Electric Avenue

As is often the case in central Tokyo, the narrow alleyway below boasts a huge number of little eateries and bars; making it a lively and colourful little spot. One that’s sadly spoilt somewhat by the unsightly and ever-present tangle of overhead wires and cables.

More – as the saying goes – than you can shake a stick at.

shinjuku street

Providing of course you’d want to take the risk.

Gone to the dogs

Sony might be struggling to even give TVs away at the moment, but perhaps lovable little AIBO will be able to pull the electronics giant out of its current slump. Especially as the robotic dog now comes in hound-like Honey Brown.

honey brown aibo

As well as a fresh colour, this new model (registered pedigree name ERS-7M3) is enabled with around 1,000 phrases suited to each dog’s ‘character’. The way the toy is treated and cared for altering its, erm, personality. The little fella presumably not responding well to mutters of, “Are you ever going to leave your re-charging dock?” and, “Can you really not walk any faster than that?”

aibo

Switching the machine on for the first time is likened to birth, with the electronic pet having to learn everything from scratch. However for the less patient, these early days can be happily skipped; AIBO coming straight out of the box as a fully formed adult. Yet should he/she develop some unpleasant personality traits due to mistreatment or neglect, a quick bit of jiggery-pokery will transform the messed-up mutt into an innocent young pup again.

Oh, and it chases pink balls too. Albeit rather slowly

aibo

All that for a mere 194,250 yen (972 pound).

Wig woes?

Whilst very much on the freaky side as far as appearances go, most cosplay devotees seem quite gentle souls. Kindly posing for photographs, and invariably showing impeccable manners.

cosplay cutie

However just like in all walks of life, the world of cosplay contains a few bad eggs. The picture below being a prime example.

cosplay freaks

An innocent looking gathering at first glance, but on closer inspection, the anger and attitude of the girl on the right is there for all to see.

freaky cosplay

Her wig was a bit on the heavy side perhaps? Or her contact lenses a bit dry?

Needless to say I didn’t dare ask.

(click on the images for added anger)

Odour offence

With the humidity finally beginning to dissipate, it’s nice to find out that it is not just pasty-faced foreigners that suffer terribly during Japan’s long and muggy summer months; as a man that was allegedly forced to quit his job due to excessive body odour has recently been arrested for making prank calls to his former employer.

Yoshikazu Ishiwata it seems has admitted to the allegations of phone misconduct, with the 42-year-old also accused of starting obscene conversations when any of the company’s female employees answered the telephone.

It turns out that the perspiring prankster only worked for the Yokohama based business for two months, claiming, “The fact that I sweat easily and have body odour became a problem, so I had no choice but to quit.” Company officials however disagree with this version of events, a spokesperson saying, “We were telling him to watch his body odour and sweating because he was a sales clerk. But he sweated easily in summer. He quit of his own accord after talks with us.”

All very embarrassing to say the least, but whichever version is correct, it is to be hoped that Ishiwata-san has got his carefree summer sweating under control – or at least bought some decent deodorant – as he is now employed as a taxi driver. The combination of a confined space and a heavily perspiring driver conjuring up very unpleasant feelings indeed.

Class A clots

Unlike my native Britain, Japan doesn’t have an A, B, and C classification for illegal substances. And despite the slackening of laws concerning the possession and use of cannabis in some parts of the world, Japan is having none of it. It’s class A all the way.

just say no japan

This zero tolerance approach means that whilst available, drugs are somewhat harder to find. More expensive too. Facts that may have been a contributing factor in the arrest of two men on Saturday.

Instead of whooping it up downtown, the two presumably inexperienced drug users were found asleep in their car. An act that generally wouldn’t arouse much suspicion, except the pair had chosen to park in the middle of the road. Plus to make matters worse, they opted for a national route in Tokyo’s busy Setagaya district.

A total of 12.9 grammes of cannabis were found on the pair, with 25-year-old Okimaru Fukazawa managing to mutter, “I bought the drugs from an Iranian in Ueno.” Before presumably nodding off again.

Faecal furore

“Under the present laws, neither the police nor other officials have any means of dealing with him. The only way around it will be for the Nakano City assembly to pass a new ordinance.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the above quote by a Tokyo lawyer does not refer to a local train groper or perverted panty pilferer. Instead, it relates to the stench conjured up by a 56-year-old resident of the capital’s Nakano district.

The unnamed man it turns out has had disputes with his neighbours in the past, but the present kerfuffle far outweighs anything that has gone before. Whereas men in Osaka prefer to throw their waste matter at passing pedestrians, middle-aged Tokyoites it seems opt for storage instead. One distraught neighbour muttering through a handkerchief covered mouth, “From around two and a half years ago he began collecting his urine and excrement in styrofoam containers and storing them in a shed in his back yard.” The seal on these boxes apparently not being the best, as especially during the hot and humid summer, the odour was politely described as ‘overpowering’.

styrofoam
some styrofoam boxes

Yet as eccentric as he might be, the sewage stockpiler is not altogether unreasonable. When people began to openly complain about the smell emanating from the shed, he did try and rectify the situation – kindly digging holes in his garden and burying the putrid pile.

Unfortunately for nearby residents, the odour offences don’t stop at faeces and urine hoarding. Twice a day the man also goes to the trouble of preparing a stew in his garden. A concoction that is a heady mix of garlic, bananas and fish guts. And whilst the smell of this unique dish must be somewhat on the strong side, it is inexplicably added to by the bizarre inclusion of a bath towel. An ingredient that after a long soak is left to hang out and fester on the clothesline. A practice that is said to be particularly unpleasant during the damp and muggy rainy season.

towels
a few towels

In an attempt to get to the bottom of the problem – and at the same time acquire a good story – a reporter from Shukan Gendai paid a visit to the Nakano nuisance. Rather surprisingly the man’s house turning out to be clean and orderly, however as expected his mental state wasn’t quite so uncluttered. The reason for the twice-daily stew it turns out is to ward off a religious group. The suffocating stench being a kind of exorcism and defence against the organization’s spells.

This determined nature and shaky grasp of reality has left the local council in a tricky situation, although a Nakano official said that efforts were being made to give the man “official guidance”. A move that has yet to bear fruit, as on a return to the house the reporter noticed a new addition to the garden – a bathroom sink filled with what appeared to be liquefied excrement.

dirty sink
a sink