Monday, February 28, 2011

Cool 3-D Letter Storefront Signage in Tokyo

If this sign was in Canada, someone would definitely try and steal a letter, or knock it off just to be stupid........ but if one were to fall off by accident, then no problem. The letter from behind will take it's place.

Emergency Button in Toilet Stall

I'm not sure if I've ever posted a emergency button picture from within a toilet stall before? If so, here's another one. I've always wondered what happens when you press the button? Does the entire staff run into the stall to make sure you haven't fallen in? Do they send in a robot with a try of toilet related items? Does the entire bathroom lights go red and a buzzer goes off as the toilet starts to drop into the floor and converts into an emergency bomb shelter? And if you press it accidentily or on purpose, would you be fined or arrested for putting the scare on the staff? I'm so curious...... yes, another iPhone picture.......

Waiting for the Train along the Yamanote Line

My wife and I waiting for the train at the Otsuka Station along the Yamanote Line in Tokyo. I loved the 70's feel to the colours of the seats and the billboards behind us.... Yes, taken with the iPhone but adjusted in Photoscape on my laptop........

Artistry in Store Signage

Since I work in signs, I can appreciate hand lettered signs. The old days when even billboard and storefront signs were all hand lettered, there definitely was a sense of artistry in the sign industry.

At Whole Foods, a store that sells itself as a specialty grocer, what I was sold on today was their hand lettered signs! Many caf├ęs have these fancy hand lettered blackboard signs, but I don't see many grocery stores take the time to draw out such cool looking hand drawn signs. They must change these signs out at least once a month, as the seasons change and they feature different items.

I asked an employe about them, and he told me they have a full time department that focuses just on in-store signage!! How cool is that? It's good to see that in such a digital age that even simple things like hand lettering and drawing (isn't this a skill we all learn in kindergarten?) is still an appreciated and employable craft!!

As I say this, I've taken these pics on my Hipstamatic iPhone camera app using the John S lens and Blanko film and uploaded to my blog directly from my phone, no edits!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Guitars Gently Weep

Haven't posted in a bit, so I thought I'd take a picture of some of my guitars that are hanging in a hallway that leads to the garage. Not the most glamorous place to be hanging, but it makes it easy for me to grab a guitar and practice every day. My favorite is the dark brown Ovation in the middle, as it was a wedding gift from my wife.... I was playing with it in a store and I just couldn't put it down, so my wife (then fiancee) bought it for me. When? Feb 22, 1998. Thanks babe.

I still can't put it down sometimes when I pick it up. You can tell I play it often by zooming in and looking at the space below the sound hole. Can you see my finger nail dust accumulating below the strings? Gross right? Sorry, but I do clean it once a week......

Shot with my DSLR and 35mm F1.4 lens.....

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Ride Home

Took this picture on my iPhone on my way back home on my bike. I used my Hipstamatic camera program, John S lens, Blanko film. Its rare to catch the train not moving on the train bridge (why was it stopped I wonder....) so I had to interrupt my killer ride to take this shot. No adjustments. Straight from my phone to blog.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Necessity is the Mother of Invention....Phone Booths in Japan

So far we can see how far advanced the pop machines are in Japan. I still think there should be a pop machine museum don't you? Wouldn't you pay to go and see that? Anyway, since people like convenience here, and because Japanese love variety, you can see how pop machines have advanced here over the years. Light years ahead of N.America for sure.

But how have phone booths fared in this land of cell phones? Well, take a look. Not so good..... I almost laugh when I see a public phone in Japan...... you know, many of them aren't even bolted down. Anyone could steal a public phone as easily as stealing a garbage can. Pretty sad isn't it? Look at the colour of the machines, look at the colour of the walls. Nobody wants to advertise near these things. I took this shot in the 3rd busiest station in Tokyo during rush hour, and still, this is how it looks over here in this corner......

Kamen Rider Drink!!

What's that between the Kilimanjaro ice coffee drink and Dydo's Energy Gym drink with Royal Jelly? For serious? A Kamen Rider drink?!?! Why didn't I buy it and drink it? What was I thinking?

What is Kamen Rider? It was a TV show that was still airing in Japan before I even left for Canada. The night before we left for Canada (I was only 3 but this memory is still very vivid in my mind) we all went out to eat and my grandma bought me and my other two brothers Kamen Rider action figures....... good times..... and now it's a drink! Want to know more about Kamen Rider? Check out this

Godzilla Statue and Pop Machine

Since we're in Japan, there has to be Godzilla on a vending machine right? Right!

As a side note, there's even a Godzilla monument in Tokyo, although it's only like 3-4ft tall!! But with the right camera angle, he's 10 stories tall again!! Where is this Godzilla statue? Go to the South East intersection between Hibiya Park and the emperor's palace grounds. Go to the open public square at the South East corner of that intersection, and there you are. Godzilla..... only tourists stop to take pictures. The locals don't care!! Don't they value their monster heritage?

Vending Machines in Girl's Anime District

As mentioned on earlier entries, vending machines in Japan can be very specialized, appealing to a specific market in a specific area. You go from Ginza to Otsuka, the same company will sell different drinks (and at different prices) based on the neighbourhood. Makes sense. Well, in Sunshine City district, there is this one block stretch of shops that specialize in girl anime and manga, and guess what the pop machines look like, only on this block? You got it, girl anime themed pop machines!! Amazing!! And it's not just the outside of the machine that's decorated anime style, but the drinks themselves are different!!

Bach: Prelude No.21, BWV866

My wife is getting back into her piano studies again after a 5 year hiatus. I've always been envious of her playing abilities, because although I play guitar, I was never classically trained, so I've always considered myself as a bit of a hack musician. I've "invented" my own theories and scales, and although I might get away with it on certain styles of music, as soon as I step out of my comfort zone, I utterly fail.

Today she was practicing some Bach, especially after watching Glenn Gould playing his interpretation of Bach's Prelude and Fugue XXI. He is an amazing performer, and a quirky character as well, which only adds to his charm. He sits low on an old chair his father modified for him when he was young, and he's used that same chair even as he performed as an adult. But because he's had it since childhood, he sits way too low when playing!! It's interesting seeing a genius go against many of the "rules" in the very structured world of classical piano, even as something as basic and mundane as sitting posture and position!! He did other weird things during his performances, but you'll have to look it up yourself....but I think it makes him more of a rock star in my books!!

So my wife was practicing Bach, and I decided to whip out my dusty DSLR and take some shots. It's only a 6.2MP, but with what I'm shooting, it's more than enough, especially with the lenses I have. I think this is probably my first entry of DSLR pictures on my blog.... I'm pretty sure.

I love my wife's intensity when she plays, and I love the way her hands dance over the keys. It's really hard to capture in a still image, but I tried my best......

Monday, February 14, 2011

Jinglish Signs in Tokyo

Some Jinglish signs.......

Sign Shops in Japan

You would assume that since Japan has a plethora of unique signs on everthing and everywhere, that the sign shops themselves must look spectacular right? Huge floating neon signs, colour changing 3D spinning letters. Something awesome looking right? A sign shop should showcase what they can do, what they can build. It should attract attention? No? I've attached a picture of the sign shop I work at in Vancouver (well, North Vancouver actually).....

And here's a sign shop in Tokyo.....

I don't know. I'm a bit confused. The sign shop I work at is reasonably humble compared to some sign shops I've seen, but compared to this place in Tokyo, our shop looks loud and gaudy, while the shop in Tokyo looks so plain...... like a pair of disposable chopsticks...... hmmmm

What Does Bike Riding Have to Do with Smoking?

Unlike North America, Japan can still explicitly advertise and promote smoking products, including selling cigarettes in vending machines and attaching silly pictures like this. Most of the advertising consists either of a sexy girl, or a cool guy. This one has a guy riding a bike, as if smoking and riding a bicycle have something in common. I can understand a guy smoking while on a motorcycle, but on a bicycle? Only in Japan I guess......

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Haagen-Dazs in Japan

I think I've mentioned Haagen-Dazs in an older post, but they are really awesome in Japan. They actually have retail locations and make really good parfaits and other treats, just like Dairy Queen. My favorite is green tea with azuki beans and mochi!! You can't get that in Canada!! I noticed that even their standard flavours are different than the ones you can get over here. This one is my favorite: Milk Classic. How can I describe it? It's milky..... it's like those Japanese milk candies, you know that flavour? Well, they've managed to capture that flavour and put it into an icecream. My wife's favorite flavour in Canada is chocolate covered almonds in vanilla icecream (aka Vanilla Swiss Almond), but in Japan, they have the exact same thing, but with salty Macedamia nuts!! So good..... and do you notice they have the small individual sizes? In Canada, we only have the one size, 500 ml. It's too big for one person to finish in a single sitting, but not enough for 2. The single serving size is just perfect. In fact, big enough so you can try more than a single flavour!! Me likes!!

Cartier in Ginza

My wife and I were sitting in Ito-ya in Ginza (largest stationary store in Tokyo I think, and one of the coolest as well) and looking across at the Cartier store. Not only did they have a door man, but they had another person just inside the door. His only job was to bow and greet every guest as they walked in. My wife just had to go check it out so we did walk in. Unlike many high end stores, they were very nice and genuine (you can sort of tell by the way they smile not only with their mouth, but with their eyes.....). As we walked away from the store, I just noticed how gorgeous the building was!! Ginza is such a nice place to just walk around, people watch, building watch.......I love the wavy building behind Cartier. It's De Beers. Of course it is!!

Corn Soup in a Can?

I did finally try corn soup in a can from a vending definitely wasn't the best corn soup I've had (nobody makes corn soup like a good Chinese restaurant though.......) but considering it came from a can, it was acceptable. I appreciated the twist-off cap as well, so that I can shake the soup to get more of the corn that's settled to the bottom as I drink it down. I had a red bean pudding in a can and it didn't have a twist-off cap, so I lost much of the red bean at the very bottom once all the soup was gone!! What a waste!! Would I drink it again? In a bind I might. Maybe it's really cold, late, I'm walking back to the apartment, and I just need a little pick-me-up, and a can of hot tea won't do, I'd say a can of warm corn soup may just hit the spot!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vancouver Drydocks

I took a quick pic with my iPhone while I was installing new decals on a new $15,000,000 tug boat. These are cool, since they can move in any direction, including sideways!! They use these specifically to pull big cruise ships into harbors, as big ships don't maneuver well in tight spaces.....

After taking the picture, I imported it into my computer and played around with different settings. I adjusted in Photoscape and finally decided to convert the image into a sketch...... Enjoy.

Up at Whistler with my iPhone Camera

I took this shot out my dad's place up at Whistler with my Hipstamatic iPhone app camera. It's pretty cool, as you can switch lenses, film and flashes to get different old school effects. I took this shot using my John S lens, Blanko film and no flash........adjusted in Photoscape on my laptop. Obviously there are limits with shooting with an iPhone and with these apps, but I still enjoy shooting with any type of image capturing device. One day I'll show you some pics from my old Nintendo Gameboy with camera attachment!!

I'll post some pics from the ski hills too, but I thought I'd start with this ghetto photo shot first!!