Suga Shikao and Yui

Suga Shikao

Suga Shikao (スガシカオ) is a Tokyo based singer/songwriter and radio host whose Funk and Soul infused brand of Jpop has been topping the Japanese charts since 1997. I first got to know this great musician when I went about looking for the artist who sang the song for the opening sequence of xxxHolic, 19才. One thing lead to another and he is right now one of my favourite Japanese musician. He is also, in my humble opinion, the coolest man in Japan. Not that I’m gay for him or anything like that, I simply love his music and aspire to write songs like him.

Yui

YUI is currently one of the rising stars of the Japanese music industry whose humble beginnings started at the age 16 when she would play her guitar and sang at the entrance of Fukuoka’s Tenjin train station. Her musical style is quite varied for a Japanese musician and can range from upbeat folk to all-out rock. Fell in love with her song, Rolling Star when it featured on one the anime Bleach’s opening sequence and have never looked back. I have great respect for her as a musician because she has relied totally on her music to bring herself to where she is now and never walked down the path of kawaii-pop or sex appeal as is typically the case for most Japanese female stars. In fact, she is very shy, refusing to even smile for most of her photo-shoots because she was afraid it would make her look wierd or chubby. Also, she’s really into guitars which is always a plus in my book ^_^

So sometime early this year, Suga Shikao had a special live performance and invited Yui to join him on stage to perform one of his most famous work, Yozora no Mukou. This song was actually written for the Japanese super boy-band SMAP but he wrote it so it’s still his song. Their voices actually complement each other very well and this has become one of my favourite live performances by a Japanese artist. Here’s the video and enjoy.

Also here are the songs that got me started on their music. First up is Suga Shikao’s 19才(Jyuu-kyuu sai)(This video is a little wierd and somewhat NSFW)

Next is YUI’s Rolling Star.

Alcohol Harassment

Alcoholic Beverages

It seems that in Japan, the act of coercing someone to have just “one more drink” and to go “bottom’s up” is starting to be a problem. The Japanese love their drinking parties or nomikai(飲み会) so it’s not unusual to see this sort of thing at the local drinking joints. Especially since the April intake of new staff would mean even more of the Japanese salaryman’s drunken antics. Those who do not want to go home an incoherent, puking mess were forced to come up with a solution.

So in steps the Ikki Harassment Prevention Committee to save the night(or day if you’re really hardcore and/or have no life). Ikki(lit. “one more”) is the Japanese word for the act harassing someone to take that “one more drink”. Their solution to the problem are these innovative coasters.

Ikkihara Coasters

With slogans on them that says “I’m not drinking, I’ve got limits – one drink is quite enough” or “I don’t do ikki – I like to savour my drink”, it will surely drive the message to your drunken friends and colleagues that you do not want one more. If that doesn’t work or nobody notices the message since it’s sitting under a glass of you favourite beverage, the coasters also work as a badge of sorts when inserted into the breast pocket of your shirt or jacket.

Ikkihara coaster in pocket

via TokyoTimes

So how is it that a society said to be traditional and conservative can get to such a state of drunken debauchery? I’m not entirely sure myself but this could be a clue:

via TokyoTimes

That’s right folks, it’s beer for kids! Its called Kodomo no Nomimono(lit. “Kid’s Beverage”). Start ’em young, so they say. >_>

On a related note, if you love t3h beer but still want to watch you calorie intake, this might be useful.

Calorie counting Beer Mug

Too bad it only works when you’re sober enough to actually care about counting calories. ( ̄- ̄;)

GO!GO!7188

GO!GO!7188

Traditional Japanes Enka? J-Rock? Surf Rock? Punk? Ska? All of the above actually. I was pretty surprised when I came to know about this band. They managed to blend all this really distinct styles of music into their own and it sounds fantastic. With Turkey’s speedy punk drums, Yuu’s incredible voice and Akko’s mad bass skillz they have managed to be one the best punk rock group I have ever heard. Anywhere.

Here’s what their official website has to say about them(coz i’m too lazy to type):

GO!GO!7188 formed in 1998 by YUU(singer/guitarist) and AKKO(singer/bassist), high school classmates in Kagoshima prefecture.

In 1999, they head to Tokyo where meet drummer TURKEY and the band makes its major debut from TOSHIBA EMI in 2000.
Ever since they have released 9 full length albums, 12 singles and 3 DVDs.

When they made their debut in the Japanese music scene, they were quoted to be one of the leading girl’s punk band which mixes rock’n roll music with Japanese pop.

They have raised their evalution as one of most important Japanese rock bands,making performances in live houses events to Nippon Budokan hall,with songs which is full of originality and high performance ability.

Now for the videos. First up, my personal favourite, Ukifune

Kinkyori Renai

Nounai Traveller

Kataomoi Fighter

I especially like how the characters in that last video were saying out the lyrics as in a conversation. Hilarious. Also, if while watching that last video you thought that it sounded familiar, like I did, it’s probably because Kataomoi Fighter is also the ED song for Itazura na Kiss. Cheers. ^^

Haiku

haiku

Haiku is the most famous form of poetry to come from Japan and is probably the shortest type of poetry in the world. Haiku is recognizable by its unique structure of 5-7-5 Japanese syllables (In Japanese the word haiku( 俳句、はいく ) is 3 syllables; ha-i-ku). One of the most famous haiku poet is Matsuo Basho and was actively writing poetry during the Edo period in Japan.

Haiku traditionally deals with peaceful concepts such as the beauty of nature or the calmness of the soul and because this concepts are conveyed in such a short sentence, the words in a haiku poem are considered to be deep and full of imagery. Example of a famous haiku by Matsuo Basho:

古池や蛙飛込む水の音

ふるいけやかわずとびこむみずのおと

furuike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto

Old pond

a frog jumps

the sound of water

As you can see, a haiku is broken up to 3 lines when written in English. This is because the breaks or pause to establish the 5-7-5 structure is not evident in English. In Japanese, this done via the kireji (lit. cutting word) such as the ya in furuike ya. Haiku also traditionally have a kigo (lit. season word) with sets the season in which the haiku is set and references the natural world. In the case of this haiku its the word kawazu (frog) and references spring.

Interesting? Well if you’re interested in more, my friends Takke-san is a poet and writes haiku in english on his website, Haiku by Haikaishi “Shinjuku Rollingstone”. Check it out. ^^

Haiku by Haikaishi \

Dental Robot Simroid

Simroid

That’s right folks, another robot from Japan. This time it’s a robot designed to train new dentists. It can feel pain, respond to pain and follow simple instructions by the dentist. This is done via a multitude of sensors that also help monitor the performance of the dentist. She even has a sensor on her chest to prevent lazy dentist from resting their elbows on her err cushions. ^_^

Developed by Dr. Naotake Shibui of the Nippon Dental University in Tokyo, who co developed the robot with engineers from Kokoro Co. Ltd (they also made Actroid, the receptionist robot). Simroid is actually modeled after a real 28-year-old Japanese women whose fear of dentist and pain has made her famous as “Pain Girl”(痛いガール).

I don’t know about you guys but the fact that it can talk with it’s mouth open like that really freaks me out.

Via Japan Sugoi

Store Clerk Scares Thief

bloody knife girl

This video has been making its rounds around YouTube apparently. It’s a surveillance video footage of an attempted robbery in Tokyo recently.

When the robber walked up to him with a knife he basically freaked out and started screaming about just being a part-timer and having no money. This hysterics eventually led to him jumping on the counter, still screaming, which then freaks out the robber who promptly ran out. Heck, if i saw a jumping, screaming Japanese part-timer i would be scared shit-less too. The weird part is that when the robber ran away, the clerk actually gave chase. Or maybe he ran home?

Chi’s Sweet Home

chi_screencap

Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! I present to you a discovery the likes of which have never been seen before by humanity. It will awe and amaze you. It will change your life and the way you view the world! It is kawaii personified, the epitome of cuteness. I give you……CHI!!! </dramatic echo>

Chi is probably the cutest thing on the planet right now. It’s so cute I’ve watched every episode available twice. It’s so cute God would rid the world of dogs to save Chi from the fear of being confronted by one, if not for the fact that even dogs cower at Chi’s cuteness and have become it’s loyal servants. If you throw Chi on the beaches of Normandy on D-day, Hitler himself would use his time warping abilities to transport himself there and become it’s shield and the Allied troops would see this and cease attacking and the Nazis would drop their weapons to aid Chi and the war would end and there’ll forever be peace of Earth! Alas, Hitler remained an evil bitch. Yes ladies and gentlemen, contrary to what i have said earlier Chi is the cutest thing on earth! Chi is the Ultimate Cuteness! (not to be confused with Azrael’s Ultimate Sweetness©)

What? Hitler doesn’t have time warping abilities? What?! You think he’s dead?! Ok man, whatever makes you happy mmkay? Here’s my favourite episode. Now if you’ll excuse me i have an altar to build.