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Saturday, 26 November 2016

Japanese classes

くーさん has been my Japanese teacher for over two years; when he was a student at Ibaraki university,  and now, whilst he's doing a masters in Tokyo, training to be a Japanese teacher. I pay him by picking up the cheque at the end of our meals together, always trying to encourage him to order something fancy.

This month, they opened a branch of my favourite Harajuku restaurant in Shimokitazawa;  MADOSH! Avocado restaurant. Oh the good life.

ありがとう先生!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The pachinko tshirt

PACHINKO NOW

Now we live on the most precious planet in the universe.

Our hope is to protect Mother Earth for peaceful coexistence.

We love nature and we love Pachinko.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

the long awaited

I'm on a Brazilian-shaped deviation.

Just when my hobbies were all lined up and I was being abnormally proactive and on-track, it happened... I fell into a hole.

I can somehow detect these occurrences before they happen, yet despite all the foresight and tendencies towards self-fulfilling prophecies, I cannot overcome the inevitable.

On a more administrative note (here's the fill-in)...more friends have left Tokyo: Allie and Andrew :-(     ...but, I know I'll see them again as they're both Europe-bound. Saying goodbye to friends is part of the cycle of expat life. I've become so familiar with it.. that I'm worried it's making me icy. Why invest into relationships with those around you when they are coated with a superficial sense of temporarily? 

I celebrated my birthday last month, and it helped me to remember me how lucky I am to be here and to have always found excellent friends to surround myself with.

Tokyo will forever provide an array of live music options, underground scenes and other sub-cultures to explore. But when I trip up and get caught in a loop, novelties wear thin.

On Saturday night I re-visited Hatagaya's Club Heavy Sick. Although it had been almost an entire year since my last visit, it felt like entering a deja-vous. Same bands, same people, same ripped up leather jackets and the smell of cigarettes and damp basement in my clothes and hair.

Even having spread myself over more than one scene... nights out start to copy one another.

It's not only about the nightlife. In fact, that's only a small part of things. There are other dramas and issues bubbling below the surface.  I need a change, and I wonder what form it will take. I get restless when things start to feel old hat. I don't like who I am without enthusiasm.

I need to break out of this sense of complacency, rejuvenate and find new sources of inspiration for creative ventures and decisions. 


An advert for a hair salon in Hatagaya station:


I took a work trip to Vietnam. on the last day I took some time to myself and found this sculpture in the Hanoi museum of art:


Who hearts socialism? :



Halloween:


The amazing carrot cake matt made for my birthday:

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Self-diagnosed ADHD

Woof.

What a beautiful musical journal I've been on the last few weeks. I feel like the luckiest human of all the beings.

The Wave Rave. Something to revive my soul and remind me how much I love to dance. The added views of Tokyo bay sealed the deal. What a groovy vessel.




A tiny reggae festival in the northern mountains of Ibaraki. My estimate is that there were less than 150 people there. Proof of the awesomeness of inaka life. The mountain views, food and mood. Ingrained in my heart.


Apparently they use the same flyer every year. This festival is now 3 years old:


One of the highlights was a rap battle between a 6 year old and an 8 year old. It was actually amazing. I'm still waiting on footage.


And then something entirely different. The Korean Changwon Philharmonic Orchestra. What a beautiful performance at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. Live classical music inspires so much emotion. My first truly biblical experience. WOOF GIRL, tone it down

The program: 
Borodin: In the Steppes of Central Asia
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, op.64
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 in B minor, op.74 "Pathétique"

 

BLIMEY.  Let's wrap this tortilla up.

And then last night.  Club Asia, for this sneaky number:


Joe forced a VJ tutorial upon me a few years ago. It really opened my eyes to the potential of visual technology - there's so much cool stuff you can do with it, which is why I get a little bummed when I don't see it utilized well in big music venues. Having said that, these guys really had it down last night and it was flippin' fantastic! I made a point to turn back to them and give wide open Italian kiss gestures, whilst pointing at the screen. ARIGATOUUU PEOPLE.

There's great music everywhere at the moment. I felt proud that so much from the UK has made its way into Japanese venues. Or maybe I just end up at these types of events? A lot of it gets played by British DJ's here, and I haven't seen many (if at all any) instances of Japanese DJ's spinning British dance tunes on their own accord. Ok, there are those I've met who have spent significant time in the UK and have experienced it first-hand, but I wonder how many people are getting into this stuff from within Japan? oh what a curious ponder. I also want to try avoid making sweeping assumptions about the music scene here from my oh-so-narrow personal experience. I went to a club once and now I'm a certified experience-holder. Here's my badge. Oh wait, maybe its the other pocket. This is why you aren't supposed to wash jeans she mumbled out of embarrassment.

I want to experience more contemporary Japanese music. I'm here for a reason, and it's definitely not learning Japanese, because I've done an awful job at that thus far. I love the artists signed to Maltine Records, but I want to see what else is out there. I think I need to invest more time in the future funk and bass movements. It feels like I've found the end of a thread and need to keep pulling. If you get my oh-so-deep and well-thought out metaphor ?

Gee. There's so many people in Tokyo, so many bars, clubs and venues, endless possibilities, how can I really know all that's out there? I'm excited by the prospect of music genres I haven't yet discovered. Do you ever wonder if maybe your all-time favourite song hasn't even been written yet? WOW. Excuse you, but did I just blow my own mind? Is it lazy to just write in a stream of unanswerable questions?

One of the tracks played last night was a remix of an old London classic (well, is 2009 now considered old?- side note... what is the time period assigned to music in order to categorize it still as new? 1 year? 2 years??). I remember a certain Rose Village (real name, real story) taking me to see these guys live at the Camden Roundhouse, a venue with which I hold close associations. When this dropped last night, a sense of patriotism arose in me. Something which had somewhat deflated after the Bonkers-Brexit-Bullshit (which I believe to be the politically correct name):





PS> You've got mail

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Go! To Enoshima

It's the first weekend of September, and preparations for fall are in place. Although people have become tired of the sweat and stickiness which drags on with the heat, there is an urge to make the most of the remaining weekends of summer.

Friday night was a little bizarro. In short, it was a sober combination of astrology babble and dealing with my new housemate throwing up all over the floor of the quiet Shimokita bar "Trouble Peach"*...where I can no longer ever go back.

For a bit of peace and chill on a saturday I went with Takuji to the beach at Enoshima.

I knew why I was keen to go to the beach.. for the same reason I always am. Simply put, I love beaches and all of the relaxing that comes along with it.

When he called early morning to confirm the plan, Takuji seemed pretty keen too. I figured he shared my love for sand, sea glass and swimming in the ocean. I later found out this was not the case at all.

Why is Enoshima such a popular destination in Japan right now? Nothing to do with the natural beauty I assure you. Because it's a Pokemon Go! hot spot.

2 hours on the beach. 2 hours running around Enoshima island catching Pokemon. There were actual speaker announcements asking people to be careful whilst moving and playing Pokemon Go.  



No acknowledgement of the scenary:

"There's  a rare Pokemon on the other side of the island we have 45 seconds. .go! Go! Go!!!"

"Damn I didn't get there in time"



I've never seen so many people playing Pokemon Go in one place:


"How am I supposed to catch the Pokemon that's all the way out there? "

Despite the memory, I will first and foremost remember Trouble Peach because Gbro had the logo from the bar tattooed onto his arm.
He did this to cover up a Japan flag tattoo he got as a student. Not sure which is worse.

 

Saturday, 27 August 2016

ZInger

Its a procrastination testing day.

There's no deadline, only the pressure I put on myself. But also there is a deadline because I need to register to take an exam which can only be sat twice a year.

Sorry blog.... I need to focus on revision for a while. This is only fun when I feel like it and at the moment I getting sick of screens being too much a part of my daily life enough as it is.

I've finally dyed my hair back to normal brown colour. I also chopped it all off too because it was all dead and destroyed.

I had to explain to my moo that I'm going to have to just be ugly for a while. This means no boys, no fun and no distractions. Sorry, the wait for grandchildren is going to be a bit longer than anticipated.

Just studying, working and breathing. No fun stories no insane episodes. CONFORM DAMN IT.

I've  actually started doing language exchange meet-ups.. they are painful. Why is it so hard to create real situations to speak Japanese when living and working here? The people I meet with to do language exchange are.... people I wouldn't want to speak to in English, so Japanese is just an extra layer of no thanks.

You had a whole Saturday. STUDY go... go yes.

Ok, no thank you. Well, at least by not leaving your room all day you spent no money.

I'm lying, I'm about to go for a run if I can bring myself to bother.

Hmm... already 16.00

What, oh these pictures?  From last weekend. I went out to celebrate my hair change. But also felt weird about it so covered my head with a band. If it looks like I went out alone, that's because for the most part, I did.





oooooh new Avalanches. Here's a bit of colour for the weekend:

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The sights and the sounds

Press play as IMLAY sets the tone for the last day of Obon. Yes I'm certainly getting my Korea on:



A very small matsuri in Ochanomizu during Obon:


Akihabara's best secret spot:


On a residential street in Jiyugaoka: 



Shadows in the sand at Oarai beach:

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Sea glass

Do you remember decorating your window sill with sea glass?



The sea glass. Oh yes, the beautiful sea glass.

I collected it this morning on the beach in Tatayama, the southern part of Chiba. After pointing out how dangerous all the broken glass on the beach was to my friend Allie, who I was there with on a short camping trip, she explained that this was no ordinary glass. This was sea glass baby, and this shit is gonna rock your world.

Well, actually she gave me a cute story about how her and her brothers used to collect it on family trips growing up. Sea glass are bits of broken glass that after time have been smoothed over and broken down by the sea. Each piece is unique, a mixture between something made by man and then finished by mans best friend: nature.

There was something quite magical about our trip. 

Minutes before leaving yesterday morning we were still sending each other google map pins  destination suggestions. All we knew was, we wanted to go camping, go to the beach and try some hitchhiking.

We managed to tick all the boxes. Every box ticked. Done with a smile and a big red marker. Done. Happened.  

Goals = achieved. Life = beautiful. 

We were shown so much kindness this weekend by the people of Chiba, that I feel so lucky to be here.

Highlights (in no particular order): 

1)The guys camping next to us with whom we shared a beer and a laugh. 

2)The old couple running a soba shop, the only restaurant that was open in the small town of Tomiura. 

3)The family next to us who shared fresh watermelon. 

4)The sea glass, you little wonder, little wonder you. (Yes it deserves another mention).

5) The family that picked up two gaijin hitchhikers and drove us for 2 hours expecting nothing in return. 

6) We both got to practice Japanese throughout and saw a whole bunch of fish, bugs and other creepy crawlies to let us know we were in the inaka.

7) I learnt that you can skim sea shells like stones and it's much easier.





Monday, 8 August 2016

Ice lolly

Most delicious and most expensive ice lolly.

Rose hip flavoured ice lolly from Roppongi's finest Paletas in the Midtown mall.

Look at that jolly sun burnt face:





Here's something Korean for you to soak in the sun to:


Friday, 5 August 2016

GRRRRRRRRRR

When I spend an hour on the train writing a blog post and it doesn't save properly... so all gets lost forever.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR



As if this blog didn't take up an unnecessarily long amount of time as it is. MAKES ME WANNA SHOUT LIKE THIS GUY:





Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The hug

New anecdote to the Japan life files.

Unfortunately this story is only good when told in person [実は too lazy to type]. Me putting this here was more of a test to see who actually reads this (entry #256 and still keeping it fressssssssssh).

Think of it as a "hey, I just remembered you mentioned a story about a landlady and hug on Zarbaraki, please do tell"-type-situation for when we are next acquainted. I also accept phone calls and Skype requests.

Instead I will leave you with a very unsatisfying nutshell version of the story if a prompt is ever due:

I hugged my landlady because she was telling me off for legitimate irresponsible behaviour and it 100% changed everyone's life. I'm now the favourite tenant with all privileges. The strict level playing field rules of the house no longer apply to me because I used hugging, the most innocent, simply form of a human interaction to my advantage. BOOM.

Now imagine that emoji that is winking with its eye whilst simultaneously sticking out its tongue, but not a small version the size of this text before you, more like a massive version too big to fit on the screen. That's how I see this situation in my minds eye.

No obviously not. The truth is that I'm now full of weird anxieties and a sense of claustrophobia due to an unexpected and rather unusual social obligation I have gotten myself into and might not be able to work my way out of.

Lesson learnt = hugs don't only get you out of trouble by alleviating a situation, but for Japanese people, for whom hugging is not a regular thing, a hug can make a huge difference. Although be aware of the possible side effects that comes with them. You have been warned people. Hug responsibly.

I am now very envious of my friend Tiffani who has a tattoo on her arm that reads huglife  (written in such a way that a quick glance might trick you into thinking it says thuglife).



Damn that's awesome.

And now to round it all up, the award for best secret act to open Fuji Rock Festival in 2016 goes to..........

CON BRIO

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Spotted in the crowd

Here's a short documentary about the music scene in Tokyo. This really captures the mood here in some ways.

Spot me in the crowd head banging to Cyclops just after 14 minutes:

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Leaving so soon?

I traveled up to Zarbaraki (AKA Ibaraki) for Rachel's leaving thing. 

A journey if timed well can take 3 hours to get from Shimokitazawa to Yamagatajuku in the north of Ibaraki.

A couple of Saturdays ago...it didn't really go down like that. 

Left my place at 11am. Missed the hourly rapid train at Tokyo station so caught the bus to Mito. Arrived in Mito around 2. Missed the hourly local train to Yamagatajuku. Met up with Taku whilst waiting. Got on the train at 3. Missed our stop because we were distracted by ukuleles. Got off the train at some random little town with a trinket shop and nothing else. Waited 40 minutes for the next south-bound train, arrived just after 5. Took over 6 hours to get there. 

Missed most of the food at the BBQ... but Lawson got me covered. Shout out to walking across a misty inaka grave-yard in the middle of the night for a snack run with Hummy. Futon sleepover party with 10 people followed by Sunday drinking in sunny Kairakuen park. 

Nice wknd ね







KOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH;


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Where's Wally

More like where's Zara.

These pictures were from a genuinely fun night.

杯音圏 SHAPE YOUR CITY presented by dos・ing [01.07.2016]






How young and free we truly were. Now I'm ill, bitter and grumpy. 

Friday, 8 July 2016

UFO

This was really awesome:


My housemate Colin took me to see some of his favorite local bands at the UFO club in Koenji.

It's a really fun little underground space. Very 60s/70s deco vibe.  At the start of each set, a long curtain draws opens to reveal the opening of each act.

I took a short video of the opening of THE CHOCOLATES:



These guys were pretty nuts.

Following this performance I stole the drummers glasses for a little end of the night selfie action:



I think the most insane act were headliners, the Texaco Leatherman. I filmed a little bit of this on my phone. I knew the quality would be bad, but I was more or less in disbelief, and phone cameras were created for those exact moments:




Its pretty fun to know this stuff is available in Tokyo. I found their Twitter account too: Texaco Leatherman Twitter

Woop. Now I better get out of bed and head up to Ibaraki to see some old chums, its raining like crazy though.....

Also, last night was really fun I went to another Heineken sponsored event at the UltraSuperNew Gallery... meaning free beers, music and entry. After everyone got kicked out and was told to move it along because Harajuku is apparently a residential area and we were making selfish gaijin noise, about 30 of us congregated outside of a 7-11 for about 45 minutes. What can I say? The air was warm, the drinks were cheap and the toilets were clean, minus the music its got everything you need. Eventually a police car pulled up and we got ushered along. We then walking about 5 minutes down the road to where there was another combini, and congregated there too. TAKE THAT the super nice, ultra reasonable Japanese police and system.

What a hoot.

NEWAYZZ... I was never gonna leave you without something to keep it funky fresh....


If you're gonna funk, it better be for Jamaica.