by Karl Bunyan

Programming, PHP, JavaScript, .Net, motorbikes, pubs, poker, football, news, restaurants and anything else


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Leyton Orient 1-3 Nottingham Forest

It's not often Leyton Orient get to play former European champions, so it's no surprise that the last home game of the season was going to be a sell-out.

Orient went into the game needing to win, or for Bradford to lose, to guarantee a place in League One next season. Forest needed a win, and for Bristol City to lose, to have a chance at an automatic promotion place, otherwise they'd be down to the play-offs.

As it turned out, it was a result that suited everyone (except Bradford). Chesterfield beat Bradford which relegated them both, Millwall beat Bristol, and Forest beat Orient. So we're not going to be relegated and Notts Forest have their automatic promotion hopes alive.

The 1-3 result was certainly a fair one and although we had our hopes up after Matt Lockwood (certainly Orient's player of the year to my mind) scored with a fantastic left foot to take the home team into lead, we didn't ever feel like we were going to come out on top. The visitors were the stronger throughout and it could have been maybe 6-1 in the end, although if I were a Forest fan I wouldn't be feeling too confident in my team either getting back into the Championship or staying there; they weren't that good.

Anyway, no more Saturday afternoon matches for me until September, with another campaign to stave off relegation to look forward to.

BBC SPORT | Football | League One | Leyton Orient 1-3 Nottm Forest

O's MAD - Match Reports: Leyton Orient 1 Nottingham Forest 3

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Earthquakes, the English way

I'm disappointed that we couldn't feel anything of the 4.3 magnitude earthquake in Kent from east London at 8:18 this morning (although I admit I was barely awake then). However, the reports coming onto the BBC site show exactly how the English cope with these kinds of events.

Compared to the recent earthquake in Japan, which was much more severe and killed a number of people, and which happened the day before I arrived but which there was very little panic over by the day after, our home-grown earthquakes are very low-key.

Some of the earthquake witness quotes are the best thing, though, and shows the true scale of the event and the way our nation responds to it:

"The seagulls went crazy and in parts of Dover the electricity is off."
"I was lying in bed and it felt as if someone had just got up from bed next to me."
"I live near a popular area for dog walkers and no-one is about, everyone seems to be staying indoors wondering if there will be another one."
"But the wardrobe doors were banging and sort of shaking and the bed actually felt like it was moving."

And my favourite:

"I thought my wife had got cramp or something but then I saw the curtains were moving and the whole house was shaking. It lasted about 1.5 seconds."

If they changed the headline to "Earthquake as violent as wife's cramp hits Kent" then it would make my day.

BBC NEWS | UK | Earthquake shakes parts of Kent

BBC NEWS | UK | Eyewitnesses on the Kent tremors

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Was struck by this too. The BBC were definitely scraping around for something to report in their live coverage. My favourite was a bloke on a telephone (when asked respond to reports that gas water and electricity had been cut off )saying that the broadband had gone off for about 10 minutes.

Another guy said that he work up beside his wife and the bed was shaking.

posted by Anonymous Jason yates : May 15, 2007 12:48 PM

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Poor phishing attempt

I received a phishing e-mail claiming to be from the Co-op and, for a change, I actually looked at the link. Strangely, the link was FTP (not HTTP) protocol and contained a username and password. So, instead of clicking on the link, I opened it in my FTP client and lo and behold I was in the FTP server.

Now, I doubt if that server is in any way connected with whoever's attempting the phishing scam, so I didn't want to cause any damage. But it did seem an ideal opportunity to upset the scam, so I uploaded this as a replacement: What a poor phishing attempt this is..

Someone kept trying to replace the file with their phishing version but a scheduled script to FTP my replacement was enough to make them give up after a while.

What a poor phishing attempt this is.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Posh bloke getting cold calls

This is very funny. The posh bloke keeps getting calls from "Glaze-u-like" to be sold double-glazing, but unfortunately he's got nowhere to put one...

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Telegraph Fantasy Football password

The Telegraph Fantasy Football password for Wednesday 25th April is MOBILE.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Regular expressions: a misnomer

Why are regular expressions called regular expressions? Two regular expressions that achieve the same result can often look completely different, so what's so regular about that?

And also: they're not even expressive. Who can really understand what /(<[^href]*href=(\"|'))([^(\"|')]+)(\"|')/ does off the top of their head? (Okay, I admit it's semi-obvious that it's something to do with links.) I guess it could be 'expression' in terms of expressionism in art, which tends to look pretty crazy too.

This is a mystery that I fear will remain unsolved.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Exponetic poker night

Last night we had the first ever Exponetic poker evening. In attendance were (in clockwise order as we were sat around the table):

  • Me
  • Lucja Wszola
  • Chris Sainsbury
  • James Bebbington
  • Nick Grimshaw
  • Ben Isaacs

This was the practice hand and it's difficult to tell from this shot whether James is bluffing or not:

James bluffing

Chris was inscrutable despite James's steely gaze:

Chris being inscrutable

The poker was all taken very seriously, as can be seen here. Motivated by James and his dealer's cap we all chose headgear of our own to distract the opposition:

Poker's serious

More hats with Nick, myself and Lucja caught admiring ourselves in the mirror:

Nick, Lucja and me in the mirror

Lucja seemed convinced that she was on holiday in the Bahamas, though, which makes her second place finish all the more impressive:

Lucja thought she was on holiday

James shows off his evil eyes:

Evil James

As well as some gambling, a small amount of whisky drinking also went on:

Whisky bottle

Chris thought long and hard over every move:

Chris thinking hard

And even Ben did some pondering which usually ended with something along the lines of "I'll see your 50 and raise you 1".

Ben thinking hard

Although Ben did try replacing his right eye with a dealer button to see if it would give him any special insight:

Ben with dealer button

Nick ponders what James's raise could mean, which is especially interesting since Nick was out of the game by this point:

Nick pondering what to do

This kind of sums up the losing money theme of the evening:

Nick's wallet loss text message

Roll on the next poker evening, I say.

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Leyton Orient beat Bradford to safety?

Leyton Orient come back to London with an essential victory over Bradford today. Had they lost it would meant dropping back into the relegation zone by swapping places with the home team. As it was, a 2-0 away victory takes the O's back up to 18th in League One and 5 points into safety with only two games left to play.

Bradford will now need to win both remaining games with Orient losing both and to escape relegation from League One.

Dare I say it: I think the O's are safe this season.

BBC SPORT | Football | League One | Bradford 0-2 Leyton Orient

O's MAD - Match Reports: Bradford City 0 Leyton Orient 2

Ling confident of Orient survival

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Poker night warm up

The first ever Exponetic Poker Night is coming up on Friday so in preparation I have so far done the following:

  • Bought some poker chips
  • Watched the Cincinatti Kid
  • Played my first game for months on Party Poker
  • Taunted the opposition

I think that's all the preparation that's necessary and I'm sure exactly the way the likes of Doyle Brunson get ready for a big game.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Telegraph Fantasy Football password

The Telegraph Fantasy Football password for Wednesday 18th April is PUNCH.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Japanese toilets catching fire

Sitting on Japanese all-singing all-heating toilets was strange enough while I was over in Japan recently and at the time we discussed what problems there would be in relying on British plumbers and electricians getting together to install the things.

Well, it seems they're not that safe, as 180,000 are up for repair through catching fire spontaneously.

"Fortunately nobody was using the toilets when the fire broke out and there were no injuries," a company spokesman said.

"The fire would have been just under your buttocks," she added.

BBC NEWS | Business | Free repairs to flammable toilets

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It can't be true

Too much bacon 'bad for lungs'

This has to be made up science, I'm sure. There's no way that something as good as bacon could ever be bad for you.

Eating large quantities of cured meats like bacon could damage lung function and increase the risk of lung disease.

BBC NEWS | Health | Too much bacon 'bad for lungs'

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

High blood pressure caused by jam

No, it's true.

"...studies in rats show JAM-1 is linked to raised blood pressure, but the exact mechanisms behind this are still unclear. They are now looking at the human brain to understand more."

BBC NEWS | Health | Blood pressure 'is in the brain'

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Japan Trip, Part 9 - Tokyo and home

From Koyosan we had to travel back to Osaka and then a bullet train all the way to Tokyo (in about 3 hours) for our last night in Japan. I certainly don't feel like I've seen anywhere near enough of the country and even with four nights in Tokyo had barely scratched the surface.

On the way back from Osaka to Tokyo we passed Mount Fuji and I was able to grab this hazy photo. It's quite spectacular the way it rises from the ground in such a gradual arc:

In Tokyo we stayed at the Keio Plaza, a very plush hotel which we didn't really get full value out of given the huge number of facilities it had. However, it was tall and had a good view:

A night view from the hotel room:

A similar view in daylight:

Our last meal wasn't to disappoint in terms of strangeness. This time, we had everything cooked in a paper bag over an open flame:

And, for completeness, a photo of a plane taking off from Tokyo airport. (Obviously it's not our plane otherwise I wouldn't be back here, but it looked just like this one.)

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Japan Trip, Part 8 - Koyasan

From Osaka we took a train and then a furnicular to Koyasan (Mount Koya), where the monks live. Billed as 'staying with the monks' it would be more accurately described as 'staying in a hotel the monks have set up to cash-in on the area' and, although interesting, it wasn't quite the spiritual experience it might be billed as.

Renoji Inn, Koyasan, where we were to stay:

Koyasan does have an impressive cemetery, however, with something like a million graves and rising:

It isn't just a tourist attraction as real pilgrims come to visit the shrines and temples at the heart of the cemetery:

As well as 'regular' graves there were a number of larger monuments:

This ziggurat-type structure is quite far into the cemetery:

As well as traditional stone and marble memorials there are a number of corporate installations, such as a statue of a car worker which is there for Toyota workers. As with so many things in Japan there's always room for something a bit different such as this space rocket:

The monk's accomodation wasn't the most luxurious. Although all fine, there wasn't any of the things you might expect in a hotel, such as locks on the doors, a bathroom, or anywhere private to wash or brush your teeth. They did, however, have electric blankets to keep their feet warm. These seemed to form part of the table furniture and I'm left again to wonder why they have table-blankets but they can't get round to putting legs on their chairs:

The monks also had a strange view of our sleeping arrangements, obviously deciding that all four of us were going to be sleeping in a free-for-all across two rooms. That's what you get from staying somewhere that's usually full of hippies, I suppose:

There was a religious aspect to the whole thing, though, with this great hall being the place where meditation took place. I tried it in the evening but the whole sitting crossed legged with your eyes closed for 40 minutes thing didn't really do anything for me.

The furnicular on the way back. It's steep:

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Next: Japan Trip, Part 9 - Tokyo and home

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Japan Trip, Part 7 - Osaka

From Kyoto we took the short train journey to Osaka and our hotel New Hankyu, next to the main stations in Osaka. Trips on the menu included the castle at Himoji (Himoji-ji) and then a general wander around Osaka itself.

Another of the strange sights we saw in a vending machine. This was 12 year aged water. I presume it's actually whisky with water in it, but you never know:

In one of the restaurants we were given bibs, as Bob and Jo are sporting in this photo. It seemed something of a con that so many places either involved eating raw fish or cooking it yourself in the centre of the table which, although fun, seemed something of a let-off for the restaurant staff.

We also passed the Akashi Kaikyo bridge on the way out of Tokyo towards Himoji. This photo is from inside the train but it really is quite a big span and, so I've heard, the tops of the supports are further apart at the top than the bottom to take account of the curviture of the earth.

The next set of photos are from Himoji-ji - the huge castle outside Osaka. Although the entry fee includes the grounds and all the way to the top of the castle it's really only from the outside that much interesting happens. Inside was so crowded (apparently this is Japan's third most visited attraction) that it really was impossible to do much except follow everyone around in a queue. I wouldn't recommend bothering to go up to anyone who visited, although the outside is worth a visit.

The gardens adjacent to Himoji-ji were also worth a visit and, I would say, more interesting than the castle itself:

Around the corner from the castle is - oh joy! - some more modern architecture, in the shape of the museum of literature by Tadao Ando. Although an interesting series of shapes I don't see that it makes a particularly usable building, and there seemed to be a lot of investment in spaces that mostly seem unoccupied. The site was apparently based a lot around maximising views of Himoji-ji itself and although there are good views I don't see how the design necessarily had a lot to do with them as the main building hides the views behind a large group of trees. But there you go.

Osaka itself is quite a bustling city and more centralised than Tokyo so, in some ways, easier to get to grips with in a short space of time. We visited the Sky Tower for some views from the top:

The journey up the Sky Tower itself is quite dramatic - a glass lift from about the 7th floor upwards which is quite an exhilarating ride. The last couple of floors are on an escalator which goes right through the central hole in the photo above and inside one of the two diagonal struts you can see above.

A model of the Sky Tower:

From the Sky Tower, views of Osaka:

A shot of the escalators from above:

Another example of how the Japanese really don't mess when it comes to flyovers. This one goes right through the middle of a building:

One of the stranger pieces of 'modern' architecture, this hotel has what is, I suppose, a gothic wedding chapel half way up the building:

Another interesting sight in Osaka is the ferris wheel (an ever-popular Japanese installation - I saw more in two weeks in Japan than the rest of my life to-date) on top of a shopping complex:

Some parts of Osaka are more over-the-top than any part of Tokyo I found. This area was so full of advertising and lights that it was an overwhelming experience. Photos don't really convey how full-on it was, but imagine being locked inside a small room with an entire fairground and you'll get some of the idea.

We found an excellent restaurant around the corner, however, called Kakureya. The owner spoke excellent English and despite only having a Japanese menu was able to serve us up an excellent meal of nabe and, to our surprise, a free dish of rare beef to try and a couple of glasses of Sochyu. He was so good to us that I really hope anyone else going to Osaka tries them out.

This photo shows us four in Kakureya:

Another strange Osaka sight: a giant head, with legs. In true bizarre Japanese fashion, each head also had buttocks:

Another view of the ferris wheel on the department store:

Inside the department store were a number of ice-creams and things on sale. This one was amongst the most over-the-top: a sundae with a whole piece of cake on top:

We tried some 'cider meets condensed milk' and it actually wasn't all that bad. Here is Bob's endorsement (and note how he's showing the label on the can like a real pro):

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Next: Japan Trip, Part 8 - Koyosanando

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Very interesting pictures.Thanks for posting them on your blog! I thought about visiting Japan one day but now I really must go there!!

posted by Anonymous Mirela : May 22, 2009 2:32 PM

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Japan Trip, Part 6 - Kyoto

From Kanazawa we took a few trains to Kyoto. The journey wasn't particularly interesting as ended up standing for the whole two hours but we were glad that our bags were being shipped around without us having to carry them, making good use of the Japanese baggage shipping system which really did seem very efficient. (So no real surprise there.)

Unusually for a ryokan, our receptionist was a cat:

The shot below shows a pachinko hall. If you don't know, pachinko is a game of almost no skill that, as I worked out, involves holding a dial in a single position and hoping ball-bearings fall into a hole in the middle. Imagine pinball where you don't have to do anything except put your money in and you're not far away.

The Japanese staff were very helpful taking my 1000 yen and showing me how to spend it too and although I'm glad I gave it a try it's hard to imagine a less satisfying way of spending a fiver.

This was one of the stranger drinks we saw in a vending machine. Cider and condensed milk... mmmmmm...

Kyoto itself is jam-packed with temples:

And where there's a temple, there's a crowd:

We also visited the Golden Pavilion at Rokoyun-ji temple, a quite impressive building with two stories entirely covered in real gold (about 40 tonnes worth):

Bob and Jo both taking photos. I don't see why one set of the same place isn't enough, but there you go:

As ever, there were very well designed gardens around the pavilion:

Our Japanese guide for the day was very keen on taking photos of the four of us, so this is a rare shot with me in it:

Although obviously a new building, this construction around the garden still follows a very traditional style:

Another Kyoto temple:

The second day in Kyoto we decided to visit the Zen Buddhist temple complex, including Ryoanji, towards the north of the city. The main attraction is certainly the gardens with their raked pebble and rock formations:

This garden signifies how a rock thrown harder at water makes more ripples than a smaller rock dropped in. Duh!

One of the larger garden pieces:

A rock close-up:

The temple building itself was made of some of the widest floorboards ever, as this photo (with Ann being used for scale) shows:

It wasn't all about rocks and gravel, oh no, there were trees at the temple too:

Sometimes the rock, pebble and moss formations really did look like land formations emerging from water, as these were intended to:

The larger garden, but with a bit more sun:

Round the corner from the Zen temples: a 99 yen shop:

From the temples we took a bus to Kyoto's Nijo Castle:

We weren't always particularly impressed by how defensible the things called castles were. After all, paper walls aren't the most resistant to attack. These ramparts show the other side of things, though, and not something I'd want to try and climb up with a bunch of samurai waiting at the top:

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Next: Japan Trip, Part 7 - Osaka

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Japan Trip, Part 5 - Kanazawa

At the end of a day in Shirakawago we took another bus to Kanazawa. The journey between the two was particularly impressive as rather than navigate winding mountain routes the road cut right through mountains, with bridges over valleys, getting us to Kanazawa in under an hour. We must have travelled a fair distance and dropped quite a bit in altitude in that time as the temperature rose around 12 degrees centigrade. I personally also quite liked Kanazawa as it was the first Japanese city we visited after Tokyo and it had a very different feel - much more informal, a bit more free and edgy, and not as obsessively orderly as Tokyo.

The main attraction in Kanazawa is the Kenrokuen garden, which is where all the photos below are from. It was interesting to see how much a variety a garden could have without the colours from flowers, instead using different greens, mosses and trees, and contrasting textures such as smooth set against rippling water in a very controlled way.

We had a first taste of the powdered green tea, as used in Japanese tea ceremonies, with the small sweet, in the Kenrokuen garden tea house. This wasn't a tea ceremony but was very pleasant sitting next to the water:

The inside of the sweet:

The tea house itself:

A spooky carp in the garden pond:

A water feature:

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Next: Japan Trip, Part 6 - Kyoto

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Hi Karl,

I had to get some pics of Japanese Temples for my boss.... anyway, long story short, your pics came up on the Google images when I typed Ryoan ji and I've just been scrolling through your Japan trip..... can I just say, you are a machine! Your blogs are epic! - to say the least. Thoroughly enjoying them tho! Cheers!

posted by Blogger sassyzen : March 05, 2009 2:10 PM

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Japan Trip, Part 4 - Shirakawago

From Nikko we took a bus to Shirakawago, further into the mountains. Shirakawago is similar to Hida No Sato in that there are a collection of authentic traditional buildings, but the difference is that they're all lived in and the whole place is a combination of working village and tourist attraction.

Shirakawago nestles nicely in the middle of some mountains, guaranteeing it bad weather all year round, I believe:

There were an awful lot of traditional houses there, though. Many were complete with electric sliding doors too:

The surrounding mountains themselves were impressive enough:

One of my favourite things to see everywhere was the racoon dog, which is some kind of mischevious thing (I guess a kind of furry leprechaun with a bit of vivisection thrown in). Usually they were plastic and sat outside houses, restaurants and other places, presumably to ward of something or other. This stuffed one was the finest example I saw, though:

A lot of the rivers we saw were very green tinted whilst still being clear. I don't really know why:

A rice field in Shirakawago:

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Next: Japan Trip, Part 5 - Kanazawa

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Japan Trip, Part 3 - Takayama

Following on from Nikko we took the train to Takayama. Takayama is a fairly touristy place, popular with Japanese as well as Western tourists due to its authentic old buildings. We also had our second stay in a ryokan, this time more upmarket. Takayama itself is very picturesque, albeit in only a small section, and also contains the Hida No Sato historic village with 30 or so reconstructions of traditional Japanese house types.

For the train journey to Takayama we bought some strange green biscuits in a 7-11 in Nikko, and then picked up a can of hot coffee at a train station along the way when we needed to change. Japan had vending machines all over serving either cold or hot drinks. Although initially a strange concept for us it's an excellent idea that I wish could be adopted over here. Unfortunately, I don't think they'd last long without being vandalised in Britain. Oh, and the biscuit turned out to be green tea with chocolate chunks (obvious from the name "American Soft" surely?), but not mouldy as it may look:

Waving cats are apparently very lucky. I'm always seeing them in Thai restaurants here but they're all over the place in Japan. This one was stone and quite tasteful compared to many of the plastic ones we saw:

As I mentioned, the ryokan (called Nagase) was quite stylish, even if the furniture had no legs. This was our room:

The corner of the room in the ryokan. The raised area is a feature of ryokan rooms that you're not meant to step on, even for taking photos (ahem):

We were served dinner in the room by the ryokan's maids (two slightly dotty Japanese women of around 50 to 60 years old). We wore the dressing gowns provided (yakuta, as they're known by snobs) to get into the spirit of things:

Dinner was excellent, though, and consisted of a dozen or so dishes including noodles, soups, fish, pickles, rice and all sorts of other weird and wonderful animals, vegetables and minerals:

This shot inside one of the houses in Takayama shows the tea pot hanging on a hook. Tea is quite important in Japan and so the hooks tended to be very overblown:

The old buildings were very interesting and it was easy to see modern architecture influences:

The modular space somehow never became repetitive, despite being so rigidly based on grids and the tatami mat dimensions:

Another impressive tea hook:

Inside another house:

Hida No Sato was a distinct attraction of Takayama and well worth a visit. Ann and Jo were getting ready to find it interesting in this shot:

One of the Hida No Sato houses:

The buildings may have been interesting, but obviously not as interesting as the pond:

Below are more shots from the set of traditional buildings:

Every tourist spot had very strict signs telling you which way to go, and Hida No Sato was no exception. It doesn't quite say "All visitors will follow the route on pain of death" but it might as well:

The large, orange cow really stood out, and reminded me of Bethnal Green:

I've no idea what this is but I'm sure I saw it in a Star Trek episode once:

We also found an old phonebox although we couldn't try it out as a statue was in it making a call:

Some of the buildings had very precise places where the best photo could be taken from and needed a particular stance, as Bob is demonstrating here. I'm not sure whether this mixture of Bob and tripod should be called a Bobpod or a Tribob:

I just hope these green things never come to life:

This was one of the largest waving cats we saw out on the street:

Unfortunately, we were too late to visit the Teddy Bear Eco Village:

An old street in Takayama:

Of all the weird things we were fed, this is possibly one of the weirdest. It was a pot of small, raw, dead fish. Note the eyes are clearly visible:

More vending machine fun, this time with beer. We tried Yebisu dark beer first, which tasted really quite malty:

And the light beer, which tasted of not much:

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Next: Japan Trip, Part 4 - Shirakawago

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well i dunno if uve got any comments yet but i tell you i LOVE your blog...its damn interesting and its funny:D

keep it up ...im still going through everything....


posted by Anonymous SalAH : February 18, 2008 8:55 AM

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Japan Trip, Part 2 - Nikko

From Tokyo we took a bullet train (or Shinkansen, as they prefer to be called on the train station signs) to Nikko which is up in the mountains northest(ish) of Tokyo. There's a large temple complex up there as well as our first taste of a Japanese Ryokan, which is basically a type of hotel where they don't give you a bed or any furniture, or your own bathroom.

Anyway, to the photos.

A bridge which you had to pay to go over, but luckily didn't have to pay to look at from the free bridge (which is good as I don't think going on it would be half as interesting). If they'd thought about it they'd charge it the other way around:

A copper basin next to the Nikko bridge:

The other three had bento box lunches in a small cafe (which is shown below). I had the curry rice 'special' (which came with a free tea), but it didn't bear any resemblance to any curry I've ever had outside of a college canteen. The ingredients seemed to be gravy, curry powder and cat food.

One of the impressive temples in Nikko:

A more simple wooden shrine near the temples:

A large pagoda next to one of the main temples:

One of the most ornately decorated temples. It seems strange that on the one hand Japanese design is famed for its minimalism (witness Muji and the like), but on the other that temples even today are so ornate and coloured, much as Western gothic cathedrals would have been originally:

It was obligatory to take a photo of the three wise monkeys. We resisted the temptation to stand in front of them in mock wise monkey poses since it seemed too obvious a joke, although that didn't stop hordes of other tourists doing it.

Another very ornate temple gateway:

The eaves sculptures were often incredibly detailed with dragons and the like. Apparently dragons are put there to ward of lightening to stop buildings catching fire. Personally, if I had a wooden building the last thing I'd want on it was a dragon, but there you are: that's the Japanese for you.

Our ryokan (the Hoshi No Yado) was actually very smart, despite the lack of height of the furniture, and we had fairly good views of the mountains. I could never work out, though, why in a country that was so rocky that they didn't make buildings out of stone, which was lying around everywhere, and with the wood they saved they could give all the chairs and tables longer legs and make the whole place a lot more comfortable.

Ann got into the spirit of having breakfast in her dressing gown:

Photographing yourself in front of everything is something of a cliched (if accurate) view we have of the Japanese but we also entered into the spirit of it. I think this takes it one step further with both Bob being photographed whilst taking a photo of a building:

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Next: Japan Trip, Part 3 - Takayama

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Japan Trip, Part 1 - Tokyo

We started with Tokyo for three nights. The airport is actually about an hour and a half outside of Tokyo and not the most interesting of drives in. In fact, Tokyo didn't appear that spectacular on the way in. I think it's a city that takes a while to get used to in terms of where to find what and it's an altogether different prospect than many other centralised capital cities. Think of about six London's glued together and you're somewhere close.

This is the crowd I was with. From the left to right: Ann Lakshmanan, Jo Lintonbon and Robert Blundell.

As you'd expect, there are a number of rather tall buildings in Tokyo:

The dry dock in Yokohama:

We found what appeared to be a modern interpretation of Tower Bridge in Yokohama. The large ferris wheel can be seen in the background:

There was also this rather impressive hotel overlooking Yokohama harbour:

The ferris wheel in Yokohama is also quite impressive, although unfortunately I was with a bunch of cowards so couldn't go on it:

Japanese signs were frequently incomprehensible and the diagrams don't really help. As far as I can tell, this sign means that anyone with hands or feet isn't allowed past:

Being with a group of architects, I was forced to visit Yokohama ferry terminal. Fly all the way to Japan, and the first thing we do is go and look at a ferry terminal... There weren't even any ferries there to see, although there was a lot of wooden decking:

See: wooden decking:

The bus park and taxi rank from the terminal roof was a nice composition, I'll give it that:

And there were things to look at from the top of the ferry terminal, like boats and a large bridge:

A view looking down at the entrance to the terminal restaurant (which was excitingly closed):

The signs were there to keep me entertained at least. "There's no getting over the fence" I rather liked. I know I'll never quite get over it:

The view back to Yokohama from the terminal roof. The rather large hotel from an earlier photo can be seen to the left:

More pictures of wooden decking from the ferry terminal. Apparently the building was designed as a regular shape but someone sat on the model the day before submission and they didn't have time to rebuild it, but it still won. (That's my theory anyway.)

I also found somewhere interesting to put my feet:

Inside the ferry terminal was just as "interesting":

It had quite a crazy roof inside, though. This was also based on a model that had been squashed:

Away from the terminal and into a temple park, this wall of sake flasks was impressive:

The temple itself was quite a typical shape that we were to see a lot of over the next couple of weeks:

The gateway was rather impressive:

As was the gate to the temple area (which was made of wood):

Later that evening we also saw a London Routemaster bus. It seemed to be advertising something, but it's always good to have something familiar when you go abroad (even if they're getting rid of them from London):

From there, it was back to more architecture. No more the dizzy heights of a ferry terminal for us; we were now looking at a Prada shop designed by European architects:

The logo of the Prada building:

The Prada shop's cladding was made from bubble wrap making this the second building of the day we'd seen that was a literal enlargement of a model:

This view inside shows some of the whacky shapeness of it:

Tokyo itself wasn't as hectic as I'd imagined, but it was very well lit up as this streetscape shows:

Another feature shop, called "Tod's" (which I haven't heard of):

The Louis Vuitton shop:

The Christian Dior building was probably the most pleasant of the bunch:

A shot of just some of the huge amount of neon advertising there is all over Japan. This piece of Tokyo doesn't really convey how overwhelming it all is:

Carp were a feature of nearly every pond and this is a shot from our tenth floor room in the Takanawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo:

We started the second day in Tokyo with a visit to Ueno Park. As it was the start of cherry blossom season the crowds were fairly big even for a weekday but there were some impressive shots of blossom:

As well as the cherry trees there were also a few temples in Ueno:

A guide we had later told us that lions are often placed to guard shrines, but don't guard the temple. So: remember that if you want to steal a temple, as long as you leave a shrine alone then you'll be fine:

This rather bizarre hotel building was also visible from the park. It looks like some kind of 70's experiment but is actually remarkably new, and hopefully built to withstand earthquakes:

Flyovers and walkways were ever-present in Tokyo but were somehow done in a more assertive way by the Japanese than we have in England. Flyovers did what they needed to do, walkways went where they needed, and as long as the two didn't bump into each other all was fine:

The streetscapes of Tokyo were still quite impressive in daytime with the amount of advertising they carried:

There were also a few very strange buildings. This one seems to be for a crockery manufacturer (or something) and has cups for balconies:

Towards the northwest of Tokyo we found a bustling market (selling mostly tack, it has to be said). In case you're wondering, the people with masks on aren't bandits but, as far as we can tell, were wearing face masks so they didn't spread germs. As with so many things there, it's an eminently sensible development that I can't see ever being adopted in Europe.

At the end of the market was a temple complex with a tall pagoda:

This temple was next to it:

On the way down towards the river and along it we saw more glorious modern architecture. This time, the Asahi headquarters by Philip Starck, complete with golden turd on the roof. (Apparently that's how it's also known to the locals, although it's supposed to be Asahi's flame logo.)

The Asahi turd does, however, make a rather attractive hat, as Ann is here demonstrating:

Download all photos in high res (over 200mb total)

Next: Japan Trip, Part 2 - Nikko

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Great pictures

posted by Anonymous Ferry : November 18, 2008 12:07 PM

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Holiday to Japan

Having just come back from Japan I can say it's a most amazing and very strange country. A lot of things seem very familiar from any Western city, but everything is just slightly different. It's interesting just how similar some things are but how different others are. It's a lot more subtle than, for instance, we have pound shops and they have 99 yen shops (which is about 45p). There are the tunes that are played every time a train comes into a station that would drive most Londoners completely mad, the cutesy pictures, and the train conductors who bow on their way in and out of every carriage. Generally, it's just like England but weird.

Anyway, the interesting things are the pictures so I'm going to put those in separate posts for each part of the trip.

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Amazing =o x

posted by Anonymous CHUB : October 30, 2007 8:32 PM

Your photos were awesome! Can I ask what camera you used? - though it's probably more the creative angles and skill which I can't buy :s

posted by Blogger sassyzen : March 05, 2009 3:00 PM

Just a compact and slightly old Canon Exilim. And probably a few from my phone too...

posted by Blogger Karl Bunyan : March 05, 2009 3:21 PM

just stumbled across your japan blog - doing some research for a trip... do you mind me asking what tour company / organisation you went with? or did you do it all yourselves?

thanks! sophie

posted by Anonymous sophie : May 27, 2009 8:45 AM

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Telegraph Fantasy Football run-in

The Shepherd Epstein Hunter Fantasy Football league is hotting up at the tail end of the season. Although last month we slipped to third, this week was a shock in that the long-standing leader dropped a huge number of points to move into second place. It really is a three-horse race to the finish now, with only a few matches to go.

PosManagerTeam Week 34

Total PtsLeague Pos
1Ms K OdoguRUN KENNY, RUN39125364842
2Mr E LouieBAIKIN'EL UNITED6124769181
3Ms A LakshmananANN'S SLACKERS38123677665
4Mr A WongSUGAR PUFFS321175125175
5Mr A HeadWAY AHEAD191095175319
6Miss V DudzikCRAZY BLONDIES311016209869
7Ms D WalkierWALKERS WANDERERS251015210211
8*Mr G Georgion]OVERPAID CRY BABIES301013210923
9Ms C EasterbrookCAZZZA'S COWBOYS15986220362
10Mr R BennettTIPPED FOR THE TOP15970225484
11Ms A CorsiniALE AND MAX27912241391
12Ms N LuthraBOUBLA12573267467
* denotes Chairman

Daily Telegraph Fantasy Football login

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Telegraph Fantasy Football password

The Telegraph Fantasy Football password for Wednesday 11th April is PAPER.

With only a few weeks of Premiership matches left and a few injuries around I have a feeling it's going to be an active transfer week.!

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Telegraph Fantasy Football password

The Telegraph Fantasy Football password for Wednesday 4th April 2007 is STAMPS.

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