Wonda GACKT

Despite preparing a summer tour, just barely finishing up the RRII DVD, and spending 5 hours every day practicing for the Nemuri Kyoushirou performance that will begin this summer, GACKT still finds time to endorse coffee. He recently endorsed WONDA COFFEE~Wonderful Coffee~, and given that the three guys are sitting around in suits talking about how manly they all are, if I was in Japan, I would certainly start drinking this. I am something of a devotee when it comes to Japanese coffee– pair it with vending machines and I’m gone. Although I’m more familiar with the popular BOSS brand (which is also very manly), it would be hard for anyone -man, woman, animal- to resist anything endorsed by GACKT.

All three guys are very amusing– as heavily emphasized by the poor reporter girl totally losing it by the end of the interview.

Embedding for this video has been disabled. Please watch on Youtube!

girugamesh Stays at Home Summer ’10

+Updated 5/31+

Dates for girugamesh‘s summer tour 2010 were published this morning. For everyone who expected their winter/spring Japan tour to be followed up with something a little more international…sorry. I mourn with you.

However, the good news is (depending on how you felt about NOW, that is…) that a new single has been confirmed for Summer. The details have yet to be announced, but the teaser confirmation is out!

girugamesh SUMMER TOUR 2010 Dates

2010.7.2(fri) SOLD OUT
Harajuku ASTRO HALL

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

2010.7.6(tue) SOLD OUT
Nagoya HUCK FINN

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

2010.7.8(thu) SOLD OUT
Nishikujo BRAND NEW

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

2010.7.10(sat) SOLD OUT
Okayama PEPPER LAND

OPEN 17:00 / START 18:00

2010.7.11(sun)
Hiroshima Bad Lands

OPEN 17:00 / START 18:00

2010.7.13(tue)
Fukuoka DRUM SON

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

2010.7.15(thu) SOLD OUT
Himeji MUSHROOM

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

2010.7.17(sat)
Tokushima club GRINDHOUSE

OPEN 17:00 / START 18:00

2010.7.21(wed)
Kanazawa VanVan V4

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

2010.7.23(fri)
Nigata CLUB JUNK BOX mini

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

2010.7.25(sun)
Sendai MACANA

OPEN 17:00 / START 18:00

2010.7.28(wed)
Sapporo COLONY

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

2010.8.11(wed) SOLD OUT
Shibuya O-WEST

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

2010.8.12(thu) SOLD OUT
Shibuya O-WEST

OPEN 18:00 / START 19:00

Japan Gender-Bending Is a Drag?

 In the past few years particularly, the Japanese gender-bending scene has become more and more tolerated. Japanese guys have always been renowned as being meterosexual, but this is different. Statistics were drawn up sometime last year, where people were interviewed about the recent occurence of more and more guys going girl, so to speak. The results showed a surprising tolerance of drag among the Japanese. They said, collectively, “As long as the guy looks good in it, who cares?”

 However, not everybody agrees with this. For example, some of the nation’s higher-ups have the society as a greater whole to think of. The opposing opinion is that there’s a balance in society– feminism was bad enough, what do you really think will happen if guys do anti-patriarchism?

 However, what with idols such as Mana and Kaya running around charming the female population at large and inspiring those suppressed urges in young men to emerge and take form– is there really much anyone can do?

 Well, someone is trying. For beauty-king and scene leader GACKT, apparently guys going girl is a drag. Although reputed as one of the leaders of the androgyny movement in Japanese fashion, GACKT has been careful to always uphold his macho-factor and manliness, often remarking on his traditional values concerning male and female relations.

 According to this morning’s post at Japan Zone, GACKT is actively working to support manliness and gender-definition in Japan:

“Well, here’s an interesting way to hype a rock concert. Gackt (36) announced yesterday that his show at Club Citta in Kawasaki on Sunday will be a guys-only affair. That means no female crew or staff and no female members of the audience. Organizers have reportedly set up an examination room to deal with any suspicious ticket holders. Gackt says the move is his attempt to reverse the recent trend among Japanese guys to shun traditional male stereotypes and get in touch with their feminine side. The trend is encapsulated in the phrase “soushokukei danshi, nikushokukei joshi” which translates as “grass-eating guys, meat-eating girls,” and with his origins being in the visual-kei rock scene, Gackt himself has been a style leader for that scene.”

 (Quoted from Japan Zone)

Takanori Makes New Single

It’s an inside-joke.

I want to move to Shiga prefecture when I move to Japan. Shiga, located a little north of Kyoto, is where amazing rock artists come from. Including, but not limited to, GACKT, Tetsuya (of L’arc~En~Ciel), and T.M.Revolution (Nishikawa Takanori). That’s a busy area for talentos in general, as Kyoto is also a regular outlet for major stars and idols. In any case, it’s T.M. we’re talking about today.


Being the biggest, most internationally renowned star to come out of Shiga (Tetsuya fans don’t hurt me– it’s true), last year Nishikawa was named the Cultural Ambassador of Shiga. In any case,  on March 3rd T.M. will release a new single, available only as digital download. The song, titled “Lakers” was performed live several times last year, and will also be used as the image-song for the 65th Biwako Marathon. Lyrics were written by Nishikawa’s personal friend, Inoue Akio, and the production was taken care of by Asakura Diasuke.

Biwako, (Biwa Lake) is a beautiful regional lake located in Shiga, and the new song, LAKERS, is dedicated to this regional natural monument. Nishikawa comments:

[Last year in September I was able to take a look at the landscape around Biwako during the Inazuma Rock Fes. During that time, the impressions of the Taiko-Drums and the sound of the wind have influenced the making of the song. I think the greatness of Shiga-Prefecture, including all the players, and its landscape can be felt, while the tempo is a little more daring. With the tempo of a lake without waves, the song is completely influenced by Biwako and its surroundings.](1)

On March 24th T.M. will also release the song Imaginary Ark, which will round off his collaboration for the T.M.R.×GUNDAM SEED SPECIAL PROJECT [X42S-REVOLUTION] for the 30 Anniversary of the GUNDAM Series.

(1) From MusicJapan+

“Arigatou, ne”

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. I don’t know what you lot are doing, but thisVisualist is sitting up to wait for dawn and my New Year’s wish!

The New Year is always a bit of a mixed time. On one hand, there is a depth of reflection and thinking back on the year we are now leaving behind. Hopefully you’re looking back and taking stock of your successes, achievements, and gained experiences. If there is anything you’re regretting, hopefully there’s a chance of making up for it, or achieving it, in the next year. On the other hand, there is a chance to look forward with positive expectation for everything that is to come in the new year. For example, a.b.s.’ Abingdon Road album. I hope your piggy-banks got fat this holiday season!

I, at least, feel like 2009 has been a fantastic year.

In April I spent one month in Kyoto, Japan, where I spent many hours at karaoke joints with some wonderful people; scoured used (and new) CD shops for just about anything and everything I could get my hands on (and stood for the first time in a real-live VISUAL KEI section); and brought back 60 CDs, including brand-new GACKT singles, and a stack of Visual Kei and Jrock magazines.

In November, I went to the UK to see one of my favorite bands, abingdon boys school, perform live. This was a monumental, life-changing experience worth all of the hard-work and effort I put in to achieving it. The live was unbelievable, as well as being my first ever Jrock concert. (And my first visit to London.)

Tower Bridge, London, UK

I was also able to complete some long-standing writing projects….One of the most fun out of these, however, which will probably never be “completed”, is the work I have put into SECRET GARDEN. I feel like I was really able to dive much deeper into Jrock and Visual Kei, and that has been a priceless experience.

On that note, I wanted to take a moment to say that it has almost been a year since I moved Secret Garden to WordPress. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who reads Secret Garden; everyone who left comments, emailed me, linked me, or shared and spread the word about this blog in any way! I am looking forward to another fun year full of Jrock, and I am very much looking forward to connecting with more of you in 2010. Arigatou ne…

I would also like to extend a Special Thanks to a few particular people:

Otousan, Roukku-Star, 日本におねいさんへどうもありがとう、スターさんへガクトのものをどうもありがとうございます、ブレイスレットさんやおじさんの社べたことありがとうございました;and everyone whose media appears on SG!

明けましておめでとうございます!Photo credit:

Japanese lanterns – Shutterstock

Fushimi-Inari shrine, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto –  Gacktpause

Tower Bridge, London, UK – Gacktpause

Fireworks- mypetjawa

It’s Legit! Visual Exists!

hana_type_a

Light some black candles, Visualists, to commemorate the advent of a beautiful thing. October will bring to Japan (naturally– after all, it would be exceedingly unnatural for any VK to appear intl. god forbid.) V-Rock Festival ’09 on the holy dates of October 24th & 25th, 2009.

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Ali Project

The lineup currently includes Marilyn Manson, the GazettE, Ali Project, D, D’erlanger, Alice Nine, Angelo, Abingdon Boys School, Ayabie, LM.C, Kra….and everyone else you’ve been dying to see live. Complete lineup info available here

Makuhari Messe was designed by Fumihiko Maki, constructed in 1989. The building was originally called “the Nippon Convention Center”. Over the next fifteen or so years, the center became the focal point around which a kind of city sprang up– schools, parks, stadiums, etc. This area was called “Makuhari New City”– and by 2005 the Nippon Convention Center changed it’s name to better fit in, to what we currently know it as– Makuhari Messe (the first part is obvious– for anyone still scratching their skulls over where the word ‘messe’ came from, no, it’s not Japanese. ‘Messe’ means ‘fair’ in German. Yup, they borrow from Deutsch too.)

Like what you read? Planning on going? Need someone to go with you who speaks pretty good Japanese and can easily navigate life in Japan? TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!!

Makuhari Messe Official Website (Japanese)

V-Rock Festival ’09 Official Website (Japanese, some English)

Yup, even you can go— English info on purchasing tickets intl.

iCloud

Yesterday I went to the computer palace and picked out a computer. I thought for a long time about whether I want a Mac or a PC (I’m usually a PC person [writing this on my Toshiba right now], even though I was raised primarily on Macs). Although I haven’t been through many computers yet, so far I find PCs easier to use for the basics [CTRL + click will kill me on a Mac] plus when I was buying my laptop I already had Word for PC, and Mac + Mac Word = blowing my budget way out of humane proportions! Yiah.

But when I get a new computer, I want a Mac because for one I prefer the way they look (totally biased toward the whole sleek white finish), and just generally they have a nice performance. And at the time of being able to purchase the one I want, Word will hardly be an issue.  I want the 24″ screen.

By the way, I also want an iPhone. Even though I think it’s stupid that everyone has one…when I was in Japan everyone had these excellent aerodynamic, sleek, beautiful Cellphones with a place to hang eight billion straps and anti-brain-cancer charms. They can do almost everything on their cellphones. Texting is basically Mesopotamian it’s so outdated in Japan. They use email instead, and in anime they will often say “meiru wo okutta!” (I sent [him]  an email)  and it’s translated as “I sent him a text message”.  They also have cameras as a pre-req, and they really do take pictures of just about everything. At first I felt kind of embarrassed to want my picture taken with everything, but I always found that whenever I asked a cute group of girls to take my photo, they would usually ask for me to take theirs in return.

Magazines, coupon dispensers, bus-schedules, and just about everything else in Japan also has these little barcodes printed on them. People take pictures of the barcodes with their phones (not exactly sure how it works) and the phone downloads the information (coupons, websites, bus-schedules, etc.) In most magazines they will list the website URL, and beside it have one of these nifty barcodes so you can go there directly from your phone.

NTT Docomo's waterproof delight

NTT Docomo's waterproof delight


Then I came back to the US and all the cellphones are fat and clunky and prehistoric in their capabilities. Internet is elite, email is very different from the Japanese phones’ version, and texting is still barely ‘in’ (yeah, I have actually met people under 25 who still don’t have texting). And the worst part of all….my phone doesn’t have a place for straps. You end up collecting tons of straps while shopping in Japan (sometimes they will give them to you as gifts if you spend a lot of money in stores, or they’re prizes from vending machines, etc.) I bought a few for souveneirs, but unfortunately couldn’t collect any for myself. :-( I ended up attaching them to my keychains because my phone would rather I got brain-cancer.

[ Image: NTT Docomo, a leading phone brand in Japan, released a delightful ultra-thin, bubble-gum pink (I’m sure there are different colors) waterproof superultraomega TRAAAAANSSSSFOOOOORMER…..phone. Even though the phones are typically longer than most American phones, they’re super thin and sleek, and altogether excellent to behold. I think they’re designed basically to look good with the typical Japanese manicure :-}]


These hands...that phone :-)

These hands...that phone :-)


So anyway, the reason that I want an iPhone is that it has all kinds of cool capabilities…and that’s what I want. Although honestly, after I watched Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, I’ve seriously prefered a phone with a lid…

There’s actually a rumor running around that AC was just one big cell-phone advertisement…which it was. Being a rampant fan of the FF franchise and an ardent defender of Advent Children at large, I just find this enormously amusing. It’s like the most demented incarnation of materialistic Japanese fan-service…Didn’t everyone want to see Cloud Strife on a cellphone? I know I did! Between Cloud (who uses his phone about the same way I do– as a one-way answering machine), Tifa on her landline, the bishi brothers, and the scene where Vincent shows up to buy a phone in Midgar pre-ultimatum, the characters of AC actually spend more time on the phone than doing anything else. Cloud’s character arcs (although that sentence is generally accepted as an oxymoron) are expressed mainly through what he does to his phone. I guess it’s an interesting depiction of Japan’s materialistic reliance on their cellphones.

Cloud on his Panasonic :D

Panasonic Japan even ran a campaign using Cloud Strife as the poster-boy, selling the same model he uses in AC. I wonder if the makers of AC got funding from them…? People scoff, but it’s actually really common for this kind of product advertising to appear in anime and manga. After all, manga and anime actually started out as nothing more than creative advertising, and the basis lives on today.

I wonder what kind of phone Sephiroth has? An iPhone?

Actually, on that note, although the iPhone has WOOED and WOWED most of the world, it hasn’t done that well in Japan and IT IS NOW BEING OFFERED FOR FREE. Yup, for FREE. The tech company and sole-carrier of the iPhone in Japan, Softbank, started a campaign called “iPhone for Everybody” where they give away the 8GB model iPhone for free if customers sign the 2-year contract[1]. There are also issues in Japan concerning the company Softbank. Apparently Softbank is hard-pressed to meet the much-loved NTT DoCoMo company[2]. Maybe Apple will expand its distribution possibilities to help sales? Some people think Softbank was an odd choice for Apple. :-/

The Japanese consider their cellphones as much a fashion-accessory as a technical device, and on average buy a new phone every 1.5 to 2 years. The real tech freaks may change every six months,  so they always have the newest model. We go from fashion to fashion with each season, and the Japanese do the same– but incorporate their cellphones as part of the equation. However, like in the US, people were getting the phones “for free” (paying for it over a period of time as part of the contract price), and didn’t necessarily realize how much the actual phones cost. The average cellphone in Japan costs around or over 30,000 Yen (just a little over $300.00).[3]

Although there has been a lot of press on Japan’s national hatred of the iPhone, according to AppleInsider.com, this has been inflated in the particular sensationalist attitude of the contemporary news. It was attacked on the basis of several projected-sales figures that had apparently not actually been expressed by either Apple or Softbank. The fundamental issues don’t seem to lie in the product itself, but rather the economy, the price, and possibly cultural needs not being met.  A Japanese journalist, Hayashi, who did several interviews and made extensive comments concerning the iPhone said he’s the “proud owner of one”, but he also carries “other phones which he can use to pay for subway fares, taxis, and food.”

The people riding the hate-train however, claimed that what the Japanese hated about the iPhone was “Almost everything: the high monthly data plans that go with it, its paucity of features, the low-quality camera, the unfashionable design and the fact that it’s not Japanese.”[4] And while other sources state that this is inflated information based on a minority opinion, I personally think that it’s a combination of things. I agree with the statements made on the more economic reasons why the iPhone has not done as well in Japan as in other countries, but I also can’t say it’s not entirely true about the Japanese and their attitude toward foreign electronics. I really have to say that until I hear it from non-business, non-journalist Japanese….I’ll fall somewhere in between.

Hehe, on a slightly funnier note, I have a Japanese friend who got an iPhone. He loved it, but also expressed a few limitations of use (maybe the taxis and food?), and mentioned that the Japanese didn’t like the iPhone because texting required two hands. I can understand why this would be a serious concern for the Japanese, being absolute freaks at cellphone text creation. He also mentioned that he was going to starve in order to pay for it.


"Ichi plus ichi equals..." NIIIIIII

"Ichi plus ichi equals..." NIIIIIII


[1], [4] Sited from the sensationalist article on Wired.com

…which is attacked by… [2], [3] AppleInsider, on the iPhone in the Japanese market. Original article.