Best J-Pop/J-Rock Albums of 2018

It’s been a fairly underwhelming year for Japanese music for me, at least as far as full studio albums are concerned. While plenty of my favourite artists released compilation or best of albums during 2018, far fewer released studio albums; as a result, I listened to only 11 of them total, while just 3 of these made the cut. As always, the following list is arranged in order of release date and comprises only full and original studio albums by a single artist or band – no cover, compilation, EP, or live albums have been included. Continue reading

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A History of Hentai: The Super Abbreviated Version

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Way back in February 2016, after wading through my computer for a good old fashioned spring clean, I ended up editing and posting some history material that never quite made it into my PhD – mostly due to length and relevance issues. Continuing my adventures of delving into the folder helpfully labelled ‘UNUSED WRITING’, here’s another piece that’s been repurposed for my blog after a period of deep hibernation. Enjoy!

Note: I have gone out of my way to exclude any visually explicit content in this article. However, the topic itself obviously may not be considered child-friendly, and possibly won’t be to everyone’s taste regardless. Please proceed with this understanding. Continue reading

Life in Japan in Photos: Kappa

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This is Kappa. She was the one of several rescues I made in Japan over the past few years who ultimately survived. The rest, despite immediate vet care, eventually died due to the severity of their injuries or illnesses. I and a fellow lover of cats kept Kappa in our respective houses for several months, although we weren’t supposed to – like many apartments in Japan, big or small, pets were not allowed. However, the reason I’ve chosen this particular photo to post about is not just because I love cats, but also to highlight exactly how much of a problem Japan has with stray animals, and with cats in particular. Continue reading

Japan’s Creepiest Mascot Characters


It’s no secret that Japan has a bit of a thing for mascots. In a country where not only schools and sports teams but also museums, embassies, prisons, and the military have their own cute and cuddly mascot characters, it’s no exaggeration to say the place is now practically overrun with them (in fact, the Finance Ministry even launched a campaign back in 2015 to cut down on the number of mascots in order to reduce unnecessary spending). Continue reading

Weird or Wonderful?: Japanese Foods

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By now, plenty of people are familiar with at least the names of certain odd-sounding, yet still reasonably common Japanese foods such as natto (fermented soybeans), fugu (pufferfish), or yuba (tofu skin). Today, I thought it might be interesting to go a step further with a post detailing some lesser-known foods in Japan – some specific to certain regions, others popular right across the country, but all of them still consumed in today’s society. Continue reading

Drinking in Japan: Part III


Taking a small break from talking about anime this week to instead continue my sporadically ongoing Japan drinks series. Despite being one of the largest consumers of coffee in Asia, Japan is still very much a tea kingdom – “the ultimate mental and medical remedy … to make one’s life more full and complete” according to Japan’s oldest tea specialty book, written by a Buddhist priest in 1191. Continue reading

Best J-Pop/J-Rock Albums of 2017

This year’s list is a little lighter than in 2016, when I listened to 18 Japanese studio albums total (in comparison to 13 this time around). However, I think that’s more of a reflection on my own time constraints as opposed to any particular dip in the Japanese music industry, and I managed to find a handful of albums that really stood out to me regardless. As always, the following list, arranged in order of release date, is comprised solely of full and original studio albums by a single artist or band – no covers, compilations, collaborations, EPs, or live albums. Continue reading

10 Japanese Superstitions


One of the most interesting aspects to me about visiting another country is hearing about common superstitions. No matter how logical people may seem, no matter how grounded or rational the culture, there are always things that people will do or not do, say or not say, that are rooted firmly in myth and folklore. Some, like seeing a black cat cross your path, are common to many countries, while others are much more location-specific. Continue reading

The Old, The New, The Frank, The Untrue: Changing Faces of Japan’s Sex Industry


Prostitution may be (technically) illegal in Japan – it has been since the 1950s – but the sex industry itself is very much alive and kicking. Want to be chatted to by beautiful women or pretty boys over some pricey drinks? The hostess and host clubs have you covered. Feel like being bathed by an attractive lady who uses her naked body to apply the soap? No problem, that’s what soaplands are for. Got a highly specific itch you want to scratch? Get your cosplay and setting fetish needs met down to the last detail at an image club. Some institutions are a bit odder or less infamous than others, however, and Japan’s sex industry is in many ways quite different than it was in the 80s, 90s, or even early 2000s. Continue reading