When I hear the term ‘Japanese idol pop‘, two names that first come to mind are Momoe Yamaguchi and Akina Nakamori. That’s my opinion though, as both were quite different artistically than most of their peers – Yamaguchi and Nakamori stood as sort of femme-fatale figures, capable of powerful delivery, whose music was often dark and/or provocative. They were certainly huge back in the day, but even then, the bubbly sugar pop dominated the scene, and it continues to do so to this day. I’m definitely not trying to make it sound as if it was a bad thing – the 80s produced a great deal of amazing idol-singers, and there are some newer artists I’m also fond of.
Music-wise I particularly love the 80s, and my previous great discovery from that time was Yukiko Okada – her catchy music and the tragic story gripped my heart. My most recent unearthed 80s gem is Yuki Saito. I did hear about her before, but only in the context of the timeless 80s anime Maison Ikkoku and the superb song used for that show – 悲しみよこんにちは (Kanashimi yo Konnichi wa – ‘Hello Sadness’). It was composed by Tamaki Koji of 安全地帯 (Anzen Chitai) fame.
However, I soon found out, that there’s much more to her career than an anime opening theme. Continue reading →
When you’re a textbook example of a (slightly educated) bumpkin from Polish countryside somewhere in the south, Tokyo may definitely appear overwhelming. While ‘bursztynowy świerzop’ or ‘gryka jak śnieg biała’ no longer can be found in the place where I grew up (idyllic stuff our national poet wrote about few centuries ago), nonetheless time flows more slowly here, and there’s not that much going on, which greatly contrasts with the Japanese metropolis. During several days there I’ve probably seen more people than in half of my lifetime. What shocked us, however, was the small number of foreign tourists around us. I mean, there was a bunch of them in Asakusa and another quite large gathering near Hachiko statue in Shibuya, but these weren’t the hordes we expected to see on every corner (more than 20 million tourists visiting Japan yearly). Fact: Japan is just a such a homogeneous nation that the Japanese folks make up for the great majority of people there. That’s one thing Japan and Poland have in common – larger cities have some expat communities, but overall it’s Poles everywhere. As such, the hosts (locals and the domestic tourists) dominated in most places, and we were lost in the crowd (or actually we kind of stood out, towering over quite short Japanese folks). Continue reading →
Gdy jest się książkowym przykładem (nieco poduczonego) wieśniaczka z polskiej wsi na południu kraju, to Tokio potrafi porazić swym ogromem. Co prawda bursztynowego świerzopu i gryki jak śnieg białej już człowiek w moich rodzimych stronach nie uświadczy, to jednak czas z pewnością płynie tu znacznie wolniej i dzieje się znacznie mniej, i szybko się okazało, że stoi to w ogromnym kontraście do japońskiego metropolis.
Podejrzewam, że przez kilka dni tam spędzonych zobaczyłem więcej ludzi niż przez pół życia. Zszokowała nas jednak względnie mała liczba zagranicznych turystów dookoła. Były jakieś tam grupki w Asakusie oraz całkiem spore walne zgromadzenie w pobliżu pomnika Hachiko w Shibuyi, ale z pewnością nie były to hordy, które spodziewaliśmy się mijać na każdym kroku (wg internetów Japonię odwiedza przeszło 20 milionów turystów rocznie, z tendencją wzrostową). Powiedziałbym, że jest to jedno z największych podobieństw między Japonią, a Polską – obydwa kraje prowadzą w braku różnorodności rasowej. Faktem jest, że Japonia jest po prostu tak jednolita etnicznie, że w większości miejsc to gospodarze dominowali (lokalsi i turyści wewnętrzni) i praktycznie wszędzie tonęliśmy w tłumie (tudzież można rzec, że górowaliśmy nad dość niskimi Japończykami). Continue reading →
Even by itself, my recent trip to Japan had a very special meaning to me. But there were also several crucial objectives planned way beforehand to be ticked off from the bucket list – some were related to cuisine, others to culture, history, nature or entertainment. However, one of the places I visited had also spiritual significance of sorts. While the stopover there lasted maybe 20 minutes, it was a very emotional moment, and it left a powerful impression on me. Located relatively close to Shibuya Station, I paid a visit to a memorial plate of Yutaka Ozaki, late rebellious singer of the 1980s, whose music and charisma actually hugely contributed to my interest in Japan, and he was among the main reasons for my travel there. Continue reading →
Being a grown-up ultimately sucks. ‘Tis a conclusion many a man reached. The number of chores and tasks you have to do increases significantly and for the most part they only complicate your life. What’s more, no school and no class ever prepared you for this messed-up state we call the adulthood. The school walls made you angry so many times… Yet could it be that these very walls actually protected you from what was coming next? Continue reading →
Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix. Jim Morrison. Richey Edwards. Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse. Musicians who belong to the so-called 27 Club (there are more). Through music they proved their immense talents, and, partially due to untimely deaths at the age of 27, they achieved the status of rock n’ roll legends.
The question is – should we glorify those who lived lives of excess and abuse, and simply got what was coming to them? Probably not. Yet all these years after Joplin or Hendrix died, people all around the world still find joy and inspiration in their artistic output and charisma. There’s something inexplicable about certain personae in the music business which makes us – listeners – hopelessly captivated by anything they do or sing about. The dangerous devotion to music they do – even if it means straying off the safe path of counting the earned $$$ in the multi-million-dollar-worth villa – is extremely charming.Continue reading →