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December ‘09 / January ‘10
| ISSUE 3 |


Are You Crazy?

Culture Shock Takes Its Toll

Sex With A Stranger

Probing A Sex Worker

Shooting Blanka
Nagoya’s Dance Machine

Down And Logged Out

The Economic Crisis In Japan

Japanese Cops
Let’s Be Careful Out There..

Deadly’s Tips

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Romance throwing age-old prejudices out into the Hell, ain’t we supposed to be there
open. The young couple is torn apart already though? Where’s the money for
and Diplomacy in the ensuing chaos, and the Brooklyn that supposed to come from, and wait...
Three issues in, and the seams are dude spends lots of time in this old ramen Can’t we already get to Tokyo pretty fast
starting to show. People are getting restaurant wondering how to get, keep, on the regular Shink? What do we need
ornery and deadlines are being missed, and maintain The Woman He Loves. to get to TOKYO that quick for anyway?
ignored, or openly ridiculed. Like Her friends and family, meanwhile, I’d rather have Meitetsu build something
any romantic relationship, ours has employ every tactic and means at their where I can get to Utsumi in 15 minutes
reached the critical six month mark, that disposal to destroy and otherwise create from Mei-eki during summertime...
moment where you’ve tried every sexual mayhem for her, all the while trying to You would too if you saw some of the
position there is more than a few times, convince her that they are acting in her Goodness that is summer at Utsumi
talked until dawn about your dreams best interest. Yeah, right, so why doesn’t beach. What are they gonna do with
and your childhood and your dashed it feel that way? Innocence is lost. the Tokaido Shinkansen when the Chuo
hopes and plans, you’ve even taken Exactly like our fair city of Nagoya, Super-MagLev-Fast-O-Matic Shinkansen
showers together and sadly it seems the the location of the film’s setting has an opens? Replace it with a moving
infatuation is starting to wear off, and international cast of characters, Russians, sidewalk?
you’re realizing the other person isn’t Americans, Aussies, Brits, Brazilians, This is Japan... It’s gonna get replaced
some Gift from God with superpowers, Africans, Persians, Filipinos, etc. The with the transporter off the Enterprise
he/she is just another flawed human with gang’s all here.. from Star Trek.
issues and baggage and emphatically At film’s end, everyone learns some Beam me the F up, Scottie, there’s
NO, they’re not going to save you from kind of vague lesson about tolerance no sign of intelligent life ‘round these
yourself, that monumental task is still in and acceptance and the importance of parts...
your own hands. community and creativity and there’s
even some silly “love conquers all” In this issue, we’ve got Japanese
Which is a good thing. theme running throughout the story. Cops, sex workers, insane people, a
J7 calls it “Romeo and Juliet meets dude who lives in a Denny’s, RAN ZOO
Who knows you better than you know Crash”, I can buy that, throw in a little and Blanka (no-- not from StreetFighter).
yourself? That’s why I gave the foreword “Lost In Translation” and maybe “The
the title “Romance and Diplomacy”, and Wanderers” and that’s the flick. (I also call What more do you want really?
yes it does have the slightest allusion to it “What if Beat Takeshi was American, Romance? Diplomacy? (No! I want a
Prez Obama cruising through these parts But Still Made Yakuza Movies.”--Ed.) damn speeder-bike!)
recently to make sure the Japanese and Can’t divulge the ending but I swear, it’s
Chinese still believe in The American coming soon to a theater near you, killer Welcome to Issue Number 3 of Ran
Dream, even if no one in America soundtrack and all. Submit songs if you Magazine.
believes in it anymore. Point being, have any.
you’ve got to sell yourself on some Know any producers? Directors? Peace and Blessings.
dream, romance, wealth, fame, beauty, Anyone with a camera? Let’s make this tdh & jlg
importance, invention, immortality, a movie and we can all become famous
nice bowl of soup, Viagra, something millionaires and then we can buy a
has to get you out of your bed in the big house with a two-car garage out in
morning, and then it’s up to you to make Owariasahi and live happily ever after..
it happen.
I’ve had this idea for a film in Future Trippin’
my head since I arrived here. It goes
something like this; A frazzled and more- Yo-- Did you also notice, its 20- TEN?
than-slightly bereft dude from Brooklyn No more sayin’ “it’s the year 2K__” Publisher: TD Houchen
with a shady background arrives in a or “two-thousand___ “ for the year... Chief Editor: Jason L. Gatewood
medium-sized city in present-day Japan. Wow... Twenty-Ten... So where the hell Art Director: Adrien Sanborn
He immediately falls in love with a are the flying cars, why can’t I vacation Photography Editor:
beautiful and traditional Japanese girl on the moon, why isn’t my best friend Achim Runnebaum
whose family, naturally, doesn’t approve an alien from Jupiter... When can I hop Illustrator/Writer: Adam Pasion
of the young couple’s budding Forbidden aboard the Discovery and argue with
Romance. This is in no small part due HAL about opening the damn pod-bay Send story ideas to:
to the Brooklyn dude’s non-Japanese- doors, and when can I jump on a speeder
ness, as well as the pervading sense of bike on the third moon of Endor and Send photography and illustration
conservative-ness and overall closed- party with those fuzzy, lovable Ewoks? to:
mindedness of the local city they live in. Hell this is Japan, so I’d guess we’re one To advertise, contact:
step closer than the rest of the world
They go underground. in doing any of that... After all, they’re Promotional Events/Co-Promotion:
goin’ ahead with plans to build the Su-
Their passion stirs up trouble in the per-Shinkansen-- Nagoya to Tokyo in 1
community where they live, and an all hour flat. Coming in Twenty Twenty-Five
out race war bubbles to the surface, or so...

|RAN| 3
4 |RAN|
CONTENTS December 2009 / January 2010 - ISSUE NO. 3

14 The Pursuit of Jappiness

Take a walk on the wild side with your
favorite J girl personalities

26 Sex With A Stranger

Interview with a health club worker

28 Know Your Rights

When Japanese cops stop foreign residents

30 Down And Logged Out

A look at net-cafe refugees

3 Foreword
20 Listen

Shooting Blanka

6 Profiles
Gaijin Superstar 24 Should I Stay
or Should I Go
Memories for Ray Charles
10 The Green Spot
Cancer By The Carton

33 RAN Recommends
12 When In Rome
A guide to Adaptability
If we eat it, see it, listen to it,
buy it, go to it, and we love it,
then we think you will too.

18 Deadly’s Tips
A man’s house is her castle
35 RAN ZOOWe couldn’t get away

19 Create
Nagoya transformed through
with saying shit like this,
but animals can.
the eyes of Matteo Giachetti

34 Taste Shinkiro will take care of your

warrior’s appetite and give you
an outfit to match!


|RAN| 5

| By the RAN staff |

e, the staff of RAN Magazine, family problems and escaping teenage Achim: The other thing I like about Japan
in order to form a more angst in general, throwing all of my con- is that at least on the surface, people here
perfect ex-pat community, do centration into this completely different still really respect each other. I mean in
humbly take up the burden of airing out culture that was so very opposite to my the sense that the customer service is
both yours and our DIRTY LAUNDRY, in kind of ghetto-fabulous, West Coast, unmatched in the world.
our own rag no less. We’d like to think Los Angeles upbringing. I just knew I Trevor: I completely disagree. I think
we all are thinking like this, about our wanted to try living in Japan, because the customer service here sort of sucks.
lives in Japan, our existence in a society I associated, everything that was happy I mean after we order our food here,
that is in most ways a total 180º from the and nice, rainbows and ponies, with count how many times she comes over
societies and cultures we were raised being over here. and asks us if everything is okay. That is
in. So what is it about this exotic place Trevor: I came over here because I was part of customer service?
that beckoned to us in the first place? looking for a job. I found a job teaching Adam: That might be cultural though.
And once here in the bosom of Lady English in a newspaper in LA, applied Trevor. But that’s what we are talking
Japan, did the wild romp in the hay turn for the job, got the job and I was on about, culture.
to wedded bliss or did she decide we an airplane a month later. No special Adrien: In my area [in America] if you
were more trouble than we’re worth and interest in Japan, didn’t know a damn go to a grocery store, they treat you like
turn us out into some back alley... Or thing about it. a pariah at the counter, if they even
maybe WE are the ones that eventually Trevor: What do you think are the make eye contact you’re impressed.
grow tired of her quirks, and in finally best characteristics of living in Japan or But here they at least say something.
acknowledging them, are looking for an Nagoya. My convenience store they are always
exit faster than Neo did in the Matrix. Achim: Safety. I think Japan is still smiling and bubbly, even if its three
Hmmm... We wanted to interview one of those countries where you can o’clock at night. Its like “irashaimase!”
random passers-by but you guys turned go shopping, and you can leave your Jason: I have to agree with the customer
out to be a bunch of chicken-hearts so groceries on your bike and go into a service thing, that impressed me. In the
we decided to turn the gun on ourselves store and when you come out of that States you go to McDonald’s or Kentucky
for a change.... store they’re still gonna’ be on your bike. Fried Chicken and they might run out of
Jason: Where do you live? Once when hamburgers or chicken. Its happened to
Trevor: What is your reason for being I lived in Osaka, my buddy went into a me many times. It’s on the menu and I
in Japan? Family Mart for about twenty seconds, say “yes, I’d like a quarter pounder with
Achim: I came over because I was really just long enough to buy an onigiri or cheese,” and they say “well, we don’t
interested in the Japanese culture. Then something. And we had gone used CD have any quarter pounders.” “Okay, well
I went to bed one day and I woke up shopping earlier... When we came out can I just get a double cheeseburger?”
about four years later and I am still here. the bike was still there, even the plastic and they are like “well we don’t do that
Adrien: Well basically I met my wife in bag was there, but the CDs were gone. either.” and its like, “well why is it on the
America, and that is more or less the end G-A-W-N. damn menu?”
of the story. And I also always wanted to Achim: I’ve never heard anything like Trevor: That’s in the states?
learn another language, and I’ve always that in Nagoya Jason: That’s in the states.
been interested in Japanese, so that’s it. Adrien: One time I had my french toast Trevor: Y’all are living in different
Adam: I got married in America, and stolen out of my bike. states. That has never, ever happened
when my wife got pregnant and wanted Achim: I guess they were hungry. to me, but it happens constantly to me
to have a baby, we came out here to Adrien: I was biking around and I had here. Convenience stores, restaurants,
have the baby close to her family and I a bite of some crappy french toast, and McDonald’s, I have never been to any
haven’t found a good enough reason to I left it in my basket. When I came back place in America where they ran out of
go home yet. it was gone. anything.
Jason: Escape is part of it. I’ve always Adam: I had my dignity stolen once. Jason: You’ve never been to Popeye’s
been interested in Japanese culture Jason: You didn’t have any dignity to Chicken where they were like “I’m sorry,
and as a kid, when we moved to Los take. we don’t have anymore chicken.”?
Angeles, it was my form of escaping Trevor: No dude. What?! What are

6 |RAN|
you talking about? *truth is, I never ate might say rusty gears. They move slowly. “yeah I know the internet.” There is too
Popeye’s much back home --pub. *that’s Jason: I would say ‘perpetrator-ville.’ or much to process. But with Nagoya, you
‘cause you ain’t really black.--ed. ‘faker-ton’ or ‘pseudo-town.’ can carve a niche for yourself and say
Jason: Wow.....Just wow! Trevor: Nobody said anything positive. this is where I belong and this is what
Adrien: I was realizing something the What makes you stay? I do.
other day when I was in the convenience Jason: It’s where my job is.
store. I’m always super nice to the folks, Adam: Actually I really like Nagoya. Trevor: Where do you see Nagoya in
you know I try to talk to them, but no one Achim: I think Nagoya is one of the five years? Ten years from now?
will ever talk to you in a convenience easiest places for foreigners to live. Its Jason: I’ve only been here [in Nagoya]
store. not too big, its not to small, its centrally for one year, but I have seen Nagoya
Adam: They keep an appearance of located seem to struggle to be bigger than it is. Its
having good service and stuff but they Adam: Nagoya is calm compared to gonna take change on both sides. I see
don’t actually, probably give a shit. other places. the universities for example, trying to get
Trevor: I don’t think its good service at Jason: Well I have had the experience of their stuff in gear. Aichi University and
all living in both Tokyo and Osaka, and now Meijo University have their international
Achim: I disagree with that Nagoya. I will say Nagoya is certainly the programs, and I also see the companies
Adrien: No one is ever genuinely nice easiest city to live in in terms of getting that are based here like Toyota, even
Achim: I think they are if you get around and saving money. When you some of the smaller companies are
to know them. If you go to the same live in a metropolis like Tokyo, you may trying to put some diversity and interna-
convenience store over and over again get lost in the shuffle. You spend a lot of tional programs on the list. What’s gonna
they are super nice. time and money just trying to go from have to change is the random, everyday,
one place to the next. Here in Nagoya, Nagoya person that was born here and
Trevor: Do you guys think its easy to its big enough so that it is more than just lives somewhere like Midori-ku and
assimilate in Japan? a bump in the road for concerts to stop rarely sees anybody foreign.
Adam: I think its impossible. at. Secondly, there are actually enough Achim: If you take Nagoya four years
Jason: It’s totally impossible. gaijin here doing something to make a ago and compare it to Nagoya now, you
Achim: You can become comfortable difference and have an active nightlife or see more change.
in the culture, but you will never be put some cultural diversity on the map.
accepted as a complete equal. And third, if you get pissed-off, you can Trevor: What does the term Gaijin
Adam: You will always be considered jump on the train and be in either Tokyo Superstar mean to you? Does it sound
a foreigner. There are good and bad or Osaka in two or three hours. positive or negative?
aspects to being a foreigner but that will Adam: It doesn’t sound positive to
never go away. Trevor: What would you consider to me. I think of somebody like Mr. Big or
be the pinnacle of your success here in something like that. I think of somebody
Trevor: What’s different about Nagoya Japan? who made it here and didn’t make it at
now than when you first arrived here? Everyone: RAN Magazine. home.
Achim: Before the Expo you would walk Achim: I think gaijin superstar to me has
down the street in Sakae and maybe Trevor: What would you like to see a positive meaning. A Gaijin Superstar
once a week you would see another RAN develop into? is somebody who comes over here,
foreigner like yourself. Now you walk Achim: Its a positive force to try and who creates a niche for themselves and
down the street and everyday you see bring the art community in Nagoya who does what they do without making
ten or twenty. together. apologies, without trying to fit-in. I
Trevor: What do you think is Adam: I want it to be something that mean they fit-in enough that they don’t
accountable for so many more foreigners gets people’s asses in gear, I want RAN offend anybody or anything like that, but
coming to Nagoya? Magazine to be the magazine that makes the point where they are comfortable
Achim: I think specifically Nagoya was people realize that there are things to do with who they are living in this place.
exposed to the international scene more in this city other than just going to The Jason: When we first brought-up the
after the expo. Hub every fucking weekend. We all title gaijin superstar the first image that
Adrien: Another thing about Nagoya is have different skills, almost nobody who popped into my mind was Jero. This is
that the center of Toyota’s international is in Japan decided “I want to come here somebody who came over here, and
business is now Midland Square. and be an English teacher.” You know obviously he wanted to sing ever since
we all trained in school to do something he was a kid and he decided, “my
Trevor: If you had to say Nagoya has a different. I want us to find ways to use grandmother taught me these enka
certain characteristic, for example Tokyo our skills and abilities and things we like songs, I am gonna see if I can do that
is cosmopolitan, busy, crowded, what to do, and not be pigeon-holed. over in Japan.” and maybe it was a
adjectives would you use to describe Adrien: RAN needs to send the message novelty at first but now he’s respected.
Nagoya? that you can be a foreigner in this country Adrien: I gotta tell you something that
Adam: I think Nagoya is like that youth and not just a teacher. occurred to me. I came to Japan and
pastor that everyone knew that tried to Adam: There is a glass ceiling here that I started learning the language and I
act really cool and hip, but actually had we don’t have to obey. We can create thought I should adapt to the ideas and
really old conservative ideas in his head. opportunities for ourselves. Nagoya to the way people understand things, and
Jason: I think so too. is knowable and its doable. If you say after a while I found, using the language
Adrien: If I were to use an analogy I “yeah I know Tokyo,” that’s like saying is fine but I found these cultural, social

|RAN| 7
hindrances that they have themselves internal, spiritual and psychological, yourself to get on the train, it changes
locked-into. I found it so oppressive, so and that is what I am trying to do. your whole perspective on Japan.
one day I just said “fuck it. I’m American, Achim: That is one of the great points Jason: What I would do differently is
I’m just gonna be American, but I will about living here is you can really find not concentrate so much on the small
use the language. Even in the language out who you are inside. stuff. I would like to just go back in time
though, there are little things meant to Jason: You know, this is the part of the and tell myself to lighten-up.
tie you in and lock you down. world where I found out exactly who
Achim: I would say Japanese society I really am. Some people get here and Trevor: Do you think Nagoya is a
is very compartmentalized even in right away they are like, “aww man, ‘F’ romantic city?
it’s language. The first part to learning this place.” but I was the exact opposite. Jason: Huh?!...No!
a culture is learning their language People kept telling me, “you’re just in Achim: Not really. There are romantic
because the very mechanics of that your honeymoon period. After about places but you have to look hard to find
language were forged by the social two or three months you’re gonna crash.” them.
issues of that time while that culture was It took me like two years to crash, and
being born. the thing that finally made me crash was Adam: Every once in a while, and
Adam: Modern Japan is a really new something so simple. It was the fact that nobody knows why it happens, but every
country. I couldn’t get any Taco Bell. I walked once in a while out of the blue, a scene
into a place that had tacos and there occurs. Like a scene forms itself and
Trevor: Would you say Japan is was mayonnaise on my taco, and I lost nobody can explain it. It becomes a focal
experiencing a kind of identity crisis? it. Don’t get so ingrained in this culture point, and for some reason everybody
Adam: They were in isolation for that you forget what it is that you liked there just turns on, and connects to
hundreds of years, and even now it’s about your own culture and always have that even though nobody knows why.
slow going. something that you can take with you Potentially Nagoya could do that.
that’s a little bit of home. Achim: There is so much potential here.
Trevor: Would you say there are any Achim: I think my advice for somebody Trevor: Abso-fucking-lutely.
countries that have an easier time coming over here is don’t get trapped Jason: Nagoya doesn’t have any
assimilating to Japanese culture? into the negativity. Go out of your identity yet.
Achim: Being German I have to say, I comfort zone and really try to explore Adam: Nagoya hasn’t been put on the
know the cultures are very similar as far the country, explore the people and map yet.
as punctuality is concerned, and they really try to find yourself and your Trevor: There are so many people who
way they think about things. own opinions instead of having those can do so many diverse things who want
opinions forced on you by others. something to happen.
Trevor: I am still having a really hard Achim: I think that is our mission. We
time acclimating myself to Japanese Jason: You are here to get away from are at the forefront of Nagoya. I think
culture. Coming from New York City whatever kept you complacent at home we can really bring people together here
with the ridiculous diversity there and right? You’ve got this explorer mentality and make them realize what you are
everyone screaming at the top of their and the explorer’s life is tough. You’re talking about.
lungs to make their place in the world. over here so you need to toughen up a Adam: There is no formula, it’s different
You know, it’s a stifling society and some little bit. every time. There is no saying who or
people don’t want to be stifled forever Adam: It’s really frustrating to hang-out what the catalyst will be, but it could be
and I am one of those people. with Japanese people who don’t speak a magazine.
Adam: But Japan is safe, and the fact any English but that is the best thing you Jason: Just hyping it up, eh?
that Japan is safe has absolutely nothing can do. You work with what you’ve got
to do police, or the legal system. It has – you’ve got a little bit of Japanese, they Trevor: Final comments?
to do with that whole mentality of never have a little bit of English, you get drunk Adam: Get off your ass Nagoya. Get off
going against the flow. There are no and start saying what you know how your ass and go out and do something
rubbish bins on the street but there is to say, and you start communicating as cool.
also no litter on the street, for example. human to human without worrying Achim: Find your identity. Find out
Trevor: The stuff that I don’t dig is the about anything else. who you are and make your voice heard.
stuff that on a broader basis is what Jason: Don’t hate, innovate. As far as
keeps us here. Trevor: If you could go back in your RAN is concerned if you think you can
history and do something differently do something better don’t hate on it or
Jason: What do you think you should since your arrival in Japan, what would us, but put out your own thing and make
work on to make life easier in Japan? you do differently? it better than us.
Achim: Learn the language. Adam: I would have gone and checked Trevor: Do something interesting and
Trevor: I am still learning and trying out all the clubs and live houses I wanted think “community.”
my best to be more Japanese I guess. to go to. Adrien: Don’t be afraid to ask.
One of the reasons I got divorced is Trevor: I would go back and learn the Jason: Use your own brain.
because I was so tied to the person that language. I’d start learning the language Achim: Stop separating and start uniting.
New York city created, that my wife upon first arrival, and I would travel Jason: Everyone get in gear, get
didn’t want to fuck with that dude after more. coordinated, lets synchronize our
a while. Learning the language is more Achim: If you force yourself to step-out, thoughts and our minds and lets go in
mechanical, but the other stuff is more on your day off or something, just force the same direction.

8 |RAN|
|RAN| 9
The G reen SPOT | Story and photo by Achim Runnebaum |

ou see them everywhere in Japan that somehow miraculously they will be people falsely believe) biodegradable.
- In restaurants, in bars, on the spared the horrors of having to live with The filters are made of a type of acetate
street, and even on top of Mt. cancer; not to mention the harm they that never fully breaks down.

Fuji. No, I’m not talking about beautiful cause to others. It really boggles my Smoking contributes to global
Japanese women wearing high heels; mind that a smoker asked me if it was OK warming by releasing 22
I’m talking about smokers. Japan is a to light up right next to me, and seemed million net tons of CO2 in
smoker’s heaven and a non-smoker’s shocked when I replied with “Is it OK the atmosphere directly and indirectly
hell. to fart in your face?” Seriously, what’s through the tobacco manufacturing
the difference? Oh yeah, passing gas process. 600 million trees are felled and
Whereas in most other developed doesn’t release nearly as many harmful burned annually to dry and cure tobacco
countries around the world, smoking chemicals..... leaves.

has been banned in all public places, If you continue to smoke,
especially in restaurants, it seems that in Even if smokers don’t want to there’s a very high probability
Japan it’s still as much part of the culture acknowledge the negative effects they that you will die from a smok-
as sushi and manga. It’s actually so know these facts in the back of their ing-related illness.

socially accepted in Japan that nobody minds but perhaps feel it is impossible to Smoking causes premature
(it seems) thinks twice about the impact change. It is this suppression and denial aging of the skin, particularly in
it has on their lives and those around of the truth that keeps most people women, and has been linked to
them. smoking. Well, if you must smoke then a decreased sperm count in men.
here are the true unchangeable facts
Please note that I’m not trying to stop about smoking and how it affects the So the question then becomes, why do
you from smoking or tell you that it’s bad environment you should know: people choose to be slaves to their own
for you - you know that already. These addiction? When asked “Why do you

are some facts that no matter which It takes approximately 12 years smoke?” some common answers are
way you slice them, they are still true. for a cigarette butt to disintegrate, “because it’s cool” (so that means that
I know most smokers think that either releasing harmful chemicals into the old guy sitting by himself in a bar
they can stop before they get cancer or the ground. They are not (as so many smoking up a storm and coughing his

10 |RAN|
lungs out is cool ?)
“It relieves stress” (so does chewing gum by releasing
a chemical which relaxes your body. It is also much
healthier for you, those around you, the environment, and
not to mention your teeth),
“I just can’t stop” (it’s all about mental strength; are you
admitting you’re a mental wimp?),
Everybody is doing it, and it’s the cool thing to do (with
the widespread use of tobacco nowadays, wouldn’t it be
cooler to really do something unique instead of just being
a follower?)
“all my friends are doing it and they won’t accept me
if I don’t smoke” (This excuse hasn’t worked since
Kindergarten. You’re an adult now, you can make your
own decisions; you gonna let your friends live your life
for you?)

The problem is fear and not thinking about your actions

and taking responsibility not only for your own life, but
also for the lives of people around you. It’s easy to make
excuses; anybody can do that. That’s right, the fear of
change, of doing something new is greater than the instinct
for survival and preservation. Now, some of you might
immediately argue that certain smokers have enjoyed a
long, fulfilled life. While that may or may not be true,
take the number of people who were, or still are affected
either directly or indirectly by the effects of smoking and
compare. I think you’ll soon see the staggering difference
in number.

If all this factual information has made you think and

maybe you’re considering quitting, then you’ll face one
of the toughest challenges in your life - quitting for good.
Here’s some food for thought: While it’s easy to give up
(quitting) and fall back on old habits, there are also many
negative feelings that accompany such a fallback. The
feeling of failure, or the feeling of not being able to follow
through on your plans (to quit). Personally, I think the
benefits of quitting and knowing that you really made it,
far outweigh the feelings you get when you smoke. So to
help you, here are some websites with more information
about smoking and how to quit.

General Information:


If you continue to smoke and think all this is just a bunch

of hogwash, just ask yourself this question: How is
smoking improving your life and the lives of those around
you? Write down some positive and negative points (be
brutally honest). If the negatives outweigh the positives,
then be strong, face up, and vow to make a change in
yourself for the better. With the new year coming up, this
is as good a time as any to make a change for the better in
the coming year....
When In Rome

| By Andrew Sekeres III |

aving problems at them due to many issues, for instance the comfort level that you once had when
your workplace or at gaping language barriers and differences they were closer. The language barriers,
home?  Dealing with in social norms and mannerisms. This the new social norms and mannerisms
non-responsive or confrontational is especially true when living in that you come across, and the long
relationships? Do you have a hard time Japan. Japanese customs and norms can distance between you and your family
fitting in?  If you are currently dealing be completely foreign from what you and friends can be overwhelming at first
with any of these problems, you are are used to in your home country. Also, and will eventually lead to some sort of
not alone. Whether you are at work or the Japanese language can be a barrier culture shock. 
drinking with friends at a bar or going when dealing with everyday situations Culture shock can happen to anybody
shopping, you will find these situations that you may come across. Furthermore, from a newbie who just landed and started
everywhere. This is especially true when we are always confronted with the notion his or her new job, to that of a lifer who
you are living abroad. Whether you are that we are foreigners living here, and may even have a spouse and children in
newbie or a lifer, this tow. Even though the lifer
article is for you. 
Living in a foreign land
as foreigners, we are told that might be here longer,
they, also, can and will
can be difficult at times,
but you will find out that
we can never fully be accepted deal with some type of
culture shock. How do
the various experiences
and people that you meet
into Japanese society we overcome it? There
are many ways to
on everyday basis will help you in the as foreigners, we are told that we can confront culture shock, from simply
long run. If we work on self-realization never fully be accepted into Japanese acknowledging that you are living in a
and being adaptable to new situations, society.  Plus when living abroad, you foreign country. However the peril can
we can begin to persevere through these are away from your established social come when one wonders if they’re going
rough situations and then begin to enjoy networks that you had when you were to be here for just a short time or possibly
life abroad.   living in your native country.  Family for the rest of their life and accepting the
and friends are farther away then you new culture as their own. This is the one of
When individuals begin to live in a
realize. Even with  the internet and tools the hardest choices that you must decide
foreign country, they will come across
like Facebook, Myspace, Skype and more, in your life. Plus it’s magnified when living
many situations that can be daunting for
you do not have the immediate access and
14 |RAN|
12 |RAN|
in a culture that stresses a group identity aware. Self-realization can be daunting adaptable in order to find room in our life
over the individual; most western customs task because it doesn’t  happen overnight.  for these individuals and their ideas. How
stress the individual. It comes by having and learning through do we achieve adaptability in our lives? 
Overcoming this obstacle successfully one’s experiences. Through experiencing Adaptability comes from being open-
takes time, patience, and most many new things like living in a foreign minded and being willing to listen and
importantly, an understanding of who we country, learning new ideas and discuss ideas with people. This can be
are as a person. We must go through the languages, seeing and hearing many new very hard when you are living abroad. 
process of self-realization and finally, points of view, and talking with different When living in foreign country like
adaptability. individuals, we begin to see who we really Japan, we must become more open-
are.  minded and be ready to listen to many
What is self-realization
and how is different from To go further into the process of self- different people and their ideas. If you
self-awareness?  Self- realization, we must contemplate and are a closed-minded individual, life here
awareness is think about what we are doing right can be more difficult. However if you’re
defined as one’s now.  We must ask ourselves: are we able to listen to many people, then the
awareness of really living our own lives? We must think situation becomes easier to more clearly
psychological about our endgame: What do we want, find a solution to the problem.
and physical and how do we get it. We must decide   Mastering adaptability takes time,
needs.  Being what is important in our own life. Are we patience, and effort. We must first realize
aware of one’s accomplishing the goals that we set out who we are and what kind of person we
self is an for ourselves?   truly are. We have to decide how open-
important step After realizing and seeing what is minded and diverse we are in our ways
in our lives, but first we must important in our own life, we must of thinking. After that, become opened-
realize who we are. Realizing is stronger then find some way to include other minded and be ready to listen. Only then
and more visceral then just simply being individuals in our lives.  We must be can our true selves be heard.

|RAN| 13

ack on the dating scene again, and it still sucks. A lot of these Japanese
girls need a serious attitude adjustment, or at least a firm talking to. Too
many foreign guys are acting like wet paper towels by letting these girls
get away with too much nonsense, and I know you know what I am talking
about. Social conventions and cultural characteristics aside, these chicks are
pissing me off.. Single exactly 3 months, I am fed up.
Hey boy
‘Sumimasen’ your damn self. Act right. Male/female relationships are hard
enough as it is. We’re from Mars, they’re from Venus, or who knows really
where women are from. It’s hard to get together, like my man Deadly says,

take a walk
throw in the different cultures and different expectations and look out she’s
about to blow!! No, I don’t mean it like that. Get your head out of the gutter.
Look. I am no Prince Charming. In fact, some of my exes want me
dead. But at least they want me. Japanese women seem to feel they have
no obligation whatsoever to stick to plans, call when they say they will, be
where they said they’d be, explain why they came on so strong upon first
meeting you, and then suddenly vanishing into the mist, be clear about their

wild side..
intentions even remotely, or explain any of their actions or non-actions or on
anything they’ve said, nor, any of their hints, guesses or behavior. I had one the
girl tell me there was a cockroach in her room, this was a cue for me to come
over and be romantic with her, I should have known, would you have? This
was after she had broken it off with me. Ne. Mind reading in Japanese? Come
on man. I’m learning, but I blew that one. JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT. -Lou Reed
So, I’ve compiled a short list of certain “characters” in order for
you to identify who it is you’re dealing with at any given time. I’m sure
there are a thousand others, this is my list, if you’ve got more, send them
in and we’ll print them up, or at least, throw them up on the website.
For the record, I’m not saying us foreign guys are perfect. Far from
it, most of us are juvenile delinquents posing as English teachers,
there, I said it, but for the most part, we’re simple, we’re just not smart
enough to come up with all the games and oddball tactics it seems
these J-Girls display, we want hot ramen and that’s about it. Capiche?

The English-Champion Hamster

Come on, you’ve met her. She approaches you eagerly, “…hi, I’m Tomoko/Atsuko/Yuko/
Junko/Pluto…”, whatever, (ever notice no Japanese girls’ names start with “B”? or “Q”? or
“X”? What’s with that?)—“..nice to meet you..”, she says. She’s all bright and bubbly, like a
glass of Nihonjin pink champale, genki beyond belief. She speaks English, or so you think.
You chat her up a bit, exchange info, and set a date to meet again. You hook up with The
English Champion, only to discover that on your FIRST MEETING, she exhausted her supply

of limited English, and YOU’RE HER NEW TEACHER. You spend the entire evening explaining
your every word and gesturing like a madman and asking and answering questions like, “what
food do you like “ over and over again. You realize you’re just teaching elementary school, and
wonder why you aren’t getting paid for it. Sure, she’s cute, but then again, so are hamsters, and you don’t
date hamsters do you? It’s frustrating, and you fell for it. Next time, upon first meeting, find out her English level
by bringing along a game of Scrabble wherever you go, sure it’s bulky, but it works.

Grade C minus. (Or C plus, if you’ve got the patience.)

14 |RAN|
The Keitai Queen
You hate her, but you like her. Maybe, you can’t remember. You met her like, 3 months ago.
Sparks, or something akin to sparks, flew at that first meeting. You excitedly exchanged
info. You’ve been emailing back and forth now for what seems like eternity. You can barely
remember what she looks like anymore. Your fingers hurt. You’ve asked her to meet you
out in person 3 hundred and forty eight times already. She doesn’t acknowledge your
requests, or always cancels that same day. You know you’re acting like a complete moron,
but you don’t care. You simultaneously cringe and get excited every time your phone alerts
you that she’s mailed you yet again. She won’t stop, and, like P Diddy, you can’t stop/won’t
stop yourself.. It’s driving you crazy, but she seems to relish the whole drawn out, useless,
empty, maddening and brain-frying cyber-romance you’re having. You mail her immediately after
receiving her mails, but she takes hours, sometimes days to mail you back. You crave those mails, and
as much as you hate them, you know it’s all you’ll ever get from her, and you need them. Just when you think she
won’t ever mail you again, your stupid phone lights up, letting you know she’s hooked you back into it one more
time. You hate her, but you need her.

Grade D minus. Face it, she’ll never meet you, or she would have already, give it up man.
Get a new keitai email address.

The Unexamined Soul

Look, I’m no genius, but at least I know what I like. I’ve been out with
too many women here who, upon you asking, “..what food do you
like..”, which itself is a silly question, or, “..what music do you like..”,
or, “..what do you like doing..”, I get that infamously annoying,
“..ehhhhhhhhhhh?”, as if the thought never entered their minds. I
mean, it leaves me wondering what exactly to Japanese dudes talk
about with Japanese women? I know they aren’t discussing politics or
philosophy. Come on J-girls, you don’t know what food you like? Are you
serious? What tastes good in your mouth? What do you find yourself eating
often? JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION, is it really so hard? Please, let’s not even get
into more difficult questions like, “..what are your dreams..”, I can see bubbles coming out of
their ears for questions like this.

Grade C plus or B. They can be opened up and taught, there’s hope for these women.

The Klingon
She’s there when you need her, and she’s there when you don’t. She calls you incessantly,
and will-not –leave-you-alone. Your friends are wondering if you’ve grown a new body-part,
but no, it’s just your girlfriend. You wonder how she ever had a life without you, she seems
to live, breathe, eat, think, speak and dream you and only you. She is crowding out your
hobbies, friends, and your oxygen. She gives new meaning to the song “Don’t Stand So
Close To Me”. She shows up at the most inopportune times and is a bit like a rash. She’s
up under you 24-7 and it’s KILLING YOU. She stands so close to you that sometimes you
step on her, or accidentally elbow her in her nose or neck, which of course, she doesn’t
mind. She’s reading this over your shoulder right now, you couldn’t get rid of her if you were
a murderer, but you’re thinking about it..

Grade C minus or D. Some guys like this kind of thing..go figure.

|RAN| 15
The Superflake
The following is a true story.
A friend of mine was seeing a J-girl for a short while. Things were going smoothly, or sort
of smoothly anyway. One day, they’re having a phone conversation, J-girls English wasn’t
great, and so, Our Hero asked politely, “..excuse me, can you speak up a bit? I can’t really
hear you…”, to which, J-girl responded, “..what? You know what, I don’t think this is
working out, I think we should stop seeing each other..”, and promptly hung up and never
called Our Hero again.
How about this one; another friend recently told me about a girl who absolutely freaked out
because he didn’t like hot sauce. I kid you not. Fickle much?
Then there are the women who, in the beginning, find you attractive because you are foreign, but, 3
or 4 months into the relationship, they’re imploring you to “ more Japanese..”, “..learn more Japanese..”, or
openly insulting your home country and culture, those very things that brought you together in the first place.
In the immortal words of Ralph Kramden, “ the moon Alice, to the moon..”

Grade F. You can do nothing right with these women. Run. Fast. Far. Now.

The Disappearing Act

You know her, or at least you thought you did. Things were going great, or at least, again,
you thought they were. It’s happened too many times to count since I’ve been here. Meet a
woman, share some (what you think and what seems to be) great times. Everything you’ve
done together, she’s been a willing and eager participant. She’s never registered one iota
of reservation about anything you’ve suggested, never uttered a word of discontent or dis-
satisfaction, never even frowned. You’ve been having a great time with her, so why has she
suddenly vanished? Won’t return my calls, won’t return my mails, she’s disappeared into the
mist. What. The. Hell.
This, alas, is a typical J-girl move which could mean one of any number of things. It could mean
she liked you, but didn’t like you that much. It could mean she liked you too much, and got scared
of her own feelings, and so instead of dealing with it, she decided to just let it go, it would never fit
with the neatly prescribed life that her society has ordained her to have (!). It could mean she noticed a piece of
spinach in your teeth one day after dinner, and just couldn’t handle it. It could mean she was only spending time
with you to get back at her husband/family/boyfriend/job/friends/etc, and now, she’s sufficiently done her duty and
it’s time for her to move on. It could mean she was recalled back to the factory for upgrades and improvements.
Who knows really. But one thing is clear, she is GONE AND NOT COMING BACK.

Grade F. How can you have a relationship with an invisible person?

The Decepticon
Damn, she’s fine! Or better spoken, she appears to be fine. In all my years I have never met
a woman better at self-improvement with make up, clothes, accessories and curling irons
than The Japanese Woman. These women sure know how to work with what they have,
and, what they don’t have. False eyelashes, smothered on foundation, hair attachments,
fake nails and painted on eyebrows, man, everyday is Halloween here! She’s painted,
padded, plucked, polished, packaged and prepared.
Case in point: You get her home, and you’re rounding the bases. First base! Nice kiss, the
lipstick comes off, but it’s all good, all women wear lipstick, but why is her skin suddenly
two different tones? –and where did that other eyelash go? Weird.. Second base, uh, well, a
padded bra? Hm. Well, I guess it’s okay, but damn, I didn’t know they made padded bras this
padded. Third base, hm, the plot thickens-she seemed like she weighed at least a little more than a 9
year old boy when she had clothes on, didn’t she? This is becoming interesting, headed home, and you realize,
wait a minute, is this the same person I was with a few hours ago? It’s like unwrapping a mummy, she’s almost not
even there anymore! The deed is done, and you wake up the next morning wondering who is this person laying
next to me and how did she get into my house?

Grade B. You can make it work, as long as you’re flexible, and, many times, these women have great
personalities to make up for their, uh, lack in other departments. Plus, she looks great out in public.

16 |RAN|
The Bi
It seemed like a really good idea. She liked beautiful women and so do you. She had an
insatiable sex drive and so do you. She wanted to have an open relationship and so do
you. She was adventurous and outdoorsy and liberated and sensual and so infuriatingly
annoying you wanted to kill her with your bare hands.
What were you thinking man? A bi-sexual Japanese girl? Really? Take all the hang-ups
and issues a straight J-girl has, and multiply them by a thousand. Thought your straight
girlfriend was flaky, finicky, weird, and more than a little touched? Man, you ain’t seen
nothing yet. Imagine a woman taking a few dozen extra estrogen pills everyday. What might
be the outcome? We can only imagine, better yet, don’t.
A bi J-girl?

Grade D. The first few months are exhilarating, followed by another few months of pure emotional
and mental hell. Imagine a relationship with a cat, or 12 cats.

The Forever-An-Adolescent-But-She’s-
She loves Disney a little too much. She’s got Goofy and Mickey and half a dozen other
small furry things dangling from her keitai. She makes funny faces and uses baby talk and
all her clothes are some shade of pink. She giggles every time you touch her and she still
lives at home with her parents, her grandparents, her cute dog, (whom she shows you a
picture of every single time you get together), and she shares a bedroom with her 12 year
old brother. She has an 11 o’clock curfew, and she works 7 days a week, plus she volunteers
at the local animal shelter. She lives in Gifu, but has no car. Her best friend is her friend from
first grade and they go EVERYWHERE together, and, they dress exactly alike. She likes anime,
but not the good kind, she’s into Cinderella and Lilo and Stitch. She celebrates Mickey Mouse’s
birthday. She’s cuter than a cupcake, but she won’t let you eat her.

Grade C plus. Again, you can make it work, you just have to dumb down a bit, well, more than a bit actually.

The Schizophrenic
This one is dangerous. When you met, you ignored the warning signs, such as the fact that
you did it in the bathroom while her boyfriend was at the bar, on the first night you met
her. You should have noticed something when you spotted her in the bushes outside your
apartment at 4 am. You didn’t really think much of the fact that she told you she was
going to take a trip abroad, but you saw her that same week in the grocery store wearing
a disguise. You convinced yourself it was normal that she always carries a hunting knife.
Well, maybe she hunts…something.
It sort of made you think twice when you heard her change her voice while you heard her
talking on the phone, and wasn’t she saying something about her “medication”? She’s really
nice to you when you are alone with her, but in front of your friends, why is she suddenly so sullen
and withdrawn? Wait, is she wearing a holster? I swore I saw her picture at the Post Office the other
day, and how come she won’t tell me where she lives?

Grade F. Run. Fast. Now. Far.

Not all J-girls fit into these categories,

but some do.
Know the signs.
Be careful out there people.
Carry on.

|RAN| 17

Deadly’s Tips

A Man’s House Is Her Castle

| By Deadly D |

his can be stated simply and directly.
In most cultures, the man is the king
at home. He always knows that no
matter how degrading it is to get ordered
around by the boss’s nephew all day at
work, when he comes home at night,

he will be greeted as provider, hero, and
handed the remote control to the TV in
open acknowledgment that he is paying the Relevant fact:
cost to be the boss. In Japanese culture, the Pachinko first became really
wife makes every, and I mean EVERY, major popular in Japan when housewives
decision about the house, the kids, the in big cities like Osaka and Tokyo
furniture and the family dog. The husband told their husbands not to come
is not expected to be a player in the daily home until after 11:00 at night and
family drama except as a money-making they had put the kids to bed. The
machine that delivers pay checks and then wives literally would not allow their
doesn’t hang around much. A couple in an husbands in the door before they
international relationship needs to work were done dealing with the kids. No
this one out from the very beginning or wonder those salary men look so
they’re headed for a mine field that not tired and stressed.
even Angelina Jolie can clear out.

18 |RAN|
| By Nuova Erudita |

Matteo Giachetti 造
is a photographer, who uses pictures to create his
own personal universe of people, events and places.
He proceeds as an author behaves with any story
and he uses, with extreme boldness, the traditional
ingredients of the painting which has an ancient
mediterranean root. He could be compared to an
old fresconist painter, who compose spectacular
sceneries in which the bible stories are conveyed to
the audience.
But his visionary form is often pervading by
the urban and post modern culture because he is
mainly a photographer who starts to tell his stories
from reality surrounding himself. He is an artist
fascinated by the anecdotal datum hidden in the
daily nature. The Giachetti’s narration does not
need magnificent subjects or extraordinary events
to construct its epic; he looks through the things
as a dreamer and every things could become
spectacular, depending only by his own feeling.
In the “Multilayers” artwork all the memories
are still superimposed: lights, shapes, colors and
signs are going through several steps to express an
emotional experience of the world, where every
pieces become the author’s intention to built the
story. It is like a free jazz concert, where the possibility
of narration seems endless and unforeseeable.
So what does he want to tell us?
Maybe an aspect of a story, that you can remember
or that you do not know, but Matteo Giachetti
makes you an imagine and sows it inside your soul.

From top-left to bottom-right: Akamon Night View; Who is that man?; Adrift; Osukannon; The Spirit of Shibuya

|RAN| 19


SHOOTING BLANKA | By Adam Pasion |

he fans and friends have already Blanka is a band that defies clas- at this exciting band.
gathered around waiting for the sification. They bend genre, wrap it
band to finish setting up. They around themselves and tie it in knots. RAN: Alright start off with some
have thrown off their jackets, done-up Within the framework of a single song self introduction. Please give us your
their hair and put on their dancing they switch seamlessly between heavy name, instrument and your favorite
shoes. As the bassist warms up the bass-driven funk jams, catchy electronic member of SMAP.
smiles already break across their faces, pop riffs and ethereal progressive rock
which is mirrored on the band members guitar solos, and all this without losing A: My name is Angus. Angus
themselves. Everyone seems to be the audiences attention for a moment. Maxwell Fulton Rofe. I play bass. I like
prepared to have a good time, and they More than anything else though, Kimu Taku because I think he carries
wait in anxious anticipation. By the Blankais a live experience. If their the Japanese yankee style well. He’s
end of the set the floor is slippery from CD is a great porno, their live show is like the idol, the leader so he is very
condensed sweat, the exhausted fans that hot sticky sex with a stranger in powerful man. He’s unique to Japan.
look ready to topple over and yet they the back of a Volkswagen. The bass
are crying for more as Blanka exits the thumps so perfectly in synch with the T: Vocalist, Arakawa Taichi, or just
stage. drum falls that you might swear they Taichi. Since Angus already said Kimu
were linked by the borg, and the guitar Taku I guess I will go with Nakai. He is
flawlessly resonates jams that are good at talking so he is interesting to
so danceable even Steven Hawking watch.
would jump out of his motorized chair
and bust a move. The catchy vocals P: I play guitar, my name is Perra.
will grab your attention and hold it in As for me, I like Kusanagi because he
a choke-hold while the nearly manic loves drinking and so do I.
spurts of vocals are interspersed with
strange space-age sounds. Not your I: Izza, I am the drummer, and I like
thing? Then go take a nap you boring Katori Shingo because he likes beer.
fucking zombie.
RAN: What is the origin of the name
Blanka rocks all the usual Nagoya Blanka, and does it have anything to do
haunts as well as playing shows all with Street Fighter?
over the Mikawa area. A four piece
comprised of both Japanese and (a) T: It means many things. Before we
foreign members the band has the were playing with a completely different
unique ability to run the Japanese and band name, just a sort of throw-away
gaijin circuits, and bridge a gap in much name, and we were like “let’s change
need of mending. After a exhaustingly it.”
energetic show and several beers, RAN
magazine peered in to get a better look I: We wanted something with

20 |RAN|
more impact RAN: Is there any band you want to T: Naturally in the beginning it was
be compared with? language. Angus speaks English and
T: So we thought about it for a we all speak Japanese, so it was really
long time, we thought about it really T: I don’t really want to be compared hard. Using dictionaries, the Japanese
really hard and came up with about a to anyone. I want have an original brand of dictionaries called “Genius.”
hundred different patterns for names, Blanka style. All of us had one, and Angus was
so much we didn’t even know what studying Japanese.
we were talking about anymore. Then A: We’ve gone through many
by chance the word “blanka” came up stages of evolution like most bands, A: But mainly in the early stage it
once or twice, and we thought it had a but we started out being compared to was the music language...its a bit of a
nice rhythm to it. It had a good feeling, the more standard, funk/jam bands. stereotype but...
so we decided to go with Blanka. Like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but we
didn’t really like that. But those were T: When we are talking at a jam
P: We ruled it down to about the really early days and since then we session, somebody will say for example
three names. haven’t really gotten that. “play a D chord” or “play a C chord” or
maybe say “I think this part from such
T: So there isn’t really any real RAN: So what band do you and such a song on Gang of Four’s
meaning to it. Then after people asked absolutely not want to be compared album Entertainment is good,” and we
us about it we started coming up with with? can have a conversation like that. So
something to make it cool. You know its in the beginning we were able to talk
sort of close to the English word “blank” T: I am not sure if there is such about music, from that we started being
which has a nice image to it, like pure a band either, but I guess its more able to say more and more, we became
white where our sound comes from. interesting if I mention somebody.
Afterward we started to add meaning to
it, but the truth is there isn’t really one. I: Red Hot Chili Peppers

I: So basically its not from A: If you do funk music and punk

Street Fighter. music or rock music, people automati-
cally associate you with the red hot chili
RAN: But now when you do play peppers. And we are sick of that.
Street Fighter, of course you choose
Blanka, right? I: It’s sort of broad, but J-pop bands.

A: For me first is Chun-Li. I like the T: As far as genre, for example with
way she says “yada, yada.” “house” music, that sparkly mainstream
“house” scene is no good, but the
P: If somebody offers it to one of deeper, underground house sound is
us at least one of the four of us has really cool, so even in our same genre
to say okay. we don’t want to be associated with
that really simple and obvious stuff. In
A: Blanka is kind of a crazy, lion...or Japan even with pop music there is a
what is he, is he a lion man? huge underground world and the major
world and some artists are really catchy, really close started to understand each
T: I guess if you think about it that but they’re also still really cool. I’d like others’ language. But early on it was
way that is part of our image too. our band to go into that sort of category. much easier to just talk about music.

A: We are also planning to I: Dancing and a good atmosphere I: At Taichi’s studio we would talk
coordinate the blanka dance moves with a little bit of the punk spirit. about music and we liked a lot of the
(makes blanka noises and swipes same bands. In the beginning our
at the air) with like a pyrotechnics- A: The basis is a community rather music was a lot more similar to punk.
electric show. than four people trying to sell a product.
These are our friends and we try to T: That first place we practiced was
RAN: Your influences seem to be all respond to them, so its like a two-way at my house in my tiny little attic with no
over the board, and the music doesn’t thing rather than us trying to force our air conditioning.
really fit into any particular genre, so own egos. But of course we are very
who are you most often compared to? egotistical and pretentious. A: Yeah it was like 35 degrees in
there, and I thought that was normal.
T: We aren’t really compared RAN: How does having foreigners I thought Japanese bands always
to anyone. Recently we have our and Japanese together in the band practice in that kind of heat. But
own original thing, there isn’t much affect the band dynamic? Does it generally because we have a strong
else like it. present any particular problems?

|RAN| 21
musical understanding and we have a bit confused. There is one reaction fliers would never write that much.
similar interests in music, we don’t where they treat you like a rockstar, Honestly we put too many bands.
usually have a problem. We instinc- “oh he’s like a foreigner coming from
tively connect with the jam sessions England.” Then there is another P: Usually they will just write “rock”
which is really good. So in that respect instinct where you’re just treated as a or something.
I think other foreign musicians living in Japanese person, which is not true as
Japan who can’t speak Japanese really well because you can’t speak perfectly RAN: Was it anything like your
should go out and just jam with other and there are cultural differences. When myspace? As I looked at that I saw
bands. Its really easy to just pick-up interacting with the audience I think that so many influences and thought some
an instrument and just play and don’t is the main difference. As a band I think of them were complete opposites, but
worry about talking. we are fine. But when I emcee the show somehow after watching your live show
there is a really interesting atmosphere. I can feel those influences come-out.
RAN: Are there any good points They are all wondering if I am gonna
about it? speak in English or Japanese. I: There are a lot of people in Japan
who only go to live houses and other
T: At first when people see one of RAN: How did you all come together people who only go to clubs. As for us
the members is a foreigner they think as a band? we go to all of them, we like all of them.
“wow, this is something out of the
ordinary.” It definitely makes a strong P: Before Angus joined the band, P: Its not about number one, but
impression. But all of us have really we all went to the same junior high being only one. For example a lot
strong characters so when the show school. When our bassist left we really people want to be the number one
is over it’s no longer about him being a wanted a new bassist so we put up reggae group, or the number one rock
foreigner, he’s just another member of fliers at clubs and live houses. Angus group, but we want to be the only group
Blanka. I think Japanese people really saw one of the fliers that we had put-up of our kind. There is only one Blanka.
like foreigners so at first when Angus at the Apollo Theater in Shinsakae, in I: It might be difficult for people
was with us people would always ask Nagoya. Before Angus joined we had who listen to pop music to listen to our
if we were really going to play together. two or three people do support-bass music, people who listen to pop only.
for us but it wasn’t a good match. So
A: And they thought I would be really we wrote down a bunch of our favorite P: But the melody and the vocals
good because I am a foreigner. They bands on the flier, even bands that were are really simple and catchy so I think it
really minor bands in Japan at the time. can be received by pop listeners.
We wrote bands like Minor Threat and
stuff. So Angus saw that and liked a lot T: I believe its possible to make a
of the same bands so he contacted us. song that appeals to both audiophiles
and people who listen to only J-pop.
T: But his first contact was by There is music that both music nerds
e-mail, and when a Japanese person and J-pop fans think is cool. I think that
writes an email all in English its almost is probably the hardest thing to do, but
always a scammer or some adult site or it is absolutely possible.
something. So I was going to erase it,
but as I was about to erase it I noticed the I: Between underground and
word “bass.” So I got out the dictionary, mainstream
my “genius” dictionary and read the
words “let’s play together” or something P: Like a gate artist. If you listen to
and I thought, “why is this gaijin asking Blanka and say, “hey I like this kind of
to join the band?” So I called him and music.” and then start listening to other
we met for the first time at my house. kinds of music. For example even with
We couldn’t hold a conversation at all the Red Hot Chili Peppers, if somebody
so I said, “okay lets start jamming,” and listens to it and says “wow funk music
after our first jam session we were like, is really cool,” and then they start to
okay, this will work. discover other, more real types of funk
like New Orleans Funk or something. I
P: In Japan there are a lot of people think Blanka could be like that.
who are good listeners but they only
listen. They listen to a lot of good music RAN: Do you want to be major?
but what they play is totally different.
But with Angus, he listened to good T: More than a sense of wanting
music and could play lots of styles so to be major or not, I think we want to
we really wanted him to join the band. be able to eat by playing the music we
were expecting me to be some sort of like. So yeah I wish this was my main
genius. But it’s interesting slowly going I: We basically wrote every single job, but if we became mainstream and
through the layers of being seen as a band we liked, like an unbelievable then we were told to make more love
foreigner. I think sometimes people get amount of bands. Normal recruitment songs or something I would hate that.

22 |RAN|
If it was like that I wouldn’t want to be know what we are about. to the people who who have supported
mainstream. and connected with us. We’ve been
P: For people who are close, like lucky enough to play the music we
I: I would still do it though. in Aichi they can always come to our love and really enjoy doing it, and the
shows, but now we want to reach only reason we have gotten this far is
A: Yeah he is just gonna do a solo people far away. People who can only because of all the them.
drum album of love songs. listen to us by CD or on Myspace, so
we chose songs that are a really good I: From now on please dance to
RAN: Once and for all, is Michael representation of our style. Blanka’s songs. Let’s dance!
Jackson really dead?
A: We’ve got myspace, youtube, P: We want to keep making better
T: Its really interesting, this huge facebook, mixi. If people are interested and better songs for our fans.
star instead of fading out...its like fiction, in us, check our myspace, come to
like some movie or something. I wish I our live shows. Feel free to write to A: As one last thing can I list some
could do that too. But yeah, he’s dead. us and criticize us. That is one of the other bands and venues that we like?
Totally dead. big differences between Australia and Cafe Domina, Ragslow Cafe, Bob and
Keisuke’s, Cafe Nation, Plastic Factory,
I: As for me I think he is alive One love studio, Fever, Stereophon-
at Neverland Ranch and he has ics, DJ Dij, Dj Babur, Dj Kachiwari, Dj
completely changed his face again. Ura, Dj Inaji, Tomo Shagger, Soulskye,
Sonicland Peacemakers, Cactus,
A: We could list our favorite dead Konton and A-funk. They are our
people, like James Brown, Michael Universe. Its not a sentence but...Oh
Jackson is great, Elvis, Hiroshiro, that and RAN MAGAZINE!
guy who played tiger mask.

I: I like Paul McCartney For those interested in

checking out more of Blanka
A: He’s not dead! you can listen to their music at You
I: Really?! Wrong story can also connect with them by
searching for “blanka japan”
RAN: You guys have a new CD in facebook groups, or watch
coming out, do you want to talk about live videos on their youtube
it? Japan, the critical reply. People aren’t channel. Be sure you don’t miss
as critical, and people have critical Blanka’s upcoming gigs:
T: This one is really for people who thoughts but they dont really say them
are new to the band. Its more for first straight up. They are very polite, so we December 18th at Cafe
time listeners than it is for our long time would like to hear that. Ragslow in Okazaki. 10pm-5am,
listeners. For people who have been 1500 door entry
listening to us for a long time they are RAN: Is there anything else you
used to our jam sessions and our live want to say? December 19th at Vio
groove but this one is more catchy and Lounge, no cover charge.
easy to listen to for people who don’t T: Just to express our appreciation
Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Memories for Ray Charles,
か a fellow Georgian

| By Milo Omana |

uddenly, walking down a street, be stone, man. I guess we all eventually
it real or be it a dream, one realizes (Thanks, Ray. These memories gather moss.)
for the first time that the years have are a bitch.)
flown; that all this has passed forever & And I remember how Zee did it. I’ll
will live on only in memory.* But hold on. This here that I’m writing never forget him, his long Osama beard
is not about her. This is not about her. that summer, his infatuation with 70’s
I’m in a dream & she’s there, sitting at Not about her at all. It’s about me. This is music & killing zombies on Xbox. Zee
the other end of the table at this nomikai about me. I’m writing all of this for me. So, bought a one-way ticket then went into
(“the let’s get drunk & meet party”), hiding three months prior to departure.
maybe five couples separating us. I shout Should I stay or should I go? He didn’t want anybody talking him
hi & yell my first words to her in Japanese: out of it. That was over two years ago.
I don’t know. I look back at my six I saw him when he came back to visit
Do you want to get married?! years here, & remember when BabyFace last spring. He had shaved his beard &
told me he was leaving. I couldn’t believe joined the Marines. He had become
It was supposed to be a joke, yeah, it. I thought we were both lifers. I said, a real Officer straight out of Platoon.
but it still made an impression & that joke
led to another & yet another, a little of this Why in the hell are you leaving, Huh?
& that, then this, that & the other. What BabyFace? And you’re leaving your
was meant to be a one-year adventure beautiful girlfriend behind! Can’t you see And there was that blonde from
in this land of rising sun had become the love in her eyes? She loves you man. Ohayo who liked poetry & water.
something like a safari to nowhere. And She lasted five years on this rock. She
somehow our blood, sweat & tears lasted BabyFace looked into the distance, said the party’s over. It has been over
longer than five years, up until this latest then smiled his blue eyes at me. He three years since that day we recited,
Feb 14th, when in place of a gift she told said, “I don’t know, I don’t know what
me on the phone: It was indeed finished. I’m going to do. I’m just going to go Some say the world will end in fire,
back to Indy & see what happens.” some say in ice.***
Our dreams finished, my dream

deferred. That was over a year ago. BabyFace I heard she’s living underwater
is now in law school. I heard his somewhere in the Pacific, wearing a mask,
I had a woman, way over town (in beautiful girl is coming to live with him. strapped to an oxygen tank, chasing fish.
Komaki), that was good to me, oh yeah.
Huh? From what I’ve tasted of desire,
She saved her loving, for early in I hold with those who favor fire.***
the morning, (Ooh la la) just for me.** (I mean, BabyFace was a rolling

24 |RAN|
Yeah. line to Utsumi, the beach. Both drinking
Asahi’s on the train, naturally we (Thanks again, Ray. I think I just
There are more. There are too gravitated toward one other. He was became unstuck.)
many memories of people leaving, of telling me about his beach pub crawl,
farewell parties, of me getting their stuff, how he did it every summer Sunday. I Sure, I like Japan. I like the food. I
like blenders, kotatsu (“the heated & asked him how long he’d been at it. love the chicken wing! I like the sexy
blanketed table”), desks, beds, kitchen clothes, the J-girl thing. I even like the
utensils, even barbells & squat racks, “Twenty years,” he said. “I came kanji & the terrible singing at karaoke.
& cramming all of it into my tiny here on vacation & got stuck.”
apartment with paper walls. I would But this ain’t my home. These are
then see my friends off to the station, Huh? not my people. This is not my country.
us saying sayonaras & sharing hugs. And she’s no longer my woman, Ray.
And then there are the multitudes
This has happened way too many times. of us who come here & get stuck I want to go home. And I want
living with Japanese in-laws. My to go home now. Back to Georgia,
Where are they, the departed ones? friend SpaceMan found himself in this where moonlight shines through
Some are back home living in houses predicament, but he eventually escaped. the pines. This road leads back
with harder walls, some working at to you. (And the party’s over.)
insurance companies with weekly And of course there are those
staff meetings, staring at computers, Japanophiles who love everything manga, ... suddenly, these memories
etc etc. It sounds so boring. But some everything Japanese drama, everything intrude, rise up like ghosts &
are in Uni, others rampaging through kanji, katakana & hiragana, they love permeate every fiber of one’s being.*
the jungles of Southeast Asia, some everything Tokyo & Roppongi & Fukuoka
living lives as expats elsewhere, writing ramen & Nagoya Yama-chan, tebasaki It’s all just a dream. Wake up.
books, learning how to write books. (“the chicken wing”) & & ad infinitum.
But all of them pursuing dreams. *Henry Miller, from Black Spring
Those Japanophiles want to be **Ray Charles, from I Got a Woman
What about those who stuck. I know cause I used to be one. ***Robert Frost, from Fire and Ice
didn’t leave? Why did they stay? Yet I’m thinking I’m not one now.
Miló Omaña
I remember the sax player from I had a woman, way over town, who
California. We met on the Meitetsu was good to me (she left me). Oh yeah.**

|RAN| 25

ome on. Admit it. You’ve TD: Where do you live? can get repeats, then I can get a steady
wondered what exactly goes on M: Nagoya, but I’m from Gifu income. This job is very unstable..
in those “Health Clubs” that you TD: Enough with the tiny talk, how long TD: What do you do to get their hearts?
can’t get into, and that are sprinkled all have you been doing this work Mie? M: Well, I try to keep a smile on my face
over town. You’ve seen them, almost M: One year or so.. always, and I try to put myself in their
fully-nude pictures of luscious-looking TD: How did you get into this line of shoes. I try to communicate with them
Japanese women brazenly displayed business? from their perspective, and I try hard to
on the buildings’ exterior, places called M: I was approached by the guys who make sure they enjoy their time with me,
“Mothers” or “Ecstacee” or “Bus Stop” or stand on the street, you know, with the but it is difficult to catch their hearts….
whatever. funny hair and pointed shoes, they are (She sighs heavily).
Well, leave it to ya boy, me, big “scouts”, they asked me if I was looking TD: Describe a session with a customer,
TD, to dig up the dirt so you don’t have for a job.. how does it all go down? (Pun kind of
to. I hustled up a real sex worker and TD: Were you? intended..)
sat honey down and chatted her up M: Yes, but I wasn’t looking for this M: They come into the room. We greet
over toast, coffee, and French fries at kind of job. I was looking for a job as each other. Then we speak a little, small
a local Denny’s for a few hours about a cabaret girl, or a “regular” job to do talk. Then maybe we have a hug, then we
her life, her work, her thoughts and during the day…. take off our clothes and take a shower,
her feelings about her job, which is, TD: What did the scout say to you to then we have ‘mat play’, then we have
to pleasure Japanese men for dough 8 make you interested in doing this work? ‘bed play’. After that we take another
to 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. The M: He asked me to get into the shower, touch our bodies together, then
things we do for yen, everyone is a sex/Health Club industry right off. I we talk again a little, maybe smoke a
prostitute at some level, someone once wasn’t sure, but he was very kind. I was cigarette, then we say goodbye.
said that I think, and if not, I just did. surprised. I was told that people in that TD: Sounds almost quaint. How long is
She was very “normal”, very industry are all mafia-related, but the one session usually?
forthcoming, and very attractive. guy who approached me wasn’t. He was M; They can pay for one hour or two
Peep Game. kind and so I felt I could trust him, so I hours, 60 minutes or 120 minutes.
decided to try it. TD: Is there any part of the session that
TD: So, what’s your name? TD: What is the hardest thing about you especially like?
SW: “Mie”. doing this job? M: I like the talking when it’s all over,
TD: Okay Mie, how old are you? M: Getting the customers hearts. because then I can know it’s over.
M: I’m 27. TD: Why do you want their hearts? TD: Which part(s) do you not like?
TD: You’re very cute. M: Because if I can get their heart, then M; The hardest part is kissing the

M: Thank you, you too. they will become regulars, you know, customers, and doing the sexual
TD: Go easy Mie, I’m a professional. repeat customers. I want to have the things, because the customer is not my
M; Sorry.. same customers for myself because if I boyfriend, he’s just a customer…

26 |RAN|
TD: How can you prepare your mind M: He thinks I work at a cabaret club. Many of the women working in this
and body to do these intimate things TD: If he knew about your real job, what industry have lots of problems personally
with perfect strangers? do you think he would do? How would and at the job. I would listen to the girls
M: What’s perfect about them? he take it? more and talk to them and care for them.
TD: It’s a term we use in English to M: I think he’d break up with me. The bosses insist we work even when we
describe..nevermind, I mean, how can TD: So you’ll never tell him about what are menstruating, so, I would care more
you do these things with people you you do? about the girls.
don’t know at all? M: I don’t think so. TD: Foreigners are not allowed at 98
M: It’s just work. I tell myself over and TD: Is it easy for you to become sexually percent of these places, why is that?
over, “…this is my job, this is my job..”, aroused with your boyfriend after a day M: Communication is difficult. Words
so that is what I think, it’s just a job i’m of doing this work? and gestures aren’t the same. Plus,
doing now. M: For a while, after work, I didn’t feel foreigners have more disease than
TD: Have you ever found yourself turned anything with my boyfriend, so I decided Japanese, Japanese think foreign women
on by any of your customers? Sexually or that on the day that I know I will meet have many sexually transmitted diseases,
otherwise? my boyfriend, I take that day off. so naturally, foreign men do too.
M: I have been sexually turned on, and, I TD: Nice of you…do you ever feel that TD: Really? Wow. Would you let
fell in love with one of my customers, but you are cheating on him? foreigners come in if you were boss?
usually, anytime I find myself thinking, M: In the beginning I did, but now I just M: Maybe, it depends on what he looks
“this feels good”, I’m surprised. tell myself “it’s just work, it’s business”, like, if he can speak any Japanese..
TD: Are you turned on by me right now? and I’m okay with it. TD: Would you let me in?…nevermind..
M: Relax. You should relax. TD: How much longer do you plan to how many customers do you see in any
TD: You’re right. So what made you fall do this? average day?
in love with that particular customer? M: Maybe one more year.. M: 3 or 4, the most was 14 in one day.
M: First, I thought he was handsome, TD: How long to most women do this TD: Wow. That beats my one day record
he was my type. Then after we were type of work? by about 13, no, 12, no, 11, well, no,
together, we began exchanging emails. I M: The longest I’ve heard is 10 years, but she didn’t count, so 12. Wow. 14. You
came to find out he was really, genuinely women who are doing this move around must have felt really tired.
kind, but eventually, I found it wasn’t from club to club, the average length of M: Yes, it was a long day.
real love, just infatuation… time I think is like 2 to 3 years. Women TD: What was the strangest request you
TD: So, it is possible for the workers to don’t stay at the same place though, they ever received?
find love in these places.. move around. M: A man brought rope and tied me up,
M: Yes. it was fun for him but
TD: Fascinating.
Do you like being I am not ashamed of my work. not for me, another
customer asked me
on while you are
I think it is important to to punch him in his
stomach as hard as

keep sexual desire in order

working? Or do you I could…he almost
prefer to just think vomited but that’s
‘it’s a job’ and get it what he liked, that al-
over with? to feel alive and vigorous most-vomiting feeling.
M: The best way is TD: Yeah, I used to
for me to be naturally turned on by my TD: What is your opinion of the men like that too, but I sorta grew out of it.
customers, but most times, it isn’t like who are your customers? Last question, do you have any coupons
that, so, I close my eyes and imagine he M: They want a sexual experience or anything, I mean like a free pass, or
is my boyfriend. they can’t get from their wives or their is there like a back door or something…
TD: Do you think this work degrades girlfriends, simple really. I have no M: (Nervous laughter, followed by
women? special opinion of them. nervous silence.) No, I don’t.
M: At first, I wondered if men thought TD: Do you think the men who come TD: Anything else you’d like to add? ( A
the women who do this kind of work are to Health Clubs are cheating on their little pissed.)
unclean, but I do think it gives women a partners? M: I am not ashamed of my work. I think
bad image-inside of myself, I am always M: I don’t think it’s cheating, I think it’s it is important to keep sexual desire in
fighting with my own feelings.. a way these men can enjoy their lives. order to feel alive and vigorous. My
TD: Are you and any of the other workers TD: If you were married and discovered older customers are very “genki” and
very close friends? your husband had been going to a place alive and it is because they have kept
M: No, we have shallow friendships like where you work, how do you think their sexual desire.
only. you would feel? TD: Thank you for your time, can I eat
TD: So you have a boyfriend.. M: I would be okay with it, but really, I your french fries?
M: Yes. wouldn’t want to know about it, it’s his M: I gotta go..
TD: Does he know about your job? business what he is doing, I don’t want
M; No, he doesn’t. to know. ..and then, just like that, she got up
TD: What’s his number? Just joking, TD: If you were the boss of one of these and bounced off, leaving me and my
ah, what does he think you do for your establishments, what would be different? translator eating cold fries and feeling….
money? M: I would be more caring to the girls. frisky.

|RAN| 27
| By TN |

ost people who know me experiences. Though the police officially them didn't, I decided it would not be
might say I'm pretty calm, deny employing racial profiling tactics, a good idea to be defiant.  I unwillingly
and don't get offended or the reality is if you aren't white you get showed them my Alien Registration card
angry too often.  True.  If I think about treated differently.  That must be a bitter and mumbled short answers to their
it there aren't too many things that get pill to swallow for those that fit into that inane questions while my blood began
under my skin.  Things that do however, category, I thought. to boil.  I mean seriously, is it necessary
are racial intolerance, ignorance, and to stop foreigners in the middle of
discrimination.  Growing up in one of   Transport me to a land on the opposite Nagoya station for no reason whatsoever
the most multicultural places on the end of the multicultural spectrum, and other than being foreigners? There were
handcuff image: Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document

planet, I couldn't imagine people not suddenly I am in a similar category: thousands more mostly Japanese people
of my own race as being more or less different from the majority.  However, walking, standing, waiting, and loitering
human than I, and deserving of more or this time the majority is 99% them, 1% around this station, and here this cop
less rights.  me! Fortunately I managed to live in was messing with us like we committed
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

Japan for about four years before I was a crime.  It's quite possible that they were
In my neighborhood, kids from various ever a victim of racial profiling.  When targeting my friends because of their
ethnic groups were all thrown together it happened I was in a good mood and ethnicity, but when I asked the officers
in the proverbial melting pot at public didn't cause a scene (luckily for all why they had stopped us, they offered
school, spawning groups of friends involved), though the replays in my mind up some irrational excuse: “there's a
that were sometimes dubbed “United paint a different picture.  lot of foreigners around today”.  Yeah,
Nations.”  Unfortunately, not everybody no kidding jackass.  It's the weekend
is as comfortable with people different of Nagoya Matsuri, and this is a large
It went down like this: I was walking in
TRAIN STATION!!  Although these

from themselves, and sadly this can Nagoya station with two friends, both
spawn prejudice, intolerance, and officers were not unpleasant, I walked
of whom were visiting from Canada
ultimately injustice.  Being a white guy away from that still chewing the remains
and happened to be of Philippine
(Caucasian if you need me to be P.C.), I of that bitter pill. 
background, when we were stopped by
was never a target for racial profiling by three police officers who asked for our
the police, and was somewhat oblivious Alien Registration cards and passports.  I   A more recent episode had me zig-
of it in my own city until some of my non- hesitated and asked my friends if they had zagging through a residential area after
white friends recounted their appalling their passports on them and when one of I noticed a police car following me

28 |RAN|
from the main road for, again,  no reason.  The fact that they will go
far out of their way to pursue somebody just because they are not
Japanese has me wondering, are they that bored?  Do they not have
anything better to do?  And more importantly, what am I going to do
about this?  What can I do? After all, I think it's safe to say that one's
standard of living has decreased when they are constantly looking
over their shoulders, wary of gaijin-hunting cops, especially after
stories of police coercion and forced confessions pervade the news. 

Wondering if there even is a law regarding showing one's ID to

law enforcement, I decided to check out the website by naturalized
Japanese citizen and activist, Arduo Debito. His website deals with
these sorts of issues, and has done most of the hard research for you. 
Besides giving direct translations of Japanese laws on this and other
issues, they also go through possible situations that you may find
yourself in, complete with what you should do and say, how to react
to what's being said and done, and above all, inform you of all rights
and provisions of the law.

I can't tell you whether or not police should stop foreigners just
because, or why they do.  I would just like to help spread the
knowledge to other foreigners, who have or haven't been in similar
predicaments, so that they are aware of their rights, and hopefully
exercise those rights if the need occurs.  The police have a duty to
keep our streets safe, and we all have a duty to make sure we are
treated like human beings, and not possible criminals. 

  Some important points to know and remember

1. You must have your Alien Registration Card on your person at all times.  Being caught without
it can result in a hefty fine. 
2. The police may stop and ask you questions without any reason (probable cause, suspicion of a
3. You are legally obliged to show the police your Alien Registration Card if asked, BUT you also
have the right to ask to see the police officer's ID FIRST.  (except if in a police box)
4. Police cannot take you anywhere unless you are under arrest. 
5. Police need a warrant to search your person, possessions, or property.  This includes urine
samples.  Ask for a warrant if police try to search you, or demand a urine sample. 
6. Do NOT touch the officer, or raise your voice, or you may be arrested for Obstruction of Duty.
As angry as you may be, any violence or defiance will only land you in jail.

visit Debito Arudou’s helpful site

|RAN| 29
a look at net-cafe refugees | Story and photos by Jason Gatewood |

hile the economy has internet cafe, usually because I couldn’t
certainly affected a lot of However due to the continuing get the last train home or was out
the world, Japan remains economic situation staring them partying and ran out of gas way too
relatively unscathed in unblinkingly in the face, little money early to pull an all-nighter. Most internet
terms of severity, at least on the saved for college, jobs either in short cafes have an all-night special price for
surface. Unlike my home country of The supply or non-existant once graduated, this very reason. Usually ¥1200~¥1500
United States, I’m not turning on the TV and wages and benefits cut from the will grant you access to an enclosed
and seeing tons of people being tossed jobs that are available, young adults are booth with a computer, a desk lamp,
out of their homes unable to pay their increasingly using their saved nest eggs and sometimes a separate TV/DVD
housing loans, or having cars and other earlier in the game. What happens when player. The booth can be big enough for
large items repossessed by the the well runs dry though? They could just one person, or big enough to have a
banks. Maybe it’s due to the “saving move back in with their parents and try small love seat/recliner
mentality” that most Japanese have. The again--but pride keeps most from combination. The booths can be as
bubble economy of the 1980s made it admitting failure. They could stay with simple as to just have a small low
easy for parents to throw money in the friends, but most of them are in the divider between the spaces, or be more
bank and save it for a rainy day; The same boat, living with family or in some extravagant with oversized cubicles,
average citizen has around ¥3,000,000 small 1LDK with barely enough room doors and tatami mats inside. Whatever
in their savings accounts by the time for the rightful tenants themselves to fit the accomodations, if you visit one
they are twenty-five years old or so. Of inside without an elbow or a knee around 2am any given night, you can
course this always find almost half
has nothing to Denny’s and Gusto are good the patrons are sleeping,
do with
money that
because usually the staff rather than doing any
late-night You-Tubing or
they may have just lets you sleep after you eat a meal. Mixi surfing. I personally
personally think they make a great
saved from wages at that point. Most hanging out the window. So where can last resort sleep spot for when you’re
savings start out with a sizeable gift from a person go when they need a warm, touring a different part of Japan, and
grandparents and parents when the dry place to crash for the night? For can’t seem to find lodging for the night
benefactors are still trotting off to some the answer would be Manboo or (because you refused to call and make
primary school in yellow bucket hats Popeye--Internet Cafés.  For others it reservations on a three day holiday
and oversized old-school backpacks. Up could be the all-night, come-as-you- weekend...)
until recently, most would never please eateries-Denny’s, Gusto,
consider touching the money saved in Jonathan’s to name a few. Now there is a growing trend in Japan of
these accounts until it was time to start 20-somethings wandering the landscape
thinking of marriage and starting their This is not a totally new phenomenon; I without a yen to their name, but not
own households. too have spent many a night in an quite broke either. I recently was

30 |RAN|
introduced to two people who recently Sometimes I sleep over at friend’s think... But I can’t tell you if they’re
became members of this new fragment houses--I have a lot of friends. They homeless because they have money to
of society. Of course, they refused to use think I’m a traveling sales man now. I pay, and look like they have jobs,” says
their real names to keep their identities told them I moved from Nagoya but I one staff member of a large chain of
anonymous. come here every week or so, that way Internet cafes. “At any rate, these guys
they offer to let me stay overnight in are kinda computer otaku and I can’t tell
Taro was an average student at his their house. 'Its better than sleeping in whether they’re just here to get away
university, but he had a talent for being some strange hotel and we can hang out from their family’s house or they have
able to talk to anyone about anything. “I a little’, they say. They have no idea I’m no home at all.” Staff members usually
guess I’m not like most Japanese with homeless.” adopt an anonymity policy about their
that trait, right? I’ve always been curious guests in any case unless things get
about a lot, and I never really had a fear However, Taro only does this a few totally out of hand. “Actually our biggest
of asking so I just would.” So it shouldn’t times a month though so as not to wear problem is couples going into the
be a surprise to learn that once out his welcome. “I like internet cafes booths to fool around. Usually it’s
graduated from university, he took a job because no one questions why you’re teenagers who can’t go to a love hotel
with a large company working in their sleeping there; most people are there to because they’re too young or
survey and consumer relations sleep a little in the middle of the embarrassed. But the booths here offer a
section. “Our customers were mostly night.” He rotates between 5 or 6 little privacy, as long as you’re quiet I
older retirees, and I got to get out the different cafes in the city so he doesn’t guess...”  
office three times a week and talk to raise suspicion. “In this manner, I have a
them. It was a good job because I could routine. The staff just Other places have started making
meet some interesting people and be thinks I’m a hard worker accommodations a little easier for
outside making visits. The salary was and left work late. They overnighters. “We
enough to start saving and still go out think maybe I live far provide
some weekends too.” However Taro’s from here and I don’t those who
success was short lived, because after have enough pay the
nearly three years of overnight
rate with a
blanket and a
mask. We also
give them
employment, toothbrushes and
the company small towels to
suddenly laid wash up with
off twenty before they leave.”
five people, says an assistant
and Taro was manager of an
one of them. internet cafe in
Kyoto. “Of course we
“At first I thought its temporary, I’ll be for a hotel.  aren’t inviting people
working again in a week or two. I guess Whatever to live in the cafe
after a month, I started feeling like it’s they think, they only see though.” Maybe not,
time to go find a new job.” But in the 8 me maybe twice a month, so I’m but with those
months since being laid-off he’s had a forgotten, and never questioned.” He enticements along with the
hard time looking for any work. “I had also catches some shut-eye at 24 hour complementary beverages, cup ramen,
to decide between paying rent or family restaurants too. “Denny’s and and the most important thing- warm and
eating.” So he let his lease expire and Gusto are good because usually the staff dry shelter- If I had no where else to go,
decided to try to find work wherever he just lets you sleep after you eat a for ¥1300 a night, I’d try it.
could get it. “If I keep an apartment, I meal. It’s 3am and no one is  really in
won’t be able to get a job somewhere there, and I guess they think I’m going to “I don’t plan on doing this forever you
else.” He currently works part time for a catch the first train or something, so they know... Just until I can get on my feet”
company that sends him to other cities leave me alone. I leave the money on says Taro. “I want what anyone my age
to do surveys, but it’s only part time the table while I sleep; they can do their wants I guess- a girlfriend, some pocket
work. “At least they pay the travel job, and I can rest.” money, my own room, and some
costs. But the money is just enough to savings. I want to travel, maybe see
keep me alive--They only have me Internet cafe workers here in Nagoya Hawaii, Guam, someplace like that. So I
working three days a week mostly.” In have noticed a few late night “regulars” hit the street everyday trying to find a
order to save money, he’s living ‘semi- on the rise as well.  “We have maybe job.”
homeless’  “Oh, I sleep wherever I can.  three or four people that fit this trend I
|RAN| 31

Osu Style
| Story and photos by Achim Runnebaum |

apanese Society seems so collected, that up) would describe their style
so ordered on the surface. But dig compared to the mainstream.....
deeper below the surface and you’ll Two girls dressed in something
find a fascinating world of immense con- akin to Lolita Style said: “It’s
tradictions..... more open here in
The walls of conformity seem to can be anyone you want to be.”
come crashing down when you wander
a bit off the beaten track. As you step RAN: What three words
into the multifaceted streets of Osu, it would describe your style?
feels like you’ve stepped into a different “Trendy, Chic, and Carefree”
Nagoya.....a more open minded and ended
accepting Nagoya. While Sakae seems Just a short while after that, and up there...
conservative and conformist at times, the a rather difficult time trying to ask “I just couldn’t imagine putting
eclectic mix of fashion styles in Osu is the people if it was okay to take their on a suit, hiding my real self, and working
complete opposite with bright colours, a picture (it’s amazing how even the in an office all day. That’s just not me”
parade of 2nd hand clothing stores, lots most outlandishly dressed people can Now he works at one of the (eastern/
of people with tattoos and piercings, and become very self-conscious and shy in Indian/African/natural) stores and loves
many little off-the-wall shops ranging front of a camera), I noticed this guy with it. “Here I can do what I like”. “You get
from independent reggae stores to a Mohawk and some huge glasses on. to meet so many interesting people every
second hand stores to alternative lifestyle “I feel like I can be more myself day and they’re all really chilled out. It
stores. Osu has something for everyone. when I come here because I feel like feels much more like a young, trendy
The people in Osu are also very I’m much more accepted for my style” community here than in corporate
different from the people you’d meet in While talking to the Mohawk guy, and over-marketed Sakae or Meieki”
Sakae.... It’s almost like they’re trying to two girls gave me all kinds of curious
rebel against the oppressive mainstream, looks. They wore really tall platform RAN: yeah, I hear you, man.
which is reflected in their sometimes boots and after asking them a couple So how would you describe
outrageous fashion. It’s bold, free, of questions about what they think your style in three words?
and ever- about their style and the scene in “Comfortable, cheap, mine”.
Osu, I noticed a stunning Japanese
woman. After talking to her, I saw So there you go, folks. The next
that some Bon Jovi looking dude time you’re in Osu, don’t just walk
was giving me really dirty looks through, but really try to soak in the
for talking to her... Turns it it was air of change, the traditional shaking
her boyfriend who, after being hands with the trendy, the atmosphere of
offered to have his picture taken eclectic openness against the traditional
for the magazine, changed his backdrop of one of the oldest places in
attitude completely and was all Nagoya. If I had to sum it all up in a
too happy to pose for a couple sentence, I would say it’s a part Miami
of shots. Just goes to show... Art Deco, part Fort Green (Brooklyn),
appeal to people’s vanity and part Shibuya, all mixed in a blender
you can change a frown into and served in a traditional Sake cup.
a smile. He wore a really So if you’re heading to Osu, leave
eclectic mix of styles (Can you your Armani Suit at home, because
guess which one he is?) To me unlike in the rest of Nagoya here in
it seemed like he was trying a bit too Osu you will stick out like a sore
changing. What hard to be cool, but hey, that is also part thumb wearing it. That’s why I love
makes it so interesting is that on any given of the style in Osu. It seems like there’s spending time here, grabbing a coffee
day, you can see old ladies in traditional no middle ground here: no gray-zone. at my favourite Italian Coffee place, and
Kimono walking right alongside gothic It’s either one extreme, or the other. enjoying watching the people stroll by.
lolitas, or guys with hair so big enough On another occasion I talked to this It’s really a different Nagoya. The people,
to make any 80’s Metal band proud.... guy with dreadlocks and Cambodian- the place, the fashion, the attitudes, and
So I took to the streets and tried to looking “rags” on. We had a good, short the atmosphere are polar opposites from
find out how true Osunians (just made chat about the scene in Osu and how he what’s just a short walk down the street....

32 |RAN|
* Event Calander coming soon!

| Compiled by RAN staff |

RAN ’s staff and readers like these places / this stuff. You might, too...

Kurokawa Salon Javan Wasabi Distro

Serious beer drinkers who crave a Tired of the same old haunts? You can never get enough good
more full-flavored range of ales, stouts, Looking for something new? Months English reading material, especially if you
pilsners and weizens need look no further of lukewarm kyushoku in a crowded are into small press or indie publications.
than Kurokawa Salon, a cozy restaurant lunchroom is enough to make anybody Getting your hands on a good English
boasting an impressive menu of beers hungry for some variety. If you fall into zine, chapbook or mini-comix is almost
and wines from around the world. The this category perhaps Javan is just the impossible in this country, but luckily
menu includes great descriptions of each place for you. Located in Shindeki-ma- for those hip readers out there Wasabi
type of beer, divided by type and region. chi near the tourist trap of Tokugawa-en, Distro, the only English zine distro in
But this bottle-shop is so much more than Javan is perhaps the only restaurant Japan has amassed a fine collection to
just a watering-hole, their food menu is serving Persian food in Nagoya. Even save you the footwork. The homepage
top-notch and perfectly complements for connoisseurs of Persian food Javan’s is easy to navigate in both English and
the beer. The menu is largely European, menu is certain to leave some surprises. Japanese, and there is an ever growing
including plump, flavorful sausages Sample the cutlets or mixed kebab, collection of zines in several languages
and cheese fondue that will make your unlike any you are likely to find in the on a wide range of topics and genres.
mouth water. Just take another swig of local Turkish restaurants. Wash it down Don’t settle for the latest Harry Potter
that rich, aromatic trappist ale and order with a variety of yogurt drinks. All book or Obama’s speeches when you
another round. entrees come with a plate could be feeding your brain on good
Jasmine rice – a nice change of pace independent small press literature for a
Antique Store for those eating white rice three times a fraction of the price. Don’t know what
day. With the smell of authentic Persian zines, minicomix or chapbooks are? No
古民芸「茶々」 (Antique-chacha) spices fresh in your nostrils and sounds better place to learn than Wasabi Distro.
For some true Japanese antiques and of Irani television up on the wall you
authentic Kimono/Yukata (for men and might feel like you’ve been transported
women), look no further than this store. to a cafe in the heart of modern Tehran,
Best part, you can do it all in English. welcome respite from the daily grind of Into the Wild
Usually it’s very difficult to find eng- life in the bustling city.
lish-speaking antique stores in Japan, Winter is upon us. It’s cold and dark
but you’re in luck, the owner, Shingo Jerk Chicken and dreary. You need an escape, well, I
(, speaks mean an escape from your escape. But
fluent English and will be more than If imitation is the sincerest form of funds are low, what can you do? Head to
happy to talk to you (09056272698). If flattery, Jamaica – consider yourself your nearest DVD rental shop and rent
you can’t make it to their storefront in flattered. Imaike is not the most likely INTO THE WILD, Sean Penn’s cinematic
Gifu, you can shop online at their E-bay location for taste of that island spirit, homage to the Jon Krakauer penned au-
store: but just try to resist walk by this place tobiography. without sticking your head in. You’ll be
antique-chacha lured in by the sound of reggae music
or their Yahoo Auctions store: and the aroma of rotissery chicken which more than makes up for the unimagina-
tive shop name. I am not enough of an
authority to vouch for the authenticity
but I will say the lunch menu can’t
be beat. Fresh handmade salsa and Detailing the nomadic cross-coun-
succulent chicken roasted to perfection, try adventures of free-spirited college
accompanied by rice, coleslaw and graduate Chris McCandless, INTO THE
soup all for a very reasonable price. The WILD is beautiful, insightful, spiritual,
shop also boasts a full menu of beers, inspiring, and picturesque-this film will
wines and shochus including Jamaica’s remind you why you left home in the first
own Red Stripe. I heard they recently place.
added tacos to their menu so don’t waste “I now walk into the wild..”--who
anytime checking out this cozy bar just hasn’t felt that sensation? Feel it again, in
behind the Imaike Piago. your living room.

|RAN| 33

Mongolian Restaurant

| Review and photos by Adam Pasion |

Legend has it that Mongolian soldiers dining experience Nagoya has to offer. had three bowls of mare’s milk in my
of olde used to gather meats and cook The dining area is made to look like stomach. Then began the nearly endless
them using their shields and helmets a traditional Mongolian hut with the procession of food. First came Buuz, a
beginning the historic tradition known tables arranged along the perimeter, sort of dumpling made of minced mutton
today as Mongolian barbecue. Fact lined with ornate oriental throw rugs. with a savory broth that bursts into your
check: this is almost one hundred After peering around the room to take in mouth when you bite into it. Next they
percent bullshit. What many westerners the whole scene, I realized many of the broought out khorkhog, diced beef and
have taken to calling “Mongolian happy patrons were wearing traditional onions, seared on a hot stone and spiced
barbecue” has absolutely nothing to do Mongolian outfits. No sooner had I to perfection. To tone it down a bit they
with Mongolia, and very little to do with made this astute observation than the brought Khusshuur,a breaded and fried
barbecue for that matter. It was actually staff politely asked me to step into the pocket full of minced mutton and herbs.
invented in Taiwan, and it was intended other room, where I was instructed to The best item on the menu was chanasan
to copy Japanese teppan-yaki. So much remove my shirt and be covered in a makh, boiled lamb that falls apart in
for that glorious history. leather, bare-chested warrior’s tunic your mouth. Every one of these items
and billowy pantaloons. The fun was was good enough to order a second
That link severed, the only other just beginning. Within a few moments helping, or even a third, but not before
connection I had with Mongolian food the owner was leading a Mongolian I tried out a generous glass of their local
was a scene from the BBC series “Long drinking chant and making guests drink Mongolian vodka.
Way Round” in which Ewan McGregor vodka from a leather hip-flask.
tries to gulp down an assortment of I get a strong sense that the menu is
animal testicles after some Mongol With proper dinner attire well settled tamed down for Japanese customers,
nomad asks him, “do you like nuts?” I and out of the way it was time to take since I didn’t see anything on the menu
suppose that is one way to get your a look at the menu. Wanting to sample about marmot cooked with hot rocks in
protein. Fortunately Shinkiro in Sakae everything I quickly opted for the its stomach, reported to be quite popular
was neither the Taiwanese imitation nor tabehodai + nomihodai look at the menu in Mongolia. Nevertheless the food was
a bowl full of sheep balls, but rather made my jaw drop at three little words. about as authentic as I think you can
an eclectic variety of foods and liquors Fermented horse milk. I double and tri- find outside of Mongolia itself, and on
guaranteed to satiate your palate. ple-checked it to ensure that what I was top of that its just plain delicious. More
about to order really included equine than anything though, Shinkiro is an
Stepping into the entry way it was lactations but there was no way around experience best shared with good friends
already quite clear that I had wandered it. Surprisingly it tasted like a very mild and family. The delightful atmosphere
into perhaps the most entertaining yogurt beverage and soon enough I and central-Asian ambiance takes you
out of the pumping gears of the city and
places you on the vast steppes where
Ghengis Khan and Atilla the Hun once

Shinkiro is located in Sakae just a few

blocks east of the Chunichi Building.
All-you-can-eat and drink for 3800 yen.
For more info or to make a reservation,
check their website at:

34 |RAN|
|RAN| 35