Tokyo Style

I was reminded of the book/magazine, Fruits when I saw this website, Style-Arena. Although they only update it once every week or two, I like the selection of photos they put up on the site. They usually take 6 pictures of people/couples from 4 or 5 places in Tokyo, including Harajuku and Shibuya - some of my favorite areas of Tokyo.


Although the Shibuya kids are still very colorful and creative, I am always a little disappointed to see that everyone from Ginza, Omotesando, and Daikanyama (all of which are very ritzy, I know) seem to exclusively wear beige, grey, white, and black. Always a little disheartening ...


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Yori-soi ifbot


Japan has a problem with an aging population.
So, in order to appeal to elderly people, they have created this new robot called the Yori-soi ifbot. It seems like a pretty cool concept, even if it is for old people. It will apparently be able to converse, play puzzle games with you, calculate things, and do a "medical check." I am not quite sure what is meant by the latter, but it sounds a little strange regardless.
I think it has a pretty nice, futuristic kind of style to it. Dfinately the hand of a Japanese person.

And it doesn't sound too expensive. It looks like Dream Supply will be selling it in Japan for ¥604800 (about $6050, now with the 102 ¥ = 1 USD) starting tomorrow, December 1st!
It seems to me that "renting" things like robots is a popular thing for companies to do in Japan. I certainly have not seen it in the USA ...
but apparently that is also an option for people interested in trying the new gadget out! I've always wanted a cute little robot, and now I can finally get one ...
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One of my favorite things about Japan is how they have national treaures. And how they actually call them that. In America and many other countries, we have people that everyone loves and respects, but I do not think that we have ever really collectively named them something like "national treasures."
Tezuka Osamu just happens to be one of those national treasures. Although I am not much of a manga fan (but I do really like the Poguri manga that Jean Snow wrote about and a couple others), there is a special place in my heart for Tezuka.
So - this weekend, I picked up Tezuka's last piece, created before his death in 1989, Adolf. And I was not incredibly impressed with the story to be quite honest ...


Tezuka obviously had an very limited idea of Nazi Germany during WWII. Nonetheless, I was drawn to his comic. Maybe it is because Tezuka was a good storyteller, maybe it is because he is a creative and original cartoonist, or maybe it is because of something that only Japanese cartoonists are able to obtain. Regardless, the semi-lame story was more than semi-appealing, and certinaly worth a skim to anyone who ever sees it.
(I always liked the Buddha comics more ... )

adolf cover

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future perfect
I have been listening to a band called Autolux for a while now, and I really enjoy the album, Future Perfect. It is a pretty good combination of noise pop/punk kind of stuff with a little synthesizer here and there. A lot of the songs are pretty poppy, but they have something really rough about them all the time. I think part of this can be credited to the fact that they are from LA and have apparently been working the club scene there for a while, and I am sure that that scene has had a lot of influence over their style.

Definately a band worth looking into.
So - some things that make Autolux a very good band:
1. The woman's voice. It sounds almost folky sometime, but definately has a punk flavor.
2. A lot of people have been comparing them to Sonic Youth. I agree. The song structure and general feel of the songs all seem a little Sonic Youth-ish. A nice touch indeed.
3. I like how their songs are all pretty slow. Usually, I like stuff that has more apparent energy, but whenever I listen to the slower songs by Autolux, I always feel a lot of potential energy. Like they are trying to break out or something. I can tell from this that their live shows are also probably really good.
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Unicorns Update

As the Unicorns' biggest fan on my block, it is officially my duty to update the world on any news I hear of their future. So - here it is. The Unicorns will be doing three things (they say) within in the next 2 years (I say, but I think 2 years sounds about right).

1. New album to come out next year something
2. A rap album produced by the Unicorns under the name
The Unicorns are Th' Corn Gangg
3. A split 7" with some person who is unknown as of now (but he/she is a
"noise artist.")
4. Three 3" CDs to be played on 3 CD players at the same time (and no,
this does not sound the Flamin Lips' attempt at doing something
similar ... )

Sounds good - I'm excited!

unicorns tape

ep cover

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Tujiko Noriko

I recently got into a huge Tujiko Noriko craze. I relistened to/bought From Tokyo to Naiagara and Make Me Hard (ハードにさせて). And I was really impressed with them all. It isn't really glitch, and it isn't really IDM, but she uses a lot of laptop stuff anyway. When I listen to From Tokyo to Naiagara especially, I feel like I am in a sort of dream world that Tujiko has created. I imagine her singing in this world with her beautifully clear and unprocessed voice, and playing with her laptop. It is hard to describe the music because the listener feels emotionally attached to the music instead of having a strong feeling of dislike or enjoyment (or that's how I feel at least).

tujiko noriko

Make Me Hard is rougher than From Tokyo to Naiagara, but has a similar feel. Noriko kind of nararates this time, and her music is more cut up than in FTtN, but it is still definately worth a listen.
I know she's old news, but Tujiko is so good that she always deserves another review.

make me hardfrom tokyo to naiagara

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Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park

I just read in the NY Times Magazine this morning about this park in Sapporo Japan by some design firm called the Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park. And it looks beautiful. It has a fantastic looking children's park - tons of playsets that are all designed in incredibly creative ways, an excellent "country garden" (as the website says) with dozens of varaities of flowers and tree etc. And then it also has these magnificent waterfalls. But the children's park is definately the coolest part. Read more to see pictures ...

I wish I had gone to Sapporo ...

children's valley
children's valley

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DFA #2

Yes, I know that the DFA #2 compilation disc has been out for a couple weeks now, but I just finished listening to all three CDs five minutes ago. And I decided to report on it.
I like this comp a lot. Even if you only moderately like it, $20 for 3 CDs is a really good deal!
I really like the DFA. I think it is good to have a new production duo like the DFA on the scene again. There are lots of people in NYC especially that seem really averse to the DFA because they make everyone sound like them. And I agree - eveyone on their roster does have a similar sound. Punk, rock, disco, and something else all mixed into one. I like the sound so I am obviously biased, but I still think that it is a good thing that they exist, and not a bad thing.
Think about it. In the 80s there were lots of producers who made the stuff they worked on sound similar. The one that comes to mind immediately is Martin Hannet. I find it difficult to distinguish the first New Order LP from the Joy Division records. And he also made the first Durutti Column record similar to Joy Division also. Granted, Mr. Hannet did work with the Buzzcocks and the Happy Mondays, but his "main works" all had a distinct style.
And I think it is the same with the DFA.

I love most of the songs on the comp. I like how the DFA did not really only concentrate on their big named (i.e. Black Dice, LCD Soundsytem, and The Rapture. They gave everyone a fair chance! Very cool indeed. Anyway, I highly reccommend the record. A good Christmas present, too!

DFA #2

Here is the tracklist:

Disc: 1
1. Black Leotard Front - Casual Friday
2. J.O.Y. - Sunplus (DFA Remix)
3. The Juan Maclean - I Robot
4. The Rapture - Alabama Sunshine
5. Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - Rise (DFA Remix)
6. The Juan Maclean - Dance Hall Modulator Dub
7. Pixeltan - Get Up / Say What
8. Black Dice - Wasted
9. LCD Soundsystem - Yeah (Pretentious Mix)

Disc: 2
1. LCD Soundsystem - Yeah (Crass Version)
2. Black Dice - Endless Happiness (Eye Remix)
3. J.O.Y. - Sunplus
4. LCD Soundsystem - Beat Connection
5. Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - El Monte
6. Liquid Liquid - Bellhead
7. Pixeltan - That痴 The Way I Like It
8. The Rapture - Sister Saviour (DFA Dub)
9. The Juan Maclean - Less Than Human

Disc: 3
1. Pixeltan - Get Up / Say What
2. The Rapture - Echoes
3. Liquid Liquid - Bellhead
4. J.O.Y. - Sunplus (DFA Remix)
5. Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - El Monte
6. The Juan Maclean - Give Me Every Little Thing
7. The Rapture - Sister Saviour (DFA Dub)
8. Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - Rise
9. The Juan Maclean - I Robot
10. Black Dice - Endless Happiness (Eye Remix)
11. LCD Soundsystem - On Repeat (Dub)
12. LCD Soundsystem - Yeah (Crass Version) / Beat Connection

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I read about this website at midori's blog and I immediately took a liking to it. This guy has a really cool blog. Basically, the centerpiece is what he eats for his meals every day. He takes really nice pictures of everything, and it is all designed very nicely. I think his name is something like Kenji Oshima, but I could be wrong.

Also, he gets points for having a link to the Oh! Mikey website.

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I have found yet another cool [Japanese] artist who goes by anekawa. He uses really simple characters, but also incorporates a tremendous amount of color and detail into each piece, making it look like much more than just a child's doodle (which is what his work kind of reminds me of sometimes). I do really like the one stiched piece that he did, and I would love to see more stuff by this artist.


I think he has something showing at Tokyo Designers Block. I can't really figure out how he is involved (if at all) with MELT METAL TOONS, but it is a pretty cool animation regardless. And the site has pretty neat flash animation! Plus - he did something at Office in Aoyama, which, according to Jean Snow, is a pretty nice place to go to ...

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Naoto Fukazawa

I read at moco loco that some Japanese designer has made these increibly cool items, including a fantastic clock/CD player. Very impressive.

naoto fukazawa

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When did Tylenol become the cool thing? Why have they created this incredibly cool advertising campaign to promote Tylenol!? I don't get it? Everyone uses Tylenol, so why do they need to revamp their image and appeal to the Giant Robot croud?
I still don't get what's going on.
But I want a free toy by Ron Rege.

ron rege

The Ouch campaign also makes "'Zines" ... or that's what they call the little magazine inserts they make. Not that they aren't cool. I got the first and third issues! I like the third one called The Cave of Pain by some guy named Floyd Eces. Pretty cool comic-ish stuff. So - I advise everyone to keep an eye out for the free 'zines!

cave of pain

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I have found another impressive T-Shirt compant called Laundry. I love the simplicity of their shirts and characters. Some of it looks almost 60s-ish, but they definately have a style of their own. I emailed the company, and they told me a store in California, {The LAB} is going to be selling their stuff soon. I cannot wait to get my hands on some of the awesome shirts! Read more to see more pictures of their designs.


we're good friendswe're good friends

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It is quite a coincidence, I know, but I decided to re-listen to my old Beck CDs today, the same day that I decided to watch 10 Years of Mellow Gold, Beck's documentary. It is really fantastic! You can watch it here. I always thought he was a strange kind of guy, but I never knew he was so weird! I've always thought Beck was one of the most influencial and creative artists of the 90s, but this documentary put it all in a different perspective for me. Much more intimate and personal, I guess.
I believe that Beck's greatest album, however, was Odelay. Mellow Gold was really good, but I think his true creative genius was really shown with '96's Odelay. The album seems like such a mish-mash of genres. Some alternative rock, some hip hope stuff, so metal-ish songs ... everything! But unlike other unfocused albums, Odelay seemed to have some centralizing element even though it was by no means apparent on the surface.
I picked up the Stereopathetic Soulmanure CD of his just today also. It's a pretty cool disk. Sort of a compilation of stuff Beck did before Mellow Gold, so a lot of it is real rough, but definately fun and interesting to listen to.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Beck is his whole aura. As the documentary says, he was called "Farmer Boy" in his early days, but his music obviously contradicted his name a lot of the time. He has been heavily influenced by hip hop and punk and rock and some heavy metal and definately country, but his music can never be really summed up as "Farmer Boy"'s music.
I am really looking forward to his new record. It is supposed to be a return to his roots, so it sounds like it will be an improvement over Sea Change if nothing else. It is supposed to be

"a much more aggressive, guitar-focused affair with tracks produced by the esteemed Nigel Godrich and long-time collaborators The Dust Brothers."

Sound good? Good.


10 years
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Yuichi Yokoyama

I have just discovered a pretty cool Japanese underground/alternative comic artist named 横山裕一 (I think that is pronounced Yuichi Yokoyama, but my Japanese kanji comprehension is not perfect ... )
He seems really cool! You can read his manga (called トラベル, or Travel) here, along with several other interesting obscure artists. I must say that the manga called やる気がまんまん (Yaru Ki Ga Manman) is a little too strange for me, but still may interest some.
Not only does the site have cool comic artists, it also has some pretty cool "normal" artist, my favorite being 管弘志 (Hiroshi Kan). Definately worth looking into!

hiroshi kan

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The Life Aqautic

Bill Murray has long been my favorite actor and comedian. Well, at least in my top 3 ...
And Wes Anderson has definately been one of my favorite directors. And The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore are also two of my favorite movies. So, when I heard that Wes Anderson (director of the above mentioned films) was coming out with a new movie, The Life Aquatic with it has Bill Murray in it, I immediately broke into spasm and collapsed on the floor.
So that's a little exaggerated, but you get the point.
I just watched the trailer and I was incredibly impressed.
From what I've read, the movie is about a man named Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) who devises a plan to exact a legendary shark that killed his partner. And that's really all I know. The crew looks like a funny group of people, including the likes of Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, and Cate Blanchett. To make the movie even more appealing, Wes got good ol' Mark Mothersbaugh (ex-DEVO) to do the soundtrack. Score!
I am so excited!

the life aquatic
the life aquatic 2

the life aquatic
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ハウルの動く城 - Howl's Moving Castle

Miyazaki has done it again! His newest film Howl's Moving Castle, or Hauru no Ugoku Shiro, has attracted 1.1. million viewers and made 1.5 billion yen in two days! I think 1.5 billion yen is about 15 million US dollars. I advise everyone to see the preview. There is something so magical and wonderful about all of the Ghibli films. Even the ones that Miyazaki himself didn't do (like 猫の恩返し (The Cat Returns).
Every single part of the movie is thought through with a great deal of effort. THe character designs are so often flawless, the voices are perfectly matched, the sountrack is always spectacular, and the creativity that the Ghibli guys put into the scenery and animation is unmatched. Yet all of the films retain a distinctly Japanese quality. Even Howl's (although I have not yet watched it of course) seems to have something so Japanese about it even though it is based off of a children's book (that I read in 5th grade!)
I just can't seem to put my finger on it. Is it the apparently Japanese soundtrack? Or is it the style in which the film is drawn? Or is it the pacing of the movies? Whatever it is, it always gets me in a place deep down and opens part of me back up.
As you can probably tell, I am very excited for the new movie.
Also, while I was in Japan, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Ghibli museum in Mitaka. It was fantastic. Simply overflowing with the creativity of Miyazaki & Co. He has original sketches just thumb tacked to the wall! There were real models for the movies there, a shop, a restaurant, a beautiful garden, a movie theatre, the most beautiful lobby, and a fantastic animation room. It was spectacular and I would love to return to it.


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Gwen Stefani

Every once in a while, I give in to some pop song. Like, big time. It's not that I dislike pop music. I definately do not like how some people just write off pop music or "music on the radio" because it is "too commercial" or something along those lines. So, my newest guilty pleasure is, yes, Gwen Stefani. I like the song! WHat can I say? It is very catchy, and I kind of like the lyrics. Maybe the most attractive part of the song is its music video which is just filled with color and excitment. The album, which is being streamed at MTV does not really seem to have any melodious tunes as so many pop songs lack also these days.
I always find myself in the strange position of not being able to hum the latest Snoop Dog track (thank God, actually ... bad example). I think the same holds true for Mrs. Stefani, but there's something else to her music that really gets me. Anyway, I think I might buy the album, but I'm quite certain that I'll get bored of it after a listen or two. Too bad ...

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2k Updates

After getting some more emails from 2k today, I decided to show off some more designs from this year's collection.
{1} is by Chris Johansen
{2} is by Jo Jackson
{3} is by Seitaro Kuroda
{4} is by Katsuo Design


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Bright Eyes

It has come time for me to discuss wiz kid Bright Eyes, AKA Conor Oberst. Yes, he is not the band ... there are indeed more members in it than just Mr. Oberst, but let's face it - when you say Bright Eyes, you mean Conor Oberst! Anyway, as many of you know, he has 2 new albums coming out! It's Morning, I'm Wide Awake and Digital Ask in a Digital Urn. I still do not really know what to think of his older stuff of which I have really only listened to Lifted, or the Story Is In the Soil, Keep Your Ear To the Ground. I do like his slightly shakey voice. It always sounds so sad, but he also always sounds really into his thing.
I can definately tell that he's a Saddle Creek boy because of his extensive use of acoustic guitars and the country twag to all of his stuff. As I said before, I don't know what to think. I think I enjoy his stuff, but I can't seem to get a good handle on it. A good writer, nice music, and I'm sure his new two albums will be fabulous. I wish him the best fo luck.

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I feel terrible doing this first off. But, I love this band, Kiiiiiii. And if I lived in Tokyo, I would have absolutely gone to their concert which Jean Snow and Patrick Benny wrote about. But, since I couldn't go, I was confined to looking at pictures, and that is why I feel terrible. Because I totally copied their pictures. If Patrick gets mad at me, I'll take this stuff down, but I really enjoyed the pictures.
Anyway -- why is Kiiiiiii so cool? Well, they are a drum and vocal duo, so their palet is quite limited. But they have pretty interesting music. Real rough, real hyper and energetic, and really funny lyrics.
These gils are so weird! I can't really describe it, but they just are. The "rap" about 4 Little Joeys for example. Blows my mind. Definately worth a listen! Oh -- and they have a blog that you can even get an RSS feed for! It's all in Japanese, but I like to read it to help my Japanese!

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Bauhaus and Siouxsie Sioux

Looking through my old records, I found two excellent bands. First, Bauhaus, and second, Siouxsie and the Banshees. I love both bands. Bauhaus call themselves the first goth band, but I really think they were just art rockers. This Joy Division mixed with more punk elements and a totally different voice. Also, all of their songs seem to be really simple. For example, Bela Lugosi's Dead's lyrics are pretty much just "Bela Lugosi's Dead." Bauhaus even did a cover of Ziggy Stardust!
Now -- Siouxsie and the Banshees. Another very distinctive voice. Siouxsie Sioux really appeared on the scene in the late 70s. Their first album was Scream (1978), but they are still doing stuff. I am not sure about this, but I think Siouxsie married her drummer, Budgie, and formed The Creatures with him in the early to mid - 80s.

Both bands were from England, and Siouxsie and the Banshees were from Manchester (I think) specifically. I know that they were pretty involved in the whole new wave scene in Manchester, but never really a big player in it. They were probably too weird. The big names of that scene have remained Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, and other Factory Records bands, including the Happy Mondays.

the Hacienda - Factory Record's club ...

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