I was about to comment that every single major label Japanese music video these days seems to rely on mid-grade prosumer video or motion graphics. But then I saw this video just now and said, wow, Sony is willing to spend some money in order to get Kimura Kaera caught up with 2007.
There should be an ICANN for parking band names. You’d think that young people would do a simple Google search before choosing to call themselves SQUEEZE!! or whatever, but I guess cell phone technology has not gotten to the point where it can access universal knowledge of “Tempted” or “Up the Junction.”
Maybe I’m being picky because I’ve had a fever for 48 hours straight, but if you’re going to write an entire article about a “new Web site,” maybe you should include a link, or at least, the name of said website.
Also, why don’t the Japanese newspapers publishers just offer free access to their daily content as has become standard in the U.S. or U.K. or France? Seems like their goal (and probably Dentsu’s) is to maintain physical sales rather than move into the 21st century. If you start offering web content, people may actually use the internet in Japan, which we all know, would be a disaster.
“This week, Jay will be posting from Tokyo on the commodification of Japanese youth culture.”
This could be interesting. The “commodification of Japanese youth culture,” however, is kinda like saying “the liquidification of water.” And it’s always good to start preaching the “real Tokyo” from Le Baron de Paris, which is like discussing the Indochinese peoples at the best French hotel restaurant in Saigon circa 1934.
I don’t think anyone would expect Japan to be at the forefront in expanding the categories of allowed employee leave. Ignore for a second that this company is tiny (who even designated this news as news?? If I started my own company and gave free ice cream to employees on Friday, would there be an article “Japanese firm offers ‘ice cream’ for staff”?), and note that the CEO is a woman. If you can imagine some crazy bizarro scenario where women in Japan had equal political, economic, and corporate power, it makes sense that companies and society would become more organized around female issues like, for example, providing more maternity and paternity leave. These “break-up leave” and “shopping leave” seem to play into classic stereotypes of “over-emotionally women” wrecking corporate profits and the electoral system, but at least this Hime & Company is reformulating the Japanese company as something other than an ersatz army unit. (Japanese corporate life makes a lot more sense when you think of it in military terms: strict hierarchy, women in inferior positions, spartan self-discipline, boozing out with for-hire women, etc.)
After watching Itami Jūzō’s 1992 film Minbo for the first time, I have a hard time believing that this somewhat light-hearted pop movie enraged the Goto Gumi yakuza organization enough to make them go out of their way to viciously attack Itami within inches of his life. The movie has none of the artistic aspirations of his other masterpieces Tampopo or The Funeral, nor even reaches into Oliver Stone “speak truth to power” territory. It’s little more than a well-made Japanese mainstream film using the yakuza as an obvious foil for corporate comedy.
But in showing that simple legal and procedural maneuvers can basically neutralize the whole yakuza extortion racket, Minbo went beyond sheer persuasion politics to provide a textbook-like case study for later imitation. I am sure most thought, “Hey, it’s just a movie! Stopping the yakuza couldn’t possibly be that easy! These legal things must be fiction.” But then the Goto Gumi went and stabbed the director! “Okay, I guess he was probably onto something. Thanks for clearing that up, yakuza.” Itami had the last laugh, however, when the government went all out and made it much more difficult for organized crime to exist out in the open. Just as explicitly stated in the film, when the victim forces the yakuza to actually go through with violence, the police/state will finally have a chance to crack down.
So, ten points for Itami (R.I.P.), but there is still more work to be done. Minbo defines yakuza in the most obvious way: as those guys in ridiculous orange suits and bad haircuts and garish verb tenses. The scariest thing about modern organized crime in Japan is that their capital and managers have perfectly seeped into normal society as to hide all external evidence of their existence. The modern day soldier wears sweater vests, drives a Volvo station wagon, and manages a hipster art gallery. Better than roaming screaming thugs bothering hotel staff, I guess, but the new breed still control gallery spaces, talent management, TV casting, street fashion, and all sorts of other cultural arenas for the entire country. But hey, it’s not like you can get a movie made about how the yakuza run the entertainment industry in Japan. Who would star in it?
Great prewar music find on YouTube: Asai Maruko’s version of Nakayama Shinpei’s スキー節, “Ski song”. Not sure about the year, but I know that Asai was active in the early 1930s (assuming that the “About” is correct and it really is her). This is party music of the old school.
Lyrics here if you can bear the MIDI. “Sara-sara, lonesome falls the snow/ Let’s go skiing, come on/ Far, far across the wide fields/ Tsuttsugatsū! Tsuttsugatsū!” (Yeah, I don’t know either. The sound skis make? Something to do with tsutto?)
Note the use of tight-locked 7/5 mora phrasing (e.g. the first line’s kokoro bosoka ni/yuki ga furu), one of the distinguishing characteristics of post-Kokinshū Japanese poetry.
Most English-language magazines almost never offer detailed advice on how to avoid legal trouble while picking up under-age freelance prostitutes. Thank you, mainstream magazine SPA, for providing Japanese men with the knowledge they need to avoid the usual pitfalls of this completely normal social activity.
In most taste cultures, there seems to be a specific set of laws that are basically viewed as overbearing or ignorable. For Playboy or the film Knocked Up, for example, drug use is a slightly-annoying legal issue but not a moral one. Soliciting underage prostitutes gets similar treatment in the Japanese men’s weekly department. Sure, it’s “illegal” (thanks, PTA!) but it’s not particularly a crime that offends the community. In Durkehim’s language, the punishment is restitutive rather than repressive?
More of the self promo bullshit. A while ago I started a small project record label called Mold Recordings. The first release is out now — a one-sided 7″ record pressed in lovely splattered green vinyl with an etching on the b-side. The music is by Craig Wedren (singer of the very difficult to pigeonhole and defunct D.C. band Shudder To Think) and E#Vax (Half of Ratatat and half of Audio Dregs Recordings).
A bit of blatant promotion here. The brand spanking new Joshu + Vela high-end bag line from the San Francisco-based company just launched. I designed the patterns used for the whole line, as well as their corporate identity.
Pretty standard article on the topic, and the fact that the New York Times can’t even find the real human being(s) behind now-millionaire “Mika” — the “anonymous” author of Koizora — bolsters the probability of the whole thing being a hoax at a certain level. The real money quote was from teenage novelist Rin:
“(Young people) don’t read works by professional writers because their sentences are too difficult to understand, their expressions are intentionally wordy, and the stories are not familiar to them”
I would wager that almost all teenagers around the world dislike reading difficult or serious “literature.” Madame Bovary did not really tell “my story” at 16. Sometimes Flaubert’s translators used words and sentences I did not use in my everyday life.
The difference seems to be that Japanese kids have constructed their own ideology to legitimize this antipathy as generational conflict. New technology then allows them to write and consume amateur novels that “match” their demand for dumbed-down texts, and the book publishing industry has legitimized these keitai novels as a separate “hot” genre in their quest for revenues. In the past, kids just dealt with shortcomings in their native language by either not reading books, only reading what was assigned in class, or working towards the attainment of skills required to enjoy literature. Kids haven’t changed; the less “elitist” media complex just caters to their needs better and embraces their teenage lack of curiosity as the latest trend.
When I heard about the newish Bape store in Shibuya, I thought to myself, if Nigo is really lusting after a broad mass market, Shibuya is a logical choice. The gigantic new Bape store behind Omotesando Hills, however, is a total mystery. I guess this is for the shoppers who can’t walk five minutes down to Busy Work Shop Harajuku or five minutes up to Bapexclusive in Aoyama. The store itself looked “neat” when I passed by it last week, but seeing that Bapexclusive always seems to be completely empty on weekdays, I can’t imagine consumer demand really warranted a bigger and badder retail space. More evidence that the entire Japanese fashion business is just a real estate game?