Tokyo Hotels

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One of the things I get emailed about the most is regarding recommendations for hotels in Tokyo. Unfortunately, it’s not something I can usually help with because I’ve never stayed in a hotel in Tokyo — except for the KIMI Ryokan in Ikebukuro, years ago when I first moved here, while I was looking for a job and an apartment. Sure, I always mention the Claska, because I know it’s a hell of a nice boutique hotel, but outside from that I’m pretty much clueless. I’d love it if you could post your recommendations in the comments section, so that I could refer people to the thread when the subject comes up.

Surfing the Japanese Music Channels, Part Trois

You know it, you love it, it’s time for another tour of the music channels!

M-On has their “Countdown 100” show on right now, and I was just treated to #42: your generic J-pop idol, strutting her stuff like there’s no tomorrow. She’s cute, as are all her backup dancers, and the video is mostly comprised of shots of them shaking it. As is the norm for these types of videos — something that started I think with the Tsunku produced idol group videos — the colors are highly saturated, making it feel very vibrant and alive. No wonder it gets all those cutie loving girls excited for the music. It definitely is a visual medium.

This is being followed up by a straight ballad, that almost dips into the realm of enka, but featuring a young-ish girl singer. There’s a slight Okinawan flavor to the music, so I imagine the artist is probably from the island. It reminds me a bit of of Hajime something (I can’t remember her first name) from 2-3 years ago who became a big success — but this singer is much more generic.

Oh man — there’s a commercial with Chemistry performing live, backed with a symphony orchestra.

Now it’s #40, one of those oh-so-now dance-rap groups. They’re called nobodyknows+ — sure, why not — and their song is called “T.R.U.E.” Nothing to see here, move along.

VMC is showing an old Jamiroquai single (“Love Foolosophy”), which is a nice little reprieve. Yeah, I’m coming out of the closet, I don’t mind Jamiroquai at all. The album TRAVELING WITHOUT MOVING actually has a special significance for me, associated with my time living in China back in 1997 (when I met my wife). It was the soundtrack of that Summer — accompanied by a great many Qingdao beers.

MTV is showing the US Top 20.

SpaceShowerTV is also showing a chart show, but you just see clips, like you always do on network TV countdown shows. One interesting thing though is that they mix Japanese and Western artists in the chart, which is not something you often see. The Japan side is winning though. Actually, the Japanese stuff (unexpectdedly hard-rock heavy) is better than the American crap they’re playing (a guy called Mario, and Avril Lavigne). Their pick-up artist (sorry, the name is in kanji) actually sounds a lot like the band in the animated series BECK (currently one of my favorite shows).

Oh, Asian Dub Foundation is in the chart. Haven’t listened to them in ages. After a lame Chemistry-like duo, it’s the Chemical Brothers. And then, YES, it’s “No More Cry!!!”

I will go hang myself now.

Radio OK Fred Update

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Today we had a recording session for Radio OK Fred, recording the next couple of shows. With the next issue of the magazine (5) scheduled to come out soon (March 10), we sort of did a radio special on it, featuring music from artists featured in the issue. It should be available for download within a week. The next show after that will be online mid-March.

Also, we were able to upload Radio OK Fred 01 and 02 to our Libsyn account. Here are the links to the three shows that we have up:

To make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the podcast feed.

No More WAP

I had to remove access to the WAP version of my site (for mobile phone users) because the upgrade to WordPress 1.5 seems to have disabled it — it was compatible with 1.2. You can still access this site on a phone by using the WINKsite enabled version.

Shigoto Cafe Torabayu Ginza

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This week is your last chance to catch TORABAYU magazine’s design work exhibition in Ginza.

An exhibition featuring the design work used for the magazine “Torabayu” in commemorating its 25th anniversary. It will feature 300 magazine covers, train ads and job ads. The show will also recreate “Shigoto Cafe Torabayu”, held in Omotesando from September to November 2004, where visitors were able to acquire information for job hunting. (TAB)

It takes place at Creation Gallery G8, until March 4.

Jenkins Biography

If you live in Japan, you definitely know who Charles Jenkins is, as he’s been a constant presence on the news in recent years because of the North Korean kidnapping situation. TIME’s Tokyo bureau chief and senior editor Jim Frederick will be working with Jenkins on a book of his life, which I’m sure will make for a very intriguing story.

Charles Jenkins, whose wife is former Japanese abductee to North Korea Hitomi Soga, has decided to publish an autobiography, sources close to him said Friday. The publisher, the date of publication and the amount of the contract have yet to be decided, the sources said.

Jenkins, 65, signed up with Time magazine’s Tokyo bureau chief Jim Frederick, who will write the book based on interviews with him. The book will cover Jenkins’ life at large, including his 1965 desertion to North Korea, events there, and his life in Japan since he came to his wife’s homeland last July. (Kyodo News)

Any info we can get on North Korea and what goes on there is always quite popular in this household. Me and Yuko would love to visit Pyongyang, but at 250 000 yen for tours, it’s not likely.

Korean Independent Cinema 2005

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Oh my, this sounds excellent — and kudos for including English subtitles!

Following last year’s premiere, the second edition of this very good event is again happening at Image Forum. The program this time is made up of four feature films, two collaboration projects, and three short films. Although Japan is presently experiencing a boom of Korean culture including cinema, it’s more or less all about Korean stars, so as an occasion to see independent works this event is a rather rare chance. Shown among others are ten volumes of the “Twentidentity” collaboration of 20 graduates of The Korean Academy of Film Arts, including Bong Joon-Ho (“Memories of Murder/Salinui chueok”) and Hur Jin-Ho (“Christmas in August/Palwolui Christmas”). On 3/6 programmer Tony Rayns hosts a panel discussion. Films are being shown with Japanese and English subtitles, so language shouldn’t be a problem. (REALTOKYO)

It takes place at Shibuya’s Image Forum, March 5-11. Here’s a link to the festival site (in English).