Tokyo Blog, Tokyo Story

The blog of Stephen David Smith, Tokyo, Japan 2018

Now Viewing: All Posts in Uncategorized

JAL Retro Logo Reversion

JAL Crane Logo

In a similar move to the stricken Swiss national carrier back in 2001/2002, when they appointed media maverick Tyler Brûlé and his company Winkreative to reposition the brand, the similarly stricken JAL has also sought to bring back the glory days by reintroducing their original logo; the red crane on white. The crane is a symbol of Japan, and in the logo is found melded into the red-circle-rising-sun of the national flag. As well as inspiring national pride it also has the retro appeal that worked for Swiss. I’m all for it personally and can’t wait to see the first repainted 767’s on the tarmac in Narita airport appearing through April. I’m on my way back to the UK around that time with any luck so I’ll be passing through the airport then and will try to get some pictures.


Washed Out and Toro y Moi

There’s a few new low-fi synth-pop acts based in America’s South East, specifically the states of South Carolina and Georgia. It seems as though the region is set to spawn a new sub-genre and the main two pioneers of the sound are doing the rounds on YouTube. I can’t remember how I found it, but they’re going to form a double bill of sorts for this musical interlude.

(Toro y Moi – Talamak, Washed Out – Feel it All Around)

As a random tie-in to this musical interlude special, here’s Toro y Moi secretly playing a cameo in Uniqlo’s UT promotion this year:

Toro y Moi for UT


Facebook’s New Offices

Facebook's New Offices

Personally, I’m a user but not a fan of Facebook. It’s obviously one of the most sophisticated online applications and also one of the most visited sites in the world – but I can’t help feeling that it’s somehow evil. It’s pretty spammy at times and has caused me no end of troubles, not to mention the wasted hours resulting from the voyeuristic tendencies it fosters.

That said, you can’t knock their offices. Designed by studio o+a, it’s a rambling facility of entertainment rooms, modern interiors, recreational facilities and hippies riding skateboards. Whether or not this multi-million dollar playhouse will increase productivity is another matter. It’s now generally accepted that a happy workforce is a productive one, but I think you have to draw the line somewhere. With too many distractions it becomes impossible to get focused on what it is your supposed to be doing (i.e. not table football).

See more photos at either or


Apple Store Regent Street

Apple Store Regent Street

When I came to Tokyo I was most impressed by the Apple Store in Ginza, but, come to think of it, I’d never been to an apple store in the UK, other than the distinctly unimpressive one in Birmingham’s bullring. So, I was impressed when I saw a pic of the Regent Street store in London. The NY store still tops it, but I thought I should be less Tokyo-centric for a brief moment and share the pic.


Mùm – We have a map of the piano

A musical interlude for you now. Usually Mùm videos aren’t much chop, and this one is no exception, but stop and listen to this song for a minute. I’ve been listening to the album Finally We Are No One on my headphones whilst moving around Tokyo. It’s a good soundtrack for winter.


Fender Guitars x Hello Kitty

Fender Guitars x Hello Kitty

Did you know you can get Hello Kitty guitars? A Fender Stratocaster no less! I don’t know why you’d want one, but, looking at the site, there’s more evidence of Hello Kitty’s rising popularity in parts of the world other than Japan. Here, Sanrio Corp.’s lead mascot is encouraging young girls to pick up the guitar.


Extended Play!

I’m now the very proud owner of a work visa for Japan. When I originally came here on January 15th 2008, I entered Japan on a working holiday visa for 1 year. The term of this visa, therefore, was due to expire in January 2009 (about now), so I was sailing pretty close to the wind getting it switched. The rules state, that a British national with a working holiday visa cannot change their visa status. So, when I first entered the immigration office in Shinagawa hoping to do just that, I was massively deflated. Then, after me utilising my best Japanese, and saying ‘Sorry’ and ‘I am being rude’ and ‘If you would be so kind’ many times throughout our exchange, the lady at the counter gave me the forms to apply for a certificate of eligibility. A certificate of eligibility is usually the first step in acquiring a visa to stay and work in Japan. I filled in the forms using the info my boss had given me, and took them to a different counter on another floor. To my dismay, I was greeted with another “You’re a British working holiday visa holder, so you can’t change your status”, but after checking my application she said that my application will be filed for approval, but I may not have enough time left for the process to complete. I had to await the certificate of eligibility in the mail, and hope that it comes in time. I also had to return the following day with my degree certificates which I hadn’t bought with me that day.

When I came back to Tokyo after my Christmas break I had an undeliverable item notification waiting for me from the Japanese postal service. The notification told me that the letter had been sent from the immigration office! So I piled down to the local post office with the slip of paper and collected my letter. That was the day I got my certificate of eligibility. Then, the next hurdle presented itself to me: it said I had to use the certificate to get a visa in a Japanese embassy in a country other than Japan. I had to leave again. I also spoke to a friend who confirmed that this was true, and advised me not to waste my time taking the certificate to immigration, as it I would not be able to get a visa from there. I wanted to try anyway, so I did return to the immigration office in Shinagawa, and I took my certificate of eligibility with me. It was the first day of business of the new year, 5th January, so the place was total pandemonium. Never the less, after a three hour wait and 4 counter visits, I proved my friend wrong. I got a visa to live and work in Japan. Then I had a load of Japanese food and got drunk with my friends.