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Political ‘propaganda kimonos’ from pre-World War II Japan
11.16.2016
12:46 pm

Topics:
Design
Fashion
History

Tags:
Japan
World War II
kimonos


 
There’s something very alluring about secret codes intended to transmit a message of solidarity to a select few. Just recently in the wake of the presidential election, a significant number of people have adopted the practice of wearing a safety pin as a sign of resistance to President-Elect Trump and as a message of support to groups likely to be marginalized under a Trump administration such as African-Americans, Muslims, and women. Gee thanks, white people.

One example of this that I learned about recently was the Japanese practice of wearing militaristic propaganda in a way that only close friends and family would be in a position to notice—on ornate, specially designed kimonos. They were mainly reserved for inside the home or at private parties. Since the designs were often on undergarments or linings, a host would show them off to small groups of family or friends. These “propaganda kimonos” are called omoshirogara—denoting “interesting” or “amusing” designs—and were popular from 1900 to 1945, and for the first half of that period they had little to do with warfare.

For instance, in the 1920s and 1930s, many omoshirogara featured a bright consumerist future with gleaming art deco cityscapes and chugging locomotives and ocean liners. In the late 1920s, however, conservative and ultra-nationalist forces in the military and government started to assert themselves. In 1931 Japan invaded Manchuria and installed a puppet regime there, marking the start of a period of extreme militaristic nationalism and aggression as well as isolation from the West.

Norman Brosterman is one of the world’s foremost collectors of propaganda kimonos, and his website is a trove of arresting imagery. All of the kimonos depicted on this page come from his collection. He writes:
 

The Japanese tradition of pictures on garments took an insidious turn in 1895 and 1905 with the Sino-Japanese, and Russo-Japanese Wars, when kimono were first made with images of troops, cannon, and battleships. In the 20th century, kimono with a plethora of themes were produced – travel, sports, politics, fashion, and in the 1930’s, an outpouring of imagery of war. From 1931 and the Japanese annexation of Manchuria, until Pearl Harbor and the complete war footing it necessitated, Japanese propaganda in the form of clothing for men, boys, and more rarely, women, was produced and worn in Japan in support of the efforts overseas.

 
Here are some excellent specimens of the form:
 

This boy’s kimono with an image of a streamlined car.
 

This detail from a kimono from 1933 depicts the popular figures of “the Three Brave Bombers,” real-life soldiers who perished while laying explosives to clear out the enemy’s barbed wire defenses.
 
Many more remarkable kimonos after the jump…......

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bleak paintings that portray the daily challenges of being ‘human’
11.15.2016
09:43 am

Topics:
Art
Economy

Tags:
Japan
Tetsuya Ishida


‘A Desk’ by Tetsuya Ishida, 1996.
 
Though Japanese painter Tetsuya Ishida left this world at the over a decade ago—a mere month before his 32st birthday—he left us with a large collection of his surreal paintings to ponder that some speculate support the claim that Ishida’s death was a suicide and not an unfortunate accident.

On May 23rd 2005 Ishida was killed after being run over by a train. The vast majority of Ishida’s paintings reflect the harsh reality of life in Japan that Ishida experienced while growing up—the relentless pressure to reach impossibly high academics standards, the lack of jobs and the fact that Japan during his lifetime held the dubious title of having the highest suicide rates in the world (though Japanese suicide rates have declined in recent years). While Ishida’s story perhaps ended like many of his peers his legacy does provide keen insight into his perception of what life is like in Japan through the eyes of someone who lived through it for a short time. Themes such as isolation and the loss of hope for what the future holds. Often Ishida will incorporate his dead-eyed human subjects into a mechanical apparatus or other tangible everyday objects in an effort to convey the brutal erosion of quality of life in the capitalist system.

Ishida’s work possess the ability to silently and effortlessly express what so many lie sleeplessly thinking about. His paintings are accomplished and hauntingly mesmerizing, reinforcing their importance to be seen. Ishida’s work is the subject of at least two books Tetsuya Ishida Complete and Tetsuya Ishida Posthumous Best Practices. A number of the paintings below are probably NSFW.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Stray Cat Beat Girl: Meet the electrifying ‘Aretha Franklin’ of Japan, Akiko Wada
10.25.2016
10:40 am

Topics:
Feminism
Movies
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Japan
Akiko Wada


Akiko Wada.
 
The arrival of the “beat girl” archetype in Japanese culture back in the 60s came with numerous girl rockers taking the helm of bands, cranking out garage rock sounds and pop-inspired hits some of which would go on to sell more than a million copies (such as the 1965 smash sung in English by Emy Jackson “Crying in a Storm”). Of the many that were a part of this movement, one of the most notable was a woman often referred to as the “Japanese Aretha Franklin,” Akiko Wada.

Born Akiko Iizuka (according to her website) to Korean parents, she soon adopted her maternal uncle’s name (Wada) and started skipping school (before dropping out of high school entierly) to enjoy the nightlife of Osaka. At the age of seventeen she had added “runaway” to her growing rebellious teenage resume after a trip to Tokyo. Wada’s “look” was perceived as “unconventional” even during her childhood. In elementary school Wada was already over five-feet tall and by the time she stopped growing she stood approximately 5’9. Not only did Wada sound more like a man she was also taller than most of her male counterparts on the hit parade. Due to her unique looks and vocal style she was often referred to as being “butch.

It’s important to note here that being labeled as “butch” is a distinct inference of homosexuality. And being gay in Japan isn’t merely frowned upon, it is also considered an “unacceptable” lifestyle (though there has been some progress over the last two decades). Despite assumptions regarding her sexuality Wada has been married to a man (photographer Koji Iizuka) for the past 35 years.

Wada would embark on her recording career in 1968, singing on an astronomical number of records (somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 singles) since the release of her first single “Hoshizora no Kodoku” (“The Solitude of the Starry Sky”). Fast-forward to 2016 and the unstoppable Wada shows no signs of slowing down. Her latest release “All Right!!!” came out in July of this year—three months after her 66th birthday.

Wada also appeared in a few memorable films, a few which audiences outside of Japan may be familiar with such as the 1970 Japanese chick biker-flick (the first of the long-running franchise) Alleycat Rock: Female Boss where Akiko gets to play the cycle-riding biker girl “Ako.” Wada would reprise the role of “Ako” in the follow-up film, Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo. Wada has also hosted her own TV show, Akko ni Omakase (“Leave It To Akko”), as well as a radio show DJ Akko No Panic Studio. I’ve included a number of cool tracks from Wada’s vast catalog for you to listen to below and the groovy trailer for Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo (which was lovingly remastered back in 2014 by Arrow Films) that features Wada looking larger than life, rocking out in a sweet brown pantsuit.
 

The trailer for the 1970 film ‘Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo’ featuring Akiko Wada.
 
More Akiko Wada after the jump…

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John Deacon of Queen gets his palm read by a Japanese fortune-teller in 1977


Getting to know John Deacon with the help of Japanese fortune-teller Kiyoshibo Yasou in Music Life magazine (Japan), 1977. Larger resolution can be seen here.
 

“Since the left hand of the index finger is longer than the ring finger, will be successful and to work standing on top of the people.”

—Japanese fortune-teller Kiyoshibo Yasuo deciphering the hidden messages of John Deacon’s palm

 
A couple of weeks ago I posted about Japanese magazine Music Life and since that time I’ve continued to uncover some cool artifacts from the wildly popular vintage magazine such as this curious bit of strangeness—a somewhat clinical sounding dissection of Queen bassist John Deacon’s palm by a person the publication notes to be Japanese fortune-teller Kiyoshibo Yasou. A mysterious individual that I can find no reference for anywhere on the Internet outside of this odd little article from 1977.
 

 
Yasuo breaks down Deacon using an Astrological analysis, the process of Physiognomy (in which the evaluation of a person’s facial features is used to determine their personality type), a handwriting analysis and finally a deep-dive into Deacon’s palm to reveal his most innermost secrets. Of course when the excerpt from the magazine was translated into English using Google it produced a number of amusing, poorly translated revelations about the notoriously private Deacon that were strangely not terribly far from the truth. Such as this part of Deacon’s (a Leo by the way) astrological analysis:

Early success in life, is a lifetime of happiness. Romantic relationship too because it is (of his) masculine personality. Mote to women.

So because I’m deeply fascinated by this piece of rock and roll ephemera and a huge fan of the musical genius that is John Deacon I can tell you that Yasuo’s big reveal wasn’t that far off from reality. Deacon joined Queen when he was only nineteen-years-old which clearly equals “early success in life” by any reasonable standards. By the time he was 24 in 1975 he was already married to Veronica Tetzlaff and about to become a father for the first time after the devout Catholic become pregnant shortly after meeting Deacon at a disco. The couple has been married for 41 years have six children together which to many would be reflective of a “lifetime of happiness.”

I must say that overall I found Deacon’s amusing palm reading revealing as well as silly at times. Especially when it comes to the state of his gastrointestinal health and the skill of “standing on top of people” (included in the assessment of “Figure A” at the top of this post). Stay with me because here we go!

Figure B: the index finger and intelligence lines between the middle finger has stretched. This sweeping is the proof of good head.

Figure C: The horizontal line often is the lonely shop.

Figure D: Emotion line is divided for many present, one of them has been elongated. This is the person who sweeping have easy element becomes emotional. *(Analysis had been resting on another issue) * It does not have much thickness of the overall hand. Internal organs, care must be taken so easy especially break the gastrointestinal. It is not fatally bad phase, but as many fortune of something to struggling unfortunately.


More after the jump…

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The hallucinogenic Pop artwork of Japanese master Keiichi Tanaami
09.15.2016
12:28 pm

Topics:
Art
History
Music
Sex

Tags:
Japan
psychedelic
Keiichi Tanaami


Album artwork for The Monkees by Keiichi Tanaami.
 
Keiichi Tanaami was a part of the Neo-Dada movement that was born in Tokyo, a force in art spurned forward by the vitriolic anger that was postwar Japan at the beginning of the 1960s. The goal of the painters and other creative artists that were a part of the Neo-Dada Organization (as they were called) was to create works that were “suspended between art and guerrilla warfare.” Tanaami himself was a survivor of the U.S air raids during WWII that targeted Tokyo starting in 1942 which took the lives of more than 100,000 civilians (although some estimates place the number closer to 200,000) and had been deeply affected by the war. One of the horrors that Tanaami recalls during the air raids is the vision of his father’s pet goldfish deformed body still swimming around it its bowl when his family returned from a bomb shelter after his neighborhood had been destroyed. It was this and other unspeakable sights that according to Tanaami robbed him of his childhood.
 

‘No More War,’ 1967.
 
Thankfully Tanaami would find a way to channel his grief, anger and loss into a remarkable career as one of the Japan’s most loved “pop” artists despite the fact that his own mother and the vast majority of his family were emphatically opposed to his choice of professions after discovering his passion for art during high school. Tanaami quickly found work as an artist in print media and doing commissions while still in college which would lead to a gig with the pioneering group JAAC (Japan Advertising Artists Club). The pop art influence in Tanaami’s work is vividly aparent and much of his early work centers around pop-flavored eroticism. In 1975 he got another big break after becoming the first art director for the Japanese version of Playboy magazine, called Monthly Playboy. During a trip to Playboy’s New York offices (and according to Tanaami’s extensive bio on his website) the magazine’s editor (or Hugh Hefner I’m assuming) took Tanaami to Andy Warhol’s mythical studio, the Factory. As if this wasn’t transformative enough for Tanaami his path would also cross with underground comix icon R. Crumb along the way, yet another event that helped shape Tanaami’s ever evolving visionary style.

By the time the 80s rolled around Tanaami, though still working, had developed a penchant for boozing around the clock. A lifestyle that landed the artist in a hospital bed for four months where the combination of medication used to help aid his recovery caused intense hallucinations from which he recovered, armed with an arsenal of boundary-pushing subject matter on which to draw from.

Now a triumphant eighty years old, Tanaami’s compelling work is routinely shown at museums across the world and has been the subject of a few books that celebrate various eras in his life that have included collage work and impressive sculptural interpetations of his paintings such as Keiichi Tanaami: Spiral and Keiichi Tanaami: Killer Joe’s Early Times 1965-73. Some of our more astute, artistically-inclined Dangerous Minds readers may also recognize Tanaami’s artwork from the covers of albums by Super Furry Animals and Jefferson Airplane. I’ve included Tanaami’s album art as well as a large selection of his hyper-colorful psychedelic works some of which are slightly NSFW. 
 

 

 

‘Two Twiggy’s.’
 
More after the jump…

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Stunning images & footage of Queen’s first visit to Japan in 1975 & their triumphant return in 1976
09.09.2016
10:28 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Japan
1970s
Queen


 
In the spring of 1975 Queen set foot as a band for the first time in Japan much to the delight of their legions of fans there. The band played their first of many gigs at Budokan after the release of 1974’s Sheer Heart Attack and the footage from the show is truly something to behold as are the images of the then 29-year-old Mercury sitting along with his bandmates and a few lovely geishas at a formal ceremony on the grass in front of the Tokyo Tower.

Queen would return the very next year to Tokyo in support of their 1976 album A Day at the Races and were photographed hanging out with Sumo wrestlers, drinking sake and greeting a group of fascinated Japanese children who likely had no idea what to make of Freddie Mercury dressed in a multi-colored knit coat sporting long hair and dark sunglasses. The photos are as charming as they are gorgeous to look at. I’ve also included fantastic footage from Queen’s very first press conference in Tokyo (that includes lots of other footage such as their arrival at the airport and the ceremony in front of the Tokyo Tower) as well as a stellar performance of the single from Sheer Heart Attack “Now I’m Here” from the band’s debut show at Budokan that is going to blow your socks off.

Queen’s inaugural performance at Budokan was of course bootlegged and can be tracked down on various Internet sites but as a huge fan I remain hopeful that the performance will get a proper official release as did Queen’s legendary show at the Odeon in London on Christmas Eve in 1975 Queen- A Night At the Odeon (which just so happens to include a bit of footage from Queen’s Budokan gig—three songs specifically “Now I’m Here,” “Killer Queen,” and “In The Lap Of The Gods… Revisited”). On September 5th—or what would have been Freddie’s 70th birthday this past Monday—guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May announced that an asteroid formerly known as “Asteroid 17473” had been re-named “Freddiemercury” in Mercury’s honor. May had his own asteroid named after him, “Brianmay” (formerly “Asteroid 52665”) back in 2008. Awww.
 

Queen hanging out on the grass in front of the Tokyo Tower during their first visit to Japan in 1975.
 

1975.
 

Mercury greeting a group of Japanese children in 1976.
 
More Queen in Japan after the jump…

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Rare photos of David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Frank Zappa & more from Japanese magazine ‘Music Life’


A beaming Hoshika Rumiko with The Beatles on the cover of issue number eight of ‘Music Life,’ 1965.
 
According to fans the Japanese magazine Music Life (published by Shinko Music Entertainment) is considered the greatest music publication in Japan. The magazine got its real start sometime in 1951 after a failed launch five-years earlier in 1946. When a former member of the magazine’s editorial staff, Hoshika Rumiko, took over as the magazine’s editor in 1964, she also became the first Japanese journalist to interview The Beatles in London and then once again when the band came to Japan in 1966. Rumiko even appeared on the cover of Music Life in 1965 along with John, Paul, George and Ringo dressed in traditional Japanese attire. When her interview with the Fab Four was published the magazine sold 250,000 copies—a far cry from their usual distribution of 50,000-70,000 copies per issue.

Known for its high-quality photographs printed on thick glossy paper Music Life was reportedly one of Japan’s best selling magazines during the 60’s and 70s and featured photos and interviews with EVERYONE that was anyone especially musical acts that were “big in Japan” like David Sylvian (of the band Japan), Queen, The Runways, David Bowie, Debbie Harry, Frank Zappa, and of course KISS. Most of the images I’ve included here I’ve never laid eyes on myself, like one of an eighteen-year-old Peter Frampton with a brown Beatle-esque haircut from 1968 and another of Iron Maiden posing the cover of Music Life in 1981 with a heavy metal-looking Kabuki entertainer instead of their faithful mascot Eddie.

The magazine called it a day in 1998 and Rumiko is currently working to complete her biography detailing her life as a pioneering female journalist in Japan (something I will absolutely be reading when it comes out in English) sometime late this year. As I know many of our Dangerous Minds readers enjoy collecting vintage music magazines, copies of Music Life are fairly easy to come by and will run you anywhere from $20 to about $75 bucks an issue on eBay. If you dig what you see in this post, you can also see more of the magazine’s cool covers that date back to 1968 at this archival site.


Marc Bolan of T.Rex on the cover of issue number twelve of ‘Music Life,’ 1972.
 

Adam Ant, 1981.
 

Frank Zappa, 1969.

Much more ‘Music Life’ after the jump…

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Goes great with ACID: Behold the completely f*cked up giant wearable cat head


The creepy as fuck ‘Real Cat Head’ band.
 
If you hang out on the Internet long enough you’ll see some stuff that you can never unsee. Such is the case with Housetu Sato’s frighteningly realistic looking and wearable “Real Cat Heads.” Made out of felt, Sato’s freakishly large cat heads became so famous after making their debut on Sato’s Facebook page that they were displayed at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art museum.
 

 
Since then Sato (a professor at the Japanese School of Wool Art) has apparently received loads of requests from folks wanting to buy his Real Cat Heads and due to that response he obliged and the bizarro feline head gear can now be purchased by those willing to shell out nearly ¥600,000 yen (roughly $5706.14 USD) and they only go up in price from there depending on the design. Each cat head is made to order, stands approximately five feet high (and wide) and the entire process takes about three months to complete. Though it’s noted on Dwango (the site that is selling the heads) that the “Real Cat Heads” are only available to buyers in Japan, apparently if you ask Sato nicely over on his blog he might make an exception for an interested buyer not located in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Images of folks who appear to have purchased their own giant cat heads as well as examples of Sato’s incredibly realistic handiwork follow. 
 

 

 
More of this insanity after the jump…

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When Can met Japan: David Sylvian and Holger Czukay’s wonderful ambient collaborations
06.30.2016
09:18 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Japan
Can
Holger Czukay
David Sylvian


 
The UK glam band Japan had a singularly interesting career—though influenced by the usual glam touchstones Bowie, Dolls, et al, their visual presentation directly predicted the New Romantic movement, and to this day the band is still somewhat incorrectly associated with that flamboyant scene, largely on the basis of similar haircuts. But Japan were more directly from the art-rock mold, experimenting with funk, electronics, and (surprise surprise) Asian musics. By 1982, as new-ro peaked, and the band was starting to climb from cult success to chart success, personal tensions broke them up. But the band’s singer, David Sylvian, continued as a solo artist in the avant-rock mold, collaborating with Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto, and releasing adventurous sophisto-pop albums inspired by jazz, prog, and contemporary classical.
 

 
On his 1984 solo debut Brilliant Trees, Sylvian was the beneficiary of vocal, brass and guitar contributions from Czukay, bassist of the long-running and influential Krautrock band Can. Though Czukay was a hired backup player on those sessions with no songwriting credits on the LP, the pair evidently found common creative ground. They’d record together in 1986, 1987, and 1988, those sessions ultimately becoming two wonderfully lush but little-known ambient LPs. Plight and Premonition, released in 1988, is a spooky and beautiful suite of two side-length songs (no points awarded for guessing that their titles are “Plight” and “Premonition”) in the Klaus Schultze vein, made with a combination of traditional instruments and manipulated radio sounds. Additionally, Czukay’s Can co-conspirator Jaki Liebezeit is credited with “Infra-sound,” which is science for “shit you can’t actually hear.”
 
More after the jump…

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The unhappiest places on earth: Nightmarish playground structures from around the world
06.16.2016
09:59 am

Topics:
Amusing
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:
Japan
Russia
China
playgrounds


A strange reverse “human centipede” style playground sculpture.
 
Many of the images in this nightmare-fueled post were taken in playgrounds around Russia, and they are about as bleak as a vodka shortage in Moscow in the middle of winter.
 

The “peeing rainbow kids” of Kiev, Ukraine.
 
Some of the other perplexing playground structures that you’ll see, such as a rock climbing “thing” that looks like a giant dick, and the reverse human centipede sculpture (pictured at the top of this post) were photographed in China, Tokyo and some European locations. Each of them has one thing in common: they appear to have been created by people who don’t like children at all. Of course there are plenty of demented looking clowns as well as depressed looking bears (because, Russia), and other odd animal-themed slides and such that are just too inexplicably odd for words. Unless those words consist of the triple-threat known as “WTF.”

If you need me, I’ll be under the bed.
 

Moscow.
 

Tokyo.
 

‘Goblin’ merry-go-round.

More images of strange playground structures that need to be put out of their misery, after the jump…

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‘Funeral Parade of Roses’: Edgy 1969 Japanese drama that inspired Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’
06.15.2016
02:09 pm

Topics:
Movies
Queer

Tags:
Japan
Stanley Kubrick
Toshio Matsumoto


 
Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses is one of the most audacious and astounding feature films ever made, a visually-stunning hodgepodge of cutting edge 60s graphic design, Warholian underground cinema, documentary filmmaking along with wildly experimental editing techniques. Matsumoto’s dazzling freewheeling filmmaking breaks the Brechtian fourth wall several times—interviewing the actors about their roles and pulling a shot out to reveal the camera and lighting crew—and shows the influence of William Klein’s fashionista extravaganza Who Are You, Polly Magoo?, the films of Jean Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, even Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
 

 
Funeral Parade of Roses is a furious and dizzying bombardment of violence, sex, and drugs. The 1969 film is well-known to have been a major influence on Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, and we see this in the sped-up montage scenes set to classical music, the sound design and editing style, and art direction (not to mention the false-eyelashes and the phallic lollipops). It was produced via the Art Theatre Guild (ATG) the legendary Japanese production company and distributors of the country’s “New Wave” cinema that was shunned by the major studios. In one underground “in-joke” New York’s avant-garde cinema promoter Jonas Mekas is mentioned by name and quoted:

“All definitions of cinema have been erased. The doors are now open.”

 

 
All this and I’ve yet to mention that Funeral Parade of Roses takes place in Tokyo’s gay underworld—Bara no sôretsu is the original Japanese title, “bara” meaning “rose” which equates to the pejorative use of “pansy”—giving it a particularly edgy reputation for a film made in Japan in 1969.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
It’s so nice to be a beautiful girl: Meet J-Pop’s avant garde sweetheart Kahimi Karie
05.04.2016
12:43 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Japan
Soft Machine
Momus
Kahimi Karie
J-Pop


 
There was a while there in the mid to late 90s when it looked like Japanese pop chanteuse Kahimi Karie would break out of Tokyo’s hip and fashionable “Shibuya-kei” scene (which included Pizzicato Five, Plastic Fantastic Machine, Dee-lite’s Tōwa Tei and others) to find international stardom. She certainly had the potential, the looks and the style. I think when European and American music fans first discovered her, it was assumed that there might be other, similar J-Pop singers like her still to find, but this sadly wasn’t the case. Kahimi Karie (real name Hiki, Mari) was unique within that category, if she even deserved to be lumped in with J-Pop at all.

Influenced by the French yé-yé singers of the 1960s and finding her own Serge Gainsbourg(s) in the persons of then boyfriend Keigo Oyamada (aka the brilliant Cornelius) and quirky Scottish performer Momus, Karie’s whispery, half-spoken Claudine Longet-esque vocals were the perfect gloss on a pop confection that looked backwards and forwards equally.
 

 
Her best-known single “Good Morning World” was commissioned for use in a Japanese cosmetics company’s TV commercial. The song’s playful, nearly nonsensical dada lyrics named-checked a Fall song (“How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’”) and it utilized a particularly effective sample lifted from the Soft Machine’s “Why Am I So Short?Talk about two insanely cool dog whistles to smuggle into a corporate advertising jingle. Bravo!

There was much to like in the Kahimi Karie package, but for whatever reason, other than the small hipster J-Pop audience, few outside of Japan took notice.
 

 
Karie’s sound has radically changed over the years as she’s collaborated with the likes of Arto Lindsay, Add N to (X) and Yasuharu Konishi. Now 48 and living in New York after a long period of residing in Paris, it seems like she has turned her back on hoping for another mainstream pop hit. Recent projects have been produced in collaboration with Japanese noise rocker Yoshihide Otomo and experimental musician Jim O’Rourke. She actually hasn’t been that active in music for many years and her website, infrequently updated, seems to indicate that she might be involved with fashion and bag design these days.

“Good Morning World” written and produced by Momus:

 
More from Kahimi Karie after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Amusing manga of The Cure, Siouxsie Sioux, Marc Bolan, Hanoi Rocks & more from the 80s

Robert Smith of The Cure on the front cover of Japanese music magazine 8 Beat Gag, 1988
Robert Smith of The Cure on the front cover of Japanese music magazine ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
 
I’m really into these sweet manga illustrations which were published back in the 80s in a Japanese music magazine called 8 Beat Gag. Written in Japanese, most (if not all) are likely by the the rather prolific manga artist Atsuko Shima—but she wasn’t the only artist that created the cartoons that featured popular musical acts in weird situations that Japanese youth were obsessing about.

The fantastic cartoon of Finnish band Hanoi Rocks, which may have also been published in 8 Beat Gag, did show up as a surprise insert UK pressings of the band’s last record 1984’s Two Steps From the Move. Which makes me want to hunt a copy down just so I can have one of my own. When it comes to finding copies of 8 Beat Gag, good luck. As when they do pop up (which they occasionally do), they will cost you a tidy sum. The comic featuring The Cure (where Robert Smith Inexplicably morphs into some sort of goth Yeti. Because, Japan), follows in its entirety as well as a few others featuring Siouxsie Sioux going up against Girlschool in some sort of track event involving vegetables, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Marc Bolan, Peter Murphy, Morrissey and 80s New Wavers Ultravox.
 
A manga cartoon about The Cure from Japanese music magazine, 8 Beat Gag, 1988
A manga cartoon about The Cure from Japanese music magazine, ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
 

 

 

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Classic Japanese punk band ‘The Star Club’ covering Sham 69,The Clash, & the Ramones
02.01.2016
10:17 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Japan
The Clash
1980s
punk rock
Sham 69
The Star Club

The Star Club
An early photo of The Star Club

Since getting their start back in Nagoya, Japan in the spring of 1977, Japanese punk band, The Star Club, has put out more than 30 records (their most recent Max Breakers was released in December of 2015), and despite numerous lineup changes over the decades, the band continues to tour and perform with original vocalist, Hikage.
 
The long-running vocalist for The Star Club, Hikage, 1978
Hikage, the long-running vocalist for The Star Club, 1978
 
There were no shortage of punk bands in Japan during the late 70s and early 80s such the influential Blue Hearts, Anarchy, The Stalin, Crack the Marian, noise-punks Outo and hardcore punks, Gauze. Obviously, most of these groups got their inspiration from the punk that was happening thousands of miles away in the UK and New York, as the title of this post alludes to. Over the years, the rotating members of The Star Club even have even used mashups of the names of members of the Sex Pistols and Clash as their own. At one time back in the day, the bass player was known as “Paul Vicious,” the drummer called himself “Topper Cook,” and the guitarist became “Steve Cat Jones.”
 
The Star Club, early 1980s
 
From heavy metal to art, I’m a huge fan of the creative forces that emanate to my ears and eyes by way of Japan. And watching videos of The Star Club performing not only their own music back in the 80s, but the music of their punk idols, pioneers like Sham 69, The Clash and the Ramones, pretty much made my day. I found it especially enjoyable to watch the 80s version of Star Club vocalist Hikage swirling around while spewing out “Bodies” in a shirt not unlike Johnny Lydon’s straight-jacket-looking muslin “Destroy” shirt.
 
The Star Club
The Star Club “Aggressive Teens/Bodies” Australian release, 1986
 
If you dig what follows, I have some good news for you as many of The Star Club’s recordings can be found on Ebay and Discogs. I’ve also posted videos of the Star Club covering “Borstal Breakout” by Sham 69, The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Bodies,” by the Sex Pistols, and “I Fought the Law” as famously covered by The Clash (which is a part of the performance in first video below). The first video also includes a short amusing interview with the band, which was recorded at a show The Star Club did under the alias of “Anarchy in the J.A.P” in support of their fifteenth anniversary and cover album of the same name in 1992.
 

The Star Club performing as “Anarchy in the J.A.P” in the early 90s. A brief interview with the band pops up just before their cover of Sham 69’s 1979 single, “If the Kids are United”
 
More from the Star Club, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Upskirt underpants umbrellas are a thing in Japan
01.15.2016
10:33 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion

Tags:
Japan


 
The latest supposed craze in Japan are upskirt umbrellas featuring images of popular schoolgirl anime characters. Certainly something like this would never fly in the states, but Japan is Japan and so we must experience brain freeze and go with it, I suppose. Anyway, the underside of the umbrella—called an “Un-burera” which is a play of “umbrella” and “underpants”—showcases the underpants while the topside features the anime character’s face. 

Apparently the umbrellas come with strong warnings that they will cause, “extreme embarrassment for the user” and that the owner uses the item in public “at their own risk.”

Gee, I wonder why? Nope, nothing sleazy about this at all!


 

 

 
via Rocket News

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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