Metropolis Issue 832

March 5, 2010
The Negi

If You Need the News, Buy a Newspaper

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Upfront Extra

What: “Wan-dafuru Life” residence card for dogs Why: Itabashi-ku is issuing these certifications as part of an effort to encourage pet owners to register their mutts and have them inoculated for rabies. The card includes a photo of the dog, along with its name, address, birthdate and inoculation history Where: Available at public health centers ...

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Upfront Extra

Most Disappointing White Day Gifts A present that’s cheaper than the Valentine’s Day gift I gave him Tasteless handkerchief or towel Boxed candies intended for everyone at the office Unfamiliar mascot accessory Jewelry that’s not to my taste Love note from someone I’m not attracted to Lingerie Obviously last-minute candies CD of a band he ...

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The Goods

We wouldn’t mind scoring one of these, if only because the umbrella rack at the Metropolis office is reserved for visitors only. Go figure that one out. The Stand Umbrella is, as its name suggests, a brolly that’s able to support itself unaided, thanks to a tripod at its tip that—mercifully—is small enough to ensure ...

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Upfront Extra

Imagine preparing your whole life for a shot at Olympic glory… only to be disqualified because of a technicality half an hour before your event begins. That’s the situation 24-year-old Japanese skeleton racer Nozomi Komuro found herself in on February 19, when it was discovered that her sled lacked an official sticker mandated by the ...

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The Goods

Hot on the heels of last year’s Jelly Belly headphones comes another load of cutesy kit for candy addicts, courtesy of MoreBest. The company’s Jelly Belly netbook and camera cases are tailor-made for the kawaii crowd (just look for the people with more than one strap on their keitai). They’re also on the small size: ...

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Upfront Extra

On February 16, Fast Company magazine released its annual ranking of The World’s Most Innovative Companies. The list raised some eyebrows—not just because Facebook was occupying the top slot, but also because it included only one Japanese corporation, Fast Retailing. Here’s what Steve Nagata at Mobile in Japan had to say… In a global sense, ...

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The Goods

As dreams of a paperless office come closer to fruition, old-school desk accessories are increasingly turning into fetish objects. This must be one of the most scrumptious we’ve come across to date: a gleaming bird statue sculpted from chrome-plated zamak (yeah, we just had to Google that one too), which serves the prosaic function of ...

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The Goods

The traditional shoe of choice for construction workers and ninja impersonators, rubber-soled split-toe jika tabi have been making inroads into trendier circles over the past few years. Recently launched brand Japonista Sole aims to introduce overseas audiences to the phenomenon, and—here’s the clincher—actually has tabi that will fit your clunky foreign feet. Get the practical, ...

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Upfront Extra

Watching Japanese TV at the moment can feel like reliving the horrors of John Huston’s Annie on repeat, thanks to a wanton proliferation of child actors. Every channel we flip to seems to be overrun with the precocious, squawking little runts. Our toes began to curl with the appearance of Nozomi Ohashi, whose star turn ...

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Horoscope

You lose Venus from Pisces as she transits into your solar second house of income. This starts on Sunday, and can come in handy, as Venus is known for her generosity. Flowing through this sector of your chart, be on the lookout for those who offer you gifts, pull out their checkbooks, suddenly need to ...

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Horoscope

Lots going on this week, but when is that not the case? Venus, in all her glory, enters your house of long-distance travel and higher education on Sunday. Higher education can translate as “higher mind,” when you’re seeking spiritual answers. It’s also the position of the guru, meaning an event can occur that brings money ...

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The Goods

With its compact curves and sleek tempered glass surface, the Withings is a scale for the iPhone generation—complete with iPhone app. After measuring your weight and calculating your BMI, fat and lean mass, the unit transmits the results via WiFi and charts them up in an online application, which is also viewable on your keitai. ...

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Upfront Extra

Mar 5 Stewardess Day - JAL posted the results of its first fight-attendant exam on this day in 1931. One-hundred forty women took the test in the hope of becoming “air girls”; three passed Mar 8 Escalator Day - Look no further for an excuse to skip the stairs—Japan’s first escalator was installed in Ueno ...

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Gemini

Getting to the bottom of things is easy for Gemini—after all, you are an Air Sign, ruled by Mercury, and both govern the intellect. The thing is, you don’t like to be held down in all the fuss when there are so many ways to just enjoy life. Career matters will soar, with Jupiter, the ...

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Horoscope

If you have to slow down to get your balance this week, it’s probably worth it. You may be carrying too much ballast around with you. It may not even be your own ballast, but that which you’ve been willing to shoulder as you sort out your priorities. Saturn retrograde in your Sign is eminently ...

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Capricorn

Your step-by-step methodology will work this week, if each step is made firmly. Venus, known for her generosity, moves into your sector of home life on Sunday. You’re likely to add an adornment or receive financial strength to create the level of stability you require. If you’re looking for a place to live, the next ...

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Mediabox

Don’t Bank On It Regarding “Banking with the Dinosaurs” (The Last Word, February 19): I would agree with most of what was written here—if it were written in 1993. I haven’t had a problem with cash machines in Tokyo for a long time. Most convenience stores also have cash machines, and most of these take ...

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Horoscope

Endlessly poring through details, wondering which one will finally bring that “aha!” moment? Holding your feelings in patiently as the whole world seems to have slowed to a snail’s pace? Though you may be biding time with online games and crossword puzzles, you’ll be glad to know the party’s just about to get started. Lovely ...

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Cancer

Lovely Venus moves into your house of career starting Sunday—and not a day too soon! Don’t let Mars retrograde make you think nothing is happening. First, you get a chance to see the games people are playing, so you can duck into your shell and pretend you’re not home. Second, Mars goes direct on Wednesday, ...

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Horoscope

A destiny romance awaits you as Venus enters your love sector on Sunday. By Wednesday, Mars moves direct, and you know how Mars likes to make a match with genuine chemistry! At this point, you can pretty much attract whoever you like, because Uranus is so close to Venus. If you’re already part of a ...

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Horoscope

Look for changes to happen with a quick zing this week. Your ruler, Venus, moves into Aries on Sunday. This connotes two things: events can happen fast, and it’s in your solar twelfth house of what’s going on behind the scenes, so you may not be expecting it. Nothing to worry about—just laugh a lot ...

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Aquarius

The goddess Venus moves into your solar third house on Sunday. She brings options such as being gifted with the legendary “silver tongue,” entertaining your friends and colleagues with your quick wit and snappy comebacks, and enjoying secure interactions in your daily conversations. Mars moves direct on Wednesday, another reason to rejoice. Finally, those plans ...

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Aries

Someone calling just to wind you up? People showing hitherto hidden personality traits? This week, remember that life can sometimes be a cosmic joke. Laughter and fun are recommended. You are not required to take on anyone else’s point of view if it doesn’t serve you. Comfort-loving Venus moves into your first house on Sunday. ...

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Horoscope

Even Scorpios need love. They just keep their guard up, because their passion is so deep. You don’t give yourself away to just anyone. But the sting of rejection—and the fear of it—can sometimes be misinterpreted. Weirdly, rejection isn’t necessarily personal. Not everyone can be what we’d like them to be, even if they try ...

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Tarento Watch

Akina Minami, 20, appeared at an event recently to promote the DVD release of the TV drama Ichigo Seminar, taking the stage in a cute outfit that sent a ripple of delight through the male audience. The show is about an eccentric teacher and students, with Minami playing the popular class queen. However, the starlet ...

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Village Voices

Nissan Motor Co. is hoping to show off its eco awareness and tech savvy with an unusual photo contest. Called “Inspired by Zero”, the competition asks participants to download a digital image from the contest website and tweak it to give it a “zero emission message.” Hopefuls then upload their fiddled photos to a Facebook ...

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Village Voices

This year is the 20th anniversary of Refugees International Japan, which means it’s also the 20th birthday of their annual Art of Dining event. Inspired by the belief that sitting down to enjoy a meal at a beautifully set table is a universal pleasure, the event invites celebrities from various disciplines and countries to design ...

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Q & A

Professional boozer

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The Small Print

THE LOVE BUG An Akita Prefecture company marked Valentine’s Day with a line of cakes and candies shaped like rhinoceros beetles. Sweets maker Komatsu Honten said the little buggers sell out during their limited run each year. While there wasn’t any worm-shaped candy inside, apples imprinted with hearts and love messages did big business for ...

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Photo of the Day

Bonden Matsuri participants struggling up a slippery slope in Yokote, Akita Prefecture. By David M. Weber.

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Global Village

Diplomacy at the person-to-person level

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In Other News

Beckii Cruel, 14, was in Japan for several TV appearances recently. The Isle of Man native has become famous here thanks to online videos she posted of herself dancing to Japanese pop and anime songs (see Pop Life)… Yuko Ogura, 26, is the new face of golfwear brand St. Christopher, but admits that she isn’t ...

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Features

Traditional approaches to language learning are changing

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Star Struck

TV dramas, movies, singing and the theater add up to a busy life for Saki Fukuda

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Word of Mouth

Lovers of gourmet breakfast fare will be excited to learn that famed Aussie chef Bill Granger is opening a new restaurant in Yokohama. Known for revolutionizing Australia’s breakfast culture, as well as attracting celebrity customers like Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio, Granger debuted his first Japan eatery in a beachside Shonan location in 2008. The ...

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Keeping Tabs

It’s hard to resist (or should that be resist giggling at?) a place with a name like Hobo Jungle, especially when the menu consists mostly of Spam (3F, 3-1-21 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/ga06600). Of special note are the Spam musubi “sushi” (¥450) and the honey-drizzled Spam and camembert grill (¥900). If processed meat isn’t really your ...

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Word of Mouth

Serving a variety of creative and healthy Chinese dishes, Tanmaru (3-8-7 Roppongi, Minato-ku; 03-3479-3006) is a new Szechuan eatery in a central Roppongi location. The specialties of the house are steamed items served up in bamboo baskets, including a five-vegetable medley (¥800), seafood assortment (¥1,500) and Okinawan pork (¥1,000). A course menu of six steamed ...

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Keeping Tabs

Over in Ginza we find Manana Tawawa, the latest Spanish-themed venue to open its doors (5F, 8-10-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku; www.la-manana.com). Aside from the usual paella, Iberico pork and tapas assortments, Manana also claims to be Ginza’s only tablao, a nightspot offering food, drink and flamenco. The dancers here put on three shows a night, complete ...

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Bar Life

This year's hottest drink: Korean hillbilly booze

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Dining Diary

When a Chowhound user asked recently where to find the spiciest noodles in Tokyo, the resounding vote was for Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto. Sweet jaysus, those gourmand geeks were right. While dedicated spice heads should make the pilgrimage to the original shop in Kamiitabashi, which recently marked its tenth birthday and boasts a wider menu, Nakamoto ...

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Word of Mouth

“Think global, eat local.” That could be the motto of Chikappa (4-3-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e736201), a newly opened Italian restaurant in Ginza. The menu here may be European, but the chefs source all their ingredients from Kyushu, including beef from Kumamoto, free-range Miyazaki chicken and Saga fruits. Lunch features a buffet of vegetable dishes that ...

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Restaurant Reviews

Sip a cappuccino in style at this open-air café/restaurant

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Keeping Tabs

Good news for Koenji denizens: Planet 3rd has officially reopened (2-49-18 Koenji-Minami, Suginami-ku; www.cafecompany.co.jp). This café/bar, from the folks who brought us Wired Café and Respekt in Shibuya, originally closed down at the beginning of 2008 when the building housing it was earmarked for demolition (it’s still standing). Visitors to the new shop can apparently ...

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Local Flavors

Sports stars, TV tarento and dead actors are all getting into the restaurant business

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Live Reports

Daikanyama Unit, March 1

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Art

A major Impressionist is thrown into sharp focus at the NACT

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Japan Beat

They aren’t purists, but 20 years on the road testifies to Skapara’s obsession with Jamaican dance music

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Sports

Retired champion Hwang Su-Il explains the art of fighting

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Clubbing

The Aussie DJ ’s quarter-century career shows no signs of slowing

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Pop Life

The video sharing site is giving rise to unlikely media stars

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Agenda

Shamisen sensei Kumiya Fujimoto is the maestro behind Japanese Lounge Night, which seeks to bring the austere world of traditional Japanese music to the masses (or at least the regulars of expat haunt The Pink Cow). Kumiya and masters of other traditional instruments, including the multi-stringed koto and shakuhachi, host monthly performances at which foreign ...

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Agenda

American “illuminated sculpture” artist Christopher M. Gaston presents a collaborative exhibition that looks forward to the fast-approaching cherry blossom season. A ceramic artist who arrived in Japan in 1990 to apprentice with local pottery masters, Gaston (aka Xenovision) creates massive ceramic columns and totems that he illuminates from inside with LEDs and neon. For “Sakurasaku” ...

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Agenda

Belly dance shows are pretty easy to come by in Tokyo, but few can compare to the spectacle of Amani. Born Angel Ayoub, the Lebanese dancer is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of the art, with a repertoire that extends across the Middle East, taking in the dance styles of Armenia, Morocco and Baladi. ...

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Agenda

Contemporary dancer and choreographer Kenshi Nohmi offers an “invitation to a catharsis” in the form of his new piece, White Reflection. With a background in modern and contemporary dance as well as ballet at Juliard in New York, Nohmi founded Dance Teatro 21 as a vehicle for his ideas about breathing and physical expression. Words ...

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Agenda

One of Japan’s favorite ballerinas, Nina Ananiashvili, celebrates the 20th anniversary of her Japan debut as the State Ballet of Georgia returns to Tokyo. Under Ananiashvili, the company will stage two classics: Romeo & Juliet and Giselle. In the former, the famously expressive Ananiashvili will play the part of Juliet for the first time in ...

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Eiga

It’s fitting for a film with the title Kotoba no nai Fuyu (literally, “Wordless Winter”) to be a quiet, lilting work that offers bursts of emotional intensity. Fusako (Saki Takaoka) works at a stable and lives with her father (Toshiyuki Kitami), a pharmacist, in a rural Hokkaido town. A natural beauty, she fears her youth ...

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Movie News

If you’ve ever wanted to lend your voice to an animated film, here’s your chance. Walt Disney Studios Japan is holding auditions for the Japanese dubbing of Disney/Pixar movie Toy Story 3, to be released July 10. In Toy Story 2, protagonist Woody was voiced by actor Toshiaki Arasawa, 46, while Tokoro Joji, 55, took ...

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Movie Reviews

OK, people who pay money to see a movie so named are not expecting great art, but this ultraviolence-for-its-own-sake gore-fest takes the pink potato. A rogue former member of an evil, child-abducting, contract-killing ninja clan seeks revenge, yada yada, and engages in endless acrobatic but unmemorable one-against-dozens battles. Heads roll, limbs are severed, bodies are ...

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Movie News

A documentary-drama titled 3.20 Sarin Subway Attack 15 Years On—Just what happened that day in Kasumigaseki? will air on March 20, exactly 15 years on from the attacks. The drama will center on Shizue Takahashi, 62, the widow of a staff member at Kasumigaseki subway station who died after trying to remove a liquid sarin ...

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