Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Akira - Reviewed by A.O. Scott Review

The New York Times' A.O. Scott just posted a stunning review of the classic anime, Akira.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beer Pong... Amidst a Nuclear Crisis

Beer Pong stops for no one...

Oddly enough, we had a decent crowd last night. But in all seriousness, I just wanted to send out my love to all those who decided to stick it out in Tokyo this week. It's been an incredibly stressful couple of days for all of us.

The situation in Fukushima is far from over, but things are looking up for the first time in a while. Everyone, please stay alert and informed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Hopeful Sign in Tense Time

I was in Shinjuku-Gyoen today and saw this beautiful tree, a breed of Cherry Blossom that blooms early.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Slight Atmosphere of Panic in Tokyo

While Tokyo is quite removed from the catastrophe up north, a slight feeling of panic pervades the atmosphere here. Over the weekend, centers of town like Shinjuku and Shibuya were half empty and many  businesses and shops were closed. Small tremors call still be felt every few hours.

Rumors and hysteria have been spreading via facebook and cellphones and some of my foreign friends have been making plans to go home. The news about the nuclear reactors in Fukushima is the most unnerving, but fortunately the plant is 150 miles north of Tokyo and the government has only advised people in the immediate vicinity to evacuate.

I would advise everyone to remain calm and stay alert.

No bread at my local supermarket:

Perishable foods are also running out fast:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

An appeal to those concerned about the earthquake

To those of us in Tokyo,

Please don't propagate rumors, false information, and hysteria about the earthquake via facebook and cellphones. Don't contribute to unnecessary panic here and abroad.

Thank goodness that most of us are OK and that the earthquake wasn't as strong in this part of the country.

To those of you outside Japan,

Despite a few isolated incidents, Tokyo is more or less OK after the earthquake. Things will be back to normal quite soon. Don't buy into the unnecessary panic brought on by the news. Most of us in this region of the country are completely fine.

Unfortunately, it's a different story up north in Tohoku where the situation is catastrophic. Please focus your thoughts and energies there where they really count.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I was in my house this afternoon working on my taxes when Tokyo was suddenly hit by a moderately large Earthquake, by far the largest one I've ever experienced. My entire house was shaking. At first I ducked under my desk, but then I realized that I should run outside before the quake grew any larger.

I got out to the sidewalk and could see the trees in the neighborhood shaking pretty violently. I was standing on solid ground, but felt pretty disoriented by the shaking earth. Thankfully, the quake died down after a minute or two.

It's been about three hours from the initial quake, but aftershocks are still hitting the city. I can't tell if I'm just dizzy or if the ground is still gently shaking.

It was definitely a bit of a scare, but everyone here is OK.

A gas storage tank caught fire in Chiba near Tokyo. There are also reports of tsunamis hitting the coast up in the northern regions.
Check the news for updates on the situation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Pillows at Studio Coast

This past evening, I went to see The Pillows, one of my all-time favorite Japanese rock bands, rock out at Studio Coast in Shinkiba. It was my first time seeing the band play live. I've been in Tokyo for almost two and a half years now, and during the show I couldn't help but wonder... what the hell was I waiting for?!

I think The Pillows played one of the best live shows I've seen during my entire time in Japan. Their music is upbeat, loud, straight ahead, and above all else, fun. They have the same appeal of American bands like Weezer and the Ramones, who both in their heyday were know for rock 'n' roll music based on straightforward guitar harmonies and catchy hooks. Unpretentious and unaffected, The Pillows are simply a great rock 'n' roll band.

The group has been around since 1989; indeed they celebrated their 20th anniversary already two years ago. All of the members are in their 40's and the Japanese press likes to kid around by calling them a bunch of ojisan, or old guys. But I think the enduring quality of their music shows that there is more to rock 'n' roll than youth and trends. There are plenty of hot young bands in Tokyo, but few of them could repeatedly fill large venues like Studio Coast with thousands, and even fewer could get such a strong reaction from the crowd; the audience begged for 2 encores.

For a good introduction to The Pillows' music, get your hands on the DVD's of FLCL, a 6-part anime series that in and of itself is a great example of Japanese animation. The soundtrack to the series is essentially a 'best of' album for The Pillows, showcasing the many moods that the band is capable of, while all along sounding energetic and fun.

For now though, I will leave you with one of the band's best songs, "Sorachuu Resistor". You can clearly hear how the band has their own updated take on classic 50's rock 'n' roll harmony.