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Links - Japan-Related

Note: While these links are all current as of December 2004, most of the content is from 2000 or earlier.

Read an interview with Christine Moritz about her 1997-98 experience living in Japan teaching English. The interview is part of the collection Stepping Stone: True Tales of English Teachers in Japan.

Artists Record Labels Radio
Clubs Music Press Record Stores
Organizations Museums General Press
Software Jobs  


This listing is a spotlight on certain Japanese artists who have at one time or another enjoyed airplay on Variety Is the Spice of Life.

By their very nature, artist webpages and artist links are harder to keep up with than the record label webites, as artist websites are more likely to go out of date. In addition, some of these artists receive less airplay on the show now than they did when their webpages were created.

All artist pages below are part of the Variety Is the Spice of Life website.

Aco - R&B singer whose album Absolute Ego reflects a strong trip-hop influence.
Chara - Unique singer with a groove.
Cornelius - Solo artist and former member of Flipper's Guitar.
Fantastic Plastic Machine - DJ project with a variety of influences (bossa nova, funk, drum'n'bass, etc.).
Pizzicato Five - Lounge- and '60s-pop-influenced pop project, often with an HCFDM feeling.
Puffy - Female pop duo with melodic, catchy music in the tradition of '60s pop.
Yoshinori Sunahara - DJ and solo electronic artist.
Towa Tei - Versatile DJ and solo artist, formerly DJ Towa Towa of Deee-Lite.

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Record Labels

Avex Japan - The new Japanese home of Fantastic Plastic Machine.
Escalator - Home to Yukari Fresh, Neil and Iraiza, Cubismo Grafico, and others. The site has information on Escalator's releases, as well as information on the Escalator DJ team and their "Escape" DJ event. Navigation in English, text mostly in Japanese.
L'Appareil-Photo Bis - Released Laila France and the Maxwell Implosion's Lailove: L'Amour, Sese Formidable. Navigation in French; text in French, English, and Japanese.
Nippon Columbia - Home to artists including those on the Readymade Records site listed below. Navigation in English, text mostly in Japanese.
Pop Biz - Distributes the Pearlfishers, the Merricks, Stella, and others. Navigation is in English. About a third of the text is in English, with the rest in Japanese.
Polystar - Home to Takako Minekawa and former home of Cornelius's old project Flipper's Guitar.
Readymade Records - Home to such artists as Pizzicato Five, Mansfield, and Comoestas. This site is part of the site for Nippon Columbia, which distributes Readymade. Navigation in English, text mostly in Japanese.
Readymade Entertainment, Tokyo - Includes information on selected Readymade Records releases, on recent remixes by Yasuharu Konishi of Pizzicato Five, and on Konishi's "Readymade" DJ event. Navigation in English, text mostly in Japanese.
Sony Japan - Home to Chara, Aco, Yoshinori Sunahara, Puffy, DJ Krush, Chappie, and numerous others. (This link goes to a gateway page with links to English- and Japanese-language pages for Sony Japan.)

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FM CoCoLo, 76.5 FM, Osaka - This radio station (whose site includes an English-language version) broadcasts programs in a variety of languages. Unfortunately, I couldn't receive it at my apartment in Kyoto, so I listened to Alpha Station, Kyoto (whose frequency I can no longer remember) instead.

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Metro - This club in Kyoto, Japan hosts Pizzicato Five mastermind Yasuharu Konishi's "Readymade" DJ event, the "Les Plus" event spearheaded by Tomoyuki Tanaka of Fantastic Plastic Machine, and numerous other DJ events and live shows. I didn't discover it until near the end of the year I lived in Kyoto, but it broadened my horizons. (The site is mostly in Japanese; if you want software to support Japanese text for your browser--either to read Japanese pages, or just to preserve their visual integrity--see the link for NJStar Communicator in the Software section of this page).

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Music Press

Beikoku Ongaku - Website of the Japanese music magazine. Issues are available through Insound. Circa 2000, each issue of the magazine provided English translations for some of the Japanese articles, but in a painfully small font.

Cha Cha Charming - The second issue of this fanzine included a guide to Japanese pop. However, with the exception of Puffy and Chara, my tastes didn't seem to overlap very much with those of the zine's author, Sheila B.

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Record Stores

This is a listing of places that sell Japanese music. Some are U.S.-based; others are Japan-based.

Tokyo Record Hunting Service - As it bills itself, "used CDs for cheap from Tokyo, Japan." Keep in mind that since new Japanese CDs are ridiculously expensive, used ones cost only slightly less than a new disc in the U.S. But the selection (Shibuya-kei) is pretty good, and for Japanese releases the prices are very attractive.

Comfort - Mailorder place based in Kyoto, Japan. Offers both CD and vinyl.

CDnow - Now part of Amazon.com. Circa 1999, it was possible to order vinyl on CDnow from labels such as Emperor Norton, Matador, and Bungalow. The latter is the European home of such Japanese artists as Yoshinori Sunahara and Fantastic Plastic Machine, and released the March 2000 compilation Escalator Records Tokyo).

Other Music - During Tom Capodanno's tenure, Other Music was the place to go for Shibuya-kei. Sadly, he left.

Insound - Has a decent selection and carries the Japanese music magazine Beikoku Ongaku (see the description above under Music Press).

YesAsia.com - Formerly AsiaCD.com, YesAsia has a music section that offers a selection of CDs by Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean artists. In addition to Japanese CD pressings, it also offers CDs intended for the "overseas" (i.e., Asian overseas) market, which are substantially cheaper than those intended for the Japanese market. It also has VCDs, a low-cost video format popular in Taiwan and Hong Kong that plays both in CD-ROM drives and in DVD players.

CD Japan - Japan-based mailorder company.

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U.S. Nippon TV - When I lived in Japan in 1997-98, I was so desperate for English-language television programming that I would watch almost anything in English, even Beverly Hills, 90210. After my return to the U.S., my craving for Japanese TV led me to the subtitled Japanese programming of U.S. Nippon TV (which used to be on WNVC but, alas, is no longer broadcast in the Washington, D.C. area). The programming used to alternate between Abarenbo Shogun, a samurai program whose formulaic nature I once ridiculed but grew to relish, and the police detective show Hagure-Keiji.


Iron Chef - This page on the Food Network site provides a brief description of the show, a descriptions of upcoming episodes, and a link to a biography of host Takeshi Kaga. The show airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., and Sundays at 7 pm.


      On the show, each week a challenger faces off against a resident "Iron Chef." With its overdramatic music, abundance of dry ice, and outrageous host Takeshi Kaga (think James Brown's hair, Liberace's wardrobe, and the showmanship of a Ricardo Montalban or David Copperfield), "Iron Chef" is pure enjoyment. The version that's shown on the Food Network is dubbed in English (except for Takeshi Kaga's lines, which are subtitled), making it possible to understand the sports-style play-by-plays provided by two commentators as the chefs compete against each other and the clock.

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General Press

Salon.com articles on Japan - A complete listing of Japan-related articles from the online magazine Salon.com.

Asahi Shimbun / International Herald Tribune - The English-language version of the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, this is the successor of the Asahi Evening News.
       Japan's three other main English-language newspapers are the Japan Times, the Daily Yomiuri, and the Mainichi Daily News.

Kansai Time Out - This English-language monthly circulates in the Kansai area of Japan, which includes the cities of Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe. Kansai Time Out is connected with the Japan File, which bills itself as "an information bridge between Japan and the world."

Wasabi Brothers / Mangajin Magazine - Though the magazine Mangajin (the goal of which was to teach readers Japanese language and culture through authentic Japanese manga, or comic strips) came to an end in 1998, the site has remained online and is now operated by the Wasabi Brothers, who sell (among other things) back issues of Mangajin.


Japan Information and Culture Center - The JICC is the cultural arm of the Embassy of Japan.

Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. - Offers Japanese language classes, maintains a list of events and programs, and more.

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Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery - The two national museums of Asian art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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Free download site for NJStar Communicator - Most of the Japanese-language sites to which Variety Is the Spice of Life links are easily navigable in English. Beyond that, however, they have varying amounts of Japanese text. Ordinary Japanese text (as opposed to GIFs, etc.) will appear on your screen as gibberish characters unless you have special software to support Japanese text for your browser.
       NJStar Communicator, a product made by NJStar, enables users to view Japanese text on web pages and in e-mails (and to write e-mails with Japanese text and code web pages in Japanese). It can be downloaded for free.

Wasabi Brothers Guide to Japanese Software - Part of the Mangajin site described above.

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Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program - The JET program is run by local governments of Japan together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations.

Stepping Stone: True Tales of English Teachers in Japan - Read accounts of English teachers' experiences in Japan.

This page created July 2000 - Last modified December 20, 2004

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