Tag Archives: video

Japanese artist + British band = great video

2 Nov

There is a Japanese artist / comedian who goes by the stage name “Tekken“.

He’s quite easy to recognize on TV since he wears black and white face paint and has a goofy hairstyle.

It says 「金」 (“gold”) on his forehead.

He is an excellent artist and he’s especially known for his amazing flip-animation stories. He draws hundreds…sometimes even thousands of pictures in a sketchbook, and flips them causing them to “move” like a TV cartoon.

Well, his flip-animation story (movie) titled 「振り子」 (“Pendulum”) has become the official music video for a song by a British pop band called “Muse“.

I’ve never heard of that band before but I have seen Tekken and his work on TV here in Japan many times.

You should watch the video. It’s very good…a bit of a “tear-jerker”. It shows a teenage couple falling in love, getting married, having a child, a growing old together. Not all of their days are happy…and near the end of their lives the husband regrets mistakes he’s made.

It’s here:


18 Nov

Do you live in Japan? Do you have a Tsutaya membership card?
Tsutaya is the biggest video-rental (I guess I should call it DVD rental now) chain in Japan.
It’s kinda like Blockbuster Video in America. (Is Blockbuster still in America? Is it still popular?)

I’ve had a membership card with Tsutaya for years now…ever since the one near my house opened.

I don’t remember what they have at Blockbuster Video in America (I don’t recall anything except videos)…but Tsutaya in Japan has rental DVDs (used to be VHS), and rental CDs (in Japan, you can rent a CD after it’s been on sale for one year (it used to be rental LPs and cassettes!)), and many branches of Tsutaya also sell CDs, DVDs, magazines, books, video games, etc.

Also in Japan, many credit cards also double as point cards / membership cards for a store. Do credit cards in your country work like that?
I have a Visa, Master Card, and a JCB credit card. They’re all point cards at different stores, too. Meaning, if I either shop at that store or use the credit card, I get points on the store’s membership card!

My JCB credit card is also my Tsutaya membership card. So, anytime that I buy or rent a CD or DVD from Tsutaya or I use the credit card…I get points on the Tsutaya card.

If I get 190 points, I can rent a DVD or CD for free. Recently, I rented the new “Indiana Jones” movie for free (I’m glad it was free! That movie’s a disappointment! 😦 ).

Did you know, though, that Family Mart convenience stores, Lotteria Fast Food restaurants, and a few other stores have recently started giving Tsutaya points to their customers who show their Tsutaya card when they purchase something?

If you live in Japan and have a Tsutaya card, don’t forget to show it when you shop at places that have Tsutaya‘s “T” logo displayed!

tsutaya(Looks like mine, but this image is from Tsutaya’s website)


3 May

Yesterday was my youngest daughter’s birthday.

She’s twelve now. So now my kids are 12, 13 and 14.

She’s the “baby” of the family…and she’s already almost a teenager! They’re growing up too fast!


I read about a place in 埼玉県 (Saitama Prefecture) out in the countryside north of Tokyo called 盆栽村 (Bonsai Village) that has many Bonsai gardens.

(Bonsai is the art of clipping and shaping plants (usually small trees)).

I never had an opportunity to go there and I didn’t want to make a special trip all the up there just to look at Bonsai. But today I had to go up in that general area for a few hours…so I decided to check out Bonsai Village on my way home.

There were many beautiful gardens with very nice bonsai…but taking photos was forbidden. I was disappointed about that.

They had some bonsai for sale. The prices were between ¥5000 and ¥50,000 (about U.S. $40 -$400)!

I was able to take this photo of a bonsai tree in someone’s front yard in a house near one of the gardens.

This place really was out in the boonies (American slang. “Boondocks, Sticks, Countryside, Rural”).

There was nothing there. Not at all like urban Tokyo.

I saw a convenience store and it had a parking lot. In Tokyo, like many big cities (NYC, etc), most places don’t have parking lots…if you drive somewhere, you have to find a place to park (hopefully) nearby and walk. Most people in Tokyo use the punctual, clean, safe and affordable public transportation (trains in Tokyo arrive every 3 minutes or so).

Here’s a picture of the train tracks in this countryside town. There’s nothing but trees and farmland for miles.

Here’s a couple of trains coming down that track:

Here’s a couple more videos of trains arriving at the 大宮公園駅 (Oomiya-kouen Station). (One going away from Tokyo, the other going towards):


19 Apr

Today in 隅田公園 (Sumida-kouen) in Tokyo, there was a 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) show.

I have been to 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) shows a few times before, including the one at Sumida-kouen…but it’s not too far from our house. So I decided to go to today’s show too.

Asahi Beer bldg

In 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery), the archers and the others who assist by setting up the targets, etc are dressed as Samurai because it was the Samurai who trained in horseback archery centuries ago.

After the archers parade past the audience, the targets are set up. There’s three posts spaced out along the horse running track and various targets are set up for the archers to try to hit with arrows while galloping down the the track on horseback at full speed.

The targets are usually pieces of plywood first, then plywood with packets of confetti inside (for visual effect when the target breaks), ceremic targets and various others.

It’s quite exciting!

Here are couple pictures I took of archers hitting the targets as they sped by:

I also took a short movie of an archer hitting a target. You can see the confetti fly when he breaks the target:

Time flies by!

5 Apr

This is the last couple days of my kids’ school Spring Break.

In Japan, the school year ends in March and the new one begins in April…so on Monday, my kids will be in 6th, 8th, and 9th grades (actually they’re called: Grades 小6年、中2年、 and 中3年 (“Elem 6th”, “Jr High 2nd”, and “Jr High 3rd” grades). In Japan, elementary school is grades 1 – 6, the junior high is grades 1 – 3, and high school is also grades 1 – 3.

I can’t believe how fast they grow up!

Next March (2009), my youngest will graduate from elementary school, and my oldest kid will graduate from junior high (Japan has Graduations and Opening Ceremonies for every school a child attends…from pre-school to college).

Then, next April (2009), my oldest will start high school. So this year she’ll be taking “high school entrance exams”. Not only college, but Japanese high schools also have entrance exams.



In the news, there have been alot of violent crimes against Japanese people commited by American military servicemen stationed in Japan.

It doesn’t help the image of foreigners in Japan.

The most recent was a sailor in the US Navy stationed near Tokyo who stabbed a taxi driver in the neck with a kitchen knife.

Then there was the case in Okinawa in which a group of children of US servicemen attacked and robbed taxi drivers.

And a 14-year old school girl in Okinawa claimed an American Marine raped her.

There have been numerous other cases like these over the years…but it seems like there’s been a rash of them recently.

Hopefully, the pattern stops.


Here’s a couple more videos I put onto my YouTube page (they’re both very short…and not very high quality. I’ll try to put better videos up in the future):

A sumo match at the 国技館 (I took this video with my cell-phone camera…it’s much clearer on a small phone screen):

And here’s a short clip of 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery). It’s hard to capture with a camera…it goes by quickly—but “Yabusame” is very fun to watch. You should check it out in person if you ever get a chance (it happens a few times a year in Japan…actually one is coming up this month):

Ueno Hanami

3 Apr

One of the most popular places to go for 花見 (Cherry-Blossom Viewing) in Tokyo is Ueno.

Close up of Sakura in Ueno.

We decided to go there yesterday before the end of Sakura season came (which is soon…when Sakura bloom, they don’t stay long).

Here is a video of the Sakura trees and the crowd appreciating the view:

And here’s another video of the Sakura petals falling in the breeze like snow falling:

We were lucky because while we were there we happened to catch a お稚児さん(O-chigo-san) procession.

This is a parade of Buddist monks and local children dressed up in special kimono and make-up to bless the opening of a new temple.

(My kids actually did this once a number of years ago).

Here’s a video we took of the O-chigo-san in Ueno yesterday (The monks who are wearing what appear to be baskets on their heads are hiding their unshaven heads before Buddah. This looks odd even to most Japanese people)

Anyways, here it is:


1 Apr

In Japan, sometimes (if you’re lucky) you will see “Chindonya”.

Chindonya is like a Japanese traveling band for hire.

They used to be a common sight…but have become quite rare nowadays.

They dress in an over-the-top version Japanese traditional attire (although occasionally one member may wear something like a clown suit), and the women wear their hair and make-up like a geisha and the men often have their hair in a ちょんまげ (a top-knot that like those of samurai and sumo wrestlers).

The are paid by a store or restaurant to advertise a grand-opening or a sale.

The leader wears a sign board advertising the shop and might hand out flyers as well. Meanwhile, the whole band plays a distinct type of “music” that everyone knows is the sound of Chindonya.

Their name comes from the sound of the music the make. I guess “Chindonya” could best be translated as “Bing-bang group”.

Anyways, I took a short video of a two-member Chindonya group that were advertising the grand-opening of a “Pachinko” parlor.

“Pachinko” is a popular game in Japan that is often called a cross between a slot-machine and a pinball machine.

It’s not technically gambling, since gambling casinos aren’t legal in Japan (there is legal gambling in Japan though…horse racing, bike racing and the lottery). Pachinko, though, is still basically gambling.

To win at Pachinko, you have to aim the BB type balls that you purchase into the holes that are in the upright pinball-looking machine. If you succeed, you are rewarded with a jackpot of the same balls. You can take the balls to the back of the parlor and exchange them for prizes (not money, otherwise that would be “gambling” and therefore illegal).

The loophole, and why pachinko is popular with many people, is that outside every Pachinko parlor is a “seperate” shop that buys the Pachinko prizes from the customers for cash (and they end up back in the Pachinko parlor).

Anyways…here’s my video of Chindonya:


30 Mar

Today we went to a park not far from our house for 花見 (“Cherry Blossom Viewing”).

Cherry Blossom Viewing has been a Japanese tradition for centuries. The Cherry Blossom (or 桜 (“Sakura”) as it’s known in Japanese) is as Japanese as Apple Pie is American.

Every Spring, when the Sakura bloom, Japanese people have picnics under the Sakura trees (as I mentioned in the “Sakura” post below).

We had sandwiches, takoyaki, fried squid, and beer (of course, the kids had juice) under the trees. They were very beautiful. I took a few pictures and attached some to this post.

Before we got to the park, we passed a gas station and noticed a Buddist priest pumping gas into his car.

This caught my attention, not only because you don’t often see Buddist priests at gas stations, but also because “Self-serve” gas stations are new to Tokyo. They all used to be “full-serve”…with four or five attendants pumping your gas, checking your oil and tires, and washing your wind shield. Then helping direct you back into traffic.

So I took this picture:

Buddist priest puming gas.

At the Sakura festival, there was a stage that had some people doing a tradional Japanese festival dance. I took a short video of it and uploaded it to YouTube.

It’s the first time I’ve ever uploaded a video to YouTube.

Are you able to watch the video? Let me know.

Here are some of the photos I took:

sakura1.jpg sakura2.jpg

sakura3.jpg sakura4.jpg