Category Archives: CULTURE

Nisennenmondai – S1 / S2

Experimental trio Nisennenmondai have spent the first two decades of the 21st century taking an already stripped-down sound made of krautrock motorik and Sonic Youth noise squalls, then paring that back into an immaculately wired one-note (literally) disco, before starting to cut away even the vestigial hints of formal structure that lingered on in the beats. And its somewhere in this process that this new EP finds the band, drums slowly emerging into a spectral scream of effects, like the ghost of one of their tightly wound kraut-disco infusions from years gone by desolately clawing at the veil between that lost party world and 2020’s pandemic-locked half-life. It’s perhaps these faintly detectable reminders of a rock band lingering on within the subtle waves of finely balanced tones that keeps the tension at the heart of Nisennenmondai’s music alive, even as they peel back its layers to reveal the echoes within.

Sales from this release go to help one of Japan’s most well loved experimental music venues, Ochiai Soup in Tokyo.

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Some Thoughts on Fan Drama

About a decade ago, when I cosplayed for the first time, I remember staying up late at an anime convention due to a friend attending a cosplay masquerade. It was cool at first, but then I heard rumblings about judges giving preferential treatment to certain contestants. There was kind of a bad vibe after the event as I talked to some of the attendees and confirmed things seemed off. That was my first instance of “cosplay drama” as I heard there were some arguments between notable members of the cosplay scene that infiltrated the masquerade.

On that note, I want to talk about drama and perhaps how to handle it responsibly due to how quickly things spread.

I’ve been thinking about drama after listening to a couple of mental health advocates discuss dating someone with bipolar disorder. They received a letter from a woman who said her boyfriend has it and he doesn’t seem to want to take initiative in managing the symptoms. One of them said it’s not the greatest of ideas despite their past experience of dating a person with bipolar disorder. There has to be a lot of careful thought put into the relationship. While it’s fair to note that someone with mental illness can’t control their illness, they still need to responsible about how to live with their condition.

The advocate then talked about the “exciting” drama of being a caretaker – they said how addicting it is to help someone in need. Every day feels exciting. That kind of relationship never gets dull due to all the variables that make someone with a health condition the way they are. There’s a perception that you’re doing something important for someone, but it comes out to be nothing more than enabling someone to take …continue reading


“Filmmaker excited about chance to present Koshien to U.S. audience”

Photo and text from The Japan Times, June 29,2020.

Freshmen joining the Yokohama Hayato baseball team have to dedicate themselves to all aspects of the team philosophy. Right down to the proper way to say good morning.

“Your articulation is terrible,” a senior member tells a first-year player whose greeting wasn’t up to form. “Make sure to emphasize each syllable.”

This probably isn’t the type of scene you’d expect to see in a baseball documentary. Then again, “KOSHIEN: Japan’s Field of Dreams,” a film directed by Ema Ryan Yamazaki, isn’t exactly a typical sports movie.

Rather than the usual story about Koshien, Japan’s famed summer high school baseball tournament, Yamazaki wanted to pull back the curtain and give people outside Japan a better understanding of both Koshien and Japanese culture.

“Hopefully, they get to see a whole different version of the sport,” Yamazaki told The Japan Times. “A world of baseball that they didn’t know before. They can have their opinions after that, but I think it’s just a chance to better understand what it means to us. I think we also tried to make this film as kind of a microcosm of Japanese society at large.

“So even if you don’t care about baseball, if you have an interest in Japan, we hope you see how Japan used to be through how high school baseball has been and how society and high school baseball, looking ahead to change and adapt and hopefully keep progressing, mirror each other.”

The film spends most of its time with Kanagawa Prefecture’s Yokohama Hayato, which is managed by Tetsuya Mizutani and has three former players currently on NPB rosters, including Orix Buffaloes outfielder Yuma Mune.

Given access to Mizutani and his players, the film follows their quest to try to qualify for …continue reading


How Discovering Meditation in Japan Helped Me Find Peace

Source: Gaijin Pot
Practice Zazen Meditation in Japan

My mind is agitated and I am hypersensitive. One tiny thing can drag me into an ocean of intertwined thoughts and emotions until I am unable to think clearly. Being stuck at home for the last month left me with more time alone with my thoughts than I ever wanted. Meditation seemed like exactly what I needed to find some inner peace amidst the chaos.

That was until I tried it and failed.

It would usually go something like this:

“Focus on your breath,” they say. All right. “Inhale and exhale…”

“I have to plan…”

“Inhale, feel the air entering your nose… and exhale.”

“I’m pissed at my boss…”


“Oh no, I fell asleep!”

It wasn’t until I clicked with a Herb Yoga Intensive Meditation & Zen workshop in Tokyo that I finally got it.

My gateway to meditation in Japan

Meditating at Herb Yoga.

My first Herb Yoga workshop was completely nuts. After a friendly welcome from the co-founder, Imi-san, followed by two cuddly little dogs in a messy, smelly entrance, I stepped into a room hidden behind curtains. I was a little skeptical at first, but the aesthetics of the room put me at ease.

Woven bamboo yoga mats laid on the floor and paintings of the sun and enso covered the walls. Enso, a sacred symbol of Zen Buddhism, is a circle drawn in calligraphy with one swift brushstroke, symbolizing the beauty of imperfection.

Suddenly, in the middle of our meditation, one of the dogs started to snore from behind the curtain. I opened an eye to glance around the room. Nobody was moving.

For our first meditation, we chanted the Om mantra. Although I was embarrassed at first, I started to relax after a few repetitions. Our voices synchronized and I began to enjoy the harmony of …continue reading


Miyanoyu: a 70-Year Old Tokyo Sento Renovated into an Art Gallery and Cafe

all photos by Kohei Yamamoto Public baths, or sento as their called in Japan, are a dying breed. Their beloved architecture, endearing interiors and murals of Mt. Fuji have not been enough to maintain the flow of customers and keep them alive. It’s said that in Tokyo every week another sento goes bust. One of […]

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