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Kabuki

6 May

Yesterday we watched this famous 日本舞踊 kabuki dance.

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Animetal USA

9 Oct

Have you ever heard of the Japanese heavy metal band “Animetal“?

The Japanese band "Animetal".

They were an extra band made just for fun by members of other established Japanese metal bands. Animetal played heavy metal versions of Japanese anime theme songs.

The artwork of the cover of Animetal's first album (released in the mid-90's).

Animetal disbanded about five years ago…but this year, Marty Friedman (who was the lead guitarist of the American heavy metal band Megadeth but quit that famous band so that he could live in Tokyo with his Japanese wife) helped organize the formation of “Animetal USA“.

"Animetal USA"

Animetal USA consists of Mike Vescera (formally the lead vocalist of the Japanese band “Loudness” for a short time), Chris Impellitteri (of the band “Impellitteri”), Rudy Sarzo (from “Quiet Riot”) and Scott Travis (of “Judas Priest”).

Just like the original “Animetal”, this band sings heavy metal versions of Japanese anime theme songs…but, unlike the Japanese band, only some of their songs are in Japanese—the rest are in English.

They will be releasing their debut album on 2011 October 12 and on October 15, they will perform at this year’s Loudpark Heavy Metal Festival in Saitama, Japan.

The cover artwork for Animetal USA's debut album...due for release on 2011/10/12.

Here is the official video for “Animetal USA“‘s first single…the theme song of the anime 「宇宙戦艦ヤマト」 (“Space Battleship Yamato“):

JapanNYC

15 Mar

Carnegie Hall in New York City, USA is currently having a festival of Japanese arts and culture that they call “JapanNYC” from 2011 March 14th until 2011 April 9th.

Some may feel that they should have canceled the event after the earthquake struck the Sendai area of Japan on 2011 March 11th…but Carnegie Hall decided to continue with the planned Japan festival in honor of the earthquake victims:

Everyone at Carnegie Hall was deeply saddened to hear the news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday. While plans for our JapanNYC festival proceed, we offer our thoughts and prayers to those affected. At this incredibly difficult time, we feel it is particularly important to pay tribute to Japan and its people through these festival events.

–Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall, NYC

If you’re in the New York City area from now and April 9, you should consider checking out some of this event.
I’ve never seen a “Japan festival” in America but this one looks interesting. Among the scheduled events, they will have Taiko Drumming, Noh Theater and concerts led by the famous Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa.

Here’s a promotion video for the event:

Claude Monet art exhibit in Tokyo

10 Jan

I’m not an expert on art by any means.

My tastes might be considered “low brow”.
I listen to heavy metal music, my favorite TV shows aren’t really educational or anything, and I don’t see the appeal of “over-rated” movies such as “Lost In Translation“, “Forrest Gump” and “The Lord Of The Rings“…those movies were all boring to me.
The movies I like are more exciting.

And I don’t feel comfortable eating in “four star” fancy restaurants…I prefer a simple 「居酒屋」 (Japanese izakaya “blue collar” type restaurant).

Even though I may be a “simple man” I can appreciate art sometimes.
I have never attended an opera or even a musical on stage, but I have watched 歌舞伎 (Kabuki) plays and sometimes I go to art exhibits at museums.

I have seen a number of 浮世絵 (Ukiyoe Japanese woodblock prints) exhibits…and yesterday, my wife and I went to 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) to see the 「モネとジヴェルニーの画家たち」 (“Claude Monet and the Giverny Artists”) exhibit.

It’s at the “Bunkamura Museum” in Shibuya, Tokyo until 2011 February 17th.

I learned that Claude Monet moved to a tiny French village called Giverny and painted the natural views that he saw there. And his work inspired many artists from other countries, but the vast majority were Americans, to go to Giverny and set up an “artist colony” there to learn from Monet.

Also, Monet was inspired by Japanese art (other famous Western artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, were too) and he had a collection of Japanese Ukiyoe prints.

Monet's painting of his wife in Japanese kimono.

Monet's painting of his garden in Giverny, France.

Monet's painting of a hay stack.

 

Are you interested in art? Monet? Ukiyoe?
How about your taste in food, movies, music, etc?

2010 in review

23 Dec

Yesterday was 冬至 (Winter Solstice). In Japan, many people eat pumpkin and take a bath with Yuzu fruit to prevent catching a cold.

Click here to read a post I wrote with more detail about this Japanese tradition.

Today is a holiday in Japan. It’s 天皇誕生日 (the Emperor of Japan’s birthday). He’s 77 years old now.
This is one of the two days of the year that the public are invited into the Emperor’s Palace grounds to see him and listen to his speech.

Click here to read my FAQ about it.

Anyways, every year the Mitsukoshi Department Store in 銀座 (Ginza, Tokyo) has an exhibit of press photos of the biggest news stories of the year.

We often go to see it. And we went to this year’s exhibit today.

It was quite good, as usual. There were nearly 300 photos that showed many big events of this year…from the World Cup and the Olympics to the miners rescue in Chile.

2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada

Of course, there was photos of the closing of the Kabuki Theater in Tokyo.
Click here to read my post about this famous theater’s closing (with photo that I took).

The closing of the famous Kabuki Theater in Ginza, Tokyo.

If you’re in Tokyo you should check out this exhibit. It’s free of charge and runs until Sunday (2010 December 26).

All photos in this post are from the Mitsukoshi 2010 Press Photo Exhibit website.

The Demons have returned to Earth

24 Aug

I like to listen to heavy metal music. I enjoy most all “genres” of heavy metal (as “heavy metal” itself is a “genre” of rock music, you may be surprised that there are different “types” of heavy metal music).

Some of my favorite bands are KISS, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Megadeth and “pre-1991” Metallica.

But I’d say my favorite heavy metal genre is “Shock Rock“.
Bands that have a shocking* or “over-the-top” image and stage-show to go with their excellent music.

Bands in this genre includes acts such as KISS, Alice Cooper, Lordi, GWAR, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, W.A.S.P., etc.

The concerts by these bands include frightening costumes and/or make-up, fire, blood, guillotines, snakes , and bats (one even had it’s head bit off 😉 ) all while playing the type of music I enjoy.
It’s a much more entertaining concert than is common by musicians of other types of music.

And of course since I’ve been living in Japan for the past twenty years I listen to a number of Japanese bands as well.
I wrote a post about the Japanese hard rock band X-Japan. I think they’re okay.

Then there’s the Japanese band 「カブキロックス」 (Kabuki Rocks). Probably inspired by the American band KISS (who, ironically, were inspired by Japanese 歌舞伎 (Kabuki theater)), Kabuki Rocks dress as Japanese kabuki actors while they’re on stage performing.
Here’s a video of them performing their most famous song 「お江戸」 (“O-Edo“):

But probably the best Japanese band in this genre is 「聖飢魔 II」 (“Seikima-Two“).

「聖飢魔II」 ("Seikima-II")

Their name is kind of a Japanese play-on-words. It’s spelled to say “The Holy Starving Demons (II)” but is pronounced “Seikimatsu”, which means “The end of the century”.

The reason for their name is because their gimmick is that they are a band of demons who came to Earth from Hell to punish humans for destroying the environment.

The band was formed in the 1980s and they intended from the beginning to take over the world and disband on New Years Eve 1999 at 11:59:59PM (the “end of the century”), and that’s what they did.
(Well, they didn’t take over the “world” but they were popular in Japan in the 1990s).

I remember at the height of their popularity in the ’90s, the lead vocalist “Demon Kogure” was doing funny TV commercials for Fuji Film.

"Demon Kogure", lead vocalist

In these commercials, the “demon” with his spiky hair and make-up was the “father” of a kindergarten-age girl.
Instead of his usual outfits that he wore, in these commercials he dressed in regular “human clothes” and he’d have some humorous adventure and his “daughter” would snap a photo of his facial expression with a “Fuji Film” disposable camera.

I liked these commercials a lot.

Here’s one where his “daughter” is on her school bus and he’s trying to give her her lunch that he forgot to give before she got on the bus:

And another one where he’s trying (and failing) to fly a kite with his “daughter” at New Years time (which is a tradition in Japan):

These commercials were so popular in Japan in the ’90s that Fuji Film began to offer “Demon Kogure” alarm clocks and pajamas (with “spiky hair” night-cap).
I remember that I wanted the alarm clock…but I didn’t buy film often enough to acquire the necessary “points” to get one. Oh well.

Here’s the commercial for the clock and pajamas:

Anyways, as I mentioned above, 「聖飢魔 II」 (“Seikima-II“) disbanded on New Years Eve 1999 at one second before midnight…but this year they had a reunion concert (including a show in America and one in France) and a new album.

I intend to get their new album.

Here’s a promotion video for a song by them that I like. It’s called 「蝋人形の館」 (“House of Wax”):

歌舞伎座さようなら公演

21 Apr

About eighteen months ago I wrote a post about the planned renovation of the historic 歌舞伎座 (Kabuki Theatre) in the 銀座 (Ginza) area of Tokyo.

(Click here to read that post.)

Well, as I mentioned in that post in 2008, the Kabuki Theatre is scheduled to be torn down on 2010 April 30 and rebuilt in a more “modern” design. (I think that’s too bad. “Kabuki” is a old traditional Japanese art…so the theater should be a traditional Japanese design—like it currently is).

It’s already April 2010. The theater will be torn down in less than two weeks! Time goes by fast.

So, I had an errand in the Ginza area yesterday so I brought my camera to take some photos of the 歌舞伎座 (Kabuki Theatre) before it’s demolished.

Posters outside the theater advertising shows now playing.

The theater's front entrance

This sign in front of the theater says:"Kabuki Theater 'Sayonara' Performance".Eleven days left"2010 April 20, 11:55:52 (the date/time I took this photo)

The famous 歌舞伎座 (Kabuki Theater) in Ginza, Tokyo...set to be demolished for renovation on 2010 April 30.

While I was in the Ginza area I decided to take photos of the Seibu Department Store since that iconic store will be closing it’s branch in Ginza later this year due to high overhead costs mainly stemming from the expensive rent for property in the exclusive Ginza area.

(I wrote about this story on an earlier post. Click here to read it.)

Unlike the Kabuki Theatre, the building that the Seibu Store is in won’t be demolished.
The Seibu Department Store is simply leaving the Ginza area after occupying that property for over 26 years.

The "Seibu" name won't be on this building after this December.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, the rent that the Seibu Department Store pays in the highest in the world.
But near that building is a 交番 (police box) that is located on the most expensive property in the world per square meter.

This 交番 (police box) in Ginza has the world's highest rent per square meter.

Here are a few more photos I took in the area:

This is "Peko-chan". Mascot for "Fujiya Confectionaries".

"Peko-chan" candies

A "Hato Tours" bus with "Hello Kitty" design.