sky creature

It’s the rainy season in Japan – the time for tsuyu (梅雨), or ‘plum rain.’ After having lived in Japan for over eleven years, I’ve finally gotten around to buying a proper pair of boots for the season so that I don’t have to spend day after day walking around in soaked shoes. I had a chance to test the boots out during the season’s first decent rain and after two kilometers of striding I can happily say that the only parts that were in any way damp were my knees.

But after that first rain, which should have been the opening of the seasonal floodgates, nothing but mostly sunny, cool days, with a bit of dramatic cloud cover from time to time. At dinner the other night, everyone was commenting about how the rainy season has been drying up, yet another victim of global climate change. Kyoto’s famous moss gardens have begun to grow brown due to this year’s unseasonal lack of damp. A normal rainy season should bring with it a month or so of solid rains, with maybe a day or two of respite between the downpours. In the eleven years that I’ve lived here I think I’ve experienced a genuine month-long rainy season only once. There’s still time for the rains to come, since the rainy season traditionally lasts until the middle of July, but the current weather forecast shows little chance of rain for at least another four days. I hoping there are proper rains this year: rice needs the rain, and I want to use my boots.




There was an enormous lightning storm the other night in Toyonaka so I jumped out onto my balcony to try to get a few pictures. Instead, the lightning confused the camera in my phone and all I got were a bunch of post-apocalyptic views of an alien prison planet. Welcome to the nightmare.

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All photos taken with an Asus ZenFone 3, using Instagram filters.

square life (1)


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All photos taken with an Asus ZenFone 3, using Instagram filters.

throat records


Throat Records

After years of wanting to visit Throat Records, in Nara, I finally had my chance to drop in. Throat, which is run by Takahisa Gomi, offers a fantastic selection of rock, indie, punk, soul, ska, jazz, alternative, and just about anything else you could want. And if you like, you can even take it for a spin on the store’s turntable before you decide whether or not you really want to take it home.

Gomi-san also plays bass and sings in the group Lostage, alongside his brother Takuto (on guitar) and drummer Tomokazu Iwaki. I had a chance to see Lostage live a few years ago when they were on the bill with The Velvet Teen and The New Trust at Conpass in Osaka. Josh, who plays bass and sings with both The Velvet Teen and The New Trust (and who I used to draw pictures with in art class at high school), told me that I needed to get down to Throat records when I had a chance, because it’s a great shop. And he was totally right.

I ended up picking up a ridiculous amount of records: Thrill Me Up by The Toasters; A Golden Wheel by Predawn; a collection of Bollywood songs called Jubilee Hits 75; Chef’s Special by Kaoru Sudo; One Mississippi by J Church; Close to the Bone by the Tom Tom Club; a repressing of Jazz Tempo, Latin Accents, which features Sonny Simmons and Prince Lasha; Hey Drag City, a compilation featuring Pavement, Gastr Del Sol, Smog, and Red Krayola (among others); and The Beat Generation, a compilation that features J Dilla, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Marley Marl, and Allen Ginsberg. I also picked up three 7 inches, including one from Bakamono, one from Japanese metal band No One Rules, and an EP with songs by Iggy Pop, Fishbone, Dan Reed Network, and Blue Aeroplanes.

And if you’re still not convinced, check out the cute sticker set.

throat stickers

post-work relaxation selfie

In the last couple of weeks I’ve finished writing a paper (handed in on deadline day), given a talk, and prepped like crazy for the new semester. It’s been just a bit tiring, so at the end of the week I rewarded myself with just a small glass of The Chita.

The paper that I just finished is a funny hodgepodge of Pokémon Go, Marc Augé’s notion of the “non-place,” just a bit of Adorno, and a few of Thoreau’s Wild Fruits. The talk, an expanded version of a talk I gave a couple of years ago at the International Melville Conference held at Waseda University in Tokyo, covers Melville’s “Paradise of Bachelors and Tartarus of Maids,” Thoreau’s The Maine Woods and Wild Fruits, Moby-Dick and Moby Duck, and there’s also side riff on Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, just to spice things up.

After all this activity, Golden Week has come just in time so I can sloth it out for a couple of days. My slothing will not involve the digging of giant underground tunnels, which is apparently how prehistoric sloths liked to spend their time, but it might include eating a few avocados. Did you know that it’s quite possible that giant prehistoric sloths are responsible for the spread of the avocado throughout the Americas? You cannot be thanked enough, giant sloths.

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All photos taken with an Asus ZenFone 3.