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Japanese film buffs who haven’t already stumbled onto Ryuganji.net are missing out on one of the web’s best English language resources on the Japanese film industry.  For two and a half years Don Brown, a Kiwi living somewhere in Japan, has kept up a running commentary on Japanese films, actors and related ephemera.  Posts run the gamut from release notices for both large-scale and minor projects, reviews, actor news and gossip and anything else Mr. Brown decides to throw on the site. 

Definitely worth a visit, and likely to become a regular stop on the web for anyone who shares the author’s love for Japanese movies and the often bizarre characters who make them.  Find it here or from the sidebar.

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Get Hiroshima Blog

The most common advice bloggers receive, other than to post regularly (ha!), is to find and hold a focus.  Few Japan blogs have managed that better over the past several years than the consistently useful Get Hiroshima Blog.  Kept mostly by a British and American couple living and working in, well, Hiroshima, the blog keeps running tabs on news, events and other developments around town that might be of interest to locals, foreign or otherwise.

The blog focuses on Hiroshima and its environs but manages within that purview to include everything from restaurant and film reviews to glosses of local news stories, interviews, opinion pieces and more.  Part of the larger gethiroshima.com site, both the blog and its parent site are uniquely useful resources for prospective visitors to western Japan.  Check it out here or from the sidebar.

Despite the title, this is not just another English teacher evincing the early signs of what will shortly become full-blown alcoholism.  Melinda Joe is, according to her profile, “a graduate of the John Gauntner Sake Professional Course and a WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Wine Certificate holder.”  She also writes a bar column for the Tokyo Food Page.  In other words, the lady knows her booze.

Her posts, though appearing irregularly, range from coverage of industry events to late night run-ins with sake sages in smoke-yellowed back alley pubs.  She does it all well, moving fluidly from personal anecdote to succinct and lucid appraisals of wines, sakes and food without a trace of pretension.  If you’re interested in sake, wine, or just finding a good place to eat and drink in Tokyo, this blog is an excellent place to start.  Find it here, or in the sidebar.

Alright, no matter how it may seem from time to time, Japanese pop culture has yet to infiltrate every shadowed nook and cranny on planet Earth.  And perhaps you’re one of those who finds this an enormous relief.  If so, you are dismissed.  On the other hand, if you’re an anime and manga fan who has somehow missed this blog, you’ll want to visit right away.

An Eternal Thought in the Mind of Godzilla (I don’t get it either, let’s just move on) is the blog of Patrick Macias, a “writer, editor, and internationally recognized Japanese pop culture expert” who splits his time between Tokyo and San Francisco, editing “Otaku USA” magazine and contributing to a host of projects in various media formats.  The blog itself is an interesting and regularly updated look at the scene, exploring both its history and most cutting edge concerns.  A definite daily read for anyone who’s passionate about Japan’s popular culture and its trappings.  Check it out here or from the sidebar.

Let’s Japan

This blog is a potential lifesaver for some hapless young humanities major out there, with fantasies of coming to Japan and teaching English while he (a) dates an endless parade of submissive auto show girls (b) becomes a martial arts legend or (c) gets an apartment in Akihabara and claws his way to the top of the savage otaku food chain.

The blog’s About section puts it this way:

Let’s Japan seeks to debunk the beast known as eikaiwa, or English conversation in Japan…Working in Japan was nothing close to the image presented to us back home. We were salesmen, doing our best to keep students happy enough so that they would gladly keep paying for the privilege of speaking to us a few times a week.

Let’s Japan does an excellent job of tracking news items related to the big chain English schools, and has found ample material in the aftermath of the Nova fiasco.  The writers also pull very few punches in sharing their own anecdotes about life in the eikaiwa ghetto.  So the next time a young relative or friend’s kid brother asks about teaching in one of the McSchools, you have an alternative to the standard, “Sure, or you could just fling yourself in front of a train.”  Send them to Let’s Japan.

Here or from the sidebar.

Interesting primarily because there are so few similar blogs in English.  Jade (not her real name) is an American citizen working in a Roppongi hostess club.  In her blog, she writes about her co-workers, customers both good and bad, and her alcoholic mama-san.

The blog is obviously a place for her to blow off some steam, and the tone gets pretty vicious at times, but it works well as a window into the daily routines of a hostess in a small club.  She spends a fair amount of time wondering aloud just what she’s doing with her life, and after reading a few entries you’ll wonder too.  Still, the distinctly soap opera feel of the blog can hook you pretty quickly.

Here or from the sidebar.

Frangipani

It seems a great many people who arrive in Japan wind up trying to reinvent themselves, even if that wasn’t their intention at all when they set out.  I can’t say for sure why this is.  Perhaps the relative scarcity of opportunities allows some of us to look into possibilities we wouldn’t have taken as seriously back home.

I certainly won’t try to guess at what motivates the author of Frangipani, a wonderful little blog from an Australian in Tokyo.  But it’s been fun reading her site and following her work as she’s honed her camera skills and begun to think about launching her own photography business.  She wrote recently about the “Thousand True Fans” theory, a somewhat optimistic idea making its rounds on the internet, claiming that all an artist needs to make a living is 1,000 devoted fans.  I can’t vouch for the theory’s soundness, but if her work continues in the direction it’s going, she can sign me up.  

Be sure to click around a bit; her photographs are kept in several different places.  Here or from the sidebar.