mod night

summer is approaching, and there is this delicate balance between winter chill and sweltering summer humidity. i know this season is precious, and i should cherish it. the summer heat in japan is hellish. i haven’t been blogging recently, because life seems to be a delicate balance between living on-line or behind a camera lens, and experiencing the visceral life first hand. i am trying to get better at this balance.

last saturday night, i cherished, at the risk of hyperbolizing, the best party i’ve been to in japan. it was a mod night in kawasaki. the club was dotted with go-go boots, skinny suits, pin-stripe clad japanese hipsters. i even saw a girl wearing a kimono with a Sam Cooke obiBrenton wood and the likes emanated from the d.j. booth in between live music sets.

i was with two girls i recently met, so i was trying to stay super calm, but once a japanese ska band came on, i simply couldn’t restrain the mini-demon inside me. i moshed with the rest of the dudes in the (humble) pit and released all the crowded train, long work hours, not being able to read japanese, anger bottled up in me.

i guess i moshed respectably, at least respectably enough to share the microphone for a second when the lead singer jumped into the audience, and respectably enough to be allowed backstage with the girls. i stayed up the rest of the night backstage, drinking whiskey and beers with the bands, and shooting shit with a fellow dread-locked mosher.

beyond that the night was fuzzy. i know i biked home when the sun was up, convenience store onigiri hanging from my beard, singing at the top of my lungs.

raging is so necessary. releasing my mini-demon is so necessary. it’s just a bummer that party is once a year. in the mean time, i will continue to seek healthy places to air out that aggression.

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beautiful shibuya street skating

this really captures the ferocity of that city, and of skateboarding. beautiful harmony in disharmony. is that wabi sabi?

Filter by Gravis from Gravis Footwear on Vimeo.

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mt. takao with the boys

a few weekends ago charlie, eddie, seth, and i climbed mt. takao. the leaves changing color were beautiful, and from the peak of the mountain i caught my first glimpse of mt. fuji in the distance. the mountain itself was pretty crowded and the paved paths plus vending machines on the peak were pretty surprising. there is probably no corner of tokyo that has been untouched by human hands.


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it’s really common in japan

one of the first things that surprised me about japan was the large number of people riding bikes. from little children, to suited business men, to old grandmas. i often see three human beings stuffed onto one bike — a mom, and her two toddler children, precariously perched in specialized glorified baskets on the handlebars and rear racks of the bike.

the awesome thing about bike culture here in japan, is that there is NO bike culture.

well, not in the sense that, “yeah dude i ride a bike and it’s awesome and you’re my buddy cuz you ride one too.”

i’m sure there is some of that, but to the business man, the stay at home mom, the old lady, bikes are woven into the fabric of daily life, seamlessly, effortlessly, and without as much as a second though.

people just ride bikes, because, it makes sense.

which makes sense.

(ayumi said it best when she was sitting on my rear racks, and i was giving her a lift home, there really is nothing special about giving your friend a ride on your bike. “it’s really common in japan”)

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lifelong fulfillment

lately i’m thinking japan doesn’t have any one activity or aspect to it that could sustain a lifetime for me here. there is no mentality, nor activity, nor righteous aspect of the culture that i have encountered so far that makes me think, “damn, i LIKE that, i could live here for a long time DOING that, exploring there, or THINKING that.”

just a lot of plastic bags at grocery stores, extremely long hours of working, and business men, so plastered, so stumbling blind, it’s not funny anymore. the passed out fools in the station, the puke on the sidewalk, has lost its giggle factor and morphed into a pondering — of why 30,000 people jump in front of trains every year, or go hang themselves in a forest at the base of Mt. Fuji. why every 15 minutes in japan someone takes their life.

but i am still searching for those gems of japan. those fun things, those beautiful aspects of the culture. with my good buddies seth,  eddie, and charlie we look for gold and diamonds under the pavement in tokyo.

next month we are going snowboarding together, along with my good buddy masa. i bought the necessary equipment at a kind of goodwill this weekend after recovering from a terrible cold. it’s bad being sick in a foreign land, but i successfully navigated the waters and i’m running at about 95% now.

and although i called in sick two days in a row at work, i didn’t feel bad, because my health is more important than my job. and although my calls to my manager were met with much moans and sighs of frustration, i’m not about to jump in front of a train because of it.

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hometown pride

this beautiful video makes me proud to live in japan. i see these things everyday, but never through these eyes. this video makes me look at mundane aspects of my world differently — the walk to the station, the drunk businessman, the fossil of old ladies.

TOKYO SLO-MODE from alex lee on Vimeo.

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Obon is Over, and I am sad.

I always try to remain positive.

That’s me, positive Peter.

But it is difficult after such a rad Obon, to be positive about going back to work.

Seth and I took an overnight bus down to Osaka where we had a blast staying at our friend Chika’s house. We had homemade Takoyaki, we went river rafting in Kyoto, and we were able to meet up with our other friends from AEON training too.

I spent today, the LAST day of Obon at Zushi beach, relaxing on the shore, next to the dirty brown water, under the Japanese sun. It was wonderful, and it made me realize:

I am a beach kid.

When I finally plant my roots, they will have to grow near the water. They must.

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