Top 12 Underground Idols

Most of the world is aware of Japanese idols by now, right? Those bubbly, talented performers that take the stage by the dozens to sing, dance, and look cute for our enjoyment are practically synonymous with Japan. 

But like every cultural phenomenon, there is an alternative, underground movement. Called chika idol (地下アイドル, literally “underground idol”), these girls often veer into the wild, the weird, and the absurd. Also the extremely entertaining.  Continue reading

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Justin’s 2017 Year-In-Review

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A shot I took at my home station of Tsutsujigaoka

2017 was quite a big year for me. I know politically and whatnot, it kind of sucked for a lot of people. But personally it was on the positive – especially when weighed against how I was coming in.

 

So, let’s go back to 2016 for a bit. I had been told by USJ they weren’t going to offer me a second year-long contract. This came after I did everything in my power to kick ass at my job. I was late only one time (by <5 minutes), never missed a show, never called in sick. I delivered a quality show within the time frame asked, and stuck to script and other guidelines. So I was floored when they said I was done. Continue reading

Morning Musume 20th Anniversary Review

I’d been to 4 concerts in the past (not to mention a couple mini-lives or shows they only did a few songs on), but I hadn’t seen Morning Musume all year. In that time, they’d gained three new members: two from the Kenshuusei juniors program and one from the sort-of-disbanding Country Girls. But my second-favorite member – Haruka Kudo – is also graduating after the fall tour, so I want to see her while I still can. 

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This was not a typical show. The normal fall tour actually doesn’t start for a couple weeks. Instead, this was celebrating 20 years of Morning Musume. In 1997, I had only been out of high school a year. Okay, that’s making me feel old so moving on… Continue reading

Pony Rides & Freedom’s Cold Reality

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Have you ever been to a carnival? They usually have pony rides. You’ve got a group of little horses strapped to a merry-go-round-like apparatus, and kids get to ride on the ponies for a little while. It’s dawned on me recently: I’m a pony. 

It’s not a bad life. I get fed well enough, even if it is a little bland. I’m soothed by the fact that there will be a place to rest until the next day, if a little meager. It’s a secure, stable existence, being a pony-ride pony.  Continue reading

Country Girls Handshake Event Recap

This was written on 2016.4.30, 19:50

Home from Country Girls handshake event. Never a dull moment. It was held at Cosmo Square, one station over. It’s an entertainment island, last stop on the Chuo Line. Had to take a tram to the ATC shopping center. 

Then, well, it was not easy going. Imagine a mall with a museum and office building attached. And all you know is it’s on the 4th floor. Good thing I left myself plenty of time. I went the complete opposite direction for a while, before I doubled back and saw a sign at the info booth I decided against stopping at earlier. After many long, lonely hallways, I was in the right place. 

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One of the single variants

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Live Plus Idol Concert Report

A little backstory: I am an idol music fan. Morning Musume, BABYMETAL, etc. I like when talented young women are skilled at dancing, singing and looking cute all at the same time. If the tempo is something I can get pumped up by at the gym, all the better. 

A while back, I started a Japanese blog as a way to practice my Japanese and interact with Japanese people. One person I interacted with was Risa, a member of a group called PPP! PiXiON. We exchanged comments from time to time, and then her group happened to be performing in Osaka on my day off. Sweet!

So that’s why I was in a deep basement of an Osaka concert hall on a “Golden Week” Friday, having no clue what I was in for. I had preregistered to maybe save a couple bucks, but was unsure if it worked. Sure enough, at the ticket counter, I said I was here to see PPP! PiXiON, and they knew my name immediately. See, I wrote it in katakana, which is an alphabet used for only foreign words. 

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Justin’s Japan Announcement

March 2014: I went with GWAR to Japan. It was their first tour there, and I thought I could be of service. I met up with them in Osaka for the first show, then traveled to Tokyo for show number two (Dave Brockie’s last). Would you like to know more? I wrote a travelogue on the trip.

March 2015: I went to Japan solo. There were many reasons – to reward myself for busting ass on fall tour with GWAR; to practice my Japanese-language skills; attempt to make some contacts that could lead to work; to pay homage to Brockie; to see my favorite Japanese group open their tour. It wasn’t as productive as I hoped but was still very worthwhile.

March 2016: I will be going back to Osaka Japan. And there I will stay for 13 months, as I have been offered (and accepted) a gig as a performer at the Universal Studios Japan theme park.

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A strong American, alone in Osaka. 03.08.2014

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