Osaka City Station: The Opening

May 05 2011

Osaka City Station Hankyu Bridge

Osaka’s latest mega-structure is now open for business. Osaka City Station features the renovated JR Osaka Train Station, accompanied by the recently constructed North Gate Building. The complex features a couple hundred shops (or so I’ve heard), a department store, a fitness club and tons of restaurants.

Osaka City Station Bridge Escalators

I tried to catch the opening and have a look around, but the mass crowding was insane – even for Osaka standards!

Osaka City Station Main Floor

There were snaking lineups just to use the escalators. And getting inside of the actual North Gate Building meant standing in long queues.  I decided not to wait; lineups just kind of stress me out these days. Besides, I’ll have a much better opportunity to shop around when everyone’s back at work.

And construction continues…

Lots of it!

 

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Spring in Osaka

Apr 12 2011

Osaka Hanami

For many folks, this past weekend was the best opportunity to view the blossoming cherry trees, an event known here as hanami. Hanami is an ancient tradition where friends and family sit under trees, all day long, consuming beer and snacks and otherwise having a good, relaxing time.

But I think the festivities were probably toned down a bit this year; there’s still a nuclear crisis to worry about, and, well, it’s just sad to think of all the families not enjoying hanami because their homes and communities have been destroyed. Still, many people turned out where I live.

With my daily trips through Hyogo (the area between Osaka and Kobe), I’m always catching some interesting or otherwise crazy shit with my camera. Nowadays I’m shuffling between a Canon S95 and a Lumix GH1. Now if I could just remember to always replace their battery packs before I leave the house…

The other day I visited a giant shopping mall called Lalaport. I was a bit surprised at how stuffed it was full of shoppers. It was even hard to walk thru some areas.

lalaport

I guess they aren’t too concerned with Japan’s serious financial crisis and the likely oncoming recession. Or maybe they’re just trying to stimulate the economy.

Anyhow, with spring temperatures finally in the air, the stores are selling a lot of cool looking light jackets and blue jeans. Often, I can wear this kind of stuff well towards the end of the year, so I’m always interested in what comes out during spring.

Japanese light coat

Light coats

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Eyebrow Grooming Kit by Gatsby

Feb 26 2011

Eyebrow grooming among men is quite common in Japan. Thus, I wasn’t totally taken by surprise to find this Gatsby Face Eyebrow Kit at a local convenience store in the men’s grooming section.

True, you could easily assemble this three-item kit for cheaper than what I paid for – around $12 at marked up convenience store prices – but it’s nice to get all these items at once, and of the right kind for the job.

If you are a little unsure of how to start grooming your eyebrows, the backside of the case breaks it down into a couple easy steps:

Use the comb to brush upwards and trim your eyebrow hairs; anything sticking up past the upper boundaries of your eyebrow hairline is fair game. Next, use the tweezers to pluck individual hairs from beneath your hairline. This is where sculpting skills are needed and lapses in judgement can result in some pretty hilarious embarrassing situations!

Unlike regular scissors, these mini ones feature a pair of curved blades. This will keep you from stabbing yourself repeatedly, as trimming while watching yourself in the mirror can be kind of tricky!

The comb is equally tiny and has a crescent shape. This makes trimming easier and more accurate.

The only part of the kit that I feel is somewhat lacking are these tweezers. For very short eyebrow hairs, like ones that have just started to grow back, these tweezers aren’t quite sharp enough to get the job done consistently. I’d recommend buying a better pair of tweezers (ones with a different blade angle) or opting for a mini eyebrow razor.

 

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Sneaker Hunting in Osaka

Feb 24 2011

The Japanese love this classic sneaker design from Patrick; they never seem to go out of style. Although Patrick is a European company, their products sold here are actually made in Japan. Unfortunately this means that even a basic pair of Patrick shoes starts at around $125. Having once owned a pair, I can attest to their comfort and quality, but they do seem a tad over priced. The glossy pair in the foreground with the candy apple gradient caught my eye. They cost around $180.

Comparatively, Dragon Beard is a Japanese brand, but assembled elsewhere, and command a much lower price. Their everyday DB series sneakers start at around $50 and are a popular choice among young to mid-aged men. I’m not the biggest fan of Dragon Beard footwear, but the company produces so many variations of their designs that I probably could find a pair that I wouldn’t mind taking home. Maybe when summer hits.

High tops of all brands and styles are popular year-round in Osaka, but especially during the winter months when well-insulated footwear is a must. I can’t remember what brand these shoes were, but I noticed their ‘high tops’ could be zipped off when needed.

 

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SPX Footwear

Feb 24 2011

SPX produces 80’s inspired high top sneakers in an abundance of styles and colors, including this polydactyl caricature I spotted in Namba, Osaka. With laces, Velco and no less than 5 tongues, what more could you possibly want from a sneaker?

SPX footwearlooks more like kid’s toys — with their eye-grabbing colors and over-the-top textures — than serious fashion gear. But priced north of $200, and always produced in limited amounts, these wares find regular customers among enthusiasts and collectors who are into vintage Nike Jordan-style shoes.

Although I don’t see myself owning a pair of SPX footwear anytime soon, I love the old school ghetto blaster shoebox they come in.

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