For Philip Brasor's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Sep 15, 1999
On Aug. 30, former idol singer and tell-all autobiographer Hiromi Go staged an unannounced live show from the back of a tractor trailer parked near the Hachiko intersection in Shibuya. The five-minute performance, which featured four other dancers, stopped traffic and clogged up the area as pedestrians rushed to catch a glimpse of Go's hairless, flabless torso.
Aug 31, 1999
The opening act at Akasaka Blitz on Aug. 24 was an earnest Danish group called Thau, who offered a thumping and searing sound reminiscent of the Meat Puppets. The audience awarded their 20-minute set with a warm and noisy ovation, prompting effusive gratitude from the band's drummer, who mentioned what an honor it was "to play in front of the mighty Pavement."
Aug 5, 1999
Jul 2, 1999
Is Janet Weiss the best rock drummer in the world? That question crossed my mind last January when I saw her and her ex-husband Sam Coomes, collectively known as Quasi, open for Elliott Smith. Though Coomes is the focus of the duo since he writes and sings almost all the songs, Weiss's contribution was more than rhythmic.
Jul 1, 1999
On Aug. 16, the Health and Welfare Ministry announced that it had finally approved the low-dosage birth control pill, which will likely become available through prescription in the fall. Oral contraceptives for women have been available in the West for close to 40 years, but in Japan they've always been viewed with a distrustful eye by the authorities.
Jun 5, 1999
May 20, 1999
One of the bedrock beliefs that Japanese society has about itself is that everyone belongs to the middle class. This isn't to say pronounced social classes don't exist. A middle-aged woman once expressed to me her fear that her adult daughter would never get married and move out. Since the daughter worked as a nurse in a large hospital, I said that maybe she'd meet a nice young doctor. The woman looked at me as if I were crazy. In Japan, doctors never marry nurses.
Apr 29, 1999
Apr 15, 1999
Some say that '70s feminism began its fall from grace in 1986 when a study claimed that a woman's chances of marrying sometime in her life drops to 5 percent after she passes her 35th birthday. The notion that so many nominally liberated women found this conclusion distressing gave rise to the cynical belief that reconfiguring a woman's place in society is fine as long as she isn't required to give up that ring.
Apr 9, 1999
Apr 1, 1999
There's a debate going on in government and in the media about revising the Japanese system of education. The forces for change want to do away with rote, test-based instruction, which they blame for all the youth-related problems we read about now, and replace it with something more individual-oriented and flexible. The debate is important, but so far no one has mentioned one of the major reasons why the current system won't be easy to get rid of.
Mar 16, 1999
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