Japanese Bikini Trombonists

December 18, 2008

Just my luck- I wait all my life for a band of bikini-clad trombone players, and when I finally discover one I find out they broke up last month. Tsk!

“Futomomo Satisfaction” featured three female trombonists in bikinis,
performing covers of The Ramones, The Rolling Stones and Buggles, alongside original tunes. The three fetching girls, Jackie, Suzuyakko, and Lumiere, certainly put the “bone” in “trombone,” if you catch my drift.

The girls described themselves on their Myspace Page thus:

Futomomo Satisfaction is a Japanese bikini Trombone gal band.
This revolutional icon in Japanese indies, will inevitably fascinate you!

Indeed. This is the exact kind of inspired, uncynical silliness and lack of regard for convention that keeps me living in Japan. Here are some videos of their shows.


Here’s a link to the Futomomo Satisfaction website.


The Least Festive Things to Do in Japan this Christmas

December 17, 2008

“Holidays are Coming, holidays are coming,” as the incredibly irritating TV advert for Coca-Cola reminds us every year, but in Japan these are not holidays as we know them. Christmas has been so badly mangled by Japan’s cultural filters, that it has been rendered unreconizable. Strawberry cake anybody?
This cultural confusion has happily led to ridiculous products such as this:

I suspect devout Christians would say that the inexplicable Japanese seasonal customs of pigging out on KFC and banging each others brains out in love hotels, were not in the true spirit of Christmas.

I, on the other hand, am fully in favour of both activities and do them most weekends. Indeed, I think I might grab a bucket of the Colonel’s finger-licken’ finest right now, and use it to coax a hungry lady into the outrageous “Hotel Chapel Christmas” (pictured below. Yep, it looks like that all year round.)

Japan is not traditionally a Christian country, so I don’t expect the Japanese to adopt our Western festivals. Although, this hasn’t stopped opportunistic retailers doing their best to take advantage of Christmas, by decorating their shops and blasting out cheesy songs for the whole of December. And yet, the decorations have already been taken down and boxed away by the time the shops open for business on the 25th.
On Christmas Day, it’s all over. The big build-up has been for nothing, the decorations were just for decoration’s sake.
This can be quite depressing if you let it get to you. Especially if, instead of a stocking bulging with gifts, you see things like this on Christmas morning:

I find the best policy is to ignore that it’s Christmas Day altogether, and have fun anyway.
In fact, it might be a fun challenge to find the least Christmassy things you could possibly do.
Here are my suggestions for the most unseasonal things you can do in Tokyo over the festive period:

1: See “The C*nts” and “F*ck on the Beach” live at 20000 Volts live house.

Take in some live music, courtesy of “The C*NTS,” “Slight Slappers,” and “Painjerk”. On December 27th, at 20,000 Volts live house in Kouenji, you can see these bands and others presenting a night of music called “WET PUSSY GETS WILD vol.1”.
I’m pretty sure they won’t be singing any Christmas carols.
It starts at 18:30 and costs 1,500 yen.
Also, if you like that, on the 28th at the same venue, you can watch performances by “F*ck on the Beach”, “Scumbanditz”, and “Hacked Rabbit House”. Ho ho ho!

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2. Check out Yoko Ono’s New Art Exhibition.
Here’s a very unconventional way to spend Christmas Day- at Yoko Ono’s new “interactive painting show” at Gallery 360 in Omotesando. The wailing weirdo’s pretentious paintings are the polar opposite of the traditional imagery associated with Christmas, courtesy of Norman Rockwell. She probably made John Lennon so jaded that he wrote “Merry Christmas: War is Over,” so her exhibition is bound to be highly un-Christsmassy.

3. See the “Miracles of the Human Body” show.
Fancy spending Christmas day, like Hannibal Lecter, staring at bits of dead bodies?
Well, you can, sir! Just hop on a train to Kawasaki and see the stomach-churning exhibition “Miracles of The Human Body,” featuring real dead bodies, pickled and stuff by that creepy German fella. It’s even open on Christmas day.

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Kawasaki is surely a contender for weirdest place on Earth, with their deranged Fertility and Halloween Festivals and high rate of bizarre, frightening murders, so there’s no more inappropriate place to spend the 25th.

4: Watch “Lou Reed’s Berlin”
Depressed that you’re in a strange foreign land on Christmas day? You can always head to the local cinema and watch a movie, and let the story sweep you away to a happy place for two hours. “Lou Reed’s Berlin,” now showing in Tokyo, is sure to cheer you up: a concert film of Lou Reed’s 1973 notoriously miserable and nihilistic concept album, Berlin, about a prostitute committing suicide. As you sit alone, shivering in empty theatre, the relentless dirge will be the perfect antidote to Christmas blues. Or not, perhaps.


Japanese Drinking Games. No#4: The Pocky Game

December 15, 2008

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The Pocky game is mostly played by drunk Japanese university students, and involves the chocolate-covered biscuit sticks called Pocky. (I’m addicted to Pocky and its ever-growing myriad of different flavours, including strawberry, almond, and green tea. If you’re not in Japan, don’t worry. You can get hold of Pocky in Western countries, too, in Asian supermarkets and import shops.)

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If you don’t have a sweet tooth, Pocky’s savoury alternative, Pretz (pretzel sticks available in flavours such as pizza, corn, tomato, and salad) can also be used.

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The Pocky game is a very simple game for two players (and several laughing spectators). Here’s how you play: Take one Pocky stick. Each of the two players puts one end in his or her mouth and begins munching. The pair get closer and closer with each bite, creating an awkward intimacy, like the famous spaghetti sucking scene in “Lady and the Tramp”.

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The first person who chickens out, and lets go of the Pocky, loses the game and has to down their drink. If the two players end up kissing, they are safe from punishment (but not from Herpes!)
The Pocky game is an exciting proposal at mixed parties, if you get to lock lips with someone you’ve got a crush on, but I strongly advise against playing it with your buddies on poker night.


Boy George’s Bizarre Chu-Hai Commericals

December 14, 2008

Ever wondered what Boy George got up to in those wilderness years between between releasing “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” and being arrested for handcuffing and whipping a Norweigan male prostitute?

He was in Japan (where the androgynous man is king) and appearing in these odd-ball commericals for Takara Chu-Hai (which is apparently laced with LSD, if the commercials are anything to go by!)
I somehow doubt that Takara will be asking him back for their next advertising campaign. Not because of the rent-boy scandal, but because he got fat.



John Travolta’s Groovy Chu-Hai Commercials

December 14, 2008

Ever wondered what John Travolta got up to in those wilderness years between between making “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction”?
He was strutting his funky stuff in these commericals for Takara Chu-Hai! (Chu-Hai is a fizzy alcoholic cocktail in a can.)

Travolta might be embarrassed by these ads today, but compared to the films he was making at the time, like “Saturday Night Fever 2: Staying Alive” and “Look Who’s Talking Too,” they were an artistic high point!



Fish Beer? Oh God, No!

December 8, 2008

I’ve heard of drinking like a fish, but this is ridiculous.

A microbrewery in Konan City in Kochi, Japan has recently celebrated their first 10 years in business by concocting “Tosa Kuroshio Karyudo Beer,” a lager which contains dashi, the fish stock that they use to make miso soup.
Pass the sick bucket, please!

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I once accidentally put a sachet of dashi in my coffee, mistaking it for sugar. It tasted truly grotesque, so I’m sceptical of this fish beer. But if you want some and you’re in Japan, call the brewer, Tosa Kuroshio Bakshu, on 0887554111. For about 3000 yen they are selling six-packs of their various beers, including two fish beers.
Oh well, it sounds truly repulsive, but I might try a bottle, just for the halibut.

Found at Japan Marketing News


Japanese Office Party No-Nos

December 4, 2008

Around this time of year, Japanese companies start holding their end of year office parties, known as “bonenkai”. At these events there are certain protocols and niceties to be observed, but the presence of all-you-can-drink beer and cocktails tends to make people forget this.

What Japan Thinks has kindly translated a list of things not to do at a bonenkai, taken from an online Japanese survey of 1056 people.

I would have liked to have read this last year, before attending to my company’s bonenkai!

Here are the top twenty no-nos:

Rank
1 Droning on and on with the welcome speech
2 Fiddling with your mobile all night
3 Skiving off attending
4 Give everyone a piece of your mind
5 Pulling a colleague
6 Arriving late, returning early
7 Being a Soup Nazi with the stew
8 Not having enough money to pay your share
9 Talking shop all night
10 Picking a fight with your boss
11 Crying
12 Treating it as a dating party
13 Passing out drunk
14 Complaining about the food
15 Taking the unfinished booze home
16 Joining a different party
17 Scoffing all the food
18 Ordering extras
19 Paying by credit card to get points
20 Squirting lemon, etc over all the food

Yep, I think I’m guilty of most of them. (Except, naturally, the one about talking shop.)

Although they’re not on the list, it’s safe to assume that photocopying your tits and puking on the boss’s toupee are also bad form!