Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Wrap-up of my stay in Tokyo

I was supposed to go back to London today. But the Virgin Atlantic canceled today's flight probably because there aren't enough passengers due to SARS.

Anyway, this one-month stay in Tokyo (with a trip to Cambodia) has refreshed me totally. I found Tokyo is really a cool city. Things are continuously changing for the better. That gives me new energy.

Now I'm all set for studying in London for exams in June!

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

My First Encouter with Roppongi Hills

I have yakiniku (Japanese-style indoor barbeque) dinner with my parents in Azabu-Juban.

Then we head for newly opened Roppongi Hills. I'm really impressed. It's so cool! I wanna live here! Roppongi Hills is one of the urban redevelopment projects that have been going on all over Tokyo now. If you visit Tokyo, check this one out, then you'll feel the huge potential that Tokyo has.

Monday, April 28, 2003

More Friends in Tokyo

I have lunch with Aoki-kun at Darjeeling (a reasonable and tasty Indian curry restaurant) in Hongo. He's my man since my master study at University of Tokyo.

In the evening I have dinner with Mihara-kun at Ken's Dining in Shinjuku. Later his girlfriend joins us. They are yet another ideal couple. I envy you guys. :-)

I say goodbye to them and then I go clubbing with Hanh and her friend Hang. They are Vietnamese girls living in Tokyo. None of my Japanese friends in Tokyo showed any interest in clubbing. This is Japan. It's really difficult to find someone who you can go clubbing together with.

Anyway, the reason I go clubbing tonight is DJ Fergie from Britain was supposed to be on the decks at Code in Shinjuku. But he doesn't show up probably because of SARS. Damn it!

When we get bored with house music, we leave the club and go to a karaoke box. Unlike in London, we've got no night bus in Tokyo. So we need to kill the time until the first train around half past four in the morning. (For Hanh and Hang, karaoke is much more fun than clubbing, though.) It's been more than four years since the last time I went to karaoke. I try to sing some English songs, but I can't. Singing in English without practice is totally impossible...

Friday, April 25, 2003


I have lunch with Mitsuru-san at Pariya in Aoyama. He's doing internship at the United Nations University, whose headquarters is located in Aoyama. We enjoy having a chat for more than four hours. When we say goodbye, it's like a really hard thing.

Monday, April 14, 2003

My Grad Student Friends in Tokyo

I have lunch with Takagi-san, one of the few rational-choice political science graduate students in Japan.

In the evening I have dinner in Ochanomizu with Japanese graduate students interested in development economics. With them I've set up a mailing list in which we discuss development issues from the perspective of economics. So this dinner is an "off-line meeting" of this mailing list. We have Okinawa (a southern island of Japan) cuisine. It's really good.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

King Crimson in Tokyo

I watch King Crimson's live performance with Ono-san at Showa-Joshi College Hitomi Memorial Hall. As I wrote on 25th Februrary, I didn't like their latest album The Power To Belive. But their live performance completely reverses my impression on their latest tunes. Their stage is really complete. I have no complaint at all. It goes as far as I want to see today's gig again! I respect their live performance skills. It's really amazing. No other rock band in this world does something like this: live performance is better than tunes recorded in the studio.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

My Friends in Kansai Area

Without falling asleep last night, I say goodbye to Naomi-san, Tory-san, and Toshi-san in the morning in Kobe and take a railway to Kyoto. There I meet Tororin. We have lunch at Scorpione (they serve Italian cuisine at a Japanese traditional house - a wicked combination), visit the Shoren-in temple (it has a really nice garden - a must-see when you visit Kyoto), then walk through Maruyama Park to see cherry blossoms and eat takoyaki (octopus balls) at a stall.

I really enjoy having a chat with Tororin. I'm joking all the time, which is very rare for me.

In the evening I have a dinner with Tsuchida-kun at Sol Club Varadero (a Cuban restaurant) in Osaka. Why Cuban cuisine in Japan? 'Cause we met each other on the flight from Japan to Cuba three years ago! The food this restaurant serves is not Cuban. It's rather Spanish or Mexican. But the interior is incredibly Cuban.

Then he drives me with his super-car (wow!) to his favorite bar. I have four shots of tequila, which is very rare for me as I'm not a hard drinker.

I go back to Tokyo by night coach. I enjoy my two-day stay in Kansai. I'm finally able to feel relaxed, which was not possible in London or Tokyo.

Friday, April 11, 2003


I take the Shinkansen train to the Kansai area. There I spend the whole night with Naomi-san (her weblog in Japanese), her "knights" Tory-san and Toshi-san.

I got to know Naomi-san first at the beginning of the year 2001 via the Internet. Since then, she's influenced me a lot. She's changed me from an introverted person to an outgoing guy, which I'd always been hoping to realise since I was a kindergartener. I really appreciate that.

I wanted to tell her this appreciation, but I can't do that. I get a sense of a huge distance between us, both geographically and psychologically. I really like her but at the same time I'm really tired of trying to get in touch with her. I wish she lived in Tokyo or London...

Thursday, April 10, 2003


I have a dinner with Jun-chan at Dining Table ATU190 in Odaiba. During the last five months she's been the most frequently-emailing-me friend of mine in Tokyo. She always gives me an optimistic view of what happened to me in London. I really appreciate that.

What surprises me is that she turns out to be a fan of Eminem. She usually doesn't listen to hiphop, let alone go clubbing or whatsoever. Still Eminem's passionate and impulsive rap caught her attention. Amazing.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003


I have gyoza (Chinese dumpling) with Sei-ichiro at Harajuku Gyoza. He's an entreprenuer, operating a firm in Shanghai and Tokyo. I really respect him in this sense. Being an entrepreneur is really cool.

We talk about why the Chinese government has been promoting economic development. I enjoy talking to him a lot. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Dinner with Misao

I have a dinner with Misao at Transit Cafe in Ebisu. She stayed in the States during her college years, so she's been my advisor on how to live in a Western country.

She says, "You look like a Western guy more than before!" My physique seems to have become more masculine than before. She also tells me that having a handbag is not masculine. A guy with a suitcase or a boxer-bag makes her feel masculinity. All right. I take your point. :-)

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Gaea Japan

I Watch women's pro-wrestling matches by Gaea Japan (a women's pro-wrestling association) at Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan. This is something impossible in London, watching women's pro-wrestling bouts. Click here to see the results and photos today.

The first bout is Nagashima Chikayo versus Carlos Amano. Both of them are great technicians. Their movements are speedy as well. So I expected a lot from this bout. But it seems to me that they know each other's wrestling patterns too much (both of them are the members of the Oz Academy). Both of them skillfully roll with the punch. The winner turns out to be Nagashima. This probably reflects the fact that Nagashima was once the champion of Gaea Japan while Amano has never been.

The second bout is a tag match: Sugar Sato and Ran You-You versus Hamada Ayako and Uematsu Toshie. In the end, this bout becomes a single match between Sugar and Ayako, and, again the winner is Ayako, who was once the champion of Arsion (another women's pro-wrestling association).

The third bout was supposed to be a tag match between Devil Masami and Lioness Aska versus Dynamite Kansai and Yamada Toshiyo. But Aska complained at this match-making (Kansai and Yamada are among weak wrestlers in Gaea Japan these days) and changed it into a triple tag match by bringing Shimoda Mima as their additional partner and demanding a new partner as well from Kansai and Yamada. In response, they invited Mita Estuko, who used to be Shimoda's long-lasting tag partner.

The final part of the bout becomes a single match between Devil and Kansai, who used to be good rivals in the mid-1990s. At that time, Kansai was the champion of JWP (yet another women's pro-wrestling association) while Devil was number two in JWP. It seems to me that Devil is not good at fighting with Kansai. She receives all the attacks from Kansai and takes the count.

The fourth bout is, mysteriously, men's wrestlers' tag match. Four non-Japanese guys called "Gaea Boyz" make their debut on this occasion. Uh, I don't have any comments on this match. Pro-wrestling is interesting to watch because viewers know the background stories of wrestlers (e.g. wrestler A and B hate each other) or because wrestlers are incredibly skillful. I don't know the background story about this Gaea Boyz. As they are beginners, their techniques are not amazing. Plus, they are guys, it's not fun to see them. :-) So I don't enjoy this match.

After a break, the fifth bout begins. This is a special 10-minute match of Aja Kong versus Hotta Yumiko. Why special? It's a long story.

The first thing you need to know is what happened to women's prowrestling in 1997. In that year, Zenjo, the oldest women's prowrestling association founded in 1968, went broke and many wrestlers left the ailing association. One of them was Aja while Hotta chose to stay. Aja then chose Gaea Japan as her battle field.

The second thing you need to know is the relationship between Zenjo and Gaea Japan. Since Gaea Japan was established in 1995, these two associations have never been in touch. Almost no wrestlers in Zenjo fight on the ring of Gaea Japan, and vice versa.

In July of 2002, Toyota Manami, who was the most popular wrestler in Zenjo, suddenly announced that she quit Zenjo, and she appeared on the ring of Gaea Japan on the following day. This was a very surprising incident in the world of women's prowrestling. Who invited Toyota to Gaea? Aja Kong.

This made Hotta, who had taken leadership in troubled Zenjo since 1997, angry enough to demand the bout with Aja. Given the bad relationship between Zenjo and Gaea, Hotta's demand seemed impossible to everyone. Still, Hotta interrupted into Gaea's match in August, which made Aja angry because Hotta's appearance destroyed the whole direction (you know, pro-wrestling has an aspect of drama) prepared by Gaea Japan.

After all, Hotta's demand didn't come true at that time. But she again intruded into Gaea Japan this year. And the both associaitons (Zenjo and Gaea Japan) finally allowed the two wrestlers to fight on the ring of Gaea Japan.

Given this background this bout is really serious. In the first half of the bout Aja takes advantage with her high-angle backdrop, making Hotta almost unconscious. But Hotta resuscitates in the second half and they hear the gong after 10 minutes of the thrilling bout.

The audience seems not satisfied that the match ended in a draw. The Gaea Japan management understand this and decide to give 5 minutes more to the two strong women. Neither Aja's backfist nor Hotta's shotei (hitting with the heel of the hand) knocks the other down.

In the end, the bout is stopped by the referee because Hotta's face starts swelling abnormally. Neither wins. The severity of the match leaves the audience silent.

The semifinal bout is a tag match: D-Fix ( Ozaki Mayumi and Kaoru) versus the Super Eccentrics ( Hirota Sakura and Nagayo Chigusa). This match is actually the most interesting one today for me. One reason is the rule of this match. The team that loses this bout must have their hair cut. You know, hair is said to be "the life of a woman." So this rule is the ultimate as a women's pro-wrestling match. This makes the audience feel excited. In particular, I like D-Fix. Ozaki and Kaoru are good-looking wrestlers. I cannot stand imagining they become bald. But, unlike the past "losers have to cut their hair" matches, this one is not totally coloured by such tension owing to the Super Eccentrics. Hirota, this one-and-only-type wrestler is more like a comedian than a wrestler. She's weak. She almost always loses her single match while she always makes viewers laugh during the match. Her partner Nagayo is a carithmatic wrestler in the world of women's pro-wrestling (she's well known even to those who don't watch women's pro-wrestling). But in this tag team Hirota is in a higher position than Nagayo. They fight as if they are not serious about the match. Still, the Super Eccentrics is surprisingly strong. They lost only once in the past.

The result is that Ozaki and Kaoru have their hair cut. Oh my god...

The final match is the championship match: Toyota Manami (the Champion) versus Satomura Meiko (the Challenger). As I wrote above, Toyota kind of invaded Gaea Japan last year. She defeated then-champion Nagashima Chikayo, formed a group called "Moto Zen", meaning ex-Zenjo, with Aja Kong, Lioness Aska, and Devil Masami, and has been overwhelming Gaea Japan wrestlers. Satomura was once the champion before she was defeated by Nagashima. She has been the most promising Gaea Japan wrestler for years. Now it's time for her to overcome Toyota.

At the middle of the match, Satomura severely damages Toyota's right arm with the Japanese Arm Bar. Toyota is totally unable to use her right arm. Still, she is just like a phoenix, knocking down Satomura with her finishing hold "Queen Bee Bomb."

That's it. I enjoy watching all those bouts. I love Japanese women's pro-wrestling.

Saturday, April 05, 2003


Have lunch with Hiroto and Chieko-san as a celebration for their wedding. Their wedding party will be held next month, but I cannot attend it because I'll be staying in London at that time. So today's lunch with them. We planned to go to the Canal Cafe at Iidabashi (click here for a review in English) because this place has a terrace with a view of cherry blossoms. Yes, now is the time for hanami (seeing cherry blossoms), one of the Japanese long-lasting customes in spring. But unfortunately it's raining today. So we change our plan and have lunch at Pizzeria La VoLPaiA at Kagurazaka.

Hiroto is one of my best friends. I met him when we were college freshmen. As I didn't have any best friends until I finished high school, he's kind of my first best friend. When I first heard he's going to get married, I was a bit jealous of the fact that he's already found someone who he'll devote himself to in the rest of his life. We've just lived for 25 years or so. I honestly envy him.

Having said that, I absolutely want to celebrate the fact that one of my best friends gets married. Happy wedding!

Friday, April 04, 2003

Shopping in Shinjuku

I had a dream in which I dated with Ayumi Hamasaki (one of the most popular divas in Japan). :-)

Go to Shinjuku to get a Mini Disk portable player (see 6th Februray's diary to see why). In Shinjuku, three consumer electronics retailers compete with each other: Yodobashi Camera, Bic Camera, and Sakuraya. So, besides Akihabara, Shinjuku is another place to go for electronics products.

Then I go to Marui Men Shinjuku. As I wrote on 30th March, the Marui department store chain is the place to go for buying cool men's casual wear. But this branch located at Shinjuku specialises in men's wear only. It has eight floors and all you see is men's wear. So you don't need to sigh for realising fashionable clothes turn out to be for ladies. This is amazing. I would say this place is a paradise for young men looking for fashionable wear.

I end up going home with three slacks, one leather belt, and one t-shirt. Also I have my Diesel pants hemmed (see 31st January) at the shop where I buy one of those slacks. It just costs 840 yen (around 4.4 pounds).

Shopping in Tokyo is a fun!

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Tokyo can be cold in spring.

It's very cold outside in Tokyo today. So I stay at home all day. Since I expected Tokyo to be more warmful, I didn't bring outerwears from London.

I book a return flight from Tokyo to Phnom Penh (the capital of Cambodia). I choose Singapore as a transit city to Cambodia.