As I think I’ve written in recent posts, since unearthing my archives and going through my old posts, it’s gotten me back into the music I was listening to at that time, which mostly revolved around the Shibuya-kei scene. Through various means I’ve been able to start rebuilding my collection — the biggest thanks go out to Tom, one of the originals from the old Pizzicato Five Mailing List, who has been my savior — and it not only has me listening to this music again, but talking about it as well — often with David, another P5ML alumni. Miniflex came up, a name I remembered from those days but nothing more than that, but since listening to the album (or mini-album, as it’s pretty short) Sud on Friday night, I’ve been absolutely obsessed, and have been listening to it pretty much non-stop.
Miniflex is a solo project by producer Yugo Katayama, who was the man behind the music of Yukari Fresh, one of my favorite artists from those days. It looks like Sud was the only release he did under the name Miniflex, and that makes me pretty sad — I’m hunting for anything else that would be original music from him, but falling short.
And speaking of David, he’s currently listening to every single Pizzicato Five release (or at least pretty much all of them) and writing a review and scoring each of those releases. I’ve already read a few of them and they’re great (and they in turn made me revisit some of those records with a fresh pair of ears). I think he’s only planning on publishing the reviews once he’s written all of them, but I’ll make sure to link to them when he does do that.
As part of his “Ametora Extended” collection of online essays, David has just posted a new piece that takes a look at the controversy surrounding efforts to determine who exactly designed the Japanese uniforms — mainly comprised of those iconic red blazers you see pictured) — for the 1964 Olympics. It’s an interesting read, especially in revealing how collaborative an effort it probably ended up being.
This post serves as a reminder that W. David Marx has continued to support his fantastic book, Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style, since release through the Ametora Dispatches monthly newsletter — with each missive including an essay and links of interest — as well as footnotes to the book, that he posts on Medium (here are the footnotes for Chapter 4, and you’ll find the rest in the “Ametora Extended” collection). The Japanese edition of the book (out in July of next year) now has a page on Amazon Japan, and a monthly serialization in Popeye magazine is starting in this month’s issue (September 2016).
One of the first friends I made when I moved to Tokyo was Patrick Benny, who I had met through a Pizzicato Five mailing list (P5ML) — I met quite a few good friends that way, including W. David Marx and Jesper Larsson. We all shared a love for Shibuya-kei music, and Patrick was especially into the scene, and to this day continues to update his Tokyo’s Coolest Sound site, and still runs his Tokyo Recohan online store.
As I’ve been heavily into listening to Shibuya-kei of late (I’m listening to Fantastic Plastic Machine’s Moments compilation as I write this), I’ve also been taking a look again at Patrick’s Tokyo’s Coolest Sound, where the latest post highlights the upcoming release of a new Maki Nomiya album that celebrates the influence of French culture on Shibuya-kei. This video will give you a taste of one of the tracks (a duet between Nomiya and Crazy Ken Band’s Ken Yokoyama of “Un homme et une femme”). Very much looking forward to hearing the rest of the record.
Every month or so, Warren Ellis puts out a post on his site in which he explains where you can find him on the web and elsewhere — sort of a monthly updated FAQ on what he’s up to — and I figure I should do one as well, since I’m sure that someone who has just arrived to my site for the first time might have trouble understanding what exactly I’m up to these days.
First off, this week saw the launch of my latest project, The Magaziner, a new site that will cover the growing push of magazine into the digital world — something I’ve been covering here for a couple of months now, but realized it made more sense to create a proper space for it. It is also accompanied by a Twitter account, which I’m now using for my magazine-related tweets, and has a Facebook fan page too.
Last month I also launched a new weekly music podcast I call Codex. It’s usually me playing a selection of 10 tracks, but I’ll have the occasional themed shows (like the next one), guest episodes (soon), and I’m also going to start adding what I call the Codex Coda, short guest mixes. You can download all previous episodes here and subscribe to an RSS feed — it’s in the iTunes Store too.
Radio OK FRED is the long-running music podcast series I do with Editions OK FRED‘s Yoshi Tsujimura and Audrey Fondecave, and although it’s been on yet another extended break (apologies for that), it still pops up every once in a while, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to make 1 or 2 new episodes this month.
Then there’s PauseTalk, my monthly creative talk event that takes place at Cafe Pause here in Ikebukuro. We’re on a bit of a break this month and the next (due to the holiday slowdown), and so the next edition will take place February 7. If you’ve never been there, it’s a very casual salon-like atmosphere, where a bunch of “creatives” basically get together and discuss topics that affect us, share projects, ask for advice, etc.
SNOW Magazine is the natural extension that was launched at the start of the year for all of the Tokyo/Japan-related art/design/culture coverage I used to do on this blog for many, many years. Although most of the content is provided by me, it does include the occasional guest columns and feature. SNOW also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.
That means that this place, JeanSnow.net, is again a hub for all of my activities, so don’t come looking for Japan-related news, really. I’m on Twitter as well — where some say I actually tweet too much — and of course Facebook.
On the book side of things, while I’ll remind you that my previous contributions — Arcade Mania and Tokyolife — make for great holiday gifts, next up will be the release early next year of the fifth editions of The Rough Guides to Tokyo and Japan.
And although it doesn’t get updated as much as I’d like, my little gaming corner — simply called GAME — still features a host of games that I like a lot. I’ll try and get back to adding a few each month.
The PLAY series, where I would spin virtual discs at Cafe Pause every once in a while, is also on hiatus, and I think it has pretty much been taken over by Codex. I actually want to occasionally record some live Codex shows from the cafe.
You can also still catch my monthly design column for The Japan Times, “On Design,” which is published on the last Thursday of every month. It focuses on product design, and each one usually has me recommending five new items. I also contributed two items to the Japan Times‘ holiday gift guide piece, which was published today.
And even though I don’t really contribute anything in the written sense, I would say that I’m a “spiritual” contributor to Néojaponisme, David Marx‘s web journal that covers social and cultural aspects of Japan, which explains my editor-at-large title. Although the site has slowed down a bit this year in terms of new content, expect a bunch of great year-end reflections to appear later this month.
I’m also a proud member of Luis Mendo’s Goodfellas Network, and more specifically part of the GOOD Inc. Japan team. If you’re looking for a terrific group of people to work on a magazine-related project (print or digital), then please get in touch.
Last, but CERTAINLY not least, I continue my work as Executive Director of PechaKucha, where my role is mostly behind-the-scenes, but I also provide a public face through the PechaKucha Daily blog, and on Twitter. Local PKN organizers from around the world are the people I mostly deal with, but do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions regarding all things PechaKucha, whether it’s about holding a one-off PK event, starting a regular PKN series in your city, or anything else you may have on your mind. Since the organization is run as a non-profit, sponsorship enquiries and collaborations are also VERY welcome!
So there you have it, and if all of this wasn’t enough, do feel free to email me with any question you may have.
Chances are you’ve already noticed the tweets and a few posts last week, but yes, I was very happy to see the new CNNGo site go in public beta mode last week. Although it may come off at first as just a new travel portal, the audience for the site are really the expats, the people already living in those cities looking to get more out of them. Of course, anyone passing through will also get a lot out of the site, it just means that the content doesn’t tend to be overly touristy.
The site is currently Asia-only, covering the following cities: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, and of course, Tokyo. That last one is edited by one W. David Marx, and a look at the list of contributors will immediately reveal a lot of names regular readers of this site will surely recognize (Matt Alt, Patrick Macias, and many more). I’ve contributed as well — one of my pieces is on my fave burgers in town — and look forward to writing more for the site.