Tuesday, March 20, 2012


A friend I used to work with invited me to a cool African music event at a club in Osaka. Here are some pics:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You people even get your own special day

Today is White Day.

Today is the day that men return the favor they received from women on Valentine's Day in the form of cookies, chocolates, or white, moist... marshmallows, pervert.

I'm not sure why it's called White Day. I'm sure Wikipedia can tell you. All I know is that the Koreans one up the Japanese (this is happening more frequently lately - witness Samsung) with Black Day on April 14.

Black Day is the day all those who received nothing on the two previous days of love gather and eat dark colored food such as jajangmyeon (Korean stir-fried noodles with a deliciously dark sauce).

I love Black Day- the makeh inu (loser dog) mentality, the hope for love hanging on a thread, and the cynical eating of tasty yet sort of gross looking food.

Thank you Korea for giving us people a special day. I can't wait to dig into my piping hot plate of black bean sauce noodles mixed with my own tears (tears of joy, of course).

Monday, January 9, 2012

PBJ rant

I was thinking about home cooked ramen (homemade sounds like the noodles are actually pounded out) and remembered my brother and what he said about his roommates acting like crack fiends after he'd made them some Top Ramen topped with boiled egg, cold cuts, and onions. My brother mastered these ancient noodoru techniques because my mom would hover near the kitchen like a spirit and then fly in to fix us bowls of fancy ramen whenever we wandered famished around her kitchen. This made me think about Asian moms and how a self-respecting one would never do the following:

Send her kid to school with a peanut butter jelly sandwich. I know you folks of caucasian persuasion will argue with me about the deliciousness of this misguided concoction but hear me out.

The PBJ is a nice snack but let's be honest, your mama was sending you to school with a lunch that was bread (sugar), peanut butter (sugar), and jelly (sugar). Not only does this cultivate taste buds that can't enjoy subtle and savory flavors but it also results in diabetes, diabetes, diabetes. Extra maddening were the PBJ-eating fucktards who would make fun of my (homemade by my mother- here homemade is 100% appropriate) bento boxed lunch. "Seaweed? Yuck." Nutritiously delicious green leafy vegetable of the sea, you short life expectancy having mofo. "Eew, fish with head and tail?" Real protein, you processed meat eating douchebag.

Ok, let me calm down and go fix myself a snack... perhaps a PBJ sandwich. Sike! (Man, been years since I pulled that one out of the ol' lexicon).  Long live balls of rice wrapped in dried laver. 

Learning Japanese (2) Get into the (Pop) Culture

A lot of Japanese pop culture is plain bad. Hell, a lot of pop culture is bad. But it is my biased and amateur, yet frequent, observation that ex-pats who live on an island of online and pirated English-language pop culture cut themselves off from deeper understanding of Japan and, as a result, a chance to learn the language well.

Yes, AKB48 was tired the moment it became a phenomenon and those girls are far from hot and at the most kind of cute, but people learn best when there is context. Sitting down an hour a day studying Japanese grammar and kanji will help but it won't do much for your speaking. Even if it's baffling watch some Japanese variety TV (I recommend the self-styled "Coming Out Variety" program Himitsu no Kenmin Show or the Secret Kenmin Show), 'read' tentacle sex comic books, shit, become an AKB48 fan for all I care.

If a music video full of silly girls pillow fighting in underwear in the technicolor world of director/photographer Ninagawa Mika doesn't do it for you (wait a minute, that sounds awesome! - go here) there are plenty of alternatives. For music an old school indie rock favorite of mine is Eastern Youth. Check out the jam Ukigumo or this one. More mainstream but just as good and even more fun to sing at karaoke as you kick the TV (like my grad school sempai Miichi-san did) is Linda Linda by the Blue Hearts. Edgy Kyoto pop-rock group Quruli is also recommendo.

Mostly music here but there's a lot out there and getting into more matomo (proper) Japanese culture such as classic lit, ikebana, tea ceremony, kabuki, sumo (I mean as a spectator but hey if you've got the bod, give it a go or check out this really baaaad aidoru version), etc. also never hurts.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Old man Hirao's house of dental horror

This lovely house is just south of my home station Hankyu Rokko in Kobe.
The writing on the door says Hirao Dentistry.

Because this is the kind of place you'd want your tooth pulled.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rife Rist

I'm subscribed to the design/lifestyle/randomfemininewhimsy blog 'Making it Lovely'. Yes, it's pink and girly and I don't much care for the posts about doll houses, but I'm comfy enough in my manhood to ignore the fey bits and appreciate the cool things such as the author's once-a-month progressive photos of her now 9-months old son in the same get-up and chair.

A recent post mentions a less gloomy take on the Bucket List called a Life List or in 'Making it Lovely' parlance A Lovely Life List. We'll forgo the overwhelming loveliness of it all and go with Life List or Rife Rist in Engrish.  Unlike a Bucket List, it's less fatalistic, more fun, and more of a reminder of things that would be cool to keep one eye on and get around to doing as time and mood permit than an unneeded reminder that we're going to kick the bucket one day. I thought it would be fun to start by sharing my Rife Rist, adding more in later posts. Would love to see your Rist in the comments (yes, you, the only person who reads this).

Here's mine for a start:

Live in Europe for a few years (top choices are Denmark, Germany, and France but open to suggestions)
Climb Mt. Fuji again
Spend more than a day in Paris (ten years ago I spent a day in the city in between trains)
Drink an amazing year of Cheval Blanc (contrary to its name, it's a red wine)
Fly in a hot air balloon
Have a part in a movie
Date a redhead
Grow a garden
Have dinner at French Laundry
Throw a full-on wine dinner party for close friends
Write a novel
Write a non-fiction book about multi-ethnic society
Make and drink maccha green tea every day
Have big muscles (let me be honest... have muscles)
Learn French
Have a few nice pieces of clothes and keep them for a long time
Learn to tango
Only eat what I cooked myself for a month
Own a dog (or a cool cat but not a bitchy? one that doesn't know its place)
Do a ramen tour of Japan
Learn to play the piano or guitar
Run a bar (called Bar Poon with my buddy Taka)

I think this is good for now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tofu Tofu Tofu (include own fake Chinese inflection)

Destitution is the mother of vegetarianism. Ok, I'm not destitute but my ass is pretty poor lately. So... I've been eating a lot of tofu (which I sometimes say with a grating and grossly un-PC Chinese inflection when I need a little extra encouragement to eat fermented bean curd for the fifth day in a row).

Japan, not surprisingly, is tofu paradise. Here are some types and ways of eating tofu in Japan.
Kinugoshi - Soft tofu often eaten with a splash of soy sauce, grated ginger, and scallions
Momen - Firmer tofu great for stir frys or fake steak dishes. Similar but not as rubbery or as hard as the tofu wannabe hippies eat in the US.
Yudofu - Translates as hot water tofu and is boiled tofu dipped in a vinegar soy sauce called ponzu.
Tamago - Egg tofu. Breaks strict vegetarian rules but adds springier texture and egg-licious flavor. Who doesn't need a little egg added to their soy bean?
Gomadofu - Sesame tofu. Rich in flavor with a creamy texture. Its flavor can come on strong for some folks but worth acquiring a taste for if you're getting bored of standard tofu. A much better way to add excitement to your tofu diet than insulting the Chinese and their lovely language.

I'm no culinary genius but here is a fun way I've used tofu in my cooking:
Sliced in ramen noodles as a chashu (roasted pork) replacement. Chashu is another fun word to say in fake Chinese. Extra tip. Make Top Ramen or instant noodle of choice bearable by adding a soft-boiled egg sliced in half and a butt load of chopped green onions as toppings.

The red stuff is Korean spicy fermented cabbage called kimchi. If you look carefully you can see noodle peaking out from the bowl at 4 o'clock.