Today is Valentine's day around the world, and while the western world shares a majority of similarities with how it is celebrated, Japan is slightly different in execution. While the holiday shares the same date, and theme of expression of love, the way that is done, and who does that expression is distinctly Japanese in essence. Rather than the use of expensive gifts, or other such gifts usually given (though those gifts can be used) chocolate is mainly the gift of choice. In Japan, Valentine's day is a traditionally for females to express their love, since historically, Japanese women had a harder time expressing their love for the man in their life (obviously is not the case for every female today) However, if you are in Japan, and receive a gift of chocolate, be aware, that it might not be a confession of love.
There are two different types of chocolate that a man can receive, that of honmei-choko (true love chocolate) and giri-choko (obligation chocolate) Honmei-choko is self explanatory, it is what one receives when she wishes to express her love to you in a courting manner, or are already in a relationship. Giri-choko is what one gives to males in the workplace, (bosses, co-workers) male friends, or those she knows she has no romantic attachment to. Do not feel as though this is an insult, or something they do without consideration, Giri is an interesting concept that is a distinctly Japanese concept. Obligation in Japanese terms is something that is important to the culture as a whole, it has permeated various aspects of their culture, historical, and popular. With that said, just because that there is no romantic feelings with giri-choko doesn't mean that the obligation inherent to the giving of the chocolate doesn't mean that they do not have any feelings of friendship they may have towards you. Japanese culture is heavily based upon context so as long as you remain cognizant of those facts, and the person who is giving you the giri-choko hurt feelings should be at a minimum wherever possible. There is another holiday that is in a month that I will talk about when it comes, White Day on March 14th. Until then, take care!
( ´•౪•`) こゆうきあいはら ( ´•౪•`)
This is another band that may interest you, they can be considered in a similar vein tonally to ONE OK ROCK. Though at times their energy in songs has a higher, and somewhat harder energy to it, their guitar work is some of the best I have heard in recent memory. That is not to say that they do not do well with a more somber musical style.
They of course have done music for anime, and I discovered them due to intro to the anime Noragami "Goya No Machiawase" (午夜の待ち合わせ) or roughly 'Meeting of the Night'. It starts out strong, and carries the energy throughout the song, without feeling strained. My favorite song on the Album "Masked Monkey Awakening" has to be the first song "Saru wa ki kara doko e ochiru" (猿は木から何処へ落ちる) the best I could find is 'The monkey from the wood falls to somewhere', regardless of the name, the song is once again an energetic romp from beginning to end.
The band is made up of Shun Taro (Vocals&Guitar), Narumi (Vocals&Guitar), Tasoko (Guitar), Makoto (Bass), and Yuki (Drums). They are a dual vocal 5 piece band with 3 guitars, bass and drums, and the sound is nicely textured with the three guitarists working well to compliment each other to make a crisp complex sound. To date a good amount of LP and EP have released, and appears they are currently on tour in Japan. If you are interested in finding out more about them I will once again leave the pertinent info at the bottom. If there is anything you want to add or that I missed leave it in the comments, thanks for reading!
Official Site: http://www.hellosleepwalkers.com/
Official Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE63EF2D087D21BF1
Twitter (Band): https://twitter.com/hsw_japan
Fan Newsletter: https://fofa.jp/asketch/a.p/106/
Today, I have an interesting suggestion for you, Wagakki band. They are an interesting cross section of different music genres while coming together into something that I feel works really well. The two musics that are combined together are modern rock, and traditional Japanese folk-instruments. On face value, the mixture of modern and classical instruments sounds odd. That is until you hear how well they mesh together, as an example, the tsugaru shamisen (つがるしゃみせん) works really well with the guitar, same with the taiko(太鼓) and drums, and with the inclusion of the bamboo flute(shakuhachi 尺八), Koto( 箏), and traditional folk singing, it creates quite the interesting sound.
This is another band that seems to have their own band lore, that seems to be quite in depth and rich, though I know much less about it than BABYMETAL. One of the coolest things about this band is that all of the members in the band that play the classic Japanese instruments were classically trained, which I find cool because they chose to use that talent to reach a broader audience that might not have had the chance to hear the sounds of Japanese folk instruments. The band is quite large, but this is one of those times where I feel that is less of a detriment due to how as I said that they make the different sounds mesh so well.
The band members include Suzuhana Yuko (vocalist), Ibukuro Kiyoshi (koto), Kaminaga Daisuke (shakuhachi), Ninagawa Beni (TsugaruShamisen/Jamisen), Kurona (Wadaiko/Taiko), Machiya (Guitar), Asa (Bass), and Wasabi (Drums). If you are interested in hearing what they sound like I suggest that you use the Youtube link below and watch the video for the song 'Senbonzakura' to get the most ideal feel and sound of who they are. Also, they are going to be releasing their second album in the near future, titled "Yasou Emaki" as well as a tour later this year. Once again, if you are interested, I will leave the links to all the important sites at the bottom.
Wagakki Band (Official Site): http://wagakkiband.jp/wagae/
Twitter (Band account): https://twitter.com/WagakkiBand
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WagakkiBand
Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wagakkiband/
This band is another example of Japanese bands and their creative penchant to create musical groups that have a creative aesthetic to their appearance and sound. The band, called Kishidan (meaning "The Knights" in Japanese) They dress in uniforms that are modeled after the short and long coats of the Bōzōzoku (motorcycle gang) versions of the gakuran (school uniform). The musical style is a bit of a mix between big-band,50's rock, and alternative/punk, with a bit of light rapping, also it should be mentioned that there is a bit of a comedic twist to the way the represent themselves, which I feel works well with their performances.
The group formedin 1997 and has a total of six members. Show Ayanocozey (綾小路 翔 Ayanokōji Shō) [Vocals, Dragon Voice, Emcee and Guitar], Hikaru Saotome (早乙女 光 Saotome Hikaru, Hikaru) [Dance and Scream], Hitomi Saionji (西園寺 瞳 Saionji Hitomi, Tommy) [Guitar],Hoshi Grandmarnier (星 グランマニエ Hoshi Guranmanie, Ranma) [Guitar], Shouchikubai Shiratori (白鳥 松竹梅 Shiratori Shōchikubai, Matsu) [Bass guitar], and Yukinojoe Shiratori (白鳥 雪之丞 Shiratori Yukinojō, Yukki) [Drums & drunk].
I feel that as a whole this band has a lot to offer, in their energy, talent, and they way that they carry themselves that they deserved a bit more attention outside of Japan. If any of this sounds interesting, I will as per usual put the pertinent links at the bottom of the page. Hope you enjoy the music, and let me know what you think of it.
Kishidan Official Webpage: http://www.kishidan.com/index.html
Kishidan (staff) Twitter: https://twitter.com/kishidan_staff
Kishidan (Ayonokoji Shō) Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShowAyanocozey
Here is one that anime fans will recognize instantly, and that is Yoko Kanno, though she has composed and performed music for movies, television, video games and commercials.. She is what one might call, prolific, for her music cuts across a multitude of different genres. The music ranges from jazz, pop, rock, electronica, and more, while also every once and a while mixing different genres to great effect.
Honestly, there is not much to be said, other than to find her music and listen to it. To start off I will suggest that you listen to anything that was from the anime Cowboy Bebop (should watch that too, if you haven't). While most of the music there is mostly of the jazz genre, it is amazing nonetheless. Two songs that I will suggest from that is "Call Me" and "Gotta Knock a little harder" I think they will give you a good idea of what kind of sound they are going for. Another soundtrack I can recommend is for Escaflowne (either the series or movie, both have amazing music) the song "Escaflowne" is the perfect song to give you an idea of her orchestral music that has a powerful and bombastic delivery. Last suggestion is Ghost in the shell, the music here ranges from slow paced pop pieces, full rock n' roll, and heavy hitting electronica. Two songs that I feel are a must are "I do" and "Velveteen" two songs on opposite sides of the spectrum, but amazing on their own.
One of the great things about her music, is that one genre is not favored over another, the music she composes is created to fit the mood, characters, story, and motivations of what she is working on at that time. If you look at what she is composing for, and what music it creates proves that great care is made to create a mesh of music and subject matter that is something amazing, and improves the experience of whatever she composes for. She has worked with, a number of artists, the most notable being Maaya Sakamoto, who through the years has worked with her on many different projects. So I can say that if you have not heard of her yet, I have a feeling that she will have at least one song that you will enjoy.
「This is not a review, this is just my opinion, no score shall be given.」
This album "Metal resistance" is the new Baby Metal album that released on the first of April (known as Fox Day in the bands' lore), and I think it is quite good. The sound for this release is quite well done, and while the first album was nowhere near being considered bad, I personally feel that they are more confident in who they are as a group, and that comes across in the music. Unlike their debut album, which had a larger amount of songs that seemed to fit outside the Metal that seems to be the main draw of this band. This release only has two songs which I would consider to be a bit on the more mainstream side of the spectrum, those songs being Track #2 Karate, and, track #10 No Rain, No Rainbow. the first track, Karate, being a nice energetic track that feels right up there with any other comparable J-pop band out there today, the second track, No Rain, No Rainbow, being something akin to a power ballad, with the sensual slow singing, and emotional lyrics of such.
While this is definitely more of a metal album than previous, the songs on average are also a bit heavier, on the musical side of things. While I do not think that is a bad thing personally, there are those who do mind, although I feel that the singing that accompanies the music somewhat calms it down overall, which is a dichotomy that I personally appreciate. The energy, and confidence in which these songs are delivered is commendable and the consistency, and power of the singing is amazing for only the second album. Speaking of the singing, it is amazing as usual, Su-Metal shows her vocal range throughout this album, I feel that the best proof of her skill is the last song on the album "The One" which is a tribute to the fans, and it is quite the powerful one at that. She also proves that she can sing quite well in English. Of course some will nitpick and say her pronunciation is off, but that is to be expected, and she can sing in this language better than some people I know can speak it, so that is some skill in and of itself.
While this album is by far one of my favorites recently, I can see how it may be a bit of a stretch for people not already invested in BabyMetal, all I can say is, if you like Japanese Rock, and Pop, and are interested in hearing the two mixed together into something entirely its own, give their debut album a shot, for I think it is the more accessible of the two to start with. However, if you like the sound that they have created, and are interested in more, then Metal Resistance is something that is definitely worth checking out. (especially since you can get it at a normal price due to them having a western release of this album.) In closing, I greatly enjoyed the entirety of this album, and I hope that the sales of it in the west means that their albums will continue to be released outside of Japan, so more people can enjoy the music that they create.
Granted, most of you that are here, likely already know of this band, but for those of you that do not, I am excited to tell you about this next group, one of my favorites in years, BABYMETAL! This is an interesting one for sure, close your eyes,and imagine you are listening to a metal band, with no vocals, then slowly screaming enters into the song, then the lead starts to sing in accompaniment, then there is a bright pop sound that makes its way into the song alongside the metal, screams, and melodic singing. Surprised, you open your eyes, and what is the first thing you see? You see three girls in red, jumping, singing and dancing on stage almost as if you were watching a video of AKIBA 48 rather than a metal band.
However, when all is said and done, the combination of booming metal sounds, bright pop music sounds, screamo, dance routines, and the vocals from the lead, it all seems to come together quite well. Then there is the band that are dressed in white, with long metal-hair befitting any self-respecting metal head, and contrary to likely ideas saying otherwise, they seem to be a part of the lore, of the group, rather than just the people who play the instruments while the girls perform. I am sorely lacking on knowledge of their band lore, but I do know it exists, and it deals with something to do with Kitsune, specifically Megitune, and there is a well thought out background dealing with that. Feel free to share your BabyMetal Lore in the comments below. (^_^)
BABYMETAL was formed in 2010, the three members are SU-METAL, YUIMETAL, and MOAMETAL. To date, they have released a number of Singles, Live albums, and their full debut album "BABYMETAL" If you want a good idea of their range, I can recommend a few songs to add to your playlist. First I will recommend the song "Megitsune" this song, i feel is a good all around litmus test of their sound,and whether it is something you will like or not. The sound incorporates a number of things, Metal, J-pop, and even a bit of Japanese folk music, (and folk dance, in the video!), so all around a good song to start with. Another song I will recommend is "Line!" because this song is a bit of an 'everything' type, they even include a bit of rap (very short segment). They are releasing their second album Worldwide, on April, 1st, 2016, they will also begin their World Tour at the SSE Arena Wembley, in London a day later. As usual, if you are interested in the band I shall leave all the pertinent information at the bottom.
BABYMETAL Official Site: http://en.babymetal.jp/home/
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BABYMETAL.jp
Merchandise Store (UK): http://www.mflstores.com/mfl/babymetal.html/
Merchandise Store(US): http://babymetal.gomerch.com/
This band is one that I discovered back in 2009 and for one reason or another, they dropped off the map for me, whether that is due to my thinking that they disbanded, or life making itself known, it feels as though I shouldn't have, because they are still around. A rock band that started in 1999 in the prefecture of Ibaraki (which is located Northeast of Tokyo). The sound that they make fits quite well within the Alternative, genre with a decent amount of screaming added to a number of their songs. I really like how the vocals work off of one another, especially when the band uses what is called gang-vocals, where the whole band gets involved in the song. The first full length album, released in 2006, titled Never turn on the light to keep myself on, was quickly by their followup album FACT in 2009, which was actually released internationally. This is the album that I was introduced to them by, and to this day, I still find it enjoyable.
The band consists of six members currently, Hironobu "Hiro" Onose as the lead vocals, Kazuki Sakurai on the rhythm guitar, Eiji Matsumoto on the drums and percussion, Tomohiro Takayasu on the bass, Takahiro Onose, on the lead guitar, and on guitar there is Adam Graham who was added to the band in 2012. As stated above, due to the use of gang-vocals, the other band members are used as backup-vocals in a number of their songs. Hironobu-san was not originally the lead singer of the band, that was orignially Tomohiro-san until they added Hironobu-san in 2002.
The last album that the band released up to this point was titled KTHEAT back in 2015, and apparently though not their highest chart, it made it to the top 10 albums at time of release in Japan. Although I may not have heard their most recent music, I still believe that they are deserving of attention, because from word of mouth, up to date fans, from what I have heard have enjoyed what they have been putting out lately. Once again; if you are interested, I will put the pertinent information at the bottom of this article in order for you to see if this band is what you are looking for.
Band webpage[Official]: http://factjapan.com/
Band Twitter[Official]: https://twitter.com/factjapan
Band Facebook[Official]: https://www.facebook.com/factjapanofficial
Band YouTube[Official]: https://www.youtube.com/user/FACTofficialchannel
ヾ(＾-＾)ノ こゆうき「Koyuuki」 ヾ(＾-＾)ノ
Business and Personal interaction Tips
The word used when toasting is Kanpai 「kahn-pie・乾杯・cheers」. When toasting, the glass is never left unfilled. Drinking is an important part of Japanese culture, mainly as a way to relieve the stresses of work life.
Most business related entertaining is done in restaurants or bars after hours, the most common place is either in karaoke 「カラオケ」bars or Hostess bars. It is recommended that businesswomen refrain from attending a Hostess bar.
More important phrases to learn are Itadakimasu「頂きます・Let's eat」which is used at the beginning of a meal, and gochisou sama deshita 「ごちそうさまでした・Thank you for the meal」at the end. It shows that you enjoyed the meal provided, and that you put some thought into the culture you are among.
Do not openly display money when possible. In Japan it is rare to see cash handed off in public. The best way to give cash to someone whether in public or private is in an envelope.
Take special care in handling business cards 「名刺・meishi」that are given to you. Make sure to not write on the card, also it is preferred for you to have a specific place for it that is not either your pocket or wallet. This is thought of as defacing the card and considered disrespectful. Make sure to memorize the name and title of the person on the card, and close examination of the card is considered a show of respect.
Introductions use the persons' last name with the suffix of san, which translates to Mr. or Ms. in your language. The traditional way of identifying a person is by their family name rather than their given name. It is bad form, especially for an important or first meeting to request the call you by your given name. It not shows lack of cultural foreknowledge it could bring possibly what could be wrong or embarrassing about your family name if they are traditional enough. Also, if you are unsure on the pronunciation of a name, ask for assistance.
ヾ(＾-＾)ノ こゆうきあいはら ヽ(^。^)丿
OK, here is one of the biggest bands in recent history (to me at least). This rock band is definitely something special, and you can tell with the energy that they deliver their music.
I have to say that even though they have been around since 2005 I didn't find out about them until I started playing Ryu Ga Gotoku: Ishin (Yakuza: Ishin) early last year. The song used as the intro song was Clock Strikes, and usually I am not swayed by intro songs in games (Japanese or otherwise).
However, there was something unique about this band, and I needed to delve deeper into the music that I heard. (I loved the song so much I would loop the intro scene for the main menu of the game rather than play the game for the first hour ^_^) Once I started down the rabbit hole, I was stuck, and I can say I was happy to be there, the musical flow, and energy is contagious, and enjoyable. I haven't (personally) been able to find an American band that I can just enjoy and get lost in the sensations that the sounds and energy the give off create.
The band itself consists of four members (originally 5, but the other guitarist left the band in 2009) . The band itself consists of Taka (vocals), Toru (guitar), Ryota (Bass), and Tomoya (drums). I can not recommend this band enough, and if you are interested in hearing some songs to whet your appitite, I would say all of them, but to get you started I would say at the least, "Clock Strikes", "Mighty Long Fall", and "Deeper Deeper". Though a good slower, lower energy example would be "Cry Out". And if all that properly whets your appetite for this band here are where you can find info, and more below. I have recently also found out, they have signed with Warner Brothers Record Label, and will be releasing their first album in the west, titled "35XXv" sometime in September, so look forward to it ^_^.
Official Band Page: http://www.oneokrock.com/
Twitter (Band): https://twitter.com/oneokrock_japan
Instagram (Band): https://instagram.com/oneokrockofficial/
Instagram (Taka): https://instagram.com/10969taka/
Instagram (Toru): https://instagram.com/toru_10969/
Instagram (Ryota): https://instagram.com/ryota_0809/
Instagram (Tomoya): https://instagram.com/tomo_10969/