Girl’s Generation Cheetos

Mike Grist Food / Drink, Japan, People / Culture 12 Comments

Girls Generation is a big news 9-member pop group from South Korea. They are currently breaking into Japan and other Asian countries in a major way. This can be seen in their cute same-looking legs gracing the covers of many product ads, from cookies to Cheetos. Girls Generation prep for launch. My favorite is probably, um, the leader? 9 different flavors of same though, really. Girls Generation = sexy, young, vibrant. Cheetos= not. Cheetos – serious taste-having cheese. With 1 collectible card. It’s an odd branding exercise. If they’d carved each individual Cheeto into the shape of one of the …

Japan’s abandoned animatronic John Wayne

Mike Grist Featured Story, Haikyo, People / Culture, Theme Parks, Tochigi 10 Comments

Japan’s abandoned wild west theme park Western Village (closed in 2007) is filled to the tip of its ten-gallon hat with animatronic cowboy dolls. A Stagecoach-era John Wayne with cyborg heart exposed stands by the park entrance, silent now that the tourists have stopped coming. Animatronic John Wayne with hair peeling back to reveal flesh-toned speakers reprises his Stagecoach (1939) role. Hidden away in the Sheriff’s office, Clint Eastwood drawls in lazy Japanese about how he ran the bad guys out of town. Down the boulevard a ways is the WESTERN SHOOTING GALLERY, filled with card-players, insouciant drunkards and brassy-lipped …

The Butcher’s Milk Carton Stationery

Mike Grist Featured Story, Japan, People / Culture Leave a Comment

Nogata is a little town in the west of Tokyo famous for two things: 1- The train station Gundam statue is near it in Kami-Igusa. 2- The father of the butcher down the street by the police box across from the station makes wicked stationary items out of milk cartons, and gives them away if you buy more than 600yen worth of meat. I teach a group of lovely retirees in Nogata, and one of them brought this excellent, sturdy, and very pretty desk-organizer to class to show off show and tell. She had heard about it from a TV …

Okamoto’s Myth of Tomorrow in Shibuya Station

Mike Grist Japan, People / Culture Leave a Comment

The Myth of Tomorrow is an epic painting by renowned Japanese painter Taro Okamoto. It is massive, 30 meters long and 5.5 high, painted some 43 years ago, lost for 31 of those, and now on permanent display in Shibuya Station. On display in Shibuya station. I first saw the Myth of Tomorrow (Asu no Shinwa) in 2007, when it was on display at the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art. I was on a museum-going jag at that time, and had been to the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art just a little while earlier- so I knew a bit about …

Tiger Man sighted!

Mike Grist Japan, People / Culture 1 Comment

Yesterday SY and I went to see `I love you Philip Morris` in Shinjuku Piccadilly. As is our style now, we bought KFC in with us, sat in the front rows, and guzzled for about half of the movie. The movie itself is pretty funny, and quite sweet at points, with Ewan Mcgregor acting all adorable and Jim Carrey hopelessly in love with him. Anyway, what I`m talking about here is Tiger-man. I spotted Tiger Man as we were leaving the theater. I guess he was watching the same movie. SY didn`t see him so for about five floors we …

12 questions to J-painter Michael Beddall

Mike Grist Japan, People / Culture 8 Comments

Last Sunday Michael Beddall opened up his latest art show at the Pink Cow in Shibuya- a delightful smorgasbord of Japanese beauty, animal still-life, and the occasional chilling fantasy. There was a great showing of fans and supporters, and several paintings have already sold.

Nihombashi Kimono 2016-ers

Mike Grist Japan, People / Culture 5 Comments

Every year on the playground of a primary school in Nihombashi hordes of kimono-wearing ladies gather for a kimono festival photo-shoot, bunching up tight and staring up to the sky with a fist raised in the classic ‘ganbarimasu!’ yes-we-can pose to be shot by swarming paparazzi on the rooftops above. This time I moved amongst those authentic PRESS journalists like a cuckoo in the finch’s nest, subterfuging my way up the scaffolding to look down on the gathered kimonoistas, finally able to see their bunching this year overtaken by the Tokyo 2016 Olympic bid. Tokyo 2016.

Kasai Rinkai Power-Kiters

Mike Grist Japan, People / Culture 3 Comments

At the edge of Kasai Rinkai park off Tokyo Bay there’s a narrow sliver of sand-bar land perfect for kiting. Stunt kites soar and rip through the air like carbon-fibre assassins, paper-kites ruffle and chuckle in the wind, ‘let’s go fly a kites’ sputter and trail their ribbon-dangled threads behind them as their owners race their dogs and kids against the wind. Then there are the power kiters- packing the 2 and 6 meter squared kites- a rare breed in Japan where such goods can only be bought via the Internet, ordered from other countries, kites with enough drag to …