Furuhata Ninzaburo & Opening Theme

Furuhata Ninzaburo was a great detective show, comparable to Columbo in the basic premise, but it had a more philosophical and dandyish protagonist, brilliantly played by Mazakazu Tamura. It also had a great opening theme, with a James Bondish riff (probably overtly) at the beginning, but a totally different flair once it got going.

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Best of Yellow Hat

There is no way to explain the campy, hallucinagenic brilliance of the tv cms of Yellow Hat, a tire outlet chain. They constitute a musical and artistic genre all their own, and just have to be seen to be understood (maybe?).

Sunday Photos Hibaku Maria

img_3464A fierce persecution of Christians in Japan began in the late 1500s and continued for several decades, ending in the virtual eradication of Christianity. But there were “hidden Christians” in Kyushu, concentrated especially in the area around Nagasaki and the setting for Martin Scorcese’s new movie Silence (based on the novel by Shusaku Endo). The “hidden Christian” practiced their faith in secret for generations. Even after Japan opened up to the world, the hidden Christians could not gain religious freedom until the late 1800s.

Urakami Cathedral was built in 1914 in the village of Urakami, next to the booming port and industrial center of Nagasaki. It was the testament of the “hidden Christians” of Urakami who could finally practice their faith openly. Formally it was called Immaculate Conception Cathedral (and still is). It was for a time the largest church in Asia. A wooden statue of Mary of the Immaculate Conception was set above the main altar.
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Urakami Cathedral was a few hundred yards from ground zero of the atomic bomb which was dropped on Nagasaki about three decades later. The burned and severed head of Mary of the Immaculate Conception was miraculously found in the rubble. It is now enshrined in the rebuilt Urakami Cathedral and known as “Hibaku Maria,” or “Bombed Mary.”

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Harajuku Iyahoi

I’m really behind in my Kyary kyoverage. How behind? So behind that this video was already approaching 3.5 million views before I even noticed it. Anyway, alright, what do you folks think of this one?


My take? Visually, this is Kyary at her very best and could only be the work of the visual genius Sebastian Masuda. It’s a psychedelic black-light pastiche of Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Zhivago, Russian folk dancing, Japanese summer festivals, Harajuku street culture, and . . . aw forget it. You figure it out. I believe the Tempura kids are doing some of the backdancing.

Musically, I say meh.  Yasutaka Nakata is a Brian Eno level techno genius but I’m afraid this time he’s kind of calling it in. Lyrics? Judge for yourself at Kpopviral.

Kyary’s in a tough spot now for self-definition. The whole “Let’s be wierdly, funkily, colorfully cute and different in my dadaist celebration of eternal immaturity” anthem has almost reached shark-jump criticality. But it is so integral to Kyary’s persona, where else does she have to go musically? Naw, I think Kyary has to keep riding this one to the end, then transition to producer/designer/tv commentator.

Let’s give Kyary credit for an amazingly original repertoire.

Finally, the Kyary Kyuteness Quotient (KKQ). Freezing the frame at 3:32, I’ll give Kyary a solid 8.7 on this one. The light blue dress, braids and ushanka hat definitely do it for me.

Nao Matsuzaki & Kawaberi no Ie

Nao Matsuzaki’s “Kawaberi no Ie” (house next to a river) is a single from 2006 but seems to have been re-released on some of her albums. It made an impression on me as the theme music for a weekly documentary program on NHK, so I hunted it down for the listening pleasure of my 2 1/2 readers.

This seems like the sound sincerity would make if it could make a sound. You can see Nao’s official site here. Meanwhile, the scenes the Youtuber films are from Shibuya in Tokyo. Buy here.

UPDATE:This post has been by far my most visited over the past several months. Thanks for coming by and appreciating the song.

From viewer comments I gather that most are visiting this post to get to the comments, where I posted the video of an extended session with Nao and her band. That video has (apparently) the only complete version of “Kawaberi no Ie” that can be played on the T’Oobs in Europe or North America. To make things easier, I am moving that video up here. The song starts from 21:40:

An additional note: NHK’s weekly Document 72 Hours (which always features Nao’s song at the end) is available in English on the T’Oobs. It doesn’t have a lot of thrills and chills, but it is a really fascinating slice of life show. The producers pick a spot and film the people that go there for 72 hours. Then they make that into a 25 minute documentary.

UPDATE II
Commenter Pow.r asked about English lyrics. I couldn’t find any, so I did this crude, unpoetical, probably-inaccurate-in-various-places translation below. Promise me you won’t use this to sing the song in English. We need a songwriter to do that version. Also, let me know when any of you find any mistakes.

川べりの家
Kawaberi no Ie
House by the River

Nao Matsuzaki

大人になってゆくほど
Otona ni natte yuku hodo
The more grown up I get

涙がよく出てしまうのは
namida ga yoku dete shimau no wa
The more the tears flow

1人で生きて行けるからだと
hitori de ikite yukeru kara dato
I can live on my own so

信じて止まない
shinjita yamanai
I won’t stop believing

それでも淋しいのも知ってるから
sore demo samishī no mo shitteru kara
But I know I’m lonely, too, so

あたたかい場所へ行こうよ
atatakai basho e yukou yo
Let’s go to a warm place

川のせせらぎが聞こえる
kawa no seseragi ga kikoeru
I hear a river flowing

家を借りて耳をすまし
ie o karite mimi o sumashi
I rent a house and listen to my ears

その静けさや激しさを覚えてゆく
sono shizukesa ya hageshi-sa o oboete yuku
I’ll remember that silence, that intensity

歌は水に溶けてゆき
uta wa mizu ni tokete yuki
The song melts in the water

そこだけ水色
soko dake mizuiro
Watery blue, only there

幸せを守るのではなく分けてあげる
shiawase o mamoru node wa naku wakete ageru
I won’t hold on to happiness but split it up

なるべく大きくて
narubeku ōkikute
Spread it out as far as possible

なるべくりっぱな水槽を
narubeku rippana suisō o
A fish tank as nice as I can find

自転車で買いに行き
jitensha de kai ni iki
Let’s go by bicycle and buy it

はなしてやろう
Hanashite yarou
Let’s talk

なんて奇跡の色を持っているの
nante kiseki no iro o motte iru no
What a miracle, the color you have

キラキラ揺らめいてる
kirakira yurameiteru
Glittering, shimmering

水溜まりに映っている
mizutamari ni utsutte iru
It’s reflected in a puddle

ボクの家は青く透け
boku no ie wa aoku suke
My house is translucent blue

指でいくらかき混ぜても
yubi de ikura kakimazete mo
Even when you stir it with your fingers

もどってくる
modotte kuru
Come back

とても儚ないものだから
totemo hakananai monodakara
It’s so transitory so

大切にして
taisetsu ni shite
Cherish it

一瞬しかない
isshun shika nai
You only have a moment

一瞬しかない
isshun shika nai
You only have a moment

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the Ride

I’ve fallen behind on things Kyary, but now I’m obliged to report the opening of the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu XR Ride at Universal Studios Japan (in Osaka).

I confess I was getting ready to write Kyary off after her shark-jumping”Revenge of the Pumpkins” video, but Kyary once again rises like a Phoenix from the ashes. Kyary rules Kawaii.

Indirect Kyary News: Kawaii Monster Cafe

It won’t surprise readers to learn that the creator of this restaurant in Harajuku is the same person who produces Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s videos (Sebastian Masuda). In this case, I’d say that the restaurant concept is more on target with the kawaii weirdness than Kyary’s recent videos.

I get a Clockwork Orange meets Tim Burton meets Candyland vibe.

Has Kyary Jumped Her Own Shark Motif? &

“Crazy Party Night ~Pumpkin no Gyakushuu~” (The Pumpkins Strike Back). Alas, how the mighty have fallen. Is this the best that the one who gave us “Fashion Monster” can do for Halloween?!?!? Sigh. This is Kyary’s most dismally uninspired video since “Invader Invader”, though in this case the music is not as good.

Only diehard global Kyary fans will be able to defend this musically monotonous, visually unimaginative, thematically bland, indifferently choreographed piece of faux fluffery. The only good thing to say about the “crazy party night” (from the song title) is that it makes Dionysian revelry look so tedious that viewers may be drawn to the thrill of monastic life, plausibly leading to a net increase in holiness and virtue in the world. The video works (I am guessing) with the retro TV documentary premise of WNUF Halloween Special and features “jump” scares at the end that are startling only for their glacially awkward non-scariness.

The closest approximation to fame on this blog has been from my Kyary kyoverage, but I think I am ready to give all that up and move on, unless Kyary actually does something good . . . Come on, Kyary!