Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Japan officially admits that it doesn't know whether UFOs exist or not, shock

In response to the increasing numbers of people who've spotted flying objects in the skys above Japan, the government has issued a catagorical statement that they haven't confirmed the objects's existence. Luckily one brave man was willing to step forward. Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura pronounced at the press conference: "Personally, I'm convinced they exist". He further continued that "Japan has successfully fought of the threat of Godzilla and other giant monsters, so we'll be more than a match for these little green fellows." Okay that sentence was made up. For the shocking facts in full read the original story in Mainichi:

Immitation samurai sword ban

The UK has now followed in the footsteps of the Emporer Meiji in banning samurai swords. While Meiji banned the wearing of swords in public, thus rendering samurai defunct, modern UK has trod a more diplomatic line by only banning cheap knock-off swords in order to spare the feelings of martial arts enthusiasts. The ban follows a few high profile incidents, including the case of a man seeking vengance for what he thought to be the attempted rape of his wife by brutally murdered a passerby.
One wonders if the success of Kill Bill had anything to these lone wolves taking justice into their own hands. I knew a guy who used to prowl round his house in the middle of the night with his sword when he thought there was a burglar abroad. Needless to say it was an immitation, those with the cash to pay for real swords crafted in Japan wouldn't be so daft. Right?
To view the full story:

Child abusers just need to see the bright side

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported yesterday that Aomori prefecture government have launched a scheme to help young parents ease their stresses with laughter therapy. Concerned over a recent rise in the rate of child abuse, they enlisted the aid of professor Kazue Takayanagi who started up program to train employees at councelling centres, medical institutions and police stations to be 'smile producers'. She claims that laughter can "change the way people mingle with others."
Wow, I never realised that solving child abuse was as simple as teaching the abusers to smile, luckily that doesn't mean we have to tackle unpleasant issues like overwork, marital problems and abuse history. Lets just gloss over those issues with a big cheesy grin. Mind you, I wish Takayanagi all the best trying to get Japanese police officers to smile. That's one tough nut to crack.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hazel Nuts Chocolate live show

Hazel Nuts Choco (aka Yuppa) brought her brand of slightly screwy happy candy pop to Club Que in Shimokitazawa tonight. Playing last but one on the bill, she was an incredible contrast to the line up of wooden idols who marched across the stage before her. She is a "one woman unit", as she says on her myspace , with no songwriters or heavy management pulling the strings. Everything about her is very spontaneous from her comic ad libs to the crowd to her freestyle dancing. She gives out the refreshing feeling that her eyes are not on the prize of future fame but on what's going on around her. It seems she has a thing for geeks with glasses and Christmas songs, so she invited a group of awkward otaku on stage to shake some bells to her song asking Santa to get her "something good". The above picture reflects that Yuppa's wish has come true, she's got a very good thing going on.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Evil electricity tower, beware!

That's right, if children won't pay attention to facts about the dangers of electricity, then scare the living daylights out of them with an anthropomorphic electric tower boogieman.

Meiji era (1868-1912) sushi bar

This restaurant is just down the road from my house in Ningyocho. It's the first evidence I've yet found that this part of Tokyo escaped the bombing to some extent during the war. The design is a wonderful mix of old Japanese and art nouveau with beautiful dragon's scale metal tiling that has rusted green. Tucked between nondescript modern brick buildings on the busy high street by Ningyocho station, it's very easy to miss. I'd rushed past it numerous times and only really noticed this wonderful design when I was taking a more leisurely stroll about. You have to stand to get a meal but, being so near Tsukji, the fish is very fresh and prices are incredibly cheap (me and my friend stuffed our faces and only paid 1,200 yen for the both of us). You also get free tea and miso soup.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Loving fags is a crime in Japan

If you want to demonstrate your love of fags in public, you better be prepared for the social repercussions. Smokers, get back in the closet!

Eat as much as you like sweetie bar (adults only)

Any self-respecting child should draw a moustache on their lips with their mum's eye pencil, get on some stilts and make it down to this bar cum sweetie wonderland. My knowledge of kanji is pretty sketchy but I think the gist of the sign above is: 'Please help yourself, you can spend awhile visiting your childhood but you can't return' (please send me your answers if you know the exact translation). Okay, the catch is that to drink here you have to pay a cover charge of 500yen but back in the days when I was at school with a hardcore penny chew habit, I could have easily eaten my way through double that amount. Unfortunately, the sign rang true, after sampling only half of the wondrously coloured delights above I began to feel rather queasy and had to make a swift exit, frothing at the mouth with a toxic mix of beer, e-numbers and sherbet.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Album releases

Why do half of all Japanese 'indies' bands still want to sound like Green Day? In terms of teenage rebellious gestures, listening them is on a par with sniffing Prit Stick to get high. If you want some real punk you should listen to Midori, whose latest album Shimizu jerks and spasms all over the place like a zombie with an axe in its head. Composed of piano, bass, drums and vocals, I detected a slight jazz sensibility but forgave them because of the overall brutal, raw and rude vibe coming from 'singer' Mariko Goto's chainsaw rantings. Check their website: From bitter and dark ravings to sweet and light tinklings, Shugo Tokumaru's Exit, breathes life into the sparse sounds of battered music boxes, theramins and toy instruments so that they take on a rich orchestral quality. The auditory equivalent of a ancient fairground coming mysteriously to life, lush and unsettling. Check it out on: Lastly, Afterglow, from Akira Kosemura and Haruka Nakamura, does what it says on the tin. Sparse, moving electronic music coupled with piano, some melodies are maybe a little too obvious and cloying, but this is perfect music for spacing out to after a hard day