Haruna Illumination

The last post for this decade.
The other night (thanks to the amazing weather we had) I was able to drive up my mountain to go see the Christmas lights. The roads were fine, the anti slip sand salt made traction at high speed a little bit of a problem, but the traffic ensured that there was nowhere for me to go at high speed.
It was freezing cold. There was no snow on the road but on the sides of the road it was piled quite deep… I got up to the top and decided to see what was so great about the Haruna Christmas lights.
need I say more?

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lots of pretty lights… pity the 7d is only arriving next month :(
I didn’t stay long. it was very cold and my toes got numb so yeah.


Update – Autumn Drive on Mt. Akagi

Ok so I want to try and get all, or at least most of this year’s backlog out over the next 2 days. First up… some pics of a drive I took on Akagi on the most perfect autumn day in November.


At the bottom the leaves were still in the process of changing which made for a beautiful initial ascent, but as the road got more fun, the tries became more barren… which is probably a good thing.


  Note the marks on the road ;)


IMGP5760 This sign has something to do with driving on boobs :p



The lake was pretty as always but it was not as pretty as I remembered it. I somehow thought that Lake Akagi was prettier than Lake Haruna… but I was clearly mistaken. Being atop a mountain, it was also rather cold up there as well.

In addition to the beautiful Gunma landscape there was of course the local wildlife. None of the larger predators were spotted, however some of the smaller ones were out and about…

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IMGP5783  Well there was ONE larger predator about, but it doesn’t count :P

I took the road less travelled home and was rewarded by both an amazing drive but an almost deserted road all the way to Numata and some spectacular views…Even found a back road to Minakami which I will explore when the current winter snows melt away.


All in all it was one of those trips that made the price of the Silvia worthwhile.


exist†trace ~Ambivalent Symphony~ Live Report (2009/11/22)

Yes this is about a month late, but better late than never.
Sadly no hijacked photos from this show... The venue was small and the walls were plastered with NO PHOTO! posters.
Firstly lets talk about the venue… The legendary Meguro Rockmaykan. Since before i came to Japan, the Meguro Rockmaykan was a name I had heard. Some of the biggest names in the JRock world have played here. I was expecting something like Shibuya O-West or at least Harajuku's Astro Hall. I was rather disappointed. it was tiny. VERY tiny. Club Fleez in Takasaki is bigger. The walls are dirty and the decor hasn’t been changed since the 80s. It was a hole. Hell it even had seats. Not quite what I had expected… Till the band started playing. A tiny venue makes for amazing sound and a very personal live experience with the band. The aspects of the live house that were a disappointment became a blessing when coupled with the stellar sound. The seats were still stupid though because nobody used them :p

In the end however the One man is about the interaction. The 2 hours of rapture where band and fan become intertwined in a web of music. 2 hours in a lifetime where there is no world. Where your life exists purely for that moment.

It was bliss.

Having already had a taste of exist†trace before, I knew that I was in store for a phenomenal show, but the degree of energy and for that matter the sheer power of their one man was staggering. It was particularly impressive considering they are all substantially smaller than one expects. YES I know they are Japanese girls and compared to me most Japanese girls are tiny but still. Maybe it is their image and power, or maybe its my fandom, but their real life size was even more of a shock than when I saw Hizumi from D’espairs Ray for the first time.
I think that somewhere someone once said that size does not count… Its what you do with it… existtrace are proof of that.
2 hours of rapture ensued. I could go on about individual songs and how Jyou touched some impressive notes, or the tightness with which the music was played and the emotions I felt through the show but this is not JAME or JRock NYC or any other fangirl frenzy feeding VK fapsite… No it is Darc’s blog and if you know Darc you should know how I react at lives and when the band happens to be one of my favourite ever bands the results are somewhat predictable.
It was no @Versailles_P_Q live at the CC Hall I‘ll admit, but it was pretty damn awesome. They played EVERY SINGLE one of my favourite songs and many of those that I liked a lot. They paced their show well…It was split into 3 parts with 2 encores with all the hits spaced throughout. They gave you time to reflect on their awesomeness and digest the music properly so you could really get the most out of the show. There was also some amazing emotion. Jyou even cried at one point. (as did many of the fans). It was a connection unlike any other.

It was amazing… did I mention that before?

One more thing i need to mention was the demographic. There were actually men at the show. Yes. the ratio was at least 60/40 male which was a big shock… there were even some men who had testosterone, though we were fewer in number. There were some pretty boys but the majority of male fans looked decidedly Akiba. Yes. Exist trace Otaku… Who would have thought? So while I did get a ratio closer to what i feel is a decent level, It did still lack the hormone balance Loud Park had, but yeah, They are not metalheads so it is to be expected.
I wonder if it would be mean of me to call them Jackals (counterpoints they Hyena quite nicely don’t you think?)
Yeah I am a bastard to fans here. I am sorry… no actually I am not sorry.
Who cares. I had an amazing time at the Ambivalent symphony one man… If their next one man was not on the same day as Deluhi’s Yggdalive one man, I would be there like a bear!


Des a fukkin dag o’ mi fukkin wall!

An’ you tahut ah was fukkin jokin’!
I get up.. It was an amazing sunny day… I decide to open the screens to let some of the rays filter in… and I see a DOG ON MY WALL!!!!

so I am like WHAT THE HELL…
I get the camera, go outside… It stays on my wall. I take some photos… It looks at me.. squeaks and stays on my wall… So I ended up petting it for 30 minutes.
Dogs are good at getting attention but this is one of the best plays I have ever seen. I know my neighbours don’t give their dogs enough attention/affection but this was a good move on the brown dog’s part. He seemed pretty happy about it himself too.
More pics of t3h wall dog:

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So… anyone else ever met spiderdog?


Skies ~5 hit combo~

I have this bad habit of looking up when I should be looking where I am going. It has its benefits though!




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Shin Yamato Damacy – episode 5

We are back and our membership has increased by one!

check out our latest antics when we take an EXTRA SPECIAL GUEST on an extra special tour of Takasaki to find out just what the people think…


There is also a new ShinYamatoDamacy YouTube channel so head over there to check out the rest of our shenanigans!


Update~ KONYAKU!

No, I didn't sneeze… No, its not Japanese for cognac… No, I didn’t insult your your mother…well maybe I did but that has nothing to do with this.


Konnyaku is a jelly like substance which is made using this weird ass root that grows underground for 2-3 years. It is supposed to have 0 calories and is supposed to be good for you. I dunno about that but it does taste pretty decent.

I was invited to the konnyaku making shindig at the Shimogo (My Neighbourhood) community centre. I figured that it was free food and i got to meet the community… uberWIN.



I was essentially there for 2 hours speaking to the grandmothers of the community about various things while they made the konnyaku (men don't make konnyaku it seems) They were fun and cute as most old people are and It was a refreshing change. I particularly enjoyed the way the 2 eldest  talked about their days in nursery school together and used each other’s nicknames from back then.

After that it was time to eat. It was akin to a feast. All in all it was a good day.


If any of you are ALTs or just Foreigners in Japan, How do you interact with your community? Do you also get invited to these events? and do you accept the invitation?


Update~ First Snows

I have allowed myself to get woefully behind in this bloggery business. I apologise.


This is the first of a Bunch of Updates which I will release to bring things closer to the present.


on the 3rd of November Gunma experienced record high snowfall… yes… NOVEMBER!!!!!!111one


In the grip of global warming we seem to be bracing for one of the coldest winters Japan has seen for some time (unless of course its just early and February will be early spring).

The temperatures now are more akin to last years mid to late December, NOT late November… If things continue, this will be the coldest winter of my life. It would be more exciting however if Japan understood the concept of insulation. I’m afraid that think pink here has every cute and fluffy connotation you could imagine except good ol’ Aerolite. But enough bitching.


on the 3rd Snow fell from the sky, turning the tops of Mt. Komochi, Mt. Akagi and Mt. Haruna a colour reserved for late December. So much fell in fact that when I went looking for it 2 days later on Mt. Haruna, I actually found some. And a fair amount at that!

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Snow in November… Whats next?


LoudPark 2009 (2009-10-18)



I think I have calmed enough to write about the greatest weekend of my existence. Admittedly LoudPark was only a part of it but it was the Icing on a rich and delicious cake.
I went to Tokyo on Saturday the 17th. The night before I had an amazing and late night with an amazing girl (I basically stopped being single). I rolled in to the big city at around 4pm. I decided to take my Blades along and go investigate one of the Skate Parks. After that I hit Harajuku for a crepe and to browse for a bit (I ALWAYS find myself hitting Harajuku when I am in Tokyo… even if its only for an Hour.) I rolled over (literally… city inline-skating is fun too) to the Freshness Burger in Shibuya and got proper supper, then went to a Sento for a good hour of relaxation… I was already tired and it was only around 9pm. I the headed to Shinjuku where I caught some relaxation in a net cafe before heading over to Kabukicho to the Tokyo Dark Castle party. It was a long long while since i last heard and danced to good dark industrial. So did. ALOT. till around 5am. I went in search of an all night sento to kick it but it was closed, so I got 1 hour zzz in a net cafe. I then went in search of the sento from the night before in Shibuya only to find it does not operate in the morning, I was forced to trek to the other side of Shibuya (that's a skate and a half, let me tell you) to use the showers at the Shibuya Capsule hotel. the trekking and bathing basically took till around ten when i finally got on the train to Chiba… and destiny.
I arrived, ticketed, dumped my bag and got a beer. HEAT was playing. I was wrecked from a crazy weekend and I didn't realise just what was happening. Whatever. I found a wall and scored another hour sleep (giving me a total of 3 for the weekend) I woke in time to take in the last half of Crossfaith’s show…
And so it began…

Crossfaith were the first of many surprises for me. A screamo hardcore band representing Japan and doing a stellar Job. Power, energy and passion were being imparted to the crowd and the result for me was an instant wake up call. I only listened to their stuff and bobbed my head but i was thoroughly impressed by their sound. It was typically screamo yet it had an edge… like Bloodstain Child is melodic death with an edge.. that Japanese-ness that sets it apart. Many local metal fans say that's the reason why Japanese bands suck… I think its the reason they rock… and bit did these guys rock.
The second surprise of the day. I went over to the 2 main stages for lack of anything better to do before Galneryus. I didn't go to the front and was not really paying attention. After all I had never before heard of Hibria and had no expectations. They opened their set with “Tiger Punch” and to be honest it felt like somebody blindsided me. I was not expecting anything brilliant (after all you cannot have a full line up of brilliant bands… something needs to be crap… right?)… I got Brazilian badass tiger punched in my soul… the headbanging started before I realised that the violent swaying was actually me and not something induced by lack of sleep food and the 1 beer I had. Sadly I only watched 2 tracks because it was time to move on…

The first band on my ‘must see’ list. With a new vocalist and bassist, I was anxious to see how their sound adapted… and I wanted to see them live too :p I was not disappointed. Taka (bass) has fingers of fire… Some of the best and fastest bass guitar work I have ever seen. Masatoshi Ono’s vocals suit the part and he spins steel with his voice. I was surprised by Galneryus fans though. NOBODY was headbanging.. there was shouting and singing and displaying the horns but no headbanging… well not from the locals anyway. Admittedly most of them have never had long hair in their lives but still at the time I didn’t have long hair but i still went berserk. hell they didn’t even do the silly whiplash inducing head shaking VK fans call headbanging. nada fokol. But hey if they had fun that's all that matters. I certainly did.
Royal Hunt
The second band I wanted to see on the day. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect as I have only heard a few of their songs and the few that I heard I really liked. They had the presence and skill of a world class metal band and the Japanese fans were going their special kind of wild but it lacked the energy that I (and judging by their reaction) the band expected. The did not seem to be feeding of the same wavelength as the crowd and as a result it seemed somewhat disconnected. I was not disappointed exactly, I just was not blown away like I was to the other bands.

Papa Roach
After some fudz and a few drinks I headed to the main 2 stages. I was preparing myself to stake out a perfect spot for Children of Bodom so i headed to the stage where they would play in 2 bands time. Papa Roach was the next one scheduled for the stage I was at so I decided I would put up with it for COB’s sake. I was near the front and in the thick of it. I was un prepared. The band came on, The crowd went bat-shit INSANE! I have never in my life felt that much raw energy coming from a crowd of people before. I rocked out 100% moshing screaming and even shouting lyrics (to the 3 songs I knew). It was only Papa Roach. The band I thought was the odd one out on the line-up. Clearly I was mistaken. I rate seeing Papa Roach live in Japan as highly as I rate The blind Guardian and Versailles shows… Yes. Papa Roach.

Fair Warning
Another one of the bands that I had never heard of was up next. They played the stage next to the one I was camped at but both stages’ sound was wired together so i got the full force of the music even if i was not in the throng. To be fair my legs were so damn sore I needed to sit down. I had already hit my peak and was literally running on the last remnants of my energy. Fair warning are that classic steel sound, powerful uplifting and almost spiritual. I was drawn to their music even though it was not the hardest stuff on the day. The vocals drew me in and and like the line in their song “Burning Heart” they set my soul on fire. It was an amazing discovery and I went and bought the tracks that hit me hard on iTunes the next day. Positive Power!

Children of Bodom
I have only had two major goals in my life. To come to Japan and to See my favourite bands on earth Live. I saw the Offspring and NOFX so all that was really left for me was Children of Bodom (yes there are a few more but the ultimate goal is… was Bodom) My favourite band of all time. The band i discovered one night on Barney Simon’s show when he still cared about good music. The moment that would give my life definition was upon me.
The band came on. The crowd went a level of insane that words cannot describe. The entire front area of the stage was a pit. Bodies shoving and pushing, jostling and surging. it was a stampede. There was chaos and there was screaming. And this was just the first track. 3 songs down and Alexi said that 10 years ago they played their first show in Tokyo.. He then asked if we wanted to hear some old stuff… the answer was unanimous. “Silent Night Bodom Night”…The first song of theirs that I ever Heard… The song that changed my life… LIVE!!! I died. I pushed my body beyond my spent energy limits I screamed beyond my vocal chord’s ability to produce sound I burned through my adrenaline’s adrenaline. It was EVERYTHING I could have imagined…multiplied by a number with many zeros at the end.
I needed a rest. If i remained at the front my heart or brain would have given out. I fought my way to a calmer section (which wasn’t really that calm at all) chilled for half a song and snapped this:
Needled 24/7” The calmer section erupted. near me a real pit started. Like a singularity, it drew me in. Sucking me into the madness. There were some big foreigners who were doing some good damage as well as a small army of crazy Japanese guys going at it like it was the end of the world. I was home. I had found the centre of my existence. In the words of the people of Kelewan… I had found my waal. At that moment there was nothing else on earth that I ever wanted more. I wanted to mosh as hard as I could till my body ripped itself apart.
At the peak of the show they ended their set on “In your Face”. By that stage I had gone beyond death, Beyond Life, Even beyond Timothy Leary.
I remember the Encore. “Hatecrew Death Roll”. I remember being more alive than I have ever been in my existence. The greatest single moment ever.

Rob Zombie
So after Bodom, was Zombie. I watched from afar. Amazing show and it would have been mindblowing if he had played before Bodom… but He didn’t. Having said that, He is a showman second to none. Anyone who has the chance needs got see him live because he is fantastic to watch.

Metal GODS. The guys that inspired Children of Bodom. By this stage I was broken. I really couldn't have cared. I didn’t care. They were amazing, but they were not Bodom.
I will see them again sometime on their own, because not even the Mighty Slayer could trump The greatest band on earth.

In the end…

You could say I had a pretty damn good time :)
LoudPark Photo Gallery: http://www.loudpark.com/09/gallery/index_18.html


Unboxing Unibody Aluminium Goodness!

yeah mac fags…. now this is a real unboxing yo!


Advan Super racing 17/8J Bridgestone Potenza GIII 205-45-R17


Pigs will fly...

Apparently last week the weekly threshold for influenza A and H1N1patients was breached. As per usual. Memos and messages go out. Masks are worn. The world is going to end!!!!

What's the reaction like in the rest of the world? Are classees being sent home/schools being closed?

-- Blogged in the field.


Legendary T-Shirt


Out shopping for my groceries at the local equivalent of the Pick & Pay Hypermarket I came across this (and a few other shirts) with some rather interesting english on them… They were also dirt cheap so I got this one :3IMG_0342 IMG_0343

Apparently the secret is in the skull… what do you think?



The first time on the ramps in almost 9 years. Didn't do anything special. Just remembered how to drop everything. I was too shit scared to do anything else. I had no rythym. The flow was hard and I wasn't getting much power. No air either. As th confidence was returning the rain came down so I will have to come back next month.

I will be back though. I forgot how much fun the skatepark was.

-- Posted from my iPrawn



I feel alive...

The wind, While not quite as strong as a jozi summer storm, is more powerful than anything I have felt before. It's not the strength of the wind but the sense of energy in the air around me.


I can feel nature. Not the happy hippy treehugging, veggie eating illusion of nature. You can feel raw naked energy. Standing in the gusting wind with metal blaring in my ears.


I cannot remember how long it's been since I have been at one with myself like this. At one with the naked energy of the world that courses through my veins.

Driving me.
Charging me.

Shredding the bullshit and shattering the illusions. Un covering the truth behind the veil of safety and order that endevours to smother life's true aspect.

The typhoon is alive.
It is life.
I am alive.

I am the typhoon. Time to throw some trees!


Jesus H Christ in a Manga… no shit!

You cannot take the Christians anywhere. There is always a small group of them who want to spread their word like H1N1 spreads in an elementary school. Even in Japan J-HOE witlessness prowls through the streets of Shibukawa, trying enslave the weak minded.
In an effort to spread their plague to the misguided heathens of this fine land, they have turned to manga… a rather badly drawn one but still.
I was staring at it incredulously and they mistook my shocked disgust for interest. They actually gave it to me and said I should pass it along. So here I pass on to all who read this. Jesus immortalised in manga.. kicking ass and taking names. the funny thing is, the Bible stories in the book make for a great manga. But then the bible is quite possibly the second best fantasy book after the Lord of the Rings so yeah.
I kid, I kid.
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Not gonna lie.. it actually is a pretty good manga……… FOR ME TO POOP ON!