Saturday, 30 May 2015

Tokyo Underground music scene 2: documentaries

Here are two inspiring things to watch to wet your appetite:

1) I heard back from MonoDuo films, the distribution company for "We don't care about Music Anyways...". Here is the site you can rent/buy the film:

2) As part of Resident Advisor's film series Real Scenes,  the documentary on the Japanese nightclub scene, and the reality behind the ban on dancing is well explored and very well-shot....

Friday, 29 May 2015

Tokyo underground music scene

Note to self... attend this:

Experimental DJ set by Otomo Yoshihide + Seiichi Yamamoto duos & solos

Actually, this venue in Roppongi looks pretty interesting. There's so many little venues in Tokyo... I'm forever finding curious events going on there, but so rarely unable to attend them whilst living in the inaka.

This is one of the reasons I'm moving to Tokyo in September. I can't wait to throw myself into the underground Tokyo music scene. The more obscure the better.

The strangest live gig I've been to so far in Japan is a toss up between:

The Autopsy Report of a Drowned Shrimp



I will also say, that I stumbled upon a trailer for a French documentary called "We Don't Care about Music Anyways..." about the underground Tokyo music scene. Not only do I want to attend the live performance of every artist featured in this thing, but I want to actually watch it. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a place it, but have emailed the distribution company so hopefully I will get a response. I found out about this through...The extended music video trailer I saw is in this Wired article. I can't embed it onto this page soz bruvsky.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

NHK Cool Japan

I finally found the episode with me in it! Filmed this ages ago..

I am between 26;00 and 29:00 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


A great part-time thing to do in Japan is become a DJ.

Wherever you live in this country (unless its rural as) you're going to find a bunch of small underground bars and jam-spots. If you're thinking "No, I haven't found anything like that", then you just aren't looking hard enough -because they are there, and once you find them, you will wonder what the hell you were wasting time doing beforehand.

One thing I've come to realise is everyone who hangs out at my local music bar is a DJ.... and god is a dancefloor, or something like that...honestly I never feel proud of myself for quoting bad music. Anyway, If your Japanese is weak, but you wanna get in there with the local cool Japanese crew, who you've spotted hanging around the local station with their OTT American hip-hop clothing, cigarette smoking outside of the designated smoking meter-square, and doing other questionable yankii-like activity, then DJing is your in. It is from these cool cats you can learn the "real Japanese" outside of that stiff-sounding keigo you've been wasting time on at work.

'DJ' is the same in every language and music is the universal language of love. Following this line of logic, Bob Marley is the musical word for "peace", so, if you just stick to playing  Bob Marley, you'll probably be very successful. Take my word for it, his music is ridiculously popular in Japan.

Unfortunately I have no skills in DJing. I just about have what, from my own biased opinion can claim, is good taste in music. But it's ok, I just need someone to show me what to do. I've downloaded the free software, I have 0 of the necessary equipment (not even a pair of headphones, let alone the rest of that fancy stuff), but I know I can succeed because I have 60% level of the necessary enthusiasm for it. So, there you go.

And what I'm really trying to say, is that I've come up with a great DJ name, which I will coin now on this under-subscribed, unknown, blogger website officially.

DJ Ango  .
1st album name;  unchained tunes
2nd album name; slave to the music

When living in the land of the rising pun, these epiphanies are inevitable.

Monday, 11 May 2015

The photographer, the fish market

I took Riley to the local fish market in my town on a buzzy Saturday afternoon. Nakaminato fish market is one of the best tourist spots in Ibaraki prefecture, trust me!

You really don't get many foreigners there, in fact, I've never seen another gaijin at the place. This factor, combined with the rowdy market atmosphere of the place, means that you will constantly get asked which country you come from. Sometimes in quite a rude and abrupt manner "国どこ" (what country?)  people yell as you walk past. Naturally, being a somewhat impolite and generally impatient person, I get sick of answering this question straight. My new response is "韓国" - South Korea. Some people know I'm joking and its fine, others think I've misunderstood and attempt to ask again.  If people push me on it, I just play dumb, I start explaining that its a country near to Japan, famous for bibimbap and kimchee, as though they obviously haven't heard of it. That's right, I'm a smart-arse dickhead.

At one point we were walking down a slightly more quiet road after leaving a kaiten zushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurant. A man with a big fancy camera stopped us and asked to take a picture. We could only assume he was working on behalf of...something? We agreed as he seemed legitimate enough and there wasn't exactly anything raunchy about the situation. What made me question his skills as a photographer was that he insisted we stand next to some bins to pose. We did point out to him the ゴミ箱 he was making us stand beside, but it was clear our small female minds couldn't quite grasp the genius behind his post-modern artist eye.

When he asked us afterwards where we came from, I couldn't help but give him the same 韓国 line I had been feeding everyone else that day. In all seriousness, he wrote down our answer with an ever so slightly raised eyebrow and, after thanking us for our time, he disappeared back into the crowds of the fish market.

I like to think that in some small, local publication somewhere in Japan, there's a picture of me and Riley, two very Caucasian looking girls, and the caption "Korean tourists".

Sunday, 10 May 2015


Yes yes yes.....

It was only a month or so ago, but I already feel nostalgic.

Having Poppy and Isabel join me in J-land was worth the 10 man it more or less cost (ouch - no wonder I've not managed to save any money here).  I'll pause after only writing two sentences as I needs to dry my hair. I went on a hike today you see, and was in great need of a wash. Is it bad to put a comma before the word and? how about a question mark after it?

As I've now wrapped my wet hair with a t-shirt, or "plopped it" as the curly haired community on the internet is so insistently calling it, I will continue.

One of the biggest ego-trips someone who is failing to learn Japanese and feeling like a total loser every time they attempt to speak it gets, is when people who really don't speak any Japanese come here and need you to translate for them. For 10 days, I got to pretend that I could speak decent (well, better than basic) Japanese... and help my friends navigate themselves through the oh-so-once-mysterious land of the rising pun.  Here's a rising pun for you: Ja-Pamalanderson. Actually, it was Yukiko (I think) who came up with that one. SO THERE YOU GO.

It's also really interesting to see what people are surprised or shocked by their first time in Japan. When I came here, there were loads of random things I found fascinating. Unfortunately I've become pretty used to this place. My threshold for Japan-culture shock has severely heightened. This actually makes Japan-life a little less interesting.

However, I did find something pretty weird today in the ladies changing room at an onsen in Hitachiota (as one does). I couldn't get a very good picture, as it is seriously frowned upon to take pictures in an onsen,  but check it out:

If you're wondering what the hell you're looking at, I will explain. It is a pair of nail clippers attached to a rope, with its own personal nail clipping station. Odd no?

Actually, Whilst Isabel & Pops were here, they shamelessly managed to get a few shots inside of onsens. I will share these in a top 3 count-down style.

At number 3, you have three girls just about to go for a dip in the onsen, taking a cheeky bathroom mirror selfie:

At number 2, and a little more raunchy, but its fine because you can't see anything, is what you would expect to see exactly 15 minutes after this picture was taken. 2 girls, one onsen. Naoshima style:

And lastly, number 3, and quite shockingly, is a picture Poppy took of some poor old naked lady at the Nozumi onsen at Ajigaura:


Quite a lot happened when Poppy and Isabel were here. I will use a combination of mine and their pictures to briefly run through it, as I really want to go to bed.

We visited: 

Ibaraki -obviosly the #1 tourist spot in Japan. Chilled at my place a couple nights. Well, stayed at Robbie's the second, after a very odd night out at the worst karaoke bar I've ever been to. Found ourselves getting increasingly frustrated by an obnoxious Australian dickhead. This was taken down the road I live on featuring Isabel O'Cool:

Went to the Nakaminato fish market:

Spent the night at Tiffani's in Western Ibaraki near Chikusei for her leaving party. Next day, head out to Nikko National park and Utsunomiya (briefly stopped over for an hour to get some gyoza and chat to a fruit seller. She was a bit of an odd old lady, refusing to believe that Isabel couldn't speak any Japanese and kept throwing language at her in an attempt to make something stick:

Took a somehow very stressful shinkansen to Osaka, where we stayed at a hostel for a few nights. We shared a room with a woman from (hmmm... memory blank) who kept getting up at odd hours of the night and irritating the fuck out of everyone. Osaka was stressful in general, lots of fights, tension and beer. There was the one night where Poppy and Isabel had an argument in an empty underground bar and we had to chase Isabel through the streets of Osaka playing an adult version of the game "grandmas footsteps". But good times were also had. This thing was ridden on for example:

There was also a nice trip to the underwhelming bamboo forest of Kyoto. This was on the walk over:

Anyway, after a stressful last night in Osaka, we decided to all spend a day apart to cool off. They both went to Hiroshima (separately)... and I spent the day in Kobe. Here was the best picture I took:

After time to breathe we happened to all get on the same train to Uno, a port town in Okayama. Sorry, that's misleading. We had obviously arranged to all go there as we had booked accommodation, it was just coincidental and extremely lucky that we got there at the same time on the same train, as our arrangement had been very general and Japanese train networks are infinitely confusing.

We stayed at a tatami-mat guest house and stupidly had to pay extra for a room we didn't use, then we tried to find a late dinner, only to find everything closed apart from Macdonalds. TYPICAL. The next day was arguable the best, our day-trip to Naoshima. Poppy and Isabel both took an insane amount of photographs on the island, none of which came out.

It's OK, because the pictures from my ipad worked out just swell....We ate some massive polka-dot yellow fruit and went on our way. We also shared a 15 minute long day-dream together, which we later found out to be an experience-based art piece. Also known as Minimidera by artist James Turrell, and not the slow but sure descension to death some had suspected. It was basically like being in that tv show "lost".

After Naoshima, we stayed at Jonathans (airbnb host) in Tokyo. Spoiler alert: his girlfriend was on her period.

Spent a great day at the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art, one ridiculous night in Shibuya... After which Poppy miraculously caught her flight.

A day at Harajuku's Yoyogi park, enjoying the cherry blossom with Isabel. Isabel almost actually crapping herself, before dumping her off at Tokyo station.. and then back to Ibaraki for a messy one at Stormy Mondays, my local haunt.

ANNNNNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDDDDDD a couple more for good measure: