Sake Archives 2004

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Approaching Infinity with Keiji Haino
Leading his two-piece band Fushitsusha, one of his many musical incarnations, Haino and his bass player generate an escalating, monstrous roar for an audience of 20 people in this matchbox-sized basement club in a western Tokyo suburb.

December 29, 2004

Toho Breaks the Rules in 'Godzilla: Final Wars'
"Because this was going to be the last Godzilla film I thought we could break all the rules," said Ryuhei Kitamura, the 35-year old director. "And I think we did so; I think we have created a type of Godzilla film that has never existed before."

December 15, 2004

The Nonsense Machines of Maywa Denki
"Planter" is one element in "Edelweiss Series," Maywa Denki's collection of machines that together tell the story of a mythic society so dominated by materialism that its females are willing to accept sterility in lieu of sacrificing the pursuit of cosmetic beauty.

November 30, 2004

Shanghai's Bund Traders
It is an evening on the riverbank promenade of the Bund - Shanghai's strip of historic art deco buildings aligned along the curve of the murky brown Huangpu River. Drink and film kiosks battle for customers busily snapping photos of the recently constructed towers and high-rises on the opposite bank. In between peddlers cruise the area in search of targets.

November 14, 2004

Where Eagles Dare: Rakuten Set to Play Hard Ball
Current ownership represents a near hall-of-fame roster of companies within industries - mainly in the transportation, retail, and newspaper sectors - that have lagged considerably since the bursting of Japan's economic bubble over a decade ago. Mikitani and his Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles club are set to change the baseball business in Japan and score a few runs in the process.

November 6, 2004

Alberto and Me: A Journalist and His Camera
Mario works as a sleuth in search of basic information on his subject. But such work is not simple. It requires patience, smarts, and instincts - all things he carries with him, in addition to his trusty camera, as he lives the life of the only Peruvian journalist covering the activities of Fujimori in Japan.

September 25, 2004

To Live by the Sword: A Life in Polishing
Jon Bowhay is a Japanese sword polisher, or togishi. "Restorer," though, is likely more appropriate wording since his work might require that he remove rust accumulated over hundreds of years, reshape edges to eliminate nicks, or strip off steel to remove pits.

September 10, 2004

In the Belly of the Whale
Do whales eat significant quantities of fish (in addition to plankton and krill)? The Institute's research claims that the whales living in a selected research area of the Pacific annually consume 2 million tons of anchovy, a number ten times the catch of Japanese fisherman.

August 30, 2004

The Meaning of Ichiro
Nearly three decades - and three books - later he's still swinging for the fences. The Meaning of Ichiro documents Japan's recent baseball pioneers who have defected to the major leagues. The meaning of which, Whiting argues, has been the tremendous sense of local pride instilled in the Japanese people and the narrowing of the gap of understanding between Japan and America.

July 14, 2004

Shibuya Scouts Roll with Regulation
If one spots a particular look or set of measurements that meets his company's needs, he quickly moves up beside and inquires as to whether she wants a part-time job. Should she stop, utter a peep, or acknowledge him in the slightest (all very rare occurrences), he gets down to brass tacks: "Do you like sex?"

June 28, 2004

Wokin' and Rollin': Dubbing Iron Chef
Though Bickard is developing amusing phrases like "Flamola!" and "Bang a gong, we are on!" - some of the show's trademarks - this is indeed work. With a VCR, red pen, and script of dialogue, he matches the pictures of the culinary action on the screen with these irreverent, over-the-top sportscaster-like phrases, a recipe that has been a major reason for the show's cult status amongst both finicky gourmets and amateur bbq cooks.

June 14, 2004

Beard Papa: Cream on Broadway
The customer can watch the making and baking. That is very attractive," says Koji Tsuda, general manager in the international division of Muginoho Co., Ltd. , the Osaka-based restaurant company that created the Beard Papa brand. A feeling that the puffs are being made "just for you," the customer, as opposed to any faceless person is the intention, he emphasizes.

June 7, 2004

Tokyo Panty Trade Faces Regulation
The exchange is simple. In a manner similar to a used bookstore or car lot, the girls enter with their pinks or whites in hand. Mr. A then checks to ensure that the merchandise will meet customer satisfaction by confirming that they have been extensively used. It takes a trained eye - and sometimes, nose - he assures.

May 25, 2004

I Spy with My Miniature Camera
Welcome to a world that would be truly Maxwell Smart's dream. From pinhole cameras to microphones capable of picking up sound through concrete, Y.K. Musen supplies the latest and greatest in snoop technology.

April 20, 2004

Muneo Suzuki: On the Comeback Trail
A summary of Muneo Suzuki's last two years reads like a manual on political graft. In 2002, he was charged in two separate cases of taking bribes from lumber and construction companies in exchange for his influence in lucrative local contracts. As well, that same year top aides of his were arrested for participating in bid-rigging incidents for housing and power plant construction projects.

April 10, 2004

The Hypnotic Underworld of Ghost
After the opening track, the album meanders back and forth between a number of varying genres. Some pieces contain straight-ahead guitar rock power chords ("Piper") and elements of an Irish jig ("Dominoes"), while others feature time scales and intervals typically reserved for such traditional Japanese string instruments as the shamisen and koto.

March 31, 2004

Overhang Party: Searchin' for the Layline
Getting any kind of reaction, musically or otherwise, in an outwardly conformist society like Japan (and its exceptionally bland music industry ), isn't easy, and generally not encouraged from the start. But for Overhang Party, making an impact upon the listener with their sound, even if some might think of it as "noise," is exactly the point.

March 24, 2004

Zen in a Teacup: The Way of Tea
In truth, the entryway to Terada's teahouse is not quite as grand as initially implied. The garden is plastic and the stones are rubber mats. The gate is merely an enhanced door jam. But the beauty of the tea experience is not in the fineness of the trappings; it lies in capturing a special feeling at a particular time.

March 10, 2004

Phone Fraud Fleeces the Unsuspecting
It is around noon. The caller says he is a policeman. "First, relax, and listen carefully," he cautions. "Your husband has been in an accident which is now under investigation. He fell asleep at the wheel of his car."

February 29, 2004

Race Queens Poised for Fame in the Fast Lane
Her affection is gently spread to each member through her gaze. After he nods or lowers his camera in acknowledgement, she moves to the next. Maybe this time it will be a raise of the left flap of her jacket. Or perhaps a slight shift of her practically bare hips. Whatever she offers, shutters click, flashes pop, and digital cameras whir. Oh, and yes, hearts pound.

February 6, 2004

Fortunetellers at Your Spiritual Service
You might be trying to make a departure from your dark past," explains Sasa, one of a handful of young fortunetellers who work alternating sessions within two tiny shops directly beneath the Inokashira Line tracks in Kichijoji, west of Tokyo. "It seems as if strong energy is coming out from inside you, pushing you more and more into the future."

January 31, 2004

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