Friday, September 23, 2011

The Hamamatsu Typhoon

Or "taifun," if you prefer.  Whatever you call it, however you spell it, Typhoon Roke smashed into my old hometown of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, on Thursday, September 22.  One of my good friends actually had to take his dog out for a poop during the storm.  Can you imagine that?  He and the dog are safe, but he told me trees were down, some roofs off houses, windows smashed and motorcycles and bicycles scattered.

I lost count of how many typhoons stuck Japan during the nearly six years I lived there.  Once, when I lived in Toyohashi, one of my co-workers and I were way out in the sticks teaching at a school branch located in a department store when a typhoon blew through.  We didn't know bus service to the train station had been cancelled, so like a couple of goons we stood at the stop for about half an hour before it dawned on us to go to a convenience store and call a cab.  We didn't get back to our apartment until after 11:30pm.  That was the kind of experience you can laugh about later.

Let me just warn you about one thing-- if you're planning on moving to Japan-- it will rain.  And rain.  And rain.  Japan is a very rainy country.  This is fine if you're also from a rainy country.  I'm not.  Riding a bicycle during rainy season, through the outer feeder bands of a typhoon when solid walls of water blow horizontally below your umbrella.  You will more than likely do these things.  Sometimes they're even fun.  Yes, I miss it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sayonara, Nuclear Power

Monday, September 19, saw about 60,000 people rally against nuclear power in Japan.  Nobel laureate Oe Kenzaburo helped organize the event, which included a march through Omotesando and Harajuku-- I'm guessing along Omotesando-dori-- to Yoyogi Park.

It must have been quite a sight.  Once, when I was vacationing in Tokyo, I found myself involved in a peace march in Shibuya.  I'm not sure how many were in the march-- possibly 1000 people or so.  They held signs in English promoting world peace, but they didn't exude radicalism or hippie-ism.  Nothing fringe-y, although I think peace should be a mainstream issue.  These were just ordinary people of all ages, many of them appearing to be clean-cut college students, the same kinds of kids I taught conversational English in Hamamatsu.  Maybe because I was the only American-looking person around, they singled me out for a lot of smiles and peace signs, which I happily flashed back at them, letting them know, "Hey, I'm for peace, too."

Having participated in a "No Blood for Oil" march during the Second Persian Gulf War way back in 1990, I know what it's like to peacefully protest for something in which you strongly believe.  Our protest didn't share the fun vibe the Shibuya peace march.  There are probably many reasons for this which I just don't feel like getting into; not only that, I'm hardly an expert on either American or Japanese culture.  But I do love peaceful protests.  Especially friendly peaceful protests.  Give me a smile and a hug and I'm much more likely to listen to what you have to say.  We may not reach an agreement, but we can talk it over and maybe make friends with each other.  Tote a gun and a frown, throw around threats, and we've got nothing to discuss.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Melt-Banana's new album...

That's right, MxBx has a new album coming out.  They haven't made the street date official, but the aiming point is spring, 2012.  They originally wanted to release it to coincide with their North American tour this fall, but "things [haven't gone] smoothly," according to their newsletter.

Well, that's something to look forward to for those of us who probably won't get to see them live as they swing through the US and Canada.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Melt-Banana's "Lost and Found" US/North America Fall 2011 Tour Dates

Looks like MxBx will be all over the place, possibly even somewhere near you. So you have no excuse for not seeing them. They put on one of the most incredibly kinetic live shows going and you never know what's going to happen. Here are the confirmed dates so far, so mark your calendars:

2011/10/01 Eugene WOW Hall (OR, USA)
2011/10/02 Portland Star Theater (OR, USA)
2011/10/03 Seattle Chop Suey (WA, USA)
2011/10/04 Missoula Badlander (MT, USA)
2011/10/06 Salt Lake City Kilby Court (UT, USA)
2011/10/08 Denver Larimer Lounge (CO, USA)
2011/10/09 Kansas City The Record Bar (MO, USA)
2011/10/10 Omaha The Waiting Room (NE, USA)
2011/10/11 Iowa City The Mill (IA, USA)
2011/10/12 Sioux Falls Boonies Bar (SD, USA)
2011/10/13 Minneapolis Triple Rock Social Club (MN, USA)
2011/10/14 Madison High Noon Saloon (WI, USA)
2011/10/15 Milwaukee The Cactus Club (WI, USA)
2011/10/16 Chicago Subterranean (IL, USA)
2011/10/17 St. Louis Cicero's (MO, USA)
2011/10/18 Bloomington The Bishop (IN, USA)
2011/10/19 Newport The Historic Southgate House (KY, USA)
2011/10/20 Lansing Mac's Bar (MI, USA)
2011/10/22 Cleveland Grog Shop (OH, USA)
2011/10/23 Ithaca The Haunt (NY, USA)
2011/10/25 Toronto Wrongbar (ON, CANADA)
2011/10/26 Montreal Il Motore (QC, CANADA)
2011/10/27 Cambridge TT The Bears (MA, USA)
2011/10/28 Hamden The Space (CT, USA)
2011/10/29 New York City Santos Party House (NY, USA)
2011/10/31 Philadelphia Union Transfer (PA, USA)
2011/11/01 Washington DC The Red Palace (DC, USA)
2011/11/02 Baltimore The Ottobar (MD, USA)
2011/11/04 Chapel Hill Local 506 (NC, USA)
2011/11/05 Atlanta The Earl (GA, USA)
2011/11/06 TBA (**, USA)
2011/11/07 TBA (**, USA)
2011/11/08 TBA (**, USA)
2011/11/09 TBA (**, USA)
2011/11/10 TBA (**, USA)
2011/11/11 TBA (**, USA)
2011/11/12 TBA (**, USA)
2011/11/13 TBA (**, USA)
2011/11/14 TBA (**, USA)
2011/11/15 Birmingham Bottletree Cafe (AL, USA)
2011/11/16 Mobile Alabama Music Box (AL, USA)
2011/11/17 Houston Fitzgerald's (TX, USA)
2011/11/18 Dallas The Prophet Bar (TX, USA)
2011/11/19 Austin Mohawk (TX, USA)
2011/11/20 San Antonio Jack's (TX, USA)
2011/11/22 Tucson Club Congress (AZ, USA)
2011/11/23 Mesa Hollywood Alley (AZ, USA)
2011/11/24 TBA (CA, USA) 2011/11/25 TBA (CA, USA)
2011/11/26 TBA (CA, USA)
2011/11/27 TBA (CA, USA)
2011/11/28 TBA (CA, USA)
2011/11/29 TBA (CA, USA)
2011/11/30 TBA (CA, USA)

In the meantime, here's a little taste of MxBx to whet your appetites:

And this, too:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My new t-shirt design...

Shop other personalized gifts from Zazzle.
You don't have to buy it, but I'm starting a clothing line celebrating the fun aspects of modern Japan. I figured if celebrities can do this by slapping some letters on a bunch of t-shirts and charge ridiculous prices for them, then there's no reason I can't do the same. Probably with much less successful results. Anyway, this is my inaugural offering.