Strong Off

March 25, 2010

I’ve just tried Asahi’s brand new “beer”, the oddly-named “Strong Off”, which sounds like a sexual act performed by an arm-wrestling champion. Strong Off doesn’t taste all that wonderful (like bitter, fizzy water) but is cheaply priced and has 7% alcohol content, so it’s sure to become the convenience-store beer of choice for homeless people, students, pachinko-addicts, and starving English teachers. It’s also supposedly got 60% less carbs than normal beer, so needy Atkins-diet obsessives can join in the fun too.


March 25, 2010

Thanks to everyone who came to the “Wild Mood Swings” shindig I put together, (not least all my ace mates who did a top-notch job of DJing!) And the usual apologies to anyone I trampled while dancing, puked on, or offended in an attempt to be affable!
The enigmatic, blue-haired Leanne of “The Fashionate Traveller came along and gave us a nice write-up. Cheers, Leanne! Come along again, sweetie!

Another party worth coming to is Farm party Vol.2, at Asagaya Gamuso on 4/17 from 7pm, organized by Craig of Tokyo Gig Guide and my good pals Abikyokan, and featuring lots of diverse and wicked live music courtesy of Abikyokan, Belgium Internet (UK), Akane Hosaka, LIVING ASTRO, and Eri Makino, with Craig Eee and yours truly spinning a few tunes.

Get all the details at Tokyo Gig Guide!.

St Patrick’s Day in Matsue

March 24, 2010

What is supposedly Japan’s second largest annual St Patrick’s Day celebration (after the one in Omotesando, Tokyo) took place last week in Matsue.
Matsue, in Shimane prefecture, is rather remote, and quite an unusual location for an Irish festival. Many of the festivities are centered around an Irish pub that has the distinction of only being open one day every year!
It sounds like a potentially weird and entertaining event, and Andrew Hill was there to see it first hand:

I’ve constantly heard it billed as the second largest St. Paddy’s festival in Japan, next to Tokyo. In reality I think it’s probably the biggest outside of the greater Tokyo Metropolitan area. Fun times though, I was on TV screaming about the holiday. Matsue is obsessed with the Irish because (only in Japan) famed writer Lafcadio Hearn lived in the city for several months back in the late 19th century.

The Irish pub they open twice a year is neat, but nothing great. There’s a museum in Matsue inside what was once a large bank. Downstairs in the vaults, they hold special exhibits, and during the St. Paddy’s weekend, they convert the largest vault into a bar, and bring in kegs of guiness and round up an Irish music band, consisting of a few local expats and several Japanese. They sounded pretty good.

All in all, fun, but nothing special really. Next year the lead foreign musicians are leaving Japan, so the fate of the band is up in the air. Probably better staying in Tokyo to celebrate the holiday.

It looks like a cute little local festival families- not ideal for a mammoth all-night drinking bender, but good fun nonetheless! here are some of Andrew’s snaps:

Jackson Five Bar

March 15, 2010

The other day I stumbled upon a Jackson Five-themed bar in Nakano, Tokyo. Groovy!

Perhaps the bar was named to commemorate the famous quintet’s epic 1979 concert in nearby Nakano Sun Plaza.
Unfortunately, the proprietors don’t stick too rigidly to the concept, as you can see from the sign: “we play trance, reggae, and hip-hop”. I don’t remember hearing any trance anthems by the Jackson Five!
However, the drinks are all four hundred yen during happy hour (from 6-9pm) which is fantastically cheap, and they’ve got a dartboard, so who’s complaining.

Jackson Five Bar:

東京都中野区中野5-67-12 SKビル B1F
More info (in Japanese) with a map: Jackson Five Bar

By coincidence, this week I also discovered Japan’s very own domestic answer to the Jackson Five, called “Finger 5”, who were great. Fronted by a pint-sized, bespectacled boy (who looks like a girl), and accompanied by his younger sister (who looks like a boy), and backed up by their three gangling teenage brothers, Okinawa’s Finger 5 made catchy bubblegum pop in the early seventies and had several smash hit singles (and even made four movies!) until an unsuccessful bid to crack America, combined with the inevitable onset of puberty and broken voices, put an end to their short-lived stardom.
Disappointingly, they all went on to lead normal lives, and didn’t become eccentric recluses, with pet monkeys and merry-go-rounds in their back gardens.
Check ’em out in action:

The Bourbon House

March 15, 2010

Here’s a recommendation from Andrew Hill. It’s a bar called “The Bourbon House” in Nishi-Kawaguchi. Sounds ace!
Cheers, Andrew.

This bar isn’t particularly crazy, but it is particularly awesome, especially if you like whiskey. On the outskirts of Tokyo, there’s a small suburb called Nishi-Kawaguchi. Not far from the station, there’s a bar called the Bourbon House. I visited during my first ever trip to Tokyo back in 07. The owner was friendly and the inside had the feel of an American western saloon, complete with six-shooters and confederate flag. The best part though was the selection, kentucky bourbons so rare you can’t even find them in Kentucky anymore. Scratch that, the best part was, after telling the regulars and friendly bartender, Kaz, that bourbon was my favorite drink, I drank for free, for two nights, of delicious 101 proof or higher bourbon that I can’t even find when I go home to the American south and walk the Bourbon trail. It’s not far from Tokyo, and if you need to stay the night, you can probably stay in the bar till the trains open, or stay at JGH, the cheapest hostel in Japan.

Tel: 048-251-8445
URL: Bourbon House