Metropolis Issue 831

February 26, 2010
Close Ups

Picturesque, convenient and mercifully bereft of traffic lights, the 5km route around the Imperial Palace moat has long been a popular haunt for runners of all stripes. In belated recognition of this fact, a number of dedicated running stations have begun to spring up in the area over the past few years, providing a welcome ...

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Tech Know

It’s easy to tell when a press release has been translated from Japanese, rather than written in self-standing English, such is the persistence of a certain, well, way of thinking. Take Sanyo’s missive announcing the latest Xacti camcorder: “It is ideal for beautifully capturing not only special events, but also scenes from daily life…” Fortunately ...

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Upfront Extra

The latest in Tohato Corp’s line of super-spicy Bokun Habanero snacks is dubbed Saikyo, which can mean both “most powerful” and “most evil.” Intended for those who felt that previous versions were too wimpy, Tohato used corn instead of potatoes this time around, because “corn melts quickly and the habanero spice hits directly as it ...

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Tech Know

Apart from the mega sales, what’s the one very obvious aspect that the iPod, iPhone and (soon, for sure) iPad all have in common? Yep: a booming after-sales market in costly accessories. Naturally, being unreconstructed cynics, we can see most of them for the baubles they are—diamond-studded iPhone case, anyone?—but TDK’s new i-centric headphones stand ...

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Upfront Extra

In late 2009, the crowd fell into a reverent silence as Maki Asakawa took the stage at Shinjuku’s Pit Inn. Clad in one of her signature black velvet dresses and inscrutable shades, the 67-year-old singer remarked, before launching into a pensive set, “It’s been 41 years, and the venue has changed, but I still feel ...

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Tech Know

It’s pretty much a given these days that we should recycle our old cell phones, but it’s equally clear that most folks don’t. That’s probably why the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has started a campaign to light a fire under the recalcitrants, using the power of anime. The current scheme features a ...

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Upfront Extra

Talk about sore losers. Following a 2-0 loss to FC Tokyo in the finals of the Nabisco Cup in November, players from the J. League squad Kawasaki Frontale threw a hissy fit. During the awards ceremony, several teammates took off their runner-up medals and refused to shake hands with visiting dignitaries; it was even reported ...

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Upfront Extra

What: English screenings of Yasunobu Takashi’s horror flick Locked Out (left) and the ensemble drama Lost & Found by Nobuyuki Miyake. Where: Cinemart Roppongi (www.cinemart.co.jp/theater/roppongi) When: March 3, 11 and 17 (Locked Out); March 4, 10 and 14 (Lost & Found) Why: The Global Recognition series presents Japanese independent films that have gained praise and ...

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Tech Know

Whether you’re already committed to the whole cellphone Android thing or only bi-curious, NTT DoCoMo has just provided another opportunity to savor the open-source phone OS with the April arrival of Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X10 handset. The smartphone will need to be better put-together than the ghastly Android model DoCoMo attempted to sell last year, ...

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Tech Know

We hear a lot about the impact of our cars on the environment, but very little about that of the vast container ships that transport the autos around the world from factory to market. For example, did you know that the 16 largest such ships emit as much sulfurous pollution as all the cars on ...

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Upfront Extra

“One after another, department stores across the country are closing. Even in Tokyo’s Ginza district, the Yurakucho outlet of Seibu department store in the landmark Yurakucho Mullion complex is to close its doors… Shopping is not simply an act of exchanging money for a product. It also has to do with feelings of expectation, satisfaction ...

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Aries

If you’re feeling restless (not just exhausted from too many dreams of change and chocolate), it’s no wonder. Your ruling planet, Mars, has been retrograde since late December! Having to put things on the back burner while shoring up on the details is no picnic. However, it does bode well for smooth sailing in the ...

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Q & A

Business entrepreneur & mother

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Taurus

A rich diet will help you feel satiated, and then it’s back to lean cuisine, so to speak. That’s the great thing about being a Taurus. Your ruler Venus insists on comfort and beauty, but then your practical side keeps things in check—a necessity for the hours you will spend either on your career or ...

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Star Struck

Disney’s newest fairytale signals a return to the studio’s roots

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Virgo

Romance is often attributed to Pisces and Libra, but in truth, you are an idealistic lover. Your need for clarity of thought and deed also extends to your ability to keep romance in a crystal-clear heart. Vesta in your Sign brings wisdom to the choices you now make. The Moon in Virgo on Sunday and ...

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Aquarius

Getting exactly what you want may make you happy for a while. Then, greener pastures may beckon. It’s hard not to feel restless with Mars retrograde, though this is all about to change. At the moment, though, Mercury applying to Neptune in your Sign (conjunct exactly on Saturday) may have a thing or two to ...

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Upfront Extra

Most popular athletes and spectator sports Sports Professional baseball High school baseball Ekiden Golf Marathon Figure skating/Sumo (tie) Athletes Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners outfielder Ryo Ishikawa, golfer Mao Asada, figure skater Hideki Matsui, former New York Yankees DH Hakuho, sumo wrestler Tomoaki Kanemoto, Hanshin Tigers outfielder Masashi Tanaka, Rakuten Eagles pitcher Tatsunori Hara, Yomiuri Giants ...

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Cancer

Slowing down may not be what you want, as the external trappings of your life begin to change. But it may be necessary, with the influence of Pluto bringing your carefully constructed world to new windows of possibilities. You’re in for the long haul, so get as comfortable as you can. Mars travels over the ...

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Scorpio

The Scorpio Moon on Wednesday and Thursday is something you can look to for increased magnetic attraction—or experiences of a more combative nature. It’s your choice, because you’re the one in the group who can feel something coming before it shows up. Frustration with Mars retrograde is understandable, because projects move slowly until Mars is ...

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Pisces

The technical and the magical join together to make this week unlike any other. The only thing you need to do is keep walking—or swimming—through it. Someone behind the scenes is trying to bring you up to the level you deserve. While you may have a few buttons pushed, it’s worth the temporary discomfort. Four ...

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The Small Print

HOLY SMOKES! White ash and steam could be seen spewing from the sea when an underwater volcano known as Fukutokuoka no Ba erupted just north of Iwo Jima. In Hiroshima, the municipal government announced plans to re-examine the effects of the radioactive “black rain” that fell on the city after the atomic bombing in 1945. ...

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Sagittarius

Following your dream means not ducking into the local café and dreaming your day away until the opportunity is gone. Fear is just the miracle before it has transformed. What have you got to lose? Get out those old dreams from under the bed and shake off the dust. The universe is in a very ...

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Gemini

Time to spread your wings. Mars is still retrograde in your house of communication, but that doesn’t mean you have to hold back forever. Exercise and getting a breath of fresh air is important this week. People may react to your truths, but in fact, it’s high time for you to be counted. What you ...

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Tech Know

Lastly, anyone with a business eye on the all-pervasive cellphone market here in Japan will want to pick up a copy of a new book that promises to peel back the layers and reveal the secrets to becoming a success in such a cutthroat market. Called The Six Immutable Laws of Mobile Business, the ¥4,634 ...

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In Other News

Actress Mari Hoshino (The Negotiator: The Movie) has been enlisted to help promote a campaign to attract women to join the fire brigade… ’80s rock band Anzen Chitai will tour Japan for the first time in seven years this summer. Their “Completely Revival” tour starts at the Yokosuka Arts Theatre in Kanagawa Prefecture on July ...

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Tarento Watch

Grammy-winning country-pop singer Taylor Swift got a rousing welcome during her first visit to Japan last week. Arriving at 6am after a flight from Australia, she was greeted in the terminal by 150 fans who had camped out at the airport overnight. One particularly eager girl gave her a Hello Kitty doll and a sign ...

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Libra

The moment there are emotional threads tied to your wrists, it’s easy for you to feel restless. This is doubly true this week, as Mars continues to be retrograde. While this desire to move, change jobs, your hairstyle or your partner, may not be the deeper answer, it might be what presents itself to you. ...

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Leo

Mars travels over the Moon in your Sign on Friday and Saturday. Ambition and sensibilities blend to create the environment necessary for you to make your next leap. While Mars is still retrograde, you may find it useful to take care of those necessary requirements “behind the scenes” before you come out to center stage ...

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Capricorn

Even if you try to hide, it’s unlikely you’ll go unnoticed this week. While Capricorns are famous for their good works and shy exterior, your heart is likely to be warmed in just the right way as Venus connects to Uranus. This happens in your house of communications—and where you travel each day—so it works ...

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Features

Tokyo’s artists and restaurateurs team up to create an art revolution

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Photo of the Day

Loved-up at the Metropolis Valentine’s Glitterball. By William Greenawalt.

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Advertorial

Spend your next vacation in the Eden of Japan

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Close Ups

Collaborations between celebrities and fashion brands are nothing new in Japan, but usually they amount to little more than using a famous face to draw attention to the latest lucrative trend. However, a new tie-up looks set to make consumers think about what they wear and where the money spent on it actually goes. Harry ...

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Body & Soul

Young creators rule the school in Tokyo’s shitamachi

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The Last Word

Asashoryu’s retirement exposes the cracks in sumo’s management

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Word of Mouth

The most common complaints about French food in Japan are that the portions are too small, the prices too high, and the restaurants too precious. Enter Marine Club (2F, 3-14 Minato-Machi, Naka-ku; www.marine-club.co.jp), a renovated bistro in the Kannai area of Yokohama that offers up authentic French home cooking and wine at reasonable prices. The ...

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Keeping Tabs

En is tucked away in the commuter enclave of Nishi-Kasai, so it’s no surprise to find that one of the bar’s specialties is Hoppy (2F, 3-17-12 Nishi-Kasai, Edogawa-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e951000). This non-alcoholic “beer-like” beverage was a Showa-era staple, either served on its own (¥250) or mixed with shochu (¥380). Drinkers who prefer to avoid fake beer ...

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Word of Mouth

Specializing in “champagne and rolls,” Sora (5F, 4-8-6 Ueno, Taito-ku; www.sora-japan.com) is a flash new dining spot that opened January 31 in Ueno. The funky interior is “inspired by stars and outer space,” with shimmering curtains separating the various dining spaces and otherworldly fish tanks. All customers are presented with a welcome glass of Moët ...

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Keeping Tabs

With the construction of the new Tokyo Tower along Sumida River, some may argue that Asakusa is losing its traditional feel. But at the newly opened Furusato Sakaba, at least, the shitamachi spirit is alive and well (1-1-13 Nishi-Asakusa, Taito-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e991600). This izakaya features homey tatami mat seating and warm lighting backed by a menu ...

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Beer

The brewmaster at Ikspiari’s Harvest Moon Brewery talks beer

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Restaurant Reviews

Hike out to Kiba for a true taste of Italy

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Keeping Tabs

The goal of new dining bar Yagentei, according to its website, is to “offer dishes that will surprise” (2-14-27 Akasaka, Minato-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g942100/). Whether they succeed in that mission remains to be seen, but one thing which does come as a surprise is the upscale hangout’s delivery service, providing hot-from-the-fryer tonkatsu and bento to central Tokyo. ...

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Dining Diary

The hardest thing about eating out in Shimokitazawa is simply choosing where to go. With a diverse range of restaurants and cheap B-kyu eateries just waiting to be found, ending up with a mediocre meal is a major bummer. So we were psyched to discover Hiroki, a tiny joint tucked away in one of the ...

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Bar Reviews

Craft brews and a fun crowd make this Roppongi bar a winner

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Word of Mouth

Top-notch Napa wines with seasonal California-inspired cooking—that’s what’s on offer at Food & Wine Amandine in Ebisu (2-10-10 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku; www.elegantevita.co.jp/eng). The restaurant offers a lively atmosphere thanks to its open kitchen and jazz BGM; after 10pm, the lights are dimmed and house music fills the air—in keeping with the current trend at hip Napa ...

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CDs & DVDs

Odd Blood

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CDs & DVDs

Kiss My Rocks

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CDs & DVDs

Tapestry

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Music

A yin-yang relationship fires America’s most successful lounge act

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CDs & DVDs

Don’t Care Who Knows That

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Dance

Kansai’s Ensemble Sonne enlists free jazzer Kazuhisa Uchihashi for its new piece

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Clubbing

The electro crew is more than a DJ collective—it’s a movement

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Books

Let’s get one thing out of the way: yes, the cover’s dreadful. Mitsuyo Kakuta may be one of the most lauded novelists of her generation, but the English edition of The Eighth Day comes sheathed in what looks like a vanity publisher hand-me-down. Don’t, for heaven’s sake, let that put you off: this is engrossing, ...

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Agenda

Japanese music connoisseur and NME correspondent Daniel Robson launches a new monthly rock showcase at Shibuya’s Ruby Room this month. Bad Noise!, says Robson, is intended to create the exact opposite of a live-house atmosphere, “in the hope that punters enjoy not only the band they came to see but the others on the bill ...

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Agenda

Storming off the Asian steppes to conquer the world, the Mongols were a brutal nation of nomadic plunderers. Or were they? A new blockbuster exhibition tells a different story. As the Mongols consolidated their far-flung empire in the 13th century, they brought sophisticated governance, portable housing, wagons, saddles and harnesses for horses, bows and arrows ...

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Agenda

As much a personal history as an art show, “Exhibition of Frank Brangwyn” tells the story of the British arts polymath and his relationship with Kojiro Matsukata, the industrial magnate whose collection formed the basis of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. A self-trained painter and designer, Brangwyn helped Matsukata, the first president of ...

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Agenda

Aside from an unhealthy obsession with handbags, what do Japanese and French women have in common? On the surface, perhaps not a lot, but as the current government’s policies indicate, Japan is learning from France’s experience in dealing with gender discrimination and a declining birthrate. To celebrate the March 8 International Women’s Day, the Nikkei ...

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Agenda

After 33 performances in 18 locations, The Japan Contemporary Dance Network winds up its tenth “We’re Gonna Go Dancing!!” program with a weekend of events in Tokyo. Among the acts slated to perform March 5-6 are Vienna-based body-and-voice performer Akemi Takeya, who will present Feeler, and the duo of Hiroyuki and Masanori Hoshika who, along ...

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