He Said – She Said . . . Tokyo ! ! !

She Says:

Tokyo is one of the great cities in the world.  Like all great cities Tokyo is exciting, dynamic, creative, complex and cruel.  But we have a saying here that for every true thing you can say about Tokyo the opposite is also true ! ! !  You can live your whole life here and still be surprised by the beauty and also the cruelty of the city.   Tokyo is not one city, it is a million villages and tribes crushed together each keeping it’s own character but passing on and receiving something from its neighbours.  This it what gives Tokyo such a unique and varied atmosphere.

He Says:

Obviously I’m not an expert on Tokyo. All I know of the place is what I’ve seen in films or read about. There’s no doubt. I think, that it’s an interesting and exciting city. There seems to be so much going on. Music, fashion, food, shopping, strange night clubs and dodgy “character ” cafes etc. I’m not a city guy these days, I’ve served my time in London and prefer the quiet life but I’d go to Tokyo. I think it would drive me crazy.

Sakura –  Scandal  – Tokyo

Shibuya

She Says:

Shibuya at night time

In this track Scandal take us into the dark and hedonistic Shibuya nightclub scene that some girls in Tokyo inhabit. Compensated dating, and the empty relationships, the jealously, and the desperate attempts to have fun.  The song is even more powerful for its totally superficial J-pop feel.  They describe girls passed out in night clubs, the hopelessness of their lives, and appeals to their Ojiisan (uncle – the term used by girls for the older guys they date in compensated dating relationships) and appeals to parents to give them some sort of guidance to what all this means.  It is a strange and powerful track somehow.

He Says:

Really like this one, you can see that they are “taking the mick ” here with the posing etc. Amazing how they manage to play their instruments using thought power alone too ! Shibuya is famous, of course, for it’s nightlife “Compensated dating” means, basically, old guys buying “favours” from young, attractive women. Something, of course, that I’m dead against.*

*On account of having no money. “Do you take Credit Cards , Miss ?”

Pairubu – Blue Hearts – Tokyo Zonbi ~ Roshian Ruureto

Harajuku

He Says:

Goths in Harajuku District

“Them again” I hear you cry. I make no apologies here, I love the Blue Hearts with an almost religious fervour. Not sure why , I just do. This is quite a sprightly number with a driving backbeat. I presume a “zonbi” is something like a “zombie” that has got a bit mangled in translation. I don’t think there are many actual zombies in Tokyo but, thanks to cosplay, there are plenty of pretend ones around.

She Says:

This track is from maybe the most famous of all the Japanese punk bands.  They were a great fun band, with lots of energy and people of all generations have their favourite Blue Hearts tracks.  This is from the 1991 Album High Kicks and was released as the B side to the single Yume.  It is typical fo their simple fun and direct style .  If you want to actually see a Tokyo Zonbi then head to the crazy alternative universe of Harajuku ! ! !

Sakura  – Miwa –  Megurogawa

Meguro

She Says:

The Meguro River in Tokyo

Only 10 minutes from Shibuya and Harajuku is Meguro.  But it could be a million miles ! ! ! This is the area in Tokyo where I live.  It is very central but a green and spacious neighbourhood and an area where many artists, writers and musicians live.  Part of the area is very fancy and the Crown Princess of Japan lives here and many countries have embassies in the neighbourhood.  There are nice parks and a great art museum and, running through the neighbourhood is the Meguro river.  It is a famous place in Tokyo for enjoying the cherry blossom time as the river is lined by thousands of cherry trees and in spring the view is really very lovely.  Singer songwriter Miwa lives here and she wrote this song describing the river in spring time with the cherry trees, and walking by the river and hiding in the trees so she could kiss her lover.

He Says

Lovely girl, lovely sound. What’s not to like here ? Meguro, from the pictures I’ve seen, certainly looks at it’s best in Cherry Blossom season. The trees by the river really are a thing of beauty ( apart from all the girls hiding in them waiting to jump out on unexpecting guys, of course). A little bit of nature in the heart of the city and wildly popular. Cherry Blossom viewing really is “Big in Japan” and you can see why.

Pairubu – Takashi Takagi – Tokyo A Go Go 

Shinjuku

He Says:

Go Go Dancer in a Shinjuku club giving a drink to a client

Wonderful , old style GS type rock from the olden dayes ( 60s) . This is really evocative of old films from Japan ( BBC used to show them ( and other foreign films on a Friday night, years ago, nowadays it’s very rare to see anything on TV, a real shame) .

I defy you not to be singing “Tokyo a go-go” in your head all day !

She Says:

Takashi Tagaki was the father of Japanese surf music and maybe the most famous in the genre.  In this track he celebrates the swinging life style of the Tokyo night life in the 1960 decade in Shinjuku and Ginza.  In the occupation following the war Shinjuku grew as entertainment and business district fueled by the black market in stolen US Army goods and GIs with a lot of money and not too much time to spend it.   These days it is still one of the main entertainment districts and has clubs of all types catering to all tastes ! ! !

Sakura  –  YUI  – Tokyo

Tokyo

She Says:

This is my really favourite track by singer songwriter YUI.  Tokyo is full of girls who have left their home town to work or study in Tokyo. In Okinawa where I come from and many rural prefectures, there is work for the guys in the tough jobs of fishing, and farming, but for the girls

Tokyo Skyline

often there is really nothing for us.   So we leave our homes and come to the big cities like Tokyo.  Full of fear and hope we take the bus, train or plane and leave our homes, families and friends behind. YUI always writes form her experience and at 17 years old she left her home and came Tokyo like so many before her to follow her dream.  This song captures the experience of so many girls ( like me at 18 years old ) who have done the same thing.

He says:

One can see why this song is important to Sakura and , no doubt, other simple young country girls who have come to the big city to seek their fame and fortune. I think times have changed in Japan, it’s easier now for women to make a life for themselves without some hunking great oaf of a guy getting in the way. Yui is a great artist, who, I would say, deserves to be better known outside of Japan.

Pairubu – Puffy Ami Yumi  – Sunday In The Park

Yoyogi Park

He Says:

How much do I love this track ? Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii……iiis much ! Really. It’s one of my favourites not just from Japan but all round. I just love the tremulous guitar and the melody. It reminds me of a 60s song which I can’t quite place in parts and fits in with my “slightlydelic” classification.

It also makes me think of Yoyogi park. See that creepy old geezer in the bushes oogling all the young “cosplay” lasses ? That’s me that is ! I really admire their style. Particularly the “D.I.Y” attitude. It’s very “punk” in a way. Making something out of cheap tat. Google “Ganguru” for some startling images from a few years back. Any girl that’s prepared to use Tippex instead of eye-shadow get’s my admiration , that’s for sure !  If you listen carefully you will hear the BEST Japanese word ever. “Tokidoki” which means ( I think) “sometimes”. Okiedokie ?”

Sunday in Yoyogi Park

She Says:

Puffy Ami Yumi have a great and eccentric J-Pop carrer playing punk, rock, J-Pop, and kids songs.  I really like this track.  In Tokyo people usually live in quite small apartments and so on weekends, when the sunshines we all head to the parks to relax and enjoy some air.  Yoyogi park is next to  the weird and wonderful district of Harajuku  but it is also next to the  Meiji Shrine one of the most beautiful and important holy places in Shinto and it is surrounded by  a park with ancient and towering cedar trees.  Here on Sundays, the traditional and the eccentric and modern of Tokyo meet.  You can see rockabillies and Elvis impersonators, punks, J-pop dance groups, gothic lolitas and the many urban tribes of Tokyo performing or just enjoying themselves, but in the huge expanse of the park, families and couples find quite places to enjoy the sun and peace and pensioners promenade amid the rose gardens.  On the un-tended endges of the park are tents and shacks of the homeless, it is only park in Tokyo where the police do not move them from, a reminder that not everyone who comes to Tokyo makes it.  Somehow this track seems to capture all of this for me.

We Say:

She Says:

Tokyo is an amazing city.  It has variety and energy but it can be cruel and lonely place also.  People usually either love it or hate it.  You will rarely hear someone say “Tokyo ? ? ?  Oh yeah, it is OK “  ! ! !  Whatever you think about Tokyo now you will probably be right, but remember the opposite will also be true! ! ! !   There are thousands of songs about Tokyo but we can only choose three each . . . .But we hope our little musical tour has encouraged you find out more about one of the world’s great cities ! ! !

He says:

So there you are. A whirlwind tour of one of the greatest cities on earth. Rather like London, I suspect, most people would have a “love/hate” relationship with the place. It’s got everything you want ( and more) on tap but it’s possible to get lost in the crowds. London can be a lonely place when you’re on your own and I’m sure the same applies in Tokyo. No denying it’s a “success” though, that’s why so many people want to live there, I’m sure. I’d love to go there but I think I’d be freaking out within a couple of hours. Too busy, too noisy, too many people…but then again , so much to do…

Next Week ! ! !  

Next week will have the J-Factor ! ! !   Some of you may have heard fo the X- Factor well next week Mr P and I will be having our own J-Factor competition and you will have opportunity to vote about our choices ! ! !  We are really excited about it so tune in next week ! ! ! 

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20 thoughts on “He Said – She Said . . . Tokyo ! ! !

  1. I must admit that the frequent repetition of ‘cruel’ tends to put me off the idea of a visit… Is Tokyo cruel in the way that any large city is cruel – Rome described as Babylon, the all-consuming monster, or London as the Great Wen – or is it especially heartless and nasty?

    • don’t be put off Aba…..Tokyo is the loveliest, cleanest, most efficient, well run and safest major metropolis in the world, with no hint whatsoever of that all-pervading latent violence and uneasiness in the air you might get walking through London (or a Surrey high street) at night. I lived there for 8 years and didn’t see or feel or have any inkling of any cruelty at all.

  2. Hi Abahachi ! ! !

    I only used cruel three times ! ! ! I do not really know London well I only visited for a few days and I have never been to Rome.

    But I do not think Tokyo is as heartless as LA for example. It is certainly much safer and the people are definitely more friendly, (at least superficially) but there is a lot of vice and organised crime and the consequences of unemployment can be really quite hard as we do not have the level of social security that there is in Europe.

    But it is a big city and it has good points and it bad points ! ! !

  3. Okay, I feel as if I’ve had a crash course in varieties of alienation – but probably no more so than if I’d listened to six songs about London or Berlin, and probably the language barrier has a lot to do with it. The ones that stick in the mind are Scandal, mostly for being incredibly disturbing (no, I don’t understand the words, but the impression I get is something to the effect of the Sugababes singing “hello, we’re paedophile bait”), and YUI – though I’m afraid this was at least partly because I wanted to re-record and re-mix the whole thing: ditch the tedious strumming in favour of some more interesting chords, and maybe a bit of a trip-hop vibe… A very interesting experience, and for what it’s worth I’m much less prejudiced about Tokyo than I am about most of the US – but I have a better chance of getting an expenses-paid invite there…

    • Hi Abahachi ! ! !

      You raise some very interesting points ! ! ! But think you are making a really wrong assumption. First paedophilia is about girls that are not sexually mature. The song by Scandal is certainly not about this at all.

      Also there is the constant assumption in the west – from what I have seen on CIF and also mt experience when I was in USA – that girls are somehow always victims.

      This is not the case in Asia, we are brought up to accept responsibility for our actions. We are not seen as simple helpless creatures like much of the western media likes to say.

      Girls make decisions and like everyone else and we live with the consequences. You are falling into a trap if you think the girls that live this life style is somehow have it imposed from outside.

      It is maybe even arrogant to assume that somehow young women do not know what they are doing. I am not saying they are always right, only that it is a mistake and condescending to deny the validity of their choices.

      The Scandal song does not seek to judge in the way that Christian moral background would judge as obviously there is not the Abrihamic moral structure, our culture starts from personal responsibility derived from Buddhism.

      In the Scandal song they appeal not to outside forces but to personal senese of responsibility.

      But finding a song disturbing and challenging is a good thing and actually the reason I selected it.

      YUI of course is absolutely perfect ! ! ! OK, if you want to listen to the track while drinking coffee with friends then maybe a nice jazz arrangement would be good.

      But it is a track she wrote when she was 17 years old about leaving her home and her mum and coming here to Tokyo. It is an emotional song from the heart of a young woman

      In her last tour I saw her perform this track, and honestly it is pure emotion this track. This video is her performing the track at the Tokyo Budokan and during that performance she really breaks down with the emotion of the song.

      Of course a great artist can re-interpret a song and can create something new and wonderful. Angela Aki did this with Seal’s rather boring and over dramatic “Kiss From a Rose” and maybe a new arranger and singer could re-interpret YUI’s Tokyo. But they will never be able to capture the emotion of the original.

      YUI – Tokyo – Crusing Tour live in Tokyo Budokan – Tokyo

      Angela Aki – Knocking On H eavens Door

      • The obvious problem is that I don’t understand a word of Japanese; all I can do is listen to the music, combined with your summary of what the song’s all about. Most of the time that’s okay – a lot of the songs you post simply sound great so I don’t have to worry about my ignorance of what they’re about, because – like lots of English-language pop music – that’s more or less irrelevant.

        These two are different, which is why I’ve got myself tangled up in talking about them, and clearly annoyed you. To start with YUI; from what you say, the lyrics are very personal and affecting, but I can’t hear any of that – I hear a pretty tune with a rather naive arrangement. I can fully understand that a more complex and less authentic arrangement might well undermine the sincerity and emotion of the lyrics, but because I don’t understand the lyrics I can’t appreciate that.

        With Scandal, if you hadn’t given your summary of what the song is about, I would simply have thought “yes, fun pop song” without worrying about the lyrics. But when I do have an idea about the overall theme, I can’t help worrying about the lyrics, because it is then obvious that I am missing something important but I can’t tell what. Is this a celebration of the lives of girls in the nightclub scene, or a satirical account of it, or a rather tragic depiction? The music suggests it’s a celebration, but maybe the lyrics make things more complicated (as your initial account seemed to suggest) – but again, I can’t tell.

        (Incidentally, I wasn’t for a moment suggesting that this had anything to do with paedophilia – though I do find it difficult to come to terms with the apparent popularity of clothes that look to Western eyes as if they’re school uniforms.)

      • Hi Abahachi

        I was not angry ! ! ! But I do become very passionate defending YUI and especially that song ! ! !

        The Scandal track is mocking the shallow life style and not approving of it all.

        The school uniform thing is tied into the Japanese concept of Kawaii but also there is a cultural thing. Japanese people do not find it embarrassing to be associated with organisations like schools,companies, clubs or whatever and in fact we are proud to be part of organisations so school girls are proud to wear their uniforms and often even wear them during the day as day wear at weekends. Of course I think Japanese school uniforms are way cuter than the ones I have seen in photos about the UK. There was an article about it once in the Guardian and I was shocked at how ugly the uniform was. No wonder the kids did not want to wear it! ! ! In Japan some girls even choose their high school based on how cute the uniform is ! ! ! In Japan girls often even buy a fake uniform to wear to go in so you have the strange situation where a high school girl will come home and change out of her school uniform and into a fake uniform to go out ! ! ! Scandal were high school girls when they formed the band and they were still in high school when this video was shot. Nowdays they are older (The drummer is 20 and the others 21) and have a very different glam rock image.

        Maybe I should make a post on School uniforms ! ! !

        Thank you reading and commenting and I am really sorry if I was rude in my last post ! ! !

        Scandal current glam rock image.

        http://vimeo.com/36747734

      • You were not rude at all, Sakura-chan – but you were very passionate, and I was afraid that I had offended you.

        It is very interesting to read what you say about school uniform in Japan, but I would advise caution about writing a whole post on the topic – you might attract the wrong sort of readers. In the UK, at least, girls’ school uniform outside a school context is heavily sexualised, which is one reason why my instinctive reaction to its popularity in Japan is to feel uncomfortable – they are not, as you say, trying to convey such a message, but that is how western culture conditions us (at any rate us men) to receive it.

  4. Liked the Scandal tune, obviously the lyrics are lost on me – a bit disappointing as it sounds interesting. I’m quite interested in superficially happy songs that have a darker undertone – don’t know what that says about me.
    The Blue Hearts – not bad. It reminds me of Goldblade for some reason – maybe John Robb is a Blue Hearts fan?
    Haven’t listeed to the rest yet

    • I am really happy you listenend and took the time to comment ! ! !I think the Scandal track is one which will be most challenging to people.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting ! ! !

  5. Hi Sakura. Informative post with plenty of interesting music ( even if it’s not all to my taste) as per usual, thanks. I would like to visit Tokyo very much some time. Being a Londoner I’m pretty used to big cities, and I seem to be one of few that genuinely believe London to be one the greatest places in the world to have grown up in. So I doubt any traditionally cruel aspects of city life that are inherent in all big cities around the world would bother me too much. Yet, I still am slightly nervous about travelling there, mainly because Tokyo while in many ways similar to London, also seems like a completely different world at the same time! Though, this is what makes it exciting, I guess.

    However I think I’d probably be more nervous if I was female, as I’ve heard a few horror stories about the sexism in Tokyo. A female friend of mine who went to live over there for a couple of years experienced a “train groping”, but most bizarrely of all, had the rather unpleasant experience of a man forcefully stick two of his fingers up her nostrils! Though despite all this, my friend still swears that Tokyo is one of the most amazing places in the world, so it must be doing something right.

    I’m also in the rather strange position of planning to go on to study Japanese at university next year, however, I still haven’t got around to actually even travelling over there yet! So I should really get my skates on and go.

    • Oh dear Bluetrain ! ! !

      I your friend must have been very unlucky ! ! ! I have never heard of anyone who had someone else put their finger in their nose ! ! !

      Of course Tokyo subway and commuter trains are notorious for girls getting the bottoms touched and guys using the crowded circumstances to their advantage but if you need to travel in the peak times girls should try and use the women only cars where they are available. But usually you can travel unmolested especially if you travel outside peak times. The boarding areas for women only cars are shown by signs on the platforms so you know where to stand.

      Tokyo is very safe and especially for foreign people. Compared to most cities in the USA for example it is really very safe indeed.

      I am sure you will enjoy it ! ! !

      I am really pleased you enjoy the posts and that you took the time to comment.

      Do not forget to check out our next post which will be our very own J-Factor competition ! ! !

      • Thanks for the reply. I’m glad that you found the instance of my friend’s nostril violation as bizarre and unusual as I did, and that it’s not a normal practice over there, ahaha! I’m sure I will enjoy travelling to Tokyo sometime soon!

  6. Sorry I am late.

    Scandal was great I really loved it. The next two songs didn’t appeal to me too much. But the next two really blew me away.
    I loved Tokyo A Go Go. Fantastic surf guitar music.
    Yui’s Tokyo is the most beautiful song.

    Then Sunday In The Park. Wow. I loved it. Superb. What a great song.

    Thanks for the interesting post. I’d love to go to Tokyo one day. Maybe Rev P will win the lottery one day and he and the family will go and will need a bag carrier or something…

    • Hi SR ! ! !

      Thank you so much for listening and commenting ! ! !

      I am really pleased you liked the post and some of the tracks.

      I would love to meet you and the Rev here in Tokyo one day ! ! !

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