Pony Rides & Freedom’s Cold Reality

ponyride

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

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. 

casvwqmuyaebdp8

KissBeeWEST

Continue reading

2015: My Year in Gaming

Every year, I like to look back upon the games I played. While I’m getting pretty far removed from my time covering then working in the game industry, games are still a big thing to me.

In 2015, I played 86 video games: 44 on PlayStation platforms, 25 on Apple devices, 14 on 3DS, 1 on Wii and 1 on PC. I’m not going to list them. I hope you don’t mind.

I completed 22 video games in 2015. Those I will list, in the order in which they were completed: Continue reading

2015: My Year in Review

I think a lot of people found a lot of fault in 2015. I empathize with them. However, for me, it was a pretty big year on a lot of levels.

It began in quite a chaotic state. Kate’s job necessitated a move north to San Jose – an area I’m still struggling to appreciate in any meaningful way. The shift wasn’t made easier by my returning from tour less than a month before the shift started to take shape.

I went to Japan in March, by my lonesome. While I can lay out several reasons for the trip, I’m still not sure how to adequately explain the desire to go nor the end result. If anything, it strengthened my desire to be there and immerse myself in the country’s benefits. It became more relevant later in the year. Continue reading

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.

IMG_1097.JPG

A strong American, alone in Osaka. 03.08.2014

Continue reading

Japan Travel Cheat Sheet

I’ve been to Japan 10 times now. I’ve studied the language pretty intensely for the last two years (thanks to the awesome app, Human Japanese). Japan has become my happy place, and a lot of others are interested in checking it out as well. I couldn’t recommend it more! To help facilitate travel, I’ve put together a cheat-sheet of (hopefully) valuable information and tips, along with several helpful phrases to get you by. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments. Enjoy! 楽しんで下さい!

General

  • Don’t forget that you are not only representing yourself, but your nation and your ethnicity. Leave the Japanese people with a good impression of us!
  • The flight(s) will suck. Things that will make flying to/from Japan suck less: plenty of snacks, good headphones (preferably noise-cancelling), an eye mask, toothbrush/toothpaste in your carry-on.
  • Jet-lag is legit. Try to get on Japan’s schedule ASAP. Don’t nap after noon the first day, and don’t go to bed before 10:30pm.
  • I suggest always having your passport with you. It’s your most important possession.
  • Do as much legwork and research as you can before you go. You can’t be too prepared, though I also love wandering around aimlessly.
  • When a Japanese person makes an X with their arms or looks like they’re swatting a fly, that means “No.” If you see one of those, maybe stop what you’re doing.

Continue reading

The Worst Anniversary: 70 Years Since Hiroshima

August 6, 1945: America dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. It killed at least 20,000 Japanese soldiers, as well as between 70,000 and 146,000 Japanese civilians – not to mention those whose lives were completely altered by the after-effects.

That was now 70 years ago today.

Continue reading