Blog - August 2003 Archives
August 2003 Archives
.30 No luck with Kabuki
.29 Symmetry (Yamanote29)
.28 Ready to go... almost!
.27 Kōenji Awa-odori
.26 Snowman in Ginza
.22 Pâté chinois
.22 Stereolab sound clips
.20 Scooters / Hair / Lupin
.20 Rune's Barf Bag Collection
.20 Wack Wack Rhythm Band
.17 New bicycle!
.16 Pineapple chāhan and Cubismo Grafico
.13 Time Slip Glico
.13 Excite Ping-Pong 2
.11 Space Invaders
.10 Usagi-chang Night Fever!! vol.0001: Report
.09 Asagaya Tanabata matsuri: Report
.09 Time Slip Glico!
.07 Asagaya Tanabata matsuri
.06 Amsterdam — Paris — Hong Kong — Tokyo
.06 Usagi-chang Night Fever!! vol.0001
.05 FPM "Zoo" and v/a "nippon no taido"
.03 Au voleur! Stolen bike...
.01 Interstella 5555
.01 Space Invader desu
August 30, 2003
No luck with Kabuki
It's the 2nd week in a row that we go to Kabuki-za in Ginza, hoping to see Kabuki (traditional Japanese play), and again today no luck.
Last week it was sold out about 5 minutes before we got there, and today we hadn't checked the program before going, assuming it was the same as last week, and Kabuki-za was closed for a few days until the next program starts on September 2. Real bad luck!
We may be giving it another try next weekend if we don't have other plans.
Although I've been in Japan almost 3 years, I yet have to see Kabuki and am looking forward to it!
Instead we walked around in Ginza, and then all the way to Ochanomizu, and ate curry there at a restaurant called Ethiopia.
At that restaurant, you can decide of the amount of spice you want in your curry. Usually you are given a choice like "mild or strong" or similar, but there you have to choose a number between 0 and 70, 0 equaling the normal medium spicy, and 70 meaning 70 times spicier!
I went with 0 which was just fine for me, Tomoko went for 3 which was a bit spicier, other clients were going for 1 or 2... I wondered if anyone ever orders 70 times the spice...!
On our way to Ochanomizu, we passed by Marubiru (the Marunouchi building), and got to see the earthquake simulator located just outside.
It's a small room built onto a truck, and which can simulate an earthquake up to magnitude 7 on the Japanese scale (approximately 7.3 or higher on the Richter scale, or 11 on the Mercalli scale [ref #1] [ref #2]). I didn't give it a try though. :)
Earthquakes are frequent in many areas of Japan.
Click the images to see them larger.
August 29, 2003
To the right is another take.
August 28, 2003
Ready to go... almost!
Today we received our plane tickets! Our trip to Europe is getting closer and closer. Only two more weeks to go!
Also today, I bought a 128MB memory card for my camera (it was actually free using points from my Sakuraya point card!), which will allow me to take close to 400 pictures at 1024x768, or up to 1300 at 640x480. :)
I'm hoping to take a lot of pictures!!
I also bought (for free!) a wall plug adaptor so I can use my camera's battery charger in France. The posters in store said that there are about three different types of sockets in France, is that true?
I picked what seemed to be the most popular one, it's a type C. I hope I'll be ok. :)
All the preparing we have left to do is booking our Bruxelles and Hong Kong hotels (one night each), and then packing of course.
August 27, 2003
Tonight we went to see Awa-odori in Kōenji! Main streets to the North and South of the station were holding parades of dancers and percussionists. It was great!
Click the thumbnails to see a larger image in a separate window.
August 26, 2003
Snowman in Ginza
Snow being a rare sight in Tokyo (especially at this time of the year!), passersby couldn't resist walking up and touching the snow blocks surrounding the space (I couldn't either!), and kids were playing with the snowman. There was kakigōri ("chipped ice") being sold at a stand nearby.
Just walking even a few meters away from the snowman felt refreshing.
Click image for a larger view.
August 25, 2003
A series of three books from the "Ring" series, by SUZUKI Kōji, are being released in French by Fleuve Noir on September 15, right about when I will be in Paris!
I'm planning to pick these up during my trip: Ring, Double hélice and La boucle.
The three books had previously been released by Éditions Pocket.
I may also pick up another book by SUZUKI Kōji, Dark Water on Éditions Pocket.
August 22, 2003
Last night we had delicious pâté chinois for dinner, along with poutine (from Becker's), sardines on toast, broccoli/tomato/zucchini salad, and pumpkin pudding for dessert!
We invited our friends Edwige and her boyfriend Eiki, and also Tomoko's sister Yuko. We also had a bit of a ping pong tournament. :)
To the uninitiated
Pâté chinois is a sort of pie with three layers: corn, meat and potatoes, and it has nothing to do with Chinese.
Poutine is french fries with cheese and gravy sauce.
Both are Canadian meals. However pâté chinois, when translated into English, becomes "shepherd's pie", but I heard that the UK's shepherd's pie lacks the corn? which is essential to good pâté chinois!
Make sure you try out these two next time you're in Québec!
Stereolab sound clips
August 20, 2003
Scooters / Hair / Lupin
Today I picked these 3 excellent CDs. They seem to coincidentally be under a theme of "groovy returns".
Scooters "Complete Collection"
The Scooters was formed in 1978, and are "Tokyo's Motown Sound".
The band changed members 5 times, but currently consists of 5 female vocalists, one who also plays saxophone, and 5 other members (keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, MC/percussions), including SHINDŌ Mitsuo (art director for Contemporary Production (C.T.P.P.)).
This album is, as its title says, a complete collection of all their recordings and more (live versions and two previously unreleased songs). I had heard just a little bit of this CD while shopping in a store the other day and I was hooked.
The band seems still active as they recorded the song "Pillow Talk" two years ago for "A Tribute To Terry Johnson".
ŌNO Yūji et Kahimi Karie "Lupin Trois"
This is the soundtrack to the Lupin the 3rd TV special that was aired on August 1st. The ending theme, "le soleil d'or" features Kahimi Karie on vocals. The French lyrics were written by herself.
The soundtrack is written and produced by ŌNO Yūji, composer of the original and famous "Theme of Lupin the 3rd".
Hair "ROMA o mite kara, shine."
This is the latest album produced by KONISHI Yasuharu, released on his label Readymade International. Hair is Ai SATŌ, together with varying musicians and collaborators. This album features YOKOYAMA Ken (Crazy Ken Band), NOMOTO Karia, YOSHIDA Tetsuto (programmer for KONISHI Yasuharu) and many others. This is the first Hair album in 7 years!
Found through jeansnow.net.
Rune's Barf Bag Collection
Rune's Barf Bag Collection is probably the greatest collection of airplane bags, with over 500 different bags. Worth a visit!
Thanks to William at Robot Action Boy.
Wack Wack Rhythm Band
Last weekend I bought Wack Wack Rhythm Band's first album "Weekend Jack" (1998), a bit by curiosity, and I ended up really liking it!
I knew that WWRB was a groovy band from the Trattoria scene, with many members including a brass section (saxophones, trumpet, trombones...), of which several members contributed to releases of other Shibuya-kei artists.
The album is a lot of fun and sounds like a big party, with shouting and cheering throughout, and a lot of evident complicity. Monsieur KAMAYATSU also sings a song.
So I went to pick up their latest album, self-titled "Wack Wack Rhythm Band", which came out in June. So far I'm enjoying it though not as much as the first album. Their sound seems a bit more serious, less wacky than in their Trattoria years, though still very groovy. I like the track "Wack Wack Rhythm Island feat. Rhymester", of which I had seen the video last time I went to get my hair cut. :)
I don't have any music channel at home so I never get to see music videos.
Time Slip Glico update! I've got a bunch of new ones!
Last weekend Tomoko went to see her family, and her mom sent me a whole box containing 5 CDs, which included 3 that I didn't have:
Finger 5 "gakuen tengoku", a favorite of KONISHI Yasuharu.
ISHIKAWA Hitomi "machibuse".
FUSE Akira "kimi wa bara yori utsukushii", this one is better than the cover let me assume, it's a pop track with horns and strings.
Today I picked up The Peanuts "koi no FUGUE", which I was eager to find! The Peanuts is two twin sisters (hence their name) who are lately covered live by NOMIYA Maki (Pizzicato Five) and TERAMOTO Rieko (T.V. Jesus)'s DJ unit Oui Oui.
This one completes all of the 3 singles I wanted most. I guess I'll be buying a few more over the next days, until I get unlucky and keep getting ones I already have, and then I may (or may not) complete my collection through Yahoo! Auctions.
August 17, 2003
Two weeks ago my bike was stolen, and today we finally had ok weather (it's still a bit chilly but at least it wasn't raining, just misty) so I went to buy a new one!
I went to the Kōenji branch of Olympic, a chain store that's kind of half-supermarket half-Wal-Mart-type, where I bought a 3-speed 26" wheel Yokota bicycle, with a basket for Tomoko's shufu (housewife) duties. :)
It was ¥11,800, almost half the price I would have paid in a bicycle shop for similar. I think that was a good deal.
August 16, 2003
Pineapple chāhan and Cubismo Grafico
This was my lunch today, spicy pineapple chāhan (fried rice) with shrimp, which I ate at one of my favorite Thai restaurants in Nakano, Sukoh Thai (Nakano-ku Nakano 3-34-30 New Funabashiya bldg 8F, 03-3738-5090). The lunch plate includes soup, salad and fruit jelly as dessert.
Everytime I go there I always eat this same delicious meal. It used to be #20 on the menu, but then the menu changed and this plate wasn't on it anymore but I ordered it anyway, and the next time I went it was back on the menu as #10. I still refer to it as "20-ban" (#20). :)
Tonight I went to see MATSUDA "Chabe" Gakuji (aka Cubismo Grafico)'s DJ set at Tower Records Shinjuku. He played a large variety of styles, including bossa nova, old French pop, 80's disco, and club-style music.
I was hoping to be able to shake hands and get an autograph, because when I bought the album I had got a ticket allowing me to "something" after the event, which is usually a signing session. However this time we just got a bag with flyers and stickers from Escalator Records.
Here are a few pictures of Chabe at work!
And now, here are my latest Time Slip Glico picks. :)
Agnes Chan "hinageshi no hana" (1972), a cool pop song. Agnes Chan is from Hong Kong, and she became a teen pop idol in Japan in the early 1970's. Her impressive biography in English can be found here.
INOUE Takayuki Band "kizudarake no tenshi" (1974), a short instrumental rock-ish song.
August 14, 2003
Today is cold and rainy.
It seems to me like this year we won't be getting any summer at all. I'm not sure if that's better or worse than Tokyo's usual hot and humid summer, but it sucks.
This weekend Tomoko is going to her hometown in Ibaraki, since members of her family are getting together for obon (some kind of thanksgiving). Although I'd love an escape to country-side, I'll be staying in Tokyo this time to avoid meeting uncles and aunts, which would probably be more exhausting than staying in the city.
I hope to be able to go again soon though!
On Saturday, I'm planning to see a free DJ set of Cubismo Grafico (Escalator records) at Tower Records Shinjuku. The event starts at 19:00.
Cubismo Grafico's latest album came out on August 2 and is called Vocoder Block Diagram.
Today's Time Slip Glico is a "secret version", not in the list of available titles! The song is Ann Lewis "koi no BOOGIE-WOOGIE TRAIN" (1979), a groovy disco track!
Searching for info about the song, I found out that KONISHI Yasuharu did an arrangement of it for a cover album by MORIOKA Shōko called "yume de kangaetara" (1991)! I want that!!
The info comes from Ted Mills' excellent Unofficial KONISHI Yasuharu discography.
August 13, 2003
Time Slip Glico
Excite Ping-Pong 2
Last night, our friend Noriko came over. After a month and a half on vacation in Japan she's going back to Paris this week.
For dinner we had a lot of home-made gyōza (dumplings), tōmorokoshi (full corn) and chāhan.
Then we played Excite Ping-Pong 2! This is a stand-alone video game (all you need is what's in the box) where two wireless ping-pong rackets are used in front of the TV! And as says its name, this is really an exciting game. We bought it about 2 weeks ago and it has been one of Tomoko's favorite hobbies since. :)
Check out the home page.
Here are my latest Time Slip Glico picks:
Ann Lewis "roppongi shinchū" (1984)
This one is real cheesy 80's and I didn't like it much.
KUWAE Tomoko "watashi no HEART wa STOP MOTION" (1979)
This is a pretty cool pop track with flute, strings and synth. Nice!
(Actually I got 2 copies of this one, and I decided to sell my extra copies for ¥250 on Tokyo Recohan.
So if you want it and it's still there, go ahead and order! (Sold 8/13))
August 11, 2003
That's not me in the picture, sorry! :)Today I went to check out the Space Invaders event in front of Shibuya 109.
They had a big screen set up where two players could compete and win Space Invaders gear.
If you could clear a level you got a pair of sneakers, beating your opponent got you a T-shirt, and if you lost you got a keitai strap. I gave it a go but played against a guy who had been practicing all day, so I had to go with the keitai strap, which is pretty cool though, and I was due for a new one!
My opponent received a T-shirt.
You can check out the goods at the official site.
Today's Time Slip Glico single: The Tigers "hana no kubikazari" (1968)
The Tigers were a popular GS (Group Sounds) band. However this song is a sort of ballad, I'd have preferred a more rockish track. Better luck tomorrow maybe. :)
August 10, 2003
Usagi-chang Night Fever!! vol.0001: Report
We got to see K.S.C.C. with Shiryō (Micro Mach Machine), PINE*am, Mac Donald Duck Eclair, Aprils, DJs Aki (label producer), NAKATA Yasutaka (Capsule) and MATSUMURA Yūji (our hour), and also the guest band Spoozys.
All bands were great, my favorite acts were Aprils and Spoozys.
Aprils were about 10 on stage and were really fun! They had cool video too, of which I got a copy by filling their survey! I also bought their T-shirt.
Spoozys were wearing astronaut-like suits! I recalled some songs of an album of theirs, called Astral Astronauts, which I owned about 3 years ago in Canada, and I realized I miss it. They have a new album coming out on September 20, and will be playing at Shimokitazawa Club Que with Shonen Knife on September 29 (Monday).
Now here are some photos I took last night. I avoided using a flash so some aren't too good. :)
August 9, 2003
Asagaya Tanabata matsuri: Report
Even though today was quite windy and rainy because of the typhoon that's currently over Japan (luckily it didn't come to Tokyo, it went over to Tohoku (the North-East)), we went to check out Tanabata matsuri in Asagaya!
We walked around checking out decorations while eating yakisoba, okonomiyaki, tacos, French crêpes, ice cream, etc.
Here are some pictures!
Time Slip Glico!
This kicks ass!
7" Japanese hit singles from the 60's-70's are being re-released by Glico as 3" CDs, part of their series of collections Time Slip Glico! The packaging includes the original artwork, and even the CD looks like a realistic tiny record with the original center sticker. The only thing is that the CD contains only one song (the single's A-side).
These are sold in conbinis and cost ¥300 each. The box also contains some chocolate-covered almonds, which are a plus since I love chocolate. :)
This time I got Garo "gakuseigai no kissaten". Other featured artists include The Peanuts (recently covered by Pizzicato Five's NOMIYA Maki and TV Jesus' TERAMOTO Rieko in their duo Oui Oui), Finger 5 and Yellow Magic Orchestra!
That's certainly the coolest cheap collectibles I've found so far, I'll probably be buying these everyday for a while!
August 7, 2003
There's a new online collaboration project called Chain-Music, featuring SAKAMOTO Ryuichi, HOSONO Haruomi (both former members of Yellow Magic Orchestra), Towa TEI and other artists.
According to Towa TEI's Web site, the collaboration was done by exchanging MP3 files.
The result is quite abstract though!
Asagaya Tanabata matsuri
This week is Tanabata matsuri in Asagaya (Suginami-ku, Tokyo), until Sunday August 10!
The action should mostly be in Asagaya Pearl Center, a covered mall between Asagaya station (JR Chuo line) and Minami-Asagaya (Marunouchi subway line), only 3 stations from where I live.
Tanabata (its characters 七夕 respectively mean "seven" and "evening") is usually celebrated on July 7 (7/7) but in some locations it is celebrated in August. That's also the case in Sendai, which holds the most famous Tanabata matsuri in Japan, where I had the chance to go two years ago.
At Tanabata, streets are filled with colorful decorations, and people write their wishes on pieces of paper which are then attached to branches. Fireworks and parades are part of the celebrations.
August 6, 2003
Amsterdam — Paris — Hong Kong — Tokyo
Today we've booked our tickets to go to Paris in September!
We'll be flying on Cathay Pacific, arrive at Amsterdam on Sunday September 14 (because there were no flights to Paris left during that weekend), stay there a night or two, and then spend most of our trip in Paris until the next Sunday when we'll fly to Hong Kong and stay there for a night before coming back to Tokyo!
I've never been to Europe before, except about 12 hours in transit in Amsterdam many years ago, so I'm very excited.
I'll also be getting to see Plaid (Warp Records) live at Centre Georges Pompidou on September 17! Plaid will have a new album called "Spokes" out on October 20, until then their official site is particularly uninformative because it's slowly revealing the new album's cover artwork. Tickets available on August 17 through Fnac.
Usagi-chang Night Fever!! vol.0001
This Saturday will be the first event organized by Usagi-chang Records, a young indie record label showcasing new power-pop bands such as Aprils, PINE*am, Micro Mach Machine and Sonic Coaster Pop.
Their circle of friends includes Capsule, EeL, Mac Donald Duck Eclair and our hour (the band that wrote the song "Nova usagi no uta" for the popular Nova TV commercial).
I'm not yet too familiar with the label, but I love the two compilations they've released so far, Usagi-chang Superstar!! Vol.0001 and killer killer USAGI-CHANG!!.
I'm thinking of checking out the event if I'm not too tired. :)
Usagi-chang Night Fever!! vol.0001
Saturday August 9 midnight, at Shinjuku MARZ (map)
Advance: 2000yen / Door: 2500yen (+ 1 drink 500yen)
Opening act: H.S.C.C. with Shiryō (aka Micro Mach Machine)
Live: Aprils, PINE*am / Guest live: Spoozys
DJ: Aki (Usagi-chang Records), MATSUMURA Yūji (our hour), Mac Donald Duck Eclair / Guest DJ: NAKATA Yasutaka (Capsule)
kyu-den & VJ Tōei
Tickets: Pia (P-code: 152-830), Lawson (L-code: 35040), E-plus (Access code: 132025), or email name and number of tickets to reserve to email@example.com
August 5, 2003
FPM "Zoo" and v/a "nippon no taido"
Today I've grabbed these two CDs which just came out:
Fantastic Plastic Machine "Zoo"
This is a remix album of songs from FPM's latest album Too. Remixers include Tahiti 80, Mondo Grosso, Masters At Work, Le Knight Club, TUCKER, Koop, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and TOMITA Lab. There's also cover of "Never Ever" by PE'Z, and a brand new groovy track by FPM called "You" (of which a short loop can be heard at FPM's official Web site.
After a first listen I'm satisfied with most tracks, especially the new song, as well as "Reaching for the Stars" remixed by Masters At Work and "Philosophy" by Le Knight Club.
Various Artists "nippon no taido" (official site)
This one is a mainly a comedy CD, 6 of the tracks being live stand-up comedy by MIYAZAKI Tomu, but also includes 8 songs by artists such as KONISHI Yasuharu (performed by a unit called Hasumintrill formed of OKAMURA Midori, a soundtrack composer, and HASUMI Shigeomi of Pacific 231), KISHINO You-ichi, ONOSE Masao Show (side-project of Crazy Ken Band's guitarist ONOSE Masao).
The limited edition comes with a DVD containing the video for the song "matakitene" sung by MIYAZAKI Tomu.
August 3, 2003
Au voleur! Stolen bike...
My bike was stolen today!
I left it for about half an hour, locked, while I went shopping a bit, and when I got back to where I had left it, it was gone!
Here, it's common for your bike to be confiscated if parked in an area where parking is prohibited (this never happened to me yet though). However, people are always parking their bikes there.
Today I had parked in an area for a bank's customers, which is however prohibited on weekends, though many bikes were there already.
When I got back, I first thought that it may have been confiscated because of that, but the other bikes were still there, and the board indicating the date when they last confiscated bikes said August 1, so I assumed that it wasn't the case.
Then I assumed that it must have been stolen. I use a chain with a number lock, and I guess I'm guilty of locking it a bit carelessly, only spinning one or two of the digits slightly...
So I went to the kōban (small police office) to signal the disparition. I had to bring a paper that you get when you buy a bike, which indicates the serial number, invoice number, owner's name, etc.
For the first time I had to sign with a fingerprint, usual practice in Japan for those who forgot their hankō (stamp of their own name used as signature) or don't have one, but this practice is generally a bit dreaded by foreigners since in other countries (North America at least) only fingerprints of criminals are taken. Personally I don't care much though.
I hope I will hear back from them, but I guess chances are thin, so I might as well start looking for a new bike. :(
Clockwise from right: ratatouille, crackers, dips, vegetables, pork, and, in the center, crab pâté.Yesterday we had a party at home, to celebrate my 25th birthday which was a few days ago. :)
My girlfriend Tomoko cooked ratatouille, pork, some kind of crab pâté, and several dips to be eaten with vegetables and crackers. It was all delicious!
There was also chocolate cake, and guests brought some delicious home-made pudding and Häagen-Dazs ice cream.
Our guests included Jean and his wife Yuko, fellow Quebecer Edwige and her boyfriend Eiki, Tomoko's sister Yuko, and friends Keiko, Nakako, and Chiko and Aki (aka the Watanabe sisters).
As for gifts, I received a beautiful jinbei (light Japanese traditional wear with half-length pants) from the Watanabe sisters, the funny book kanashii toki, by the humorists called itsumo koko kara, from Jean and Yuko, and a sheep print T-shirt (this year is hitsuji-doshi, the year of the sheep) and chocolate from the other Yuko.
August 2, 2003
After about a week of preparation and testing, my blog is finally launched! Movable Type is the software I chose to use for this blog. It was installed in a few minutes and has plenty of features to play with!
I will be posting news about myself and what's going on in Tokyo, and will be mostly talking about music, movies, technology, and Tokyo and Japan. Although my first language is French (I am from Québec, Canada), I will be posting in English in order to accomodate a wider audience.
Don't hesitate to post comments, hopefully we'll have some interesting discussions once in a while!
The site has also been redesigned. It has the ability to change colors in a snap, and even automatically.
Bienvenue à mon nouveau blog!
Ici je parlerai de musique, cinéma, technologie, et de Tokyo et du Japon en général. Je posterai en anglais dans le but de pouvoir partager mes nouvelles et opinions avec plus de gens.
N'hésitez pas à poster des commentaires, même en français si vous préférez. Je suis certain que ce site donnera place a des discussions intéressantes de temps en temps.
August 1, 2003
On Wednesday night, I went to see Interstella 5555, and it was great!
The story is about a band from another "star system" being kidnapped, rid of their memory, and brought to Earth, where an evil producer forces them up to the top of the charts. The movie has no dialog at all, the soundtrack is Daft Punk's album "Discovery" as is (same song order), and the music suits the scenes perfectly.
If you like Daft Punk and the movie is playing anywhere near you, you shouldn't miss the chance of seeing this at the theatre!
By the way, I heard there's a new Daft Punk album to be out in September!
Space Invader desu
This summer is the 25th anniversary of the release of Space Invaders, the classic arcade game.
I bought a compilation CD called Space Invaders daisakusei, featuring new original tracks by artists such as Sketch Show and Towa Tei, and it includes a cool screen saver replica of the game!
On August 9-10, Space Invaders invade Shibuya. There will be a Space Invaders event in front of 109. Currently streets are decorated with advertisements for it (see picture).
This entry's title, "Space Invader desu", refers to a Denki Groove song called "INVADER no THEME" on the album VOXXX. Check it out!