Trash Picking For A Foreign Language!

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Japanese Rock

When I first decided to get into the Japanese music scene, it was with the intention of improving my language skills.  But I have to admit I was leery of the entire experience.  Actually I was frightened into a fettle-position like cowardice.  My first concern was that I wouldn’t understand a word anyone was saying.  Fair enough, I thought.  Secondly, and more importantly, I dreaded listening to anime song after anime song.  There is nothing wrong with anime.  In fact I love it and believe it is a beautiful art form with some of the most creative stories I have ever encountered.  However, to my Rock-Loving-Ears the majority of anime PV’s leave something to be desired.  This desire is rooted in the need for originality and the fear of boredom.  Too many anime songs sound like they were squeezed from a tube of preprocessed, flavorless, ready to eat, made-for-tv-music.  I’m always left wondering, “Where is the heart and soul?”  Although I love some PV’s, like Asian Kung Fu Generations title track for Fooly Cooly, I could not bet my sustained language engagement on a few outliers.  Luckily the Japanese Music scene has a taste for every sound and a sound for every taste.

Somehow, I don’t remember exactly, I came across this band with the strange name Thee Michelle Gun Elephant.  Thanks to these fellows my fears subsided and the rest is history.  I own two of their albums, Gear Blues (1998) and Rodeo Tandem Beat Specter (2001), which I still listen to on a regular basis.  When I researched the band I realized how lucky I was to have found them.  As prolific musicians each member has participated in a number of other projects.

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant







Yusuke Chiba

  • ROSSO (Vocals, Guitar and Songwriting on all releases)
  • The Birthday (Vocals, Guitars and Songwriting on all releases)
  • The Midwest Vikings (Vocals, Guitars and Songwriting under the alias ‘LACOSTE’)
  • Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (Vocals on one song on the album ‘Stompin’ On Down Beat Alley’)
  • Raven
  • Bugy Craxone
  • Midnight Bankrobbers

Kazuyuki Kuhara

Koji Ueno

Futoshi Abe

  • KOOLOGI (Guitar on first album)
  • Barebones
  • Strawberry Jean (Guitar – This was Futoshi Abe’s pre-TMGE band – their one album is sometimes available via Japanese online auctions)

Of all of these ROSSO is my favorite followed closely by The Birthday, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, and The Midwest Vikings.  These prjects span the full spectrum of musical styles and genres.  Listening to these bands you will hear resemblances to the Dropkick Murphys, Foo Fighters, Nirvana, The Ramones, The Clash, James Thorogood, The Rolling Stones, and a host of other bands that are heavily blues influenced.  Despite their influences, these bands have a sound that is 100% their own.








In the way that Bruce Springsteen’s voice signifies an Americana sound, Yusuke Chiba’s vocals are a mysteriously rough, smokey, soulful, and powerfully passionate representation of Japan.  His voice, almost an ancient primordial echo of times past, seems to encapsulate the spirit of Nihon.  Perhaps this is why my favorite groups are the ones in which he is singing.  If you had to make a comparison to an American musician I would say that Yusuke Chiba is the Japanese Dave Grohl.  Everything they touch seems to turn into musical gold.








Rosso – シャロン  My personal favorite.

Rosso シャロン Lyrics

Rosso Playlist

The Birthday

The Birthday







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Disc Golf In Japan and Philly

I have a lot of interests.  I have interest ADD.  I’m cursed by wanting to consume and be involved in almost every single thing that humanity has been able to dream up or learn.  Except ribbon dancing, don’t ask, I had a bad experience once.  But other than that you name it and I’ll take a crack at it, or at least read a few articles and books about it.  I always cover the basses just in case my life ever depends on knowing the Latin origin of the word lucubration, or that the green tea in sushi shops is called 粉茶 (konacha- literally powdered tea), or that salt water crocodiles have a bite force of 3,700 psi.  You just never know, so I play it safe.  My newest interest, and I’m truly smitten, is Disc Golf.  For those who aren’t familiar with Disc Golf, “go Google it, what the hell do I look like.”  Sorry about that.  For those who aren’t familiar with Disc Golf I’ll give a brief explanation.



My brief explanation – “Its golf with a Frisbee instead of a ball and clubs, it is awesome.”


If you need a more proper explanation you can go here. (



Disc Golf in Philadelphia
My Awakening:

I was first introduced to the brilliance of Disc Golf on a sunny afternoon in early September.  My cousin and I have been going to Tyler State park for years and he always raved about this strange game called Disc Golf.  It wasn’t until this year that I got my first taste of the game.  Although at first it looks, sounds, and pretty much is a hippie-tree-hugging-granola-munching-activity, it’s as addicting and fun as “insert abusive substance.”  In actuality Disc Golf is for anyone who loves a challenging game and being in “The Great Out Doors.”  Depending on where you play you’ll experience a mix of woodsy forest and open fields.  Some places are simply normal golf courses re-purposed with Disc Golf holes.  However, in my opinion the best courses are those that utilize the parks natural elements to make a unique and challenging Disc Golf experience.

No matter where you play you’ll surely notice the price, or lack there of, of Disc Golf.  Most courses are free or take $1 donation.  Other than the original investment in a $10-$15 disc there are pretty much zero costs involved with the game.  Unless your like me and bring a schoolbag filled with a WaWa’s worth of snacks.  Yayy trail-mix, Yayy pumpkin seeds.

Currently I’ve only had a chance to play the 27 hole Tyler State Park Disc Golf Course. Luckily for those in the area this course is nationally recognized as one of the best in the country.(Directions below.)  For those closer to the city there is another course located in East Fairmount Park.  “The 27 hole Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course, established in 1977, is the second oldest disc golf course in the Country. It resides in East Fairmount Park at 33rd and Oxford Streets.  Doubles league are held every Thursday year-round. Sedgley Woods is open to the public and there are no fees.” (taken from Fairmount park website)


Disc Golf in Japan


So were does Japan come in?  Well anytime I get one of these new hobbies/interests I immediately see if it has an existence in good old Japan.  Thanks to the internet, it pretty much always does.  One reason I do this is it allows me to read, watch, and learn about this new interest in Japanese.  Always a plus when trying to improve the nonnative tongue.   Another reason is it’s a great way to meet people and build cultural connections through a shared interest.  As I’m fairly new to Disc Golf I haven’t had a chance to spread the love.  However, maybe this post will do the trick.


From my research I’ve found that these are some of the major courses in the Greater Tokyo area.  However, there are courses located through out Japan.(see links at end of post)


Showa Kinen Disc Golf Hole #2












In addition there is an international tournament held at Nasu Highlands, Tochigi called the Japan Open.


Some Videos of the Japan Open:




Innova Katana Disc

























Needless to say I’d like to play in the Japan Open but I think you have to be ranked and good at Disc Golf to be invited.  Having only played a handful of times I don’t think I’m going to make the cut.  But either way I can still enjoy the game and spread its awesomeness.  Plus now I have one more interest I can share with people from around the world.  Yayy ribbon dancing.! Woops did I say that out loud?  I meant Yayy Disc Golf!




Tyler Course

I-95 to Exit 49, take Rte. 332 West (Newtown Bypass). At 3.2 miles it becomes Rte. 413 North, 1.7 miles more to park entrance on left. Turn in, follow road to stop sign, go right, then 1st left into parking lot. Course in woods on left. 100 Swamp Rd.

Sedgley Woods

I-95 to Exit 49, take Rte. 332 West (Newtown Bypass). At 3.2 miles it becomes Rte. 413 North, 1.7 miles more to park entrance on left. Turn in, follow road to stop sign, go right, then 1st left into parking lot. Course in woods on left. 100 Swamp Rd.


Fairmount Info


Tyler State Park Info


Info on Japan Courses
Comprehensive List of Courses in Japan