• Exporting Shame

    Pavlov would be thrilled. In the 1890s he trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell in St. Petersburg. Now, in the 21st century, Japan has trained its womenfolk not to urinate unless they hear the sound of a waterfall. Hold on, you say. Does this mean the lot of them have to […]

  • Piglet to plate.

    I never thought I’d see a happy marriage between two of my most disparate interests: electronic music and animal husbandry. But if anyone was to do it, it’s Matthew Herbert, a man who has made entire albums out of the sound of crumpling coke cans, stomach rumblings and torn newspapers. According to his manifesto, he rejects […]

  • Pride after the fall.

    Time Out Tokyo recently ran a feature about the lack of a proper Gay Pride parade in Tokyo. The event began in the 1990s, but has withered away in the last decade. When it does happen- rather erratically- it is rather subdued and many of the participants wear masks to cover their faces, or hover […]

  • Enari Tsuneo

    My most recent article for the Asahi is a review of photographer Tsuneo Enari’s exhibition, “Japan and its Forgotten War,” at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu, Tokyo. You can read it here. I was struck by the exhibition largely because I know very little about Japan’s role in World War II. I’m […]

  • Land of the rising… towerblock?

    From above, Tokyo sprawls out like a Sim City designer’s wet dream: slick, efficient, multi-layered, seemingly chaotic and yet tightly ordered. A nervous system of train lines pulse from dawn to dusk; cars clatter over elevated highways while a jumble of pedestrians and cyclists await red lights patiently below. Settlements organize themselves around the nodes […]

  • This isn’t Japan

    “This isn’t Japan,” the old man said. He gestured towards the still intact part of the city. “Us living out here, them living over there—this kind of inequality hasn’t existed since the war.” Behind him, the dawn tide was still pooled around the hollowed out houses, a kilometre inland. A pig farm stench was seeping […]

  • This is how we do it.

    I had a mortifying experience a little while ago. I was walking down the street in Ginza on my lunchbreak when a middle-aged man called out, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” in English behind me. I spun around. Very politely, and still in English, he said: “I’m sorry but you might want to check your dress. […]