Out now on DVD – Joseph Tame in Fuji TV’s ‘Bizan’ with Tokiwa Takako

Stills from Fuji TVs 'Bizan' Featuring Tokiwa Takako starring alongside Joseph Tame

18 months after the filming, I’ve finally got around to locating my scene in the Fuji TV production of Bizan, starring Tokiwa Takako, and that guy. And me.

For some reason I was under the impression that it had yet to be released, thus didn’t realise that the copy of ‘Bizan’ I’d rented from Tsutaya a while back was actually the one I was in. It was only a few nights ago when looking to see what I had on the ‘waiting to be watched’ hard drive that I skimmed through the drama, and noticed that Tokiwa Takako’s dress looked strangely similar to the one I’d surreptitiously photographed her in in 2007.


It’s always amazing how so many hours of filming become compressed – in this case two days down into just under two minutes. Of which I, er, ‘star’ in for a total of about 15 seconds.

In the photo above, the tour guide is kindly teaching me how to say “dog” in Japanese (‘inu’).

Joseph in Bizan, Yoyogi park

You may recall that one of the things I had to agree to in order to be in the drama was to keep my hat on. For the audition, I’d had quite a lot of hair, but then a few days later, forgetting all about the program, I shaved it all off in preparation for the 9000 mile train ride home. When I got the call telling me I was in, I suddenly realised the implications of what I’d done. That’s when my precious Tilley Hat came to my rescue. The director said they’d use me, provided I keep my hat on (I had quite a job doing so in the windy Yoygi park where the above scene was shot.

Doing part time acting work is quite fun, and I’d recommend anyone who fancies trying it contact the agency I use, Group Echo, who should not be judged by their home page.

Conformity, Eric Clapton and tiltshift taxis

Tiltshift TaxiI’m sitting in one of the two Starbucks near Kudanshita station. Whilst the one outside exit 2 is a place for colleagues to go and chat, this one is definitely for reading and studying. All around me there are salarymen and women buried in their books, some with highlighters in hand, marking passages and copying extracts into notebooks. There’s 22 of us in here. It’s almost silent. My key taps are almost disturbing the peace.
Whilst I’m not a great fan of conformity, at times I’m grateful for it. Especially so on the morning trains. It’s almost unbelievable how silent a packed carriage can be. Hundreds of people wedged in, the only sound is that of silent breathing. You rarely hear a phone ring as everyone conforms to the Manner Mode policy (Mana~ Mode being Japanese for silent mode) – I estimate that I only hear a phone actually ring about once a week on my commute.

I think that whilst the silence is partly the result of conformity / fear of being the nail that sticks up, it is also a manifestation of an individual and collective effort to preserve sanity. Being jammed into a mobile sardine tin with so many people is not natural, and, were the ears to be bombarded with noise, were we to be constantly reminded that we were in this overcrowded tin, I’m sure that for some, claustrophobic panic would not be far off.
However, with silence, no matter how crowded the train, the journey can become the perfect opportunity to take a few minutes to meditate. With or without iPod, if you close your eyes, you could be almost anywhere – including nowhere.

There is one thing that I really do object to though, and that’s those people who deliberately push really hard against you when getting on, when there is blatantly no need to do so. They step on the train, turn around to face the open door, and then push backwards to make space for the 30 other people to get on who aren’t actually there. My impression is that they have a lot of pent-up emotion, and this is one of their few chances to let it out through silent violence.Eric Claption and Jeff Beck

So, I went to see Eric Clapton and Geoff Beck last night. I’ve not listened to Clapton for many years – perhaps since I was a teenager, but with the offer of a half-price ticket and good company at the gig just five minutes from the office, I thought it daft not to go.

Ten minutes into the show I was having a good time, feet tapping, head nodding, charged memories of teenage years coming back to me. Crikey, he really is a great guitarist, I thought.
Being a concert for the ‘mature’ generation (and being in a seated venue, Budokan), most people sat quietly, clapping when prompted to, cheering between songs. There was one man on our row however, who seemed pretty insane. Dressed in a bright white shirt, he spent much of the concert yelling declarations of love at Clapton, and booing when Geoff Beck took the lead. He also played the drums on the rail in front of him, sending vibrations along the entire row. It was quite amusing to watch, although had he been next to me I think I would have pushed him over the edge of the balcony ☺

Following the concert, I made my way to the Ariake Washington Hotel, next to Tokyo Big Site out in Tokyo Bay. *Twinkle* works for an events company that has spent the past six months organsing a three-day nanotechnology conference, and part of the deal has been to stay in a hotel next to the venue during the show.

I’m a big fan of that part of town. Being on one of several relatively new man-made islands, there’s a lot of breathing space around the venue, and some really interesting architecture. The trainspotter in me loves the monorail too. Unfortunately I didn’t get many photos as it was dark when I arrived, and it’s raining this morning. I did however find some prime tiltshift shots – one of which is shown above. I’m quite pleased with my miniature taxi.
It’s been a busy week. I’ve spent much of my spare time trying out different microphones and voice recorders. With the reassigning of the house contract from *Twinkle*s sister to us there’s two month’s deposit to pay, thus not much money for recording equipment, so in the end I decided to work with what I’ve got, and bought the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo – a mic attachment for a video iPod. On the whole it’s very good, but (and this is a BIG but), it does pick up the sound of the iPod’s hard drive whirring into action every 20 seconds in quiet environments. However, when used with an additional external mic (I have a really cute little stereo Sony) it’s fine. My old Video iPod has finally found a new vocation having been almost redundant since my acquisition of an iPhone last September.

The best mobile audio recorder I’ve found yet though is actually the iPhone itself. The sound quality is definitely good enough for my purposes, and having installed Griffin’s excellent iTalk app, transferring files to my computer via wifi is ultra simple, and pretty fast too – thanks to the MacBook’s ability to create it’s own wireless wifi network, I don’t have to be anywhere near an existing network to make the transfer (for some reason this doesn’t work for all apps, e.g. iAnki Server seems to require a standard wifi network). The length of recordings is only limited by iPhone disk space, although in reality it’s actually determined by how much battery life you are prepared to sacrifice! I can see myself getting that 12,000yen battery pack that have in the Apple Store in due course (the name of which I forget).
I’ve also been trying out the new version of Garageband that comes as a part of Apple’s iLife09. I’m really impressed by the new equaliser settings – and the number of loops and effects too (I didn’t realise that these had to be installed separately after installing Garageband from DVD – the download was over 1GB – thank heavens for 30mbps internet connections!).

Anyway, I’d best be off to work. There’s no internet connection here at Starbucks, and as yet I can’t upload via the iPhone’s 3G connection. Yet.

Valentines Day 2009


After work last night, I came home to find the house stinking of rancid steamed broccoli – we’d forgotten to put a dish of it away in the fridge before heading off to Saitama the previous day, and what with these spring-like temperatures it had rapidly deteriorated. Windows open, air purifier on full blast …soon it was safe to breathe, and safe to tackle the washing up.

An hour or two later I headed out to Shibuya to meet *Twinkle* for our Valentines Date. It’s rare for us to spend time together doing stuff that isn’t related to business, so for a few minutes we were at a loss as to what to do. Food seemed like a good idea. What to have? I checked the Hot Pepper app on my iPhone (a directory of eateries with discount vouchers) – it brought back a google map of the street we were on with pinmarks showing the restaurants in its listings – click a pin to see a photo of the place, a description, and access the discount ticket.

We settled on sushi, and spent half an hour or so working our way through a stack of plates. Very nice. Cheap too. (I couldn’t manage the ones with the 2cm squidlets lying on top though, it seemed to me horrendous that anyone could eat such little babies).

Back on the streets of Shibuya, we thought about what to do next. Karaoke? Cinema? Nice cafe somewhere. It was then that we spotted a bus about to depart for Roppongi Hills – a clear sign that that was where we were supposed to go.

I like taking buses in Tokyo. Going overground is a novel experience, and much like my journey back to the UK by train in 2007, provides one with a sense of the connections between points on a subway map. These days you don’t have to worry about how much to pay or where to get off either – use your Pasmo (or Suica) IC card for the former (one card is good for virtually all public transport) , and your GPS enabled phone for the latter.

Roppongi Hills is an incredible place. The main 53-storey Mori tower fills me with wonder – how can humans have made something so huge?! On the lower floors there’s a lot of fashion outlets, good cafes and restaurants, interesting architecture and a giant spider.

We decided to visit Niwaka to look at wedding rings. They have a beautiful range – I like a lot of their range, which is unusual for me as I’m not a very ringy person. They’re also more affordable now, with prices having been lowered in response to the economic downturn.

Having decided upon the designs that we’d like (when we can afford them), we headed down the road to the Starbucks-equipped Tsutaya for a coffee and planning session. Out came my notepad and pen, and I started to draw a spider diagram of the business I’m building.

*Twinkle* has a great mind for business. I must admit, I forget it sometimes, but she really has got her head screwed on when it comes to business plans. She pointed out some holes, suggested amendments and action steps, and encouraged me to push forward even though it may not be profitable for a couple of years – and will involve a lot of work.

At about half eleven we headed back home. Stopped off to pick up a DVD at our local Tsutaya, and once home created a home cinema out of all our bedding and the flat-screen panel given to us by my sister-in-law.

Must have been about 3am when we finally dozed off.

This morning’s been relaxing too. Cooking, talking. Looking down at empty plot of land next door feeling happy that construction has now been indefinitely postponed. Oh, my hyacinths are flowering too, giving off a wonderful scent.

We’re both off out now. *Twinkle* to meet an ex-colleague of hers who’s interested in starting an Amway business, myself to teach English in a book store cafe.

Oh, and this time we won’t be leaving any cooked broccoli on the kitchen table.


Picking it up again

Little Pink Hat

Another of my favourites from Tokyo – the little pink-hat girl rides high above the crowds (Shibuya’s Hachiko crossing).

Posts / pages, pages / posts… Ah, the complexities of the English language. Apologies to those of you who received an ‘About the Tame’ post via my feed, my mistake when attempting to transfer some of the static content on TameGoesWild to this WP database.

The last few days have been pretty tricky, with the work-project-home balance being tipped right up causing the kind of grief that can be crippling to general wellbeingness. Still, got things more-or-less back on track now.

It’s reminded me though of one thing I’ve come to accept as OK this past year – the stops and starts that naturally accompany efforts to create new habitual actions (something that’s pretty relevant 6 weeks into a new year). Such actions might be exercise, eating healthily, writing, learning a language or good posture. In the past, I might maintain a new good habit for a week or two, then one morning find myself ‘too busy’ or ‘too stressed’ to make time for it that day.

I’d then use that slip-up as an excuse to not to do it the next day either, and then stop altogether. “Oh, well, I failed at that. I’ll do it again one day”, perceiving the effort to restart the habit so enormous that it would require weeks of mental preparation.

Which of course it doesn’t. It just requires an instantaneous decision followed by action.

Knowing this has saved me a fair bit of grief. It means I’ve been able to give up being down on myself for ‘failing’, and allowed me to restart whatever positive habitual habit is without this sense that it’s a huge struggle in which I will have ‘succeed’ or ‘fail’.

We visited my in-laws last night. With a trip to go and see granny in Western Tokyo on the cards for today, the whole family had gathered. It was a really fun evening! Great food, a lot of laughter, oh, and they also happen to speak Japanese, thus resulting in me revelling in the language bath.

I actually have very few chances to use my Japanese, thus, when the opportunity arises there’s no shutting me up. I’m actually planning to start doing some kind of voluntary work that will enable me to use my Japanese – I’m thinking one evening a week, local neighbourhood organisation, befriending oldies etc. Either that, or find some hypnosis technique to help *Twinkle* forget her English when at home.

Anyway, best get on.


Coldplay Live

coldplay, Live at Saitama Super Stadium, Feb 2009
It was around 8.55am when I got an email from my friend and teacher Nami. Would I like to go and see Coldplay perform live at Saitama Super Stadium tonight? She’d got a couple of tickets for 3500 yen each – almost a third of the normal price.

With telephone conversation calls going on until 7pm, there was no way I was going to get there for the (7pm) start, but fortunately they had a support act, and then there was a short delay, so in the end they only appeared on stage after I’d arrived.

Good of them to wait.

It was bloomin amazing.

Those who know the ins and outs of my Japan story may recall that Coldplay have in a way been the soundtrack to the last 7 years of my life, releasing a new album to mark the start of each new era. Thus, it was a pretty emotional experience for me right from the start.

But more than past lifetimes, it was the band’s achievements that I was moved by. I mean, look at this amazing sight. Thousands of fans loving what they were doing. The four of them loving what they were doing.

Ha. That’s pretty damn groovy I thought.

And I thought again of that quote.

Don’t die with your music still in you.