Trash Picking For A Foreign Language!

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Ice Hockey In Japan: What the Puck?

It’s the end of August, which means it’s time to say “さよなら summer”.  Mother Nature, or in physics-nerd-talk the Earth’s Rotational Axis, says pack away your pool noodles, fold up your beach chairs, and pile in the last of those Ball Park Franks.  Baseball, bikini’s, and boardwalk snacks are coming to an end.  But hey, we had a good run right?  If we’ve learned anything from Monty Python it’s that “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.”  No, no, no, that’s not it.  It’s that we should “always look on the bright side of life.”  That’s more like it.

So whats the bright side of summer being over?  For starters, you can dust of all those hoodies, jeans, and track jackets that have been discarded in your closet like an island of misfit toys.  Another biggy is that bugs will disappear and the chemical-chloroform -dance of leaves and light will begin.  Is there anything better than walking under pastel colored leaves, the embers of a dieing fire, on a crisp autumn morning?  I can think of only one thing.  Ironing out that Couch-Cushion-A#*-Groove in preparation for the mother of all sports seasons.

For me this means Hockey.  That’s right football-junkies, I said slap-shot-stick-save-drop-your-gloves-Broadstreet-Bullies-backyard-knuckle-puck-pond-Hockey.  What’s that you say, the NHL might go on strike?  What the Puck!   Hmm… I should have thought about this before opening my big mouth.

Well now what do we do?

Don’t worry I have a plan-B.

This isn’t that idea about dressing up beavers in hockey equipment again is it?

No, I swear this will work.

It turns out there is an Ice Hockey League in Asia.  He shoots he scores!








The AL, short for Asia League Ice Hockey, is a decade old this year.  The league is composed of 7 teams from Korea, China, and Japan.   Four of the teams, the Ice Bucks, the Nippon Paper Cranes, the Oji Eagles, and the Free Blades, are located in Japan.

Although the AL could never replace the NHL or my love for the Flyers, these teams are an interesting and worthy stand-in.  As the Olympics illustrated, one of the best ways to bring different countries together is athletics.  The competitive spirit and fun derived from sports transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries.  For the most part the rules of a game change very little with location.  When I would ride my bike around the Olympic built, 駒沢公園, I’d see that the Japanese had adopted almost every world sport.  Some of the more surprising discoveries were Lacrosse, Rugby, and American Football.  However, as a life-long hockey player I was hoping to find some Japanese-Hanson-Brother-counter-parts.  Although the sport is still widely unknown, I think the AL represents a bright future for international collaboration and the sport of Hockey.  In reality, other than a few countries, Hockey has always been the underdog of the athletic world.  Perhaps we like it that way.

Map of team locations

To help spread the love I attached some interesting links to sites about hockey in Asia and Japan.

Asia League Ice Hockey main site.

Asia League Facebook Page

Japan Ice Hockey Federation

Japan Ice hockey Federation facebook page

Overview of Japanese Ice Hockey Arena’s.  location/pictures/history/details

5 rinks in Tokyo.  Google Maps the locations.  Many are closer to major stations than I thought.


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Nujabes spelled backwards is “Hip-Hop-Legend”.







The music of Nujabes, more than any other subject matter, exemplifies what this blog is about.  Now that you mention it, what is this blog about?  Anything or any thing?  I’ll be honest, I’m not trying to use this as some philosophical-psychoanalytical-character-study of myself or the world.  There are already plenty of poorly written blogs, books, and Harpo-Winbag-recommended-pieces-of-firewood-kindling that do that.  All I want to do is show people some cool stuff I think they may like, which they may not have found on their own.

And really; what’s cooler than a Nujabes Hip Hop beat?

A.  Nothing   X  A blog post on Nujabes Hip Hop beats.

B.  Nothing   X   Goku doing a kamehameha while wearing a Nujabes T-shirt

C.  Nothing   X   Goku doing a kamehamhea while wearing a Nujabes T-shirt while listening to the Nujabes Pandora station

D.  Nothing   X   Goku doing a kamehameha while wearing a Nujabes T-shirt while listening to the Nujabes Pandora station while doing a 360 flip over a 20 foot gap on a skateboard that has a Nujabes deck design.

E.  All of the above.

That was a trick question.  A Nujabes Hip Hop beat is like a parabolic equation that is always approaching infinity.  “There is none higher. He sets the microphone on fire.”

The reason his music exemplifies this blog is because of it’s incredible ability to bring together elements of different cultures.  Most people will probably recognize his music from, the similarly-ultra-cool, Samurai Champloo.  The anime, like Nujabe’s music, combines elements of art, storytelling, jazz, hip-hop, and both modern and ancient Japanese culture.

Samurai Gang Sign

As some may know Nujabes is simply Jun Seba spelled in reverse.  Jun Seba is the birth name of the incredible Hip-Hop legend that was born and raised in Tokyo Japan.  In addition to his prolific contributions to Samurai Champloo, Jun Seba was actively engaged with the Japanese and international underground Hip-Hop scene. He collaborated with artists such a Uyama Hiroto, Shingo2, Minmi, Cise Starr, Fat Jon, Terry Calier and Funky DL.  Sadly, and unfortunately for lovers of Hip-Hop,  Jun Seba died in a tragic car accident on February 27, 2010 at the age of 36.  His impact and influence on not only hip-hop, but also artistic expression in general, will forever be felt and remembered.

As a piano player I’ve come to love Nujabes for his signature incorporation of Jazz into his samples.  There is something about pianos, martial arts, and Hip-Hop that hits all the right places in my higher primate brain.  Wu-Tang certainly understood this well.  Below is the full album Nujabes- Modal Soul.  At just over 1 hour the album is a mind blowing masterpiece that takes a strange journey through dreamy-anthem-disco-Gil Scott Heron-like samples.  (There is some coarse language at times but over all it’s a very accessible album.  Fans of any type of music could easily be engaged and given a new-found love of Hip-Hop.)

00:00- 02:51 – Feather (feat. Cise Starr & Akin)
02:52 – 07:49 – Ordinary Joe (feat. Terry Callier)
07:50 – 11:54 – Reflection Eternal
11:55 – 17:24 – Luv (Part 3 featuring Shing02)
17:25 – 21:33 – Music is Mine
21:34 – 24:57 – Eclipse (feat. Substantial)
24:58 – 29:41 – The Sign (feat. Pase Rock)
29:42 – 33:46 – Thank You (feat. Apani B)
33:47 – 39:25 – World’s End Rhapsody
39:26 – 44:06 – Modal Soul (feat. Uyama Hiroto)
44:07 – 48:03 – Flowers
48:04 – 51:02 – Sea of Cloud
51:03 – 54:52 – Light on the Land
54:53 – Horizon

Below is a playlist of some of his top tracks.  I especially like the Spanish guitar sample on the 4th Track: Lady Brown (ft. Cise Starr).  I’ve had this on repeat for pretty much a week.  I’ve actually been using this to test a new way to study Japanese.  When I get bored of doing SRS repetitions I put on the instrumental beats and try to Rap the sentences over the mix.  (In the safety and privacy of my room with the lights off and the blinds down and the door locked of course.)   Something else I recommend doing is finding cool surfing or skateboard videos, mute them, and then play the Nujabes’ beats instead.


Hope everyone is inspired.  I love doing anything artistic to this music.  Writing Kanji becomes like meditation.  Just another piece of JPgomi.

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Street Fighter Meets Marketing Mascots(Fight!)

Question:  What happens when you take Ronald McDonald’s body and infuse it with the psychotic mentality of The Joker and the physically destructive capabilities of a Super Saiyan?

Answer:  Awesomeness happens, that’s what.

Did you ever wish you could play an awesome Street Fighter style video game with your favorite, or perhaps hated, marketing mascots?  I know I have.  What could be better than using these oh-so-nostalgic and beloved characters to kick the advertising S*#! out of each other. ( It’s like Christmas morning for a communist.)  Well thanks to METAJAN that wish has become a reality.  The art in this series depicts what would happen if these meek mascots were taken from the glitz and glam of commercials, billboards, and magazines, then thrown into basic combat training, only to be told they now must fight to the death.

Ronald “The Big Mac” McDonald and The “Greasy Bandit” Hamburgler are throwing down a tag-team “I’m-loving-it-smackdown”.  Meanwhile Colonel “The Kentucky Killer” Sanders is taking names and kickin A#%’s with his secret recipe of 11 finishing moves.

The Big Mac

The Big C

Out of all of the individual characters my favorite is still The Boss from Boss Coffee. I love Boss coffee and the mascot is… well he’s a “Boss”.  That piece of art currently resides as the desktop background of my computer.  And yes, every time I open my computer I do feel like a Boss.

The Boss (not Bruce Springsteen)

I’d love to hear from people on who there favorite characters are, what their ideal team would be, who they wish was in the game, or what match-ups would be the most fun to watch fight.

I’ve included a link to the original article and a link to the METAJAN site.  On the METAJAN site there are characters such as the LEGO figure that weren’t included in the article.

『ストリートファイター』にカーネルサンダースやドナルドやキティちゃんが登場!? 作者にお話を伺ってみたよ! | Pouch[ポーチ].


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It’s a Bar, It’s a Cafe, It’s a Art Studio, It’s… かねよ食堂

One aspect of Japan that I continually read and write about, are bars.  Sure I love beer and having a good time but that’s not what peaks my interest.  It’s the spaces themselves that I find so intriguing.  They are microcosms for the world and incubators for the human story.  Two strangers meet and their discussion juts out as another cilia like hair from the thread of time.  This could happen anywhere you say?  The bank, the library, and the super market are all just as likely places of human interaction.  But it’s the individuality and character of bars in Japan that make them soberingly ideal places for the story of life to unfold.

Like on a boat, everything in Japan seems to serve more than one purpose.  What you thought was a desk is now a bed.  The chair you were just sitting on is now a table.   The bars, if we can even call them bars, are no exception.  Often in masterfully imaginative and creative ways the bars somehow manage to make one facility serve several purposes.  At any given time you can order a beer, or lunch, or coffee, all while being culturally enriched by art and live music.  The combination of beverages, art, and music is no new concept.  However, the dedication to quality, and the manner in which they seamlessly integrate all of these elements, makes the Japanese bars unique.  One of these multipurpose-cultural-kaleidoscopes is かねよ食堂。 (Literally “multipurpose dining room”)










This place is my heaven. It’s a Hemingway like haven by the sea. I envision myself under a slow moving fan, while warm breezes saunter through bringing the songs and sounds of the Pacific.  My glass of quinine sunshine perspires, as do I.  Beads of moisture running in zig-zag paths carry away heat and any inkling of worry.  Pen in hand, I labor over the blank pages of my notebook.  It’s the easy self-involved day-dreaming-labor of a child building a sand castle.  I write by dictation, the environment speaks and I transcribe.  My cigar sits in the tray and sputters smoke signals to the dreamers of the world.  “Awake!” it says.  “The sun has risen, there is life to be lived and stories to be told.”  Across the room the band begins their set.  The guitars paint the last strokes of my impressionist piece, “Eden by Afternoon.”  Everything good comes in waves.  Water, sound, light, emotions, and creative cognition flow forward in dynamic shifts of troughs and crests.  The universe, in all its complexity, seems to have things figured out.

かねよ食堂 is rustic yet refined.  The entire structure looks like a collection of driftwood that washed up on shore.  It’s a bungalow, a cabana, an oasis, and a true pearl.  The woodwork and well thought out lighting give it the feel of a childhood fort.  There is an inescapable wonder and timelessness in the weather worn floor boards of this shanty shack surf den.  It brings together everything I, and I think everyone, loves in life.  When there is music, people, food, art, and the ocean, you must ask yourself, “If this isn’t nice what is?”

I use places like this to learn geographical names and words that may not regularly appear in my Japanese vocabulary.

You can see it’s south of Tokyo and Yokohama

This is a link to the Google Image search for the bar.  Lots of great pictures which lead to lots of great Japanese websites to do some reading practice.


This is a link to the bars blog.  Lots of cool events and useful things to read about.


This is a link to a popular Japanese foodzie site called 食べログ, it’s the page on かねよ食堂。


This is another blog that has some nice pictures and Japanese discussions about かねよ。

Another Blog

Just another piece of JP gomi.

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Summer Japanese Jam-sesh (DOPENESS×BOSE×QN)







As a musician I’ve been there.  The beers flowing, a warm breeze rolls through like a blanket over a sleeping child, and all is right with the world.  Everything clicks, connects, and the senses mingle releasing one’s thoughts from past and future.  That moment and that night, the next note wrong or right, are all that matter.  People join in as new friends of the song.  Everyone’s banging or tapping something regardless of if they can play.  The rhythms right and the Jam-sesh is on.

For me this Jam-session video is the epitome of that end of summer vibe.  I know the summer isn’t over yet but a Friday in august gives me that feel.  I did some research on the place where this video takes place.  It’s pretty much my heaven.  It is so epic that it requires its own post which I intend to do ASAP.  I actually need time to consider whether or not I should reveal this precious gem’s location.  I don’t want my heavenly paradise crowded up with tourists now do I.  Hmmm… on second thought I’d be a tourist as well.  But then again I could always call the universal law of “Finders Keepers.”  I’m in a good mood though so lets see what happens.

The video features, as the title illustrates, Dopeness, Bose, and QN.  I’ve dabbled with a bunch of their stuff and find most of it to have a killer style.  However, I’m no expert in their bodies of work.  I’m not sure who the musicians are in the video but it really doesn’t matter. They hit that flow that usually comes around when no one has a camera and the only time the jam will ever be heard is the first and last time its played.

Thank 神様 someone had a camera.

In the background of this video you’ll see U-zhaan, a world renowned Tabla player who studied and lived in India.

AP_Drum_U-Zhaan“U-zhaan (Hironori Yuzawa) is considered to be one of Japan’s foremost tabla players. He is a disciple of the legendary tabla maestro Pandit Anindo Chatterjee.  He has also studied seriously with the world renowned maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain. U-zhaan’s many projects and collaborations, span the wide array of genre in Japan. From the traditional music of Japan and Classical music of India, to modern fusion and contemporary music, his tasteful and inspiring musicianship shines through, touching everyone who comes to listen.” (The above is an excerpt from

My favorite part of the entire video, besides everything, is the clearly drunk girl yelling in reply ” 楽しい、楽しい” at 2:03.

Just another piece of JP gomi.

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Masako Yasumoto – Contemporary dance –










I started this blog off with a link to South Park and now I’m on the topic of contemporary dance.  Weird huh?  What can I say?  I’m into everything.  The real idea behind this blog was to illustrate that you never know where you can learn something.  As the Japanese say, “Everyone is your master.”  This means you can learn from everyone and everything.  As I rummage through wifi-ethernet-garbage I come across things of interest that I hope others might enjoy as well.  So here we are.

If your like me the first time you came across a piece of work like Masako Yasumoto’s, was in a video like this –

I’m 90% sure that’s not her.  I think that’s just a dance enthusiast with a similar style.  One of the best examples of this beautiful art is a video I found of Masako Yasumoto dancing to Shiina Ringo’s (椎名 裕美子) song Poltergeist.  The song is from the album “karuki zamen kuri no hana.”  The reason this video is so great is because every form of art used in its construction is masterfully executed.  As you’ll see the video is enthralling because of not only the music and dancing, but also the film work.  Although I’ve always been a lover of the arts; writing, drawing, and playing music.  I was never that big into dance outside of my typical wedding-crasher-behavior.  That’s not to say I had any less respect for the medium, I was simply never significantly engaged.  However, I know what I like and I like this.

Just another piece of JP gomi.