Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Flash..Chocolate and Beer

The latest KitKat product Ive sampled is a tie-in with McDonalds.The KitKat Caramel Macchiato bars have an attractive marbled appearance and are very sweet.The caramel flavour envelops you as soon as you tear open the wrappers.I cant see myself eating these regularly as I found the sweetness too overpowering and prefer something a little more subtle.

Asahi's new Ginger Beer caught my eye recently after seeing it advertised on subway carriages.The alcoholic ginger beer has a smooth ginger aftertaste with an emphasis on the alcohol rather than being merely fizzy lolly water.I wouldnt drink it regularly but it has a certain novelty value.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Perry and Harris Exhibition

The Perry and Harris Exhibition..The Dawn of U.S-Japan Relations..

The current exhibition at the Nagoya Boston Museum of Fine Arts looks at the start of the U.S and Japanese relationship and the US-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce signed in 1858.
The exhibition concentrates on Commodore Matthew Perry who was responsible for the initial negotiations and Townsend Harris the first US Consul General in Japan.
On display are various books,reports,drawings and gifts associated with the meetings and negotiations between the United States officials and the Japanese bakufu or shogunate rulers.
While there appears an overabundance of books,scrolls and other printed matter particularly on the second floor of the display,there are enough flags,hats,swords and examples of lacquerware and porcelain to keep ones interest from wandering.
I was pleased that there are lots of English language captions explaining the history and process that led to the Treaty of Amity and Commerce being signed.I was also grateful for the absence of tinkling piano background music.
The exhibition runs until December 21st.Admission is 1,200yen per adult.The Nagoya Boston Museum is near the south exit of JR Kanayama Station in Nagoya.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Flash..

This poster pasted on a nearby telephone pole caught my attention this week.
Its for an upcoming concert.Of that Im fairly certain.However more intriguing is whether the event is called Tokai Bullshit or this is the name of the band?
Whatever the case,using "bullshit" to promote something hardly suggests its going to be any good does it?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nagoya City Art Museum October 2008 Exhibit

The latest exhibition opened last Saturday at the Nagoya City Art Museum located in Shirakawa Park near Fushimi.It runs until December 14th.
The exhibition consists of 64 paintings and collages from 23 artists from the first half of the 20th century.The items come from the K20 collection of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen in Dusseldorf,Germany.
The bulk of the art on display are works from Picasso and Klee though other painters who also feature include Chagall,Magritte and Miro.
Apart from the opening statement at the entrance there are no English language captions.
There are a number of "isms" on display in this exhibition including "expressionism", "cubism","surrealism"and one I'd never heard of"fauvism".
Consulting my dog-eared copy of "Art for Dummies" "fauvism"is described as paintings ...."in which the landscape and human figures had become a riot of conflicting colors -flesh tones and purple combinations"pg169.
"These works were derided by critics as "Fauvism" a French word for "wild beasts"p165 Matisse is one artist who used such garish and dissonant colours but his painting in this collection,"The Gulf of Saint Tropez"didnt strike me as being particularly garish.Maybe it was in 1904 but the passing of time makes it seem quite conventional now.
There are some nice bright Picasso cubist paintings with the usual jumbled figures I associate with his work."Art for Dummies" defines Cubism thus"Cubism is essentially the fragmenting of three-dimensional forms into flat areas of pattern and colour, overlapping and intertwining so that shapes and parts of the human anatomy are seen from the front and the back at the same time.The style was created by Picasso in tandem with his great friend Georges Braque".pg165
There is a Braque still life included in the exhibition and its interesting to compare it with a similar work by Picasso.You'd swear the two pieces were by the same artist.

Other than Picasso,Paul Klee contributes the majority of works on display.Theres a good selection of his work here from 1909 to 1940 and materials he used including pen and Indian ink,watercolours and pastels.Some of his works with its dots,crescents and geometric shapes seemed to hark back to early Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Finally I shouldnt forget to note the earlier surrealist paintings of Magritte which just had me scratching my head.Nor the annoying tinkling piano music that accompanies a video of the German gallery.

Id recommend this exhibition if only for the fact there is an absence of Impressionist painters and paintings which seem to be the bread and butter of galleries here.
To my simple mind its beneficial to see and appreciate other forms of art that are less accessible and more challenging from time to time.
The exhibition as Ive typed above runs till December 14th and costs 1,300yen per adult at the door.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Flash..Autumn Desserts

A couple of seasonal desserts.The first one is obviously aimed at the Halloween crowd.The small orange pumpkin container is filled with an appropriately coloured custard and bulked up with small fragments of shortbread.

This second dessert is more traditional fare.A thin biscuit base supports a small jelly like cake topped with various berries.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nagoya Autumn Festival

The Nagoya Festival held last weekend October 11th and 12th is the largest autumn festival in the area.
The biggest attraction is a parade led by the big three local heroes Nobunga Oda,Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa along with their courtiers all dressed in period clothing.Various floats,marching teams and other groups also take part in the parades which take place round Sakae and central Nagoya.

In my neighbourhood of Osu Kannon there are also various events and performers who appear over the two days.Jugglers,comic duos,dancers and musical groups are scheduled to perform throughout the day and into the early evening.

One of the more crowd pleasing,eye catching attractions was a group of gold painted dancers.Covered from head to toe in shiny gold paint and wearing skimpy bikinis,both the male and female members of the group were mobbed by people trying to get a photo of them.It was the first time I'd tried using my new camera at night so the results arent that good.The light reflecting off the dancers bodies plus their continual movement and the hordes surrounding them meant it was a challenge to get a good shot.

After the dancers had finished performing on the steps of the Osu Kannon Temple they descended into the crowds below armed with donation boxes.Even then it was difficult to get a reasonably clear view and get close enough to allow for a photograph.

Its Been One Year or Thereabouts....

Its been one year or thereabouts since Nova Corporation,then one of the biggest language schools with branches throughout Japan,bit the dust.
Old vacant shuttered premises,faded rabbit flags and twisted rusted metal signs still bear testimony to its demise.
How long its mutant bastard child GCom-Nova remains in the game is anyones guess.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Flash..Some Random Photos

One of the signs that autumn is here in Nagoya is the appearance of cosmos flowers.

Another edition to the KitKat range spotted earlier in the week.Bite sized down sized KitKats.

Another shot of cosmos flowers.You can see them blooming in garden plots and vacant lots.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Some Green Polar Bears and Long Necked Geese,Some Humpty Backed Camels and

A small article in The Japan Times newspaper September 24 page 3 caught my attention.
Apparently visitors to Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens here in Nagoya are "shocked by the colour" of the polar bears.The polar bears are no longer white after swimming in a pond this summer with an overgrowth of algae.The bears are expected to return to their natural colour when the algae growth subsides in November according to a zoo offical quoted in the article.
Curiosity aroused I went along to the Zoo yesterday morning.
I must state from the outset Im not a great fan of zoos and this one in particular I find depressing.I can block out the howls of some distressed feline creatures or the cringing,cowering birds that sit in the shadows of their cells.But its hard to ignore the general down at heel air that pervades the whole area.Closed,under repair toilet blocks,missing tiles,faded,chipped paint.
Once at the polar bear enclosure I notice that staff have put up a folder of photos and an explanation as to why the bears are green.Certainly the green tinge is less evident today than earlier in the year if the photos are anything to go by.And the animals themselves dont seem to be suffering because of the algae.

However I cant understand why this issue came about in the first place.How did the situation arise that the algae grew.Wasnt the pool being scrubbed or even drained on a regular basis?And why once the algae bloom started wasnt something done?What measures were taken to stop the algae growth?Is there a water filtering system in operation?Are procedures in place to ensure that the water quality doesnt cause other health problems?
You have to bear in mind that adult admission is only 500yen.Compare this to the 2000yen admission charge for the Port of Nagoya Aquarium.I would quite happily pay double the current zoo entry fee if it meant that the bare essentials could be provided and the place given a much needed facelift such as a lick of paint and larger extended cages.

Buying Bentos

It seems to be getting harder and harder these days to find a reasonable bento or lunch box around the 500yen mark.Instead of increasing the price,some shops opt not to fill one of the sections or partitions in the boxes.Or they choose to use cheaper ingredients and provide less in each section.Either way I find it discouraging to buy a half empty box or one that wasnt as generously filled as before.
My only choice then is to spend a little extra in the hope I can be satisfied.The lunchbox above was in the 600-700 yen price range.
In the top middle section one can find a few shrimps while directly below are some spicy chicken pieces.To the right of these chicken nibbles are two small Chinese like dumplings filled with minced beef and vegetables.Two small offerings of rice help to bulk out the box.
What it lacked in quantity it made up for in variety and to my mind was reasonable value for money.

Halloween Cookies

A big shout out and thanks to Halli for sending me these homemade Halloween cookies.Im pleased to say that they survived the attentions of the Japanese Customs officers who zealously unpacked and inspected the box.I dont know what they must have thought was inside the half metre or so of bubble wrap and oven foil.Cheers again and dont forget to check her website

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Flash..A Few More Dream Car Show Shots

A few final shots from the Dream Car Show 2008 held at Port Messe Nagoya last weekend.
The first one shows a couple of "kangaru" or campaign girls posing beside a motorcycle.

Not my dream car but given the driving habits of drivers in Nagoya it seems a good choice of vehicle.Im just not sure where I could park it. This armoured vehicle along with two or three others was part of the Self Defence Force display at the show.

This bright shiny racing car was displayed by a custom paint company.Many specialised companies had their products on display including car stereo,car television and audio firms.Body trim and paint companies as well as hubs,tyres and wheels were on show.

Another kangaru posing with her sponsors product in hand.

This last shot shows a car with its gleaming paintwork including a bikini clad model featuring prominently on both sides of the car.On the hood or bonnet of the car the said model is sprawled suggestively and seems to have problems keeping her top on.
The vehicle drew many admiring glances.Im sure would be a distraction to other drivers if driven on the streets.