Chillout/Relaxing Playlist

Been enjoying this playlist for a while now. Great for working.

Old Photo

Fujimoto Family 藤元 ca. 1943, Hawaii
Fujimoto Family 藤元 ca. 1943, Hawaii

An old family portrait. I wish we knew our relatives in Japan… The little boy in the photo is my dad.

Idol Nite

Sayumi Fan and SCANDAL Show
Sayumi Fan and SCANDAL Show

Last night I visited my friend Mikey for our eagerly awaited “Idol Nite”. It’s well-known that Mikey is a HUGE Morning Musume fan – he’s traveled to California and NYC to see them in concert, owns so many DVDs and CDs and is generally super Momusu Otaku. On the other hand, I don’t know much about Momusu, but I do love SCANDAL, which is sort of like an idol band, in that they also have their legions of groupies. Mikey likes SCANDAL as well, so we decided to get together and geek out and watch videos and variety shows starring Morning Musume, SCANDAL and whatever else Mikey had in his iTunes library.

Sparkling Saké
Sparkling Saké

Of course it’s also a great opportunity to enjoy some saké, so we had a variety to drink. Plus beer and snacks and we were all set. When I arrived at Mikey’s house, I was surprised to see his livingroom was all prepared with Momusu photobooks to peruse, Sayumi fans diplayed on the tables, and even glowsticks at the ready! I used two of the glowsticks for mood lighting in the Fuchiko photos as you can see below. Yes, I had to bring over Fuchiko (フチ子) for the festivities! I’m glad I did because we had a lot of fun taking photos (before we got too drunk).

Sayumi + Fuchiko
Sayumi + Fuchiko

I had two favorite shows of the evening. The first one was of an elaborate prank played on Morning Musume, where all the girls spent the night in this small room, but it was actually a fake room built on a stage of an outdoor concert venue. The girls were brought there late at night, and it was so dark, they just thought it was a regular hotel type room with tatami. The next morning, Morning Musume fans filled the seats and then when everyone was ready, the walls of the fake room fell away, and all the girls woke up to a huge surprise. It was a little awkward but really funny. Then the music started playing and they had to sing a couple of songs while still half asleep and in their pajamas! They actually got into it pretty quickly and did a good job.

The second show I really enjoyed was of SCANDAL revisiting the old neighborhood where they used to hang out before they got big. It was funny to find out that they had to buy their outfits at Daiei, and their budget was 1,000 yen per outfit! They said they spent most of their money on studio time. They also stopped by the hostess bar, where they took their name from. The manager of the club came out and they confessed to him that they took the name for their band from the club, and apologized. The manager said he already knew! It was pretty funny. I really want to check out those locations where they hung out and even get a picture outside Scandal club!

Anyways, besides Morning Musume and SCANDAL, we watched some AKB48, some other HP! spin-off groups, and even some older Morning Musume when the girls were all different. It was so much fun, I learned so much, and there is so much more to watch that I am looking forward to Idol Nite 2!!

Fuchiko and Glow Stick
Fuchiko and Glow Stick

Life Scene: First Visit to Japan

I have been in love with Japan for a very long time now, I think it started when I was 12 and I saw the miniseries Shogun on television. I was fascinated with the setting and the characters. I may be mistaken, but the character  thought that … was super cool, and I believe the character Lady Mariko was my first crush. Ever since then, I have been a Japanophile.

From that time until my mid-twenties, I spent a lot of time watching Japanese dramas, listening to Japanese bands, and visiting Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles. But it wasn’t until I visited Japan that it really changed my life.

In 1995 I went on vacation with my parents to Tokyo. It was about a 5-day trip, and my parents acted as tour guides for me since they had visited Japan a few times before. We saw so many cool sights including Shinjuku, Tsukiji, Asakusa, Nikko, and Kamakura. It was such an amazing trip! Tokyo was everything I thought it would be: fast-paced, crowded, clean, and modern. It’s funny to think about it, but I remember feeling like that should be my home.

Tsukiji Breakfast
Tsukiji Breakfast. That’s me at 27 years old! My dad is the guy wearing sunglasses.

And when we returned back to the States, I felt what I think is homesickness. Isn’t that weird? But even though I was only in Japan for 5 days, I missed it so much and I was in a blue mood for a couple weeks.

At that time I was working at UCLA and was enjoying my life but after my trip I knew I had to move to Japan. It was a certainty. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I decided to give myself half a year to move there, and after I made the decision, my blue mood was instantly replaced with excitement.

More on this story to come…


Sexy Sax Man

Weekend Update

This past weekend was pretty good. Of course the thing that has been on my mind lately is my health and specifically, my knee. I really want to start running again but the healing process has been pretty slow. However, I did get out for a quick run on Saturday afternoon, and it started out not so good… After running about 100 yards or so, my knee hurt and I had to limp along, then walk for a bit, then run a bit, then walk. I was kind of depressed but tried to look on the bright side of things. I felt grateful that I could at least walk and enjoy the beautiful weather! So after several minutes of walking I tried jogging again and my knee felt better! I did adjust my stride and how I plant my feet a bit, but I managed to go for 2.5 miles. Upon returning home, I iced up my knee. I knew the real test would be if the knee still felt good the following day.

I’m happy to say that my knee felt great! Specifically, it wasn’t any more sore than before. This allowed me to enjoy Bay and my Sunday morning at the skatepark. I also took Lani for a long walk to test out the knee and it seemed good. So slowly I will start adding some more miles to the routine. I was averaging around 6 miles per run, which is probably where I want to get back to. I think by then end of the year I will be back to that schedule! Happy happy happy!

In other news this weekend, we saw a lot of friends, Koa had a couple of sleepovers, movies were watched and good food was consumed. I barbecued burgers last night and they turned out great! I love my little barbeque so much!

Making Stories

I recently read the book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life” by Donald Miller and one thing that stuck with me was the thought that life is a story, and we should try to write a good story by living meaningful lives. Not only for ourselves, but involving the people around us.

When I look back at some of my favorite memories, I think they are like short stories or snippets. I like them a lot. Of course some memories aren’t so great, but those are still stories.

So, how does one create good stories? I am not sure, but I am reminded of something photographer Jim Richardson said – “If you want your pictures to be better, stand in front of more interesting stuff.”

I’d like to stand in front of more interesting stuff.