Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’


“Love Distance” – Sagami Condom’s Billion-Millimeter Marathon

June 5, 2012

Sagami Condoms claim to fame is that theirs are the world’s thinnest. To help illustrate that claim, creative director and copywriter Naoki Ito of GT Tokyo agency produced this ad video, titled “Love Distance”.

A man and a woman separated by over a thousand kilometers spontaneously decide to bridge the gap between them on foot, as a caption counts down the distance remaining between them in millimeters.

[edit 19 Feb 2013: the vimeo version has been taken down, but I’ve since found it on Youtube]

Submitted to the Cannes Lions Festival for advertising in 2009, it took the Gold award in the Film category.


Friday Music: Koi wa Psychedelic, by Mayumi Kojima

April 13, 2012

This week’s music selection comes from jazz singer Mayumi Kojima’s 2003 album, Ai no Poltergeist. Although I first encountered her work right around the time of her 1995 debut, her instrumental and vocal styling (not to mention the  retro cover art on the CD) tricked me into thinking she had recorded it back in the 60s.

Unlike her earlier albums, which showed a strong influence from European jazz and Berthold Brecht cabarets, Ai no Poltergeist has a more of a Latin feel, yet still sounds as though it’s coming from several decades ago. This is 恋はサイケデリック (Koi wa saikederikku, Love is Psychedelic).

As a bonus, here’s a video of her first single, 結婚相談所 (Kekkon soudansho, or Matrimonial Agency)


Tuesday’s Music of the Day: Lady, by Rajas

March 19, 2012

I’m uploading this a day early since tomorrow’s a holiday and my PC at home is on the fritz.

Rajas was (and still is, as the members routinely get together again for weekend club performances) a Kyoto-based hard-rocking hair-metal band that released several albums during the ’80s. Their sound is very similar to Heart, both instrumentally and in the vocals of lead singer Sen-chan (in pink. Non-chan in white played bass). This track, “Lady”, was featured on their 1985 album, Turn it Up.



They made a few TV appearances as well, including this performance of “Liar” (from the same album), complete with annoying VJ voice-over in English.


Music of the Day: Innocence, by Blood Stain Child

March 13, 2012

Blood Stain Child is an Osaka-based band that produces what they describe as “hybrid metal trance”, layering rhythmic synthesizer and smooth female vocals over grinding guitar and roaring male vocals. I’d actually been a fan of them for some time before I discovered they were from Japan.

The group formed in 2000 and their most recent album, Epsilon, was released just last year. This track, “Innocence”, comes from their 2007 album, Mozaiq.  It starts off sounding much like a video game intro before diving straight in, full throttle. Enjoy.



Bob McGrath – from Showa-dori to Sesame Street

March 10, 2012

Lots of singers and other performers end up in Japan one way or another, and it’s not that uncommon for them to achieve a measure of success here that outweighs what they were able to generate in their home countries. For most of the ones that start out here, “Big in Japan” is as far as they ever get, but some manage to parlay it into a springboard to fame back home and worldwide.

One example I discovered recently was Bob McGrath, an American-born tenor who performed with the Mitch Miller Orchestra in the early 1960s before traveling to Japan as soloist, where he found success singing Irish ballads and other tunes in English and Japanese. In this clip, with stills of his albums and from his performances, he sings Koji no Tsuki (“荒城の月) in Japanese:

If he looks at all familiar, you may recognize him from the TV show he joined in 1969, soon after returning from Japan, and where he is still performing today, over 40 years later:

Yes, that’s the same Bob we grew up watching on Sesame Street. I purchased a set of the early-season DVDs for my own son a little while back, and while thumbing through the booklet that came with it, there was a trivia note saying that Bob had been a “pop star” in Japan before joining the show. My older in-laws didn’t recognize the name, so I did a bit of searching on YouTube and found these:

Bob singing a variation of  “Jingle Bells” in English and Japanese”

Kaze no Yureteru Oka ni (風のゆれてる丘に) / On the Windy Hill

Koi no Sasurai (恋のさすらい) / Love’s Wanderings

During his time in Japan, Bob came back to appear on To Tell The Truth, where the contestants had to guess which of the three panelists was the real Bob McGrath. It doesn’t seem that the other two had done much preparation, since they could hardly answer any of the questions about Japan or Irish ballads. Some of the contestants also seemed to know a fair bit about Tokyo (I’ve been here over 15 years and I don’t know what’s in Kami-Meguro).  They guess correctly, and he rewards them with one of his songs.

They mention in the opening that he’d performed at the Copa Cabana and the Latin Quarter in Tokyo. After reading about some of the things that went on in those clubs in Robert Whiting’s Tokyo Underworld, Bob’s gentle demeanor seems like an odd fit.

He also appeared on I’ve Got a Secret, where the contestants have to guess that Bob has been performing in Japan (they must not have seen the To Tell The Truth episode). I love his rendition of “Home on the Range” in enka style.

Unfortunately, Bob didn’t appear in the 1988  Sesame Street TV movie “Big Bird in Japan”. That would have made an interesting addition to the show.


Music of the Day: Awa Odori, by Stomu Yamash’ta

March 6, 2012

Surfing around YouTube, I came across Stomu Yamash’ta (Yamashita Tsutomu)’s Awa Odori, from Ongaku 70, a compilation album of Japanese psychedelia.