‘White Day’: a new poem from ume’SHHU

It’s been several months since we announced the publication of the Japanese angsty poetry collection, Molasses and Shochu, but we wanted to share this new addition by Phoebe Amoroso also know as ume’SHHU.

For those of you who are not familiar with long-standing Japanese tradition, Valentine’s Day here is celebrated by women giving chocolate to men, sometimes out of obligation aka 義理チョコ (giri-choco), and sometimes, containing trace amounts of menstrual blood. On March 14th, men reciprocate by giving white chocolate to the women they fancy or who bestowed chocolate upon them.

Although, as you will see, the complexity of this poem, written by Ms. Amoroso, briefly touches upon these cultural traditions. They are important confectionary artifacts that have existed many decades after being created by Japan’s male-dominated cocoa industry and society at large. Please see the annotated version in the hardback edition of the book to deepen your understanding.

This chocolate isn’t black
Nor as large as I had hoped.
Every March 14th
Is my Friday 13th.
I have no lover 
To sweeten the occasion. 
Ever hoping for a Melty Kiss
But forever doomed 
To Crunky Balls from the conbini–
I had, after all, merely been convenient.
There is no sugar coating that fact. 

Even though, Japan
Has resigned me to smaller portions
I was not expecting this starvation.
I stared at the wrapper on my desk
And wondered how obligation could be so bitter.
Unwrapping the white KitKat
I held every total loss,
My palm sticky.

White chocolate should not exist.

Tokyo Pop: See it, believe it, breathe it. (Especially if you’re human sculpture)

Updated on December 1st.
Talk a walk on the wild side…of Tokyo.

Androniki Christodoulou has spent a decade shooting the photos of Japan’s subculture and its quirky side, with many fine prints of them assembled at the exhibit Tokyo Pop  at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan in Hibiya. They are part of a visual diary formed as she walked the city streets and met Tokyo’s people, through work-related assignments or in the course of doing street photography.

Japan’s unique and colorful popular culture was one of the reasons that brought her to Tokyo in 2004, although she originally hails from Greece. She notes: “Tokyo is a place where tradition and new trends exist side by side. There are zones in the city that have specific character and others where everything is possible. From the surface uniformity of salarymen, the mania of Otaku, to the extremes of fetish culture, there is space for everything. Popular culture in Tokyo isn’t something fixed that can be described in one set of photos. It flows and changes all the time.”

RUBBER BRAIN party (in club Mandala). Tokyo. RUBBER BRAIN party is more about the fashion of dressing up in rubber (with a very strict dress code! you don't get in unless you are dressed up as something) and watching the shows which are quite artistic. In this party, there was Butoh dancing, a comedy show and in the end there were sheets of rubber and a rubber chamber where people would go in wearing a mask to breath with when the air between their bodies and the rubber was extracted. They would stay there for a few seconds until they had their picture taken as a live sculpture, and then an other person would take their place.
RUBBER BRAIN party (in club Mandala). Tokyo.
RUBBER BRAIN party is more about the fashion of dressing up in rubber–with a very strict dress code! you don’t get in unless you are dressed up as something–and watching the shows which are quite artistic. In this party, there was Butoh dancing, a comedy show and in the end there were sheets of rubber and a rubber chamber where people would go in wearing a mask to breath with when the air between their bodies and the rubber was extracted. They would stay there for a few seconds until they had their picture taken as a live sculpture, and then an other person would take their place.

In her photos currently on display at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan, she captures the mood and atmosphere of places and venues that many native Tokyoites never have experienced. She isn’t as entranced by the bondage, fetish and sleazy side of Tokyo as she once was but this exhibition captures some mind-blowing moments of revels past in the murky metropolis. The show ends November 5th. The photos are scattered throughout the club, in the bar, the hall and the sushi restaurant as well. It’s worth the trek–if you’re feeling inspired after the show,, you can even go to Bic Camera when you’re done and get your own camera. The road to Street Photography is just a street away.

HARADAAndroniki Christodoulou freelances for international media and corporate client as a photographer expanding more into the world of video and multi-media. She has worked with Patrick Galbraith on the counter-culture classic, Otaku Spaces and self-published Underworld about the 2011 tsunami.

Harada Mariru (原田まりる),24, at the time of the picture was named race queen of the year in 2006, but in her room you won’t find fashion makeup and designer shoes. In their place are over 13,000 manga, enough to earn her the title “manga sommelier,” 1,000 limited edition anime DVDs and 7,000 videogames, including dating simulator games.”  (from the book OTAKU SPACES, text by Patric Galbraith.) The original photo used for the cover is on display at the exhibition.
Harada Mariru (原田まりる),24, at the time of the picture was named race queen of the year in 2006, but in her room you won’t find fashion makeup and designer shoes. In their place are over 13,000 manga, enough to earn her the title “manga sommelier,” 1,000 limited edition anime DVDs and 7,000 videogames, including dating simulator games.” (from the book OTAKU SPACES, text by Patrick Galbraith.) The original photo used for the cover is on display at the exhibition.