Archive for February, 2005

In the year 2014, The New York Times has gone offline.
The Fourth Estate’s fortunes have waned.
What happened to the news?
And what is EPIC?

An interesting little multimedia presentation exploring a possible future where mainstream media succumbs to the emergence of networked personal media through an alliance between Google and Amazon. Funny there’s no mention of JP Goth…. Check it out. Here’s a transcript.

Just got an e-mail from HUMANFLOWER about an event going down on Sunday, February 27 at Osaka’s Bridge! I have to say that HUMANFLOWER has one cool site with background music featuring a lone piano and the haunting tones of a dark siren! I’ve been checking some of the tunes from the other players and love the sounds. Not hard or metallic, but the music carries an emotional weight to escape the material world. Kind of an urban twilight romanticism with a focus on instrumental works. Definitely one worth checking out.

Event info:
Event: NAAM presented by Cultural Guerrilla Expansion
Place: Bridge
Address: 8F Festival Gate, 3-4-36 Ebisu Higashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka 556-0002
Club phone: 06-6634-0080
Date: Sunday February 27, 2005
Start: 19:00 ~ (Open 18:30)
Price: 1,200 yen adv./1,500 yen at door (1 drink +300 yen)
Performance: HUMAN FLOWERBLACK SEA ver.2
Performer: Yoko Higashino (Baby-Q) / Guile / Kinya Uchida
Live: Guitar Noiz Orchestra, Slowcalm, Wakuraba (Muchuumu, Baby-Q).
Visual: Roka Penis
Web site:
Club site:

I know, I know. He’s not in Japan, but Mr. Manga’s brand of dark-synth just gets me bumping and jumping and thinking crazy things!! So now he’s got the Shiver video online ready for your perusing. 21st century sounds with a bit of retro-synth mixed in for good measure. Check out the video Anders Manga’s site.

A celebrity academic economist was found guilty of using a mirror to look up a school girl’s skirt at Yokohama station in April. The final ruling is set for March 23, but prosecutors are demanding a four-month sentence.

The economist, Kazuhide Uekusa, a (now former) professor at Waseda University appeared on TV quite often as an economic commentator before the fateful day, but appeared on TV quite a bit more after the incident – check Mainichi article.

On Friday there was an incident that saw an NHK employee arrested for molesting a 17-year old school-girl on the train near Ikebukuro. Guess you can Noogle it.

I hope that got your attention! Seriously though, the Japanese male population shrunk 0.01% last year, with the total population of Japan growing at a record low 0.05%. Yep, the population crunch is just around the corner where low birthrates and increased longetivity lead to a shrinking, aging population.

One article in The Japan Times said that most of the male loss came from men going overseas for long-term assignments. Hey, I’m overseas and have been for a long time…. then why am I still here in Japan!?!? Sorry, it’s the chu-hi. There’s now 62.30 million men versus 65.39 million women.

That may partially explain the development of such products as the Boyfriend’s Arm pillow (including vibrating arm alarm, I might add), developed by Kameo in Fukuoka.

Reuters has a story on the growing trend in suicide pacts in Japan. On Thursday, February 17, another four people were found dead in Hokkaido. The MO follows the standard for group suicides in a car – sealed doors and the burning of charcoal stoves until the victims died from carbon monoxide poisoning. The victims were aged from 19 to their mid-30s.

According to the story, this brings the February total to 16, which, though tiny compared to total suicides (around 80-90 per day), hints at a growth in Internet-initiated suicide pacts in the country:

According to police, a record 34,427 Japanese took their own lives in 2003, more than a quarter of them because of debt or economic woes.

Of the total, only 34 died in Internet-linked group suicides. But the number rose to 54 in 2004 and police say the real number was probably even higher.

The story is definitely worth a read, wherever you can pick it up – Suicide pacts a grim and growing trend for Japan.

My arms are dropping off! Ten to 16 hours a day at computers can do that to you. Igor has been discovering new and peculiar ways of resting the shoulder sockets while at the screen. It produces glances from workmates, but it has been the only way to keep on working. Wait. Stop. It’s time to do some Gothing this weekend with Satanyanko and Strawberry Song Orchestra in Osaka.

Saturday and Sunday in Osaka!
Satanyanko and Strawberry Song Orchestra are setting up for a double dose of devilish feline fury, playing two nights in a row to celebrate the launch of their split CD at Osaka’s Club Water. Two nights, mixing sounds from Goth, dark rock and neo-retro lie in wait to take you on a trip through the West Japan’s alternative scene. Six bands each night for the price of just two Belgium beers (2,000/2,500 at door). Events are on February 19th and 20th with the Santanyanko and Straberry Song Orchestra CD, Ichigo gakudan to Akuma neko, being released in stores and on March 1st. Sounds good!

The scene would be fairly standard in this kind of deal. Four young people get together after meeting through an Internet site, seal up a room in an apartment, maybe pop a few pills to relax, and then start to burn the little charcoal briquette with the aim of dying quietly from asphyxiation. Excuse me for being direct, but this is reality.

However, of the four people in this little episode, one decided part way through to get out while he still could. After escaping, he called the police, who came to stop the group suicide being carried out. The people involved were in their 20s and early 30s, two men without employment, one guy company employee and a female university student. There is a lot of information on “what” happened, but not much on “why” it happened, which would probably be more helpful.

Read it on Mainichi or find related news on Google.

There is a lowering of the libido in Japan with increasing numbers of 20-somethings avoiding sex according to an Asahi article from June 12, 2004, For some young Japanese, sex isn’t much fun at all. The article has now disappeared, but you can still pick it up using Google’s cache.

Why, oh why is this happening? What is wrong with the world? But seriously, this kind of thing poses large problems for the economy and quite possibly the overall mental health of the nation (yeah I know it’s grandiose, but I always hold to the Dirty Harry 5 philosophy that opinions are like assholes, everybody has one).

Men and women in their twenties are turning off, or toning down, sex. Perhaps the most shocking revelation (unless you’re conservative regarding s-e-x things, in which case you might be exclaiming hell yeah) is the level of drop off according to Asahi:

The surveys showed that the percentage of people in their 20s who “had sex during the past year” dropped significantly during the three years between surveys, from 74 percent to 68 percent for men and from 81 percent to 62 percent for women.

This lack of reproductive activity is hitting many areas of the economy from condom sales and Love Hotels to my damn pension payments.

Love Hotels are now getting used for sleeping, karaoke and “video game” sessions (what’s up with that one? Sounds like a code for something else). I can vouch for this with one couple recommending that the hotels are great for sleeping and karaoke parties. I cannot wait for a midday TV program to come up with novel applications for condoms that pass their use-by date.

Anyway, I could blab on about whys (stress, oversexed media, etc., etc., etc.), but really you should read the cached version of the article article.

The post-bubble era in Japan, which has seen the country struggle to find positive directions for the past 15 years has left a permanent mark on the generations that will eventually be at the country’s helm in the decades to come. The emergence of freeters, part-time workers who cannot (or choose not in some cases) break into full-time positions, and NEETS, people who Not in Employment, Education or Training, emphasise the growing inequalities in a system that once delivered middle-class to nearly all people.

The emergence of this harsher system and it’s by-products (from increased suicide among young adults to violent crime and beyond), is something not likely to go away. In fact, it appears that this situation will continue to become more prevalent across society in the years and decades ahead.

One interesting article from Japan Echo, Japan’s New Misfits, takes a look at this situation:

There is no question that conditions are harsh for young adults trying to get a foothold in today’s society. Although the ratio of young people to the population as a whole is declining, unemployment remains high. Most troubling, perhaps, is the increasing number of young people, mostly male, who are dropping out entirely. Genda Yui, featured below in a dialogue with Saito Tamaki, has borrowed the British acronym NEET’s or “Not in employment, education, or training” to describe this breed. This is a category that is defined in economic terms, but many of the young men to whom it might be applied are psychologically troubled recluses, shutting themselves up in their rooms for months or years and often shunning contact even with family members.

Read whole article on Japan Echo.