Friday, February 26, 2010

Air Guitar...but Air Sex?????

[*viewer discretion advised]

You've undoubtably heard of Air Guitar and even the Air Guitar World Championships, but I bet you haven't heard of this. Witness the latest trend courtesy of Japan,...Air Sex!

Here's what some Japanese guys do when they can't get laid.

Would you call this boredom or creative inspiration? Please please please leave your comments!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Sakanaction is one of the hot new electro-rock bands on the Tokyo scene.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hong Kong Werewolves

Here are more of my photos from Hong Kong. Perhaps they illustrate the city better than my words.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An American Werewolf in Hong Kong

I spent this past week in Hong Kong. In some ways the city is just how I imagined it. The central area of Hong Kong Island is a commercial and mercantile oasis filled with modern skyscrapers that soar to nose-bleeding height. The rest of the surrounding city is a dense jungle of buildings from another era, sweaty with water-damage, and decorated with ubiquitous neon signs, external plumbing, and residents' clothes hanging out to dry.

Perhaps I've watched too many Kung Fu movies, but the stereotypes I brought with me were confirmed soon after I arrived. Directly before my eyes, I witnessed the very canvas that inspired the great visionary directors of Hong Kong cinema. I could see the urban break-neck action sequences of John Woo and the steamy romance and noir of Wong Kar Wai.

I immediately felt inundated by the boisterous atmosphere. As opposed to the social propriety of Tokyo, the Chinese descendant residents of Hong Kong are loud and animated, letting their cell phones ring and yelling at each other in the streets. The average crowds of popular shopping areas like Mong Kok rival Tokyo's Shibuya and Harajuku on their busiest days. The claustrophobia in the sea of people is only accentuated by a canopy of shop signs suspended by steal cables from almost every building.

One way to catch the essence of the city is to stroll through the Temple Street Night Market after dusk. Rows of street stalls dealing in all kinds of merchandise are lined by buildings with eclectic stores and aromatic Chinese eateries. Shops and stalls selling all kinds of contraband and sleaze are plentiful. One can find knock off fashion labels and watches, pirated DVD's and CD's, and even second-hand pornographic literature.

I saw one stall selling imitation LEGOS of exactly the same look and design of the popular toy series, but instead manufactured by the bootleg brand "Enlighten". I'm fairly sure this would be illegal in the States, but I would be more concerned over the lead tainted paint...

By day, Hong Kong is equally as impressive. The skyline viewed from Victoria Peak is world famous, but unfortunately on the day I took the cable car to the top, most of the tallest buildings were shrouded in clouds. The view wasn't much to brag about.

The fog was thick, but it did offer an alternate perspective. I was able to witness the famous Giant Buddha of the Po Lin Monastery, veiled in mystery, riding on a cloud to Nirvana.

And of course, if you are a true werewolf, you'd better find a few locals to show you around. A few of my Hong Konese friends took me out to the bars and clubs of Lan Kwai Fong. The area was reminiscent of Tokyo's Roppongi, complete with mini-skirts and over-eager and ambiguously sketchy foreign guys out for tail. We bounced around to a few different spots and hug out till the first trains at 6AM. I hit the sack for a quick two hours and was on my flight home by 12:30 the next afternoon.

I've been back in Tokyo for a few days now, but I can't get the trip off of my mind. Personally, the best part was being reminded about what it felt like when I first came to Asia. Many of the mysteries of Japan have slowly unravelled for me, but Hong Kong presented a fascinating new world with a mysterious culture. I could feel that same sensation in my gut that I first experienced when I witnessed Japan with fresh eyes. I was a foreigner in a land filled to the brim with people each with their own individual story.

The sensation followed me home. I was only gone for 5 days, but it must have been much longer. The sites, smells, and atmosphere of Tokyo all felt new, as if I were re-experiencing them all over again.

GO!GO!7188 - Ultimate Exclusive Shitty Fan Photo

This past evening, I was again invited to see GO!GO!7188. I've been listening to their albums more lately and I'm getting bit by their bug more than ever.

Tonight's show was at La Cittadela in Kawasaki City. The band was on fire as usual, but due to outside circumstances, the show was a bit unfortunate. Whoever was running the soundboard was asleep at the wheel. The bass was completely buried in low feedback, totally obscuring Akko's virtuosic playing. And worse, the band wasn't given much time to play in the lineup. A group of their stature deserve more time, or at least an encore.

The plus side was getting to hear new songs that the band is currently recording. The new numbers recalled the cross Asian-Rock hybrid of their earlier hit song Ukifune, but have more of an 80's pop feel.

After the show backstage, I was attacked by my usual case of butterflies that I often experience when confronted by awesome Japanese rockstar chicks. While this fan was posing for a photo with the band, I pulled out my camera and snapped my own picture. It was an ad hoc maneuver intended to break the ice, but it only made me feel more awkward.

Left to right, bassist Akko, an eager fan, and guitarist Yuu. Drummer Turkey was hanging out elsewhere at the time.

All the members of the group are wicked friendly and they all remembered meeting me last time, but we were only able to share general greetings. Deep conversations about the nature of rock 'n' roll will have to wait until next time.

For now, I'll leave you with a great music video for their song 片思いフィター [directly translates to Unrequited Love Fighter]

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tance Boy Rocks the Ruby Room

Tance Boy was back this weekend at the Ruby Room for another hot set. Awesome moves, stylish looks, and a simply great sound, these guys are one of the most fun bands I know in Tokyo. Their energetic rock songs are held together by Yun's undeniably bright frontwoman personality and Take's melodic and catchy guitar riffs that stick in your head for hours after each show.

As organizer of the event, I was more than a little on edge before the show trying to get everything in order. I neurotically asked Yun how long they were planning to play. "We want leave them wanting more," she said to me with a big smile.

I think they lived up to their promise. Even with Ruby's dinky sound equipment, they were able to play some of their songs the best I've ever heard them. The band was on fire and everyone in the small yet intimate audience was fully captivated.

Standing out in my mind was their classic tune, Fiat. Hear it on their myspace page. Slightly in contrast to their other brighter songs, I like how the chords have a dark and deep quality.

One of the challenges and pleasures of working with Tance Boy is that they fall far on domestic side of the international music scene in Tokyo. Their following is mostly Japanese and none of the members speak English. When I first pitched them the idea of getting them to play at the Ruby Room, there was some unspoken trepidation, but once they realized that I was a bona fide fan, they were quick to warm up to me.

Catch the band this Thursday at Shibuya's O-Crest.

Bassist Yoshimi

Yoshimi, Yun, and Take
Saki on drums, slightly visible in the back
By the way, of no consequence to Tance Boy, I ran into Tigarah at Shibuya's Mos Burger earlier in the evening.