Life In Tokyo

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

Concert Review: Red Bull Music Academy Presents 1UP: Cart Diggers Live

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If I had to choose a favorite music genre, “game music” would probably be in my top three. Something about the classic aesthetic combined with its frequent manic tempo triggers both the nostalgic and musical areas of my brain in just the perfect way that sends me to aural bliss.

So when I found out that Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) would be hosting a night of chiptune/game-inspired music here in Tokyo, I was rather excited. I was doubly excited when I discovered that Scottish DJ Rustie would be headlining the event, which was entitled 1UP: Cart Diggers Live (named after a documentary series about game music), playing a custom-made mix of music by legendary game composer Yuzo Koshiro. Not only that, but there would be a “performance” by the hologram vocaloid superstar Hatsune Miku, and Chip Tanaka, composer of Metroid, Ice Climbers and Dr. Mario, would be there! How could it possibly go wrong?

By the end of the night I was left asking myself; did anything go right? Continue reading

Record Store Review: HMV Record Shop In Shibuya

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Tokyo’s original HMV, which opened in 1990 and closed in 2010, was more than just a record store. It was a scene spot where many up-and-coming Japanese bands were able to foster local popularity and grow into somewhat international stars. In fact, an entire genre of music, Shibuya-Kei, the jazz/pop hybrid made famous by acts like Cibo Matto and Pizzacato Five, became popular largely because of HMV’s heavy promotion.

But HMV’s Tokyo location was built during the tail-end of a bubble economy. And while its first few years were a hotbed of activity, everything I have read about it suggests that it spent the second half of its existence in a slow decline before finally shutting its doors four years ago.

But that was then! While international record sales are still on fire thanks to the digital revolution, if the insane abundance of record stores in Tokyo are any indication, Japanese people still love buying music on a physical format. And now that the vinyl and cassette tape resurgences are finally hitting Japan in full force, it seems that record stores are just doing better and better here.

So HMV is back! With an all new location, and new name (HMV Record Shop) and I went to check it out.

Continue reading

Tokyo Hospitals and Flu Tests From Hell

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It seems that ever since I moved to Tokyo I’ve fallen into a cycle when it comes to my writing. I stop writing for some reason, come back to writing with a proclamation of “I’m back writing!” and then I immediately fall of the face of the earth again and stop writing for an indeterminate amount of time, only to see the cycle repeat once more.

Previous writing lapses were caused by a heavier than expected workflow, then a sudden dip in my mental health. While my mental state has been pretty okay for the most part/back to it’s normal level of complete insanity, this past month, my physical state decided to take a turn for the worse, causing me to come down with strep throat not once, but four fucking times. It’s really hard to write when you can’t keep your head up.

As you can imagine, a repeated sore throat and dangerously high fever is the kind of thing one might see the doctor for. So halfway through my third bought with the shockingly resilient infection known as streptococcal pharyngitis, I decided to bite the bullet and make my way to a Japanese hospital for some help.

It was an experience. Continue reading

Snow can be cruel, Snow in Tokyo

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It’s snowed in Tokyo.

It’s snowed a lot in Tokyo.

It’s snowed a lot in Tokyo for two  weekends in a row.

It sucked. Continue reading

Tokyo Record Store Report: Jar-Beat Record

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When I go out hunting for record stores in Tokyo, I usually know where I’m going and how to get there. I research the hell out of an area, make my own custom Google Map, and set out on a pretermined path to maximize shopping potential and minimize needless walking. But even with all my research and meticulous planning, even I sometimes wander across a record store that I would have never found if it hadn’t been for dumb random luck. Continue reading

Tokyo Toy Stores: Godzilla-Ya and 2000 Toys

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Alf. Alf knows where’s all the rad shit in Tokyo is.

As a six-and-a-half foot tall giant white man living in Tokyo, Godzilla isn’t just a hero of mine, he’s a role model.

So when I found out about Godzilla-Ya, a toy store in the neighborhood of Koenji that specializes in retro Godzilla goods, I knew I had to make the trip – and it was totally worth it. Continue reading

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