Life In Tokyo

About Guns.

Last month, an up-and-coming Japanese pop idol, Mayu Tomita, was attacked by a stalker, who managed to stab her more than 20 times. She was rushed to the hospital with severe injuries, but apparently she will live.

Two weeks ago, singer Christina Grimmie was attacked by a stalker. He shot her in the head. She died.

Even before the horrifying mass shooting in Orlando just a few days after this terrible attack, I felt as if these two events perfectly illustrated the effectiveness of strict gun control laws.  Continue reading

The Wonders of Japanese Movie Programs

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There are a lot of differences between going to the movies in Japan and going in the United States. For starters, tickets cost a heck of a lot more, usually upwards of $20, and the seats are assigned. Many theaters also have deluxe seats that offer anything from increased leg room to full-on private suites. The theater near me even has a private waiting area for premium members where champagne and chocolate are served. It all combines to create a feeling that turns going to the movies into more of an event, much like going to a live stage show or a concert.

And just like a live event, in Japan, movies often get their own specially made programs.

And they’re dope. Continue reading

The Robot Restaurant Experience

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I’ve lived in Tokyo for over two years now. While I’m far from a native of this wonderful city, I’m long removed from wanting to visit the popular tourist sites. The zoo, Tokyo Tower, Sensoji Temple, they’re all beautiful places that are well worth checking out when you first come to the city, but they’ve lost their luster for me. Now I’d much rather go exploring off the beaten path and discover some hidden weird and wonderful cafe, art gallery or record store.

But whenever family or friends come to visit me, I feel obliged to jump back into tourist mode and show them all the big name sites and tourist traps.

At some point, this usually means going to Robot Restaurant. Continue reading

Japanese Record Store Tributes To David Bowie

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David Bowie passed away a month ago, but I still haven’t fully processed the news. It’s still hard to believe that he’s no longer with us. He was such a presence in the pop world. And his music meant more to me than anyone else’s.

And his death wasn’t just a shock and tragedy in the Western world. David Bowie was huge internationally, especially in Japan. Even before his death, it was hard to miss Bowie’s section in most record stores here, and even less well-regarded albums like Never Let Me Down or his output with Tin Machine seemed to be held in at least some esteem here. Not a week goes by where I don’t see a rare Bowie LP go for an insane amount of money at any of the multitude of record stores here in Tokyo.

In Japan, record stores have a bit more personality than their Western counterparts. Even in major chains, it’s not uncommon to see handwritten recommendation notes by the staff, and custom tailor-made displays dedicated to more obscure artists and genres. With Bowie’s passing, many of these same stores have taken to commemorating his legacy with similarly DIY, custom-made displays. In the days and weeks in the wake of Bowie’s death, I visited several Tower Records and other stores to see how they were handling the Starman’s passing. I was pretty impressed.

And now I know how to spell David Bowie in katakana – デヴィッド・ボウイ。

Continue reading

Tokyo Travelogue: Sagamiko Illumination

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Last week my boyfriend and I made an excursion to the outer limits of Tokyo, Sagamiko to be exact, for a trip to the Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest. Disregard the slighty lewd name, the area is actually a massive entertainment complex, none of which (to my knowledge at least) is the least bit X-rated.

There’s an a nice onsen (hot spring resort) on site, as well as a Paddington Bear branded camping ground, but the park is most well-known for it’s largely children’s themed amusement park. In the winter though, the park’s showcase is its nighttime illumination event, where the entirety of the grounds are decked out in what must be a few million lights. The theme for this year’s festival was the UK, and as my boyfriend is a total UK oktau (U-taku?) it was decided that we absolutely had to take the trip.

It was well worth it, even if it was more UK inspired than themed. Continue reading

Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary Festival

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Here in Japan there have been various promotions all year celebrating this, the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. We’ve had special promotions at Tower Records, exclusive merchandise for sale at various Otaku stores, and of course the release of Super Mario Maker for the Nintendo Wii U. But things hit a crescendo this past Sunday, the actual anniversary date, with Nintendo’s official Super Mario Brothers Anniversary Celebration Festival, held at Duo Exchange in Shibuya, Tokyo. Continue reading

Adventures In Mario UFO Catchers

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Japan is one of the few places in the world where arcades still thrive, and this is largely due to UFO catchers, or what we in the States call crane games.

Most arcades dedicate at least one floor entirely to the machines, which can range from simple and relatively easy candy prize dispensers, to incredibly difficult/nigh impossible yen sinks that withhold a variety of amazing surprises.

I pretty much avoided these things the first six months I was here. I thought they were too damn hard, and I rarely saw prizes that I wanted. That was, until I discovered that many feature Mario and other Nintendo-related goodies. Then I was hooked.

Just check out some of the sweet shit I’ve scored. Continue reading

Tower Records’ Mario Celebration!

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It’s Mario’s 30th anniversary, and to celebrate Tower Records in Japan is pulling out all the stops with a massive summer sale campaign featuring a bevy of exclusive Mario goodies. Myself, being both a Mario and Tower Records fanatic, had to check it out.

It’s pretty rad. Continue reading

An Outsider’s Take On Japanese Pro Wrestling

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Recently a friend from the states came to visit me in Japan, and as she is a huge wrestling fanatic, she begged me to take her to some Japanese wrestling events.

Luckily for her, we were able to make it to not one, but two. One by New Japan Pro Wrestling, the major wrestling promotion here in Japan (and the second-biggest wrestling organization in the world behind the WWE), and a local, indie event by Fukumen Mania, a luchadore (Mexican wrestling) style organization.

It was probably the most fun I could have with men in skintight spandex that I’d be willing to talk about on a blog that my mom reads. Continue reading

Being Gay (and Fabulous) in Tokyo

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I recently came out, and it was far less painful and emotional a process than I thought it would be – largely because I have awesome family and friends and I am in love with an absolutely wonderful man. I’m very lucky and grateful for all the luck I continue to have.

Most of my friends and family didn’t even have any questions for me, save for one: What’s it like to be gay in Japan?

And I guess that’s a good question! We don’t really hear a lot about gay rights in Japan in western news, so I assume it would be pretty much a mystery for anyone who doesn’t live here and experience it everyday.

So, what is it like to be openly gay in Japan?

It’s weird. But damn near everything in Japan is weird so I guess that shouldn’t be too much of a shock. Continue reading

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