Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Live picks: Weekend of December 11, 2015


Go Like Weird at Hatagaya Heavy Sick

Having a Party with Girls at Shimokitazawa Basement Bar
Hosted by The Let's Go's

Dinosaur Sex in Higashi-Koenji UFO Club


Classic power pop from The Choosers (Christine!) and The Cokes (one night reunion only!) at Heavy Sick

Girls Meeting vol. 1 with Pats Pats and more at Koenji Pundit
Facebook event page

Teenage Shutdown with The Fadeaways and Rolando Bruno at Higashi-Koenji UFO Club
Facebook event page

Kyle Vincent & Friends - Whatever Happened to Fun at Shimokitazawa Three
Facebook event page

Big Freak vol. 7 with Aggro and more at Nakano Moonstep
Facebook event page


Marilu and the Machetes Japan Tur with Pats Pats, Mellvins and more at Koenji Green Apple


Chicks Riot with performances, DJs, shop and food at Hatagaya Heavy Sick


Got To Have Pop Christmas Special
With Lars, Bangie, Clarke, Kumi at Hatagaya Heavy Sick

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Live picks: Week of Friday, December 4, 2015

Featured: Liten Butiken Fourth Anniversary Party (Sunday)

With Lars (from Sweden!), DJs and more!

Saturday events

PowerPopRevival vol.6
At Shimokitazawa Mona Records

DJ night at Shibuya MODS BAR FACE

Mandes first album release
With special guest Rock Juice!

Saturday + Sunday


Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Live picks: Week of Friday, November 27, 2015

Featured: Petersfield 7 inch release party at Shimokitazawa THREE

You're bound to find at least one new favorite band in the very varied line-up on Saturday in Shimokitazawa! The event is headlined by the shoegaze / Velvets pop of Petersfield, celebrating their new vinyl single. Also on offer is glam rock from Young Parisians, punk from Bubbles, wild garage from Minnesota Voodoo Men, indie pop from Flashlights and more! All this plus DJs including garage rock legend Daddy-O and Yoshiko from's!

More events

See flyer, Facebook page or venue for details.

Mystery Meat Vol. 32: To Be the Meat...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Live picks: Week of Friday, November 20, 2015

Featured: Fungus Buggs, Sunday 11/22 at Hatagaya Heavy Sick

No, we don't know what Fungus Buggs means either, but if you want to get into the Tokyo garage and rock scene, this Sunday at Heavy Sick in Hatagaya sees one of the best lineups one could possibly imagine! There's guitar pyrotechnics from Eddie Legend A Go-Go, featuring the self-same Eddie of bands like Mad 3; the venerable Supersnazz, with their energetic pop; full-on rocking from The Titans; blog favorites Stompin' Riffraffs; and finally Tinalovers, made up from members of Mellvins and The Fadeaways! All this plus garage rock DJs supreme Daddy O-nov and Kyoko (and yours truly for good measure). Don't miss it!

Featured: One Track Mind, Tuesday 11/24 at Hatagaya Heavy Sick

Got To Have Pop is a monthly "DJ party" with a rotating roster of guest DJs, with regular appearance by yours truly, who also sings a few tunes live on occasion. This month we are joined by mod and powerpop experts Takeo and Mamiko! Tuesdays at Heavy Sick are usually intimate affairs, but if you have the chance, do come along and say hello to me and Barman Mr. Death (famous from Bamboo House!)

More shows

See flyers, Facebook or venue sites for details.


Blast Jams – DJs and bands including Stompin' Riffraffs at Heavy Sick.


The's presents NOW! with The Cyclops from USA, featuring Tina from The Trashwomen, with's, Thunderroads and more at Shimokitazawa Shelter. Afterparty at Poor Cow guaranteed!

Americo, Rock-a-Cherry, Jeansmates and friends at Musashisakai Statto.

Punk Rock Gig #4 with The Bubbles, Three Minute Movie, DJ Yoichi, more, at Heavy Sick.


The Let's Go's, Autocratics and more at Nishi-Ogikubo Pit Bar.


Acid Baby Jesus Japan tour with Car Crash, d/i/s/c/os and Raydios at Heavy Sick, Hatagaya.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Live picks: Week of Friday, November 13, 2015

The Tokyo garage rock scene seems to be over the mikkayoi and back in business – there are so many shows this week it's going to be tough to choose!


On Friday, you can start out with Monster Billy Attacks in Shibuya at The Guignette By Moja to see our favorite man and three chicks The Stompin' Riffraffs, surf legends Jackie and the Cedrics, burlesque dancer Rita Goldie, The Burlesque Devils, and much more, all for the low, low price of FREE!
Facbook event page

Then, head over to the venerable UFO Club in Higashi-Koenji for an all-night Back From The Grave garage rock show-down: Texaco Leatherman vs. The Minnesota Voodoo Men!
Facebook event page

Finally, pop-punkers The Let's Go's are as busy as ever with two gigs this weekend! This band just seems to get better and better, so I highly recommend checking them out. They start out at Shimokitazawa Basement Bar (free for the under-18 set!) and play Sunday around the city with equally poppy The Havenots. See flyers or their Facebook page for details!


Over at Hatagaya Heavy Sick, you can see the melodic rockers That's A No No along with indiepoppers Flashlights and Petersfield, mod action from Nervous Hearts, all organized by The Standards.

And if you didn't have enough of Back From The Grave, there is another one on Saturday, believe it or not! Gasoline celebrate their new album release with guests!


But wait! There's more! Hatagaya Heavy Sick plays host to favorites Theee Bat, Machinicalis, those Mellvins girls, and more!
Facebook event page

And finally, if you're still out for more punk and more, The Fadeaways, The Bubbles and many more bands play at Shinjuku Jam! There doesn't seem to be a Facebook page but check out the flyer below.

More flyers

Whew! That should keep you busy. Here are the flyers we couldn't fit in above...


Sunday, November 8, 2015

How to eat: Hana-Maru – udon noodles and tempura galore!

Today we go to Hanamaru, a chain famous for its udon dishes. Udon is a type of thick wheat noodle, usually served in a broth seasoned with fish-sauce and various toppings. It also goes well with tempura, various deep-fried pieces of vegetable, fish and meat. Udon is healthy and delicious, and the various combinations make for a lot of variety of the basic dish. But you should be prepared before you enter, or ordering may be a little difficult!

Hanamaru literally means "round flower", and its characteristic symbol can be seen all over Tokyo and the rest of Japan. There are about 350 restaurants in Japan, and they are also starting to expand internationally.

The system at Hanamaru is a little different from the previous chains we have covered, as you don't have either vending machines or table orders. Instead, you go straight ahead to the ordering counter and pick up a tray. You tell the person at the counter what udon dish you want, and they make it fresh literally before your eyes! You can order by pointing at the menu at the counter, but since chances are it will be busy, you had better be prepared before you get there...

There will be several menus posted on the walls on the way to the counter, so stop and look at one of them First, note that the udon bowls at Hanamaru come in three different sizes: small, medium and large. We find that small is more than enough, especially if you combine it with tempura or karaage (fried chicken). At the top of the menu above, you see the different sets, where you get a curry or a side dish along with your udon bowl. Below that are various forms of beef udon, and then comes the regular udon dishes, topped with egg, vegetables, etc. Decide if you are going for a set or a single bowl – the pictures should be fairly self explanatory.

Apart from the type of topping and size of the bowl, you also have another decision to make: hot or cold! In the summer, it can be refreshing to get you noodles in cool ("tsumetai") soup, but hot ("atatakai") is the most common. You will be asked which you want, and if your Japanese is not up to scratch, saying "hotto" should be enough to get you hot soup, and "cold" (actually pronounced "korudo", but not a common loan word in Japanese) just might work too.

The person at the counter will take your order and prepare the udon bowl and any extras, and you simply put it on the tray. (Don't try to pay yet!)

Then, you move your tray along the tempura station, where you can pick up various fried seafood, vegetables and meat. You put these on a separate platter on the tray. 

After this, you reach the payment station, and pay for the food before taking a seat.

There are also a few other useful things to note: There is a water dispenser where you pick up glasses and fill them up yourself. Beside it, there is a station for picking up various condiments to put in the soup, as well as spoons and other eating implements. Finally, there will also be a hot water dispenser to top up the soup if you want to. 

After loading your tray, you sit down at any free seat. Note that there will be chopsticks and soy sauce at your place, but spoons and other condiments will have to be picked up at the station.

Here, we ordered a kara-age set with tamago udon for 580 yen. Tamago is egg, so we get a soft-boiled egg on the basic udon noodles. Kara-age is fried chicken, which is served with another egg on top of boiled rice. It is especially delicious with mayonnaise, which comes in a little plastic container on the side. Finally, we picked up some tempura, in this case a cluster of deep-fried vegetables for 140 yen. You can eat the tempura as is, or drop it into the soup on top of the noodles, whichever you prefer. 

Here, we tried on of the beef udon dishes at 550 yen for the medium size. To be honest, beef on udon feels a little wrong, so in the future we will instead just get a basic bowl and top up with tempura! But if you absolutely must have meat, the beef udon is a good choice.

When you are done, you just return the tray to the kitchen station, which will be somewhere near where you picked up the food. 

Overall, Hanamaru is great value and you can build a lot of different types of meals with the various toppings and tempura in addition to the basic udon. 

Quick facts

Link: Official Hanamaru web site (Japanese only)

Where to find it: Although not as plentiful as some other chains, you can find Hanamaru at most major parts of Tokyo – there are about 350 locations in Japan

Price: Small udon bowls start at 300 yen and go to 650 for the large beef bowls. Sets are 530-580 yen. Tempura are about 100-150 yen each.

Hours: Varies with location.

Order system: Take a tray and order at the counter; pick up extras and pay at the end of the counter. Sit anywhere you like and don't forget to return your tray afterwards!

Take-out? It doesn't appear so.

Vegetarian options? The basic udon bowls are all based on fish sauce, so not strictly vegetarian. You may be able to stop the chef from putting in the sauce ("Soosu irenaide kudasai!") and get the noodles flat, but it's a gamble. A better strategy may be to order rice on the side and pack up with vegetable tempura, of which there is plenty.

What to get: The kara-age (udon and fried chicken) set is our favorite, and a small size udon portion is enough to feed all but the most hungry. But we think you should just look for the most appetizing udon on the menu, and pile on the tempura by taste – you won't be disappointed!