Space Beer

May 30, 2008

No, that’s not the title of a movie (but it really should be!) It’s the latest development in hi-tech Japanese beer.
Once again, the Japanese are light years ahead of everybody else- on Tuesday, the famous Sapporo brewery announced it’s plans to brew “space beer.”
The eccentric egg-heads at Sapporo are mixing up some astro-moonshine, using the offspring of barley which once was stored at the International Space Station.
It ain’t the Mir Space Station. It’s the BEER Space Station. (Hoho, You see what I did there?)

Yep, apparently the barley used the make the new brew is the third generation offspring of barley which was stored in the space station for five months. “Grandson of Space-Beer.” Hey- that’s an even better name for a movie!

Apparently the forward-thinking brewers want to get ready for the future- when we may well have to do all our beer-brewing in outer space. You see, if we can make beer from barley grown in a space station, this surely proves that humans could be self-sufficient in space.
That’s right, screw growing vegetables- beer is the top priority!
Well, I suppose if I discovered I were stranded for eternity in the middle of outer space, I would need a stiff drink.

The Sapporo company, along with brainiacs at Okayama University, plan to produce 630 liters of beer using 40 to 50 kilograms of barley descended from plants grown in outer space. Enough for a modest house party, then.

Read more at Japan Probe

Beer 24/7/365

May 25, 2008

This woman’s T-shirt says “Beer24/7/365”. Apparently she drinks beer every hour of every day of every year! (Well, with a single day off every leap year.)
Sounds fun but I’m not sure I’d advocate a mix of uncontrolled alcoholism and sleep-deprivation – it might be quite bad for you.

Jelly Balls

May 20, 2008

“Jelly Balls”? I suggest you see a doctor immediately!


May 16, 2008

I’ve been reading “Japrocksampler” by Julian Cope (the eccentric singer, writer and acid-frazzled archaeologist.) It’s an enjoyable history of Japan’s unheralded rock mavericks, groundbreaking musicians who absorbed American rock n’ roll in the postwar years, and fed it through a filter of Japanese thought, culture and experience, to make something entirely new and weird.

Some of the records mentioned, from the likes of Brain Police and Flower Travellin’ Band (pictured on the book cover, riding motorbikes in the nude) sound utterly mental, and I’m eager to get down to the record shop and pick some of them up (even though they’re fairly obscure, even in Japan.)
You probably won’t have heard of most of these guys. TV and radio in Japan have rarely given exposure to independent or alternative artists, and even now only give airtime to those signed to a handful of major labels and agencies. And yet, if your explore the underground clubs of Koenji or Shimokitazawa, you would have a good chance of seeing some astonishing and unique musicians.
Japrocksampler is a good introduction to Japanese rock and roll, and is greatly helped by Cope’s enthusiastic, hyperbolic writing style.
He’s even started a website about obscure Japanese music which you can check out here.

Drunk Japanese People

May 10, 2008

Hi! Excuse the infrequency of my writing lately (I’ve been out of the country for two weeks and my computer has broken. Sob.) Hopefully this PC problem will be sorted out soon. In the meantime, check out these videos of random drunk Japanese people!

Japan in the UK

May 4, 2008

Now it is Golden Week in Japan, when four public holidays coincidentally occur in quick succession, meaning the entire country can put their feet up for a week. Nice!
However, when everybody in a densely populated country takes time off at exactly the same time it means flight and hotel prices are so expensive you have to sell a kidney to leave the house, and holiday destinations are more crowded than an Austrian basement.

I’ve emptied my bank account to fly to England for a couple of weeks to attend a family wedding, and I have discovered that the place has become more Japanized in my absense. Whereas not ten years ago most folk would have recoiled in horror at the idea of chomping on raw squid, sushi is now readily available throughout the country.

A chain of Japanese noodle restaurants called Wagamama has also been growing in popularity (although most of the customers are unaware that they’re eating in a place called “Selfish”.)

Manga T-shirts, once only worn by sex-starved comic-book nerds, are now flying off the shelves of high-street shops.

While meeting friends in London’s Soho area, I even ended up strolling through Brewer’s Street, which is a popular place for Japanese and Japanophiles, due to the preponderence of Japanese restaurants and shops. There used to be a popular grocery store called “Arigato” which seems to have disappeared.
An evergreen favourite is the Japanese used-book store operating out of an old dry-cleaning shop. The owners have never bothered to change the sign, and it’s been called “Deluxe Cleaning” for decades.

Highly recommended for ex-pat Japanese, and students of the language.

At least if I end up leaving Japan, I won’t be starved of Japanese culture.