Posts Tagged ‘drugs’

Rediscovering Japan’s ‘lost generation’ and Tokyo Beatles

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Life magazine has dug into its vault and recently released a treasure trove of photos that photojournalist Michael Rougier took for a Life special issue on Japan, published in September 1964. Many of them have never been published before. Rougier contrasted the outer appearance of “youth who seem as wholesome and happy as a hot fudge sundae” with the subcultures he found hanging out in jazz clubs and taking drugs at all-night beach parties. In text that accompanied the photos, correspondent Robert Morse wrote:

Having sliced the ties that bind them to the home, in desperation they form their own miniature societies with rules of their own. The young people in these groups are are bound to one another not out of mutual affection — in many cases the “lost ones” are incapable of affection — but from the need to belong, to be part of something.

Morse and Rougier documented the kids who rebelled against their parents through pill popping, motorcycle riding, swigging booze — and gyrating to the sounds of the Tokyo Beatles. The band was a relatively short-lived phenomenon, with only one album to show for its three years in existence. The music is covers of Beatles’ songs rendered in a mix of Japanese and English. It sounds at once like a straight copy and like something completely new. Judging from the photographs, it hit the right chords with the teens of Tokyo. We strongly recommend that you see the full gallery of photos and read more at LIFE.com. It won’t be time wasted.

Pulsations (04.13.12)

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

  • Hashimoto Toru (from Ampotan): Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka, is locked in a battle with the central government over nuclear power. This looong read —  in six parts — tracks the background and political ambitions of  Hashimoto and his party One Osaka.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Reading Food Labels in Japan (from Surviving in Japan): Japanese supermarkets can be a confusing place for the allergy-prone, calorie counters and anyone curious about what they put in their mouths. This detailed guide takes some of the mystery out of grocery shopping.
  • Japan, Land of the Rising Meth (from Tofugu): Crystal meth makes you less hungry and more productive (for a short while, anyway) … and —surprise, surprise — it was made in Japan. Tofugu looks at the history of the drug, from its invention and wide use among Japanese soldiers in World War II to its hallowed place in yakuza culture.
  • First Impressions — Polar Bear Cafe (from Isugoi): The young panda is forced to find work, but the polar bear would rather have a human working in his cafe. Confused? Who wouldn’t be .. but John Howard Marshall tries to figure out what on earth is going on in the popular animated sitcom “Polar Bear Cafe.”
  • Don’t miss The Japan Times’ sakura stories for one last stroll under the pink trees.

Trends in Japan 2009: celebrity drug busts

Monday, December 28th, 2009

The children's decongestants above were not the only powders on the street, apparently

The children’s decongestants seen above were apparently not the only widely distributed powders in Japan this year

One doesn’t have to be an ardent news junkie to know that drugs and drug busts featured prominently in Japan’s headlines this year. From soldiers to pop stars, 2009 will be remembered as a year of disillusionment for many of the Japanese public regarding the “purity” of their heroes.

Still reeling from the marijuana scandal that began with Russian sumo stars in 2008, the search for other pot-smoking wrestlers continued in January, resulting in the first native Japanese to fall victim to the purge (he apparently smoked blunts). All wrestlers were subjected to a number of drug tests, most of which produced nothing. As the scandal unfolded, coverage of Japan’s “Reefer Madness” grew, with statistics showing that use of and arrests involving the devil weed were on the rise in the archipelago. Interestingly enough, as Jake Adelstein explains, it’s not a crime to use marijuana in Japan, but it is a crime to possess it (a retired cop once told him “don’t smoke more than you can eat”).

Not the case with “stimulants,” the catch-all phrase used for hard synthetic drugs and the real source of Japan’s drug problems. The stoner sumo fiasco was completely overshadowed this summer by two stories that continue to reverberate across country. Two celebrities – Noriko Sakai and Manabu Oshio – were accused of using meth and ecstasy, respectively. Both cases were a muckracker’s wet dream, made even more tantalizing to the press when placed in context. On the surface, Oshio’s story was the juiciest, since he had allegedly shared his stash with a bar hostess, who subsequently died of unknown causes. If that wasn’t enough to pique national interest, the event in question happened in a swank Roppongi Hills apartment owned by Mika Noguchi, the founder of lingerie giant, Peach John, Japan’s answer to Victoria’s Secret.

Continue reading about celebrity drug busts in 2009 →

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