Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Titty...the Store, and Heat Up Room Shoes

Some more wonderful Japanglish from the Land of the Rising Sun...

First up, Titty, a store in the underground mall right next to the east exit of JR Shinjuku. Seriously guys, Shinjuku? Us New Yorkers might not know much about Japan, but we aren't going to name a store in Times Square Oppai. (...the same meaning in Japanese if you haven't figure it out...)

My slippers were getting pretty old and grungy, so I went to Don Quixote in Takadanobaba to pick up a new pair. Behold... Heat Up Room Shoes!

And from the people who brought you ER, Chicago Hope, Grey's Anatomy, and House... hold onto your seats for the new breathtaking drama, Doctors.

And finally, this one contains no Engrish, but I thought it was pretty sweet nonetheless. Mobile Suit Gundam standing next to the Floating Torii Gate of Miyajima Island. This photo was decorating the wall of a gaming mall in Hiroshima right down the street from the Peace Park.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Some amazing Japanglish...

I saw this one over the stairs leading down from the Shinkansen platform in Fukui Station:
(FUT- Fukui University of Technology)

Monday, November 7, 2011


I know it's been a while since my last posting in spring. Apologies for the long hiatus. A lot has happened since then, way too much to update you on now. Most notably, October 14th marked my 3rd year anniversary in Japan. Can you believe it? The Tokyo Werewolf has been roaming the Land of the Rising Sun for over 3 years!

Now back to some of the good stuff, the real reason you guys read these things...

The other day, I was at Ruby Room talking with one of the bartenders. She is a student at Waseda University and mentioned that their university festival was to be held that weekend. AKB48 and ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION were playing, along with other famous acts. Different clubs and departments throughout the university were setting up booths and a plethora of events were scheduled throughout the weekend. I had the day free on Saturday, so I made plans to meet up with her and her friends.

For some reason or other, the festival website wasn't working, so I wasn't able to see the line-up of events. I stumbled into the university campus around 2PM, figuring I could pick up a schedule and find out what time Asian Kung-Fu Generation was playing. While roaming into campus, I could hear loud music emanating from a concert space. Could it be? I followed the music to the school gymnasium and entered the gates. I glanced around to see if there were any ticket booths or security guards, but there were none that I could reckon. I surreptitiously walked through the open doors right into the gargantuan space, suddenly in the presence of thousands of Japanese youngsters shouting in unison at the stage. Surely enough, up there in the distance was Asian Kung-Fu Generation rocking the stage amidst flashing lights, teleprompters, and a wall of loudspeakers. I tapped a kid's shoulder and asked what time the show began. He said only 20 minutes ago. Having just stumbled into a school gymnasium where one of my all-time favorite Japanese rock bands was playing, it was clear that my timing was nearly perfect.

Ever since getting my hands on a copy of Surf Bungagku Kamakura, an album that lionizes the beautiful small towns of Shonan Beach, Ajikan (the band's nickname) has been one of my favorite Japanese rock bands. They blend elements of hard rock, alternative rock, and emo-punk to create their own breed of music that, thanks to singer Masafumi Goto's wonderful voice, maintains an introspective and emotional quality. Ajikan's best songs are power-pop hits that are driven by heavy guitars, emotive lyrics, and passionate vocals.

Check out the theme song to Solanin, a recent rock 'n' roll film that features one of their singles:

Recently, I've been a bit bummed by the pressures of the working world, and as you can imagine, some of the luster of living abroad wanes after 3 years. But seeing so many Japanese young people rocking out to an incredible band reminded me why I came here in the first place. Not to mention the greater school festival itself, it was definitely a great show and a great day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Saki, the drummer from Tance Boy has another group that she plays with, Cardigan. I went to see them for the first time tonight. They are quite a bit softer than most of the Tokyo bands that I follow around, but they have a great sense of melody and I think are worth checking out. Listen for yourself:

The second song on the playlist, 愛してる, (Ai Shiteru - "I Love You") shows the band's wide range of emotion. I like some of the odd harmonies that heighten the tension during the chorus.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guitar Wolf - Blurb in Metropolis

Metropolis Magazine's recent feature, Pantheon of Japanese Rock Gods, included a blurb about Guitar Wolf that I whipped up. Scroll down to #12:

Pantheon of Japanese Rock Gods

Here is a shot of frontman Guitar Wolf Seiji that I snapped in spring of 2005 at CBGB's in New York City. I know I've posted this photo before, but I think the occasion is appropriate. I was a college sophomore back then and the show basically blew my mind. I was inspired enough to even try on a pair of leather pants.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Travel Agency at the Ruby Room

Thanks to everyone who came out last night!! Travel Agency put on an incredible show. After a few major technical mishaps, the band got started and played a short yet intense set. I'll upload more photos later, but for now, check out their awesome UV style:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This Friday: Travel Agency at the Ruby Room

SUGAR WALLS: Live Music and DJ's
FRI, MAY 20th
The Ruby Room, Shibuya
¥1500 (w/dr)
8-9:30PM            DJ Hoari
9:30-10:30PM     Travel Agency (live French electro-newpop)

This month, Sugar Walls welcomes French electro-newpop trio Travel Agency. They've come all the way from France, so let's show them a big welcome. Their tracks look pretty awesome and I am definitely keen on this show:

Please note the early start time. Beer Pong people, we can set up a table and play, but it has to be before 9:30PM, so please come on the early side.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Fractures

This past evening, I went down to Shibuya to check out The Fractures, a great Tokyo rock band that has shared the stage with Sunset Drive on a number of occasions. I've been running into their bassist Nobu at Ruby Room quite a bit recently, and last night, he told me to come down to one of their shows this week.

The band took the stage at Kinoto in the south-side of Shibuya at 9:15 this past evening for a quick but thoroughly enjoyable set. The Fractures are a three-piece band that goes for a garage rock sound that is hard but not too heavy. Singer Daichi sings in Japanese, but takes on the affect of a British-invasion era vocalist. Nobu's backup harmonies add to the vintage vibe. It's been a while since I've enjoyed a live show from a young indie band and I would definitely recommend checking out this group if you get a chance.

Their webpage has some good videos to check out. I think this video best gets at my description:

If possible, I'm going to try to snag them for one of my upcoming events, so please stay tuned.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Tateyama Alpine Route, Matsumoto, Kamikochi, and Shizuoka

For Golden Week this year, I decided to ditch Tokyo and head to the heartland. I took the train up to Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture to traverse the Tateyama Alpine Route.

One the way up the mountain, the bus passes through Yuki no Otani, the Great Valley of Snow. Huge annual snowdrifts are some of the biggest in the world. This year's wall of snow was 17 meters high!

I stayed in a lodge near the top of Tateyama in Murodo. A quick walk led to amazing views of the snowy mountains. Here you can see a hiker's camp at the base of the peaks.

The next morning, I continued down the other side of the mountain to the Kurobe Dam. At 186 meters in height, it is the largest dam in Japan.

From there, I continued on to Matsumoto, a quiet mountain city in Nagano Prefecture which is famous for having the oldest standing castle in Japan.

The following morning, I awoke early and headed up to Kamikochi, an mountain valley with spectacular views. I was confronted by magnificent alpine scenery, marshlands, and even wild monkeys...

That evening, I called up Toshi from Sunset Drive and joined him and his family at his home in Shizuoka.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blizzard In Tokyo

No, just kidding. I'm currently high up in the mountains in Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture. This place is the sight of some of the world's biggest snow drifts; the highest observable part of the wall of snow today was 17 meters tall... and it's already May 2nd if you haven't noticed. I feel like it's the middle of winter...