Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Traditional Japanese Restaurants & Traditional Japanese Food"

It's not often that I am lucky enough to visit traditional Japanese restaurants, so I took a few photos of one I ate in earlier this year:

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Friendly People & Angry-Young-Men"

I see a couple of trends in the way people are thinking/acting - one very welcome and one very alarming.  The good news first....

Japan has always been a country of manners and most encounters with people were civilized (exceptions existed for sure - like people out of their element away on vacation who often decided not to bother being overly polite while away from their home area), but form was usually adhered to.  Polite form is one element of a civilized society, but being overly formal can interfere with true communication and empathy when dealing with those who have come from afar.  So, in the eighties, I often wished that people would relax more when interacting with me.  Now, in the year 2006, I am realizing that this wish has been granted!  Much more than before, it's possible to communicate with a lot of people in a relaxed, open, and informal way.

Now for the flip side of this trend....

Three times in as many weeks, while walking through a crowded station, I had the same type of encounter with three different angry-young-man types.  Walking through train stations like Shinjuku Station (with vast numbers of people entering & exiting the station and vast numbers of people changing from one train line to another within the station), it's nearly impossible to avoid lightly bumping into a few people and being bumped into by a few other people as you walk through the dense crowds, but usually you try your best to avoid bumping into people and when the inevitable collision does happen, the two people generally nod, say a quick "Sumimasen" ("Sorry"), and go on their way (or just go silently on their way if there's no time for a nod).  So, after 21 years of that scenario playing out over and over, I was a bit shocked to have an angry-young-man aggressively throw out his arm towards me as if to shove me with his forearm.  It was an alarming moment, because he had a look of blood-lust in his eye and if I had taken a swing at him (which his provocation seemed to be begging for) then we probably would have jumped into the insanity of doing as much physical damage to each other as possible.

The next week, the same thing happened, and again the next, three different angry-young-man types, all with that outthrust arm and look of blood-lust in their eye.  The provocation?  None really, just the usual situation of accidentally getting into the same physical space in a very crowded situation.  (Did a movie "hero" do some "cool" people bashing that way?  It's just weird how they did exactly the same thing as though they were looking for a chance to try it, and it's something I had never seen in 21 years of being in the thick of things here.)

Well... there you go - nothing is free.  One advantage often comes with the price of a new disadvantage.  I'll enjoy talking with friendly types on one hand and be on the lookout for dangerous angry-young-man types when changing trains on the other.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Saturday, April 22, 2006

"Mountain Breeze at Ontakesan"

Walking around near Ontakesan Station on the Ikegami Line on April 21st, I wandered into the grounds of a shrine and began walking down the stone path leading to the wooden shrine building.  As I was about mid-way down the path, I looked to my left and was greeted by a mesmerizing sight, so I stopped to take it in - standing there in a half-trance while an older woman prayed at the shrine down the path.  The actual sight itself wasn't remarkable - just part of the roof of a traditional shrine building seen through some trees and with a backdrop of deep blue sky with white cotton clouds floating through the blue.  The view was nice enough, but what was really mesmerizing was a powerful flashback I had to standing among the trees in the Rocky Mountains as a child way back in the late sixties.

I stood there transfixed by my old feelings and wondered how and why they could come back so strongly in Tokyo!  I looked around quietly and figured it out though - April 21st was a dry day with a comfortably cool breeze blowing (and singing) threw the trees, clean air, deep blue sky with very white clouds, there was nothing in that wonderful view but wood, earth and sky - no concrete, no asphalt, no plastic, no glass, no exhaust fumes, no engine noises, no computer screens - and upwind to my right was a large old pine tree scenting the air with the pine smell I've always associated with the time I spent in the Rocky Mountains during a few childhood summer vacations.  It was such a nice feeling, that I wanted to linger within it longer still, but the siren call of concrete, exhaust gases, florescent lighting and mind-numbing CRT computer monitors dragged me back to "reality" or - perhaps more accurately - dragged me away from reality and back into the nightmare.  On the way back to the machines (and I - very ironically - like machines), I walked down the tree-lined shopping street leading to Ontakesan Station, taking in the warm spring feeling from the trees with their new green leaves, and pondering how much better any street is with trees than without them....

And then today (April 22nd), I go out for a walk around my apartment, and I discover that someone has cut down the exotic fruit tree (loquat) that was growing by my apartment building.  Asking around, I discover that some imbecile on the first floor was afraid insects might be attracted to the tree, so they had it cut down.  I can't begin to convey to you the rage I feel in contemplating this kind of thing.  You've got a tree that produces fruit that tastes great (for those who are lucky enough to grab it in the few days it takes to pick the tree clean), and there was no insect problem at all, but the idiot is deathly afraid of any kind of life other than bipeds, and thinks the tree needs to be murdered in order to prevent the remote possibility of there being (gasp!) insects.  This type of an idiot should move to the desert and starve - they could sit in sterile bliss while they drift over to the other side - presumably to a place with no insects or trees.  It's bad enough to have such an imbecile living in the same building, but it's depressing that the rest of the tenants didn't stand up for the tree and tell the idiot to either shut up or move to the desert.  well... maybe they're all in state of shock today like I am, but the building maintenance people apparently agreed and actually paid to have someone come out and kill the tree.  It's just so... wrong!

Well... sorry for liking trees so much, but I really don't understand why so many people seem to prefer barren dirt to living, green, oxygen-producing trees.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I had to visit a company today, so I looked up their address on a detailed map and figured out the on-foot part of the journey.  After getting off the train (train number four), I took the easy route there, walking along a main street - sharing the air with the trucks and getting a bit of a sore throat in the process, so for the journey back, I decided to take back streets that ran more or less parallel to the main street.  Doing that sort of thing is an excellent way to get lost, but it worked out this time and I found myself walking through suburbia with the only people on the streets being mothers with their pre-school children (one each, most people only have one or two children these days).

It's a strange thing about suburbia... you get the feeling that you're doing something wrong by walking through it.  Just about everyone you see is with children, so you find yourself wordlessly defending your presence and reminding yourself that you're conducting business and are just passing through.

That's it?  Hmmm... well, what can I say?  It was a wordless feeling after all.....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Saturday, April 15, 2006


I called an old friend who works as a technician and his take on the capacitor problem is as follows:

The power supply is a switching power supply, which is smaller, lighter, and cheaper than a more conventional power supply, but is also considerably less durable.  From the beginning, the output has ripple AC current that the motherboard capacitors have to deal with, and as the capacitors within the power supply degenerate, there is an increasing amount of ripple current that further stresses the 6.3V 1500mF capacitors on the motherboard as they clean up the dirty voltage from the power supply.  Low quality capacitors are part of the problem, but the use of a switching power supply is the actual root cause.  Even with good capacitors, the design is not a long-lasting one.

If this is indeed the case, do any high-end computers use the old type of very solid (and very heavy) power supplies?  With all the extra copper involved, this would probably double the weight of the machine, but if longevity is the goal, it would be an interesting option for those who could afford it.

I suppose machines that don't have to be left on 24/7 ought to be unplugged when not in use.  Going back to my 25-year-old Sony TV.  How long would it have lasted if it had been on 24/7?  Not 25 years for sure!  It's also a pre-remote control model, so when the power button is switched off, there's no current going to the circuitry inside.

What else.  A few hardware things just in case anyone might be interested.

My remaining Dell Dimension-C's motherboard capacitors are bulging upward.  I hadn't noticed earlier, as there is no leaking or hint of linking and they look fine visualy down inside the computer.  By reaching in and touching the tops however, I can feel that they are bulging upward.  After talking with my friend about power supplies, I had a look inside the 80W(!) power supply of my dead Dell Dimension-C.  All looks fine visually... and most of the caps have a "K" on the top instead of an "X".  I read somewhere that the "K" capacitors are better?  I also read though that the capacitors can look fine visually but still be bad, so - without an oscilloscope - it's hard to say what condition the output power from that power supply is in.  It certainly is a low-capacity power supply though!  (By comparison, the custom box I have has a 300W rating.)

I dragged an old Epson box out of storage and installed the new board I bought last week in it.  The power light comes on, but there is no other sign of life.  I'm tired of wasting time on that board, so I think I'll just write it off.  One good thing though, is that the old motherboard of the Epson machine has ten of the "K" capacitors that seem to be in good condition, so maybe I'll try putting them onto the board of the custom computer that is working with bulging capacitors that are just beginning to leak sightly (with black in the middle of the "X" on their tops).

The old Epson has a floppy drive and cable that utilizes a missing prong on the male side and a blocked over hole on the female side.  The old cable thus would not plug into the board, so I had to change the cable to a newer type with no blocked over holes.  What technical shift in floppy drives does this represent, if any?

New boards seem to be more square, while the board in the custom box I have is narrower and longer.  This creates a mechanical problem, as the corner of the board competes with the CD/DVD drive for space.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"You Get What You Pay For"

I was given a custom-built computer that is... about three or four years old I think.  It has an AMD 700MHz CPU and came with a five-inch floppy drive and a mediocre video board.  I put in an ATI Radeon 9600 video board (with 256MB DDR) that had been sleeping in a closet for a couple of years, and replaced the five-inch floppy drive with a CD-RW drive (it already had one, but it wasn't reading some of my disks).  All seemed well and it was working fine with SuSE 10.0, but then I took a more detailed look at the motherboard and discovered that the large capacitors are ballooning....

Muttering "Tada-hodo takai mono wa nai" ("Nothing is so expensive as that which is free"), I marched off to Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku (I should have gone to Akihabara, but didn't have time) and placed myself upon the mercy of one of the guys working in the basement of Minami-kan (I think - the one that is internally connected to the main store).  I had removed the board with the disintegrating capacitors and brought it with me, so I showed it to him and - after confirming that the CPU and memory in the old board would not be usable in a new board - asked what they had in the way of replacement motherboards that used AMD and are cheap.  The shopkeeper looked at my old board, thought for about three seconds, and then went into a back room, soon returning with a spiffy-looking green box with AMD written all over it.

Thinking "How much are the three separate components (motherboard, CPU, & memory) I'm about to buy going to cost?", I was surprised to hear that the spiffy-looking box contained a set of all three of those for Y9,800.  "Well... that's cool!" I stupidly thought, envisioning only the off-new specifications (not a problem) and forgetting there was the not-so-minor issue of mechanical design to deal with, not to mention my own personal theory (and experience) that a spiffy box wrapped around a cheap product generally is indicative of garbage inside.  Looking at the box now, I note that "AMD" is proudly written large in 24 places all over the box, and the board name "DFI" just twice in small letters on the back (once as "DFI K8M800-MLVF").  One could be forgiven for suspecting (in hindsight alas!) that they are trying to hide a bad name with a good one.

But back to Yodobashi Camera and before the storm - I stepped out into the rain and proudly carried the box home and set about installing it in the custom box.  (Incidentally, what do you call a custom box with no name that you are given?  Do you give it a name like a pet, or just call it a "box" forevermore?  Suddenly I understand why custom computer owners call their machines boxes - I sometimes call my OptiPlex GX-1 a box, but generally think of it as "OptiPlex-2".)  First step was to plug in the CPU, its heat sink & fan, and the PC3200 memory boards (the kit 256MB & a separately bought 512MB, both in "CFD Sales Inc." boxes - "Memory Module for EXPERTS" it says - He-he!)  And then....

"What's this?  The board isn't sliding under the overhanging wiring the way it should be - what's getting in the way..?" I mutter, and then discover that - rotten design - the power connector for the board is at the top corner by the CD-ROM drives and the cable connector and other parts prevent it from being installed without taking the side screws out of the CD-ROM drives and sliding them halfway out of the machine.  "Well, that sucks!  But I guess I can still use it even with the CD-ROM drives hanging halfway out and in harm's way..." think I as I push on.  Next thing is the rectangular panel that should snap into place and then match up with the external connectors of the motherboard.  It's so flaky and uncooperative that I decide to skip using it - it doesn't provide any mechanical support for the connectors anyway and I know what they are without the labeling - "What's a little extra space around the plugs in the back... maybe it will provide better ventilation..." I think as I begin sinking into an unhappy and stormy cloud.

I was pretty disgusted with the project by the time I got the new motherboard bolted down, so the discovery of the flaky and nearly impossible to decipher pins and their bad labeling didn't come as a shock, but just another wave washing into an already sinking boat (the old board, by way of contrast, was infinitely more intelligently designed).  I made my best guess with the wiring, plugged in the power, and the machine seemed to come to life, but the only effect on the monitor was strange flashing of the setting lights, so with visions of the bloody thing not only not working but damaging innocent external equipment as well, I cut the power, removed the now hated board and put the old one back in.  It works fine again, but those ballooning capacitors will not last long.

I thought of taking it back and exchanging it for a more expensive and better board ("You get what you pay for"), but as I looked at the pile of packaging around me and the new board with the CPU in place, I realized it wouldn't be ready to just put back on the shelf, so I put the board back in the static-free bag, tore up and threw away most of the internal packing and put the board aside with a feeling of disgust as I noted the time - 4:00 a.m.  "Another night's sleep stolen by computers - the greatest sleep deprivation device known to mankind!" muttered ten-year veteran of the Equipment War Used-Machines-Lyle.  Methinks I'm about to become "New-Machines-Lyle" as I dream of an all-new custom box with parts beginning life under my command.  What I'm wondering now is what to do with the CPU - is it one I should put to work for me or should I shelf it and go for something newer?  It's a... I'm not sure what - there's the name "Sempron"; the box says "2600+ Socket 754"; and on the chip it has "AMD 2001"(!), so does that mean it's five years old?  It can't be that old... can it?

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"There's No End to IT..."

Once upon a time, long long ago, I thought that the day would come when I would get my computers all arranged nicely and they would work for me without mishap while I concentrated on writing, taking photos, etc.  While I have not absolutely and completely given up on that dream, I have gotten to the point where I pretty much expect computers to endlessly cause me problems.  The latest?  I was given a "free" computer....

It's a custom-built box that I was initially happy to use - for all of three hours, and then I had a good close look at the motherboard.  Ballooned capacitors met my horrified gaze.  "Oh no... you've got to be kidding!  Not again!" I silently screamed.  I had just lost a Dell Dimension-C to a leaking capacitor-induced sudden death.  Oh well - "Tada-hodo takai mono wa nai" ("Nothing is so expensive as that which is free"), and so I rushed off to an electronics store to spend money on my "free" computer.  I expected some sympathy from the shopkeeper,but he just explained that's what what happens.

Well... it may happen, but does it really have to?  Dead mother boards in only a few years?  I think they should last a bit longer than that....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Sunday, April 09, 2006

"More Details"

Very interesting site:
Motherboard Capacitor Problem Blows Up
By Peter Smith.

Quoting from that page:

     "Initially, there were only two clues to the mystery. First, the failing capacitors were more often that not to be found in the power supply section of motherboards. The capacitors used in this area are characterised by their need to have very low ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance- see panel).
     Second, most of the failing capacitors were identified as Taiwanese in origin. That's not too surprising at first glance, as Taiwan manufactures about 30% of the world's aluminium electrolytics (22.5 billion a year).
     In September, "Passive Industry Components Magazine" published a story that exposed the reasons behind the unusually high failure rates. They reported that the failures were directly related to the use of faulty electrolytes in the manufacturing process.
Industrial espionage?
     The story describing how the electrolytes came to be faulty reads like a lot of fiction. It begins in Japan, at a major capacitor manufacturer. A materials scientist for the Japanese company resigned and went to work for a Chinese capacitor manufacturer. While there, he reproduced one of the electrolytes used in his former employer's premium (low-ESR) aluminium electrolytic products.
     Staff working with the scientist then defected, taking the secret electrolyte formula with them. They used the formula to manufacture their own electrolyte, which they subsequently flogged to major Taiwanese capacitor manufacturers at bargain prices. Unfortunately, their reproduction of the formula was flawed and the rest is history."

Espionage!  Japanese scientist defect to China!  Trade secrets leaked to Taiwan!  Why isn't this in the mainstream news and on TV, with reporters crowded around the Japanese manufacturer (Nichicon, of Kyoto?) and with other reporters being sent to China and Taiwan to track down the scientist who defected and the company (companies?) in Taiwan which bought the technology from China?  If it's true, it's better than fiction.  If it's not true, let's here the companies involved refute it and give the real reasons!

     "As mentioned earlier, these capacitors are of a specific type; they have very low ESR. To understand the need for this requirement, let's take a brief look at the circuitry involved.
     Low-ESR capacitors.  Probably due to the fact that CPU core voltages change so often, designers have been forced to implement sections of the power supply circuitry on the motherboard. The standard power supply box still provides the usual 12V, 5V and 3.3V rails, but the lower voltages for the CPU core are provided by further step-down circuitry on the motherboard.
     This on-board switchmode step-down circuitry runs at high frequencies (over 100kHz) to minimise the required inductance and filter capacitance. A key ingredient in this recipe is physically small electrolytic capacitors that can handle high ripple currents at high frequencies. In short, they must have very low impedance at the switching frequency."

Here we go.  Just as I suspected!  They are not just any old capacitors, but rather of a special type!

     "The "Rubycon" (Japanese) brand ZL and ZA series ultra-low impedance capacitors will be suitable in most cases. They're available locally from Farnell Electronic Components - see Farnell's web site at for more information.
     Caution: the standard ZL and ZA series may be marginally larger in diameter than the original parts (10mm versus 8mm).
     All electrolytic capacitors have a finite life, measured in thousands of hours. Unlike the exceptional cases discussed in this article, there are usually no external signs that a capacitor is nearing its end of life. However, it is possible to determine whether a capacitor is serviceable or not by measuring it's ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance)."

So... where to get the replacement capacitors for my new custom-built box?  Any recommendations?


"But What's the Precise Technical Reason?"

As I've been told in a computer user group, it's a well-known issue that many computers built from around the year 1999 are now having their capacitors ballooning, blowing up and/or leaking.  I've always used the word "shocking" as a sarcastic joke, but this time I really am... shocked... to discover that the sudden death of one of my computers (a Dell Dimension-C - a model that was only sold in Japan) was due to such a mundane problem!  I had thought that capacitors lasted far longer than just a few years.

When I did an autopsy on the Dimension-C, I found nearly all the capacitors (other than the really tiny ones) with ballooned tops and a couple of them had leaked goo across the circuit board!  And then yesterday, I was given a custom-built computer that is working fine, but when I took a close look at the main circuit board, I discovered that all of its large capacitors (something like 14 of them) have ballooned tops.  So how long does that computer have to live?  There are very few specific model names listed, but so far we have Dell Dimension-C, Optiplex-GX270, and Optiplex-GX280.  I also had an Optiplex-GX-150 suddenly die on me, but the visible capacitors seem to be okay (something in the power supply then?).

Anyway, let's look into this via the net a bit, with links and some quotes from a few different sites:
"...... the bad capacitor problem has been plaguing computer motherboards since about 1999 to the present day.  It now being 2006, I am STILL seeing later model P4 and Athlon boards with this problem.
     Over the years, there have been massive quantities of name-brand, high quality motherboards failing prematurely due to these faulty electrolytic capacitors used in their manufacturing process.  This has doomed many popular and expensive brands of motherboards, including: Abit, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Supermicro, DFI, Dell, Hewlett Packard, IBM, and many more!"

Those first six names - Abit, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Supermicro, DFI - are they all manufacturers of component mother boards made for custom computers?  That might explain the reluctance of some people in user groups to name specific companies they're having trouble with.  In the case of the custom box I was given, I haven't yet discovered who made the mother board.  Probably it's written somewhere not visible until removed from the box.
Published: November 10, 2005
     "Last week, Dell announced it was going to take a $300 million financial charge on its earnings to cover costs associated with the replacement of motherboards with faulty capacitors in some of its Optiplex workstations. The Dell system boards in question were manufactured from April 2003 to March 2004, according to several contract computer repair firms that are starting to replace the systems.
     PCs from Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computer and other PCs using Intel motherboards have all faced similar issues, according to the companies, contractors and several online bulletin boards."

Dell, HP, Apple "and other PCs using Intel motherboards", and Athlon (got one sitting beside me as I write this).  The manufacturers are doing a good job of hiding information on this.  It's not a "mystery of the universe" type of thing.  The capacitors came from somewhere and there is some scientific cause for their early demise!  But from reading the stuff on the Internet, you'd think we were talking about distant galaxies or something that could only be surmised with a loose theory and not pinned down to good science and investigative journalism... "some", "many", "and others"....

     "At issue are faulty capacitors on motherboards that store power and regulate voltage. Defective capacitors found in the Dell Optiplex workstations, some Apple iMac G5s, HP xw-series workstations made in 2004 and PCs with the Intel D865GBF motherboard have been found to bulge, pop, leak and crust over, causing video failure and periodic system shutdowns.
     Photos showing Dell's Optiplex GX270 and Optiplex GX280 with defective capacitors have been widely reported on Web sites such as, Pictures of other faulty capacitors have been spotted on Apple's own discussion boards,, and
     Only HP would identify the maker of its faulty capacitors: Nichicon, of Kyoto, Japan.
     Nichicon, which has been in the business of making capacitors for 50 years, has a strong track record, and the majority of Nichicon's products have no problems at all, HP representatives and enthusiast sites said."

And of course Nichicon is not supplying any information about WHY this is happening.  I - for one - would like to know.

     "The bad capacitors are found in some motherboards, video cards and power supplies for PCs, monitors, video tape players and televisions."

I had thought only in motherboards!  In monitors and power supplies as well?  This is becoming a bigger issue all the time it seems.

     "Experts say that if capacitors are not made right, they start to deteriorate after three or four years, rather than lasting the expected seven years."

Seven years?!?  I look over beside my computer and see my 1981 Sony TV - full of capacitors - that has never been serviced and is still working fine after 25 years on the job.  Seven years?  Okay, how about some detail here!  Maybe it's something along the lines of: "High performance capacitors with ultra thin insulating layers and in constant use are only expected to last around seven years and large batches of substandard capacitors are failing after only two or three years of use."  So, were the "experts" quoted in the article in fact experts, or just lawyers and/or PR types engaged in damage control with the media?  I suspect the later!

     "'Faulty capacitors were attached to Intel D865GBF motherboards, which are sold to computer manufacturers and in some electronic retail stores.'  Intel has acknowledged previous problems within the capacitor manufacturing industry and has an advisory posted on its site talking about electrolytic capacitor leaks on some 875-based and 865-based desktop motherboard products."

Okay, "previous problems within the capacitor manufacturing industry" - but what problems exactly and with precisely which manufacturers?  Why no details?

    "In August, Apple issued a limited recall of some of its first-generation iMac G5 models sold between approximately September 2004 and June 2005 featuring 17- and 20-inch displays with 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz G5 processors. The official cause was blamed on an unnamed 'specific component failure.'"

Fear of product liability lawsuits seems to rule the day.  A friend of mine had his iMac die on him....
Published: October 31, 2005
     "Blackburn said Dell receives its capacitors from a variety of vendors and declined to specify which supplier was responsible."

Why?  Why does the manufacturer get anonymity  The parts didn't come from the outer galaxy, they came from a factory right here on earth.  Why not own up to the problem and shed more light on what's going on?  Damage to the company's reputation?  Oh, right - mustn't harm the companies responsible, never mind the users, they can just buy new computers.

     "A picture posted by a Dell Forum member shows two black- and gold-colored bulging capacitors with "1500 hF 6.3 v" printed on the sides."

Sloppy!  The capacitors are black, with gold lettering saying "1500 uF 6.3V +105C" on one side, and large polarity markings on the other.  (I know, because I have the dead motherboard from my dead Dell Dimension-C sitting right by me now - I just had a good look.)

     "As for a possible industry-wide problem caused by the faulty capacitors, calls to various PC manufacturers were not immediately returned."

What people don't know can hurt them but not the manufacturer, so they're hiding everything.  About the only information that seems to have come out is via user groups.

     "A person familiar with the problem said Dell's capacitor issue is unlikely to be related to any specific Intel processor used in Optiplex systems, but did note that similar bulging issues from some Taiwanese suppliers have been observed."

Better than nothing... does anyone else out there have additional information?  It's not going to come from the manufacturers responsible, so it has to come from us.

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Spring & the Boxes...

Spring... the cherry blossoms are still out in Tokyo, although about 20-30 percent of the pedals have fallen like a pink snow on the ground in parks around the city.  It's still cold though... and while most of the city's residents are looking fashionable in their light spring clothing, I'm looking stodgy in my down coat - but I'm warm and they're cold.

I watched a movie from Finland last week called "The Man Without a Past", or at least that's what it is in Japanese ("Kako no nai Otoko"), and today I stumble upon an ad for a place in Omotesando Hills for a fashionable shop selling fashionable fashions from Finland.  Let's see... the name was "marimekko".  Every heard of it?  I don't know anything about fashion myself.  Just I like what I like and don't like what I don't like, even if it is fashionable (like those really ugly brown bags that so many woman like to throw their money away on).

I found that website again - it has photos of the fashionable shops at Omotesando Hills, and also a few pictures of the complex when it was still under construction, etc. - here:

Not much more time to see the cherry blossoms, so maybe I'll have another look tonight.  On the other hand, I've already seen them in several different places and I'm not feeling especially like I really need to go out of my way to see more of them - beyond the one's I come across on the usual routes anyway.  The next thing I'm looking forward to is warmer weather!  I do not like the cold....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Boso Peninsula & Yushima Seido

Boso Peninsula - Pg. 6

Continuing the Boso Peninsula series on my drive along the Pacific coast....

Yushima Seido

A piece of old Japan in central Tokyo - strangely unknown by most of the city's residents.