Tag Archives: shibuya

Interview with Rachel Bolan

6 Mar

Do you know who Rachel Bolan is?

He is the bass player of the excellent heavy-metal band Skid Row.

Skid Row. Rachel Bolan is on far-right.

Skid Row are scheduled to play a show in Tokyo on 2014 April 14th to promote their latest album “United World Rebellion: Chapter One“!
This will be Skid Row‘s first visit to Japan since 1995. Nineteen years ago!

Today, Rachel Bolan was kind enough to answer some questions from me for an interview!

My questions are in red.   Rachel Bolan‘s answers are in black.

1. Could you give us a self-introduction, please?

Rachel Bolan, co-founder, bass player and song writer for Skid Row.

2.  The new Skid Row release “United World Rebellion: Chapter One” is quite good.  Will there be a “Chapter Two” ?

Thank you. There will be 3 chapters in all. As a matter of fact, we just finished up recording  United World Rebellion – Chapter Two”. We are very excited about it!

3.  What music / albums do you listen to most often these days?

Lately I have been listening to an artist named Gin Wigmore. She’s great!
I also listen to the music that I grew up with. KISS,
The Ramones, Aerosmith, Queen, etc.

4.  Do you like Japanese food?  Have you ever tried Tokyo’s original dish “Monja-yaki“?

I love food in general, but Japanese is one of my favorites. Japanese meals always seem so well balanced.
I haven’t had
Monja-yaki, but would like to try it. I think every culture has a dish similar to it. My Uncle used to make something like it. It didn’t have dough in it however. Just egg as a binder.
I’m getting hungry. Haha.

5.  Skid Row is scheduled to play a show at the O-East club in the Shibuya area of Tokyo, Japan.  Could you give us a preview of what fans can expect at that show, set-list-wise and otherwise?

We usually try to play something from every album. That gets more difficult as time goes on because our catalog keeps growing and I can’t see us playing a 4 hour show. Haha.
We will play all the songs that you would expect us to play. Some new songs as well as some deep tracks. Lots of energy on stage because we love what we do! We may be getting older, but we haven’t slowed down a bit.

チラシ (Flyer) for Skid Row’s upcoming show in Tokyo.

6.  The last time Skid Row toured Japan was in 1995, wasn’t it?  Why did it take so long for you to finally return?

That’s right. Almost 20 years since our last visit. I have no idea why it’s taken so long. We’ve always had such an amazing time.
I wish we were playing more than one show on this trip. We’ll make sure it doesn’t take another 20 years until we play there again.

7.   How many times have you been to Tokyo?  Are there any sites that you’re particularly looking forward to revisiting?  Or some places in Tokyo that you haven’t seen yet that you would like to visit?

I believe I’ve been to Tokyo 6 times.
I hope to get back to
Kiddieland if its still there!! (It is. It’s actually not too far of a walk from the venue you’ll be playing at!)
Also, Akihabara. I like to check out all the gadgets.
I have never been to Tsukiji fish market.  I’d really like to see it.

8.  How do the fans in Japan compare to those in other countries?

It’s funny. I’ve been asked that question by many journalists from many different countries.  The answer is always the same. Skid Row fans are awesome in every country we go and very similar except for the language they speak. We have the most dedicated fans in the world.  That’s why we called the trilogy ” United World Rebellion “.

9.  Do you receive a lot of fan-mail from Japan?

We do get quite a bit of email from Japan via Facebook and such.

10.  Do you have a message for the fans in Japan?

I just want everyone to know how excited we are to return to your incredible country. And how  much we appreciate your unconditional support over the past 25 years.
There’s not a night I step on stage that I don’t think how great a life that has been afforded to me because of fans like you. I mean that from the bottom of my heart!

Thanks again to Rachel Bolan for taking time to answer my questions.  These are great answers!  Very interesting interview!  I look forward to your show next month!
Thanks also to Skid Row‘s webmaster, Noel Saabye to getting me in contact with Mr. Bolan.

Here are some relevant Skid Row links that everyone should check out:
SkidRow.com
SkidRow’s Official Facebook Page
Hayashi Promotions Skid Row Japan Tour Info

Last Saturday and today…

13 Nov

Do you know the story about Hachiko ?

I wrote a post about that faithful dog…click here to read it.

I know that there is an event every year on April 9th in 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) in honor of Hachiko. That date was chosen because it’s the anniversary of the day the famous statue of the dog was erected near the train station where Hachiko patiently waited everyday for his master to return home…even after his master died.

I didn’t know, until I saw the Google logo on Saturday (November 10, 2012) that Hachiko was born on November tenth.

Google’s logo for Hachiko’s birthday (Nov 10).

I probably wouldn’t have even mentioned it…except for the fact that my birthday is also November 10th.

Anyways…

Today (November 13th) is “World Kindness Day“.

This is an event every year on November 13th to remind us to try to do something kind for others. Even a kind word.

I wrote about this day before. Click here to read my post that explains a bit of the history of this event…it started in Japan.

I like to read stories about people being kind rather than the usual unhappy stories that are always in the news.

Have you heard any uplifting stories about someone being kind? Tell about it in the comments!

100th birthday of Taro Okamoto

26 Feb

Do you know who 岡本太郎 (Taro Okamoto) was?

Taro Okamoto,
26 Feb 1911 - 7 Jan 1996

He was a Japanese abstract artist and sculptor.
He is quite famous in Japan.
His most well-know piece is probably the huge sculpture that he made for the “World Expo ’70” in Osaka titled 「太陽の塔」 (“Tower Of The Sun“). It still stands at the site of the expo in Osaka.

「太陽の塔」 ("Tower Of The Sun") by Taro Okamoto

I haven’t been to the “Taro Okamoto Museum” but I have seen three of his pieces many times…because these three pieces are displayed in public here in Tokyo.

These are the 「若い時計台」 (“Young Clock Tower“) in Ginza, Tokyo:

「若い時計台」 ("Young Clock Tower") by Taro Okamoto

The 「子供の木」 (“Children’s Tree“) which stands in front of the 「子供の城」 (“Children’s Castle“), which is a fun, educational activity-center for young children in Tokyo. I took my children to this place a few times when they were young and I saw this sculpture in front of the building.
I knew immediately that it was by Taro Okamoto because it matched his distinctive style.

 

「子供の木」 ("Children's Tree") by Taro Okamoto

And I’ve also seen his painting titled 「明日の神話」 (“Tomorrow’s Myth“). This painting is Mr. Okamoto’s depiction of the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II.
This painting had been in Mexico for about thirty years and was only returned to Japan a little over two years ago.
It’s now on display inside 渋谷駅 (Shibuya Train Station) in Tokyo.

 

「明日の神話」 ("Tomorrow's Myth") by Taro Okamoto

Well, if 岡本太郎 (Taro Okamoto) was still alive he would be 100 years old today.

I learned that today is the 100th anniversary of his birth when I accessed the Google search engine earlier today and noticed that the logo looked like Mr. Okamoto’s artwork.

Google's logo to commemorate Taro Okamoto's 100th birthday.

Even after over twenty years

7 Jan

I have been living in Japan for most of my life.
I came here when I was twenty years old…and that was over twenty years ago now.

I think Japan is the most beautiful country in the world and Tokyo is the best city.

I wanted to show some scenes that I see regularly in Japan and I may have started taking for granted but they are a part of what makes Japan so special.

Rather than go through the photos in my camera’s memory cards, I decided to be a bit lazy and see what I could find online.
I found a website called Getty Images that has many stock photos…some of them of Japan.
The people who take these photos must have cameras that are much nicer than mine because they took some really nice photos.

I use photos that I took myself in most of my blog posts, but the following photos are from Getty Images.

Every January, when the "Tokyo Stock Exchange" reopens after the New Years holidays, the female staff wear kimono.

A"bird's eye view" of Tokyo

A traditional Japanese breakfast.

A Japanese garden.

The symbol of Japan: 富士山 (Mount Fuji).

Tokyo's "Rainbow Bridge".

Japanese "Green Tea".

The Shibuya area of Tokyo

The Shinjuku area of Tokyo.

新幹線 (Bullet trains)

Tokyo Tower

By the way, today is the seventh day of the New Year.
On this day it is Japanese custom to eat 「七草粥」 (“Seven Herbs Porridge“) for breakfast.
I will have it for breakfast today as I usually do on January 7th.

Click here to see my post that explains this tradition in more detail.

マダコがビンのフタを開けた

28 Jun

Last December. I wrote a post about Japan’s “Eco” movement that mentioned a X-mas tree powered by an electric eel at the 江ノ島水族館 (Enoshima Aquarium) near Tokyo.

(Click here to read that post).

The 江ノ島水族館 (Enoshima Aquarium) has a YouTube page.

Well, scientists have said that the 「マダコ」 (“Common Octopus”) is intelligent.
If it’s put into a jar and the lid is then screwed shut, the octopus will watch and learn how the top was closed…and then it will reverse the process from inside the jar to open it and free itself.

The 江ノ島水族館 (Enoshima Aquarium) demonstrated this and put a video of it on their YouTube page.

Here’s the video:

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I’ve never been much of a Michael Jackson fan, but if you are…and you’re in Tokyo, the Tokyo Tower is having a special exclusive event since last month until July 11th titled “Michael Jackson – the official Lifetime collection“.

If you want to see Michael Jackson’s personal possessions, including his Rolls-Royce car and many other items, you should go to the Tokyo Tower by July 11th between the hours of 9:00AM – 10:00PM.

Admission is ¥2,000 for adults, ¥1,800 for high school and college students, and ¥1,500 for children between age 3 and junior high age. (Under 3 is free).

Last Friday was the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death.
To commemorate, Tokyo Tower allowed fifty die-hard fans who were willing to pay ¥100,000 (about US$1,000) to spend the night in the exhibit room surrounded by the collection of Michael Jackson’s possessions!
Supposedly, these fans were touched emotionally by the experience and felt the money was well spent.

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Also, this year is the 60th anniversary of the popular Japanese toy store chain “Kiddyland“.
So Kiddyland has decided it’s time to renovate their large multi-storied shop in 表参道 (Omotensando, Tokyo).

So on 2010 August 31, the current store will close for the renovations and a temporary shop will be opened on 2010 September 1st not far from the current location.

A map showing how to get from the current Kiddyland location to the temporary one (which will be above "Snoopy Town")

The new renovated Kiddyland will reopen in the summer of 2012 at it’s current location.

Here’s an artist’s rendition of the new store:

Upcoming metal shows in Tokyo

8 Jun

Are you planning a trip to Tokyo this year (or are you already here?)?
Wanna see a heavy metal concert in this city while you’re here?

There are a number of great bands scheduled to perform on stage in the Tokyo area this summer and autumn.

● First up is Faster Pussycat with special guest Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns.

Faster Pussycat

I saw Faster Pussycat in concert back in 1986 when they opened for David Lee Roth in Florida.
(And I also saw L.A. Guns on their “Hollywood Vampires” tour in 1991 in Yokohama, Japan.)

I can’t believe it’s already been nearly 25 years since that Faster Pussycat concert I saw…but this is their “25th Anniversary Tour“.

They play at 「渋谷サイクロン」 (“Shibuya Cyclone“) club on Friday, June 25th and Saturday, June 26th starting at 7:00PM (doors open at 6:30PM).
Tickets cost ¥5,000 in advance or ¥5,000 plus one drink if you pay at the door.

● Next is Bullet For My Valentine.

Bullet For My Valentine

They’re scheduled to play at the 「新木場 Studio Coast」 (“Shin-Kiba Studio Coast“) club in Tokyo on Wednesday, September 1st (they’re scheduled to play in 大阪 (Osaka) the next day)).

Their show starts at 7:00PM. Doors open at 6:00PM.

Metallica will bring their “Death Magnetic” tour to the Tokyo area on Saturday, September 25th and Sunday, September 26th.

Metallica's 'Death Magnetic' album cover

Metallica is scheduled to play at the 「埼玉スーパーアリーナ」 (“Saitama Super Arena“).
Doors open at 5:00PM. Their show will start at 8:00PM.
Tickets cost ¥9,000.

● Also, there’s Loudpark coming up.
This is a heavy metal festival every October near Tokyo.
Click here to see my entry about it on my “Festivals in Tokyo” page.

Flyer for 'Loudpark 2010'

This year’s Loudpark festival will be at the 「埼玉スーパーアリーナ」 (“Saitama Super Arena“) on Saturday, October 16th and Sunday, October 17th.

Doors will open at 10:00AM and the first bands will begin playing at 11:00AM.
Tickets cost ¥14,000 for a one-day ticket or ¥25,000 for both days.
For an extra ¥3,000 you can get a Loudpark 2010 T-shirt.

This year’s line-up includes:

Ozzy Osbourne

KoRn

Motorhead

Avenged Sevenfold, the Japanese band Dir En Grey, Stryper, etc.

Pac-Man is 30

24 May

On 1980 May 22, the Japanese video game manufacturer Namco released a new game that was invented by their employee 岩谷徹 (Toru Iwatani).

The game was called 「パックマン」 and was written as “Puckman” in the English alphabet in Japan.
On that day thirty years ago, the game was released at only one video game arcade (ゲームセンター) in 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo).

The game was given the name 「パックマン」 because 「パック」 (“pakku“) or 「パックパック」 (“pakku-pakku“) is the word Japanese use to describe chewing (click here to read a post I wrote that describes this word and other like it in the Japanese language) and the point of the game is to maneuver the yellow Pac-man character around a maze and eat every dot in the maze without running into any of the four ghosts that run around the maze at the same time. There are four strategically-placed “power” dots that temporarily turn the tables and allow Pac-Man to eat the ghosts.

It was probably decided to use the letters “Puckman” to write the game’s name in Japan because “pakku-pakku” sounds similar to “puck-puck“…at least when said with a Japanese accent.

Anyways, this game was an instant success in Japan and caught the attention of “Midway” game manufacturer in America and a deal was struck to bring 「パックマン」 (“Puck-Man“) to the U.S.
But first, Midway decided, the name should be altered before kids in America vandalize the machine to make the “P” in “Puck-man” look like an “F”.

So, “Pac-Man” was introduced to America in the early ’80s and became a part of America’s pop-culture almost instantly.

Just like most kids in America (and probably other countries too) in the early ’80s, I was obsessed with Pac-Man for awhile.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been thirty years since Pac-Man was first introduced to the world!

I heard that Pac-Man was recently added to the “Guiness Book Of World Records” for being the most readily recognized video-game character around the world even today.

Even the Google search engine changed their logo temporarily to honor Pac-Man‘s 30th anniversary.
Click here to try the Pac-Man game on the Google website. Click the “Insert Coin” button the site, a game starts then use your keyboards arrow keys to move Pac-Man around the maze.

Shibuya Crossing in London

5 Nov

In 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo), there’s a famous intersection near the JR train station that, when the pedestrian signal turns green, all the cars have red lights and must stop and people can walk across the intersection in any direction.
The crosswalks are painted not only straight in four directions…but also diagonally.

shibuya

Shibuya Crossing

(Actually there are a number of intersections around Tokyo like this…but Shibuya’s is most famous).

Well, London, England has just made a similar crosswalk at one of that city’s busiest intersections.
At the opening ceremony for the new crosswalk, the Mayor of London said that the intersection’s new crosswalk is entirely based on Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo.

In fact, there were Japanese 太鼓 (Taiko drums) drummers playing at the opening ceremony!

london

London's new crosswalk based on Shibuya Crossing.

McCafe

4 Nov

Yesterday McDonalds Japan opened a number of “McCafé” shops around Japan.

mccafe

They offer seven types of coffee that aren’t available at regular McDonalds restaurants, as well as the two that are (“Premium Roast Coffee” and “Premium Roast Ice Coffee”).

menu

The hot coffees are shown in red. Ice coffees are in blue.

The “Premium Roast Coffee” and “Premium Roast Ice Coffee” are available for ¥120 and ¥220 (depending on size) just like they are at the regular McDonalds restaurants.

The other coffees are:

HOT

  • カフェラテ (Cafe Latte) ¥190 / ¥240
  • カプチーノ (Cappuccino) ¥190 / ¥240
  • カフェモカ (Cafe Mocha) ¥250 / ¥300
  • キャラメルラテ (Caramel Latte) ¥250 / ¥300

ICED

  • アイスカフェラテ (Ice Cafe Latte) ¥190 / ¥240
  • アイスカフェモカ (Ice Cafe Mocha) ¥250 / ¥300
  • アイスキャラメルラテ (Ice Caramel Latte) ¥250 / ¥300

To promote the McCafé in Tokyo, they’re giving away free cups of hot カフェラテ (Cafe Latte) in specially designed paper cups for a few days.

free

It says in this ad above that from 3:00PM on 2009 November 3 (yesterday) until 2:59PM on November 6, the McCafé in 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) will be giving away the small hot カフェラテ (Cafe Latte)…and that the first 1000 customers will receive a special ceramic mug as well.

There will also be a McCafé truck giving the free latte coffees and it’s scheduled to be at Roppongi, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Yurakucho, and Akasaka at various dates and times this month. (If you want to know when and where it’ll be at, then visit the McDonalds Japan website. (if you can’t read it and would like to know the details, then tell me which area or date you’re wondering about in the comments section of this post and I’ll reply)).

Forever 21

29 Apr

I’m not really interested in fashion brands. I’m especially unfamiliar with the latest brands in other countries (outside Japan).

But I heard on the TV news today about a clothing store in America called Forever 21.

21-logo

Do you know this store? Do you shop there?

First of all, it seems that Forever 21 has a clothing line titled “Shibuya Mon Amour“.
It’s supposedly a cross between Tokyo fashion and French fashion. (Shibuya is a part of Tokyo popular with young people).

I was surprised by that! Is 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) famous overseas?
Before I came to Japan, I had never heard of Shibuya, Akihabara, Roppongi, or any other sections of Tokyo (I came to Japan in 1990. Before the internet. So it was a different world back then).

I also heard that the American pop singer Gwen Stefani loves the 原宿 (Harajuku) section of Tokyo, which is popular with a different group of young people that those who like 渋谷 (Shibuya).
There are “Harajuku girls” and “Shibuya girls” in Tokyo. Even though those two areas are close to each other, the fashion of each is quite different from the other. That singer, Gwen Stefani, calls her back-up dancers “Harajuku Girls”.

Anyways, the reason that the American clothing store chain “Forever 21” was on the news in Japan today isn’t because of their “Shibuya Mon Amour” line…it’s because they opened their first store in Japan today.
It’s in the 原宿 (Harajuku) section of Tokyo.

Whenever a new store opens in Japan, they almost always have a big “Grand Opening Sale”…which results in a crowd of customers waiting to get in even before the store opens.

Here’s a picture of the crowd that was waiting to get into the Forever 21 Tokyo store today for their Grand Opening sale:

Grand Opening of "Forever 21" in Tokyo.

Grand Opening of "Forever 21" in Tokyo.