Friday, February 12, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The Idols and Talento in Japan, have reinvented what it takes to become famous -- young and female.
Inspired by the popularity the all-female French 'Ye-Ye' pop music movement in during the 60s in Japan, Japanese record companies created their own versions called "Idoru".
They were teenaged, they were fresh-faced and innocent --and they had no real talent.
But when fans tired of one particular idol, after they had consumed all the albums, the
Over and over in Japan this process has repeated itself for decades. The Idoru genre expanding itself into TV, where 'retired' idols and B-grade movie stars mingle and milk their fame for all it's worth.
On TV they become 'Talento', or those with no talent. You may vaguely recognize their names, but you can't remember what they've done. Suddenly they're featured on every show that you watch.
And now, America too has been entranced by the Idol phenomenon.
In the 90's Japan had Amuro, Utada, Hamazaki:
Japanese record labels have had much longer to hone their craft; creating, packaging, and selling the public the concept of the Idol. And thanks to hugely popular show American Idol, we aren't too far behind.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
You've gotten everything ready for your semester or your year abroad in Japan? But during summer break you've gotten yourself hooked on drugs? Weed, prescription pills, ecstasy? And now soon you're heading off to Japan and you haven't even thought once about how you're going to score some, have you?
Japan is a different country with a different drug culture--for both legal and illegal drugs alike.
Let's start with the basics, the lightweights, and move up to the heavies, known as 'Ma-yaku' (まやく)
Unfortunately, for us gaijin potheads in Japan, marijuana has never been the casual drug that it is back home. The J-Weed has always been overpriced and underrated. The stiff penalties with actual jail time for possesion an overreaction. You can't just skip out and take a short stroll to your corner conbini and grip a dub from your dealer. So if you're stuck in an inaka you're out of luck. But there's still hope! J-Weed has been in the national news a lot lately, increasing the interest, and we hope the availability of it among the youth:
Shabu is 'speed'. Not Speed Racer. Made with pride in Japan in the late great 1800s. Widely used during WWII to fight fatigue and increase battle performance.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
We just thought that it was strange that every year so many college students go to Japan, but everyone keeps all the crazy things that go on there a secret. As the project grew we included Joey and Remi, who I was friends with from Japan. They gave me access to their own personal journals and testimony and I created this novel, The Japanese In Me, with them.
As we go about promoting the novel and the project, we will all be blogging from this site and writing short ‘essays’ and articles about Japan. I will mainly be moderating in the background, but Remi, Alex, and Ridge, will be in charge of writing.
We aim to create the most “original” site about Japan and we will write about and cover topics that none other has before. We want people to use this site with the novel to learn what Japan is like before they go there.
Friday, July 17, 2009
You think that you know "Japanese", but really you don't.
When you do get to Japan, and hear that gibberish spoken for real.
You won't even be able to say you know SOME Japanese!
You know what? I actually think it's better for you to go knowing nothing.
Then you'd be starting at zero. Not going backwards like I was...
I thought that I knew a little Japanese.
And tried so hard to hold onto what I had I couldn't learn anything else.
Add to that living in Japan, with all the people everywhere, and everything feels so tight and cramped.
Pretty soon the White-out was everywhere. It was like someone had gone into my head and left a trail of empty white splotches behind.
If I had known what it was really like in Japan, things would've been different.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
"An American Virgin in Japan"
If, by the time you step off your 14 hour flight to Narita
or Kansai Airports in Japan, you still find yourself a virgin, don't worry.
You now find yourself Japan, the best possible place in the world to finally lose it!
This isn't like back home in America, despite what you've come to believe about yourself, in Japan you're different.
Here you're special, you're a commodity, you're a "GAIJIN".
Doesn't matter much whether you're into J-Girls,
or J-Guys, they'll all be into any kind of you.
And then after that, it's all up to you and what you do:
Will you finally figure out how to say the right things?
Will you live openly and only in the moment?
Will you ever be able to think about someone else?
Other than yourself?
Sunday, July 12, 2009
"I Chose To Be Japanese"
Whether you end up studying in Japan someday, or you never even get there, the odds you'll ever end up in a Capsule Hotel are STILL slim to none.
Doesn't matter if you're a student studying abroad in a remote rural village in the boonies of Wakayama.
Or a clueless, jet-lagged-out tourist at Akihabara, or a bored salaryman on a brief business trip in Roppongi Hills. Only very few will ever seek out sanctuary in a Capsule Hotel.
So, I won't bore you with "The Modern History of Compact Lodgings in Japan, and the Cultural Roles They've played in Shaping Japanese Society."
But, some of you may end up in a Capsule. At the end of a drunken dreary night, in Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo. An accident so you think, but really every moment in Japan had led you there fatigued, finally.
Inside the plastic-molded coccoon you fight back down the creeping of claustrophobia.
Barely roomier than a coffin, like being buried alive--only you're being born again.
When you flick off the mini track-light, a darkness so thick and imposing it doesn't stop, it envelopes you.
And then you can become someone else..
I chose to become Japanese.