25% of my posts begin with “One of my favorite things about Japan is…” and/or are about posters, and this one is no exception. This time around, it is these free movie flyers that the theaters give out here. They are printed on high quality paper and almost always feature cool alternate artwork, making for great mini posters or gifts to people back in America. The ones I got for Control might be the raddest to date, but these are nice too:

p1000119p1000120I especially liked this:p1000124If you want one, let me know soon! They tend to go pretty quickly. As always, I know the pics suck. Deal with it.


The Power of Imagination

February 8, 2009

I really love this comedy group ピース (Peace). As soon as I learn how to use this subtitling program, I think I’ll translate this! For now, here’s the Japanese only version.

Spidey Lives Large

February 3, 2009

Best Web-Slinging Access in Metropolitan Tokyo

Best Web-Slinging Access in Metropolitan Tokyo

That’s right all you true believers, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has sold out traded in his Manhattan apartment for richer digs here in Tokyo!

These ads have been in the subways here for a while now. They are advertising Shibaura Island Bloom Tower, a new luxury high rise in Minato-ku. It’s message is simple: “Spider-Man Leases at Bloom Tower”. I am not really sure how effective the campaign is, but it’s kind of cool to see Spidey posted everywhere.

The pic was taken from a moving train, hence the poor quality and blinding glare. Thanks for taking it for me, Yumi!

Japanese School Bummer

February 2, 2009

After Broadway, I went to a Japanese school in Iidabashi for a trial lesson. From the moment I walked in the place, I was a little disappointed. The office was located in a residential building and was tiny. Even though I had an appointment, they weren’t prepared when I came in. After about 10 minutes or so of waiting, a lady came in to explain how they run things and ask me what I wanted to study. There was something about her that I just didn’t care for, a kind of snobbish attitude or something, I don’t know. She performed a ‘level check’ on me and went off to get a teacher, who I spent the next 50 minutes talking with. We talked about movies, American Indians, philosophy and my life in Japan among other things. It was hardly a lesson, but I really enjoyed it. She was intelligent, fun and had opinions about stuff. At the end, she told me to save my money and just find more interesting people to talk to because she didn’t think they could offer me much at the school unless I took private lessons. I appreciated her honesty, but I doubt the manager did because naturally I didn’t sign up. She was so cool that I am lightly considering taking private lessons with her, but I doubt I will.

What she said about just finding people who are interesting to talk to really registered with me. In the year and a half that I have been here, I have hardly met anyone outside of work (my co-workers and students are all cool) and even less that I actually want to talk to. I really need to find a way to make new friends, especially those that can discuss stuff other than shopping and their relationships, however I have no idea how to go about meeting people without getting the usual English leeches or gaijin hunters. Any ideas? I hate to say it, but I am getting desperate.

PS I really want to start/join a study night. Anyone in the Saitama/Tokyo area that might be interested, let me know! I am studying for JLPT level 1 now.

I made my monthly visit to Nakano Broadway this afternoon. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Broadway is the coolest place in all of Tokyo. It’s a shopping center filled with nothing but ‘maniac’ shops. Among the many things found there are: 1940s-present monster toys, anime cells, extremely rare pornographic phone cards, hyper-grotesque artwork, 1000+ different types of yo-yos, 1980s American toys (including Madballs!) used manga, etc etc etc. Anyhow, today I found a new vintage movie store tucked away in a corner on the top floor that I hadn’t noticed before and got these posters! The Creepshow one was a little pricey but worth it, the Nightmare on Elm Street 2 poster I almost passed on because it was my least favorite of the films but I really liked the graphic at the top, and I can’t even believe I found a Nightbreed poster there! It was cheap too! I also got a cell phone strap made by the same dude that makes THESE. There were a few other things that I really, really wanted but didn’t need. Maybe next month.

Only 1000 Yen!!!!

Only 1000 Yen!!!!


Best Broadway find in months!!!!

Best affordable Broadway find in months!!!!

Translation Project

January 27, 2009

I have been doing a lot of-for lack of a better word- soul searching lately and I figure that among other things it is high time I get serious about studying Japanese again. It seems to be the key to realizing many of the other goals that I have set for myself. This may sound absurd, but since moving to Japan I have really let my skills go down the toilet. Why? I work with people who speak better English than I do Japanese, I only speak English to my students for their sake and in general I don’t really do much of anything that requires any improvement beyond conversational ability are all convincing excuses that I have told myself for over a year now. The real reason, however, is a deadly cocktail of complacency and laziness.

I have several plans to get myself back on track, one of them being this post. I am going to translate a book called “The Fiend with 20 Faces: The Bronze Demon” and post it, along with the original Japanese, here on my blog. Check the page listed next to home near the top. I figure I will do one chapter a week. I would love to get comments, questions or constructive criticism about the translation from anyone that is into Japanese. I tend to be really loose with my word selections as to convey the nuance rather than the literal meanings. I already expect someone to challenge my use of demon in the title. Hey, even if you don’t give a crap about Japanese, just enjoy the story, which is the main reason that I am taking the time to do this in addition to my hellish work, gym and study schedule.

Thanks to Dr. Senbei for this post!

Yes You Cat!

January 24, 2009

Obama fever has been sweeping the nation of Japan for awhile now, with silly novelty products, comedians doing impressions, lots of black-face  and this:


An 11 year old student of mine drew this on my whiteboard today. Here, cats say nya instead of meow, so read it as Obameow. Pretty clever for a little kid! Throughout the class, all of the students were dropping Obama references left and right. The teaching point was ‘I want to….’ , which got responses like “I want to live in Obama’s house” and so on, but the best one was “I want to walk on the moon [with]Obama!”

I am really happy to have people from other countries, especially here, viewing America in a positive way again.


January 23, 2009

I traded one of my New Year resolutions for this one: learn to sing 愛を取り戻せ (Ai wo Torimodose), the original theme for Fist of the North Star, for karaoke nights. It has so many high notes that I might already be dead, but it will be worth it when I bust it out at the next punk rock nomikai night! It might even become my new Youkai Ningen Bem….

Here is the Korean live action opening with the song. After taking back the love, stick around for the show, it is on a playlist. Horrendous! Terrific!

This will be me soon (only with bigger muscles, cooler glasses and a lot drunker)!

Tomodachi in Shibuya

January 12, 2009

I saw this huge new ad for the 2nd 20th Century Boys movie on my way home last night. Just before I saw this, I also caught a “performance” in front of the station by a guy wearing an open yukata revealing a  thong; he shook around and howled as if in a violent seizure for about 5 minutes before taking a bow and passing around a money box.

People of Shibuya, It is Time to Proceed

"People of Shibuya, It is Time to Proceed"

Note: Directly translated, “It is Time to Continue” or possibly “It is Time for the Sequel”. I think that time to proceed is much more menacing and Tomodachi-like. I can’t stand it when translators aren’t willing to take minor liberties with stuff, it turns out so stiff and boring. Dr. Senbei, what do you think about this?

During my Christmas vacation back to Michigan, I spent at least 10 hours in Borders trying to catch up on American comic books ( I can’t bring myself to read scans on the computer for several reasons). I was really shocked to see that the manga section had quadrupled in  size while the graphic novels were reduced to about a shelf and a half. I was even more shocked when I looked through every book and couldn’t find a single title worth a damn other than maybe Dragon Ball, but come on…..

So……. a combination of that experience and a recent post about anime on the Mishka Bloglin inspired me to make series of posts about MANGA THAT MATTERS! I just (only slightly) felt embarrassed after typing that.

20th Century Boys is hardly new to anyone living in Japan, with last year’s first installment of the movie adaptation (the subtitles are a bit awkward on that trailer) being one of the highest grossing films of the year. Despite that, even my nerdiest friends back home hadn’t heard of it. In short, it is a story about a group of elementary students who write the “Book of Prophecy” in their secret fort during summer vacation in 1969. Flash forward to the late 90s where the end of the world is approaching in accordance to their book. The world is stricken with a gory plague that basically makes people ooze blood and explode, giants robots, and a creepy religious cult led by a masked man only known as “Tomodachi (Friend)” somehow behind it all.


The main character, Kenji, is a washed up rocker who abandoned his dreams to run a convenience store. When his prophacies start coming true, his friends from that summer contact him in order to prevent “Bloody New Year” from taking place. The only problem is no one really remembers what they wrote clearly or has any idea who Tomodachi might be.

A lot of my favorite genres all come together here; it has mystery, suspense and sci-fi with elements of IT (rather than Stand By Me, thanks Dave) and social commentary thrown in. The story jumps between a few different time lines, which I have always liked. It also has a great, huge cast of characters that really add to the mystery rather than diluting it with crappy side stories like in a lot of books. As much as I like superhero books, I love how manga usually puts normal people without a clue in extreme situations.  I got hyper-addicted to this and read all 20 something volumes within a week, which leads me to mention it’s only real downfall: the story is long. At times, around the 15th book or so, it feels like it is being stretched out a little too much, but it all comes together nicely in the end.

I looked up the possibility of the comic coming out in the states, and Amazon is already taking advanced orders on it’s February release. Not so much luck with the movie, though. As of now, no one has bought the rights in America. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were fan-subbed copies at comic or anime cons, so keep your eyes open if you go to one. For the time being, just check out the trailer linked above!

For those who can’t wait and don’t mind occasionally sloppy transations, go here. You can read the first 6 volumes online. One Manga has everything but they appear to be down for maintenance right now, which could very well mean that they are being sued.

Phew, a much more involved post than I originally imagined. I could keep going, but I’ll stop here. If anyone actually reads this, let me know what you think!