Friday, July 31, 2009

A Badass Song

風吹けば恋

This song by female rock trio Chatmonchy was my obsession today. The chorus is monstrous!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

横浜:Yokohama

Getting back to the original purpose of my blog before all you hipsters started reading...

I took a day trip to Yokohama today.

Here at Minato Mirai, sailors were preparing the sails for a ceremonial demonstration aboard the Nippon No Maru.
Only in Japan can a city of 12 million people be bordered by a city of 3 million people.
My grandfather lived here in the port city for over a half year during the occupation after WWII. I have a hunch that he might still recognize many of the Meiji era buildings dotting the cityscape including the beautiful pair of brick warehouses on the warf.
Yokohama is also home to Japan's largest Chinatown.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen... Wet Your Balls!!

Tokyo's inaugural Beer Pong tournament was a smashing success! We packed the Ruby Room to the brim with over 20 teams and plenty of spectators. 

Taking first place was Team Boston Massacres...

...But after the tournament was already over, Team Chris&Matt wagered 10,000YEN (100 big ones) for one of the winning team's trophies. The incumbent challengers won, stealing half of the goods. Congratulations to Teams Chris&Matt and Boston Massacres.

We even had quite a few Japanese people getting down at Pong! Fast learners as always, give them a ball, and they were dangerous!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tokyo's Inaugural Beer Pong Tournament!

Tonight, I'm hosting Tokyo's inaugural Beer Pong Tournament at the Ruby Room in Shibuya! Come on down, show some love, and party with us!

Beer Pong Tournament!
The Ruby Room, Shibuya
Saturday, July 18th
9PM - late
1500JPY (includes 1 drink ticket and gameplay)


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

加藤ミリヤ: Miliyah Kato

Miliyah Kato, 21 year old Japanese R&B pop star

I was in Shibuya's Don Quixote department store this afternoon when I saw this video playing in the music section. I had to pause a minute to admire:

Part of the standard Japanese lexicon for barroom small talk is "Who is your favorite GayNoJin?" If your Japanese isn't great, as mine was when I first got here, you'll at first think they are asking, "Who's your favorite Gay person." What Gaynojin actually refers to is any person of talent, whether they be a singer, actor, or talking head on TV.

Given the question, I'm usually at loss for an answer. More often than not, I pick Miliyah Kato. Her voice is soulful, her songs are funky, and on top of that, she's young and she's pretty. Her artistic personality is mature way beyond her years. Watching the video, I find it hard to believe that she just turned 21. Her song 19 Memories, recorded when she was 19, is even more incredible. 

But the real reason I pick her is because my first part time gig in Japan was at her management company, the same guys who work with Shota Shimizu and Baby M. Every time I used to walk into the office, I would always be greeted by a big promo poster of her. I think a part of me secretly hoped to run into her at some meeting or other order of business.

Whenever she has a major show in Tokyo, I always make sure to send an email to the boss asking if he needs any help. Unfortunately, it has yet to work...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hip Hop Japan: Part III

This time around, my own band has made it into tonight's series of events! I'm currently playing drums in a J-Reggae/J-Hip-hop group with Japanese musicians Keita and Kenji on guitars and vocals and Englishman Alex on bass.

Kenji is our frontman and MC. As a rapper and musician, his songwriting, lyricism, and rhyming is just unreal. One of these days I'm going to get some video and audio up in this joint.

We did a gig tonight at The Game in Shibuya. The event was a Hip-hop showcase featuring all kinds of DJ's, MC's, and live bands like ours. Special guest in the lineup was the famous Japanese rapper, Kohei Japan. As a matter of fact, Ian Condry, the author who has made it into so many of this past month's posts, mentions Kohei Japan quite a few times in his book, Hip-Hop Japan. When I first read the book 2 years ago, I don't think it crossed my mind that I would one day be hanging out in the venues and (at least in some sense) sharing the stage with some of the acts mentioned.

A few shots:
Here's Keita singing Japanese Surfer Reggae and strumming his guitar. He learned to speak fluent English by surfing throughout the world.
Here's Kenji bustin' some rhymes. His background is part Kenyan and part Japanese. As if Barack Obama was a Japanese rapper...
And of course Kohei Japan:
I can say with confidence that my group played well and got the crowd pumped. Thanks to everyone who came out to support!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Japanamerica


The recent book Japanamerica by Tokyo University lecturer Roland Kelts is a very thought provoking and insightful analysis of the way Japanese popular culture has invaded the US mainstream. Kelts brings to the book his passion for manga and anime, a sharp sense for cultural theory, and his bicultural Japanese and American background to illustrate the significance of the US-Japan cross cultural relationship. The book covers ground ranging from issues of cultural taboos to differences in copyright laws.

Last month, when I was talking with author and anthropologist Ian Condry at his Hip-hop after-party, I asked if he had read Japanamerica. He said, "Yeah, actually Roland was here earlier but he had to go. I would have introduced you to him!"

Maybe it's not such a coincidence. The community of Japanese pop culture scholars and specialists must not be all that huge.

I got in touch with Mr. Kelts after the event over email and we made plans to get together. Unfortunately, due to his busy tour schedule promoting the book, we weren't able to meet this time around. We did have brief phone conversation today though. He told me about his upcoming trip to Australia and a panel discussion at UC Berkeley with legend of Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke).

He also told me that he thought the Werewolf blog was very exciting. That was definitely nice to hear. I hope to get a chance to meet with him next time he is in town.