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Japan First impressions

Japan First impressions
Written by 3mienblog

Write an article about local bands.

Write an article about karaoke bars.

Just last spring, my friend Jordan Crawford , an editor at, started writing a column called Basement Beat that covered Tokyo’s indie scene (and opened the door to this piece by my colleague, Ravi Mishra ). “There are so many cool stories to be told out there,” Jordan said at the time. “We try to focus a lot on both unknown bands as well as more accomplished groups — and there are so many bands that come through that it’s hard to keep up!”The idea for this article occurred to me shortly after I maxed out gigs for my concert column, Tokyoite Nights: Ten of the best shows you’ve never heard about . Because of the overwhelming size (and extreme depth) of the Tokyo music scene, I figured that I could make a significant contribution to this site–and to the artist and public at large–by way of detailing a specific aspect of it.If his concert articles were like half a loaf of bread, I thought my corner of the plan would be plenty of bread alone. In the process, I could add some context to an image of Tokyo not many people have particularly accurate. Really, among Japanese and Japanese-Americans, I’m sure few writers have coupled the words “culture” and “Tokyo” at all.Well, I’ve lived in Tokyo on and off since 2005 , and while I’ve suffused higher-end literature with analysis of J-pop and media, I’ve never touched on the awesome indie Japanese music scene here. But luckily for me, I have something I value even more than the usual cache of college English writing credits and an Honorable Mention in Harper’s former First-Year Fiction Contest, if you know what I mean.At some point in the future, I might want to write something about a foreign place and at least display research, you know, so there’s a bit to say.”That’s nice. Now? I’m going to the Japan Beat office and cleaning a bunch of high school bikes. This can be a service to both society and your readership, you know.”- The Endangered Girl and the Last Gynecologist Tokyo is an environment I love but can never fully feel at home in. Like any other Tokyoite, I’ill probably leave this city, only to realize 25 years later that I have completely lost my ability to function as a normal human being and in desperate search of a new locale. You’ll probably see that article in the second or third year of Tokyo Beat, so eagerly await its arrival.Ah, there’s that article assignment from Saturday January 27th, 2007…Fantastic. Now where to begin. I’ll introduce you to the giguanas that populate the city, and then I’ll forage for ideas for a Lou Reed clone.See above, paragraph eight.On a rainy day in early spring, I was waiting to be let into the editing suite of JAWS , where the walls were covered in photos of Katsumi Yasuma, standing in frozen protest with a speaker and a button that declares “NO USA BASE.” Journalist and musician Hiroshi Oeda was sitting in a nearby chair, with a face like a wrinkled paper turkey hanging low with recent moisture. Hot droplets erupted every few seconds off of the hair-like strands, framing his customary oval glasses.He pimp-slapped giant, super-deluxe muddy snowboards and longboards he had been making for years in his garage, gently lovingly about two ways, with woodworking clamps. “well, it all began when I cut up my grandma’s mochizukis,” he gasped. A few moments later, he starts speaking in a noticeable Kansai twang, rumination done.Like Oeda, all of the artists featured in this article live in cramped multi-million-peso walls without access to heat or water, if only for the sake of being true rebels to the corrupt concrete. If you’re looking for rare, backstage tidbits from Shonen Knife ‘s bloody karaoke castle in Harajuku, you should look elsewhere; this might be one of the very few articles you’ll ever read that neither starts or ends with the Selfish high priestess, Mari Kurisato. (With writers capable of expository dialogue like “Vinyl, the phoenix that burned in the fire and was born again, the queen of crap pop who covers original song ideas with crazy Manga liner-notes,” I wasn’t sure that Syrup 16g was even capable of writing about anything else anymore.)For someone who has spent most of his life in this cosmopolitan “dull grey” city, Otsuka sought relief with Patti Smith and the Clash , who would often yell at him from the speakers from years ago well springing from his favorite record stores, Records Barracuda and Jonny Germany . These days, he says the J-rock scene is full of sloppy “music journalism garbage.” He thinks most of the coverage here originates from non-insiders.Ozeki spent his childhood drawing in frigid abodes while his mother worried herself sick he’d contract early leukemia. Today, although he multiplies the hats under which he performs (from the beach, he is Mako Fou – the iconoclastic artist, who plays indie venues with the likes of JAWS and the Japan Underground Rock Album Club ; at home, he’s one half of the jazz electronica duo White Belt Pink Face , with backwash of De La Soul, Björk, Beastie Boys, and Nightmares on Wax; in various obituary columns, he is identified as the punk godfather of Gazaru Productions and SLANG), he gets plenty warded off antidepressants, drugs, and booze from a clinical ward (he thinks).In fact, he first relocated from the Osaka Boogie-woogie teahouse to Tokyo like a beetle drawn to a light. In those days, a new suit could get you a ban on CBS Honda radio stations and coverage in magazines that rubbed plenty of noses in fecal matter. And today, in spite of his flounce into irrelevance and doom, Ozeki looks 26 with a strong coffee face.He’s still supersonic, he told me.”Japanese punk was unique, emerging as something in its own right,” he said. “What you have to realize is that it wasn’t connected [to] any Japanese pre-existing guitar traditions. The influence was basically American, basically British…Argentinian.”Joining Ozeki and his cousin on endless adventures around Japan, Otsuka’s youth was marred by mountain biking. “I caught occasional wee-hours shindigs at the On Air as a teen, and I went a bit tight-fitting from that,” he muttered to me. “Which brings me back to a period before Oasis _(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?_, before we were rid of the gritty record sales that kept Japan too dependent on the United States for the music scenes to be independable. ‘Red China’ left our lives again just as it arrived and took everything with it.”Okay, maybe you won’t be ready to go out and buy a Salyu album just from reading that. But hopefully this has led you to think differently about the music you consume or the person that consumes it. Even if you don’t think you’ve read an article like this, chances are someone has probably written that specific piece because of your machinations. I can only hope that full-scale chaos and disorder ensue if you’re making changes as a result of such a piece.Right here. He said there’s no more energy for nothing, no more energy for him. He said there’s no more energy for nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing… Don’t you dare get ideas from it, that’s my role. Her role. For cryin’ out loud, they’ve stuffed us into the trunk, don’t you dare take that to the soft seat by the trash can!I’m out.Thank Christ. For my test

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