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 ...

American bar, ski lodge owner puts the emphasis on fun

Nov 21, 2009

American bar, ski lodge owner puts the emphasis on fun

“The first question people ask when you say you’re in the bar business in Japan is whether you have to pay money to the yakuza,” says Matt Naiman, owner of several bars around Japan and a ski resort. “The answer is no, we don’t. ...

Nov 13, 2009

Coldrain "Final Destination"

Formed in 2007 in Nagoya, emo- rockers Coldrain have a commodity that is rare among Japanese bands: English-language lyrics that don’t suck. That’s mainly down to vocalist Masato being part American. Yet while their lyrics are written in English, the band’s presence online is ...

Vola & The Oriental's record-making Machine

Nov 6, 2009

Vola & The Oriental's record-making Machine

“Once you’re on a major label, you have to crank albums out fast!” says Ahito Inazawa, the frontman for Vola & The Oriental Machine. “Our new one came out in July, and already the label are thinking about when we should start writing the ...

Oct 30, 2009

Masadayomasa "Kimagure Kapuri"

OK, so they’re not the first band to do away with bass guitar and present a big fat sound as a duo. But by god, they’re one of the best. Formed by Ruu and Miwako in Fukuoka in 2004, Masadayomasa play live shows so ...