

Nickname: Octopus Park

Location: 889 Continue reading

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Star Wars Bright Christmas In Marunouchi


In recent years Star Wars has become a big part of the festive season with the releases of ‘The Force Awakens‘ (2015), ‘Rogue One‘ (2016) and ‘The Last Jedi‘ (2017) in mid-December. After a break last year, the third and final part of the sequel trilogy comes to an end this Christmas when ‘The Rise of Skywalker‘ finally sees the light of day.

Force Friday III at the start of September marked the start of the journey towards the ninth film in the Skywalker saga, and last month saw the introduction of Marunouchi Bright Christmas when that area of Tokyo was Continue reading

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Review: Films Set In Japan – Earthquake Bird (2019)

This Netflix movie was released on the video-on-demand streaming service on November 15th and is based on the novel of the same name (2001) by British author Susanna Jones. It stars Swedish actress Alicia Vikander who’s done films in her native Swedish tongue as well as Danish (‘A Royal Affair‘), English and has now added Japanese to that list. She isn’t fluent as many people have reported but just learned her dialogue which it has to be said is quite lengthy in parts.


No surprise really given that she plays a translator in the film and so, with the help of a language coach, she managed to pull it off far better than anyone else has ever managed to do. She should be given a lot of credit but it’s not Continue reading

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Unique Monkey Temple In Tokyo (+ Other Primate-Related Locations Nearby!)

After visiting the sandy-red monkey temple in Saitama it got me wondering if there was anything similar of note in Tokyo. It seemed there was and even better was the fact that it was a fairly short bike ride from the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre. Sarutahiko Shrine (saru means monkey in Japanese) is one of those small shrines it’s very easy to miss.


This video from Peter von Gomm on his YouTube channel gives some information about the shrine. He reports that it’s a branch of Continue reading

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Australia Filming Locations #10 – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

This funny feel-good movie sees a transexual and two drag queens go on a road trip across Australia in a silver-painted bus full of sequinned costumes, glitter, shoes and 70’s pop tunes. Bernadette/Ralph (Terence Stamp), Mitzi/Tick (Hugo Weaving), and Felicia/Adam (Guy Pearce) decide to take their drag performance to Alice Springs for a two-week paid gig.

The first location of prominence is The Imperial Erskineville Hotel (below) which appears on 10 minutes as the trio are given a royal send-off as they embark on their journey having purchased a school bus which they christened “Priscilla.”


The iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House (below) appear seconds later as they Continue reading

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Just One Day In Sapporo But It Was A Busy 24 Hours

Returning to cities on Japan’s main island Honshu is something that will probably happen again and again but the same cannot be said of those cities in Kyushu (the most southerly main island) or Hokkaido (the most northerly main island) which require a bit more time and effort.

Thanks to the Rugby World Cup though I returned to the latter for 24 hours in Sapporo and wanted to make the most of it so crammed a fair amount of stuff into that day. I flew up to New Chitose Airport after work on this particular Saturday evening at the end of September. On arrival at my capsule hotel at 11:30 pm I didn’t go to bed but threw my bag in my locker and immediately went out to meet my friend Mostyn at midnight.

We began with a quick beer at a bar called St John’s Wood where the many Aussie rugby fans (in town for their game earlier in the day against Fiji) had spilled out on to the streets. It was nice to be able to drink in a street-level bar having lived in Tokyo for all these years where bars are often underground or a few floors up a skyscraper building.

By 12:45 am we had gone round the corner to a restaurant called Daruma 6.4 Shop for Genghis Khan BBQ lamb dinner (known in Japanese as Jingisukan) which is one of the dishes Hokkaido is famed for.


There are two reasons why this type of Japanese BBQ is called Genghis Khan. Firstly, lamb (or sheep) is not Continue reading

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This Vending Machine Arguably Gives You The Most Pleasure In All Of Japan!!

Feeling a little worse for wear after a very late night out drinking in Sapporo I was in need of a fizzy drink to give me a sugar-kick the following morning so I thought I’d get a coke and in the land of the vending machine I knew it wouldn’t be too difficult to get one. As I was walking through the Chuo Ward area I could see what looked like a vending machine corner full of Coca Cola vending machines. However, I was in for quite a shock when I stepped beyond the curtain.


Instead of the expected drinks, it was Continue reading

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