Worlds collide

21 06 2017


I must have walked past this a million times without noticing, the shuttered and now sadly gone store of a mysterious Malagasy trading company. What was the Madagascar-Hong Kong connection, I wonder? Rosewood? Dinosaur teeth? Spices? Who knows…. It is in the dingy arcade of the former Central Market, an old art deco building which has been left as a gaping open sore in Hong Kong’s centre for the last six or seven years as a legal battle rages over its prime real estate.

A Hong Kong state of mind

10 06 2017


Tokyo house heroes Mondo Grosso with their new video, a virtual paeon to Hong Kong fimed in Quarry Bay and on Temple Street.

Outer island hipsters

10 06 2017

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Peng Chau is one of the most pleasant of Hong Kong’s outer islands to visit. Its main town has a huge and typically ugly government services building and supermarket at the ferry dock, but beyond that quickly returns to its roots as a sleepy town of narrow streets, some genuine old buildings and cicadas and birdsong ringing loudly through the languid air. Its main shopping drag, Hing Wing Street, is lined with traditional local stores selling colourful fruits and vegetables, little restaurants, and local residents lounging in sitting rooms that open directly on to the street. At the end of the town is the imposing concrete hulk of its (sadly) derelict former cinema.

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But Peng Chau also has a small and charming hipster scene: I was there for a “coffee and book fair” held at a new event space in a renovated village house called Wut Tung Sat, held in conjunction with the island’s charming Japanese vintage knickknack shop Sun Sat store. The French-run wine and cheese bar I visited last time on the island had closed, but a new store called Sherry’s had opened with a “secret garden” full of bizarrely jumbled furniture and statuary and a range of objects from all over the world – I left with a hefty African wood carving for 150 HKD!

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A Brazilian Summer (in Hong Kong)

10 06 2017

More MPB from Mallu Magalhaes (above), Barbara Eugenia and Silva featuring the beautiful voice of old favourite Fernanda Takai.

Buddha is my punk

30 05 2017

Tokyo secrets

27 05 2017

I recently stumbled on to a list of Tokyo attractions which included some surprising, and hitherto-unknown, sightseeing options, such as:

House of the Insect Poet (10 minute walk from Sendago subway station in Bunkyo Ward) is an insect museum inspired by a Japanese translation of famous poem about insects by the French poet Jean-Henri Fabre. Opened in 2006 in a building designed to resemble a cocoon, it houses specimens of insects and butterflies from around the world. Most of the specimens belong to a scholar of French literature who began collecting insects in the fourth grade and has since collected 100,000 specimens.

And who knew there was an ancient Egyptian museum in Shibuya?

Another surprise was the discovery of this very instagram-chic guide to the outer suburb of Fussa, by a very visual-savvy Hong Kong-based food stylist and “social media content provider.” My memories of Fussa are of a down-at-heel, but interesting, dormitory suburb on the Western fringes of Tokyo. I used to pass through every morning on my way to work at a small and shabby “English school” in Ozaku, almost the last gasp of metropolitan Tokyo before suburban sprawl hits the beautiful hills, cedar forests and lakes of the Oku-tama ranges. Fussa stood out for its vast US military base and the streets immmediately surrounding it, which featured Filipino and Thai bars (and bargirls) and family-run Latino restaurants (I was once called a gringo at the local station).  With its white and (more often) brown and black faces, American fast food and slightly raffish, red light air, it actually does provide quite a unique, and interesting, perspective on the metropolis – but not one I would have expected to see style-blogged. Until, that is, I realised that it was a paid promotion for a campaign to highlight more “regional” parts of Tokyo prefecture. Still, certainly worth a look.

All around the world

25 05 2017

African beats from Johannesubrg’s Batuk, and a Southern Sudanese-themed video.

The return of Thai pop star, Palmy.

And below, Japan’s Wednesday Campanella on the Mongolian steppes for “Melos”