A Fox Down Under – My 2001-02 Journal Is Now Online!

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It was 15 years ago that I set off alone on a journey to a huge island country on the other side of the world with just a backpack to my name. Other than the Australian soaps, ‘Crocodile Dundee‘ and typical TV footage of Sydney Harbour I really didn’t know too much about the place and I certainly had no idea about backpacking!

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Leicester City Supporters Night In Tokyo Bar

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After all these years in Tokyo I pretty much assumed I was the only Foxes fan around here and it was hard enough just trying to find a Japanese person who had even heard of the city of Leicester or Resuta (レスター) as they call it. Back in 2010, I thought the signing of Yuki Abe would make my home city known here but it never quite materialised. However, a few things in the recent years have helped to raise awareness of the place. First, there was the story of Richard III (King of England between 1483 and 1485), then Princess Mako (a member of the Japanese Imperial family) went to the University of Leicester to study museology and finally last June the Japanese international striker Shinji Okazaki signed for Leicester City in a £7m switch from Mainz in the Bundasliga. Continue reading

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Snowboarding Trip To Hokkaido

When it comes to snowboarding in Japan there are many good places but it is Hokkaido which is the place held in highest esteem by those in the know. As much as I enjoyed all my previous snowboarding trips to Nagano-ken there has always been that desire to partake in some action on the mountains in Niseko where the all-too-common icy slopes (in my experience!) give way to some fantastic snow in one of the worlds best ski resorts.

Last weekend I was back on Japan’s most northerly main island just over half a year since I last visited and yet again I was joined by my regular partner-in-crime Ethan……but we  only just made it though! On the Friday we travelled I was heavily delayed on the train and only just managed to check-in in the nick of time. Meanwhile, Ethan’s flight was delayed too and at the airport I had already told the bus company we’d take the next one an hour later……when suddenly Ethan and a bus staff member came sprinting through the terminal with just a couple of minutes to spare. Continue reading

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Review: Films Inspired By Japan – American Yakuza (1993)

On the back of re-watching and reviewing ‘The Yakuza‘ (1974) towards the end of last year, this was the obvious film to follow that up. Unlike that one though, this gets straight into the action from the offset as Viggo Mortensen, who later went on to play Aragorn in the ‘Lord Of The Rings‘ trilogy, goes about his business as a forklift driver in a factory warehouse owned by Yakuza.

Warning: Contains spoilers!

However, when the place comes under siege, Mortensen’s “Nick Davis” helps protect the workplace and saves the representative of Yakuza interests in America, Shuji Sawamoto (Ryo Ishibashi) who he helps rehabilitate. Some time later, Shuji thanks Nick and impressed by what he witnessed, offers him the chance to work for them. This part does seemingly all happen a bit too easily with very few questions asked by either party! In the wake of the attack on the Yakuza, a war develops between the two gangs with the FBI trying to keep them both at arms length. Continue reading

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London Filming Locations: Quantum Of Solace (2008)

It was always going to be a tough job following up ‘Casino Royale‘ (2006); the hugely successful reboot of the 007 franchise, but personally I don’t think ‘Quantum Of Solace‘ is as bad as many critics say. Sure, it’s not without flaws and really wasn’t helped by the writers’ strike that sent it into production with an unfinished script. Furthermore, they tried to copy some traits of the successful Jason Bourne films a bit too much and overall it undoubtedly ranks as everyone’s fourth favourite James Bond movie from the Daniel Craig era.

Following the opening scenes in Italy, London makes a brief appearance after 14 minutes with the rain lashing down as James Bond is driven into the entrance of a high rise apartment (below) belonging to a deceased double agent where he and M realise the extent of the mysterious organisation.

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Hiroshima-ken 2015/16 Pt VI: A Day In Kure City

The good thing about spending so long in Hiroshima on our latest visit was that there was plenty of time to do things at a leisurely pace whilst fitting them in with the more traditional New Years customs. We had intended to go to the naval port city of Kure after visiting Gensoboji temple on our third day in Hiroshima but as it took much longer than expected to locate that place we decided to postpone it till a later date. That happened to be our last full day and so we made an early start taking the train south from Hiroshima station.

Beforehand I actually had no idea what the Yamato Museum (below) was about but it was soon obvious on entering the place (500 yen) that it was a maritime museum.

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Hiroshima-ken 2015/16 Pt V: A Walking Tour Plus Other Various Bits And Pieces

When my sister and her family visited visited Hiroshima last year she picked up an  alternative sights pamphlet and passed it on to me when they they visited Tokyo after that. It included the Futabanosato Historical Walking Trail and Mitaki Temple which I did on my last visit in May 2015 and one other tour included a stroll between Yokogawa station and the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace.

This wasn’t done so much for the sights but for something to do on New Years Eve and to get me out of the house for a bit of fresh air and exercise away from the tourist hordes. The air was certainly fresh for it was a bitterly cold Winter’s morning during a period when the weather was incredibly mild for the time of the year.

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