Category Archives: Friday Column

No.010 “Was India Calling for Me?”

※ I have a feeling you ought to take a look at No.009 “Eek, you pervert~! Now, as for that vacation…” before reading on.

Originally, I was thinking of taking time off from work at the end of May. The limited edition CD I was recording after ending my “Hikigatari Battari #1” tour in March also acted as practice for my upcoming “#2” tour, so the plan was that immediately after my official site opened on May 20th, I’d take a week long trip somewhere and after coming back, I’d use the next two weeks to make any final adjustments for the tour. Such a seemingly convenient plan and everything… but I was naive.

Not only did my workload for the opening of the site turn out to be much bigger than I’d anticipated, but I soon realized that there was going to be no pause for its updates and other work that needed to be done after its opening. But, it was something I’d wanted to do for a long time, and seeing what I’d envisioned gradually materializing before my eyes was just a blast and extremely cool to see. But because of that, and a variety of other things, the rehearsals for my tour were initially not going very smoothly, so in that situation I came to the conclusion that my planned holiday at the end of May had to be postponed to after “#2” at the end of July.

When I was halfway through the tour, however, more and more activities for the near future were being scheduled and before I’d realized it, taking time off at the end of July, too, was going to be impossible. It was obvious that things were only going to get busier and busier. So, I made up my mind and decided that I had to take time off from July 14th until 18th. “Let’s see… a short vacation of 5 days and 4 nights” → “Well, I want to take it easy but I also want to avoid unnecessary expenses” → “Alright, best take advantage of Mileage.” So, I logged onto JAL Mileage Bank and looked through their special flights.

My destination? Hanoi, Vietnam. Ever since returning to Japan last summer I’ve felt like going to Vietnam (or more specifically, Hanoi) to eat authentic pho to my heart’s content. Unfortunately, since I made my vacation plans as late as July 1st — two weeks before my departure — and perhaps because of the long weekend, the flight back from Hanoi was full and I couldn’t afford to move my schedule by even one day. So I thought, “in that case, what about Ho Chi Minh City?” But there were no round trip tickets left anymore. “Oh dear… I was too late, huh.” So, I looked through JAL’s special offers for locations with direct flights as I didn’t want to waste any time. However, I’m currently not particularly interested in South Korea, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, it’s still too early for me to visit Guam or Saipan, and if I was to go to China, I’d prefer to take my time exploring the mainland. While I was busy going around in circles with all these thoughts, I happened to come upon the word “Delhi.” Delhi… India, huh…? (Cue India-like BGM of reminiscence here, resounding from around 9 years ago.)

December 1996. “So next up it’s gotta be India, huh?” That’s what I was thinking back then for particularly no reason. Thus, at the end of ’96, the plan was to go to Delhi → take a picture of the Taj Mahal in Agra → bathe in the River Ganges in Varanasi → finish by eating hot curry in Calcutta. I got my travel agent at the time to arrange my flights, booked all the hotels and applied for a Visa. Well, it turned out that the remaining validity on my passport didn’t meet the requirements for the Visa, so I hurriedly got the renewal process for my passport started. I made sure that I still had time to get the Visa after I’d been issued my new passport, so the case was closed for the time being and I kept reading my India guidebook and getting ready for my first visit there.

However, the day before I was going to get issued my new passport, I was suddenly awoken from my sleep by a high fever and was rushed into a nearby hospital. The fever was my new personal record, by the way, breaking 39 degrees. I didn’t have any coughing, a runny nose or any other symptoms typical of a cold, and there was nothing special found in terms of the fever’s origin. I was told that it’d be best to wait it out for a while and see how it develops, and so I was hospitalized. I received an intravenous drip on the bed of the hospital sickroom and took it easy, but the next day when I was supposed to get my new passport, my high fever was still there, hovering at around 38 degrees.

Naturally, the passport had to be personally picked up and although the thought of calling a taxi and sneaking out of the hospital to get it did cross my mind, I had no idea when my high fever of unknown origin was going to pass, and when it did, I had no idea if I could endure my time of convalescence in the completely new environment of India. I had no energy to think about it so I called up my travel agent to ask if I was really out of options here, and he told me that “even using the fastest method for acquiring the Visa, today’s the limit.” I sadly gave up on picking up the passport that day.

I had work scheduled immediately after I was due to return which I couldn’t postpone, so with bitter disappointment, I made the decision to cancel my trip to India. In the end, they never did find an explanation for my high fever and I was discharged from the hospital four days later. One night, I was at my regular bar where I told this same story. “Well, they say India ‘calls’ for people…“, my barkeep said. “It looks like it wasn’t calling for you this time.” “It ‘calls’ for you, huh…” (Cue the fadeout of the India-like BGM of reminiscence and return to present day.)

While reminiscing over those memories, I’d somehow come across a direct flight to Delhi that had a perfect schedule of a Thursday departure and Sunday return. Investigating further, I noticed it even had vacancies for a round trip. Perhaps this meant that India was finally “calling” for me? Mmm, but the place I wanted to go was Hanoi, Vietnam, or failing that, at least Ho Chi Minh. I wanted to stay at a fancy hotel and take my time slowly painting pictures or something. At any rate, it was all good as long as I’d get to eat pho to my heart’s content. I knew that much.

Besides, wouldn’t my first time experiencing India be a little difficult with such a tight schedule? Still, the fact of the matter was that the flights to both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh were full, whereas the one to Delhi wasn’t. Well, it wasn’t like I absolutely had to go to Vietnam. More than anything, I just wanted to take some time off. If I didn’t get a cancel ticket to either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, then I’d interpret that as “India calling for me” and decide that Delhi is where I had to go. So, I put the Hanoi flight as my no. 1 wish and Ho Chi Minh City as no. 2 on the waiting list, then the flight to Delhi as by backup reservation. It was almost like a lottery to decide my place of destination. I then bought “Walks of the Earth, India Edition” and started imagining my first visit to India.

On July 8th, I had a message in my answering machine. “Hello, I’m calling on behalf of JAL Mileage Bank. We have something to discuss with you, so could you call us back, please.” Me: “Hmm, did I get it…? Oh no, what do I do if they tell me “Mr. Kimura, India is calling for you”?” Things like that were going through my head as I called JAL.

It turned out, I’d gotten the round trip tickets to Ho Chi Minh. As the day of departure was approaching and I still had to take care of the hotel arrangements and whatnot, continuing to wait for Hanoi might’ve been a bit obstinate of me so I confirmed my flight to Ho Chi Minh, removed myself from the waiting list to Hanoi and with that, my reservation to Delhi was gone, too.

So in the end, I suppose India still wasn’t calling for me. Or maybe it was — I just pretended not to notice.

Well, this sure got long. The answer to the quiz in column No. 009 was Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Though I’ve been complaining about this and that, I really did have a great time there. Next week, I’ll write more about the rice noodles, pho, that I went and ate to my heart’s content. Also, on the paysite “Kita-Aoyama Image Redevelopment” that opens on August 20th, I’ll be posting my detailed travel journal to Ho Chi Minh along with beautiful pictures. (Just doing some advertising, fufufu…)


No.009 “Eek, You Pervert~! Now, As For That Vacation…”

“Hikigatari Battari #2” in 8 different cities! Without catching a cold, without injuring my throat, without losing or gaining any weight, I was able to safely finish all of the performances. Thank you. A special paid site called “Kita-Aoyama Image Redevelopment” is planned to go online on August 20th and will include pictures and detailed reports of the tour. (Just doing some advertising, fufufu…)

Now then. Those of you who go to school should be starting your summer holidays soon, right? As for those of you who work, what are your plans for the summer? When it gets to this time of the year in Paris, France, the “bonjour” will quite often be followed by the person asking you “so where are you going for the holidays?” Then, for example: “I’m going to Naples.” “Ah, how nice! It’s beautiful over there.” If you can have a pleasant, commonplace conversation like that, that’s great. However, if you say “I don’t have any holidays,” you might be causing them to silently worry over your health. That’s how commonly practiced it is there that August is a month of rest. All the quality restaurants with good sense, too, will close down for three to four weeks in August. In fact, the restaurants that keep doing business normally throughout that period are thought to be using temporary chefs in their kitchens so they aren’t trusted. In France, it seems that the mindset of “a person who doesn’t take vacations is an idiot” is definitely firmly in place.

Even the Japanese who have this image worldwide of being non-stop, diligent workers have been growing more relaxed in this regard for the last couple of decades. However, we are still ways away from a mindset of “holiday = common sense.” It stops at “holiday = ‘ah, I’m so jealous.’” And even before that, if you don’t choose your timing carefully, the mindset of “holiday = an inconvenience for your bosses” takes priority.

That doesn’t really apply to me. As long as I create what I need to create, do what I need to do and do it properly, I don’t have to worry about anyone else if I want to take a holiday. So I asked myself, “have I created what I need to create and done what I need to do?” And although my answer was this sort of “uhhh…“, if I’m going to be taking some time off this summer, doing it right now after I’ve finished my live tour feels like very natural timing in many ways.

However, I have a deadline for preparing all the new content planned for my special site “Kita-Aoyama Image Redevelopment” (opening on August 20th). If I think about that quickly approaching deadline, I do begin to feel like it might not be the best time for a vacation after all… However, in my case, I really need one, you see. I must see and experience more things, expand my outlook, get more and more EXP points. After justifying it to myself with such a sad excuse, I forced an opening in my schedule — albeit a tight one. The five days immediately following the tour — that’s all I’ve got. If I let this one slip away from me, I’ll only have a week of vacation days within the year at most. If worst comes to worst, even my New Year’s holiday might be compromised. I know that much. So, short as it may be, I’m going on a vacation.

Thus, when this column gets published on July 15th (Fri), I’ll already be on my solitary trip to a city in some other country. It’s been a while since I last got to experience that strange, fun feeling of tension when you’re sluggishly walking around and eating something in a carefree manner.[1]

Right. Question time.

Immediately following my live tour, I’ll be going abroad for a period of 5 days and 4 nights (including flights). Which city in which country will I be visiting?


– I’m using a special advantage ticket from JAL’s Mileage Bank
– This will be my first time visiting there in 10 and a half years
– It’ll be my third voyage there

I believe you’ll find the answer in Column No.010.


TL notes:
[1] Eating and walking in public is generally considered poor manners in Japan.

No.008 “My Sort-Of Admiration for Teppei-chan”

Thank you to everyone who came to see the two shows in Tokyo and the one in Nagoya.

Last week I wrote about “abbreviations” and this week I’d like to talk about “nicknames.” I’ve never had one myself. My real name is 木村 和, and the fact that the “和” is read as “Kan” was back in those days just this astonishing thing. Even now, 43 years later, it still remains at the forefront of naming. All through kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school, I was called “Kan-chan” by my seniors, “Kan-kun” by girls and “Kan” by friends. I’ve never received a nickname even once.

On the contrary, there have been times when this real name of mine has been thought to have been a nickname. For example, during the summer holidays when I was an elementary school 4th grader, I was attending this swimming school. This guy, I think he was student of the Fukuoka University swimming club, he was working there part-time as a swimming instructor. Each time there was a roll call, he’d call out “Kazushi Kimura!” and instead of a “yes,” I’d go “it’s Kan.” That’s always how the exchange went. Neither of us was willing to back down for the entire summer, so that went on for the whole 20 days of swimming school. Just one of those “Kyushu boys” episodes.

Then, near the end of my 3rd year in high school, a guy who had been in the same class with me since year 1 asked me, “by the way, man, what’s your real name anyways?” Since he’d heard everyone else calling me “Kan,” he naturally just followed their example. But as we got to our 3rd year with graduation looming right around the corner, I guess he felt he ought to at least make sure of his friend’s name.

Even after moving to Tokyo, all my university friends and band mates kept calling me “Kan” or “Kan-chan.” Thinking back, the last time I was even called “Kimura” must’ve been around ’84-’86 when I was working part-time at a Ginza restaurant. At any rate, I’ve never had a nickname. I made my debut as “KAN” in ’87, changing the reading of my real name to the alphabet version. But that’s a “stage name,” right? Yet, I still continue to be called “Kan,” “Kan-chan,” “Kan-kun,” “Kan-san” or “Kan-sama.” There’s no sign of me getting a nickname anytime soon.

Well, be that as it may, it’s not like I really want a nickname or that I even have a particular one in mind. No strong feelings of that sort. But, how should I put it…? It’s like, I have this kind of admiration for getting called by a nickname. The story behind the nickname, the circumstances under which it was born in, and whether the person in question actually likes it or not, those are of course all things important to take into consideration, but it’s like, if you have another name, I think it must feel like you have this whole other realm to explore. That’s why I kind of admire it. “I have no experience with it nor am I going to going to do anything in order to make it happen, but it just feels like another realm, so I admire it…” Theoretically, I could say the same about something like skydiving or scuba diving.

In the early days of Kome Kome CLUB, Tatsuya Ishii was calling himself “Donald Heigen,” then later changed the stage name to “Carl Smokey Ishii” (which the masses all accepted), and on top of that, he was always called “Teppei-chan” for some reason. Now, if you think about that in the terms I just talked about… man, that’d be the same as me jumping from an altitude of 3,000 meters above the sea next to some Southern island, diving directly underwater to take pictures of fish. I kind of admire him for a variety of reasons. Not that I will by any means try to make the same happen for myself, nor that I want it to. Not at all.


No.007 “To Be Abbreviated”

Thank you to everyone who came to see my shows in Osaka on the 23rd and Kobe on the 25th. With that, I have now finished five performances from “Hikigatari Battari #2 at 8 cities!”

Now, I know this seems random, but this week I’m going to write about “abbreviations”. It appears that lately the newspapers and TV programs have been taken by the so-called “abbreviation storm”. “Dospe”, “Kaspe”, “Kurobara”, and “Utasuta” are among some of the shows that have been using abbreviated titles right from the first episode. Speaking of the time I became familiar with abbreviations, it was in the end of the 70’s when Tanokin Trio debuted. Toshihiko Tahara’s “Ta” + Yoshio Nomura’s “no” + Masahiko Kondo’s “kon”, presumably read as “kin”, were lumped together to make “Tanokin”. Two years before this Tanokin Trio became very popular, which was also during my first year of senior high school, someone (I wonder who), leaked out information about me and two other classmates smoking on school grounds, and as a result the three of us received suspension for a whole week. Later on, it would become common amusement for others to refer to us as “Happy Suspension Trio”, and then after that, “The Original Tanokin Trio”. Sometime later during the 80’s there was also a popular TBS drama about adultery called “Kinyoubi no Tsumatachi e” (For Wives on Fridays), which of course came to be abbreviated as “Kintsuma”. Although I never watched it properly, since I was approaching mid-twenties after all, I have a feeling that the mere sound of “Kintsuma” made a great impression on people.

In regards to music, the exemplary “abbreviations”, who also happen to be my mentors that I greatly respect, include: Chage & Aska → “Chageasu”, Stardust Revue → “Sutarebi”, and then, Mr.Children → “Misuchiru”. However, these abbreviations sound somewhat light to me, and neither do they correspond with the groups’ musicianship. Then again, I’ve never considered using abbreviations in whatever I say or write anyway. It’s only my opinion, but I think that for some of these other groups who recklessly adopt such informal names, like Skapara, Judymary, Hisuburu, Buriguri, and the latest, Ajikan (?), their other names do not sound as fun as the full ones. Well, if I were to look at it from another point of view, my intuition would tell me that when something is abbreviated, then “it’s a sign of it being recognized and supported by the masses.” With that in mind, no matter how hard you try, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to abbreviate my name KAN.

As long as various ideas keep popping up in my head, I’ll keep updating this “Friday Column” (Kinyoubi Koramu) every week. And as I keep putting a lot of effort into this hobby of mine, the number of you for whose weekly enjoyment it gets published will gradually increase. Then eventually it will become a popular topic of conversation at your workplaces and drinking parties, and after that when it reaches the point that you’ll refer to it by its abbreviation, I strongly hope that it’s more likely that it won’t be “Kinkora”, but rather whichever title that sounds good to you. Better yet, while I’m at it, I’d like to explain further why it had to be Friday in the first place. I didn’t actually take into account the fact that Fridays generally play a special role in the lives of Japanese people, nor does it have anything to do with it being my favorite day of the week. The real reason is simple: the day when this site was opened, May 20th, 2005, just happened to be Friday, and so I thought to myself, “hey, why don’t I update it every week on Fridays?” As such, if I were to properly abbreviate “Tamatama Kinyoubi no Column” (Accidental Friday Column), I’d go with “Tamakin Column”. What do you think? Doesn’t “Tamakin Column” sound perfect? Don’t you feel some kind of connection between it and “Tanokin Trio”?

…I know, this whole idea about this being abbreviated one day is a little farfetched. If it turns out that I was wrong, it’s not like I will admit it.

And now that I’ve exhausted this topic enough, I’ll just say that tomorrow and the day after that I’ll be performing in Tokyo. Please keep in mind the Shimabara Rebellion (1637).

※The correct answer to the quiz in No.005 is 3. Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!


No.006 “A Bit of Green Onion in Hiroshima”

Firstly, thank you to everyone who attended the performances in Fukuoka and Hiroshima. Man, it still feels like a show that makes me push myself to the absolute limit, so I’m very happy if everyone enjoyed themselves. By the time this column gets published on Friday, I’ll have already finished my two performances in Osaka. However, I’m actually writing this on the morning of the 22nd (Wed) at home in Tokyo. There’s not enough time to finish this until my departure to Osaka though, so I’m going to be using a borrowed laptop. That’s pretty uncharacteristic of me. I’m all IT and stuff. (Don’t ask me what that means.)

When I was in Fukuoka, I had some ramen, played the show, got together with old classmates for some drinks, ended the night with ramen, had more ramen in the morning, and then commuted to Hiroshima. As such, it was a constant barrage of ramen down in Fukuoka… But then, what about Hiroshima? That’s right: with Hiroshima, it’s gotta be okonomiyaki.

You can find delicious Hakata ramen in Tokyo with no trouble — thanks to the current ramen boom — but there’s no such place for authentic Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki here. Well, there might be, but I just haven’t come across it yet. It’s not like I’ve walked around Tokyo searching for one. But after trying out three Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki places in Tokyo… mmm. They were close but not quite there. Since it was my first time in 3 years and 8 months that I’d get to eat authentic Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, I was full of anticipation and excitement as we got to Okonomiyaki Village.

Shape the batter into a pancake shape on the iron plate, shake on some katsuobushi, pile on the cabbage and bean sprouts, green onion, tenkasu, the optional squid tempura, and on top of that, 4 or 5 thin slices of pork meat, then put in some more batter. On the side, add a little oil to your yakisoba noodles, fry them while loosening them with spatulas, take the okonomiyaki, flip it around on top of the yakisoba, pressing down firmly with your spatulas to draw out the water. Then, skillfully use one hand to break an egg, pour it on the iron plate, break the egg yolk and spread it around thinly with your spatula, then take the okonomiyaki that’s now become one with the yakisoba and flip it around on top of the egg. Then it’s finally time to spread on the long-awaited Otafuku sauce on with a large brush, sprinkle on some pepper, aonori, katsuobushi and white sesame seeds, and it’s done. I dare say that among ramen, udon, gyuudon and other varieties of Japanese fast foods, this one has easily the longest wait time from the moment you order until it’s in front of you ready to be eaten. It even looks so delicious way before you can finally dig in.

However, as far as I can see, the way you make Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki is always the same, no matter what the restaurant. Unlike udon or ramen places with their special soups, sauces or handmade noodles, I don’t think you have that with okonomiyaki places. There aren’t really any ingredients with limited availability either, no “our store uses cabbage/bean sprouts from (insert prefecture here)” or anything like that. The thick sauce that I call the star of the show in okonomiyaki — the one thing that absolutely must be present — is the Otafuku sauce, available anywhere.

Thus, Okonomiyaki Village, a building with tens of such okonomiyaki restaurants, feels like a really strange spot for me. In my case, I had Murakami from Candy Promotion take me along, so all I had to do was follow him into a store, sit down and go “ahh, this is delicious!” But for those visiting from outside of Hiroshima, how are they going to choose which shop to enter? How are they going to judge which place is good and which is lacking?

Well, if I had to name one difference, I guess it’d have to be the manner in which it’s prepared. I suppose when it’s made from the same ingredients piled up in the same order of sequence, topped off with the same sauce, the only variable you can judge by is the preparation. To make a forced musical comparison, it’d be sort of like having several bands using the exact same instruments to perform the exact same pieces of music, and the only thing you could judge by is the level of the live mixing at the venue. When you think about it like that, it makes it all seem really nitpicky.

So, the okonomiyaki (which indeed did look well-cooked) was delivered to me. The man asked us, “would you like some green onion with that?” and without a moment’s delay, Candy Murakami replied “yes, please.” He threw a mountain of shredded green onion on Murakami’s okonomiyaki, covering it entirely. Uhh… I love green onion, but I wasn’t sure about the amount and the way in which it was distributed. If you wanted a forced musical comparison, it’d be the same as mixing a piece of music by drowning every single track in reverb. There’s no need to be that avant-garde: simply putting a tiny bit of reverb on just the vocals alone feels natural and pleasant. That’s what I was thinking as I told the man, “can you just put a little bit in mine?” “You got it“, he said. Below is a picture I took of my okonomiyaki right afterwards. What do you think? Is that perfect or what?! Ahh, I just wolfed it down. It was great!

With that, I’m finally finishing this up now on the day of the 23rd (Thu) at my hotel in Osaka. Thank you to everyone who came to Banana Hall on the 22nd. We’re now heading out to have some Indian curry with the band as we get ready for round two at Banana Hall.

Just a bit of green onion