Thursday, June 28, 2012

Been awhile!

Hello blog. Sorry I neglected you for so long. You see, I've been busy with shows, creating songs, recording a new 7 inch, and trying to figure out where my life will go come 7.25 (the day my current job is over). Job searching simultaneously in Japan and America is strange and disorienting, and it only makes the choice of where I want to go next harder. :\ I will never again work as an English teacher, I have firmly decided this, so trying to get jobs here without completely fluent Japanese is proving to be a bit more challenging (and I really need to get some motivation so I can get myself over to the hello work office or something). Anyway, if anyone out there has advice, let's hear it! Other wise, enjoy some pictures from the last two months of busy touring. :) So, in no particular order...

Parkmates + Thirsty Chords + LEEWAY = Drunk Assholes :D

We of course had to make a stop to see the almight tanuki gods...

...and have dinner with the ELMOC girls before our Tokyo Show (5.25)...

...and be beautiful together at the after party...

....and have Kentaro (The Little Serval) proclaim his love to me after the DELSOL show in Kitakyushu (6.23)...

...and watch Mall being classy with Wine..

...and watch the INFRO guys be beautiful. Two days of hanging out with them was fuuuun~ (6.23-24...

...and try to be serious about a song in Tokyo, Hachiouji...

...and never have Matto be captured on film at anytime....

...and hear that the Horse and Deer boys bought our CD from Base! <3 Oh Koge....

...and practice a shit ton...

...and find out that Parkmate's Matsuda of course had to be.... himself...

..and were officially joined by Mall, who replaced our other guitarist Arase....

...and recorded five full band tracks for a new 7 inch...

...and one acoustic....

...and bothered Moriwaki in the control booth....

...and I got excited about recording vocals while everyone STARED at my back...

...and we jammed at UTERO in Fukuoka (6.24)...

...and got another night of encores!

Of course, we also finally got a video on youtube. Busy two months. If anyone is interested in hearing our new 7 inch, it's uploaded here on bandcamp: Sick Of Nostalgia

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Next Stop on the Shikoku Express

LEEWAY and Thirsty Chords~
 The last two weekends have been busy with shows, and this next weekend marks the last in making our rounds of Shikoku (3.17 Ehime, 3.25 Kochi, 3.31 Kagawa 4.7 Tokushima). While our Kochi show did not have the best turn-out (and me and Matto had to pay 8000 yen out of pocket because we live in the prefecture?! Just because T. set up a poorly-attended show should not mean we have to pay him for it! >:| ), it was still a fun show, and for once we didn't have to get on the highway and drive.

The delicious Kagawa Udon from WARAYA (わら屋)

The place we practiced in was soooo tight and most of the amps were broken/looked like they'd been hidden in a closet for 10 years. THOUGH! It did have a piano in the room that I got to play <3

It also had two drum sets (???!)

This last weekend we had a show in Takamatsu at this little place called Blowin'Bar. It's a really new live house/bar and it even still had the smell of "new" floating around inside. We all got to the city early in order to eat Kagawa Udon (<3<3<3), see the castle ruins, and practice for an hour and a half at this sketchy little studio. Our usual supporting guitarist had a show with his other band the same night, so we asked someone else to help us out and needed a little more time to get everything solid before the show (plus! We decided to do a cover from Alkaline Trio, "Nose Over Tail").

Cheap Audio guitarist doing his acoustic set.
 There were only three sets for the whole show (Us, Parkmates, and the guitarist from Cheap Audio doing an acoustic set), but surprisingly a lot of people showed up, and the after party was a blast :) I love it when we don't have to go anywhere for the after party and we can just leave stay in the venue and be goofy.

The next day me and Matto toured around Takamatsu for awhile with the guitarist from Parkmates. I've been to Takamatsu three times now and have never properly driven around the city. We ended up eating more udon (curry udon FTW!), going to an amazing natural food store (that had really good soy milk, soy yogurt, and even had dairy-less margarine!!!), and walking around Ritsurin Kouen, this gorgeous park near his house that's a popular tourist location. It had some of the prettiest wooden bridges and flowered paths I've ever seen! The Sakura were also just beginning to bloom so people were out hanami-ing in the open stretches of lawn. I can't wait to do hanami!! If it's possible, and the weather is nice, I'm hoping that we'll all be able to picnic together Sunday afternoon in Tokushima~

栗林公園 in Takamatsu

LEEWAY-Tin Cans Calling Home, First 11 Track Album

Monday, April 2, 2012

Changing of the Guard

 April has come, and with that, what I like to call the "changing of the guard." Really, as anyone who works as a "komuin" or a government worker knows, April marks the end of the fiscal year here in Japan, as well as the beginning of the school year. I can at least vouch for city offices and schools by saying that once April hits, a number of lucky (unlucky?) people get shuffled around the city office/the prefecture to do different jobs/work at different schools. I lost a lot of great teachers this year to the "Great Shuffle".... but I also gained a few good ones that fellow English Teachers have vouched for. :)

On the first day of the month (that falls on a week day), new city workers (including firefighters) get corralled around the city office to give greetings to the other departments, and new members (that have just shuffled around the office to new positions) greet their new co-workers within the same department. This is also the time where new teachers to the city come by the Board of Education to say hello, yoroshiku..... etc to the education movers and shakers (which is where my desk sits but I would hardly include myself in the 'movers and shakers' category).

What I don't understand about this system is... why people change jobs so drastically. Within the city office, people will go from working for the water works department for 4 years to all-of-a-sudden being the head of the Board of Education. If that water works person was doing an awesome job (at there job), then why move them to something where they have to completely re-learn everything?! It seems like poor time-management to me....

I have, however, kind-of gotten used to the "Great Teacher Shuffle". While I think it's cruel to move teachers with families from (ex:) one city in the East of the prefecture all the way to the West most part of the prefecture (they can't uproot their families every year just because this system is silly!), I understand the ideology behind it. That being, "Good teachers shouldn't be hogged by one school" and things like that. Of course, while I understand it, I still don't like it. Nor do I like having to introduce myself to a batch of new teachers who assume I'm illiterate and can't speak a word of their language... but alas, this is why I am leaving this line of work come July~

Monday, March 19, 2012

Matsuyama Live, "ヤバい夜になるゼー!"

Leeway's second show was once again, speechlessly fun. I don't think I've laughed so much in one day in awhile. <3 The four of us got to hang out in Matsuyama, wandering the streets, drinking beer, taking purikura, and talking about Tanuki (Tokushima is apparently famous for Tanuki! We learned about the Tanuki war and the top three Tanuki in Tokushima!!). The day started out wonderfully when we drove from rainy-depressing Kochi into sun-shiny Matsuyama to meet up with Speed Red and Gyoza Face for some lunch. Noontime beer~

We went second out of the seven bands playing that night. Sanhose was really good and I loved that the guitarist and bassist's instruments were the colors of Christmas (BRIGHT red and BRIGHT green). The Miscasts were also really really good and I'm sooo happy I finally got to see them live (since I had only heard their seven-inch up until this point). Turncoat went last and played a bunch of their really good new songs (Mall said they are trying to make a full-length soon! Can't wait~). It was also nice having the after party at the venue (GREAT tempura <3), being able to hang out with everyone freely without being constrained to seats in a restaurant, and being able to play music from an ipod.

NO PEEING! 恥ずかしくないの?!
Purikura <3
Even Obama approves of noontime beer!

Sanhose and their Christmas-colored instruments.

The Miscasts!

After party in Hoshizora Jett with loads of tempura

Aren't we adorable?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 16 – How you realised you’d acclimated to Japan.

I actually had one of my Elementary school students ask me this once---considering most of them ask "WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE FRUIT/ANIMAL/POKEMON/FOOD?!?!?" in Japanese a million and a half times, I was considerably surprised to be asked a thoughtful question by an 11 year old.

 When I answered this particular 11 year old girl, I told her this: It was when I was visiting Tokyo one time with a friend, and needed to call my supervisor. I'm always a little embarrassed to speak Japanese on the phone, especially in front of other people (and especially in front of other foreigners with a higher Japanese level than mine) so I took my phone up the street a little while my friend smoked in front of our hostel. Once I had finished my phone call, I came back and said that we could go (where ever it was that we were headed) and in response, he gave me an amused smile and said, "Did you know that you bowed on the phone?"

Yes, ladies and gentlemen.... I am a phone-bower. :\ I can't seem to break the habit either! Whether the conversation is in English or Japanese (more so on the Japanese calls of course), I find myself bowing at the end, or in confirmation to a suggestion/statement. *sigh* While finding this out was truly my first ever realization that I've acclimated to Japan, I've had other revelations pop-up since then.

Among those, is just the fact that I accept things that would seem ridiculous and/or "going-too-far" in the US, as just a fact of life. Example: About a month ago my supervisor told me and the other teacher working in the BOE that a "desk inspector" was coming the next day, and that we should make sure our desks were neat, clean, and had no food in them (like left-over omiyage or candy/gum). In response, I promptly opened my desk, rearranged a few things, and tossed my gum and candy into my purse. The other teacher gave our supervisor an extremely offended look and started to sputter out an argument about invasion of privacy etc. To this, I just turned to him and said, "This is Japan. Just accept it." and kept cleaning my desk. Sometimes there is no use arguing, and one needs to accept everything as a fact of life while living here.

Have a lovely Friday~ :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You know it's that time of year when....

Now, I don't really watch all that much TV, to be honest. At most, I watch in the mornings from about 7-8:15 AM four days a week, and sometimes (when I have no class) I go home and watch from about noon to 1PM. That being said, I have noticed a pattern in commercials. When it comes to be "that time of year" the ukon no chikara CM's start to frequent the airwaves much more strongly. What do I mean by "that time of year"? Well, I mean any time of year that calls for copious amounts of drinking! I think I have thus far determined those times to be:

1. End of the year/beginning of the year party season (bonenkai/shinnenkai)
2. March (the end of the fiscal year, when people are transferring jobs, school is ending, etc)
3. Hanami season

Yes, not a very long list so far.... but compared to last week, the Ukon CM's basically tripled on my airwaves today so I'm thinking they are trying to remind the drunken-side of Japan to smarten-up and drink the magic no-hang-over drink (I've actually never tried this and thus don't know if it works....). ;)

Friday, March 9, 2012


Phew~ What a busy week it's been! After an exhausting 8 hours in the studio on Sunday, I've had to phone and e-mail with our band members in Tokushima everyday about what things we want fixed on our new 11 song album. What sort of parts we want mixed better, what parts we want brought to the forefront, what vocals we want softened, what we should do with the lyrics booklet/cover designs I drew, etc.... I even had to drive all the way back to Tokushima on Wednesday to re-record one track (a song where I have aprox 30 seconds of vocals) because the computer decided to delete the damn thing (though our producer cutely said it was because the computer was so surprised a foreigner was singing Japanese into it that it's brain died for a minute). Although, I must admit that even though I had to drive 4 hours round trip to record 30 seconds of vocals, I'm really really proud of what we created, I got the first burned copy of the tracks, and I was taken out to dinner by our producer and fed the most amazing yakitori (that, and getting our guitarist drunk enough to start spouting hilarious English phrases like "Oh Gyoza, get into my mouth. I won't use my teeth, I'll just use my tongue. Get into my dirty mouth" is always worth a 2 hour drive).

Other than that craziness, we plan on having our last practice tomorrow before looking forward to 4 weekends in a row of shows!! Yay!! After this month of shows, we'll have completed the island of Shikoku ;)

3/17: Ehime-Ken; Matsuyama, Hoshizora Jett
Frustration Never Disappear
Miscasts (京都)
Sanhose (京都)
Leeway (高知/徳島)
Turncoat (愛媛)

3/25: Kochi-Ken; Kochi, Chaotic Noise K-Club
Leeway (高知/徳島)
Thirsty Chords (徳島)

3/31: Kagawa-Ken; Takamatsu, Blowin'Bar
Parkmates Farewell Live
Leeway (高知/徳島)
Parkmates (香川)
Cheap Audio (香川)
4/7: Tokushima-Ken, Tokushima, Crowbar
 Leeway's "Tin Cans Calling Tokushima" CD Release Party
 Leeway (高知/徳島)
What's What (岡山)
Parkmates (香川)
Hushpuppy (徳島)

So anyway.... even though it's not all completely finished, I want to share one track from our album with you guys! The song is called "Friday Night Drinking Song" and it is destined to be the first track on our album. The sample at the beginning is from "Blues Brothers" if you weren't sure~ ;)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Top Five Japanese Movies

While looking forward to recording this Sunday (!!!!8 hours in the studio!!!!!), I've been trying my hardest to get over a nasty little lingering cold (that I've been nursing for the past three weeks....) and have been laying around my apartment watching movies more often this week than I usually do. Now. When it comes to Japanese movies.... I'm pretty skeptical. I've seen my fair share of horrid Japanese films (and I think I'm about done with actors not knowing how to stage kiss either...) that have absolutely no flow, the vaguest story known to man, and a theme that is so deeply imbedded in imagery and metaphor, it probably drowned before it hit the theaters. That being said, time and time again I give Japanese movies a chance (because when the love stories are cute and simple, I just can't help but spew hearts at the adorableness) and will randomly go to TSUTAYA and pick up two movies that appeal to me from the cover of the DVD box alone. By doing this, I've come to find some of my absolute favorite movies of all time. So, without further ado, I give you the "Gotta Tell Someone Top Five Ranking!"

Top Five Best Japanese Movies (IMO)

 5. BECK: Movies based off of manga/anime/dramas are kind of hit-and-miss in my opinion. I've seen dozens of them (Hana Yori Dango movie, All Nodame Contabure movies, 1 Liter of Tears movie, Koizora, Kimi Ni Todokeyo movie, Proposal Daisakusen movie, Nana movie... the list continues). By no means are they all bad. I actually really liked most of them! It's just.... in normal movie standards, drama/manga/anime movies tend to be pretty weak and really only function as fan-fodder in most cases, tying up loose ends and getting characters married (cue new Hotaru Hikari Movie set to come out). That all aside, I really liked the BECK movie for what it was and (though I haven't read the comic etc) thought that the cast was pretty good (I love me some Mizushima Hiro) along with their acting. It of course helped that the movie was about a band and very music related of course ;P

4. Shimotsuma Monogatari (or Kamikaze Girls, as it became in the English release): This is one of those high school 時代 nostalgic movies for me that I absolutely loved and watched a million and a half times. The story is sweet and simple (Loves-Lolita-Fashion girl meets Yankee-Biker-Gang girl and they become friends), and the filming style reminds me sooo much of Amelie that I immediately fell in love with the whimsicality of it all. The narration style is also extremely appealing, and the scene cuts and flashbacks that they add into the movie takes nothing away from the flow or simplicity of the story and just makes the whole thing rather light-hearted and funny.

3. About Love: I wrote about this movie way back when I first saw it, but wanted to touch on it again since it was so good. It's a movie about three different (international) love stories, all taking place in different countries in Asia. It contains a total of five different languages spoken during the course of the three stories (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, English, Spanish) and although the love stories don't all come to a conclusion (or a happy ending), I loved each story individually and thought that the movie had a lot of heart and hope. <3

2. Waterboys: I feel like most people have seen this movie... if not, please go out and rent it RIGHT NOW. It is seriously the funniest, weirdest little story about a high school boys synchronized swimming team. Nothing deep, heart-wrenching, or philosophical about it; it is extremely light-hearted, VERY funny, and has a great cast of actors/actresses that will probably be very familiar to you if you watch dramas/movies.

1. Shounen Meriken Sakku: Last but not least, one of my favorite movies of all time!! This was one of those movies where the DVD box appealed to me so much that one night, I picked it up from TSUTAYA and me and a buddy watched it in my apartment over dinner. I fell in love on-first-watch. Of course, it could be my closeness with the subject matter (the movie is about punk music, and every single character in the band reminded me of real people living in Kochi that I know) that has me so enraptured with this movie... but honestly it is hilarious and I think even if you aren't into punk music/live concert scenes, it has funny banter and is easy to follow along.

And thus concludes my third segment of "Gotta Tell Someone Top Five Ranking!" I hope you all go out and rent/download these movies ASAP (especially if you speak Japanese). I don't know the availability for these movies in English/with English subs (I only know that Kamikaze Girls and Waterboys has subs for sure), but even without understanding 100%, I think these are all worth a watch. I know that for me, I just turn on the subtitles in Japanese and my understanding goes up exponentially~

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Photo Entry: Kochi, Kyoto, Tokushima in a weekend

I'm actually amazed how fast the drive from Kochi to Kyoto was, as well as the drive from Kyoto to Tokushima. It took 4 hours on the highway Saturday morning to get to Kyoto, and less than 24 hours later we packed ourselves up and drove the hour and a half to Tokushima for band practice Sunday afternoon. People make Japan sound big, but things are a lot closer together (without trains) than one would expect. I will definitely be going on more road trips now that I know this :)
Mall playing Bass for TURNCOAT in Kochi

Band called AIWANA in Kyoto
Sabu and Kiyomi playing in Kochi for TURNCOAT
Singer for AIWANA, Kyoto
Can't remember the band's name, but they had matching instruments, hahahaha~
Ogi playing for Balladmen in Kyoto~