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Sometimes I Wish I Got Off as Easily as Vampire Weekend

The kids aren’t alright ;-(

My challenge to you META no TAME and Neojaponisme readers: name one of the 10,000 ways this essay could have been written to make the same point about Harajuku without being a pointed personal take-down of me.

Sheesh, it’s like 2004 again or something.

W. David MARX
March 31, 2008


My new book, Parallel Strokes, will be available at the 101 Tokyo Art Fair, along with many fine publications from the good folks at Chin Music Press. I wrote a related essay in their imminent book, Art Space Tokyo, as well.
Parallel Strokes is now available at Book 246 and On Sundays, the Watari-um bookshop.

March 30, 2008

Japan Blog Dominance Reduced by 40%

Nifty finds 40% of Japanese blogs are SPAM

Adamu at Mutant Frog Travelogue directs our attention to Japanese internet site Nifty‘s report that around 40% of all Japanese “blogs” are spam blogs. If you’ve ever tried to search the Japanese blogosphere, you will have run into a million of these things: robotic shells that automatically cull together links to other sites based on popular themes like golf, Koizora, or Oshikiri Moe.

Although Technorati knows how to avoid English spam blogs, the company had no way to differentiate between Japanese spam blogs and Japanese “real” blogs when they formulated their report on the main languages used on the internet. Japan made headlines for being the “world’s most blogged” language — but most of us who busy ourselves with Japanese net culture scratched our heads, wondering how that could possibly be. But now with Nifty’s research, we can downgrade the Japanese blog figure by 40% — making the total number of blogs at around 15 million instead of the originally forecast 25 million (based on the 70 million blog total for 2007, so these numbers are probably higher now). English language blogs stood at around 25 million as well, and if there is no downgrading for spam, the new numbers would make English the dominate language on the internet by a large margin. 15 million blogs is still a strong proportional number for Japan, but the original data seemed to overstate the influence of Japanese content on the internet.

W. David MARX
March 28, 2008


Theme Magazine: Groovisions

I totally forgot that I wrote this, but Theme has put my short article on Groovisions online. I very much enjoyed interviewing Mr. Ito for the piece. Maybe we should put up the full interview at some point. He had a lot to say.

W. David MARX
March 28, 2008

L.I.N.K.S. for Today

Barcoded Gravestones

I think the obvious response to this is: Japan is crazy. But again, notice that the whole story is that some company is selling the product, rather than consumers actually reaching into their wallets and paying for their loved ones be buried in a keitai-friendly manner. So yes, Japanese companies sometimes come up with crazy products that get them a lot of attention, but I am not sure why we treat these gimmicks so seriously, as if consumers ever demanded such things. Wake me up when QR codes cover the entire Fuji Reien.

If I worked at a Japanese pharmaceutical company, I would send out press releases that we are selling “Strawberry Flavored Birth Control Pills,” and suddenly the English language blog world would explode into rapture upon discovering this latest proof that Japan is insane in a futuristic way.

Escalator Records Interview

If not the first, one of the longest interviews in English with legendary Japanese indie label Escalator Records. Interesting to see the arc of founder Naka: first he hates Japanese music and only listens to foreign indies, then he gets deeply involved with his batch of Japanese indie artists, and now he hates Japanese music and only listens to foreign indies. Everyone hates on my ’90s lust, but I’m telling you, it was an amazing decade for Japanese pop cultural self-confidence.

W. David MARX
March 27, 2008

Hiroshima Lattes

Welcome to the Hotel Hiroshima: Has the ground zero of the nuclear age become too “normal”?

A faithful reader directed us to this article with the colorfully-direct email subject “Please mock the shit out of this link.” Since the Slate piece ends on the unfathomable revelation that “the Hiroshima Starbucks’ latte tastes the same as it does anywhere,” I am not sure how we could add any wacky commentary for your enjoyment. Perhaps, this piece is “the bomb”? Ah forget it.

W. David MARX
March 26, 2008


Cold-blooded Killers

Néojaponisme contributor Dwayne Dixon and amazing vegan chefs Yoyo and Yuka offer up the tastiest vegan lunch in Tokyo on Wednesdays at Vegie Shokudou, a renegade restaurant inside of a bar in Koenji. Note that the restaurant operates ONLY ON WEDNESDAYS. There is a break period from 3pm-5pm, and the restaurant will be closed. Eats start at 1PM.

Directions here.

March 24, 2008

DJ Codomo Video

DJ Codomo

New video for DJ Codomo‘s track “I Like You.” DJ Codomo is a multimedia artist, producer to Kiiiiiii, remixer of Cornelius, and sometimes-partner-in-crime to Moooog Yamamoto of Buffalo Daughter.

DJ Codomo’s debut album Today — available from Kiiiiiii‘s very own label Best Pet — is definitely worth a listen, or possibly, a purchase. Shane Lester approves.

W. David MARX
March 21, 2008

A Typical Office

While in Los Angeles, I visited a typical American office, since I had forgotten about the normal corporate environment back home. Although this was in Southern California, it might as well have been in northeastern Pennsylvania. That’s how generic it was.

Here are some pictures I took.





W. David MARX
March 20, 2008

Scene Report: Le Baron

I am actually not at LeBaron. I don’t go to LeBaron. Please stop asking me to attend events there. That club blows megadicks.

I am going to say it now, again, loud and clear for you:

Fuck ¥1000 for shitty beer on tap. The only time I am going to pay that is when it comes with some fancy fucking food. And they don’t have that at LeBaron. Just dudes with asymmetrical haircuts who can’t dj for shit.

Oh, and retards.

March 20, 2008

Why no content?

Why has there been very little content on Néojaponisme lately?

I, W. David Marx — Chief Editor, have been in Los Angeles in a jetlag-haze for the last week, and I will be in a jetlag-haze in Tokyo for the next week until I can get my schedule back in order. Team Néojaponisme have also been working on lots of big things: book releases, album releases, etc. We also have full-time jobs, although we aren’t supposed to mention that to maintain a myth of artistic dedication to our respective crafts.

Can we expect this content winter to continue?

Yes and no. We are currently planning out a very big step for Néojaponisme — perhaps launching it into physical space. (But not literally “outer space.”) There are essays being written and assignments being assigned. Things may be light for a bit though, so if you are thinking of bothering us with a story idea, this is an excellent time.

Is there anything you can recommend while the nuclear content winter is defrosting?

I did this podcast with Patrick Macias in Los Angeles. We discuss Cool Japan. Also, I will have some personal L.A. dispatches over the next week, hopefully.

W. David MARX
March 19, 2008

Prewar trinkets illustrated

Via BibliOdyssey: the Ningyo-do bunko database of illustrations by KAWASAKI Kyosen (1877-1942) of toys, souvenirs, charms, amulets, and whatever else caught Kawasaki’s eye.

Most of the items illustrated are Japanese, as you’d expect, but there are a good 150 or so from elsewhere too. Here’s a German toy that I just had to share:

[German bikkuri-bako by Kawasaki Kyosen]

I know that “respectability” isn’t usually part of the design spec for a Jack-in-the-box, but that is one seedy clown. (“Hey, kid, you wanna earn a dollar? Come out back to my Kombi van for a minute.”)

March 16, 2008

L.A. Dispatch

Two Paris Hilton sightings in two days = Los Angeles.

W. David MARX
March 15, 2008


Frank Zakka

Forget “Engrish.” We get it already: sometimes Japanese copywriters are not very good at writing within the English language. You’ve just repeated the same joke 10,000 times.

Let’s try something new: Engrich. Instead of showing the mistakes of Japanese working within English, let’s hunt for examples of brilliant cross-linguistic creation.

The first example: “Frank Zakka.” This Shibuya arty-accessories store’s name is a pun on the musician Frank Zappa and zakka (雑貨) — the Japanese word for accessories. But you already knew that.

W. David MARX
March 12, 2008

Marxy at J-Wave USA

The University of California at Los Angeles (“UCLA”) will be hosting a conference on exporting Japanese pop culture called J-Wave USA this upcoming weekend (March 13-15). Full schedule available here.

I will be presenting at 11:10 on Saturday morning at the sesssion “Japanese Street Fashion in Japan and the US” with Prof. Yuniya Kawamura, moderated by Patrick Macias. My presentation will look at whether Japanese fashion styles are “bottom-up” or “top-down” and how fashion magazines play a part in setting trends.

Admission is free, but registration is required for researchers hoping to attend. I will be at the other events that are open to the public, so say hello if you see someone very tall.

W. David MARX
March 10, 2008