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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • November 25, 2006


    Reminiscing Tokyo Part 8: Wrapping Up

    That's it folks with Japan. I don't want certain readers of the blog to think I have given up on book reviews and literary content. Book reviews will be up. If you miss any part of my Japan travelogue, go to the right hand side and click on the appropriate links. Hope you all enjoy these pictures from Japan as much as I took them.

    Japan Airlines flight 736 anchored at gate 43 at Hong Kong International Airport. The aged Boeing 747-300 with an extended upper deck had defintely seen better days despite it was painted with a new livery. The seat was okay although it was deprived of personal entertainment. After all, the flight was pleasant and service was attentive.
    The signage was my very first intro to Japan's web-like railway system. This train will take me straight to Shinjuku from Narita Airport in 90 minutes.
    The Tokyo Metro is complicated, but manageable if you follow the map indicator that locates above the train doors. Each station is designated by a alphanumeric code so tourists like me will not get lost.
    An European couple were kind enough to take a picture of me when I was walking around Asakusa after visiting the Sensoji Temple.
    Many vendors along the street leading to the Sensoji Temple sell charms--all kinds of them, for health, for fortune, for good luck, for a favorable marriage--but you'll have to look around and find the best bargains before zeroing on it.
    The Buddha at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. I've always thought the way different cultures, or different countries portray the Buddha vary. The Japanese Buddha, to me, is somewhat chubbier than that in Cambodia.
    Wafting aroma from this pastry stall captured my stomach's attention. I walked over there and bought a couple pieces of lightly fried pastry with red bean paste filling.
    These are bead bracelets made of different kinds of wood like mohagany and cherry wood. Unlike those tasseled charms that are usually hung in houses and inside the cars, mead bracelets are more personal. I got several of these bracelets, prayed over them at the temple, and give them to friends as gifts.
    Japanese animal crackers?
    A sober me after paying respect at the Meiji Jingu Shrine, where you bow twice in front of the shrine, then clap your hands, pray, and bow once more to show respect. Notice a mother behind me is taking her little kimono-donned daughter to pay respect for blessing.
    Think I can pass as a train conductor!?! Trains are usually painted in colors that are identical to the respective routes on the map.
    A quick, insouciant, spontaneous shot of Shinjuku after dark. This is obviously not a busy intersection with only a few commuters. I like the backdrop--the buildings so neatly lined the street, stippled with neon lights and signs--against which people, most of them glued to their cell phones, walked with such fast pace. They probably had to hurry and finish their conversations as cell phone conversation is NOT allowed in all subway trains.
    Most of the noodle shops in Tokyo are staffed with one, at least two servers who usually don't take your orders. You buy a ticket from the vendor machine and hand the tickets to the servers when you walk in the restaurant. No tipping is needed. A bowl of yummy ramen with a side of gyoza is around 800 Yen.
    I found these polyester-spandex boxers at a 100Yen (99 cents) store near the noodle shop on the way back to the hotel. They are so comfy that I went back to the store and bought all the remaining ones!
    Bronze statue at Sensoji Temple. A group of Indians who were there before me took turn to touch the staute all over and prayed to him.
    The shopping alley at Ueno split into two here. Just a quick ride on the subway from Asakusa, Ueno has lots of grocery shops where you can get cheap candies and nori (rice cracker with seaweed). I also found an army thrift store where you can find army apparel from countries all over the world.
    Local people were paying respect at Sensoji Temple.
    Restaurants usually maintain a beautiful, exquisite display of some of their featured items on the menu. These samples are made of colored wax. Who won't be drooling all over looking at these samples?
    The street of Asakusa. I like those hanging cubic lanterns.
    Fresh fruit stall at Ueno.
    Muji was holding its annual customer reward. This bag is called the Happy Bag--which contains a wool jacket, a plaid shirt, two pairs of boxers, two t-shirts, two pairs of socks, and a leather belt--all in medium sizes, for 3150 Yen (US$27). You have to buy the entire bag and the content of which cannot be substituted.
    Fare map showing all stations within the Tokyo metropolitan area. I don't know how the people can do it without even looking at the map.
    Offerings made to the Meiji Jingu Shrine are neatly arranged under the same roof with the appropriate name tags and quantities.
    Chrysanthemum show at the Meiji Jingu Shrine
    People lined up and waited patiently to get in the department store for the sale event.
    I guess in all things there is always exception. In a city that is so neat, orderly, and clean as Tokyo, at a subway exit during rush hour, I spotted some abandoned soda cans.
    Floral display at a department store.
    I did some last-minute souvenir shopping at Shibuya. All these are fragrance bags for women, who traditionally tug these cute little pouches inside the lapels of their kimonos.
    Diving once again into the sea of crowd at Shinjuku Station, hurling behind me two big luggage, where is my train? These electric display boards might be helpful especially if you're trying to locate where your train departs at a major station like Shinjuku with more than 20 platforms.
    Signage on the platform floor indicates where to board the appropriate car.
    Homeward bound. Signage inside the Narita express train indicates the train is bound for the airport. I was in car #4.


    Blogger Tony said...

    Ah Matt...but it's nice to break up routine. The travel log/review has been fun. And wow, some of the sights are incredible. Like I said of these days!

    11/26/2006 11:19 PM  
    Anonymous Chris said...

    I've gotta make it out there too....have never been to Asia so it will be a culture shock my man...

    whatcha reading now these days, if you're reading anything....

    11/27/2006 6:27 AM  
    Anonymous iliana said...

    Matt your travelogue has been great to read. Not to mention all those pics!

    11/27/2006 7:11 AM  
    Blogger Robert said...

    Nice. More photos! WHAT? 99 cents each? Now you'll definitely have to model? Wait, did you upload your swim trunk photos? :-)

    When's your next trip Matt? Going anywhere 'round Xmas time? Looking at all your pictures and reading your whereabouts at the time was a treat!! Thanks again!

    11/27/2006 9:02 AM  
    Anonymous AJ said...

    I thought you're still in Asia...I've been full-hilt with work and stuff. Let's hang buddy.

    I've gotta catch up with all your posts!

    11/27/2006 4:42 PM  
    Blogger Jef said...

    Goodness, I have so much blog reading to catch up on once I finish NaNoWriMo.

    11/27/2006 9:04 PM  
    Blogger Carmi said...

    I'm really enjoying your words and images from afar. It's a nice interruption to the routine, and a nice way to see a country through your eyes.

    11/28/2006 5:56 PM  

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