Storming the keep of Himeji Castle

| Feb 8, 2009

Storming the keep of Himeji Castle

“What are your three favorite things about Himeji Castle,” I ask my guide, Ayumi Miyazaki, an elegant middle-aged lady, as we slurp down tempura soba in the dungeons of Himeji Station in Hyogo Prefecture, prior to walking the 15 minutes up the main drag ...

| Jan 16, 2009

School's out

Matilda isn’t waltzing. She’s sprinting toward me outside Shinsaibashi Station in Osaka with the speed of a Jamaican Olympian chewing cheetah gonads. A meter from me she screams “Simon!” and takes a flying leap, so I instinctively reach out and I’m holding this tiny ...

School's out

| Jan 16, 2009

School's out

Matilda isn’t waltzing. She’s sprinting toward me outside Shinsaibashi Station in Osaka with the speed of a Jamaican Olympian chewing cheetah gonads. A meter from me she screams “Simon!” and takes a flying leap, so I instinctively reach out and I’m holding this tiny ...

It's Astro Boy to the rescue

| Jan 4, 2009

It's Astro Boy to the rescue

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No such luck. It’s just another humongous dark-gray cloud and it’s spitting at me. “Hey!” I scream, waving my fist in the air at the darkening sky. “Leave me alone, you big gray bully!” I came ...

Meet a band 35,000 years in the making

| Oct 17, 2008

Meet a band 35,000 years in the making

When The Cro-Magnons played at this year’s Fuji Rock Festival, you could have sworn the Big Quake had hit, with its epicenter at the main Green Stage. The ground shook, minor tsunami were recorded in the streams running through the site and squirrels fell ...

The naked and the (almost) dead

| Aug 29, 2008

The naked and the (almost) dead

The feast of fish being delivered to our table is fit for the Emperor, as is the price of the room I’m eating it in at Inubosaki Kanko hotel in Choshi, a small seaside town in northeastern Chiba Prefecture. But I’m not complaining about ...

Sympathy for the Maries

| Jul 11, 2008

Sympathy for the Maries

All the boys are in their birthday suits and beautiful long-haired Ryohei Shima is mincing up toward me. Just think of a naked Mick Jagger — a 26-year-old one, that is — entering stage right on the set of a gay porn flick and ...

Jun 20, 2008

Babyshambles "Oh! What a Lovely Tour"

If Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty farted out Britain’s national anthem accompanied by a barking dog, I would fork out cash for it. Pete is not just a rock star — he’s a religion. The attraction is not just his sublime ear for a killer ...

Kiyoshiro Imawano at Fuji Rock Festival

| Jun 19, 2008

Kiyoshiro Imawano at Fuji Rock Festival

Legendary rip-roaring rocker Kiyoshiro Imawano — who bears the soul of Otis Redding and the flamboyance of Marc Bolan — hasn’t had the best of times over the last few years. The keen cyclist first had his bicycle stolen, which seemed a threat to ...