Monday, December 27, 2010

Shibuya Twilight...

Shibuya Twilight by ~supergaijin76 on deviantART

I think I took this photo in May of this year, but it might have been in 2009. It's not far from Shibuya Station, in the maze of shopping streets behind Senta-gai. I went there almost every May, August and December while I was in Japan, but I never once ate at Miami Garden or the Standing Sushi Bar!

And while we're at it, let's have some Boredoms...

When I was teaching in Japan, my students often asked me, "Why are you interested in living in Japan?" I think they usually found my answer pretty mystifying, since I never once met a person who knew anything about Boredoms or Melt-Banana. So they'd ask, "Are Boredoms or Melt-Banana popular in America?" they'd ask, and I'd have to reply, "Well... not really..." and we'd have to go the "long way around the barn" to come to the mutual understanding I was in Japan for intensely personal, largely sonic and visual reasons, none of which anyone found interesting.

Eventually, I learned to just answer, "I'm here because I like modern Japanese music." If the students pursued that further and asked what groups I like, I'd say, "Different kinds. Not popular ones," and try to turn it into a discussion of the kinds of music they enjoyed. Sometimes this went over pretty well. We had one young woman who was so totally into Glay she went to practically every concert and she'd always light up and start chatting with enthusiasm about the latest show she attended.

In my highest level class-- the one that always left me giddy and out of breath from the super intense effort of keeping up with the two students and their quick witted repartee-- one girl (who spoke flawless, native speaker-level English, by the way) was a dedicated SMAP fan. One December afternoon late in the semester, she got excited talking about how much she was looking forward to their New Year's TV special.

The other girl in the class laughed, rolled her eyes and declared, "I don't give a shit about that!"

OOIOO has the cure for the post-Christmas letdown...

I'm a bit obsessed with this song right now. It transports me. Listening to it, I can almost imagine myself gliding into Tokyo on the shinkansen for my annual New Year's holiday there. For someone from a small southern town whose idea of a big city was Atlanta, Georgia, discovering Tokyo for the first time was roughly the same as David Bowman's trip through the monolith-- mind-expanding, soul-altering. I'm strongly emotionally affected by such things. And this song provides the perfect soundtrack for that experience.

Tokyo, I love you!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Japanese whiskey commercials achieved perfection with this Orson Welles spot...

Yes, I'm late to this party but I'm on a bit of an Orson Welles kick today and only just now found this on YouTube. Forget Bill Murray's character and his Suntory commercial in Lost in Translation. The incomparable Orson Welles for G&G, ladies and gentlemen. "Nikka Whisky" indeed!