Apr 02 2017

Let’s Bonsai: Cherry Blossom Season Is Here

Category: Japan EntertainmentIchiban @ 7:06 am

Japan’s ancient art of bonsai threatened by waning interest among youth

Read the ABC Story—>bonsai-cherry-blossom
Everybody loves a bonsai!

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Sep 30 2016

This is a pen PPAP

Category: Japan Entertainment,World FriendsIchiban @ 2:48 am


“I have a pen, I have an apple — apple pen,” Piko Taro, a character created by Japanese comedian and DJ Kosaka Daimaou sings in the clip, clad in matching animal print and busting some serious dance moves. The video has already collected more than 1 million views on YouTube, and Bieber’s endorsement probably won’t hurt.
My favorite video on the internet 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 https://t.co/oJOqMMyNvw

— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) September 27, 2016


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Aug 24 2016

Introverted in Japan

Category: Japan Entertainment,World FriendsIchiban @ 4:55 pm

Another great vid from Micaela…

Micaela: “Coming at you from my dirty bland bedroom because it’s the only room with decent air conditioning right now.
I was talking to a friend last week (who is also an introvert) about how when we try to explain our quiet dispositions to Japanese people, we’re usually met with denial, about how we couldn’t possibly be introverts because we’re not shattered shells of our former selves.
There’s a bit of misunderstanding behind what an introvert is, and what it means here, but I think when you explore the meaning you find that introverts are actually well suited to life in Japan.”


Jan 08 2016

Invincible Handicap Movie

Category: Japan Entertainment,UncategorizedIchiban @ 1:51 pm

Comes Out Tomorrow (Jan 9 2016)

Wrestling with Japan’s physically challenged…

In 1994, I reviewed “Invincible Handicap” (“Muteki no Handicap”), a documentary by scriptwriter and filmmaker Daisuke Tengan about a professional wrestling group called Doglegs whose members were both physically challenged men and able-bodied volunteers. Started in 1991, the Doglegs hardly fit the template of pitiable unfortunates being aided by selfless caregivers, so often found in local media depictions of those with disabilities.

Read the rest at THE JAPAN TIMES

“It’s really confrontational,” he explains. “A bunch of dudes with heavy disabilities just going at it, beating up each other. Then the next match can be very humorous — a kind of dodgy, dokuzetsu (trash talking) black humor. They’re taking the piss out of each other in a serious way. You think, ‘Should I be laughing? Is this OK to laugh at?’ It’s this very uncomfortable feeling. Then the next one can be a straightforward match where you’re cheering on the wrestler you like”

Screened at this year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, and Austin Fantastic Fest, where Cozens won best documentary director honors, “Doglegs” will open at two theaters in Tokyo on Jan. 9, followed by a nationwide release. All screenings will have English subtitles.
Personals Japan

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Jan 07 2016

Becky Scandal Apologizes

Category: Japan Entertainment,Japan NewsIchiban @ 5:35 am



Shūkan Bunshun a weekly magazine
somehow got copies of LINE exchanges between the couple that revealed the love triangle.

Becky apologizes to fans, her staff/company, her family, the media… for alleged infidelity/ indiscretion.

The media obviously stalk the poor girl. Paparazzi preying for a scandal story to sell magazines.
She is not a little girl and should be entitled to a ‘private life’.

It’s not her who should be apologizing. As far as I can see the only mistake she made is in having a relationship with this guy.

Becky, there are better fish out their to fry.

Becky (31) seems to have had an affair  with a married vocalist Enon Kawatani (27). Who married last summer.
Has he divorced or just separated from his wife?


Personals Japan

In the New Year Kawatani took Becky to his parent’s condominium in Nagasaki to meet his parents even though he had only recently married.

It is yet unclear but Kawatani may have already divorced and intends to marry Becky.

As news comes to hand this page will be updated.

Both of them deny infidelity which would indicate he has already divorced.

They met in October of last year. Because his marriage was hidden even from fans, Becky didn’t know, but Kawatani supposedly said from his own mouth that he was married at the end of November.

Shukan Bunshun obtained their exchanges from the app LINE. In the messages, they discuss Kawatani’s divorce and heading toward marriage with Becky.

On January 6th, Japanese entertainer Becky held a press conference at her agency in Tokyo to deny reports of infidelity. Born in 1984 to a Japanese mother and British father, Rebecca Eri Ray Vaughan, was raised in Japan and began working as an entertainer in 200x. Her popularity has been credited to her consistently positive, upbeat personality. In recent years, she has been reportedly involved with two men, one a member of a comedy team, the other MAKIDAI, former member of a boy band called EXILE. Both men were single and both times she denied the relationship. This is the first time she has been involved in a scandal.

The January 7th issue of Shukan Bunshun magazine (週刊文春) reported that she is in a relationship with Enon Kawatani, lead singer of the popular band called ゲスの極み乙女, pronounced Gesu No Kiwami Otome, despite the fact that Kawatani was married last summer. The marriage quickly began to deteriorate, and Kawatani and his wife are considering divorce.

During the press conference, Becky apologized over and over with tears in her eyes, stating that Kawatani is only her friend. As for the report of her visiting Kawatani’s parents’ house in Nagasaki for the new year, she stated that it was innocent, and done without thinking.

Kawatani commented that he and Becky are just friends.

Japanese culture is very apologetic, and Japanese entertainers who appear in commercials need to maintain a clean and neutral image. Unlike a country like the US, most people who appear in commercials or any advertisements for corporations are entertainers.

Becky has contracts with ten advertisement campaigns at the moment, and therefore how she’s perceived by the public matters very much.

(Source: Nikkan Sports)

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Jan 05 2016


Category: Japan Entertainment,Japanese FoodIchiban @ 2:30 pm

Artist Takayo Kiyota found her canvas in rice, turning sushi rolls into masterpieces. Kiyota has created 200 different sushi roll designs. (Reuters)


Oct 20 2015

Japanese Idol Dating Policy

Category: J-pop,Japan EntertainmentIchiban @ 11:45 pm


It’s widely known in Japan that idol singers are often contractually prohibited from engaging in romantic relationships. The reasoning goes that if word gets out that an idol singer has a boyfriend, her fans will feel betrayed that she isn’t solely devoted to her role as a musician and entertainer, and thus stop buying her CDs (there’s also the unspoken implication that openly dating someone will destroy the fantasies of individual fans that would like to date the singer themselves).




A signed contract isn’t always enough to keep young love and hormones in check, though. And when you consider that idols are almost always attractive, outgoing young women, it seems like it should be only a matter of time until they find a guy they fancy out of their swarms of would-be suitors. That’s why in addition to legal pledges not to date, the Japanese entertainment industry has a number of sneaky tactics up its sleeve to prevent its idols from falling in love or going on a single date.

A handful of entertainment industry executives, under the condition of anonymity, recently shared some of their methods, which involve psychological and time-management tricks as complicated as some idols’ stage routines.

One common practice is to keep the idols themselves in the dark about their own work schedules, sometime waiting until the end of the day to announce tomorrow’s timetable. Being an idol isn’t like working a nine-to-five shift at the office. On any given day, you could be recording songs, practicing choreography, appearing on TV variety programs, or meeting fans face-to-face at handshake events and other local promotions. All of those involve varying amounts of time and being in different locations, and it’s incredibly difficult to plan a romantic rendezvous if you don’t know when you’ll finish work or even where you’ll be when you do.

This method is so effective that one talent manager says he can tell when an idol has secretly found a boyfriend, because she’ll suddenly start wanting to know the details of her work schedule farther in advance. But in many cases, it’s not like that would make much of a difference, because another method to keep idols from dating is to pack their schedule so tight that they don’t have any unsupervised free time. As mentioned above, idols have a huge variety of responsibilities, and talent managers ideally want them to be so busy with those that when their workday is done, the singers are too worn out to do anything other than head straight home and go right to sleep (alone, naturally).

However, there’s a complication that managers have to bear in mind regarding this practice. Idols’ owe their success as much to their looks as their voices, and by running their performers ragged, they also run the risk of ending up with a group of haggard-looking, exhausted vocalists. But since the talent agencies want to minimize the idols’ private time, managers will add on-site breaks and rest periods in the middle of the work schedule. This is also why some idol appearance agreements include riders about keeping the break room stocked with specific snacks or other items the idols are fond of. The conditions are often demanded by the talent agencies in order to keep the idols from wanting to venture off-site on their own to pick up their favorite brand of tea or candy.

Finally, while producers don’t want their idols to actually be in a romantic relationship, some worry that they’ll lose a certain special radiance if they never have any contact with attractive guys. So when hiring hairstylists and makeup artists, certain talent agencies choose handsome young men for the job, which they feel gets their idols’ hearts ever so slightly aflutter before they go on stage. But wait, isn’t there a chance that the hairstylists will fall in love with the idols? Not if the men are gay, which is another characteristic some agencies look for when choosing who to handle their idols’ appearance.

Whether a little eye candy in the makeup mirror makes up for the lack of personal freedom, though, is something each idol has to answer for herself.

Source: Joshi Spa

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Apr 17 2015

Strange Taste

Category: Japan EntertainmentIchiban @ 2:26 pm

”So, what kind of music do you play?”

The four members of Strange Taste always have great difficulty in answering this question. It’s not that their sound is so unique, outlandish or ”strange” that it defies common labels to describe music, it’s just that they play such a wide range of styles that no single one could be applied adequately.

Frontman Matthew de Wilde and guitarist Naoharu Nishikata, the group’s songwriters, have for more than 18 years pooled their vastly different musical influences into songs that feel at home on stages in any environment, whether it be an inner-city livehouse, a large outdoor event, or in the gardens of the British Embassy. The resulting sound is mature, balanced and just good to listen to and tap your knees to.
The band’s live performance has punters’ ears visit a variety of moods designed and delivered to please and maintain interest for a gig that ends professionally on time, but feels over too soon. De Wilde’s lyrics deal with issues that he himself would consider “personal challenges” but are actually common to most if not all of us: human hope, loneliness, global warming, trust, war and peace, nostalgia, and the pain of failure and rejection. His banter with the audience during between-song-intermissions is like a chat over a cappuccino in a Komazawa coffee bar: friendly, in tune with local issues, and well-blended with the environment. Newcomers to Strange Taste gigs can often be seen walking away visually impressed with nods of “Now THAT was a good band!”

And the judges at the Setagaya Band Battle in February this year thought so too – awarding Strange Taste the Grand Prix, beating a total of 57 other entries.

While the band have a number of independently produced CDs, they are currently re-working their online distribution strategy, so their recordings are currently and regrettably temporarily unavailable for public purchase. However, liking their Facebook page (Strange Taste Japan) is a good way to check out video samples of the band’s live feel, as well as stay in touch with upcoming gigs etc.
So… what kind of music do they play?
Well… you’d probably get the most accurate answer to that by just coming to a gig and getting a taste of Strange Taste!


Strange Taste are:
Matthew de Wilde (keys/main vocals)
Tetsuya Ando (bass)
Naoharu Nishikata (guitar/vocals)
Aki Udagawa (drums/vocals)


Strange Taste are playing at:
☆Yotsuya Live Inn Magic on the Monday national holiday of May 4thhttp://liveinn-magic.com/access.html
☆Vanilla Mood Roppongi on Sunday June 7th
☆Setagaya City Festival, Bajikoen on Sunday August 2nd

Apr 01 2015

Silver Pron!

Category: Japan Entertainment,Japan News,Japan RelatedIchiban @ 11:15 am

Is today April Fool’s Day?
Make your own minds up over this article.

‘Silver porn’ shows fifty shades of greying Japan

PUBLISHED ON APR 1, 2015 11:31 AM

TOKYO (AFP) – Dressed in a kimono and kneeling silently on a tatami mat floor, 61-year-old Ms Yasue Tomita looks as if she might be about to perform a Japanese tea ceremony – instead she’s debuting as a porn actress.

Fluttering her eyelashes demurely as the cameras prepare to roll, Ms Tomita is proof that in Japan’s greying society you’re never too old to chase your dreams, however racy or unorthodox.

She has also become part of a flourishing niche market in Japan: “silver porn” – stretching the limits of eroticism among the elderly and overturning social norms in a country where people are expected to grow old gracefully.

Love, too, is not confined to the young, say Japan’s growing army of pensioners exploring their desires in more conventional ways, with dating agencies for the elderly reporting increasingly brisk business.

Ms Tomita confessed to being “a bit rusty” but made no apologies for her rambunctious lust for life, or her decision to put aside her knitting and crochet and launch into a career making X-rated movies.

“I like my handicrafts but I wanted to try my hand at this, while my body still works,” she told AFP before filming began.

“I do like sex, and this is my last chance before I get too old. I’m very nervous. I wonder if I should really do it, especially in front of so many people, but everyone should follow their dream.

“I just hope I can keep up,” added Ms Tomita, who used to work in a factory manufacturing car parts and registered for an agency in Japan’s booming “adult video” (AV) industry with her daughter.

“We applied through the Internet together. I got offered a job first, which surprised her a bit.”

In ageing Japan, around 32 million people – a quarter of the population – are 65 or over. Thanks to a low birthrate and growing longevity, that proportion is expected to rise to 40 per cent by 2060.

With statistics like that, it’s no surprise that geronto-porn is big business.

Adult movies rake in about US$20 billion (S$27.4 billion) a year, and those featuring unashamedly wrinkly men and women account for between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of that market, industry insiders say. Sales have rocketed over the past decade as more of Japan’s perky seniors celebrate their mojo.

Though not for the faint-hearted, the genre took off thanks largely to now-80-year-old Shigeo Tokuda, the twinkle-toed king of granddad porn, who has peeled off for hundreds of hardcore flicks with titles such as “Forbidden Elderly Care” and “Manic Training of Lolitas”.

Pornography became widely available in Japan in the 1900s, with seventeenth century Edo-era woodblock erotic prints being many people’s first introduction to the genre.

Attitudes towards sex are less prudish than in other parts of the world and fun-loving fertility festivals, where giant wooden phalluses are joyfully carried around towns, take place annually in parts of Japan.

“Everyone has different sexual tastes or fetishes,” said director Fumiaki Kimura. “Elderly porn has become very popular over the past 10 years or so. Older couples watch together because they can feel a connection, a sense of closeness or familiarity, being the same age.

“It’s like a forbidden pleasure,” he added. “Young people watch it because they’re fed up with the regular stuff – whatever turns you on. You do hear about actors taking Viagra, but that can be dangerous for the older guys.”

Mr Tokuda, who beds actresses young enough to be his granddaughter, also co-starred with Ms Fujiko Ito, just two years his junior, the pair frolicking in hot springs or on tatamis with Ms Ito in a kimono.

Ms Natsuko Kayama, 44, a porn star with 25 years’ experience in the industry, told AFP she wanted to outlast the oldest swingers in town.

“I’d love to be the oldest AV actress,” she laughed. “I want to break the record if I can – if I last that long.”

Far away from the steamy film sets, others entering the autumn of their lives are simply interested in finding companionship, perhaps after losing or leaving their first long-term partner.

But with habits set, it isn’t always easy to meet someone, and many turn to one of hundreds of matchmaking services catering to older clientele, such as the Ai-Senior company, which boasts a total of 6,000 registered members, some in their 90’s.

Later life dating hit the headlines last year with the grisly case of the “Black Widow” – 68-year-old Chisako Kakehi, who was arrested in November accused of murdering her septuagenarian fourth husband with cyanide.

Placing adverts for an “unattached elderly man with assets”, she was said to have amassed millions of dollars in insurance and other payouts over 10 years as a result of the death of a string of spouses and lovers.

Most elderly daters, happily, have far more felicitous stories to tell.

Mr Yosuke Komori, 66, and his 57-year-old wife Mutsuko met through another dating agency. Both previously married, they wed four years ago and still hold hands like smitten teenagers.

“I think a healthy sex life is an added bonus of marriage,” said Mrs Komori, who got married in a daringly short dress, to the horror of her daughters.

“I think perhaps my husband is sufficiently confident in that department. But the most important thing in a relationship is mutual understanding.”

For bashful Mr Komori, it was never only about the physical side of things.

“I feel most contented when she is happy,” he said sheepishly. “I don’t want to sound soppy, but I just want to make her smile. What’s important is love, actually.”

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/east-asia/story/silver-porn-shows-fifty-shades-greying-japan-20150401#sthash.1WcHsdCx.dpuf


Mar 10 2015

Kozue Kuriyama Jazz Pianist

Category: Japan EntertainmentIchiban @ 6:51 am

If you love great jazz, you’ll love Kozue. Check out her site and download some of her songs here or from itunes if you can!
Go and see her play April 5th and 15th at Roppongi’s Softwind!

A versatile pianist and composer, Kozue Kuriyama has performed with Dave Liebman, Victor Mendoza, Fernando Huergo, Winston Maccow, Rick Overton, Artem Chirkov, Pasha Tseitlin, Jeffery Nicholson and Emi Kuriyama.

Kozue was born and raised in Chiba, Japan. She began playing piano at the age of three, and composed her first piece at sixteen. Since then, she has developed her own unique playing and composing sound.




Taken on an iPhone but still good quality…

A 2009 graduate of the Tokyo College of Music, Kozue was exposed to a wide variety of music while attending school. She studied classical piano performance with Atsuko Okada and Masahiro Kawakami, and jazz theory and improvisation with Rick Overton. After participating in the International Music Festival 2008 and 2009 in Portugal, her passion for jazz was awoken and she made the decision to trust it. After graduating, she continued performing with her sister, vocalist Emi Kuriyama. They recorded their first album together, “Power,” in the summer of 2009, for which Kozue composed and performed.

Kozue graduated from The Berklee College of Music in 2011, where she was
immersed in jazz and contemporary music. She studied with legendary musicians, including Nando Michellin, Leo Blanco, Ross Ramsay, Jeff Covel, Winston Maccow, David Fiuczynski and Victor Mendoza. She received a number of scholarship awards, including the Classical Performance Award in 2010 and the MBNA Professional Music Award in 2011, and several of her compositions were presented at various showcase concerts held at the Berklee Performance Center in 2011.

Now she leads her group, named the Kozue Kuriyama Jazz Quartet, where she is joined by Zac Zinger(Sop/Alt Sax), Kozue(Pno), Alejandro Zorrilla(Bs), and Oscar Suchanek(Ds). The group has been playing together for over a year, and it is currently recording its first album, with an expected June release date.

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