Kawaii Minus Gender: Genderless Kei


It’s been a long time since I last posted anything on Japanese street fashion, and of all the fashion-focused articles I have posted here on Otaku Lounge, all but one of them have been concerned primarily with women. After all, the vast majority of Japanese street fashions and subcultures have traditionally been dominated by female-centric styles: lolita, gyaru, mori girl, and plenty of others. Genderless kei – whose male participants have been gaining the lion’s share of media and fan attention – is changing that landscape. Continue reading

Restaurants in Japan


One of the best things about travelling to a new place is the food. Sure, checking out the museums, art galleries, observatories, and other famous landmarks is cool, but food plays an equally significant role in the cultural landscape – particularly if you’re confident enough to try for some of the more locally known rather than tourist-heavy spots. Continue reading

Top 3(ish) in Japan

japan prefectures ehime ainan

See that red dot down there in Ehime, aka the Love Princess? I’m not doing a category for top places in Japan overall but if I was, it would definitely make an appearance. Not that I’m biased or anything.


I’ve done plenty of top whatever lists here on Otaku Lounge before – usually anime-related – but particularly when it comes to Japan itself, my posts have mostly remained fairly impersonal. Not that I see writing about the personal on a blog such as this as being in any way a bad thing; experience helps shape everything people write about in one way or another, even when an article is largely factual in nature. Besides, I can only imagine that a blog post limited strictly to cold, hard fact would make for pretty dry reading – reading that people could probably do just as well on Wikipedia. However, for various reasons I tend to shy away from writing anything on here that could be deemed purely personal, and there have been only a couple of exceptions to that over the years.

Given that I recently came back from a 4-year stint in Japan though, and that one of the ways I like to process things is through writing, this would be one of those exceptions.

Needless to say, the following is confined to those things which I’ve seen or done first-hand. It in no way encompasses all of what Japan has to offer (though ticking off 35 out of 47 prefectures is pretty respectable if I do say so myself), and it’s all based completely on my own impressions. It’s not intended as any sort of guide or even as a recommendation list.

It’s a celebration. Continue reading

Reverse Culture Shock

japan new zealand
Having come back from Japan after 4 years and giving myself a couple of weeks to settle back down in New Zealand (if only temporarily), I finally get what everyone else was on about when they talked of reverse culture shock. It’s hard, perhaps even impossible, to emotionally prepare yourself for something that you’ve yet to experience, so no matter how much I tried to tell myself that I’d feel these things, actually feeling them is another matter entirely. Continue reading

Pachinko: Gambling the Legal Way in Japan

pachinko
It’s the weekend and I’m doing a little aimless window shopping around Matsuyama’s covered arcade (shōtengai) area. There are plenty of people out and about but this is Shikoku, where even the largest city would still be considered fairly quaint and even quite peaceful by Tokyo or Osaka standards; I’m therefore still able to identify the various background tunes coming from nearby stores. That is before a pair of doors to my right slide open at least and the sudden onslaught of sound drowns out everything within a half-mile radius. It washes over me along with a visible cloud of cigarette smoke and – lucky me! – I realize I happen to be standing right next to one of the shōtengai’s several pachinko parlors. Continue reading

Bathing in Japan

japan monkey onsen
I try not to make sweeping generalizations – particularly when it comes to cultures that I may take part in but am not strictly part of – but I think it’d be pretty fair to say that Japan really likes its baths. My students’ reactions when I told them that in New Zealand, most people tended to shower rather than bathe every day (and in the morning no less!), their reaction was a unanimous “WHAAAAT?” (Well, okay, it was actually “EEEEEHHH?”, but the sentiment was roughly the same.) Continue reading

A History of Anime: The Super Abbreviated Version – part 3 of 4 (1990-1999)

hideaki anno ultraman
Where we last left off in the previous exciting episode of this (mini)series, the anime industry was actually dying (as opposed to, you know, whatever people are saying about anime now), and Japan as a whole sure wasn’t look too healthy either. Anime needed a hero. A hero fresh from the fight… Continue reading

A History of Anime: The Super Abbreviated Version – part 2 of 4 (1970s-1989)

miyazaki hayao, oshii mamoru

Welcome back to the second ultra-exciting installment of the super abbreviated history of anime! I’d make a recap, but as far as I’m concerned this whole article series is the recap – so if you missed part one, go read it, it barely grazes 1000 words. Continue reading

A History of Anime: The Super Abbreviated Version – part 1 of 4 (1907-1970s)

tezuka osamu
There’s a bit of a story behind this article series. See, longer ago than I now care to admit, I finished up my PhD, and a couple years before that, there was a really rambling draft of a PhD that had way too many chapters – one of which was a history of anime. Said chapter was one of the first to be kicked out, because although writing it was definitely beneficial to my thought process, it was pretty useless as a finished product and did the overall PhD absolutely no favours. I enjoyed writing it though and didn’t want to just get rid of it, so the document just sort of hibernated for a few years somewhere in the darkest recesses of my computer, in a folder literally labelled ‘UNUSED WRITING’.

Until this year that is, when I was doing a computer clean-out and going through all my old crap to see what had been hiding in there. I then decided that my poor, long-winded chapter deserved a bit of fresh air, and who better to be subjected to it than a bunch of randoms on an anime blog? Fear not however, for the chapter has been severely edited for style and size. In fact, not only did I challenge myself to finally let the thing see the light of day, but I also challenged myself to cut it more or less in half. I was going to write a full history of anime in no more than 5000 words.

This is the end result.

Continue reading