RANMAGAZINE.COM October/November 2009 | ISSUE 2 |


Forbidden Love
Deadly’s Tips Part 2

Are You an Angry Nerd ? Gazing and Craving

Adam Pasion on Nagoya’s Premier Punks

Defelippi Shoots For Our Sins

Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll
Achim Runnebaum Shreds

Toshincho: Sex On A Platter
Will Taylor Reads From The Menu PLUS: RAN Recommends, The Green Spot, Shopping, Restaurants, and introducing - RAN ZOO!

October/November 2009 - ISSUE NO. 2

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Down and Out

Achim takes us on a privileged trip into the unpriveliged world of Nagoya’s homeless.

Nagoya Sk8!!

We go to Osu to find out how Nagoya gets its Ollie McTwist on.

Held Down by Metal Bonds
Ghost stories with a side of bondage, to go please.

Pinktown, Toshincho

Will takes us to the Red Light District and finds Victoria ain’t the only one keeping secrets.

Immigration 2010

New visa laws are coming, Jason talks to someone on the forefront to find out how screwed we are...


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Foreword Deadly’s Tips

18 Create

Larry’s Gazing and Craving, we’re titillated. Tatemae and Honne, or A Tale of Two Masks. If we eat it, see it, listen to it, buy it, go to it, and we love it, then we think you will too. We couldn’t get away with saying shit like this, but animals can. Leave the commuter pass at home, but please bring your appetite.

If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense in an inter-cultural relationship.

28 When In Rome

The Green Spot

How to pimp your world, eco-style. Mike Walker gives us a curtain call.

36 RAN Recommends 37 RAN ZOO 38 Taste

10 Profiles

12 Should I Stay or Should I Go

14 Listen

RAN shares a beer and a few words with this Nagoya-based punk band, Angry Nerd.




bout two months ago we were holding our collective breaths as we released our creation into the wild. We really had no idea what to expect in the way of reaction from the public; we didn’t even really think the public would acknowledge us at all sometimes! The few advertisers that were onboard with our intial concept however, gave us their blessing (and much needed funds) to produce a new voice in this sometimes overwhelming sea of sensory overload. It’s hard to predict how anything new will fare in the court of public opinion. Indeed, this would be a massive undertaking in our home countries where English is spoken, read, and juggled. However we are putting out this publication for a target audience that is a moving target all the way around; the mostly transient, mostly foreign English speaking population of Nagoya and the Chubuu region. Nagoya is an area that has been historically resistiant and sometimes outgright defiant to change and anything new, and that includes our sometimes finnicky gaijin population too. But to our pleasant surprise we ran through 2 printings of the first issue quick, fast, and in a hurry. Some comments we recieved about our new endeavor have been 99%

positive; usually on the order of, “its about time”, “I can’t stop reading”, or simply, “Finally.” Some compare us to the other English-language magazines that can be had here in town-- and while it does flatter us a bit, we aren’t really trying to compete with them, so much as to fill a niche. We wanted to create a magazine for the type of scene that we are into, our friends are into, and our friend’s friends are into. We want to hang with both the “in” crowd, and the “out” crowd. We want to be close to everyone and far away at the same time. We want to be something you pick up for both a slight diversion from the norm, and also inform you at the same time. Quite simply, we want to be “the People’s Magazine” here in Nagoya. Finally, we’ve been asked the question about 739 times since our debut, “What the hell does RAN mean?” The simple answer: There is no meaning. None. At all. No fancy acronym, no Far Eastern Mystical message. That being said, I tend to give a different fake answer to this question, when asked (read: I lie through my teeth, with tongue firmly in cheek.) Some answers have been “Read About Nagoya, Randomly Accessing Nagoya, etc.” Why not share your ideas on what our name should mean? Tweet us @ranmagazine with #ranmagname or

hit our facebook page ranmagazine and go to the discussions tab, or simply email us at comments@ with subject “RAN mag name”. Again, thanks for reading and let us know what we can do to improve YOUR magazine! --by the way; dude on the cover ate it, in case you were wondering.

Publisher: TD Houchen Chief Editor: Jason L. Gatewood Art Director: Adrien Sanborn Photography Editor: Achim Runnebaum Illustrator/Writer: Adam Pasion Send story ideas to: Send photography and illustration to: To advertise, contact: Promotional Events/Co-Promotion:

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is not for children.

e want to expose  you to things that exist, even if they aren’t so P.C.. We’re not trying to be politically correct, we’re trying to be useful and informative, even entertaining. Life isn’t perfect, neither are we. Not everything is funny or cute, but some things are. We hope we can show you some of both. And, we want you to let us know what you like, what you think, how you feel and what’s on your mind. We hope RAN will be a truly multicultural piece of work. We hope it will be a “bulletin board” of ideas, events, opinions, expressions, thoughts from a wide variety of people. The racial boundaries of yesterday are dissolving before our eyes, but traditions die hard. RAN hopes to shed light in dark places. We want to connect people in order to build a society of people looking forward with hope and optimism—based on what we’ve learned, and are still learning—a true community of open-minded people. We’re into music, food, sports, fashion, politics, humor, culture, spirituality, relationships, shopping, travel, language, adventure, friendship, community, and more. We’re not into hate, but if you are a hater, send us your feelings and comments. We’ll talk about them. RAN is about healing and progress. Let the dead bury the dead. We’re into the future... It’s about the society we’re building, not the one that’s falling apart. But we’ve got to learn about what we’ve done wrong to be able to do it better. Society is at stake. It’s our “family” outside of our homes. Everything is connected. We want your comments and opinions.


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You can find us at Our site has all the regular content of the magazine, plus bits and pieces of stuff you won’t find in our hardcopy... The Web is the portal into the entire world’s consciousness, and will be home to voices from around the globe, giving us a truly international presence! If you’re into Twitter, just follow @ranmagazine. You’ll also be able to link to us soon on Facebook and tune in to our RSS feed as well. We aim to be a true voice of the global community, so we’d like to hear from YOU!


Write much? Hit us at Is everybody in?

What are you thinking/doing/feeling/ saying/wanting? Let us know.

The RAN Zoo.

|RAN| 5

Deadly’s Tips

Maintaining an an Inter-cultural Relationship
| By Deadly D |

Deadly Bio:
Deadly has lived worked, dated, married and divorced in Japan (and other Asian countries) for over 20 years. He has also traveled extensively throughout Asia and has encountered the various peccadillo’s and pit falls of passion that have presented themselves in liaisons with ladies from a variety of cultures. Deadly has survived the consummation and dysfunctional breakdown of more than one marriage or long term relationship with women that come from cultures vastly different than his own. “Who was it that said we learn by making mistakes?” asks Deadly, “If that’s true, than I am a f----g Einstein, because I’ve made ‘em all…”-he continues to date women from other countries to this day with only a minimum of flinching and barely noticeable loss of motor skills and short term memory.

Case study:
An Australian friend married a woman from India. He had his own business that was doing smashingly well. They had a nice house and enough money in the bank for future security. He decided they could get by quite well if he only worked three days a week and enjoyed a life of more leisure. He went to his wife with a sheaf of travel brochures, excited about making vacation plans. She met him with a schedule and business plan she had drawn up that proposed that if he worked 12 to 14 hours a day, six and a half days a week, they would soon be able to bring all her relatives, even the cousins and aunties over from India and give them all jobs. Last I heard they were still married, but hadn’t talked to each other or had sex in a year and a half. A partner from Japan poses unique problems when dealing with house hold finance. Keep in mind that this is a country where, even though the men look like top dogs in public, the women totally control the money and financial decisions at home. A traditional Japanese husband is supposed to hand over his pay check on salary day and then be handed a small allowance to go drinking and bar hostess chasing by his wife. This runs deep in the brain matter of a Japanese girl. I don’t care if she speaks flawless English or studied for two years at Oxford, she will insist on having total financial control. This does not often sit well with men from cultures where the male usually makes the decisions on what to do with the bucks, euros or pesos. Japanese women are also famous for opening up secret accounts that they don’t tell their husbands about and then dumping loads of money in for their own private plans. No one knows for sure what these sinister plans entail. But

It’s All About the Money, Honey
Before you fill out those wedding announcements, sit down and talk about who’s going to handle the money and what you’re going to do with it. IN DETAIL. Different people and different cultures have very different ideas on this. The leading reason for divorce is money trouble. People kill, cheat, lie, sell their bodies and souls for money. If you don’t agree about how to utilize the household income, There Will Be Blood. Most common cause for converting never-ending love into eternal vindictive hatred is MONEY. Exacerbating all of this (exacerbate is such a nasty sounding word, don’t you think? I’ve always wanted to use it in an article) are huge differences in cultural perception about the proper use of finances.



“The only important thing in life is money.” -- stated by over one third of my Japanese university students in a answer to the question, “What is the most important thing in life?”

Different cultural perceptions of life lie deep in the heart of it. Basically it’s the difference between someone who sees life as a great adventure to be enjoyed versus an outlook that sees life as a dismal veil of tears held at bay only by hoarding up enough money to avoid disaster when it comes. When I asked my Japanese students , “What would you do if you won one billion yen? Fully half said, “Save it.” Scary. No trips to Rio, no Mercedes in the garage. No celebration of the good things in life. This way of thinking is pretty Bizarro World to most western people.

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SKULL: Altered and reproduced under GNU Free Documentation License; COUPLE: Altered and reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

one of my best friend’s wives said to me once at a barbecue, “Men are too stupid to know how to handle money. so I hide it from him.” Keep in mind that this is a man who runs his own English school and seems to do just fine with most of those finances. Exacerbating this problem (sorry, I just couldn’t help using it just one more time) is the fact that most of the gaijin who are in Japan are world travelers who tend to have a rather free-form approach to life in general. All the accountants stayed at home. Along with this free form approach comes an attitude toward money that says, “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow when the tax man comes, we can skip the country.” This way of thinking does not mix well with someone from a country that worships money and status above all else.


G reen

| By Achim Runnebaum |


In this month’s edition we’re taking a look at the top 10 tips on how you can help the environment right now in your local communities...   So you’ve heard about the environmental crisis we’re all facing and you want to do something to help, but don’t know where to start.  Here are a couple of tips to get you on the right track.


Take your own mug whenever you get coffee at Starbucks. If you’re like me, Starbucks is as much part of your weekly routine, as the Friday Night out with friends.... If you take your own (Starbucks) mug with you whenever you go there to enjoy their delicious concoctions, you will significantly cut down on plastic cups polluting the landfills. Do the math: 1 Cup per one person a week = 48 cups a year for just one person. If you don’t have a starbucks mug yet, just ask for your drink in a mug cup at the counter... Also, take your own bag when you go grocery shopping, as this will significantly cut down on the number of plastic bags covering the landfills....

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Use energy efficient light bulbs. By replacing your bulbs with Energy Star Bulbs, you can save about 30% electricity per annum. If you drive a car, don’t leave the engine running if you’re parked somewhere while waiting for someone outside a store for example. Idling contributes greatly to air pollution and thus global warming. I wish someone brave enough would tell all these Taxi drivers who stand outside stations, combinis, etc. the whole day with the car’s engine idling.....

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Plant some trees, or keep trees/plants in or near your apartment or house. Every tree has the potential to absorb about 48 pounds of CO2 per year. So keeping plants or trees around will not only improve your health, but will potentially also contribute to cleaner air in the city... And we all know how desperately Nagoya needs more green areas...


Refuse plastic bags and/or chopsticks in the combini or supermarket when offered. Many people apparently haven’t caught on to the fact that giving a plastic bag

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Unplug all electronic devices when not in use. Even if turned off, electronic devices leech power. By unplugging unused devices, you can save a lot of electricity. If everyone did this, we could save enough electricity to power about 3 million homes per year (note: please do NOT unplug your fridge, heheh).

Smoking. I know you don’t like to hear this, but the Cigarette Industry has a huge negative impact on the environment. Every year about 600 million trees are cut because of Tobacco growth. Also every single Butt takes about 12 years to completely disintegrate, leeching harmful chemicals into the ground make an effort to quit. More on that in a future issue.

Stop buying stuff you don’t absolutely need, and make a conscious effort to recycle the stuff you have already. Give old clothes to churches or to the homeless instead of just throwing them out. Find ways to either sell or give away your old stuff, that way it stays in circulation and someone else gets a use out of it. Books for example should never be thrown out... Give them to Libraries, bookstores, etc...

for just one item (which itself is already well wrapped) is total overkill. These days a lot of people carry bags with them most of the time. If your’e not buying that much, there’s probably room for your item in your bag. The extra plastic is not necessary and only pollutes the environment more. Be prepared for some strange looks from store clerks though when refusing plastic bags... Even if you say that you don’t want one because it’s not necessary and thus bad for the environment, they look at you like you’re from another planet...

doesn’t smack you on the head like a PET Bottle thrown out of a car window, and give you a hard wake-up call, you’re either brain-dead, or completely oblivious about what’s going on in the world. Stop reacting and start acting and thinking for yourself.


google and I’m sure you’ll agree that you don’t want too much of that in your body. Buy a good water filter for your faucet instead and use multi-use canisters to take the water with you. Not only is this a lot healthier, but it also cuts down on the amount of plastic bottles on landfills significantly. It’s a win-win situation. So there we are.... Follow these easy steps and educate yourself about the environment and you’ll do your part in protecting this planet we all live on and are part of. Stop waiting for everyone else to start doing something, get off your butt and start helping now because we’re all in the same glass house. It’s time to stop throwing stones and start helping Right Now.


Educate others about the current environmental issues and how to help. One great resource is It’s a 20min. video presentation on the mechanism of consumerism..... It will shock and educate you about what’s really happening to our planet because of consumerism.... So don’t stay in the dark; get educated now........ One of the most shocking facts is that in the last 200 years we’ve used 2/3 of our natural resources......... If that

Try to avoid buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water more contaminated than tap water (they don’t have to follow the same strict purity regulations than treatment plants; more on that in a future issue as well), but the amount of waste produced by the manufacturing/ consumption process is astronomical. Let’s imagine the average person buys 2 bottles of water per day: that’s 14 a week, that’s 56 bottles a month, that’s 672 bottles a year for just one person. On top of that, each PET bottle also leeches a chemical called Bisphenol A into the liquid, particularly when it’s heated. This chemical mimics Estrogen in the body. Estrogen, for those of you who didn’t know, is a female hormone. Look up the chemicals on

The hour is already way past midnight, but we can still make a difference if we all do our part.

|RAN| 9

Curtain Call



| By Achim Runnebaum |


riday night in a smoky Karaoke Bar in Imaike. Usually bad singing and Karaoke go hand in hand, which is why all ears perked up when Mike grabbed the microphone and the whole place erupted with incredible sound. Nobody would have expected him to be able to capture people’s attention like that, but that’s Mike....... a multitalented, complex individual who has become a regular contributor to the Nagoya Art Scene with his plays. “Aren’t you the guy from the Nagoya Players?” That’s the question Mike gets all the time, and even though he’s worked with the Nagoya Players before, Mike has established himself as an independent director, actor, and all around Theater Guru in Nagoya in the last couple of years. He’s formed his own Company, Maidenagoya and keeps putting out very interesting and thought provoking plays... We caught up with Michael in Sakae and sat down to get the whole story of his successful Theater career. RAN: Tell me how the whole acting/ directing thing got started for you. Michael: I grew up in a small town south of Sydney and was into all kinds of sports, especially cricket. When I was 21, I was living in London to play cricket, and had the chance to meet a friend in Edinburgh. As fate would have it, the biggest arts festival in the world was held at that time. During my stay

there, I was offered a job and ended up staying there for a while. I worked in a youth hostel and got to meet all kinds of incredible people from all over the world. Through working at the Hostel and being involved in their activities, I got bitten by the acting bug and knew that’s what I wanted to do in my life. After a year, I came back to Australia, gave up cricket completely, and wanted to become an actor, so I started acting school. R: It’s interesting how one little trip can change your life. Who were some of your first acting idols:

who came out for support, and the Australian Band called “Living End” played at the opening, so it was a great experience overall. R: Getting to meet Kylie is always a great experience, I can imagine. Speaking of the beauty of Australia, why did you give up the wonderful beaches of Australia for the concrete jungle of Nagoya? M: (hahah) Well, I ended up in debt over a short film, and had to pay the money, so in desperation I looked through the paper one day and saw an ad for working in Japan. Initially I wanted to come for only one year, make some money, pay for

I got bitten by the acting bug and knew that’s what I wanted to do in my life.
M: Oh, you know, the Ratt Pack: Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Demi Moore, and all the famous actors from the 80’s. R: What was the next step after acting school for you? M: After 3 years of acting school, I worked little odd jobs here and there just trying to get experience. I did commercials, and even one feature film. It was very low budget and shot in only 16 days, but it got a nomination from the AFI (Australian Film Association) and was relatively successful. It was called Occasional Coarse Language. Through that movie, I got to meet Kylie Minogue, the film and then go back to Australia... That was about 10 years ago.. R: So much for that one year. M: yeah I met a girl here, we had a baby girl together and of course the original plan changed completely after that. R: You’ve made quite a name for yourself here in Nagoya though. What are your thoughts about the art scene in our beloved city? M: Nagoya’s artistic community is still very small, so People who do things become known rather quickly here. There’s still a lot of room for new talent. R: In your opinion, how has the art

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scene changed in Nagoya since you came here? The art scene in Nagoya has changed a lot recently. There are more and more small bands popping up all over the place, and a lot of people doing their own thing, which is very good, I think.... R: Speaking of doing your own thing, how did you get started with your own theater company? M: I did a couple of shows with The Nagoya Players and directed a couple of plays for them, which was a great experience. However, I really liked the smaller, non-rigid independent theater productions like back home, where theatre is so much more diverse with little pockets of theater in bars or small venues, which is a fantastic way of seeing a show, I think, so wanted to try something different. At first it was just going to be one play, Death and the Maiden. We got this little place in Ikeshita called Theater moon, and we worked with just a skeleton crew of about 7 people. At that time we didn’t even have a name yet. The play went reasonably well, and people encouraged us we should continue to do theather. Sometime after that, a friend gave me a play called “Bent”, which I had never heard of before. I read it and was enthralled by its power, its humor and its subject matter, which was just unbelievable. I had no idea if and how I could do it, but I had to try.

next play I wanted to do something a bit bigger again. It’s called Cosi, which is actually short for Cosi fan tutte. It’s an Opera originally by Mozart. The play is the first Australian play in Nagoya. It’s a comedy, which is another first for me. R: Can you tell me a little about the story without giving away too much of the plotline? M: It’s about a young guy who agrees to direct patients in a mental institution. The Play is set in 1971, so the context is the Vietnam war. He took the job just to make some money.

I ended up in debt over a short film, and had to pay the money...
R: Sounds familiar. I think many people here in Nagoya can relate to that, right Mike? M: (laughs) I certainly know what that’s like. After all, that’s why I first came to Japan. Anyway, his goal is to try and get the patients to come out of their comfort zone a bit. So he wants to do some kind of theater with them. Of course one of the patients suggest they do this opera. None of the patients can sing, or even speak Italian, so the play follows them as they try to put this opera together. It’s a comedy, but it also explores human themes such as identity, belonging in the world, relationships, trust, etc. It has many different layers to it, which is what I like. R: Very cool! Looking forward to that. Now, you’ve acted internationally in England, Australia, and in Japan. How do you think the audience is different in Japan? M: That’s a good question... I think audiences here fall into 2 categories: 1) the kinds of people we bring along, such as students, friends, etc. who are quite supportive, and then 2) the other group are more interested in English or foreign theater. When the audience is predominantly filled with people whose English is not so strong, it can be a bit difficult. I’ve never used subtitles in my plays because I think it takes away from the whole experience, so for them it can be a bit challenging at times, but I hope they still have a good time in the end. Also, in Japan it’s a bit more difficult to read an audience. When you’re an actor on stage and you get that energy from the audience it’s one of the best feelings for us and when you don’t get that

side note: it was during the preparatory stage of that play that I’d first met Michael since he asked me to train his actors in using a German accent for the play. During the preparations for Bent, we realized we needed a name for our company. After a little thinking, we decided on “Maidenagoya”, because Maiden was our first play, and if you say it fast, it sounds like “Made in Nagoya”... R: Oh yeah, I never thought of that before. Nice play on words. Now, your next play is coming up soon, right? M: Yes, our 5th play is coming in November. After Romeo and Juliet, which was just so huge.....we took it over to Tokyo, and there were about 50 people working on that play, so I wanted to do something a bit smaller scale again, and we did a small dinner theater show at Red Rock Bar. So for this

emotion from them, you start to wonder if you’re doing something wrong.... Here in Japan it’s a bit more difficult to read an audience as a performer. You can’t interpret things the same way as you would back home. R: I can imagine it must be quite difficult to really convey the various types of emotions in plays. Where do you find your inspiration as a director and actor? M: Honestly, I find it in the people I work with. It’s an amazing experience to have these creative people around who have their own view of the world, which you couldn’t possibly have come up with on your own. Also I draw a lot of inspiration from my life, so if there’s a difficult issue or something very good happens to me, I tend to use that as a base from which to perform from or direct from. R: Ok last question. You’ve been in Japan on and off for about 10 years now. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? M: Mhmmm, I ask myself that question all the time....I love Japan and I have a daughter here,but I would hope that in 10 years time I’ve moved on and living in a place where I can do this full time and have that connection with other people who also see this as their sole livelihood, so I think it would be great to have that connection in a professional environment. Where that is, whether it’s in Australia or in England I don’t know yet. R: Great! Maybe we’ll see your name on Broadway or in London sometime in the near future. Anything you’d like to add? M: I think that what you guys are doing with the magazine, creating your own thing is great; you guys kicked ass with the first issue and I hope you’re gonna keep going with it. R: (Laughs) We will, and thank you for the interview. (Damn right we will! --Ed.) M:No worries, I’m glad I was a part of it. Thank you very much.

Check out Mike and the Maidenagoya ensemble’s next bit of thesbian joy, Cosi, showing at the Chikusa playhouse in Fukiage from November 6, 7, and 8th.  You can get tickets at Red Rock Bar, phoning 052-733-2025, or accessing their website at:
|RAN| 11

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

| By TD Houchen

there’s something keeping you here, whatever it is. Can’t just up and split. What to do? Here’s one solution: GTFO for a little while. Then come back and reassess. All of us who aren’t from here came here from somewhere else. Obvious right? We left whatever we were doing before, and came here. It can be done again. But it doesn’t have to be as drastic as leaving right this minute.. Take a vacation. Travel. Go. Isn’t that what brought you here to begin with? You like travel, remember? So go somewhere for a little while. Treat yourself to a little vacay. Korea, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, all these countries are a stones throw away from Japan. And they’re all different than Japan. I spent 8 glorious, beatific, energizing days in Thailand this past August. It didn’t cost me a fortune and I came back to Japan energized and rested. I could appreciate Japan for what it is and what it isn’t much more and had dropped off loads of stress and frustration at some beach-side bar in Phuket. You stay here long enough and you start to lose it. You get tired of acting as the Romans do and you want to act like your self. You live here and you’ve got to adopt and adapt to the local customs and abide the rules and regs and pretend a whole lot more than you want to. You can only visit Disneyland, you can’t live there forever, you don’t have to, if you live there, you start acting Goofy. Take a vacation from your escape, maybe you need it. Go somewhere, anywhere, if your resources allow. GTFO indeed, if only for a short time. Whatever gets you through the night is alright…and when the world is runnin’ down you make the best of what’s still around…but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. Peace.

“...and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for...”


ou’ve been wanting to leave for a while now. Japan isn’t as fun or interesting as it was when you first arrived. You’re tired and confused and oppressed and you’re tired of being tired, confused and oppressed. You’re wondering if you should stay or go, but overwhelmed with the weight of the decision. What should you do? You should go. But realize, you don’t have to go right now, not today, not tomorrow, not next week, next month, or even next year. Even though you feel like you’re losing your mind, you’re not, slow down and breathe deeply, you’ll figure it out, nothing lasts forever, and this is just one stop on The Journey. I tell myself this all the time, with varying degrees of success. Once that bug to GTFO comes over you, your mind loses grip and you start freaking out, emotionally hyperventilating, wondering how in the hell you’ve stayed here this long, and feeling like the walls are closing in and you can hardly breathe anymore. Yikes. Relax. Pump your brakes. Go easy on yourself. Chill. Sure, there are a lot of folks getting sucked into an emotional and psychological vortex here in Japan, it ain’t an easy country, that’s for damn sure. Some parts of Japan can be like a giant emotional energy vacuum cleaner, sucking up all the good energy and belching out some kind of foul, grey, hazy and heavy dark cloud of confusion

in it’s wake. Sometimes, I said, not all the time. Some people are having a wonderful experience here in The Pearl Of The Orient, and sometimes, I am one of those people, but recently, I am not, I’m trying to get it sorted. I feel like Shlep-rock from The Flintstones. The dude who was always down on himself, “..wowsy wowsy woo woo..”, woe is me, can’t get out of this rut i’m in. While I have managed to escape to Japan, lately all I can focus on is how to escape from Japan. How? When? To where? And to do what there? I’ve built-up a dozen odd reasons in my mind why it’s time for me to go, but still, I can’t, or better, I haven’t been able to as yet. It’s sort of making me crazy, this ambivalence. And before I continue, I would like to address the countless insensitive morons who can only offer, “..well GTFO if you’re not feeling it anymore…” It isn’t that easy genius, not quite anyway. Lots of decent, hard working, honest and productive people aren’t quite satisfied with their surroundings, but just telling people to GTFO isn’t cool. Really, it isn’t. Refrain. All the psychic violence and lack of hope and inexpressiveness and low ceilings of opportunity have me feeling.. antsy. I feel like a department store-sized doofus walking around not knowing the social lay of the land, unable to speak the language very well, socially sort of retarded and desperately in need of a Jamba Juice, or a slice of Two Boots Pizza. They’re nowhere to be found. Lots of yakitori and natto though. Thanks, but no thanks. The peaks and valleys of alternately wanting to stay and leave and stay and leave have me wanting to just…leave. But just bouncing out isn’t really an option. Not right now anyway. Got responsibilities. Job(s), apartment, bills, wife, social contracts, girlfriend(s), kids,

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orget the kid in the zipper-ankle jeans and doc martens traipsing around the Osu shopping arcade with two-foot liberty spikes, and pay no attention to the girl with the pink mohawk and a frayed Ramones t-shirt. These fashion zombies could scarcely tell you more about Nagoya punk than the old lady at the takoyaki stand could. To get a real glimpse at the grimy, crusty underbelly of the Nagoya music scene look no further than the parcel delivery boy, or a waiter at a ramen shop. That is to say, true Nagoya punks are an inconspicuous lot and all together difficult to spot outside of noisy clubs and live houses. And yet Nagoya is not just Japan’s geographic center, but is also an indispensable cog of the Japanese music machine. For Japanese touring bands, Nagoya clubs such as Huck Finn, Diamond Hall and Club Rock n’ Roll are some of the mainstays on the “must play” list. Likewise for foreign punk bands, a Nagoya stop is seldom skipped. Even indie bands as big as Weezer have chosen Nagoya to kick-off their tourde-Nihon. The question is, why the hell haven’t you found out about this yet? Here to elucidate the state of Nagoya punk (and how you can get involved) are some of Nagoya’s best and brightest young punks, collectively known as Angry Nerd. With one hell of a name, and having played shows all over the country along side many popular bands such as The Queers and Hawaiian 6, Angry Nerd has also had time to release an EP and

several splits on Nodevan Records, based out of Tokyo. Exhausted from a six hour practice, RAN Magazine busted in on this Nagoya based band with a six-pack in one hand and a tape recorder in the other to discuss drug-using celebrities, indecent exposure and of course that all-essential conduit of international fraternity, punk rock.

place and got so loaded. Its alright. Gutcha: And the police aren’t like, “that guy is doing drugs!”? RAN: If it really came to court, that wouldn’t be enough evidence. Its just some comment in a magazine. Gutcha: What a question to drop out of the blue. I was expecting something about music. RAN: What was is the best live house you have played in Nagoya? Everyone: Huck Finn RAN: Okay, then what club would you never go back to? Everyone: Your really asking that? Yago: Its fine, just a little trash-talking. For me its Zion. Gutcha: That was your own fault Mishina: Yeah you can’t talk trash when its your own fault. Gutcha: When we played at Zion in the middle of our set we got a little out of tune... Yago: Really out of tune... Gutcha: Okay, really out of tune, so we stopped the song and carefully tuned again, but when we played again it was still completely off. It was completely this guys fault, but he blamed it all on me. It became a big fight within the band. Yago: But at that time nobody in the band tried to save me. Mishina: There was no way to save you. For me the only thing I can think of is recently at Club Rock n’ Roll. Gutcha: Let’s not talk bad about Club Rock n’ Roll

RAN: Okay let’s start with something really light. If pop idol Noriko Sakai asked you to do drugs with her, what would you do? Gutcha: Nori Pi! Mishina: I would do it Gutcha: I guess I would do it too. Mishina: But only leaves, if it was only leaves I would do it. Gutcha: I don’t know if I would really do it, but just for her I would probably pretend. And while she was watching I would pretend to do way more than her. Yago: I would drive away with her. Mishina: Like a couple of fugitives, hiding out at the onsen. Sounds like heaven. Gutcha: Your girlfriend will get mad Yago: Its alright. This is an English magazine so she won’t understand. Gutcha: If I say I would do drugs with her in this magazine, you think I will get busted? They might say something like, “See, he’s a user!” RAN: Don’t worry about it. American magazines always have that sort of thing. Some celebrity will say “the other day me and so-and-so went to such-and-such a

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Mishina: I told you nobody will understand. Gutcha: No no no, they might! Yago: But basically there aren’t any places where the people are bad. If anything they have been too good to us. Gutcha: Yeah, we can play anywhere. Yago: Out of all the clubs, Huck Finn is special. Mishina: The service there is over and above. Yago: They take care of you all day, all the way up until the after party. That’s why Huck Finn is the best. Gutcha: The clubs that basically raised us were Club Rock n’ Roll and Huck Finn. RAN: Why do you sing in English? Gutcha: I knew you were going to ask that. Mishina: I want to know too. Gutcha: That one is all me, huh? When people ask me why I sing in English, in matter and mind the music that I was listening to when I decided I wanted to play music was all in English. That was all I was listening to so singing in English was easier than singing in Japanese, and easier to match to the melody too. Also when I sing about really personal or embarrassing things, if I sing about them in English... Mishina: Yeah the audience is all Japanese so nobody can understand. Gutcha: I figured I can sing about my feelings straight. Yago also said that he doesn’t want to sing in Japanese. What’s it about for you Yago?

| By Adam Pasion |
Gutcha: Hey! Be careful! We always ask everyone to rate us 1-10, but out of the three of us I am always number one, and out of the two of them nobody can ever say anything! Mishina: Of course, you are singing the songs so you stand out. RAN: What are your thoughts on the Nagoya punk scene? Yago: I am not even sure if we are part of the punk scene. If you drew a map of the Nagoya music scene I am not sure where we would stand. Mishina: Recently music has been divided into so many precise genres I don’t know where you would find us. Yago: But if you think of it that way, we are close with Ego Trunks and Super USA Mishina: If you were to look at the whole of the punk scene then you have to think about the guys with hair like this [making shape of a long mohawk] Yago: It’s not something we are conscious about, we just want to play with anyone. Mishina: But for the audience it sort of sucks if some completely different band comes on stage. Yago: But that doesn’t really matter. In Shibuya you watch the bands you want to see, the bands you don’t want to see, you don’t watch. Mishina: Lets say four bands are playing a show: two bands you want to see and two you don’t want to see. Then as soon as the bands you want to see are done playing everyone leaves. Then there will be more shows with only the bands

Yago: I want to create a certain image. If it’s in Japanese the words are too direct. That’s why if a band like Angry Nerd sings in Japanese we can never look cool. It will all come out like [singing in a nasal voice]“lets hold hands” or “I really like you.” If we sing in Japanese it just feels really light like a J-pop song. Gutcha: We are also really influenced by Japanese bands that sing in English. Bands like Hi-Standard, maybe their English was actually really bad, but we all thought they were really cool. I guess that way it still seems Japanese to us in a way. I have thought about it before, “why don’t we sing in Japanese.” Mishina: Yeah, I wondered the same thing. Yago: In my old band, nobody spoke anything but Japanese so of course we sang in Japanese, but you just can’t do pop-punk in Japanese. The music that I liked in the beginning was English so of course when I decided to play I wanted to do it in English. The singer in my old band liked Japanese music from the beginning so he wanted to sing in Japanese, which is why I came to Angry Nerd, even if they played like shit. Yago: Also if you don’t use difficult words it doesn’t sound cool, words that people don’t normally use. Also if you aren’t good looking... Gutcha: Coming from you?! Yago: Look at you with your weird haircut! Mishina: Yeah that’s no good for a front man!

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people want to see. Gutcha: There are bands in Nagoya playing music that I like, but there aren’t really any bands like us playing in Nagoya. Outside this area though, there are a lot of bands like ours, so we try to invite them to Nagoya. Maybe we just don’t really worry about the scene. Gutcha: The ideal scene would be everyone drinking together, everyone singing together and that day ends with everyone having fun. Getting those sorts of bands together, whether you call that a punk scene or not doesn’t really matter as long as you have that day, everyone getting excited, singing and drinking together. RAN: Do you wish there were more bands playing in Nagoya? Everyone: It would be nice if there were more... Yago: I wish there were more people who felt the same way about just getting together and drinking and having fun. People who fit with our style, you know, who don’t mind some strange story or conversation. But everyone wants to create a different image and a different look. A three piece band in t-shirts and jeans is gonna have a different sort of three piece sound, even though we all just want to play and have a place to play. If you work and at the same time you are in a band it takes a lot of time, so you want to make sure you’re having fun. But we have to make sure the audience is satisfied with our concert too. Mishina: You actually think about that? Yago: I really think about it. Somebody is coming to see me do what I enjoy doing so I want to make sure they enjoy it.

Gutcha: When I go as a fan to see a show I watch their performance and feel like I have to do as good as them. Of course if I think about it too much then its not really me up there anymore. Yago: At our next concert I am just gonna play with a completely blank stare. Mishina: Don’t do that or else I will be laughing the whole time. Yago: The number of bands is decreasing though. All the live houses say they’re under-booked. they have too much free time. Blame it on CDs and MP3s maybe. RAN: What are the craziest stage antics you have ever done during a performance? Yago: Whenever I take off my clothes Gutcha kicks me in the balls. Usually it doesn’t really hurt so I can laugh about it, but sometimes I can’t laugh. Gutcha: I kick him as hard as I can. Mishina: Sometimes you get a direct hit though... Gutcha: Getting naked . . . Yago: For me its not so much stripping off my clothes as having my clothes stripped off me. Gutcha: Ah! Sometimes I don’t care even if we go out of tune. Mishina: If a string breaks and we know we can’t play without that string, he continues to play anyway. But in the end it’s really terrible! Gutcha: It isn’t terrible! If I feel like it’s

no good then it’s no good, but I didn’t feel bad about it at all. Playing with a missing string was an awesome performance! Mishina: Nah, it was terrible! RAN: Any funny stories involving fans or a rowdy audience? Yago: Nagoya’s number one punk girl. I really like that girl. When I met her I really liked her. During our concert she dove from the stage four times! Gutcha: When the audience is dead she gets up and dives off the stage just to raise my spirits. And she is always there all the way to the after-party, guzzling liquor. But if she isn’t drinking she doesn’t talk at all. Yago: She always comes to the show completely sober, and I look at her and say, “you’re not drinking yet?” and she says, “not yet.” So I give her a beer and soon enough she’s stumbling around. Gutcha: When she didn’t have a boyfriend and really wanted one, one time before an Angry Nerd show she stopped by a convenient store and was hit on by some really good looking guy. He said something like, “do you have any plans right now?” So she was getting hit-on by this really cool looking guy, but she said “Angry Nerd, my beloved Angry Nerd is playing a show tonight so I can’t go with you.” So Angry Nerd won even against some really cool, good-looking guy. Wouldn’t you be happy about that? Yago: Out of all the girls who come to our shows, I am most happy when she is there. Even when the shows are far away she comes by herself. She took a bus by herself to Yokohama to go to one of our shows. It wasn’t just us, she liked the band that went on before us too, but that is so cool. (Why the hell didn’t we try to interview her? --Editor) RAN: What is the origin of the name Angry Nerd? Gutcha: The band name was decided by all the original members. We really liked The Ataris, and on their first album there is a song called “Angry Nerd Rock.” So the name comes from that song. Yago: Why did you leave out the “Rock” part? Gutcha: Somehow we aren’t “Angry Nerd Rock.” That name seems like a pro wrestler or something. But Americans always laugh at the name so I have thought about changing it. RAN: I think its a good name. Mishina: Even if its a joke at least they can laugh about it. RAN: Recently the image of nerds has become pretty popular. Skinny boys

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wearing glasses with a backpack slung on their shoulder, that indie image is become hip. Gutcha: And those guys are popular, I mean they can get girls? Even more than big macho men? RAN: Yeah that macho man image has really fallen recently. Yago: Yeah but do those sorts of dudes have small dicks too? RAN: I don’t know that much about it, but I doubt they are the type to take their clothes off in the middle of a performance. Gutcha: Okay, so Angry Nerd has a cool sound to it.

Mishina: Well we chose that name ten years ago. Gutcha: Has it already been ten years! Well, congratulations to us! RAN: What sort of advice would you give to foreigners or foreign bands that want to join the scene here in Nagoya? Gutcha: A band made-up of foreigners is just the same as us in the beginning, going to clubs and asking them to let us play, finally you get a show. We were that way at first too, we weren’t a big name... not like our name means anything now either, but that is one way you can go about getting involved. We can come play together too. Mishina: Even if nobody comes it doesn’t really matter, as long you get to play. Gutcha: On the other hand we could go to watch more foreign shows. The truth is we would really love to play with more foreign bands. Mishina: Yeah, call-up Misfits right now! A lot of foreign bands play Huck

Finn so I doubt it would be a problem playing there. A lot of bands come over with no translators. Gutcha: If a foreign band plays Huck Finn for example, they will treat them really kindly and fairly and try to create a really comfortable atmosphere so it’s easy for them to play. They are so kind, there is no reason to worry. Yago: If foreigners really think its hard to play in Japan then we want to step in so they don’t feel that way. Gutcha: Yeah its not about whether you are foreign or not. I mean for example when some band that we have played with in Tokyo comes to do a show in Nagoya it’s kind of the same thing. As long as we can all have fun playing. RAN: Which bands are comparable to Angry Nerd, so we could say “if you like _______, you’ll love Angry Nerd?” Mishina: The ones we hear most often are Jawbreaker and Fifteen Gutcha: Yeah. If you like that sort of band, then when you listen to us you’re gonna cum in your pants! RAN: So are Jawbreaker and Fifteen big influences for you as a band? Mishina: In actuality Fifteen wasn’t an influence at all. Everyone thinks so, and people come up to us and say, “ah, you like Fifteen don’t you,” but none of us knew them at all! Gutcha: Bands that influenced Angry Nerd would be like The Ataris. If I think about it of course bands like Mineral, Capn’ Jazz, or Blade. I really started listening to that sort of music when I was in university so the bands that were playing around that time in America. Mishina: For me it would be The Get-up Kids. Gutcha: Yago really likes pop-punk like Lookout Records. Yago: If you’re talking about Japanese bands then it would have to be Four Tomorrow. RAN: If the band broke-up, would it be because a member OD’d like The Germs, a suicide like The Sex Pistols or would you be like The Ramones and start hating each other and stealing each other’s girlfriends? Gutcha: Before you ask these two, as far as I am concerned this band will never break-up. For Japanese bands, I mean if you don’t play for a year then maybe that is called “broken-up,” but the bands I like never break-up. Maybe every five years of so they drop an album, or when they can get together they are like “I guess its about time to get together again” sort of thing. Even if we end up like that, its fine

with me. RAN: If you did break-up whose fault would it be? Mishina: Either this guy or this guy. [pointing at the other two members] Gutcha: Me Yago: If it was me I would just quit the band. Gutcha is an original member so he would have to decide if the band continues or breaks-up. Gutcha: But I will never quit this band. For me there is no end. Yago: But if it didn’t suit me anymore I would quit. Gutcha: This would never happen, but even if Yago quit, I would still do like I said. Put out an album once every five years and each one with completely different members. Even if it came to that. Mishina: When I think about it I can’t imagine a reason big enough to break-up over. Gutcha: Yeah even if one of us really hurt the other person. Mishina: If we broke-up I don’t think we would have another chance to play. Gutcha: Besides Angry Nerd is good! Haha. Yago: If you were the only person left, what would you do? Gutcha: Then I would do it by myself. Parasites were like that, The Queers are like that. If you couldn’t do it anymore I would just continue and maybe 20 years later we would get back together. Yago: You expect to be around that long? RAN: What if the opposite happened and you became really famous? Yago: Impossible. Completely impossible. Gutcha: The way to get famous is to really push the music. Touring non-stop, putting out album after album and working yourself to death. If that was the only way to become famous then I wouldn’t want to do it. RAN: Do you have any upcoming shows where RAN readers can go check you out? Mishina: October 20th at Huck Finn. We are gonna try to record an album in the next couple of months so our schedule is really light. If you are interested in hearing some of Angry Nerd’s music or checking out their concert schedule please check out their Myspace page at angrynerd01
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By Larry Defelippi


n Céline’s ‘Voyage au bout de la nuit’, the main protagonist doubts there exists any genuine realizations of our deepest character except war and illness. I submit a third. Sexual desire. We all have an appetite for seeing-- the Lacanian ‘Appétit de l´oeil’. I’m struck by the darker side of desire, gazing and craving and it’s consequences. This is what I’m currently engaged in. These images come from two works.

The first, ‘Heterotopia By The Hour’ investigates the Foucauldian space and sexual behaviour. Spaces that have more layers of meaning or relationships to other places than immediately meet the eye. Spaces both real and imagined, some of which seem to possess pure and simple openings, but generally hide curious exclusions. This can be evidenced in the proliferate ‘love hotels’ of Japan. A place where sex is kept isolated, sheltered and hidden. The subject of a young woman wearing a ‘seifuku’, or sailor uniform in one of these indeterminate spaces is representative of ‘The girl fetish’ that predominates Japanese culture. The second, an exploration of the gaze and the female body in Pink Eiga. A fusion of sex, revenge and violence. Not the willing female body of the stereotypical Western adult movie, but a more intellectual, sinister and sadomasochistic representation of the female body. The repressed and the violated. A respite from the cult of ‘kawaii’. Note the absence of flirtatious fourth looks constituting an imagined participation from the viewer. In it’s place lies a cool gaze; vengeance embraced and all inclinations towards submissiveness discarded like a blood soaked rag...

otos by Ac | Story and ph

him Runneba

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A whiskey bottle comforts me and tells me not to cry, while a full moon says a prayer for me while I try to close my eyes...

-J.Bon Jovi


pon your initial arrival in Nagoya, you immediately notice the inherent friendliness of people here. When asking for directions they sometimes even walk with you for a while to make sure you’re going the right way. It’s not just smiles and laughs here though. There’s also a darker, more ominous side hidden, or intentionally ignored by most people. ...imagine yourself living on the street. Are people still as friendly if you switch your Armani suit for old rags? What happens when your very survival depends on people’s kindness? How would you live when you’ve been stripped of all your possessions, creature comforts, and dignity? I tried to find out the real story of what goes on behind the glitz and glamour we perceive as life and went to places few dare to tread. Most homeless in Nagoya gather under the various overpasses, in Subway Stations, or in the (few) parks around town. These people have very little, or no money, no house or family who care for them, or even regular meals in some cases. Most would say they are homeless, but I’ve found out there’s a big difference between homeless and houseless. Being houseless is a (temporary) condition, whereas being homeless is a state of mind including feelings of despair, hopelessness, and shame... Homelessness is more about the shame associated with the lifestyle and the feeling of having failed at something than it is about not having shelter. There’s plenty of shelter in a city this big, and you can usually find somewhere to stay for the night, but you can’t get away from the feelings of desolation, shame, and being cut off from society.... particularly in Japan, where there’s virtually no help from the government for people in need. “...My stomach was growling, and I felt faint from the heat of the sun. A plate of any type of food and a drop of water would’ve been a great treat, but what I really wanted was a smile or a friendly greeting from one of the clean, normal people. Instead, they gave me stares and frowns, which hurt more than the thought of having no food or money. It was as if I were a leper, who had broken the rules by daring to be seen in public.” A lot of people tend to think that homeless people are just lazy and don’t want to get a job. That’s just a big misconception... In these fast changing economic times, there are more and more

homeless every day. Poverty remains the largest contributor to homelessness, although domestic violence, family disputes and unemployment are other reasons that a person can end up living on the streets. Often, homeless persons become addicted to alcohol once they find themselves on the streets. They start to loose hope, and alcohol is useful for dulling pain and making harsh realities seem less dim. “It’s important for a person on the street to find something beneficial to pass the time”. One of the first people I interviewed, who has been living on the streets for 6 months now, explained that he reads books to keep his mind off his unfortunate situation. “It’s easy to go crazy out there,” he said. “Little by little, you start to lose some of your senses unless you do something to pass the time”. This man was homeless, but held a part time job working for a train company. He has a daughter, but was too ashamed to ask for her help.... Ran: So you have a part time job; what do you spend most of the money on? Guy: Most money goes towards Tobacco or Booze to dull the pain. Ran: Do you consider yourself an addict? Guy: Yes I do. I’m not denying it.... (pauses and looks sad) .....I wish I could stop, but I can’t. I tried to offer him and others around him some special food I had bought for everyone to share, but they denied, saying, “we don’t want your pity; just treat us like equals”.... I left the food near the stairs for them. Hopefully they all shared and could enjoy something they probably haven’t had for a long time. But not all hope is lost for some people on the streets. I found these two men who turned out to be some of the most positive thinking, intelligent, and most of all truly humanitarian people I have ever met in my life. It was a true delight to hang out with them. What initially was going to be just a quick interview turned into a 4 hour amazing experience for me and my assistant. They really opened up about their lives and how they ended up living in the park. When it comes to homeless (or rather in their case, houseless) living, these guys had a mansion..... A huge tent in the park near a pond and far away from the rough streets of Sakae. From the very first moment we met them, they gave

us only “honne”, not “tatemae”, which is very rare in Japanese Society these days. They really spoke to us from their hearts, and we all communicated as equals. After some initial introductions about us, the magazine and this story, they immediately invited us to come into their tent, and even offered us some fresh cooked food (they had bought at the supermarket earlier) and beer. We tried to say no to their offer, feeling bad about taking their food, but they kept insisting, and we quickly became almost like friends after that. One of them has been living on the streets for about less than 2 years now. He used to have a very good job with a high position in a well known company, but was laid off due to the economy. He was in this job for a long time, paid all his dues, did a great job, but just like that, the company tries to pretend he doesn’t exist and gives no support whatsoever. “To these companies, you’re not a’re only a number” He’s not the youngest anymore, so it was difficult for him to find another job. Eventually he lost his wife, and his family. Now, even his brothers don’t help him out... He’s very, very, very positive though and firmly believes that this is just a short, unfortunate hiccup in his life. He currently has a job in a hotel as a cook and tries to save some money so that he can see his family again some day to apologize and live together like it used to be. “No matter what happens, I will never give up the hope to see my family again”. When asked why he doesn’t go see them now, he responded with “I’m too ashamed...” While living in the park, he met “Papa-san”, a super genki over 60 yr. old man, who left home when he was young to move to Tokyo and pursue his dream of becoming an entertainer, had his own company, had lots of money, was married several times, owned 5 bars in Nagoya at one point, and never thought he’d be living in a park with just a blue tarp as a roof to cover him.... For someone in this situation, he had incredible energy and warmth as a person..... According to him, he used to have a lot of money, and was married to his last wife, a much younger woman, for about 9 years. Something happened and she ended up taking pretty much all his, instead of living in a nice mansion near Higashiyama Zoo, he lives in the park (Not Higashiyama).

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“We loved each other very much...... she wrote in her diary every day about us. We lived together and worked together......but then she changed.....” RAN: Do you have any kids or family? Papa: Yes, I have a daughter from another marriage, but she doesn’t know I live here. Can’t bear to tell her.... Someday, when I’m back on my feet, I will tell her. Until then it’s important not to lose hope. When you’ve lost all your money, your house, and your dignity, it’s important not to lose hope. RAN: Does it ever get dangerous out here? Do you ever feel scared living in the park? Papa: Yes, we feel scared every night. RAN: Why? Do the police chase you off, or are there any dangerous animals around? Papa: (laughs), no, the police give us a lot of pressure, but they mostly leave us alone. They don’t really care what happens to us, but they haven’t chased us off yet. I’m more scared of younger people.

RAN: (shocked) Wow!!! That’s horrible. Papa: These “kids” have no respect for other people. It’s sad, that Japanese Society has changed so much since I was a kid..... What happened to that good Samurai Spirit? These days people are too greedy for money, become very selfish, and are starting to forget about treating other people as human beings. --This whole time he was talking in a very friendly, well-meaning and intelligently thought out way. He offers us another beer, and again we try to refuse, but his heart and willingness to give and share the little they have with us, because we showed interest in them and their story, wins us over and we accept another round.... RAN: Is there any message you would like to tell the people of Nagoya? Papa: Just because of the economy going down, people changed. There’s no support for homeless from the government, even though before we were homeless, we payed our taxes, our pensions, etc. But just because we got laid off, or lost our businesses, the government doesn’t support anything.... ....even if we lose our house and our job, we are still human, the same as you. We’re trying to come back to society. Don’t treat us badly because we are less fortunate than you at the moment; don’t think this can’t happen to you as well... Out here, you realize what’s really important in life.... because when you come to the end of your life, it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve had, or how many cars, or houses you’ve had, or what position you held in your company. What really matters is how many people truly cried at your many lives you’ve really touched and what difference you’ve made. What really matters is what’s inside of your heart. Treat other people, even the less fortunate, equally, because those people, just like you, are trying to survive every day, they too want to feel warmth and kindness, they too are trying to get to the next level in life. It’s just that we have to start at the very bottom, but that does not make us lesser people, just less fortunate in some cases. I’ve learned to tell people’s kindness from their eyes. (looks at me) You have very kind eyes, which is why I wanted to let you do an interview. We were approached by News-teams, but I didn’t want to talk to them because I doubted they would really

understand us and couldn’t trust them not to write lies. I feel confident to talk to you because you have kind eyes and a good heart. RAN (Achim): (speechless...................) Thank you very much for your kindness and hospitality today. Papa: It was my pleasure. Thank you for doing this interview, talking to us, and for giving us a chance to get our voices heard.

RAN: Really? What do they do? Papa: The park is very close to the University, so sometimes younger stupid guys come here and try to hit us with stones. Although this hasn’t happened here yet, but I know some (homeless) people who met the wrong end of a metal pipe swung by young guys.... The worst situation was that some of these younger guys tried to set fire to a tent and burn it down. There was also an attack using fireworks...

At this point he made me promise him that in one year we would try to get in touch again (I gave him my number, and he gave me his) (yeah I was very surprised that he had a cell phone, but then again this is Japan....), because he wants to show me that he’s made it back to society successfully within one year...... It was difficult to see what Papa, and others like him have to go through every day. When we left after the interview, we felt we were leaving new friends to the mercy of the night.... To us it was suffering, but to them it was just another night in Nagoya..... While there is a lot of despair and negativity on the streets, you can also find hope and more true humanity than in some of the finest homes or offices....... I for one can’t wait to go back to visit Papa and others, bring them some good food, beer, and clothes, and hear more about their life stories. ---Thanks to Tomomi Yamazaki, and Saori Kobayashi for helping out with the interviews.

22 |RAN|


By Krista E.

My home can be everywhere or nowhere. My daily meals consist of anything or nothing. My knick-knacks and baubles are the clothes I wear. My money is only what others give me. I am a being. I am human. I am homeless. If only people could see where I stand. and help me through this all. Will this loneliness ever end? Will I begin a new life? Does anyone care? Because I am here. I am real. I cannot be ignored. I am a person. I am alive. And... I am homeless.

ag u a i n Nunneo ym | a s a o er s on a ly ankphttos by Achim R b ss i | Stor d of e g w it h p r Ro l li n

R Die k8 S


hen I was a kid, I had a big dream of being a skater flying through the air, doing all kinds of cool tricks and chilling every day, so I went out day after day to practice on my crappy little board. It was a lot of fun until I tried to learn some tricks. I got more bloody knees and sprained ankles than admiration, so in the end I gave up. When experienced skaters pick up a board, it’s like art the way they can manipulate the board to do all kinds of crazy tricks without killing themselves in the process; I on the other hand, not so much... I’m sure when most people think of Osu, skating is the last thing on their minds, but that’s exactly where the best skaters in Nagoya hang out during the day to practice their newest moves before leading the police on a cat and mouse chase in front of Mitsukoshi at night. Walking into the skatepark across the street from the Osu Post Office is a bit like walking onto what would be the Japanese version of the movie “Lords of Dogtown”; skaters from all races and backgrounds hanging out, smoking, drinking beer, and practicing their newest tricks together right in the heart of the city. It’s a haven for people who don’t want to put up with the suppressive conservative salaryman lifestyle. Although usually a thorn in the eyes of the police, here they can practice without being hauled off to jail just for wanting to show off their unique styles and tricks. At first I was a bit nervous walking into the skatepark, because it quickly became obvious that I wasn’t a skater... It was almost like walking into an all Japanese Izakaya, curious looks followed me everywhere and people started to point and talk in hushed voices. As soon as they saw the camera though, they warmed up and were eager to pose and perform tricks. I met a young, laid-back skater named Jesse, who runs his own skating outfit in Nagoya. He’s the entrepreneurial genius in Nagoya’s boarding scene, so if you’re looking for a board, gear, or just some advice, he can hook you up. Originally from Maui, Hawaii, he came out here a couple of times a year at first and now lives here full time with his family. From the first time he picked up a board after recieving it as a Christmas gift one year, the freedom and camaraderie sucked him deeper and deeper into the lifestyle The skill level is completely different

in Nagoya. “If you’re a top skater in Maui, you’re just average here because we have a much better environment for skating out here”. There are many amazingly good skaters out here.. Seeing them just motivates you to practice more and become better. When you’re just by yourself, you’re your own motivation, but out here, it’s a whole other world...” He mentioned that the boarders in Nagoya are some of the friendliest he’s met. They take you in, invite you to hang out, accept you, no matter where you’re from (if you know the unwritten rules). It’s easy to get into the scene. He met all his professional riders from Nagoya in the scene here... RAN: “How long does it take someone to really get good?“ Jesse: “It depends on the person. If you got two left feet it’s gonna take you a lot longer, of course, but on average about 6-10years, unless you’re a natural. When you start out, you should practice in front of your house first, but eventually everybody finds their way here.” R: What kind of support is there for skaters? Are there many skate shops or events in Nagoya? J: There were a couple of skate shops that took care of the skaters, but unfortunately they went out of business; that’s kind of why we’re here.... R: You have your own shop, right? J: Yeah, we’re setting it up now. I think Nagoya has a lot of potential for skaters, and someone has to take care of the growing community here... My company, Common Motive Skateboarding (http://www. ) works together with guys who promote skateboarding and related events in nightclubs, and on the streets. These guys are pretty much the raw dogs of skateboarding. They’re promoting skateboarding through their lifestyle.... they live, breathe, eat, and sleep skateboarding. One of our guys is promoting skating in the reggae scene, for example. Come out and party with us and support us. There’s a lot of different aspects, a lot of different cultures mixed together, that’s why nagoya is so different from everywhere else, because there’s so much culture mixed in with everything. R: Are most skaters here in Nagoya Japanese? J: The culture is really mixed: there’s a lot of Brazilians who skate, also a lot of Americans who come by once in a while.... Even though there’s a language

barrier, we can communicate through our skateboarding. R: It’s always great to have something in common even though you don’t speak the same language. In most countries, skateboarding kind of has a bad name. I guess the image is that skateboarders always get into trouble with the police, etc. Have you ever had any problems here? J: Oh yeah, we get that all the time, but that’s part of the lifestyle. You can build 100 skateparks, but street-skating will never die. We’ll still go out to Parco or Mitsukoshi and skate the ledges.... it’s fun and thrilling. That’s our spot, you know... It’s like a cat and mouse game. You can’t expect Tom and Jerry to get along. That’s just the way it is, man. They don’t like us, we don’t like them, though every once in a while we get some cops who are cool and they don’t really care, they’re down, you know....and treat us like regular human beings. What I don’t understand is why you can ride a bike on the street and not get hassled, but when you ride a skateboard on the street, the cops are all over you... R: Well I don’t know about you, but I get stopped on my bike a lot by the Police. If I had a penny for every time that’s happened, I’d be dating a supermodel now and driving an Italian Sports car... J: (laughing) I know what you mean. R: So if you’re not here at the skatepark, where can people find you? Don’t worry, I won’t tell the Police. J: (Laughs) Even if I told you, the cops would find us eventually anyways, so it doesn’t matter. Late night I can guarantee someone will be in front of Mitsukoshi skating the ledges. Or we’ll be in front of the Mitsubishi Bank. It’s funny, with skateboarding there’s a sort of call sign that tells others we’ve been here. If you look at the ledges, and you can see wax, it means we’ve been there or continue to skate there... R: Ah...Now we know what to look for. Do you have any tips for people who want to get started in the scene? J: When you start boarding, I don’t think you should start at the Skatepark. When you’re starting out, you’re dangerous to others, you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know which areas in the park you shouldn’t stand in, or don’t know about waiting your turn, so practice on the street in front of your house first, or in a parking lot. That’s how WE started, so... You gotta learn the rules before playing the game. R: Good tips, so practice your basics

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first before heading down here, folks. Where can people find out about local skating events, or info about skating? J: There’s a website called GATE (http://gate., a friend of mine called SHINOSK8, is basically the guy who promotes skateboarding contests. He’s the man of skate-contests.... Check the site for more info. R: I just gotta ask, man. What’s the worst injury you got from skating? J: I dislocated my right elbow, broke my ankle, but didn’t find out about it till later. You twist your ankle all the time skating. Your ankles and your knees are the first to go out... If you have weak ankles or can’t get through the pain of having bruises and light injuries, you shouldn’t be skating... R: Your insurance must love you... Between periods of recovery, how do you learn new tricks? J: To be honest, new tricks are made every day by normal skateboarders. You find inspiration through just riding with your friends... You motivate each other... One guy is doing a trick, and you want to learn how to do it, so you ask how it’s done and train together... The reason why a lot of people start skating is because there are no rules, you know, it’s so free. Anything’s possible if you just put your mind to it. R: True, true. I wish I would’ve stuck with it back in the day. J: It’s never too late to start again... R: Anything you want to add? J: If I can give some shoutouts to my friends and team riders who’ve been helping me out all these years: The Common Motive Team, Masa, Hiroma, I wouldn’t be here without you guys for sure. Another shout-out to my homeboys over at central for doing your thing, keep it up. Also my family, God, my wife, my sons, and all my friends out here, and thanks to you for letting me do this interview and promote the scene. Come check out the shop. (052NGY) for life.....

26 |RAN|

When In Rome


| By TD Houchen |


get the feeling there’s something these Japanese folks aren’t telling me. They seem to be hiding something, or everything. They’re dodging my questions and deflecting all my attempts to ‘keep it real’. They’d MUCH rather keep it fake, it’s more comfortable for them. They say ‘yes’ to everything and look all polite and friendly, but they mean ‘no’ and I’m more than a little confused, perplexed even. I feel like that girl Yoshimi in that song by The Flaming Lips “Attack of the Pink Robots” where all these scary robots are trying to get Yoshimi to accept their weird way of life, but Yoshimi can’t/won’t do it because she has somehow developed a mind of her own. They’re all out to get me and they seem to enjoy my confusion. It appears that they’re working way too hard to avoid hurting my feelings, but they’re lying to my face and it hurts anyway. They’re practicing some ancient form of emotional martial arts, psychological karate, mental aikido, and it’s kicking my ass- ‘help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…’ They’re chop suey-ing me with their social ninja tactics and silent emotional strategic warfare, “silent violence”, and it’s maddening. I can’t find anyone who will just tell me what they really think or feel about anything. I’m paranoid because I don’t know who meant what and if I should believe what they told me, or if I should think the opposite of what they said. I’m being taught how to lie my way through situations, slip and slide my way around the truth and I’m betraying myself in the process. My sanity seems to be under constant, subtle, silent attack. I’m not at all afraid of someone telling me how they really feel about me; I just don’t have time to try to “figure it out”, or “read between the lines”, the lines themselves are too damn blurry. They can never just “be honest and direct” about either what they want or don’t want, I’m just supposed to figure it all out for myself, but I’m not quite in on the rules and how can you play the game if you don’t know the rules? No one wants to give it to me straight, they’d rather play word games and say “gomen” over and over and expect that to make everything alright. Whether social, romantic, or a simple friendship, relations in Japan are like going in with mental and emotional swords drawn. Every move is strategized, executed with precision, no room for something as arcane as honesty. Is everyone wearing a Mask? Am I becoming like them? What’s my mask look like? They’re all extremely gracious, polite and gentle I suppose, but what do they really think? How do they really feel? What kind of society accepts, supports, and encourages people to be vague and unclear, and asks people to NOT speak their real feelings, and instead to just say or do anything in order that no one knows how anyone else really feels about anything? What happened here to make just saying what you feel such an act of rebellion? Am I the only one? Does anyone else feel like they’re not being leveled with? Like there’s some crazy rule here that says “whenever presented with


28 |RAN|


They smile
in your

an opportunity to speak directly and say what you feel, don’t.” Well, there IS such a rule, it’s called tatemae-honne, and all the Japanese are following it everyday, all day, everywhere, so you better get used to it, it could allow you to understand what isn’t being said, and therefore, it could end up saving you your job, your relationship, your friendship, your status, maybe even your freedom. In the excellent book “The Japanese Mind”, written by Roger J. Davies and Osamu Ikeno, tatemae-honne is defined as: Honne is one’s deep motive or intention, while tatemae refers to intentions or motives that are socially tuned, those that are shaped, encouraged, or suppressed by majority norms. In other words, honne is what you really think, although it may be “suppressed by majority norms”, and tatemae is what you think people are expecting of you, which you can never be sure of. What you think people are expecting of you at any given moment could be way off, so you’d do best to act according to your inner truth. Japanese don’t agree with showing truth in most situations, and tatemae-honne is their version of How-To-Play-The-Game-OfLife. We’ve got a word for tatemae in English, we call it bullshit. Another Japanese writer dude, Takeo Doi, M.D., in his fascinating book “The Anatomy of Self”, states as follows: ...tatemae is is impossible to believe that it is unimportant… it is a type of principles or rules that have been established as natural and proper. It refers to conventions created by people on the basis of consensus. While it is true that most every society on earth allows for a certain discretion or “wiggle room” where telling the truth or expressing one’s real emotions are concerned, the Japanese have taken this social lubricant and made it a standard part of their society. No wonder they can’t just come out with it; being two-faced is encouraged, supported and expected. Davies and Ikeno go on to say that, “…the Japanese do not like to express themselves in a straightforward manner for fear that it might hurt others feelings. For example, when a person is visiting someone’s house in Japan, and it becomes time for supper, the host will often say, ‘won’t you dine with us?’-but this is not really an invitation, it is a

subtle hint that it is time to go home.” Wait. Come again? You mean, instead of just saying, ‘hey, it’s been nice having you over, but I think my family and I are going to eat dinner now, do you mind if we catch up another time?’, they’d rather invite you to stay when they really want you to get the hell out? What if I don’t know the rules, and I decide, “…sure, I’d love to stay! Thanks, I was feeling kind of hungry anyway, what’s for dinner… ?”-then what? They hate me? Poison my food? Curse me under their breath because they asked me to stay and I

the way you present your ideas, thoughts and actions should have some direct relationship to what you are thinking or feeling. Japanese however, have absolutely no problem telling you one thing, but thinking the exact opposite thing. We’d call this hypocrisy of the highest order back home, but here, it’s a necessary and even virtuous aspect of society, this ability to have dual personalities and come off on the exterior in the exact opposite manner as compared to how you feel on the inside. Japanese have this bent desire that everything

“... the Japanese have taken this social lubricant and made it a standard part of their society.”
accepted? Whose fault is this situation? Sound familiar? How many times have you found yourself on the confused end of the situation here in Japan just because no one could or would tell you exactly what was going on? I get it, but I swear, I just don’t get it. What is so wrong with the truth, even if it isn’t the nicest thing in the world? It’s your fault for not somehow ‘reading the air’, as they say here, but doesn’t at least some responsibility fall on their shoulders too for not being able to just say what they feel? No, it doesn’t actually, and they’re happy this way. You should know, ‘happy’ is very important to Japanese, even if it isn’t really happy. Bizarre. The book goes on to say that the concept of tatemae-honne preserves “cultural harmony” and “keeps the peace” in social situations. Yeah, harmony-schmarmony, I want to know what’s in your mind so I can know what to think and how to guard myself. Your actions are only one level of being, your thoughts are another entirely, and it’s your thoughts that dictate how you act and what you DO in most cases anyway. But in this place, the axiom ‘I Think Therefore I Am’ might as well be, ‘I Think Therefore I May Or May Not Be.’ Wishy-washy is the norm. They are confusing as hell and for them, that’s how it is supposed to be. Know the rules, play the game. Social situations could suddenly unravel because you aren’t understanding properly. Westerners by and large are brought up with the understanding in life be perpetually Happy! Cute! Fresh!-and they’ll straight lie to your face in order to preserve those images. It’s all pretty clever actually. You never have to tell anyone how you really feel about them, let them suss it out while you smile and say nice things. The language itself is more or less a code designed to cover up or make apologies for your existence. Smile and be coy and imprecise and you’ve done your job. In a relationship? Find yourself a little put off by your partner’s ambiguous “dual nature”? (We might call this schizophrenia, but that’s just a word, right?)-don’t worry/be happy! Smile a lot and pretend what you feel isn’t really what you feel and maybe your partner will get the picture and she’ll start pretending not to feel what she feels either and then you both can live in the ultimate fantasy world of not really feeling your own real feelings! Sounds fun huh? Like a trip to an psychologically and emotionally twisted Disneyland, where none of the rides do what they look like they’re supposed to do, and some of the guests are not being honest with you most of the time, and all of the guests are not being honest with you some of the time, and none of the guests are ever being completely honest with you any of the time. Oh, and all the guests think YOU are a guest, and so they treat you strangely, and never want to really get to know you, and never want you to really get to know them either. Welcome to Japan Happy! Cute! Fresh! Not. Tatemae-Honne is working on you right now, can you see it? Peace.

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Held Down by Metal Bonds:
Thomas Bauerle is currently writing a book of “true” stories collected from his university students about their personal encounters with ghosts and strange phenomena. A kanashibari is a type of ghost seldom encountered outside Japan which seems to manifest itself mostly to Japanese women. The term kanashibari is derived from the Japanese words kana which means “metal” or “hardware,” and shibari which comes from the verb meaning “to tie down.” Literally it means “something that ties you down with unbreakable metal bonds.” A kanashibari is a ghost that comes upon you

The Kanashibari experience in Japan.
| By Thomas Bauerle |
while you are sleeping and holds you down so that you are unable to move, speak or cry out until it decides to leave. An informal survey I conducted among students and friends showed that about 32% of Japanese women and only about 5% of Japanese men have experienced a kanashibari at some time in their lives. In fact it is so common a phenomena in Japan that virtually every time the subject has come up in conversation there has been at least one or two women present that have experienced one, and very often some of them have felt it several times or more. Out of all the tales of experiences with the supernatural I collected, by far the most common story was about meeting a kanashibari. A kanashibari usually happens to its victim when she is sleeping. Suddenly she wakes up and finds that, although her mind seems to be fully awake, her body is unable to move. This condition can continue for anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour or hour and it

can be an experience that creates an acute sense of panic and terror. In addition, many victims also claim to actually see ghosts, hear voices or are visited by dead family members whispering in their ears instructing them to do things that will release their wandering souls from earth-bound torment. There have been several theories put forth to explain this phenomena: one is that the person isn’t mentally awake at all, but dreams the whole experience. Almost every person who has experienced one, however, insists that the experience was very real and that they were fully awake and cognizant of what was going on. Some theorists are ready to point out that, in a culture like Japan’s where people normally work 16 hour days seven days a week, it is only natural that some times people would find themselves so exhausted that it would be difficult for their weary bodies to move upon first awakening, but this doesn’t explain the visions and sounds that occur with many of these experiences. Yet another explanation is that these people are experiencing a condition known as a hypnagogic dream in which the mind wakes up several minutes before the body itself does. Again, this does not explain the other aspects of the episode-- the sights and sounds-- or why it happens primarily to Japanese women. This article reports some first-hand encounters with kanashibari, the explanation of which is and probably will always remain a mystery. Whatever it is, it is very real to the people it happens to, and it happens very often in Japan.

‘kanashibari’ isn’t supernatural.” But one day in high school, I experienced horror. That day, I finished practicing at my sports club and I went back home with my body exhausted. I took a bath and went to bed, but because I had gone to bed early, I woke up in the night. I am

I was rooted to the spot by terror. M

grabbed my hand. The moaning woman disappeared. I couldn’t sleep very well for a long time after I saw her. Later I told my mother about it and she said there was a local legend of a spiteful woman who burned the face of a young girl because she was jealous of her beauty, but she didn’t know if it was true or not. -- Tomoki Fukumoto y mother told me about her experience. When my mother was a little girl, she was held down in the bed every night for a week. she tried to think of the reason why it was happening and she sensed that it must be her grand father doing it. He had recently died and she was now sleeping in his bed. So, the next night, when she was rooted to the spot, she said, “Grandfather, you died, you died . . . “ After that the “kanashibari” went away and it never happened again. -- Yuka Ishizaki hen I was a junior high school student, for two or three weeks, every night I was inhibited from moving. At that time, I was really really scared to go to bed. The first time this scary thing happened, I went to bed and I had nearly fallen asleep when I suddenly opened my eyes. I wanted to roll over, however I couldn’t move. I tried harder to move, but I couldn’t. Then, although, before I went to bed, I had closed all the windows, the curtains were moving furiously back and forth. The next night, when I was sleeping, I woke up because I felt there was something lying on top of my body. Then to my horror, I opened my eyes and I was shocked! There was an old woman looking down at me! It was the scariest thing I have ever seen. I didn’t know who that old woman was. She didn’t do anything. She just looked down at me. I was sooooo scared! I wanted to hide from her, but I couldn’t move, so I closed my eyes tight. A while later when I opened my eyes, she was gone and I could move. -- Ayumi Kawai These are just a few of the hundreds of stories collected by Mr. Bauerle. If you have a similar story, or have had a personal encounter with the truly weird in Japan, let the editors here at Ran magazine know about it.

I couldn’t move.
really a coward and afraid of the dark, so I wanted to get up and turn on the light. But my body couldn’t move! I felt terrified and my body felt so much so heavy! Then I smelled the odor of a man standing next to me! I was terrified until he went away. In the morning my arm had a bruise on it in the shape of a hand! -- Hiromi Ito




ne night I was sleeping on my bed. Then an unusual thing happened on a usual night. Suddenly I felt something getting on top of me. I was so surprised that I tried to get out of my bed. Then I felt something pressing down on my head, so I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t open my eyes for fear. After I while I felt it crawl away and disappear. But I still don’t know what it was. College student Miki Matsui I have always been predisposed to be rooted to the spot at night. It has happened to me many times, but I don’t have any extrasensory perception and I persuaded myself to think, “kanashibari is when only my brain is awake, so a

ne night I was sleeping in the same room with my father and mother. I seldom wake up at night, but I felt unusually cold and woke up. “Did someone open the window?” I thought. But I felt colder and colder. “It’s unusual. It’s so strange,” I thought. Then I was rooted to the spot by terror. I couldn’t move. I was stopped by something. Then I felt as if someone’s awful eyes were staring at me. “Don’t open your eyes!” I thought. I remembered that my grandma always said, “If you meet a ghost, don’t open your eyes and don’t speak.” I closed my eyes, but I heard a woman’s voice that voice that kept moaning and complaining. I could make out a few words, such as, “Hot, hot! Too hot! I’m burning up! So sad, so sad. . . “ Then I heard it say a strange thing: “I am taking your mother with me!” This so surprised me that I opened my eyes and saw a woman standing there, wearing a kimono. She was about thirty or thirty-five years old and her face was badly burned. She was standing there looking at me as I lay on the floor on my futon. I struggled to shout for help, but because I couldn’t move, I could not ask anybody for help. Then my mother noticed my struggling and she


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| By Will Taylor |


32 |RAN|


each into your pocket right now, and take out a coin. Even the most desperately 99 yen shop-ramen sucking of you should have at least a single yen coin floating around your fore or hindquarters now...take a look at one of them. I can wait, it’s not like I’m going anywhere while you rummage. Got one? Good. Now examine it. Conventionally speaking, heads or tails is dictated by opposite sides of the coin you have in your hand now. There is no…important difference between the two sides. Both contain roughly the same amount of metal (or faux metal, depending on the coin), but simply different designs. The surfaces are different. I’m willing to wager that one side is a bit smoother, has seen more wear and tear. Been palmed around a few times, let’s say. The other, a bit sharper, a little flashier, perhaps the side that is more likely to be photographed if one took a snapshot image. Welcome to the game as it is played, here in fair Nagoya. Recent stories (even appearing in the Grey Lady herself, the New York Times) have remarked on a recent boom trend in hostess positions. While the hours may be long, many young Japanese women are pulling down the kind of cash that some of us here only dream of. Sure, the hours may be long, but you’re drinking for free, having ridiculously expensive gifts bought for you fairly regularly, and who knows, there’s always the chance that you might strike out of the box and hit the big time like Eri Momoka, current sainted mother of the profession (article cit). Nagoya’s “higher-end” hostess district known as Nishiki-cho (on the Sunshine Sakae side of Hisaya-Odori Park) definitely has its

fair share of ladies in glamour gear that costs more than I make in a month (or five). While I am green-eyed to the gills, I can’t seriously fault anyone for making a buck when they need to, however they can. Toshincho, however, brings us to the other side of the coin. The…err, slightly more used district. The area has something for everyone, if you’re willing to look hard enough. There’s a vibrant club scene, an industrious bar scene, several markets where one can obtain particularly harder to find groceries and seasonings (particularly from Southeast Asia), and a number of hostess clubs as well. All in all, the only difference between Nishiki and Toshincho is one little thing: the sheer volume of sex. Every large urban neighborhood in Japan has its share of “health” places; that can be a topic for another article all together. Toshincho has one or two “fashion health” locations, but what is sold here, directly and indirectly, by the metric crapload, is sex. Let’s look at the indirect marketing of sex. A walk through the area is an exercise in visual and aural titillation. Places advertise cabaret singers and performers, young men aggressively pursue anyone walking through the area offering them the chance to enter their clubs, each rich with the standard promises of young women there to provide companionship and conversation while drinking for the allotted time frame. A brief explanation of the standard hostess club in the area; an entry charge covers all that a person can drink for roughly 60 minutes, and guarantees the accompaniment of a young lady. In theory, one could drink for the entire 60 minutes (the most common

drinks available being whisky, shochu, beer, and soft drinks) without incurring any other costs at all. The hostess, on the other hand, is on the clock. Her salary is dependent upon three things, getting you to buy her drinks, getting you to stay longer, and getting you to sing karaoke. Obviously, each of these things costs more money. Simple flattery and charm is the most common tactic, though with a high turnover rate and increasingly cutthroat competition, several bars have recently gone topless as well (with a very carefully danced-upon line governing the “look, but don’t touch rule” depending on how much cash is flowing). In the slightly more traditional sense, a good hostess can work a client like Miles Davis worked a trumpet. Dresses are short, conversations are coy, and the hostess subtly insistent on obtaining at least two out of the three aforementioned things from you before she is rotated away from you to another customer, or is specifically called upon by a preferred client. The population here is overwhelmingly Philippine, from the men who direct you to the bar, to the “mama-san” watching over the action, to the young lady flirting with you. Legal status and educational backgrounds can vary. Some are on entertainer visas, allowing them legally to work in such places. Some are on spouse visas, which have enough loopholes to allow most types of work as well. It is not unusual, however, for these spouse visas to merely be a convenient manner for obtaining entry into, or remaining in, the country. More on that in a moment. Some women have never graduated high school; some have

2 or 4 year university degrees ranging from nursing to Computer Science. For those of you who may have just turned your head away at the notion of a CompSci grad working as a hostess, let me know how that Art History degree is working out for you. The money some of these ladies make from these places far outweighs working at a call center telling some yokel from North Dakota that their DVD drive is not a sandwich caddy. Most people do what is best for their families, and a number of these workers’ remittances bear the financial responsibilities for extended families at home ($1.5 billion dollars worldwide, up to $400 million from Japan, in June alone to the Philippines, and that is only counting official bank transfers). “Follow the money,” indeed. The quest for cash, unfortunately, leads to the seedier side as well; the direct marketing of sex. In the middle of Toshincho is a small green area, a mini-park, with a couple of interesting sculptures and a police box. Within walking distance of this police box are no fewer than 4 underground massage parlors. While the area does abound in with several institutions, offering a variety of styles from Shiatsu to Thai, the typical underground parlor does not have a sign outside. Recruiters are

massage can run from 5 to 6000 yen for 30 to 45 minutes, but other services are listed. Hand jobs, oral, and full sex are on the table at this point. Full on sex will set you back 15000 to 20000 yen, and condoms are a must (the workers put them on themselves to ensure no “accidents”). Both “client” and provider are required to shower before any activities (including standard massages), and then it’s off to the proverbial races. Generally speaking there’s a time limit on how long one is allowed to stay, though some institutions do allow its customers to take brief rests afterwards, particularly those who opted for the full plan and are arriving particularly late in the evening/early morning). Who are the workers? While there are a number of Japanese people involved in the so-called “pink” trade in Japan, the majority of the workers in Toshincho are from Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and the Philippines. The legal status of these women skews much more towards the illicit side of immigration. Japan has frequently been cited by organizations such as the United Nations and humantrafficking. org for its failure to ratify international treaties, or even adopt a clear plan to deal with exploitation. Under the current criminal code, traffickers face only up to

fraudulently intentioned student visas are also another common tactic. Ties to organized crime are often considered key to these occurrences, but with so few prosecutions and such stunning inaction on the part of the government, it appears that this trillion yen industry will continue to march on. So why write about it? I originally considered writing this as a sort of campy homage to the chaos that is Toshincho, after all, it does have a number of things going for it that make it more than worth your time and money. Some of the best late night ramen I’ve ever had in Japan is down there, as well as two of my 5 favorite club atmospheres in Japan. It can be a fun, somewhat funky, little slice of town. But in researching this piece I’ve drawn on conversations with both customers and workers from both sides of the coin, the legitimate, and the illicit (I can’t refer to these people by name, but I thank you immensely for your help and patience) forced me to look at it all a little differently. I hope, at the very least, that you think a bit about what you see the next time you’re in the area. That you think even for a minute about doing something, be it giving of your time or money. The Polaris Project, a group with offices in Tokyo and across the US, has been a valuable resource, and would

typically female (unlike the Japanese “fashion health” or soapland areas), and the locations themselves are often small, nestled in the bowels of buildings with several hostess clubs above them, concealing the activities within. What activities are these? On the surface (and the only thing the women on the street will actually mention), these facilities serve as massage parlors, offering what all other places of the sort offer, oil massages by attractive women. Once inside, however, the story becomes different. Menus are provided (available often in multiple languages, so that no confusion is possible). A standard

7 years imprisonment. In 2006, out of 78 suspects, 17 cases and 15 convictions stemmed from human trafficking arrests. In 2007, 12 convictions, and in 2008, 13. Workers are often lured with offers of jobs in other industries, then forced into sex work when hit with debts of 30 to 50,000 USD for “expenses” related to getting them into the country. One common scam involves use of the spouse visa, in which a Japanese citizen “marries” or is listed as the spouse of record for a worker in order to get her into the country, then plugging them into the system once they’ve cleared immigration. Tourist visa overstays and

be a fine place to start if you want to help. The Nagoya International Center also was extremely helpful in providing information (thank you, Ms. Kohara), and I would strongly urge people who haven’t been there to drop in and check it out at some point, even if it isn’t related to anything in this piece. I’ve read a number of the human trafficking reports, and frankly there’s enough there to make you want to move to a monastery or convent to escape the sheer…horror that is being continually visited upon some of these people. All I ask you to do, in the end, is to look, and to think.

|RAN| 33


| By J. L. Gatewood |


f you’ve been under a rock, then perhaps you don’t know that starting from April 2010, a slew of changes to Japan’s visa and immigration laws will start to go into effect. In order to create a more centralized control over immigration, the Misistry of Justice will be enacting such laws as the creation of an Immgration Card with an IC chip embedded inside to replace the “Gaijin C a r d s ” handed out by your local government offices. This new card will hold data such as passport validity, visa status, current residence and current employer. Also starting at the same time, visa renewal will dependent on payment of all residency taxes and also enrollment in one of Japan’s national health insurance programs. This one requirement is a point of contention as a lot of foreign workers here in Nagoya and elsewhere across Japan aren’t either properly informed of the requirement to enroll in national healthcare, are unable to enroll due to their employer’s unwillingness to enroll them, or their employer flat out misinforming them. Rumors abound, and sometimes it seems there is no one in the corner of a stranger in a strange land working under different, sometimes strange working

conditions. However, there is the General Union, a legal union in Japan, organized to fight for the rights of all foreign workers, the majority of which are Language teachers in public, private, and conversational schools. The union has been spearheading the crusade to make more of these businesses and organizations conform to the same standards as most employers must hold when employing Japanese citizens. I had a chance to sit down with the General Union’s General Secretary, Dennis Tesolat, in an attempt to get some clearer answers on this issue. RAN: Can you confirm that health insurance will be mandatory for v i s a renewal? Tesolat: That is correct. The General Union (GU) held talks with immigration officials this summer and they confirmed that to have a visa renewed it will be necessary to present proof of enrollment in an “approved” insurance scheme. And in fact, there is anecdotal evidence that in some regions, immigration is not waiting until April. We have heard a number of direct reports of people needing to show proof of enrollment already. R: I’ve heard the same thing-- I went to the immigration office to renew my visa recently, and I was told that I “may” have to show my insurance card when I pick up the new visa. I went back 2

weeks later to get the stamp, but no one asked to see anything insurance related. But it’s coming soon, since they gave me a warning, right? So when you say an “approved” insurance scheme, what exactly do you mean? T: Under Japanese law residents must be enrolled in either Shakai Hoken (Employees’ Health and Pension Insurance) or Kokumin Kenko Hoken (National Health Insurance). Until recently, the government has mostly turned a blind eye to this when it comes to foreign residents. R: There are a lot of foreign residents enrolled in private insurance schemes. Will that still be acceptable? T: No it won’t be. Immigration officials were quite firm on this point. The law only allows these insurances to be sold as a supplement to either Kokumin Kenko Hoken or Shakai Hoken. R: I know more than a few people will be very surprised to hear that; many of us are told that private insurance is cheaper and still just as accepted. But now, no more right? T: There has been much debate in the foreign community regarding the benefits of Shakai Hoken versus Kokumin Kenko Hoken versus private insurance. The new immigration guideline ends this debate. R: So what will happen if someone goes down to Immigration with only a private insurance scheme? Will they end up at Centrair on a plane back to their home country 6 hours later? T: Immigration assured us that they are not looking to use this as an excuse to

34 |RAN|

revoke visas.They tell us the process will be much like when you a missing a document for the renewal process; you’ll be given a short period – maybe 10 days – to produce evidence of proper enrollment before the visa is issued. R: So where does that leave those without Kokumin Kenko Hoken or Shakai Hoken? You get the shaft? T: Just like Japanese citizens, foreign residents have no other option. R: OK so how do people get enrolled? Is it going to be the same kind of run-around like getting the “gaijin card”, or a driver’s license? T: For Kokumin Kenko Hoken it is just a trip to the local city office (ward office, city hall, town hall) but there is a danger in that. Depending on your period of residence, you could be hit with a back bill of up to 2 years premiums. And there is an added danger. It is also law that you be enrolled in the National Pension. Enforcement is still in its infancy but we hear credible stories of people getting back-bills for the pension too. R: Wait... So even though people were told that it was perfectly OK to tote private insurance, just to get on the correct system, you’d face a penalty of paying BACK BILLS? That makes no sense. If you didn’t wind up in the hospital, why’d you have pay it backward? I have heard that Shakai Hoken is a better scheme. How do people get enrolled on that? T: You’re right. Shakai Hoken is a much better scheme and is usually cheaper as the company has to pay at least half the premiums. But it is up to your employer to enroll you. You cannot enroll yourself. RAN: How do you qualify for it and how do you get your employer to enroll you? If it’s compulsory, it should be automatic right? T: Basically the law says that barring a few exceptions, all employees have to be enrolled. But again, up until now, this law hasn’t been enforced much. The General Union recognized the problem a number of years back and began a campaign for a voluntary, gradual enrollment of all foreigner language teachers into the scheme. We were successful at two of the larger language school chains and a number of the smaller ones. One national chain rolled out a system where teachers could choose from two different contracts, with one offering shakai hoken for slightly increased hours and salary. In recent

talks they told us they expect many more teachers to choose this option with the impending changes in April. Another nationwide chain eventually implemented a contract with all teachers being enrolled. They also increased monthly salaries by about 20,000 yen to cover some of the costs.

To have a visa renewed it will be necessary to present proof of enrollment in an “approved” insurance scheme.
R: What is the union doing about companies that don’t offer Shakai Hoken? Isn’t that against the law since all companies must offer it? T: There are a lot of companies that blatantly break the law and others that skirt around it. ALT dispatch companies, especially in Tokai, are a prime example of this. But I won’t name names as we want to give them time to fix the problem before the April deadline. One of the measures we are taking is talking to the Boards of Educations and demanding that they take responsibility for seeing that teachers are enrolled. We are receiving some very positive responses and some negative responses. Our union members want enrollment and if it doesn’t happen soon we will be taking legal action against some companies and also naming the Boards of Education in the complaints. R: What about the pension question I had earlier? Since a lot of foreign workers aren’t going to retire here in Japan, is there a possible refund on this part of the hoken system? What are the breakdowns of the refund, if any at all? T: First let me point out that employers’ often don’t tell employees that the pension refund under the Shakai Hoken system is significantly better that that under the Kokumin Nenkin pension. R: I would say they neglect to talk about the pension refund aspect of the entire system at all, but please continue... T: One other aspect employers fail to mention is the Shakai Hoken system

offers 66% salary protection if you cannot work because of injury or illness. Most people fresh of the plane don’t think insurance is important but every year we deal with a number of people who end up sick or injured and without insurance. These private insurances aren’t sufficient and there are many cases of people being denied coverage once their private insurance runs out. They can’t pay their hospital bills and they don’t have an income. R: Speaking of which, I know we agreed to include your own story in the interview but I have been hesitant to raise it. Can you explain to the readers why the interview is taking place here in this hospital? T: It’s ironic that after fighting for shakai hoken for more than 5 years I may well become the new poster boy for our campaign and I thank my lucky stars that my own company obeyed the law and enrolled me. To cut a long story short, I had a few hours of intense back pain and then suddenly I couldn’t move below the waist. I was rushed to hospital and had spinal surgery that day. It’s a rare condition and seems to be congenital. The final prognosis isn’t known at this point but I am slowly starting to recover feeling and a small amount of movement. I am receiving intensive rehabilitation and my intention is to be able to walk out of here. I have a young family to care for, so the salary protection is a life saver. Without it I might end up losing everything. And if I had had private insurance, most likely they’d withdraw coverage after 6 months. And like I said before, we see this all the time – I’m just one of many. R: You’ve put a personal face on the story for me Dennis. Let’s hope for a speedy recovery. I hope we can talk again, because there are a lot more questions my readers are sure to raise.

Learn more about you and your employer’s obligations. The General Union Nagoya is holding an open seminar on Sunday, 1 November from 5:00pm to 6:30pm at their office, a short 10 minute walk southeast of Nagoya station. Please see:
for a map and details.

|RAN| 35

* Event Calander coming soon!

RAN ’s staff and readers like these places. You might, too... Anna Purna (Indian Food)
Seems like there are more and more Indian Restaurants popping up all over the city recently. You can find one of the best Indian/Nepali restaurants in Chikusa, next to the JR Station. They have a kick-ass and reasonable priced lunch set, and their dinner sets are equally good. Good food, good atmosphere with Indian movies playing on their large screen TV, and friendly staff make this one of the best “insider” tips in Nagoya. women), look no further than this store. Best part, you can do it all in English. Usually it’s very difficult to find english-speaking antique stores in Japan, but you’re in luck, the owner, Shingo (, speaks fluent English and will be more than happy to talk to you (09056272698). If you can’t make it to their storefront in Gifu, you can shop online at their E-bay store: antique-chacha or their Yahoo Auctions store: =0jp&mode=1&u=mixfamilyjp

isn’t another izakaya more worthy of a favorable review in all of Nagoya. As a matter of fact it may very well be my favorite restaurant in Japan. Admittedly the range of alcoholic drinks is limited mostly to beer and shochu, what they lack in drinks they make up for with a wide assortment of gastronomical delights. Menu highlights include scrumptuous crab-cream croquettes, full buckets of tebasaki chicken wings, and an ever-changing seasonal menu of fresh seafood. For those with an adventurous palette, Nabeya also serves-up many exotic dishes such as live octopus, or a platter of horse sashimi(including mane). The prices are incredibly reasonable and portions are generous. Stop by for a 550 yen lunch that will make you forget about fast food. You’ll probably see a lonely gaijin eating there as well – that’d be me.

| Compiled by RAN staff |

Cafe Parlwr
Part Comic/Manga reading place, part Cafe, this place with the unpronounceable moniker is a hidden gem in Shinsakae. They have delicous set menu items, very friendly staff, and a chilled out atmosphere. Just kick back in their comfy seats, order your food and relax with one of their numerous magazines or books. Bring your Japanese though, cause there’s only basic English spoken here. But for the the people who’ve mastered the basics, this is a true gem in Shinsakae.

Sky Garden Preschool
If you work in the public education system then its only natural for you to have reservations about sending your own child into that maelstrom. Choosing a preschool is a daunting task for any parent, especially outside of your home country. For those who don’t know where to start, consider Sky Garden International Preschool. Created by a father inspired by the creativity of children he met abroad, Sky Garden stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Japanese education system. Their goal is to teach children that every problem has 100 answers instead of one. Students are encouraged to read books forward or backward, paint with a brush or their fingers, and true to its name, Sky Garden preschool has a large rooftop garden where children can raise their own vegetables and eat them. It also happens to be in a very eco-conscious building, that is covered with vines. While the kids are having fun, parents can relax at the organic cafe or take some holistic yoga classes next door.

Internet Resource
Do you need to get somewhere in Japan but can’t get the correct reading Kanji to input into Yahoo or Google Maps, or even read Japanese maps for that matter? Try There you can locate most addresses in Japan IN ENGLISH and see an English labelling of the surrounding area. Other features include finding Japanese postal code areas, train and bus routing, and also the ability to SAVE your maps if you register on their site. They also have a mobile site that works with your keitai-- for most phones, or http://iphone.diddlefinger. com/ if your using Softbank’s exclusive machine from California...

Layers Burger
Attention all burger lovers!! You can get one of the best burgers in Nagoya just a little off the beaten path in Marunuouchi. Try their delicious, but hearty original burger, or delve into the tried and true and your stomach won’t be disappointed. The staff can speak a bit of English as well, so it’s like a small slice of heaven in town for the burger lovers... Address: 3-8-26 Marunouchi, Nakaku, Nagoya. From Exit 1 Hisaya Odori (subway Meijo-line), walk 2 blocks west and then 4 blocks north Tel: 052-961-0121

Antique Store
古民芸 「茶々」  (Antique-chacha) For some true Japanese antiques and authentic Kimono/Yukata (for men and

I hesitate to review this place because it has been my private local joint for years, but in all honesty there

36 |RAN|



| By J. L. Gatewood |

Get on the


Cooking directions

Blend yogurt, mayonnaise, soy sauce in a large bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add tofu tomato, cucumber, avocado to the bowl and toss.

38 |RAN|


ike all good things in life, this was something unplanned, and done on a whim. I found myself out one night with a few friends in the Mei-Eki branch of the bastion of Nagoya’s (and most of Japan’s) local gaijin pub scene, The Hub, when the latest episode of Attack of the Munchies occurred, starring my stomach. I had already been through the roster of vittles served by the bar several times, and wanted something a little heartier and less expensive... But I really don’t get down too often around Nagoya station, so I had no idea what could be had in the way of cheap eats. Then I spotted something across the street that had “Hells Yeah” written all over it. The Ramen Bus. Wait... Ramen... Bus?! I know it sounds weird, but remember where we are for a second. Japan-- where food is to be eaten, played with, and experimented on. With this very thought in mind, the owners of The Ramen Bus decided no one location was good enough for them, so they bought a decommissioned bus and took their show on the road—literally. The blue and white bus was parked just across the street from where I was sitting and except for the portable benches outside on the sidewalk next to it, you’d think that it was just there picking up passengers on the way to Meitetsu Bus Center... until I noticed the wild purple and blue neon all around it along with the head sign displaying “MARUOKA RAMEN” instead of some destination... I dashed across the street and was intercepted by a spry middle-aged woman informing me that I could sit either on the benches outside or step aboard the bus and dine inside. I opted for the latter. The interior is just what you’d expect-- a bus, but the seats have been removed in the very back of

the coach to allow for a kitchen, and every other row of seats faces the other with a table in the middle so that the bus can seat 14 comfortably. If there’s no more seats on the bus, then you don’t become a standee; they’ve provided sidewalk seating bistro-style next to the bus in the form of a few picnic tables. The menu boasts no less than 6 different types of ramen, and all the usual supects are included-- miso, shoyuu, chashuumen, etc. And no ramen joint would be worth it’s salt if it didn’t have sides like gyoza, karaage, edamame, etc. Ramen is served piping-hot in a bowl that doubles as a football stadium on Sundays. I had a hard time getting to the soup at first, because they jam-packed thick cuts of pork, along with green onion, mushrooms and 2 slices of boiled egg in there and this was before I could even see the noodles hiding underneath. I was truly in ramen heaven... Or would that be more like heaven’s bus stop? The real fun is looking out of the big bus windows while slurping noodleygoodness and watching the streetlife watching you. Its not just a novelty

apparently for this foreigner; the locals are also rightly facinated by Ramen Rapid Transit as well, due to watching no less than 5 people walk up just to take a photo of the bus and its owners. Why a bus though? “look at the people stopping—they could’ve gone to that ramen place 2 blocks away, but this is not the same.” Apparently not, since stickers on the bus indicate its various television appearances, including a recent feature on Chukyo TV’s “Zoom In”. “I had a Kei-Van for 8 years, but whenever the weather was bad, the people wouldn’t eat. The bus is bigger and people can eat here even if it snows!” He’s had the bus for the last 4 years. Like any bus, this one has a route and schedule, and like all Japanese transit, there is no fudging the schedule. Get your eat on MondaySaturday nights from 9pm until 2am in front of the Mei-Eki Hub, behind the Dai-Nagoya Bldg. Then the bus rolls on to the center of Nishiki 3-chome about 2 blocks north of the Hub in Sakae, 3 blocks due east of the TV tower.

Food - Healty Tofu Salad
150g tofu, cut into 1/2-inch-cubes. 1 tomato, cut into 1/2-inch-cubes. 1 cucumber, cut into round slices. 1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch-cubes. 1 tablespoon yogurt. 2 teaspoons soy sauce. 2 teaspoons mayonnaise. A pinch of salt and pepper.

Yield : 2 servings

Nutrition info: Per serving Calories : 186kcal Salt : 1.2g Fat : 13.6g