Beer Robot

July 29, 2007

What could be more Japanese than a robot which pours beer for you? The fact that it looks far more complicated and time-consuming to get a glass of beer from the robot than to pour it yourself doesn’t concern me. I must have one!

Best Event Name Ever

July 26, 2007

Hold the front page- this has to be the best name for a nightclub event ever!

Surely a night called “MONKEEEEEE FUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!” can only be amazing. Although I have no idea what to expect, I think I’m going to have to check this out. It’s in Club Oath in Aoyama this Friday. In case you’re not yet convinced, one of the DJs is called “Fuck Masta Fuck.” Enough said.
You can find more information at this website.

Lame Fryers

July 25, 2007

In my drunken ramblings around Tokyo this weekend, I ended up with several flyers for clubs and live concerts, as usual. Below is a free magazine called “L.A.M.E.” The title is an acronym for “Lastrum Music Entertainment,” but I’m guessing they don’t know what it means.

You can check out the L.A.M.E website here.

I also found a flyer for a ragga nightclub. I doubt I’ll go to the place, however, because apparently you need to bring a large piece of kitchen equipment in order to enter.

“Draft Beer” Dance Song

July 24, 2007

Here’s a God-awful Eurobeat song by a group called Impressione. Released last year, the tune is called “Nama Biiru” which means “Draft beer” in Japanese. Quite why a European dance music act is singing about Japanese beer is anyone’s guess, but the song certainly sticks in your head.

Beach Bar Bonanza

July 22, 2007

Every summer I like to hit Japan’s beaches, regardless of my enormous pasty beer-belly, my tendency to get severely sun-burned, and the fact that the beaches are overcrowded and dirtier than Paris Hilton. This is for two reasons- the plethora of wooden “beach bars” that are erected along the seafront each summer, and the hordes of women in bikinis. Life is sweet, but am I turning into Benny Hill?

Shonan beach is nearest to my house. It’s a popular summer day-trip destination for residents of Tokyo and Yokohama, attracted by the surf, outdoor music events, parties and fireworks displays. It’s a long beach running along the coast of Kanagawa, consisting of lots of smaller beaches with different names.
Enoshima is the busiest of these, especially in August when an annual fireworks event attracts about 150000 people. Locals claim Enoshima is the “Miami beach of Japan”, and although it’s too small and grubby to live up to this tag, there is an appealingly hedonistic, spring-break vibe to the place. It’s a hot-spot for trendy youngsters who go there to hang out in the summer holidays. There’s a big surfer scene despite the minuscule waves, which mainly operates as an excuse for bronzed posers to mince about in expensive wet-suits.

This is also where the orange-faced Shibuya girls go to top-up their summer tans. The ordinary girls, meanwhile, sunbathe covered in factor 50 sunblock to avoid getting a tan (which sort of defeats the object, but who’s complaining. Thank God for the invention of mirrored sunglasses!)
Speaking of which, watch out for the pervy, paparazzi-style photographers who stalk the beach with enormous telescopic lenses, looking for exposed flesh. If the lithe bikini-clad young folk don’t make you feel self-conscious stripping down to your swimwear, then the sleazebags with cameras will!

In the evening you can watch the sunset while drinking in the wooden beach bars. There are dozens of these bars lined up next to each other so it’s ideal for a bar crawl, and the inebriated holiday-makers inside are usually in high spirits. These bars are, however a bit pricey so you could choose to follow the example of the local teenagers, grab some convenience-store beers and set off fireworks on the beach.

Other beaches in the area include the slightly less-crowded Kugenuma beach, which is the home of beach-volleyball in Japan, with an annual summer tournament. Chigasaki, meanwhile, is the birthplace of Japan’s answer to the Beach Boys, The Southern Allstars. Contrary to their paeans to the place, the beach is crowded and swamped in litter, but it holds some good live music events, and a traditional festival in which a portable shrine is carried into the ocean takes place at sunset on July 20th. Yuigahama beach is a bit less dirty and has it’s own fireworks spectacle in mid August. It also has trance and reggae parties, and last year Yuigahama was host to the MTV beach bar, with daily broadcasts on MTV. There’s also Zushi beach, which has a live-house called Otodama Sea Studio on the beach, where lots of semi-famous Japanese bands perform live in the afternoons.

Alas, on September 1st the fun ends in Shonan, the lifeguards look for new jobs, the beach bars are dismantled, and everyone stops going to the beach (even if it’s still hot.)

Directions: Enoshima beach is close to Katase-Enoshima station (on the Odakyu line, about an hour by express train from Shinjuku)
Kugenuma beach is near Kugenuma-kaigan station, also on the Odakyu line, a couple of stops before Katase-Enoshima.
Chigasaki beach is about a 15 minute walk from JR Chigasaki station, about 1 hour from Tokyo station on the Tokaido line.
Yuigahama beach is about a twenty minute walk from JR Kamakura station (an hour from Tokyo station on the Yokosuka line.) Zushi beach is near Zushi station, also on the Yokosuka line.

Grade A

July 20, 2007

One of my regular haunts is “Grade A,” the bar on the fourteenth floor of the Camelot Hotel in Yokohama. Despite the hotel’s name there is no “Knights of the Round Table” theme in evidence- as usual in Japan, the name is seemingly irrelevant. Conveniently, because it’s in an international hotel, there are English menus, and the other customers aren’t too flabbergasted to see you there.
But the chief appeal of this place is the 2400 yen, two-and-a-half-hour, all-you-can-drink deal that’s available between five thirty and eleven every week night.
An added bonus is the gaggle of nubile young ladies wearing skin-tight minidresses who serve the drinks. Whenever I go there the only other customers are sozzled, be-suited businessmen who come to leer at the ladies. You can even get a neck rub and a special cocktail for 1000 yen extra. The girls deliberately jiggle their bodies while shaking the cocktails for the amusement of their patrons. You can even be spoon-fed tofu, like a baby.

Obviously, the atmosphere of dated chauvinism might not be to many peoples’ tastes- I feel sorry for the solitary female members of large office parties, who’ve been reluctantly dragged to the Camelot by inconsiderate male colleagues.
But part of the fun of this politically incorrect establishment is that it actually lives up to stereotypical image many people have of Japan. It’s practically a history museum. In addition to the outdated values, the whole place seems to be straight out of the early 1980s, even the wallpaper.
And I won’t deny that the sexy waitresses are easy on the eye.
So if you want insanely cheap drinks, scantily-clad ladies, and an uniquely Japanese vibe, Grade A lives up to its name.
Here’s the website

Shonen Knife Live

July 19, 2007

The other day I went to see one of my fave Japanese bands, Shonen Knife, perform live in Tokyo. They were in town to promote their ace new LP “Fun! Fun! Fun!”
If you’re not familiar, Shonen Knife are an all-girl punk trio from Osaka, who recently celebrated their 25th anniversary (although only singer/guitarist/songwriter Naoko remains from the original line-up.) They became quite popular in the west for a while in the early nineties, and supported Nirvana on tour in 1993.

The show was very cool, and the line up includes two cute new members on drums and bass. There were some authentically nerdy fans in suits dancing at the front, too.
The band played some great new songs, including songs about popcorn, cookies, the flu, and barnacles. Shonen Knife excel at writing songs about such inane topics. I had a chance to chat with Naoko, the singer, after the show, and asked her why shy wrote a song about a barnacle. She said “because it’s very fun,” which was good enough for me.

Here’s a good Shonen Knife fansite.