Plain Talk


Being a musician in Japan by David SweetLow

I'm an English singer-songwriter based in Sapporo Japan. I've been living here now for four years and work as a professional musician. I have my own studio where I record and produce my own songs which I distribute online to be streamed on Spotify and other music platforms. These days if you're able to produce high-quality songs and music it's a great way to be noticed and make some money from your music where ever you based in the world.

I also like to perform my music live and often play in "live houses" in Sapporo where you have to do a deal with the owner about how to be paid for your performance. Over these four years, I've gradually built up a small following with the locals by emailing, texting and working the social media. Now I'm able to negotiate with the owner of a "live house" a "ticket back" system where I'll get back 500 yen on 1500 yen ticket or 1500 yen on a 2500 yen ticket price. I can nearly always get between 20 to 40 people to a gig and that means quite a good paycheck for the performance. Of course, these gigs have to be well planned in advance and it takes a lot of work emailing and following up. If you don't have any following another option is to contact other Japanese artists in your area who may have a few fans they can invite to the show and put together a bill of 3 or 4 artists who'll play for 25 minutes each. This is a great way to make contact with other musicians in your area. By doing this you can start to build up an audience of your own fans if they like you. Some owners of "live houses" will ask you for money to play "pay to play" which can be up to 3000 yen. I personally wouldn't do this as you'll probably just be playing in front of 5 or 6 people and at times the other artists on the bill may be dreadful.

Playing live in Japan as a foreign artist, however, is usually great fun because the Japanese enjoy seeing western musicians play. If you can sing an original song in Japanese they'll be very happy and impressed and you'll get offered lots of drinks. The Japanse are known for their politeness and will listen to your performance in silence or alternatively you may get the odd guy who'll shout "yeah"! or "cool"! at every opportunity. If this happens, get his email or "friend" him on Facebook and for sure you'll have a fan at your next gig!




Plain Talk


The Art of preparing a Japanese lunch box by Anne Corinne

As my child goes to kindergarten here in Tokyo, I (laboriously) got used to preparing a Bento (Japanese style packed lunch) for her every morning. The fact that a French mom makes Japanese Bentos often raises questions from my friends, and I gradually realised that the concept of “lunch” underlies a different philosophy in both countries.

French families rather put convenience and nutrition as their priorities. They often choose the meal ingredients according to their vitamins or calories, and consider that a healthy lunch has to be a hot meal and should include a refrigerated dairy product for an intake of calcium.
Occasionally, on a school day trip, most pupils would enjoy the typical sandwich on baguette bread. But eating a sandwich everyday is unthinkable. It would be boring, repeating and considered as junk food.

Therefore, working parents naturally register their kids to the school canteen, while full-time mothers would pick up their children during lunch break, eat at home with them and bring them back to school. Cooking isn’t regarded as an expression of affection, but keeping with their dear ones at meals with convivial talks surely indicates that they do care for them.

On the contrary, a Japanese home-made Bento is a visual Art that mainly expresses the cooker’s love through her time dedication.
As rice takes itself around 65 minutes to cook, rest and cool down, a lot of mothers get up at dawn to elaborate a sophisticated Kyara Ben (Character Bento) for the happiness of their children.

They focus on the colour coordination of the ingredients, and are experts in radish tulips, carrot hearts, apple bunnies, flower boiled eggs, fish-shaped sausages, vegetable stars… The list goes on.
Always including yellow, red and green in a Bento is a must. Some recipe books even recommend to include at least 5 different colours, and to pay extra care to the artistic presentation, or (I quote) “it might look like a dog bowl”.

Unlike French children who must go to a dedicated food-serving area, Japanese pupils eat inside their classroom while their teachers teach them good eating manners. Words like “Gochisosama deshita” are untranslatable and deeply reflect a Japanese sense of gratitude to whom took the time to cook. After lunch, their team spirit goes on, in a collective effort to mop up the classroom floor from any scrap of food.

Preparing Japanese Bentos can be a time-consuming challenge for unexperienced Gaijin parents. It takes a great deal of work to adjust to this beautiful Art, but it is really worth it for a good integration at school. After all, “郷に入りては、郷に従え”. (Kouniiriteha, kounishitagae). When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Tokyo Fab



TOKYO AUTO SALON has a wide variety of dedicated exhibitors to
-showcase and demonstrate their latest technological solutions and products for cars to be tuned-up and dressed-up
-showcase and sell cars with dress-up parts and accessories
-showcase and sell cars highlighting innovative tuning technologies
-showcase and sell auto-related video games, aftermarket parts, motorsport merchandise and other diverse auto-related products
-showcase and sell complete tuned-up cars and commercial vehicles

Date:1/11 (Fri), 12 (Sat), and 13 (Sun)
@ AKUHARI MESSE International
Convention Complex Closest Sta. Kaihin Makuhari


Furusato Matsuri Tokyo 2019

“Furusato Matsuri Tokyo”, annually held at the Tokyo Dome in January with about 400 thousand in attendance, is one of Japan’s largest collective events on the theme covering “Traditional Performances” and “Foods from all over Japan”. “Traditional Performances” is festivals assembled from all over Japan, and their powerful and gorgeous full representations attract many spectators. “Foods from all over Japan” is a collection of delicious regional “Gotochi” foods and drinks from all over Japan, spanning more than 300 companies from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Date:1.11(Fri)-1.20(Sun) 1.12(Fri)-1.19(Sat) 10am-9pm 1.20(Sun) -6pm
Venue: Tokyo Dome Access: Suidobashi Sta or Korakuen Sta

What’s App With You?


Motivation Quotes

2019 is the beginning of anything you want. Whether you're dealing with depression, need an extra push to go to the gym, or simply like to share quotes in social media, Motivation has you covered. Motivation contains a set of inspirational thoughts and sayings that will urge you to take daily action or if you just need a little dose of “pick me ups" throughout the day. These quotes will guide and inspire you for any occasion! Set many daily reminders for yourself and share the uplifting quote of the day with your friends and family, or use the image for Instagram or as a wallpaper. Motivation contains hundreds of quotes with deep and rich meanings, with a continuous stream of new ones added daily!


Apple Design Award winner Procreate is the most powerful sketching, painting and illustration app ever designed for a mobile device, built for creative professionals. This complete artist’s toolbox helps you create beautiful sketches, inspiring paintings, and stunning illustrations anywhere you are. Create a canvas and start painting with any of Procreate’s exclusive dual-texture brushes. Use the immediately responsive smudge tool to perfectly blend colour with any brush in your library. With Procreate’s incredibly high-resolution canvases you can print your artwork at massive sizes. Experience the revolutionary selection, transform, and perspective tools built exclusively for multitouch and finish your illustration with stunning cinema-quality effects. Procreate has all the power a creative needs.


Tokyo Voice Column


Three Ways to Keep your new years resolutions by Kathleen Nguyen

In the States, the new year is a time for a fresh start and doing those things you were thinking or saying you would do, and actually doing it. It means seeing more people in the gym, at your dance studio, in your language classes, or piles of donations or trash from spring cleaning! The first month is fantastic: energy is in the air, friends are more likely to say yes, and all that exercise and cleaning feels refreshing. The problem: keeping it up!

1. Make it easy
It's easier to do something that's easy, and harder to something that's difficult. This involves structuring your life in a way to create a path of least resistance. Trying not to eat ice cream? Don't have any in your freezer. It's harder to eat when you have to go out of your way to buy rather than having a stock in your freezer.

2. Engage others.
A support group helps, since humans are social creatures. Engage a friend, coworker, family member − someone! - and by doing so, you will find yourself responsible to another person. When tempted to give in, you have someone to call,. For myself, I had a month of dancing classes, and there were many times I was tempted to leave early or give in, but either my friend would not let me or because we made the plans to go together, I would feel guilty about abandoning her.

3. Shake it up.
You wouldn't be alone if your resolutions this year are the same as the year before. If your routine is a desirable outcome, that's fine. But if you find a want to change, then it's time to shake it up. If you always take the same path home, walk a different path. There is a time-efficient method to walk to my home, but when I decided to try a different path, I discovered a fun little bakery and another path showed me what used to be the #3 ramen spot in Tokyo. It's easy to be mindless, but by shaking it up, you engage a little more with the world around you.

Hopefully, these tips help you keep your resolutions this year, so you can make new ones next year!


1. シンプルに

2. 他人を引き込もう



Strange but True



In advertising and glossy magazines the image of women as hairless, perfectly waxed, shaved and plucked beings is constantly reinforced. Now a group of women are joining a campaign that involves growing their body hair for the month of January - and it's called Januhairy. The idea is to encourage "the acceptance of body hair on women" while raising money for charity. The Januhairy Facebook page reads: "Society seems to be behaving as if the natural hair we grow on our bodies is unattractive and distasteful. "We are so used to removing our body hair that we are becoming unfamiliar with our authentic selves." Laura launched the campaign last month and now women from the UK, US, Canada, Germany, Russia and Spain are taking part. "Some of us don’t like it, some of us do… but we are all still feminine, hygienic and beautiful, no matter how smooth or hairy," she wrote.

Kiss on New Year’s Eve?

When the clock strikes midnight this evening, many of us will be reaching for a loved one to give them a kiss. Although it's a nice way to ring in the new year, the tradition has origins rooted in ancient cultures and superstition. According to German and English folklore, the first person you encounter in the New Year determines whether you have good or bad fortune in the year ahead. So kissing your partner at the stroke of midnight is meant to indicate that your relationship will be strong throughout 2019. Kissing at midnight was also tradition during the Renaissance, when masquerade balls were popular across Europe. At midnight, people would remove their masks, and kisses were a way of purifying each other from evil. It was a way of starting the new year with a clean slate.


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