| Apr 28, 2010

Learning how to arrange a date in Japanese

Whether it’s a romantic engagement or dinner with friends or colleagues, making an appointment (約束, yakusoku) is a vital part of everyday language in Japan as much as anywhere else. The grammar involved isn’t too taxing, though the vocabulary extends as far as your ...

9mm Parabellum Bullet: 'Revolutionary'

Apr 23, 2010

9mm Parabellum Bullet: "Revolutionary"

Mixing emo and hardcore punk styles with a distinctly Japanese rock sound, 9mm Parabellum Bullet have carved themselves quite a niche. The Yokohama four-piece are pretty much fixtures on the major festival circuit, thanks to both their mainstream appeal (their last album charted at ...

I Am Robot And Proud

Apr 9, 2010

I Am Robot And Proud

Shaw-Han Liem may be proud, but he is not in fact a robot. Or if he is, he’s a robot in disguise; more Bishop from Aliens than R2-D2. A native of Toronto, Ontario, Liem is a one-man outfit who since 2001 has crafted chilled ...

Lights, camera, Sakanaction!

Apr 2, 2010

Lights, camera, Sakanaction!

“I hope foreign listeners can persevere with Japanese music,” laughs bespectacled musician Ichiro Yamaguchi. “Sure, there’s a lot of crap music here, but there’s a lot of good stuff, too. Intelligent music is in the minority now, but I believe it will become mainstream ...

Tokyo Jihen 'Sports'

Feb 19, 2010

Tokyo Jihen "Sports"

Given that she writes the majority of the songs in both projects and works with many of the same musicians, it’s bizarre that Shiina Ringo’s finest moments come not in her solo work but with her band Tokyo Jihen. Last year’s long-anticipated solo release ...

| Feb 17, 2010

Keep your fūtō out of your mouth at the post office

A fun part of living thousands of miles from family and friends is sending packages home — that is, so long as you know the requisite jargon to communicate at the yūbin kyoku (郵便局, post office). Nihon Yusei Kousha (日本郵政公社, Japan Post) became mineika ...

Supercell's synthetic pop wins real fans

Feb 5, 2010

Supercell's synthetic pop wins real fans

“Most people become a musician intentionally and set out to find success,” says Ryo, the multi-instrumental talent behind art-pop outfit Supercell. “But me, I just uploaded a song to (video-sharing Web site) Nico Nico Douga without any big intentions. People on that site go ...

Uhnellys 'Be Bo Da'

Jan 8, 2010

Uhnellys "Be Bo Da"

Anyone who says the Japanese can’t do hip-hop is at best wrong, and at worst blinkered. Usually taking their cues from old-school rap, before the quest for “bling” railroaded the genre’s more commercial strata into a moneyed-up misogyny fest and drove the good stuff ...

| Nov 25, 2009

Moving house needn't leave you speechless

Along with divorce and bereavement, hikkoshi (引っ越し, moving house) is widely considered one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through, and adding an unfamiliar language to the mix can be enough to drive the best of us bonkers. It doesn’t help ...