“Happiness” (Shigeo Sekito)

Imagine going to an amusement park alone after having a rough day. You see couples and families enjoying their afternoon, leaving you with a wistful smile. You hear the hypnotic sound of a merry-go-round nearby. You gravitate toward the ride — almost like some unknown force is gently pulling you — and board one of... Continue Reading →


“Miraiha Lovers” (Hiroko Kasahara)

Some songs exist for the purpose of straight sugary injection and making people feel good. The opening to the 1988 Patlabor OVA (original video animation) anime, "Miraiha Lovers" ("Future Lovers" in English) is likely the peppiest song of all time. After many years of navigating my personal J-pop journey, this is the happiest track I've... Continue Reading →

Fushigi Shoujo (Chiemi Manabe)

Information in English regarding Chiemi Manabe's career and the circumstances surrounding Fushigi Shoujo parallel the album itself: both require digging and unfortunately, both are destined to obscurity. There were many fantastic albums released in Japan in the early 80s's, and those who know them covet them. Just check how high this LP goes on Discogs.... Continue Reading →

“Ashitaka and San” (Joe Hisaishi)

There's something comforting about the deliberate pace and quiet build of "Ashitaka and San," a stand-out instrumental piece from Princess Mononoke, a fantasy epic about the constant struggle between man and nature. Director Hayao Miyazki does not provide easy solutions to this conflict in the film, but instead presents realistic steps to achieve some form of compromise.... Continue Reading →

“Break Down” (BeForU)

Ready or not, it's time to break down. First appearing on the 2002 iteration of the popular arcade series Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), "Break Down" is the musical equivalent of slurping down a cherry slushie with a straw in one gulp. It's sugary and downright excessive, but you'd be kidding yourself to deny the rush. The song... Continue Reading →

“Endless Rain” (Live) X Japan

X Japan's 1997 live performance of "Endless Rain" is one of the most symbolic gestures in music history. Here was perhaps the most popular Japanese band of all time playing their last planned concert, performing arguably their most beloved song. Long after lead vocalist Toshi stops singing, the crowd continues to chant the chorus. In that moment, X Japan's reign... Continue Reading →

“Seven Years After” (Princess Princess)

Released in 1991, eight years into their career (and presumably written the year prior), "Seven Years After" captures a band at its crossroads. By 1990, Princess Princess had made it to the top of the J-pop world, scoring multiple number one singles and embarking on massive tours. By 1991, the band's members were approaching their... Continue Reading →

“Ikiru” (Tokyo Jihen)

Sheena Ringo has seemingly done it all. With each new track, she continues to challenge herself. Following her breakout solo career, she founded Tokyo Jihen, which operated on a similar wavelength as her previous material. The name might be different, but "Ikiru" is classic Ringo. In Japanese, "Ikiru" mean "to live." Judging by the vitality and... Continue Reading →

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