Osakaís 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 Iíve heard), a department store, a fitness club and tons of restaurants.
I tried to catch the opening and have a look around, but the mass crowding was insane Ė even for Osaka standards!
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, Iíll have a much better opportunity to shop around when everyoneís back at work.
And construction continues…
Lots of it!
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; thereís still a nuclear crisis to worry about, and, well, itís 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), Iím always catching some interesting or otherwise crazy shit with my camera. Nowadays Iím 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.
I guess they arenít too concerned with Japanís serious financial crisis and the likely oncoming recession. Or maybe theyíre 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.
Eyebrow grooming among men is quite common in Japan. Thus, I wasnít totally taken by surprise to find this Gatsby Face Eyebrow Kit at a local convenience store in the menís grooming section.
True, you could easily assemble this three-item kit for cheaper than what I paid for Ė around $12 at marked up convenience store prices Ė but itís 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 arenít 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.
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 canít remember what brand these shoes were, but I noticed their Ďhigh topsí could be zipped off when needed.
SPX produces 80ís 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 kidís 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 donít see myself owning a pair of SPX footwear anytime soon, I love the old school ghetto blaster shoebox they come in.