Tag Archives: Japan

Japan and France to Strengthen Military Ties Amid China Spat

France and Japan vowed Thursday to strengthen their military ties, as Tokyo seeks French support in its long-running spat with Beijing over disputed islands that has raised fresh tensions.

Both China and Japan claim a set of islands in the East China Sea — Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese — as their own territory, and the escalating row has raised concerns that the two countries could eventually come to blows.

“We want to put in place concrete actions… to reinforce defence technology and industry in both (our) countries,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said at a joint press conference with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, after they held their first so-called “2+2” meeting along with their countries’ defence ministers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_94UuFAl5wY

Read the rest of the story: France, Japan vow to strengthen defence ties amid China spat.

BIGPAPA aka BIGMAMA’s Tour Finale

BIGMAMA, a five piece rock-pop band based in Tokyo Japan, just recently finished their tour throughout Japan to celebrate the release of their latest album 君想う、故に我在り. They are made up of a unique composition for Japan, with a violinist being a major component of the band. They are considered to be an emo-rock band here in Japan, though in my personal opinion they play very pop-like tunes, with beautiful melodies and a voice that accompanies it wonderfully. BIGMAMA consists of; Kanai Masato (vo/gt), Kakinuma Hiroya (gt/vo), Yasui Hideto (ba), Higashide Mao (vi/cho), and Ibe Riado (dr).

Although their tour finale was dated to be June 15th, there was a separate secret tour finale on the 16th to celebrate father’s day. On this particular day, the band appeared not as BIGMAMA but as BIGPAPA, for…well, father’s day. On this special day in which we honor our father’s, I was invited to go see this band play for the first time.

 

To be honest, I have had no previous experience with this band. Aside from a couple of drinks and a long intoxicated conversation with one of the members on a cold December night and a copy of their latest album, my knowledge of this band was far from lavish. Yet, I found myself sitting on the 3rd floor balcony overlooking the arena and stage surrounded by friends and business partners of the band.

My first show. I was quite excited about this show, to be honest. After getting lost on my way to the Tokyo Dome Hall, when I finally arrived at my destination, I was welcomed by the sight of a myriad of youths sporting black tshirts with the bands name printed across the chest. I had listened to their songs before hand, and I quite like the album, but I was not expecting to see so many people wearing the typical attire one would don in Japan for punk band shows (ie Dickies shorts with the band tshirt and sneakers…clothes that show support for the band while still being comfortable enough to participate in moshpits and crowd surfing).

As I sat on the third floor balcony in my comfortable plush seat, I had a clear view down in the arena where people moved about, resembling the image of a beehive split open for viewing with the worker bees clustered in the small space provided. To be honest, it is quite disgusting looking. Humans are odd creatures.

As the arena lights began to dim, the crowd cheered and I sat up straight in my seat with anticipation rolling through my nerves. Each member walked onto stage, bowing towards the crowd before picking up their instruments in their designated spots. The lights went black and in the next instant, there was a blast of music and bright colorful lights painting the insides of the Tokyo Dome Hall.

The band introduced themselves at BIGPAPA, a different band from BIGMAMA, who came together today to play this show. The audience laughed and went along with their little charade of being BIGPAPA. I did not recognize most of their songs, though they played an exceptional show with an amazing light performance. What intrigued me more though, was seeing the crowd’s reactions to these songs. How people would sit on top of shoulders, singing on the top of their lungs until the climax of the song when they would thrust their bodies back as a sea of hands would reach up to support them, carrying them towards the stage before they rolled down into a black hole. While this seems to be a common act at punk show concerts, it was an alien spectacle for me to see so many crowd surfers during these catchy pop tunes. I quite enjoyed this gap of music and action.

In the middle of the show, the vocalist asked the crowd if it was anyone’s birthday. Hands shot up in the crowd and a path opened up like the red sea to lead the individuals up front.

“Staff, please detain these individuals!” Kanai said. Once everyone had been taken backstage, poppers were passed around. Soon, the birthday boys and girls were led up on stage where they lined up next to the band as the band began playing their birthday song. Higashide, closest to the group, made sure to smile and interact with them as she played the violin, sending girls into fits of tears and spreading grins across everyone’s face. At the peak of the song, an explosion went off as gold confetti streamers rained down into the arena. I quite liked this “tradition” that the band had, allowing their listeners to feel special on the day they were born. It was very different from many of the other bands I have seen.

The show ended before satisfaction broke surface, and the crowd attempted to start a slow clap in the dark. The slow clap would speed up quickly before dispersing into a million jumbled claps. Sitting above the crowd, it sounded like I was at the ocean, the waves crashing down onto shore. Soon the stage lit up as Kanai walked out onto stage. He spoke about his thanks for the fans and asked if he could play in the crowd. A cheer mixed with hysteric screams erupted and with that, he disappeared off the stage, reappearing in the midst of the crowd. He serenaded an acoustic ballad to all the fathers; thanking them for the support and unconditional love they provide their children. After the song, he returned to the stage through an arch the crowd created for him with their arms. A couple more songs were played before they waved their goodbyes, once again, disappearing off the stage.

Photo Jun 16, 8 18 59 PM[the view from the 3rd floor]

The crowd was still not satisfied as the ocean clapping began once again. Soon enough, they were rewarded for their long bouts of clapping as the band returned onto stage to make a couple of announcements. The re-release of their first three albums and a new single.

“And with the release of our new single,” Kanai teased the crowd. “We will also be playing at Akasaka BLITZ for three days in November to commemorate this release!” there was an outburst of cheers from the crowd. A few more words were exchanged before the band sprinted through the last 100 meters of their tour.

 

It was my first BIGMAMA show, and what can I say? I was not disappointed. They played songs I knew, some I recognized, and many songs I didn’t know, yet I was still able to enjoy the whole performance. The atmosphere within this large space, it was just so electrifying.

After the show, I had the chance to go to the after party in which I was able to talk to the rest of the members who were very welcoming and humble. Happy announcements were made and many smiles and laughers were exchanged.

Photo Jun 17, 3 01 33 AM[My guest pass with Takinuma’s pick and Kanai’s essay book. Thank you for the gifts!]

Thank you, BIGMAMA, for providing me the opportunity to attend your show. It was spectacular and I would definitely recommend people listen to their music, and if you like it, go to their show. You will not be disappointed.

 

BIGMAMA:

HP http://bigmama-web.com/index.html

Twitter https://twitter.com/BIGMAMAofficial

 

 

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Find me here, you beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/yoshimaru12
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/yoshimaru12
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/junko.yoshimaru.12

 

Hotaru-bi no Chakai: A Tea Gathering in the Fire of Fireflies

For anyone set to visit Kyoto this weekend, there’s one event Japanese haven’t failed to celebrate at the Shimogamo Shrine. Wondering what this is? Here’s all you need to know about the Hotaru-bi no Chakai.

Shimogamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan which is located north of Kamo and Takase Rivers of north-central Kyoto. The shrine dates back to the prehistoric periods and the first reference of the Shimogamo was of a fence repair dating back to 2BC.

The shrine has served as a central religious aspect for Kyotoites. It has said that the shrine played a significant role in the Heian period when prayers for the capital where held in that area. In countless tales, of which includes “Tale of Genji”, Shimogamo Shrine has been featured.

Today, this Kyoto shrine has been registered under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Shimogamo contains 52 building all of which are recognized as iconic Cultural Properties. A number of events take place at the Shimogamo Shrine of which include the Hotaru-bi no Chakai

About Hotaru-bi no Chakai:

Hotaru-bi no Chakai is the event held at the beginning of June which is a special tea gathering done amidst the glow of live fireflies. “Hotaru” translates to firefly while “bi” refers to fire. “Chakai” on the other hand means tea gathering. This event shows the true essence of Japanese tradition where one of its aims is the preservation of Tadasu no Mori, “The Forest of Justice,” which surrounds the Shimogamo Shrine.

Hotarubi no Chakai

For the event, around 600 fireflies are released over the stream called Mitarashigawa which serve as invites to the grandiose tea gathering. Usually, a reservation is required for one to attend the ceremony but there are other programs of the Hotaru-bi no Chakai open to the general public.

If you are ever in the area, make sure to check the Shimogamo Shrine. Other than the Hotaru-bi no Chakai, the ancient “Juni-hitoe” where 12 layers of the kimono will be shown and various dance performances are set for the night. Twenty long established stands also sell around the area at 1pm where the popular Kyoto souvenir, yatsuhashi and the common rice dumpling, mitarashi dango is being sold.

Japan’s Most Famous Rollercoasters

Spring is officially over in Japan with the first Monday of June settling into a start. This would mean the complicated weather of sunny and rainy days are about to commence. Before this confusing rollercoaster ride of sun and rain begins, here are a few actual rollercoasters in Japan worth taking a ride.

While its summer elsewhere, the rainy season is about to begin in the bigger parts of Asia of which include the country of Japan. June is relatively the start of heavy downpours which would be a big sign for travellers to opt other months for travel.

Yet, with June still settling in plus the sweet scent of Spring still fresh in the air, it’s a big risk to get out in the open. In an effort to enjoy the last days of Spring, heading out to the open is the best activity so far. When it comes to the open, nothing beats spending time at an amusement or theme park. Of course, in Japan the best parts of their theme parks are their crazy and not to mention awesome rollercoasters.

Here are rollercoaster rides that you should try out in Japan.

The Eejanaika

First up is the Eejanaika located at Fuji-Q Highland in Yamanashi, Japan. This rollercoaster was featured in Complex magazine’s best rollercoasters back in 2011. The Eejenaika has a height of 249 feet with a top speed of 78.3 mph. The ride starts off by pulling the cart backwards before the sudden 90 degrees drop vertically. Then, the ride throws around like a pendulum with a reverse, a flip, a corkscrew and a cracked out see-saw. This ride is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

The Dodonpa

Next up is Dodonpa also located at Fuji-Q Highland. The Dodonpa has a height of 52 meters with a top speed of 172 km/h. Like Eejanaika, the ride pulls you backwards before a vertical drop of 90 degrees. It’s not as exciting as the Eejanaika though.

The Fujiyama

Third is Fujiyama has been named “The King of Rollercoasters” with 4 Guinness World Records dating back to 1997. Fujiyama has a max speed of 130 km/h with a height of 79 meters.

The Takabisha

Last but not the least is Takabisha which has been named the “steepest drop in the world at 121 degrees.” This spine-tingling drop has been produced using the linear launch system with a vertical ascent and linear acceleration. It has a total speed of 100km/h.

Take advantage of the Spring weather before the rain showers start to pour and get a thrill of excitement from Japan’s most awesome rollercoasters.

Akihabara: The One Stop Japan Spot for Otakus

Japan is notable for its many splendour tourist spots such as Shibuya, Okina and Kyoto. However, if there is one spot Otaku’s from all over the world wish to visit and this would be none other than Akihabara. Akihabara has been considered Japan’s one-stop-shop for all anime lovers and enthusiasts.

Where in Japan:

Located in Sotokanda, Tokyo Prefectur, Akihabara (秋葉原) is two stations north of Tokyo Station. Locals call the area Akiba after the local shrine. This area has gained quite the recognition from all over the world due to its diehard otaku culture. Major developments have already occurred thanks to the Akihabara Crossfield complex that promotes Akihabara as the centre for global electronics technology and trade.

How to Get There:

It’s easy to head to Akihabra thanks to Japans’ complex train systems plus their trains give meaning to “faster than a speeding bullet.” There are two options of which are as follows:

  1. From Tokyo Station: Akihabara is located two stations north of Tokyo Station by Keihin-Tohoku or JR Yamanote Line. The trip costs 130 yen and will only take three minutes. However, during the weekdays, Keihin-Tohoku line skips one station between Akihabara and Tokyo which will cut off a few seconds off travel time.
  2. From Shinjuku Station: Travellers should take the JR Chuo Line (colour orange) from Shinjuku to Ochanomizu Station of which takes approximately ten minutes. After, take a quick transfer to JR Sobu line (colour yellow) for one more station headed to Akihabara. This trip takes two minutes max. Alternate options also include taking the yellow train without transfer from Shinjuku to Akihabara for seventeen minutes trip. The fare costs 160 yen for either case.

What to See:

As mentioned, Akihabara is the centre for Otaku enthusiasts and lovers. From maid cafes to Tokyo anime centres selling merchandise and games, everything can be found here. It’s best to load up the wallet because the merchandise scattered around can easily lure Otakus in.

  1. Maid Cafes: Cosplay themed restaurants abound where food is served basically by waitresses in frilly and colourful attires. These “maids” also engage in fun activities with the guests.
  2. drinks

  3. Tokyo Anime Center: This is found on the UDX building of Akihabara Crossfield where anime related exhibitions are held.
  4. akihabara-2

  5. Gundam Café is extremely popular where food is served in gundam themes. A gift shop is also connected where visitors may purchase souvenirs and goods.

gundam-cafe

Why Visit Akihabara:

While Akihabara is heaven on earth for Otakus, some visit the area for real steals when it comes to the latest gadgets and electronics. Various centres offer whopping deals that are definitely a real steal as compared to any other place in Japan or overseas.

When to Visit:

Akihabara is open all year round! Take a trip to one of Japan’s busiest and most Otaku-friendly place on earth.

Important Reminders:

Japanese don’t like tourists taking photos inside stores. Unless you’re a famous celebrity or you’ve got special permission, keep the trigger happy camera’s to yourself or outside the store.

And if the world still goes round… (それでも世界が続くなら)

The epitome of emo bands in Japan, それでも世界が続くなら (Soredemo Sekai ga Tuddukunara, aka SoreSeka: roughly translates to “if the world still continues on”) stood on a dark colorless stage singing out every teenagers darkest fears. The majority of their songs never go past a steady medium and the vocalists raspy voice sounds strained, as if holding back tears. Yet, every word rings through the air and echoes into the audience.

“We aren’t adults and we aren’t children” vocalist Shinoduka Masayuki shouts into the darkness where the crowd stood captivated by the bands sound. There isn’t laughter nor cheers of joy during the performance but an understanding silence about the harsh world of adolescences. It would be a difficult ordeal not to be drawn into this dark world the four artist paint so well with their instruments.

Lined up at the front of the stage stand young teenage girls who cry as they sway to the music these boys have created for them. Towards the back, an older generation stood solidly, as if nodding in agreement to the broken hearted love songs and hardships of being stuck in the middle of growing up.

This is my second time to hear this band play, but this is the first time to actually listen to their songs. And while a larger portion of their songs contain lyrics about death, there is still a sense of hope layered between the words.

During the emcee, Shinoduka asks the crowd what “death” is before continuing onto a story that he had heard earlier that day. His difficult to decipher mumbles fit the atmosphere the band had created perfectly. A dark muddled, very emotional, feel. Shinoduka apologizes and thanks the crowd before carrying onto their last song which, unlike their other songs, is upbeat.

Mesmerized, no one took their eyes off of the stage during their show. Who could possibly tear away from the band when the lyrics are begging for suicide? Or when they are about someone close to you wanting to die while you keep stopping them out of love, but having conflicting feelings about your decision to stop them. If this does not scream out emo, then what could possibly be emo?

There are many bands in Japan who consider themselves “emo” but in my book, they are too happy and upbeat to be “emo.” When they sing of happy endings and love stories, it is not…emo.

…or is it?

SoreSeka, however, is just…

Emo.

From their black shaggy hair and their black clothes to their songs, this band is the picture perfect example of a Japanese emo band. Their lyrics are very powerful and full of depressing and dark features, it only enhances their style.

0702_01

Make sure you are prepared to be touched by depression when listening to this band. For depressions cold hands will caress your cheek continuously and give you chills with their songs.

But of course, all in a good way.

If that is possible.

For a band to be able to cause silent tears to flow in a crowded venue, that is definitely something. Not very many bands in this country are able to do this.

Soredemo Sekai ga Tudukunara, I raise my white flag, you have wooed me into a dark world during your performance.

For true emo music, definitely keep an eye out for this band.

Until next time,
Yoshimaru

Find me here, you beautifuls…
Blog: http://yoshimaru12.wordpress.com/
YouTube: www.youtube.com/yoshimaru12
Twitter: www.twitter.com/yoshimaru12
Facebook: www.facebook.com/junko.yoshimaru.12

それでも世界が続くなら
HP: http://www.soredemosekaigatsudukunara.com/home5.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/soredemosekai
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/それでも世界が続くなら/329263983826043

Thailand and Myanmar want Japan in Dawei Port Project

Thailand and Myanmar yesterday proposed involving a third party – possibly Japan – in joint development of the Dawei Special Economic Zone, construction of which Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said was due to start in the first quarter of next year.

Yingluck led a Thai delegation to meet President Thein Sein and jointly inspected the site in Taninthayi region. The Thai premier and the delegation arrived in Dawei early yesterday, while the Myanmar president travelled via Mawlamyine.

It was the fourth meeting between the two leaders on the project this year. The last meeting was held in Phnom Penh on the sidelines of the Asean summit last month, when they agreed to complete the multi-billion project by 2015, coinciding with the birth of the Asean community.

A joint coordination committee is working on all details of the project including technical issues and financial arrangements. The JCC will conclude the study by February and submit it to high-level joint committee co-chaired by Thai Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na Ranong and Myanmar’s Vice President Nyan Htun to draft a framework agreement by March next year.

Read the rest of the story: Countries want Japan in Dawei port project.

Aggressive Easing Wrong Medicine for Japan According to Stephen Roach

If Japans opposition the Liberal Democratic Party LDP headed by Shinzo Abe wins the December 16 polls, it is widely expected that an era of aggressive monetary easing will be unleashed in the country. But one expert says this will do little to prop up growth in the worlds third largest economy which is reeling under its fifth recession in 15 years.

“I dont think its going to work. QE quantitative easing is good at containing the downside, addressing crisis and disruptive markets, but it definitely doesnt give you traction in regenerating demand in the real economy,” Yale University senior fellow Stephen Roach told CNBC on Friday.

Read the rest of the story: Aggressive Easing Wrong Medicine for Japan: Roach.

Japan contributes $13 billion to projects for Jakarta

Japan and Indonesia have reached agreements that will see the former contributing $13 billion to jointly funded infrastructure projects in Jakarta worth roughly $43 billion. The development plans include the construction of roads, railways, airports, and power plants in the Indonesian capital and its surrounding areas by the year 2020. Out of 45 projects approved by the two countries’ government in Tokyo on Tuesday, 18 are seen as priority developments that will begin before the close of 2013.

As Japan looks to capitalize on the strong economic growth of the Southeast Asian nation, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry has said that 11 Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Chiyoda Corp., and Nippon Yusen K.K., would be participating in development plans. As one of the world’s most populated cities with a growing population of 10,187,595, Jakarta is well beyond struggling to maintain basic infrastructure.

Included in the priority development projects are the construction of Jakarta’s Mass Rapid Transit system, an international airport in Cilamaya, and the advancement of the city’s sewage system. The other areas in the greater Jakarta area to benefit include Bongor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi. The nations of Japan and Indonesia reached peaceful diplomatic relations in 1958 after the signing of a peace treaty, and since then have gone on to reach a growing trade volume of roughly $53 billion per year.

Japan’s New Law – Fines, Jail Time For Illegal Downloads

Beginning Oct 1st, illegally downloading a copy of your favorite new song could land you in jail in Japan.

The country has instituted a new law that punishes those downloaders with up to two years in prison or fines of up to $25,700.

Torrent Freak, a blog that reports on online downloading, points out that there is something important and different about this law: Most countries already consider uploading copyrighted content illegal. But this makes downloading content illegal and also punishes the action with what Torrent Freak calls “one of the most draconian [punishments] in the world.”

The BBC reports that the punishments for uploading are even more severe. The BBC says that “in Japan illegal uploads of copyright infringing music and videos carry a maximum 10 year prison sentence and a 10 million yen fine.”

Read the rest of the story: Japan Introduces Stiff Fines, Jail Time For Illegal Downloads.