Metropolis Issue 851

July 16, 2010
Tech Know

Right about now, it’s a fair bet that many of us are dragging fans out of cupboards and discovering just how much crud builds up on those things once they start spinning. That and the fact that violently rotating blades are also slightly scary. Among other things, that’s what motivated British designer James Dyson to ...

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In Other News

Anzen Chitai rocker Koji Tamaki, 51, has a very devoted groupie on the band’s national tour: his girlfriend Noriko Aota, 42, who is giving concert-by-concert updates on her blog… All-girl pop group Morning Musume helped kick off Japan Expo in Paris earlier this month… Actress Maki Horikita (Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac), 21, will take ...

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Tech Know

Hmm—how to explain DotWar without sounding idiotic, infantile or possibly both? Well, it’s like this: you tell the site your Twitter handle, choose another with which to, er, do battle, and then let it decide which of you is the winner. Oh, and it does this by turning your avatar into an army of thousands ...

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Sagittarius

When Pluto transited your Sign, you grew in spiritual stature and lost part of your attachment to worldly things. Now Pluto is in your house of finance. Obviously, its role is to spur you on to greater financial strength, regardless of where you are now. Being patient and astute is the key to building your ...

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Q & A

Online Japanese teacher

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Upfront Extra

Who: Bikini-clad waitresses Where: Roppongi Beer Garden When: Every Mon-Sat until late summer Why: With staff like this serving the beer, who cares what it tastes like? See Bar Review, issue 851 for more details

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Features

Once upon a time, a foreign guy could transform himself from zero to hero just by stepping off the plane at Narita. But with a tanking job market and a changing singles scene, is it last call for Charisma Man?

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Mediabox

RIDING ROUND IN CIRCLES Regarding “Pedal Policy” (Cars & Bikes, July 2): Personally, I find cyclists a pain in the teeth, and it’s precisely because of the lack of clear rules. Some cyclists will give a hand signal before they turn, while others won’t and will just pull out in front of your car, secure ...

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Scorpio

It’s your turn to feel in sync this week. The Scorpio Moon on Sunday and Monday justifies trials and tribulations you’ve recently been through. By Tuesday, you’ll feel your enthusiasm growing, and there may even be a financial perk arriving soon as well. Playing your cards carefully, you’ll notice that your friends will back you ...

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Close Ups

Gut’s Dynamite Cabarets got off to a raucous start at the Autumn/Winter 2007 edition of Japan Fashion Week. The Tokyo-based brand’s runway show was every bit as outrageous as its name was nonsensical, featuring bodybuilders, transvestites, transsexuals, models of indeterminate gender and blaring disco remixes, all held at an ungodly hour in the morning. “We ...

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Aquarius

All the wrestling with ideals and hopes and the merging with the mundane—i.e., daily life—takes a toll, especially on an Aquarian. This is not to say it’s not worth your time. Or that it will not be. With hopeful idealism in the face of it all, you match Sagittarians’ nerve for racing to help others ...

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Upfront Extra

Osaka Castle is getting a makeover—or at least, it will be if Chamber of Commerce & Industry head Osamu Tanaka has his way. The tourism promotion chairman recently unveiled a plan to turn the area into a “history theme park,” where visitors can get a taste of what the Edo-era city was really like. According ...

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The Last Word

It’s time for the yearly exodus from Tokyo

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The Small Print

This week's required reading

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Tech Know

You know how when you’re spying on your neighbors through binoculars you always wish it was really a long-lens camera so you could record that suspect behavior for posterity? No, neither do we, but Thanko seems to think that way, judging by its new Digital Camera Binoculars, which win points for clear-thinking from the naming ...

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Taurus

As the rest of the world climbs out of its caves (emotional, financial, astrological), you may discover that you’re here to have fun. All this tension and changeability brings out the joyous wunderkind in you. The heck with constant stress—Taurus is here to stabilize the moment. Love is a matter to behold, as Venus, Vesta, ...

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Gemini

Impending doom is not your forte. Friendships that involve fun at a moment’s notice are more your style. That’s likely to happen, too, with jovial Jupiter enhancing Uranus’ streak of genius. Someone serious is likely to get the picture, as Venus moves into your homebase sector. Finally, your well mapped-out plans have arrived. Romance hinges ...

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Star Struck

Okinawan actress-model Yu Yamada is having a banner year

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Tech Know

On a related note, if you’re tired of seeing your Twitter avatar fail to best its DotWar rivals every time you let it off the leash, then maybe it’s time for a lick of paint courtesy of locally made iPhone/iPad app Facemakr. Built by Tokyo-based Dadako Studios, Facemakr is actually a whole lot more than ...

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Pisces

You’ve got a whole array of healing choices available to you. Only you will know what suits you best when you make your decisions this week. As always, let your inner wisdom be your guiding light. You’re not meant to be struggling—you are meant to be part of a beautiful life that continually unfolds itself ...

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Cancer

The Sun, which rules the heart, is in the last degrees of your Birthday Zone this week. You may feel like you’ve grown more in home matters than you originally anticipated. However, there’s so much energy in your sector of communication and where you need to be each day that you may not notice. Venus, ...

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Body & Soul

Metropolis hits the streets to see how fashionable Tokyoites are keeping cool

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Tarento Watch

Meisa Kuroki will perform ten songs at her first live concert, scheduled for October 6 at Tokyo’s Ebisu Garden Place. While Kuroki, 22, appeared at a music event in May, this will be her first solo show since debuting as a singer in June 2008. “You only get the chance to perform your first solo ...

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Photo of the Day

Yes, it’s edible: Slabs of tuna on sale at Tsukiji fish market. By Ester Anton Jimenez.

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Upfront Extra

After a five-year study, the Council for Cultural Affairs has significantly revamped the list of joyo kanji, the Chinese characters that are considered the basic components of Japanese literacy. The panel added 196 kanji to the list, bringing the total to 2,136. Alas, these five characters got the boot, primarily due to lack of use. ...

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Upfront Extra

We’ve heard of some bizarre economic indicators in the past, but few can match the one chosen by otaku statistician “Hidemaro.” The self-described “Gravia idol researcher” has plotted the last 15 years of GDP growth data against the average bust size of Japan’s popular pin-ups, and it seems like one man’s boom is another’s you-know-what. ...

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Aries

This week is filled with opportunities—and you are the center of all the attention. Will you make a move? Consider the continuing astrological pressure as one of interlocking spiritual doorways. The Moon in your relationship sector Friday and Saturday insists that teamwork be a priority. Career restructuring is underway. A significant other may be all-consuming… ...

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Upfront Extra

What would be your ideal summer fling? With a Latin guy while I’m traveling abroad! I think he would give me an incredibly passionate trip! He invites me to go for a drive one day, and I find out he’s booked a room at a seaside hotel. That would be the best! Like in Roman ...

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Leo

Leos have a lot on their shoulders these days. While not one to complain about weakness, a Leo is the first to stand up for those who cannot, and the most willing to get things underway. Sunday and Monday, you may be met with an obstacle or two. By Tuesday, optimism is growing. Current experiences ...

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Tech Know

So, you know how everything’s going 3D these days, but you feel a bit of a Luddite for wondering what the point is? Well, you’re definitely not alone—we’re right there with you. Take the July 8 baseball game between the Hanshin Tigers and Yakult Swallows down in Koshien that was, apparently, the world’s first such ...

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Virgo

If your deepest, most heartfelt desires are still sitting in a pile of papers, hiding in an address book, or covered by your calendar, this is the week to view the bigger picture. Your ability to free your inner desires allows for everything else to fall into place. With Venus, Vesta, Mars and Saturn in ...

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Close Ups

Acclaimed fine art photographer Mika Ninagawa is laying aside her camera and trying her hand at fashion design. The Fall 2010 “Mika Ninagawa Collection,” released next month, features seven designs produced in collaboration with Daikanyama-based brand 7 For All Mankind. Ninagawa’s photography is instantly recognizable for its super-saturated colors and flower motifs, and that signature ...

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Capricorn

Being true to yourself is all that is required this week. If it’s financial security you desire, it would be foolhardly to avoid noticing this trait. While you may not have everything you think you need to reach your goals, you can attract them to you. The best way to be a magnet is to ...

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Tech Know

We’re among the first to admit that there are far too many online stores peddling Japanese ephemera to Western audiences, but newcomer Loopto is definitely one of the more stylish on the scene—and it has substance to boot. Technically, it’s actually a collection of stores, all operated directly by Japanese designers and manufacturers eager to ...

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Upfront Extra

Japan’s tetsudo have spoken, and their choice for train of the year is… the Narita Express E259-series. Unveiled last October, the new N’EX has a host of features that get the train geeks drooling. The Japan Railfan Club, in honoring the locomotive with its 2010 Blue Ribbon Award, praised the futuristic looks, shinkansen-bred shake control ...

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Libra

Jovial Jupiter connecting to magnetic Uranus opposite your Sign is likely to bring social invitations from all directions this week. While not wanting to spread yourself too thin, the Moon is in your Sign Friday and Saturday. You may as well let yourself mix and mingle—you’ll feel left out if you don’t. Venus and Vesta ...

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Bites

The traditional Japanese summertime dish of grilled unagi gets a conbini twist at am/pm (http://family.ampm.jp). From July 24-26, the popular chain is offering a bento called the Aichi Mikawa Una Kasane (¥1,580; pictured), featuring “soft and aromatic” domestically caught eel with a traditional smoky soy-based sauce. The shop will also sell a Hitsumabushi-style Unagi Meishi ...

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Bites

First it was McDonald’s, which revamped 13 of its Tokyo stores in April with the help of French interior designer Philippe Avanzi. Now, a couple of other fast food chains are giving themselves a more sophisticated makeover. Burger King’s new Roppongi store (pictured), opened on June 29, encourages customers to unwind with comfy seating and ...

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Bites

The Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower (2-2-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku; www.southerntower.co.jp) is helping Tokyoites battle the summer heat with a quartet of icy mixed drinks. The Summer Cocktail Fair at the hotel’s South Court bar includes the Summer Dream (grapefruit liqueur with lemon and lime peel), meant to call to mind “a shooting star of the ...

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Restaurant Reviews

Casual, European-inspired dining in Sakuragicho

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Bites

Tokaikisen’s Noryo (“cool of the evening”) summer cruises have become something of a Tokyo institution. Now into their 60th year, the nightly boat trips are like a mini-matsuri on Tokyo Bay, complete with music, dancing and ample supplies of alcohol. The ¥2,500 fare includes all-you-can-drink draft beer, wine, sours and juice (¥1,000 for junior high, ...

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Bites

The Oak Door in Roppongi (www.tokyo.grand.hyatt.com; 03-4333-8784) is one of Tokyo’s favorite restaurants, thanks to its classy interior, lively bar scene and fantastic steaks cooked in wood-fired ovens. In fact, the only thing that’s missing is brunch. Until now. The Oak Door’s new All-You-Can-Drink Sunday Brunch includes a 90-minute nomihodai of sparkling wine and bloody ...

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Bites

To celebrate the first anniversary of its La Maison Ginza shop (5-17-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku; www.haagen-dazs.co.jp/maison), Häagen-Dazs has created a variety of sumptuous ice cream treats. The mango, cream and pineapple mille-feuille (¥1,350; pictured) combines mango sorbet and vanilla ice cream with pineapple chips, gold leaf and caramel sauce, accompanied by brown sugar-marinated pineapple. The classic ...

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Bar Reviews

It’s a beer garden. In Roppongi

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Agenda

Launched by a posse of expat DJs and promoters, Tokyo’s newest techno bash brings booming bass lines and pulsing beats to three indoor arenas and an outdoor stage. The sounds run from the second-generation Detroit techno of Octave One (pictured) to the deft scratching of abstract hip-hop master DJ Krush, on to newer flavors in ...

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Agenda

Kaiji Moriyama is that rare creature—a contemporary dancer who has been able to forge a successful solo career. Coming to dance at the comparatively late age of 21, he wowed audiences and critics worldwide with his 2005 piece Katana, aptly named for the dancer’s acrobatic ability to slice the air with his body. He is ...

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Dance

The speed-dating approach to contemporary dance

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Agenda

Ever since Vincent van Gogh came under the spell of Japanese ukiyo-e, cross-cultural fertilization between the East and West has been a continuing theme of printmaking. “Hemispheres” at the Canadian Embassy’s spacious Prince Takamado Gallery presents the works of a dozen or more Canadian and Japanese artists exploring new avenues for the ancient art form. ...

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Japan Beat

As the nation’s tech giants battle the iPhone, we attempt to download our favorite songs to our Japanese keitai

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Books

For over two centuries, mainland Japan’s only official link with the outside world was a cramped artificial island in Nagasaki Bay. Though it was initially built to accommodate Portuguese traders, Dejima would give a more permanent home to the trade mission of the Dutch East India Company. From 1641 until 1853, its residents provided Japan ...

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Agenda

Some of the best singers in the flavorsome Okinawan folk-music tradition arrive in Shinjuku for a night of Ryukyu rhythms. Topping the bill is the formidable Misako Koja (below), long one of the finest exponents of Okinawa’s shimauta (“island song”) style and the leader of famed group Nenes. Representing the emerging generation are artists like ...

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Agenda

Some calligraphers prefer the serenity of a Zen temple. “Adventure Calligrapher” Kaori Tsukikaze likes to pack her brushes on the back of a motorcycle and draw her way across the remotest reaches of the planet. The results of her latest journey through Tibet are on display at branches of outdoor retailer Montbell this summer. Tsukikaze ...

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Movie Reviews

Geez, I hope so. Note to readers: the other two movies opening this week are both better, but I thought this drab and dingy disaster would be more fun to write about. The film calls attention to one of the greatest mysteries in Hollywood today: why do people continue to give M. Night Shyamalan perfectly ...

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Movie Reviews

Eight ambitious candidates for the job of assistant to the secretive CEO of a major biotech firm file into a claustrophobic exam room for their final hurdle. After receiving terse, precisely worded instructions (only one question, and one answer) and told to begin, they immediately get their first surprise. There’ll be more. Though fierce rivals, ...

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Movie News

The wizard is coming! The first trailer for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has begun showing in 1,000 theaters across Japan. The film, slated to open in November, is the first part of the final installment in the series, which began in 2001. Theaters in Japan have also begun selling a limited ...

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Movie Reviews

Another Steven Soderbergh “experiment,” this bare-bones, true-to-life murder mystery involves three workers at a doll factory, which is kind of a creepy setting to begin with. It plays more like a documentary and doesn’t have much of a plot, but succeeds largely on character development. Refreshing, that. Its deliberate pacing will bore some but hypnotize ...

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Eiga

Whenever Studio Ghibli releases a film these days, it’s a national event—even if the film is not directed by Hayao Miyazaki and is essentially a remake. Karigurashi no Arrietty, helmed by veteran Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi, is a reworking of the 1997 British live-action flick The Borrowers, but nonetheless comes across as a fine, entertaining ...

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Cinematic Underground

Agatha Christie fans have something to look forward to on July 19 when the French film Le Grand Alibi (2008; pictured), based on the novel The Hollow, comes to Bunkamura’s Le Cinema (2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku; www.bunkamura.co.jp). In the past, the estate of the famed mystery writer only allowed film adaptations that were set in England ...

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