Friday, 31 July 2015

Spot the Difference

My friend here "Prayleth Manteth" Just got a Japan-inspired tattoo. I tend to hate most tattoos, but I actually think this one looks rather great.

When I saw him last night it had significantly healed and was looking sharp as fuck. However, the picture I had was of one he sent out after just getting it done.

Here is the original picture mixed with one I have edited slightly. I have made 10 changes, can you spot them?  Hint: this is exceptionally easy.


Never judge a woman who is perpetually scratching her might be a mosquito bite.

You sly little bastard. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Why does Japan attract weirdos?

One of the biggest disappointments I have found living in Japan is other foreigners living in Japan.

In the time I have been here, I have met and gotten to know quite a lot of different people. Some of them are among the greatest and most interesting I have come across.  However, with the majority of gaijins in Japan, this tends not to be the case. 

It is certainly clear that Japan attracts an abundance of weirdos. Why is it that the geekiest, most socially inept and physically repulsive people choose to come to this country?

I understand that one might point towards the various obscure Japanese sub-cultures like manga, Lolita, robots, cosplay, martial arts, kimonos or whatever else. I'm not condemning any of these,  I think they are all pretty awesome and are part of what makes Japan, well, Japan. But there is so much more to this country than bizarre gimmicks. With cultural differences aside, most Japanese people are totally normal. Seriously, they have normal jobs, normal families, normal homes, a normal sense of humour and so on. I work at a few different senior high schools here, I can see that what constitutes the "cool kids" here adheres to the same criteria as it would elsewhere; its the same sporty, attractive, fashionable, confident kids as you might see in any school, anywhere else. When these kids grow up, they become normal members of Japanese society. They do not wish to hang out with the social rejects of the rest of the world. 

The reason I am writing about this is because it makes me angry. These Japanophile weirdos give the Japanese a totally warped and wrong impression of foreigners. Many Japanese people have never been abroad. Many of them, particularly those living outside of the major cities, might not have ever met a foreigner. This means that their impression of the outside world is dictated by their experiences within Japan: the portrayal of foreign countries and cultures in the media, and whatever contact they might have with foreigners they come across during their daily lives. This is why it makes me angry. So many of the foreigners, representing the outside world, living in Japan, are so disappointing.

Japan is an incredible place. Why is it that only weirdos are able to appreciate it?

Sunday, 26 July 2015

T.O.F.U. beats

Last night I met Tofubeats!


This is what he looks like:

To be fair, I was pretty impressed at my drunken self for recognizing who he was. 

Last night I was at "Mad Decent Night" at Vision in Shibuya. An hour before he went on, I noticed him sat in a hallway on his phone, unaccompanied. I clocked him pretty quick. I knew, of course, it was my destiny to meet the man. So, I introduced myself, told him I loved his music and started by asking him some questions. The guy was very pleasant. I think he might have been a little surprised to have been recognized by a gaijin, but I think by the fact I was chatting to him in broken, poorly-constructed Japanese might have made it somewhat apparent I'm obviously a bit of a Japan-ophile.

We chatted for a good few minutes, he even showed me some pictures of his recent trip to London which was nice. The dude seemed pretty down to earth and friendly,...despite what I had heard earlier that day (shove that down your pipe and smoke it Gbro).

My biggest regret was not getting a picture with him. I didn't have a smartphone or my ipad or any modern camera device on me... however, and I only just realized this, I was carrying a disposable camera. I can't believe I have been carrying that thing with me to so many fun things over the past few weeks and have barely used it.

What a butthole.

Special mention goes to club promoter Not In Service. Danced up front with me and Josh for Tofubeat's set and was a really fun dude. The guy found and chatted to me afterwards, clearly knows a lot of stuff going on in the city. I will be sure to attend one of the nights he works for in the future.

To summarize, Pa Lam's System easily put on the best set last night.

Here is the set they played 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Just desserts

Remember when you found out the cool life hack that blasting mosquito bites with a hairdryer stops them from being itchy and makes them heal faster?

And then you really hoped for a mosquito bite just to test it out. And then Jesus (that selfish prick) decided to give you what you wished for in some sort of ironic biblical way by overcompensating and giving you a bizillion mosquito bites all at once?

Well, fuck you Jesus and your bible-games, this hairdryer thing is pure magic.

Although, I will listen to the advice of fellow school teachers in future when they tell me not to sit somewhere because there's "many mosquitoes".... instead of laughing in their face because "its the middle of the day, and everyone knows mosquitoes are directly related to vampires". Well guess what Zara? Vampires don't exist and mosquitoes do come out during the daytime.

ps. my students were extra cute today.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Just about sums things up....

I bleached my hair and eyebrows over the weekend. I am a natural brunette, a dark brunette. I am now blonde. Bright strawberry blond. My hair is big and curly, and it's very noticeable.

I went out on Saturday night after making this change...some people claimed not to even recognize me. Basically, it's a big change.

Come Tuesday morning... the first day back to school after a 3 day awesome weekend. I am hungover and tired. This is probably the best way to be. In this state, you genuinely do not give a fuck. You are focused on simply getting through the day and trying to slip by under the radar.

I'm glad I am feeling this way today, because coming to work with bleached hair is something that I was dreading. It is not getting attention that I was afraid of. Having people mention it, saying something like "すごい, oh wow, your hair!" is not what I dread, let me make that clear. In fact, after making a significant change to your physical appearance, a compliment or some sort of acknowledgement is always a nice thing to receive. What I dreaded was the feeling of being ignored. I am always ignored, but when something noticeable occurs, then the feeling of being ignored is even more potent.

So, how did my colleagues react when I rocked up to school this morning with bleach blonde hair for the first time in my life? They didn't. The Vice Principle, who very clearly dislikes me, seems to have even more contempt towards me. It is so annoying that we sit within each others eye-line. If this was a few months ago, I would be bothered. But, I am leaving this job is 2 weeks. So, I can revel in how ridiculous and stupid this whole things is.

Always after having such great weekends here, with so many fun and interesting things going on, I tend to get the feeling of "Is it a mistake to leave?", but then, when I come to work and have to deal with the cold reception of my colleagues, I know that I am making the right decision.

Japanese Rockabilly dancing

There certainly is an obsession with rockabilly dancing in Japan.

A well-known dance group, who dress as though they just walked out of the 50s, operate in Harajuku. They largely consist of rather old dudes, who probably were around in the 50s. You can find them twisting and shaking at the entrance to Yoyogi park on a Sunday. If you Google "Harajuku rockabilly dancing" you will find an abundance of videos of them, taken by surprised tourists.

However, as much of a novelty as these guys might seem to be, the obsession with rockabilly dancing is not exclusive to Harajuku. It is actually very common place in many parts of Japan. In fact, I'm starting to get the impression that most universities, institutions and towns in Japan have a rockabilly dance club. Almost every festival I have been to has had a group of rockabilly dancers. Just men, just women, men and women mixed, matching outfits, leathers waistcoats, petticoats, polka dots, sideburns....spend one summer in Japan visiting numerous festivals and you're likely to get your fair-share of rockabilly dance performances. I remember being very surprised and slightly confused to have found 4 separate rockabilly dancing groups at the Mito Matsuri last year. 

I don't know what has influenced this movement, or why it is so popular, but I do know that it is awesome!
Here is a short glimpse of some rockabilly dancers I saw at a beach party at 海の家 山形屋  (Yamagataya, Ajigaura beach, Hitachinaka) last night:

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Next on the agenda Saturday July 25th

So, I have found a couple things happening which will more than compensate for the lack of my attendance at FujiRock. I was planning to go down to Tokyo that weekend anyway, as I will be meeting my cousin Jason on his first day moving to Japan on the JET, I figured I should find some fun stuff to go to. And, oh boy have I succeeded!

The opening party for artist Bunny Bissoux's exhibition....

Followed by:

A mad decent night
This night looks sweeeeet

I have already told Jason that I will be hung over on Sunday when I see him. He more thank understands. COUSINS RULE.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Fuji Rock 2015

I almost had a little cry about missing Fuji Rock for a second year in a row. Until I saw the line-up. What a pile of wank, seriously.

Here is the line-up for FujiRock this year.

Foo Fighters and Muse... seriously, I might as well be 14 years old and going to Reading Festival whilst puking in my tent from having downed too many cans of Fosters.

Come on Japan...sort it out.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Waver Waver

I will start this post with a short description of my current situation.

Over the weekend, the real heat of summer set in, and today is the first day of things being unbearable. To think I was able to do 3 x 5km runs last week.... However, as hot as it is outside, the temperature has been more than over-compensated by the industrial sized AC unit in the teachers room, where I have based myself for the past 7 hours, having no lessons today. This entire day has been a mixture of dipping in and out of extreme temperatures. Special mention goes to almost dying of dehydration during my 15 minute walk home for a cheeky lunch break only to find my illegal alien friend melted to the couch in my onsen of an apartment. But being stingy and cruel, I continue to permit the use of AC. Sorry Cas.

I will also mention that whatever music I seem to have stumbled across on Soundcloud, it is indistinguishable from what one is likely to hear playing out of an arcade Taiko machine.

What I'm listening to.

What an arcade Taiko machine looks like. 

Now to reflect upon the weekends activities....

Following our mission of infiltration into the Tokyo underground music scene, Rirey and Z-dog attended another gig. This time in Shimo-kitazawa, one of the more "trendy" spots in the city. This was at an underground venue called Waver. If it had not been for the happy coincidence of bumping into The Fin.'s lead man Yuuto on the street outside, we definitely never would have found the place.

Whatever impression I might have given or taken away with me, I was in a horrible state of exhaustion.

On the same day, after a late-night, we attended a Kabuki show at the infamous Kabuki-Za in Ginza. To get a cheap 1500en standing ticket to watch one interval of the show from the very very back, we had to queue in the heat for 2 hours. On the plus side, Kabuki was actually rather great. Not nearly as boring as I expected. This was followed by some shopping and a large tempura meal in Ginza.

We then took ourselves for a little stroll round Shimo-kitazawa whilst searching for a manga cafe. We booked 2 hours to "nap", however, I am physically and mentally incapable of napping in life, so I sat in a dirty manga cafe booth for 2 hours contemplating nothing of interest whilst being angry at my self-destructive mindset.

We had been invited to the sold-out show of band "She Her Her Hers" by the drummer Taiki, of whom both me and Rirey have agreed is very adorable and fits the traditional meaning of the word "cute".

By the time they played their set, we were both exhausted and couldn't stay for the whole thing as had to run for the last train to Inaka-ville, aka. Ibaraki. (I had work on Sunday).

I will not express my true opinion about their music as Taiki is our friend. But I will say, that I was very very impressed by the support band called PAELLAS. Serious, how Japanesey is that? their music was very 80's synthy and their singer had a manner reminiscent of Boy George. There was something marvelously camp about the whole thing. Listening back to their stuff on the internet, it really doesn't do justice for their impressive live performance. I will of course make efforts to infiltrate this band.

However, I still would prefer to keep my distance from the indie-rock scene. Apart from being very safe, as I have said before, it feels as though my music taste hasn't developed since being a teenager. If I wanted to start following indie bands around, then I would have continued to be a 17 year old in London.

I want to experience music that I would never be able to find anywhere else. I don't want to discover things which are too heavily influenced by British and other Western-based genres with which I am too overly-familiar with.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

being productive is hard when you're......unproductive

I have the N4 exam on Sunday. Frankly I'm embarrassed by how poor my Japanese is after almost two years. N4 is basic level, and there's a big possibility I'm going to fail.

As the students have had exams, I had an entire week with no classes... but have hardly studied. I've had almost too much time on my hands. It seems the busier I am, the easier it is to find time to study, yet when the days are filled with nothing, studying Japanese seems impossible. Also, I'm not someone who is great at cramming at the last minute...sorry life.

Why is this?

Why is it, when we have so much time on our hands, productivity is the hardest thing to achieve?

I currently have a friend who lost his job and apartment, living on my couch - yes I harbour aliens...and what?. He has already been there a whole month.

In that time, he has accomplished almost nothing. He has done some flat hunting, and has found something in Tokyo to move into in the next couple weeks, but apart from that, he spends all day on the couch... reading, watching TV and chilling out. He's supposed to be studying Japanese and job-hunting, but I think he's finding it hard to keep motivated.

When I got home from work yesterday, he greeted me with an enthusiastic "I found someone in Tokyo who will pay me 2500 yen to shave off my pubes.." ...this was the only success of an entire days moping. Hmm, maybe trying to find a job on Craigslist isn't the best idea?

I'm not complaining, I actually love having Cass stay with me, I've been sneaking home from school and watching GTO with him on my lunch breaks. It's also nice to have someone to talk to, living alone has been quite a challenge these past two years - although its got positives (walking around naked.... playing whatever music/tv I want...), one thing I've learnt is that I definitely prefer a housemate.

Oh, yes, I was talking about productivity or something..... yea, better get on with some revision. In fact, I know I'm procrastinating when I've managed to write an entire blog post whilst supposedly taking a "5-minute fb-check break" in between doing practice listening exams. WHOOPS.