Monthly Archives: September 2016

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The Vinyl Bars of Shimokitazawa

I visited several vinyl bars in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo in January 2016

The second bar we visited, the first one we stopped for only a sip of beer, was called the Reggae Bar. Reggae music playing, a few Japanese already there, drinking their beers. I was quickly impressed by their vinyl collection. The whole wall beside the bar was filled with LPs. Row after row after row, from floor to ceiling. And much more than reggae it seemed.

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Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

I stayed in Shimokitazawa in Tokyo in January, 2016

The girl working at the record store was extremely helpful, following me through the store, finding all the records I asked for. I did not know what bands to get, only asked for certain categories. I ended up with six LPs with Japanese bands. Some rock, both old and new, and some older jazz. If I only had an LP-player in Japan, I wanted to listen to the records straight away, would have to wait almost two weeks before I got.
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Layer’s in Nagoya: The Best Burger I ever had

I visited Layer’s in Nagoya and had the best burger of my life in October, 2012

Fighter by day
Lover by night
Drunkard by choice

The chef’s choice of apparel, those words written on the back of his denim vest, made us laugh, but not expect much when it came to the food. As soon as we bit into our burgers we were proven wrong.

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Book Review: Endgame

Endgame: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Bobby Fischer by Frank Brady

I read  Endgame by Frank Brady in March 2016

Bobby Fischer still is of some fame today, thirty years ago he was known across the globe. And made Reykjavik and Iceland famous world wide too. A simple game of chess captivated audiences around the world, culminating in victory to the lonely American, taking the trophy from the mighty Soviet chess system. The cold war across the board, where the Russians always had been way stronger, was suddenly won by the US.

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Bokin in Reykjavik. A Second Hand Book Store

I visited Bokin in Reykjavik in March 2016

Bokin second-hand book store in Reykjavik is my kind of book store. The whole space is crammed full of books. The bookshelves are overflowing, books are piled on the floor, on the counter. A huge pile of books lie in front of the cashier. The books at the bottom can’t have been touched by human hands for years. The whole store has that old-book-smell. The smell is really strong here, there are so many old books. My only regret is that the best selection is in Icelandic. Their English section is a lot smaller, and the quality of the books not so good. This is a book store that makes you want to learn Icelandic.

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The Bobby Fischer Center in Selfoss, Iceland

I visited the Bobby Fischer Center in Selfoss, Iceland in April 2016

It was the game of the century, the lonely American chess player against the might of the whole Soviet chess machine. The Soviets had held the Chess World Championship for 34 years, and was not going to see the trophy come into the hands of this uneducated American. With the Soviet Union and the United States being locked in the Cold War conflict as well, the match took on a deeper meaning. It was the Cold War over the chess board, the government controlled Soviet chess schools up against a self-taught individualist from capitalist America. All eyes in the world were turned to Reykjavik at this time. All eyes were watching the two players battling it out over the board, best out of 24 games. As the reigning champion Spassky would retain the title in case of a draw and needed 12 points to win. As the challenger Fischer needed 12,5. One point for a win, half a point for a draw. Finally Bobby Fischer was ready to play for the World Championship title in chess.

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Selfoss, Iceland

While visiting Bobby Fischer’s grave and the Bobby Fischer Center in Selfoss in March, 2016 I had a few spare hours to kill in the town.

It did not take long to see all of Selfoss. A twenty minute walk, and I felt I had seen most of it. Through the town ran the main road, a wide road flanked by sidewalks and local business. Some fastfood joints, a funeral agency, a swimming pool and a florist among others. On both sides of the road lay residential areas, a few rows of houses before farmland took over. There was a football stadium, but no one were playing as I walked past. There also was a Bobby Fischer Center, a museum dedicated to the great chess player, in the town, but it would not open for almost two hours. I was unsure what to do in the meantime, tried to find a restaurant or a bar, somewhere to sit down

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Bobby Fischer’s Grave

I visited Selfoss and Bobby Fischer’s Grave in March 2015

It was a long walk to get there, across the wide, open fields. Only in the distance could you see the mountains, here it was all flat. No shelter for the wind, which was really strong here. Blowing hard against me, making it harder to walk, even hard to breathe some times.

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Book Review: Coin Locker Babies

Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami

I read Coin Locker Babies by Ryu urakami in June 2016

Coin Locker Babies is  a novel by Ryu Murakami, first published in 1980 in Japan, and translated into English in 1995.

Murakami is known for his dark, gritty books, and Coin Locker Babies does not disappoint. The book introduces us to Toxitown, a neighboorhood in Tokyo known both for its toxicity and its black market, where everything is for sale. Drawn to this place are the two orphans, Hashi and Kiku, coin locker babies who were left by their mothers in coin lockers at a train station. Growing up in an orphanage they then move to fosterparents in Kyushu before running away to Tokyo when they turn 16.

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