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News Sushi: Morsels of News from Japan and Beyond #28

Editor Note: It is Friday and that means it is time for the World Famous, soon to be Intergalactic Famous, News Sushi from our very own, Hamish Downie. He brings us a decidedly different slant on Pop Culture as viewed through the lens of a non-native living in Japan. Thank you Hamish for your insights.

 

Reporting this from the eye of the storm this week. Typhoon Jebi is the name… (no, not jedi)… hopefully by the time everyone reads this, the storm will be a distant memory and you are all safe and well.

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Soon, I’ll also appear on radio again, and hopefully I’ll have that link for you. We’ve just done a skype test, so that shouldn’t be a problem, unless the power lines go down (like they have where my partner lives). Let’s see what this afternoon brings.

UPDATE: Today, we’ve mostly survived the storm, although some parts still don’t have any power (though hopefully by the time you read this, it won’t be a problem). I was lucky in that the storm mostly bypassed where I was, although at one point my building was shaking, and the lights were flickering, but we managed to keep the power on all day.

My radio interview was mostly about the storm. Here’s the official link: http://www.abc.net.au/radio/newcastle/programs/drive/drive/10175990 – at the time of writing this, they only had 35 minutes of the program up (it’s a 3 hour show), so if they have the full program up by the time you read this, I’m at the last 10 minutes or so.

Now, onto News Sushi! Today we have an interview with a great musician from Nagoya, Japan. Plus, as usual, more of the patchwork of things I’ve found floating around the interwebs that interest me, and I hope interest you.

via GIPHY

On with the show!

NEWS SUSHI… interviews: TOWA

TGG: Towa and I met a few years ago in Nagoya, Japan (halfway between Tokyo and Kyoto), and I’m very excited to be able to interview her today. For our readers, could you please introduce yourself?

TOWA: Thank you Hamish! Hello everyone. I’m Towa and I’m Japanese. I spent 15 years of my childhood in Guam and America, finished college and returned to Japan in 2002. I played golf for college athletics and some professional tours here in Japan. Now, I’m a proud mother of four energized children, a hairdresser, and a black belt in Judo. I think I’m pretty well-rounded. Hehe.

TGG: I really love your beautiful music. When did you start writing and performing?

TOWA: My oldest memory of writing music goes back to when I was five. I wrote a simple song about a gorilla, on piano. I’ve taken some piano lessons but mostly it’s self taught, like all other instruments.

My love for music grew as I joined the church choir in elementary school, played in the handbell choir, and sang in school’s musical productions.
My first guitar was a farewell present from my high school friends when I left Guam. Late nineties, the radio was playing No Doubt, Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette. I taught myself some basic chords and started writing songs. I played at home parties for friends and that was my first performance.

For few years, I was away from music as I finished school and joined “the real world”, but picked it back up five years ago as I started uploading to YouTube.

TGG: On your youtube channel, you have a mix of originals and covers. How do you decide which song to cover? And when you do originals, what is your writing process like?

TOWA: I usually cover songs I like. It’s difficult to sing songs with lyrics that I can’t relate to. Other times, I sing for collaboration covers, in which case the songs are often not by my choice. My collaborators pick out tunes to which they think my voice will be a match. Sometimes, it’s really difficult to sing songs written by others but I always give it my best.

My original pieces, I often write lyrics and melody at the same time. I don’t necessarily write from experience or about myself. I write from imagination, a visual scene in mind. I first create this image in my head, and imagine what kind of music, what kind of sound will best suit the scene, what words will best describe the situation.

It’s kind of similar to when I paint; the choice of medium is like choosing the instruments, deciding on composition is like choosing chords.
Oh. I’m a BA in Studio Arts, double major in drawing and painting.

View this post on Instagram

Live!

A post shared by Towa (@towaokisuzuki) on

TGG: Now, there’s nothing like listening to live music. When is your next performance?

TOWA: I actually have not performed live in nearly two years. ( was preggers with my fourth). But, I’m planing to kick it off soon. I’ll probably be performing with several other artists. Will keep you updated on YouTube!

TGG: For those readers not in Japan, how can they best support you?

TOWA: I always love to hear what you think of my works. It will be great if you can leave me a word on YouTube! I also have an original album on iTunes. I’ll be eternally grateful if you can just stop by and listen. If you like it let me know! Tell a friend who might also enjoy it!

My YouTube account
https://www.youtube.com/user/Liveitupeternity

My iTunes link
YUJI & Towa「Salad」 https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/salad/955764966

View this post on Instagram

最高の五平餅 #岐阜県 #瑞浪市 #駅前 #五平餅

A post shared by Towa (@towaokisuzuki) on

TGG: And finally, for all those readers who don’t know Nagoya, why should they come and visit your great city?

TOWA: Nagoya is a compact city in which the traditional and the new Japanese cultures an be experienced. The downtown area is great for shopping. Sakae area has one of Japan’s largest underground shopping alley. If you are more into traditional outings, the Nagoya castle is now under construction to be fully renovated to its original form before it was burnt down in war. It will be built by traditional craftsmanship, using wood. They have already finished with a part of it and it’s now open for viewing. Oh. And the food!!! You just gotta come by!

TGG: Thanks for agreeing to this interview today. I’m sure that we will all look forward to what you are doing next.

TOWA: Thank you so much for your interest in my creative works. Hope to hear from you!

View this post on Instagram

#フラミンゴ #柄物 #ootd #夏ベレー

A post shared by Towa (@towaokisuzuki) on

NEWS SUSHI… listens!

Neal Kelly is a composer who sent me a friend request on facebook recently, and there I found this beautiful song he did: “Time Stands Still” –

I hope you enjoy it too.

NEWS SUSHI… Watches

As always, I love showing those #oneperfectshot stills.

My friend Matt recently had some great photos taken of him looking like a Marvel superhero…

The star of my upcoming feature film, Tomoko Hayakawa, is enjoying success with her latest award winning short film. And the director of that film is about to teach a class… for those who are interested – check it out!

Found: Foxes Stealing Shoes in Japan! And they would have gotten away with 40 pairs, if it weren’t for the dastardly police! Link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/fox-stealing-shoes-japan

My friend Adrian Austin has uncovered a long lost incomplete comic book that he wrote while in high school. If you’d like to help him complete it, please follow the link: https://ko-fi.com/adrianaustin

Another composer who I met here in Japan has now got a film showing in cinemas in Australia… congratulations Helena!

Do you want to know what the real Harajuku looks like? Don’t be disappointed…

From time to time I don’t mind popping by Takeshita street in Harajuku. I like to walk towards the station & take in people’s reactions to the overwhelming nature of the street as well as remember my first visit in 1991. Quite a few new big brands have set up shop now. pic.twitter.com/98C8iCthyK

— AussieinJapan (@AussieinJapan) September 4, 2018


Back in my hometown of Newcastle, one of the eyesores of the city, a tower which looks like a phallus, is finally coming down. Trouble is, that it’s so iconic, that I do feel a sense of sadness that it’s going. Here’s a music video which was shot there by a local artist:

NEWS SUSHI… Serenity Now!

Andy Van Scoyoc provides us with our weekly zen meditation… (I think we need it after that museum)…

Thank you again for sharing your Friday with yours truly…

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