Guest Post: Gendjreng Aku Mas

Fun fact for those of you new to Buck-Tickistan: in the liner notes of Six/Nine, in addition to be being credited for vocals, Mr. Sakurai is credited as having played the saxophone. As to what song he played it on, since there's only one song on the album which includes a sax part, it's fairly obvious: "Itoshi no Rock Star"! While this is the only studio recording for which Mr. Sakurai played sax (that we know of), he was also seen to play it live during the Darker Than Darkness tour, on "Victims of Love."

Don't believe us?

Now you do.

Why doesn't Mr. Sakurai play the sax anymore, you ask? Well, to be honest... we have no proof that he doesn't. It's just that, even if you're Mr. Sakurai, sax isn't necessarily something you feel comfortable with doing in public all the time, you know?

Then there's the question of whether he plays the piano - in the Autumn 2012 issue of Bridge magazine, he posed with a cat and a piano for the photoshoot accompanying the 20,000 character interview he gave on the topic of his childhood musical influences (market translation price: 140,000 yen). Of course maybe that was just a pose and he was faking it, but at the same time... why bother fake posing at a piano when you have a live cat in the room? Maybe Mr. Sakurai plays, but not for other people.

We've spent many a sleepless night over the years pondering these deep and pressing questions, fearing that we might never know the truth. But then! Just when we'd all but given up hope, one of our dear readers showed up with the answer, lovingly illustrated in manga form, and we couldn't resist sharing it with y'all.

Therefore, we present to you our first guest post in a long while. Comic by Ms. J. Whether she's a relative of Mr. J, we cannot say.

So there you have it. That's the truth, and let no one dare speak otherwise.

Oh yeah, about the post title - if you don't know what it means, we're not going to tell you. Find out for yourselves.


Odes to the Cool Cats

What with all the kerfuffle and hoopla over the never-ending mismanagement of Fish Tank/EMTG, we wouldn't fault you for worrying that we, Blog-Tick, have forgotten our purpose, and relinquished ourselves into the prissy joylessness of what the 4channers like to call "moralfaggery". Fear not! All the corporate idiocy in the world will never let us forget that, first and foremost, NGS/Blog-Tick has always served a single purpose: relentless irreverence, derisive laughter, japes, jests, jokes, sarcasm, and mockery.

Now, with the EMTG huggermugger settling down, let us return wholeheartedly to our original mission. Maybe y'all have been hearing rumors of the No. 0 tour, involving Mr. Sakurai slinking and meowing across the stage in a kimono and Robert Smith lipstick while Mr. Imai teased the fans with a cat toy. While we can confirm that these rumors are 100% true, we would also like to call it to your attention that "Gustave" is far from the first ode to a dirty alley cat. In fact, "Gustave" arrives as only the latest in a long tradition of such songs... so let's listen to some of the others, shall we?

First of all, why did Sakurai put on Robert Smith lipstick just for "Gustave"? We can't be sure, but we have a good guess... after all, Robert Smith is the guy who once opined, "the sky looks perfect as cats." He and Mr. Sakurai have more in common the just being goths who fantasize about being tied up and fed to dommes or spider-men, as the case may be.

Another song Mr. Sakurai surely must have considered while penning the lyrics to "Gustave" is "Kuroneko no Tango" ("Black Cat Tango"), a Japanese cover of the Italian hit "Volevo un gatto nero," written by Francesco and Mario Pagano, Armando Soricillo, and Francesco Saverio Maresca, and recorded by Vincenza Pastorelli, who was four years old at the time. The Japanese version of the song was recorded at the initiative of none other than our good friends Victor Entertainment, who asked children's choir director Minagawa Kazuko to nominate a Japanese child to sing the song. Minagawa nominated her nephew Osamu, then six years old. When the record was released in October of 1969, it soon climbed to the top of the charts, selling more than a million copies, and making Minagawa Osamu the youngest artist ever to have achieved such success. 

Like the lyrics to "Gustave," the lyrics to "Kuroneko no Tango" can be read on two levels: on the surface, a charming story about a young boy's love for his cat (who he calls his "lover" in much the same way as our Mr. Sakurai dotes on his Kurumi), and beneath the surface, the story of a man who puts up with his lover's many infidelities because "the night belongs to her." The lyrics discuss how when the Black Cat (or should we say Black Pussycat) walks through the streets, sketchy alleycats hit on her, and she can't help but succumb to their charms and offers of tasty morsels. The narrator of the song rolls his eyes, knowing that soon they'll let her down and she'll run crying back to him. "Kuroneko no Tango" is now an enduring Japanese classic and has been covered by many Japanese artists over the years.

Another song in the same vein, but more goth, is London After Midnight's black cat. If Sakurai hasn't heard this one, we think he should - after all, the only thing better than goth black cats is domme goth black cats ready to role-play some healthy sexual cannibalism (as you do).

But if you're going to go for the quintessential alley-cat anthem, we'd hazard that there's only one song you could possibly choose: The Stray Cats' "Stray Cat Strut." Yeah, your heard right. Not only is the band named The Stray Cats, they also wrote a self-titled theme song. And just look at the video! This guy's out-Gustaving Gustave! We smell a cat fight brewing!

Finally, last but not least, we'd like to take you away from America and into Asia once more, to introduce you to this Indonesian dangdut hit thoughtfully shared with us by one of our very own faithful Blog-Tick readers! For those of you not fluent in Bahasa, we'll have you know that "Kuching Garong" translates to "Dirty Alley Cat," and the singer of this song wants you to know that dirty alley cats are bad, bad boys and intercourse interactions with them should be undertaken at your own peril. That is to say, "hati hati!" (Beware!) Or something like that. Her attitude says differently, but that's something all these songs have in common - much like cats themselves, there's more to them than meets the ear on first listen. All these songs seem to agree that dirty alley cats are bad, bad boys, yet why do they come off looking so cool in the end? Anyhow, we have been assured that "Kuching Garong" was a big hit in Indonesia when it came out, so if you think it's silly, well, you're on the wrong side of history. Dig that YMO-style Oriental keyboard!

Oh yeah, and one more thing - that Blog-Ticker who shared the song with us is proud to present to Blog-Tick Pikopiko, named for the ticking of Yutaka's bass-practice metronome and crowned with the Honor Crown of Buck-Tickistan, the baddest kuching gargong the South Pacific has ever seen. "Make him famous," we were bidden. Well, kids, here he is. Bear news of his fame far and wide.

Sing it with me: Cat Cat Cat Cat Cat's.


Tickets for International Fish Tank Members

Various Blog-Tick readers have brought it to our attention that the EMTG system requires international Fish Tank members to register a Japanese phone number in order to apply for Fish Tank Only tour tickets.

To reiterate: according to the announcement on the Japanese Fish Tank site, international Fish Tank members (that is to say, Fish Tank members with addresses outside Japan) are ONLY allowed to purchase digital tickets.

To purchase digital tickets, you first have to install the EMTG app on your smartphone.

However, according to what y'all have told us, installing the EMTG app requires an SMS-equipped Japanese phone number with an 070, 080, or 090 area code.

Of course, it's highly unlikely that international Fish Tank members possess Japanese phone numbers. In fact, so far as we know, Japanese phone numbers don't even work outside of Japan.

Since international Fish Tank members can't have access to Japanese phone numbers, but are only allowed to purchase digital tickets, but a Japanese phone number is required for digital ticket purchases, what this means is that effectively, under the current system, international Fish Tank members are physically unable to purchase tickets through Fish Tank.

This, despite the fact that the cost of an international Fish Tank membership is the same as the cost of a Japanese membership, and access to Fish Tank tickets is the main benefit of joining Fish Tank.

Obviously, this is a totally unfair situation and needs to be solved immediately.

We sincerely doubt that Fish Tank, Victor, and EMTG intended this situation to occur when they set up their new system. As we explained in our previous article, it's likely that the people making the decisions are so out of touch with the needs of foreign fans that they never even considered the phone number issue. Surely, they want y'all to be able to purchase tickets, because they want your money, so it's in their interest to fix this problem as soon as they can.

Luckily, the ticket applications are open until July 24th, so you still have time.

What should y'all do?

Write to Fish Tank IMMEDIATELY, and explain the problem. We encourage you to use your own words. Write in Japanese if you can speak Japanese, but if you can't speak Japanese, do NOT use Google Translate. Instead, write in simple English. Fish Tank needs to see just how many foreign fans are out there who want tickets and who require English-language service. Every single person who is affected by this problem needs to write - the more complaints they get, the better. The more English letters they receive, the better - we want to impress upon them that the Japanese-only service thing is not going to work for international fans. 

And do not think for a single hot minute that you aren't entitled to these tickets. This is the privilege you paid 6000 yen to join Fish Tank to receive. They are not giving you what you paid for, so you have every right to complain. If they weren't willing to do business with international fans, they should never have opened up Fish Tank to international membership, but the fact is that Fish Tank has accepted international members for as long as they've existed, and to stop now just because more people from overseas are joining would be crazy. Japanese companies are highly attentive to customer service and customer needs. If enough of you write to them, they will feel ashamed and they will fix the problem. Write immediately.

If this situation continues to develop, please keep us updated in the comments section. We can't check on international fan issues for ourselves because we are located in Japan.


On Xenohopbia, Fangirls, and Japanese White-Collar Cluelessness

After reading some of the comments on our last post, we felt the need to clarify a few things with regard to Japanese business and perceived anti-foreigner sentiment in Buck-Tickistan. This is a bit of a ramble, but stay with us, because this stuff is important, especially for people who are interested in working Japan, people who believe that foreign fans are persecuted, and people who think that the Buck-Tick members themselves are personally calling all the shots (they're not, but more on that later).

First off, let's get one thing straight: the band members themselves are almost certainly delighted that they have fans all over the world. No, they never told us in so many words, but they did offer a few oblique words and many enthusiastic smiles, among other gestures. We have no doubt that Imai, Sakurai, Hoshino and the Higuchi brothers embrace their foreign fans wholeheartedly. 

If you still doubt this, think about it from their perspective - they spend so much time and effort making their music, so naturally, it should please them to know that people all over the world are listening to it and appreciating it so much. The only artist who wouldn't be pleased by a global audience is a racist artist, but if the Buck-Tick members are racists, I'll eat my hat again five times over. No racist writes songs like "Only You" and "Rakuen". If Sakurai hated foreign fans, why would he have gone out of his way to address the audience in English and Spanish in addition to Japanese at the DIQ 2017? If the Buck-Tick members hate foreigners, why have they collaborated with so many foreign musicians? (Most notably Raymond Watts, Sascha Konietzko, and Kelli Ali, but there have been others as well). Remember, Buck-Tick recorded the entirety of Taboo in London, and even performed a show there while they were at it! Furthermore, Buck-Tick's music has been influenced and inspired by music from many places (Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, India... you get the picture), so to be appreciated by people from all over the globe is going to feel like the ultimate validation. Buck-Tick are not nationalists. I think y'all can rest assured that the five band members, at least, are happy you're fans.

So, to the extent that Buck-Tickistan is xenophobic, it's not coming from the band. It's coming from the management, and from the Japanese fans.

As far as the Japanese fans go, we have been following Buck-Tick's tours for 11 years now, and based on our experience, most Japanese fans are more intrigued/surprised by the foreign fans than anything else. In fact, up until about three years ago, if you'd asked us if we'd noticed xenophobia from Japanese fans, we'd have said no. Sadly, something seems to have changed in recent years - maybe it's because there are more foreign fans attending the concerts than there used to be, so perhaps some of the very insecure and neurotic Japanese fans feel threatened by that (which is totally silly and none of you should waste a single second feeling sorry for people like this. They need to grow the fuck up.) 

Then again, sad to say, maybe it's a zeitgeist thing - we're seeing a disturbing rise in ethnic nationalism all over the world, and while it's less pronounced in Japan than it is in Europe or the United States, Trump and Syrian refugees are all over the news even here, and we think perhaps it has emboldened the sorts of people who were always a little racist but used to have the decency to keep it hidden, in much the same way that Trump has emboldened such people in America. 

Certainly, there's a bit of jealous possessiveness going on. You can see it in any fandom - "alpha fans" gatekeeping by shaming newcomers and refusing to divulge desirable information so as to feel smugly superior to the "beta fans" not in the know. As we discussed here in our article about fangirl psychology, Japanese fangirls who view the Buck-Tick members primarily as ideal fantasy objects rather than as creators of fantastic music tend to act possessive of their favorite members, viewing them as "theirs". This is why they call Mr. Sakurai "Acchan" when they shout his name at shows, despite the fact that they'd never call him that to his face - they want to pretend at intimacy with him.

As to how this jealous possessiveness transformed into xenophobia, we can't be sure - maybe it was there and hiding all along. But it seems to us that The Mortal made it worse (and what a crying shame that is!) As we discussed in our live reports of The Mortal, The Mortal was a rude wake-up call to these possessive fangirls, because it put them nose-to-nose with the fact that the Sakurai they like to imagine isn't the Sakurai who exists on Planet Earth. With their simple hooks and danceable beats, Buck-Tick's songs are instantly accessible, even to people without any special knowledge of music. The Mortal's music, on the other hand, with its more complex harmonic and rhythmic structures, and dark, intense, disturbing philosophical themes, presented a much greater challenge to the kind of Japanese fans who got interested in Buck-Tick in their dandelion-headed youthful pop days, and stayed with the band more for Acchan-chan's face than for any broader love of music. To foreign fans, Buck-Tick's dark and gothical bent may be their most immediately striking feature, but plenty of Japanese fans are legacy fans from the era of Seventh Heaven, and they still have no idea what goth is or why Mr. Sakurai likes it so much - that's why they never danced to any songs on the Atom Miraiha tour except for "Cuba Libre" and "The Seaside Story." They didn't even dance to "Septem Peccata Mortalia" till Acchan-chan's thighs got thrown in the mix. Why? Because for the most part, dark music scares them.

Without any knowledge of the British gothic post-punk world The Mortal was hearkening back to, these fans, who fancy themselves Acchan-chan's Chosen, were in over their heads, and they knew it. They desperately want to claim Mr. Sakurai for their own, but they could no longer keep up the charade once they saw him getting so much enjoyment out of such a dark and creepy solo project. They didn't understand it, they couldn't parse it, they resented the lack of fan service, and it made them angry, so they got violent and hit each other. On the other hand, they could easily witness how the foreigners in the audience were nothing short of thrilled to hear "their" Mr. Sakurai sing Bauhaus lyrics in English. We can't help but wonder if it was partly The Mortal that brought out the xenophobia in certain fangirls, because they were upset to hear Mr. Sakurai singing in English that they couldn't understand, and resented seeing Mr. Sakurai and foreign fans being mutually in on something they lacked the power to grok. By and large, these fangirls don't grok Buck-Tick, either, but there's no point telling them that.

Beyond that, foreign fans tend to stand out at Buck-Tick shows like a few awkward pink cockatoos amidst an angry murder of crows, which means that sometimes they get extra attention from the band members, and that pisses off certain Japanese fangirls, because they feel that, as Japanese fans, Buck-Tick belong to them more than to people from other countries. Seems like some of the foreign fans also believe this - but let me turn this on its head and ask you, kids - do The Beatles belong to their British fans more than they belong to their Japanese fans? Do the Australians get to tell the rest of us that we can't listen to Dead Can Dance or Nick Cave? Do the Americans get to say hands off Kurt Cobain, none of the rest of you touch him, he's ours? Part of the great power of music lies in its ability to transcend the boundaries of language and culture. Westerners, accustomed to sitting at the top of the white imperial colonialist cultural hegemony, are never surprised when Japanese people overflow with passion for the Rolling Stones or Chopin or Dali or Hollywood movies, so why should anyone think for a minute that non-Japanese people somehow have less "right" to Buck-Tick? Taking pride in the artistic output of your nation is a fine thing, but refusing to share is perverse and counter to the fundamental purpose of art.

Sometimes it seems that certain foreign fans even enjoy the idea that they are persecuted by the Japanese fans, but whether it comes from a desire to claim victim status in order to feel like a special snowflake, or an old-fashioned Orientalist fetishization of Japan as some kind of precious quintessence of the "inscrutable other" (a tale that, while not as old as time, goes back at least as far as the 1600's), I'm telling y'all, cut that shit out right now. If you want to feel special, keep your dignity and do something to make yourself special, and leave victimhood for the foreigners in Japan with real troubles, like the Nigerians and Nepalese who get shut up in abysmal conditions in detainment centers for months on end for overstaying their visas. And the more you perpetuate the "inscrutable other" narrative of Japan, the more wind you puff into the sails of the other group of people who love to trumpet about how the Japanese people are so unique that no one else in the world can understand them - right-wing Japanese nationalists.

So that's the fangirls. But do the fangirls even matter?

By rights, whether fangirl xenophobia exists or not shouldn't be an issue from the perspective of either the band or the management. From the band's perspective, they don't have to care about or condone the shitty beliefs/behavior of a minority of their fans. Every band has some shitty fans to their name. That's what comes of being famous. And from the management's perspective, it's in their interest to promote the band as widely as possible, including overseas - after all, the management's job is to ensure that Buck-Tick remain popular and keep making money, and if possible, that they get more popular and make more money. The Japanese fanbase is either shrinking or staying the same as it continues to age, but the foreign fanbase is full of young blood and it's definitely growing. The management would have to be idiots not to be interested in the potential business opportunity there.

So... are they idiots, then? Obviously, not entirely, because they took some of our suggestions. But there's probably a fair bit of idiocy left in them, far more than there is xenophobia. Or rather than idiocy, let's say cluelessness and ignorance. 

Japan is a very isolated country in a lot of ways, and many Japanese people, especially the kind who rise to middle management positions at big-name companies like Victor entertainment, have lived their whole lives surrounded by people exactly like them - sheltered, rich, and Japanese - and therefore, they reach adulthood without learning how to deal with diversity. Japanese elite schools are training grounds for corporate conformity. At elite Japanese schools, students all wear the same uniform, and marks of individuality, right down to earrings and colored hair bands, are generally banned. Students are required to take part in all sorts of group activities such as eating the same school lunches and cleaning the classroom together after school. Yeah, being forced to eat the school lunches teaches them to eat a healthy diet and not waste food, and cleaning the classroom teaches them the importance of hygiene and shared responsibility for keeping communal spaces neat and tidy, and we can't argue with that. But there's also a darker motive behind these kinds of group activities, and behind the general "because I said so" blanket rule enforcement at Japanese schools - it quashes individuality and rebellion. There's a reason why many of Japan's great creative minds went to "bad" schools or dropped out early. "Bad" schools tend to allow students more freedom, while a university education is generally seen as a luxury of the wealthy, a precursor to a life of corporate slavery disguised as middle-class success, or the sort of place where especially talented students go to continue their training before pursuing careers such as medicine and law.

Through high school, education in Japan is largely focused on rote memorization of facts and rules rather than critical analysis or debate. Students are taught that if they get the right answer on the exam, they will be successful human beings. Students in elite schools must pass a series of entrance exams - kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, university - unless they're lucky enough to land a spot in one of the coveted "escalator schools," which offer education from kindergarten through uni. Escalator schools are known to be the domain of the rich and privileged, so it's not like kids are seeing much diversity or learning to think for themselves here. And for everyone else, at least for students with high hopes for attending elite schools, life revolves heavily around preparations for a series of increasingly difficult exams, which may feel like matters of life or death. 

People who get more right answers, and therefore higher scores on the exams, get into the "good" schools. Those who don't do as well don't get into the "good" schools. The people from the "good" schools get hired by the "good" companies. The message is clear: the people who get more right answers than other people are better than other people. If the key to being a good person in childhood is following rules and getting the right answer, in adulthood, rules and "right" answers continue to seem more important than creativity or critical thinking. Plus, critical thinking isn't something people are born knowing how to do. It has to be taught, either through formal academic education, or Mama Life's School of Hard Knocks.

Since Japanese academia doesn't teach critical thinking, the result is that on the whole, the sorts of people who went to the School of Hard Knocks (the Buck-Tick members included) end up being much more critically-minded and individualistic than the people who went to the "good" schools, and furthermore, the people who went to the "good" schools have only ever learned how to deal with people exactly like them, who all follow the same rules. Thus, even when they reach adulthood, the elites from the "good" schools are constantly searching for a "right answers" manual that will tell them what to do, what to say, and how to act - and they often find it in goody-two-shoes adherence to the letter of the law, or in lazy thinking based on broad stereotypes - so as such, they have no idea how to handle the unpredictable situations engendered by diversity. "Diversity" includes not only global diversity, but also the diversity found within Japanese society, which in turn includes both ethnic diversity (Japan is home to a healthy population of ethnic Koreans, Brazilians, Chinese, Filipinos, Nepalese, and the remaining indigenous peoples of Hokkaido and Okinawa, in addition to a growing population of short-to-long-term expatriates) and perhaps more importantly, socioeconomic diversity. 

The idea that Japan is a classless society is nothing but a myth. In Japan, socioeconomic elites still hold a firm grip on power both corporate and political. To obtain power in Japanese society, you need to look the right way, have the right pedigree, and constantly kiss the asses of the right people. Anyone from an "undesirable" background, or who looks a little different, is going to have to work much, much harder than the child of an elite family to have a fighting chance, and anyone who starts to do things a little differently, like grow out his hair or get a tattoo, is likely to get thrown out of the corporate elite world permanently.

Therefore, it's precisely those people from the "good" schools who end up in the positions of power. The kinds of people who reach management level at elite companies almost always come from affluent, white-collar households, which were able to send them to elite prep schools and universities to be educated, which is why the gatekeepers at big-name companies let them in - here, the name of your university matters a whole lot more than the grades you get. The strange thing about these people is that despite the fact that they've purportedly got an excellent education, since their only experience of the rest of the world is limited to interactions with people exactly like them, they have no idea how to put themselves in the shoes of another person, or anticipate the needs or interests of a person with a background different from their own - including non-elite Japanese people. 

As we already mentioned, not all Japanese people are affluent white-collar elites. Blue-collar workers, members of the "water trade" (the bar, restaurant, nightclub and sex industries), the self-employed and the pierced, tattooed counter-cultural outsiders occupy an entirely different social sphere from the salarymen in suits who work in offices. And the strange thing is, while the non-elites know all about the existence of the elites, in our experience the elites often seem to know nothing about the existence of the non-elites (for example, once upon a time, when we worked for an mutlinational Japanese megacorp where our very sheltered affluent elite coworkers were shocked when we told them we knew people with tattoos. Tattoos aren't that uncommon, even in Japan, but they're verboten in the white-collar elite social class. Some counter-cultural types are able to successfully disguise themselves as white-collar line-toers, but that's another story.)

So if it's hard for Japanese elites even to understand the members of different social classes in their own society, just imagine how much harder it is for them to understand people from other countries. English education in Japan is still lacking, which means that most Japanese people, including affluent elites who went to good schools, still can't speak English worth a damn. It's also likely that despite their privilege, they haven't traveled abroad much, or had much interaction with people from other countries or people from different ethnic backgrounds. Japanese people who do have real experience of diversity, either from attending international schools, or being raised abroad while their parents were working overseas, are often viewed with suspicion when they return to Japanese society, despite the fact that these returnees are precisely the best people to bring Japanese business up to speed with the rest of the world. Many large Japanese companies still haven't entirely woken up to the fact that Japan is no longer the global business leader it once was. They pay lip service to the idea of globalization, while ignoring the input of all their employees who don't fit that perfect cookie-cutter prep school mold. They don't seem to be able to fully grasp that true globalization means drawing on the experience of foreign employees and returnees, gaining better fluency in foreign languages, and adapting the norms of Japanese business to be more in line with global standards.

We can say from direct experience that the biggest difficulty for foreign workers in Japan is that their Japanese bosses often expect them to act and speak exactly like Japanese people - without even realizing how unrealistic that expectation is. You can tell them to globalize till you're blue in the face, but they won't listen. Since most Japanese managers grew up surrounded by people exactly like them, they literally can't conceive of how different things are in other countries. To them, being Japanese is as natural as breathing. They may understand on a vague intellectual level that people from different countries have different customs, expectations, and perspectives, but too often, it doesn't penetrate to the gut level. Even when you point out to them that they would be at least as confused and lost if they were working in New York or Paris or London instead of Tokyo, many of them simply dig in their heels and harumph, "this is Japan, do things the Japanese way."

To Japanophiles who've never worked in Japan, that might sound natural and reasonable. Why should Japanese business be compelled to adopt Western standards? Isn't that colonialism? Well... no. Why not? Because "Japanese" business standards were largely imposed upon Japan by pressure from the Western imperial hegemony, first during the Meiji Restoration in the latter half of the 19th century, when Japan desperately sought to adopt European norms and technology so as not to become colonized by Europe like many parts of Asia already had been, and then during the American Occupation in the aftermath of World War II, when the U.S. government put heavy pressure on Japan to adopt American ideals and norms. Some of that was great, like the fact that equal rights for men and women were enshrined into the Japanese Constitution. Some of it wasn't so great, like the fact that Japan got taken over by corporations just like America. We could write a whole book about the ways in which many of the worst aspects of modern Japanese culture that old Japanese men love to proudly trumpet and harumph about are actually forced imports from America, but we'll leave that for another time. 

The point is, corporate capitalism is a Western imperialist invention which Japan adopted out of necessity to avoid being taken over by Western imperialist powers. So, to the extent that business norms are growing more relaxed and progressive in Western countries, Japan should have no reason not to follow suit. And furthermore, in many cases, the rigidity of Japanese business norms (lifetime employment and promotion by seniority rather than by merit, reluctance to listen to the opinions of young employees, reluctance to promote women to management positions, reluctance to make effective use of the language skills of foreign employees, blanket refusal to hire people who look "different," to name a few) render Japanese companies less adaptable and competitive in an increasingly fast-past, volatile, globalized market. Therefore, it would be better for the interests of Japanese business if they adopted a more liberal, global, modern viewpoint - because they would remain competitive and therefore continue to make money.

The problem is, since Japanese business elites have been raised to follow rules and procedures, rather than think critically and independently, they find it extremely difficult to try radical new initiatives or adapt to unexpected changes, so in many cases, they would rather bury their heads in the sand rather than try a new initiative, even if that initiative might be an excellent business idea. Even the upper echelons of Japanese business are aware of this problem, and sometimes they write manifestos and white papers about it. But with the entire middle management class populated by a horde of procedure-following robot-people, there's little they can do, until they fundamentally overhaul the education system to teach critical thinking. And naturally, a lot of the people in power are resistant to that idea, because citizens who think critically are a lot harder to control. Teach your citizens to think for themselves and they might not be so content with your small party of vested interests continuing to play gatekeeper for all the resources and opportunities...

But we digress. The point is, that as far as many Japanese managers go, it's better to continue to do the same thing than to try something new. It's not the Buck-Tick members themselves making these decisions - it's their marketing team. The band members clearly hate business. The band members spend most of their time focused on their creative work alone. 

Therefore, Victor's marketing department is the one currently making the decisions about how to sell the band. And from their perspective, Buck-Tick have always been marketed exclusively within Japan, so why start marketing them to foreigners now? The Japanese major label music industry gazes relentlessly at its own navel and has never given a fig for overseas marketing of anyone, ever. Japanese bands which have pursued success outside of Japan are few and far between, and often, for these bands, international success has come at the expense of domestic success, because the "rules" in Japanese business are so specific and arcane and removed from global trends. Part of that is Western racist resistance to listening to Asians playing rock-n-roll, but part of it is the insularity of the Japanese music industry, not believing that overseas sales are worth it. And part of it, of course, is simply the expense and difficulty posed by the physical distance, to say nothing of the language and cultural barriers. 

For a long time, that was why the Buck-Tick marketing management never offered anything to foreign fans. They didn't see the point. They probably didn't even consider the option. In all likelihood, it was only when they started to get mountains of letters from foreign fans that they even realized that overseas marketing was even a possibility. In all likelihood, until y'all started spamming them with letters, their mental map began and ended with the Japanese islands.

But they don't know how to proceed, because they still can't understand how people from other countries think, what they want, or what they need. Hell, the word "gaijin" gets tossed around so much in Japan without many Japanese people ever seeming to realize that the world is a kaleidoscopic patchwork of myriad different national, racial, and ethnic groups, and that throwing Japanese people into one bin and "gaijin" (i.e. everyone who isn't Japanese) into another bin is a laughably ignorant way to categorize people - Buck-Tick have fans everywhere from Russia to Chile to Indonesia, but do any of these nations have more in common with one another than they do with the Japanese? Probably not. This is not to say that no Japanese people understand global diversity - plenty of them do. But the kinds of people making business decisions often seem to be woefully ignorant of globalization-related topics.

Working as a professional translator for a variety of Japanese companies, we've had ample opportunity to witness for ourselves the cluelessness of Japanese managers when it comes to foreign marketing. Despite the fact that Japanese managers continuously lament their foreign employees' lack of facility with formal Japanese, since many of these managers don't speak English very well, they don't seem to understand that putting Google Translate English on their website makes them look pathetic, unprofessional, and untrustworthy - because they were never taught how to put themselves in another person's shoes, and try to imagine the world from a different perspective. 

It has literally never occurred to them that Google Translate English sounds as jarring to native English ears as botched keigo does to the ears of Japanese management.

It probably has never occurred to them that in other countries, smartphones aren't necessarily as popular as they are in Japan, or that in some cases, people may not purchase smart phones because they're too expensive to be worth it. 

It probably has never occurred to them that foreign data plans don't always work in Japan, and that having to rent SIM cards or wireless dongles still causes headaches for foreign visitors to Japan on a daily basis.

Obviously, it escaped their notice that not every member of Fish Tank who is a Japanese resident has a Japanese name.

Sometimes, Japanese people have asked us if Japanese CDs get sold in foreign CD shops, and we have to laugh, and tell them no. Did Victor executives understand just how hard it was for foreign Buck-Tick fans to purchase Buck-Tick's albums until we told them? we doubt it.

So you can see, a lot of this isn't racist malice - it's simple ignorance. That's why offering feedback is key. 

Even if there is a certain amount of xenophobia art work, offering feedback is still key. The more they hear your voices, the more they'll be forced to acknowledge that you exist. The more they'll be tempted by the opportunity you present. The fact that they adopted our last round of suggestions so readily suggests to us that they wanted to do something, they just didn't know what to do. If they can't think for themselves, we can do the thinking for them. If we offer them some good ideas, with luck, they'll realize that the answers we've given them are the right answers. And if they don't listen, it's their loss. At least we tried.



New Ticketing System and Call For Feedback

Last summer, when we posted our first open letter to Fish Tank regarding their handling of Foreign Policy, a number of y'all expressed your doubts that Fish Tank would pay any attention to our recommendations. In fact, some of y'all even suggested they'd be angry about it and punish us for it, because apparently, some of y'all believe that Fish Tank hates foreigners so much that they don't even want to touch your cold, hard cash, let alone your cootie-infested gaijin skin.

Sorry, fans, but we got the last laugh! The proof has now flown shrieking out of the pudding like a flock of four and twenty blackbirds.

As regular readers may recall, we made two main suggestions to Fish Tank in our letter:

1. Make legal access Buck-Tick's music more easily and cheaply available to foreign fans by providing digital downloads on international digital music platforms such as iTunes.

2. Make it worth it for foreign fans to join Fish Tank by providing an English language version of the Fish Tank newsletter.

And as y'all may have noticed, Buck-Tick's management adopted both suggestions in short order, at least partially, by

1. Putting Buck-Tick's new releases up for international digital download on iTunes, and putting a portion of the band's back catalog on Spotify

2. Setting up an English language version of Fish Tank Web, if the gobbledygook therein can be dubbed "English language," which is debatable.

Anyhow, we'd love to crow in triumph over the fact that not only do they clearly read our blog and/or pay attention to feedback from our readers, they actually took our advice and did something smart for once, instead of remaining obstinately devoted to inefficient and unprofitable business practices as is so common in the corporate world here.


Since the new site is still an un-navigable shambles of Google Translate word salad, seems like its time for another round of constructive feedback. Therefore, we would like to call upon all of you to write to Fish Tank with the following suggestions for improvement.

1. The English on the Fish Tank site is so bad as to be borderline unreadable. Bad English makes Fish Tank look unprofessional and untrustworthy. They need their English to be checked by a native speaker, pronto. Not only that, but the formatting is awful.

2. The English-language version of the Fish Tank site doesn't contain the same information as the Japanese site. For one thing, there is no English language information about tickets to the Fish Tanker's Only tour. Plenty of foreign fans have attended Buck-Tick tours in the past, so how is this fair? The English and Japanese sites should have the same content.

3. Fish Tank members who are foreign residents of Japan are required to register their names in katakana, despite the fact that the "gaijin cards" foreign residents are required by Japanese law to carry at all times must bear the resident's passport name - that is to say, the name in Roman letters, not in katakana. It's almost as if Fish Tank thinks that if you live in Japan, that means you must be Japanese. This is a profoundly ignorant and xenophobic assumption that's also totally out of touch with reality (there are actually a lot of foreigners living in Japan, including some of y'all). Let's gently encourage them to act a little less like angry, old-fashioned, racist grandmas.

4. Apparently Fish Tank locks your location so you can't change your country of residence, which is ridiculous. People move. Some people move to Japan from overseas. The old system accounted for that, so why is the new system so rigid?

5. Though there's no English language info about tour tickets, on the Japanese ticket info page, it says that foreign members of Fish Tank can't apply for paper tickets, they can only apply for digital tickets. However, none of the complex info about the digital ticketing system is available in English.

6. Please, please, please encourage Fish Tank not to do away with paper tickets, and to continue to allow overseas members to purchase paper tickets. Some people don't have smartphones. Some people who have their smartphones don't want to bring them to gigs. The option of digital ticketing might be nice for some fans, but doing away with the paper ticket option would pose a severe inconvenience to some people depending on their circumstances and it would be really nice if that didn't happen.

7. The ticket trade fees are outrageous profiteering and should be scrapped. It's not as if these tickets aren't already expensive to begin with.

8. It's very difficult to figure out how to send feedback. The FAQ doesn't remotely begin to cover all the issues. The feedback form should be linked in a more obvious place.

9. Anything you've had trouble with that isn't on this list.

Of course, you don't all have to include all these suggestions in your feedback, and certainly, please use your own words and don't copy and paste text from this blog, or we fear that next thing we know, the Fish Tank Police will show up at our house in the middle of the night to clap us in irons and drag us away kicking and screaming. But if past experience is anything to judge by, they are actually reading your letters and taking your suggestions into consideration, albeit in a slightly clueless fashion. The more letters they get from you, the more likely they are to act on your suggestions. So please, write to them as soon as you can. For we swear to you that as long as we draw breath, we shall not allow the noble English language to suffer such ignominious persecution at the hands of Buck-Tickistani bureaucrats. If they want your money, give them to know that they must woo you with words of honey, and not the mechanical clanking of robots. Mr. Sakurai himself probably writes better English than the gibberish spattering their site at the moment, and if they're not aware that they should be ashamed of that fact, then it's our job to make them aware.

To send feedback, go to the Buck-Tick homepage, scroll down to the bottom, and click the "Contact" button, which will take you to the Fish Tank site FAQ. Click on any of the FAQ questions and scroll down to the bottom, where you will see a line that says "If the above examples do not resolve your issue, please inquire through the link below." Click the "contact" link and fill out the questionnaire form. Feel no need to write in Japanese. Writing in English or in your native language will impress upon them that they have a lot of fans in different countries around the world and they need to improve their multi-lingual support accordingly. Make them feel ashamed of themselves for being so provincial, when the band members themselves know cool words like "Iconoclasm."


Oh, but what's this about a digital ticketing system?

For the upcoming tour, Fish Tank members will be able to purchase either digital tickets or paper tickets. The main differences are as follows:

Paper Tickets: These are exactly what we're used to, though they're now unavailable to foreign members of Fish Tank. They'll be sent out three weeks before the show, as usual. They will be tradeable under the new ticket trading system but if you trade them in, they'll be converted to digital tickets (more on that in a bit).

Digital Tickets: This is the only ticketing option open to foreign Fish Tank members, because apparently, Fish Tank hates you after all. If you don't like it, write to Fish Tank and complain, by all means. The digital tickets will be issued to your smartphone via the EMTG app two weeks before the show, and if you buy multiple tickets, your phone will display all the tickets for your party members, though it also looks like it's possible to digitally distribute them to other people with the app (however, there's no detailed info on this). The digital tickets will be tradeable under the new ticket trading system. 

The service fees for the digital tickets are cheaper, but don't be fooled - this is just to sucker you into buying them so you won't be able to resell them later and you'll be forced to use their system. Buyers of digital tickets will also receive commemorative dummy paper tickets that they can save as mementoes, while feeling sanctimoniously superior that they contributed to a system in which evil resellers of paper tickets may be legally hung, drawn, quartered, and fed to the crows. 

Oh yeah, and digital tickets are ONLY available on smartphones, not on feature phones, tablets, or computers, which means that if you're a foreign member of Fish Tank without a smart phone, you're fucked. If this applies to you, you should definitely write to Fish Tank and complain. Also, if you have an iPhone, you need it to be SMS-compatible in order to use the EMTG app.

All of this is annoying, but at least Fish Tank have now instituted a system where fans can legally trade tickets if they become unable to attend a show at the last minute... that ought to be a good thing, right? Well, maybe. Under the ticket trading system, fans will only be able to resell their tickets for the original price, so nobody will be able to charge you an arm and a leg for good seats - however, the trading system is also a lottery system, meaning that you can't decide who you resell your tickets to, and you can't choose whether you get good seats, because Fish Tank really, really want to make sure that you always get shitty seats in the back and will never be able to see the stage, ever. Paper tickets can be submitted for ticket trades up to one week before the date of the show, while digital tickets will be tradeable until noon on the day of the show.

HOWEVER, they will still take your money! Fans who wish to trade tickets will be required to pay a whole 600 yen per ticket to list their tickets on the trading system, while fans who bid on traded tickets will be required to pay a further 300 yen per ticket. This would make sense if it covered shipping fees for paper tickets, but it doesn't! All paper tickets submitted to the system will be converted into digital tickets, just to punish people without smartphones and force them to pay lots of extra money to mobile phone companies! Somebody tell me, does EMTG have a secret backdoor deal with SoftBank or Docomo?

Seems to us that charging fees for digital tickets is just a way for EMTG to get rich off you while pretending that they don't like ticket scalping. Perhaps they're trying to cut back on fans trading again and again in hopes of getting better seats, but good luck, guys - fans on resale sites sometimes pay more than 50000 yen for front-row tickets. Do you really think a measly 600 yen is going to stop them?

The site claims that "resale of tickets by third parties has caused a great deal of trouble at concerts." While that may be true for some artists, it's certainly not true for Buck-Tick. Why? Because the ticketing system already pretty much prevents people from buying mountains of tickets in order to scalp them. Some unscrupulous fans may buy extra tickets in small quantities in order to make money off resales, but we're talking a few dozen tickets per show, at the very most. Is that really worth getting this upset over?

Furthermore, the advantage of ticket resales is that they allow people to get tickets to shows that have already sold out, without having to be members of Fish Tank in order to do it. Yeah, it's a little shitty that fans resell tickets for higher than the original price in order to make a buck, but since it only takes place on such a small scale, again, is it really worth freaking out to this degree? 

No matter what the website says, the fact is that in most cases, ticket resellers and resale sites hide their identifying information well enough that ticket resales cannot be traced. Venue staff don't check the names on tickets at the door - nor should they, since buying tickets for your friends is still perfectly legal under their rules (and why shouldn't it be?) In a few cases, people who purchased resale tickets were denied entrance to the venue, but ultimately, isn't this hurting Buck-Tick more than letting them in? After all, if people wanted to see B-T so badly that they were willing to buy resale tickets, chances are, they're big fans, so what does banning them from a concert actually accomplish except making everyone feel a little less welcome?

If resales were widespread enough to the point that fans who wanted to obtain tickets through normally sanctioned sales were unable to get tickets because the tickets were all going to resellers, that would be a problem in need of a solution. However, in the case of Buck-Tick, almost all the tickets are bought by Fish Tank members, and since Fish Tank only allows members to register under their real, legal names, it's impossible for one person to have two Fish Tank memberships, so anyone wanting to use a Fish Tank membership for scalping purposes would have to either be a bona-fide fan putting his/her membership on the line for the purpose of making a little extra money reselling tickets (which is, in actuality, a pain-in-the-ass and not very lucrative business venture), or a non-BT fan who nonetheless decided to spend 6000 yen on a Fish Tank membership for the sole purpose of scalping B-T tickets... and maybe there are some people like this, but there clearly aren't very many, because Buck-Tick just aren't that famous anymore. They have a limited fanbase, so opportunity to make money off them is limited. For professional scalpers, going after more popular artists like idols and the like is a lot more attractive, because there are a lot more potential buyers and therefore a lot more money to be made.

For the most part, people who resell Buck-Tick tickets are either fans who became unable to attend shows, or fans who got together with their friends and applied for two sets of tickets, either to have a better chance of getting good seats, or to have a better chance to just win tickets at all. And it's understandable that people want to do this, since oftentimes, the allocation of good seats and of tickets in general doesn't appear to be fair. It's hard to tell exactly what the bias in the system is, but certain people seem to win a lot more than other people, which is something all long-time Fish Tank members have noticed. If Fish Tank want people to trust in the fairness of the system, they have to ensure that the system is fair in the first place, and that, they're not doing. 

Also, a lot of the people who resell their tickets for the reasons stated above resell them for the original price, which shouldn't be a problem, but for some reason, the Buck-Tick management even freak out about ticket resales in cases where the ticket is being re-sold for the original price, or less than the original price, which proves that it's not about preventing unscrupulous fans from profiteering off Buck-Tick's popularity, it's simply about control.

To which we say: chill the fuck out, Buck-Tick's management. Stop making the fans feel like criminals, when all they want to do is get tickets to see the goddamn band.

The bottom line: this system is probably a setup for a totalitarian takeover. Resales do happen in Buck-Tickistan, but not to the extent that they pose an actual problem, and limiting foreign Fish Tank members to digital tickets implies that foreigners are the source of the resales, which they certainly aren't. Why? Because as many of y'all know, in most cases, to buy tickets through a Japanese ticket seller, you have to be physically present in Japan and/or in possession of a Japanese credit card. If foreigners have ended up buying Buck-Tick resale tickets, it's only because they haven't been able to access tickets in any other way. Therefore, definitely feel free to complain that foreign fans are being forced into digital ticketing only. In fact, depending on how people's data plans work, there's some question of whether foreign fans will be able to use the EMTG app on their non-Japanese data plans while in Japan, which would defeat the entire purpose. And again, please complain about the ticket trade fees, since they seem to serve no purpose other than to opportunistically bilk fans for their cash, which is exactly what the "no resales" policy is supposed to prevent.

We believe in y'all. Together, we are strong! Go out there and tell them just exactly how full of shit they are. We know they're listening.


Buck-Tick's Next Stand

And so it came to pass that FOUR WHOLE YEARS after their last proper standing tour, Buck-Tick FINALLY decided to put on another proper rock-n-roll tour, that is to say, a tour at standing-room-only venues where their fans can actually jump, dance, get sweaty and close to the stage, rather than bop their hands like listless animatronic dolls glued into the red plush confines of theater seats, pressing opera glasses to their eyes in the vain hope that once, just once, they might be able to glimpse a closeup of Imai's fancy pants, despite being stuck at the back of the third balcony.

Four years ago, David Bowie was still alive, Obama was still president of the United States, the UK was still part of the European Union... four years is a long fucking time. Those who were suckling babes four years ago are now walking on two legs and annoying their families with questions all the livelong day. Those who were sweet sixteens are now insecure, beer-swilling college students. Those who'd just entered school are now about to graduate. Those who are still working at the same shitty jobs are questioning the leaden inertia that's prevented them from taking a chance, making a clean break, and taking a grasp at happiness, despite the fact that they gain new lines and white hairs every day. Leap years have leaped. Olympians have medaled. Dozens of iphones have come and gone and yet people feel that social media FOMO more keenly than ever. But have Buck-Tick toured? Why no, no they have not.

FOUR YEARS, kids. 
Because, as you may recall, Buck-Tick's last standing tour was in support of Arui wa AnarchyBecause, as you may recall, Victor never bothered to book them a standing tour for Atom Miraiha, because not only did Victor never bother to properly promote Atom Miraiha and was then disappointed when it didn't sell well, but Victor also thought that holding a Fish Tank Only tour instead of a proper standing tour would be a good way to get more people to join the fanclub, and as they discovered to their chagrin, that didn't happen.

Buck-Tick fans who haven't joined the fanclub already aren't going to join the fanclub. They just want to attend a tour, dammit. A real rock and roll tour where people are too busy hitting each other to ever do that infernal bop-bop hand dance. Punch or be punched: that's punk rock for you! Raise your glasses and give a cheer for all TWENTY dates of the No. 0 standing tour! It's about fucking time.

The tour dates are as follows:

October 13th (Sat) - Akasaka Blitz (FT Only)
October 20th (Sat) - Okinawa Namura Hall
October 27th (Sat) - Sendai PIT
October 28th (Sun) - Sendai Rensa (FT Only)
October 31st (Wed) - Niigata LOTS
November 3rd (Sat) - Zepp Sapporo
November 10th (Sat) - Tokyo Toyosu PIT
November 11th (Sun) - Kawasaki Club Citta'
November 17th (Sat) - Zepp Nagoya
November 18th (Sun) - Nagoya Diamond Hall (FT Only)
November 23rd (Fri/                    holiday) - Zepp Osaka Bayside (perform in many performances much wow)
November 24th (Sat) - Osaka Namba Hatch (FT Only)
December 1st (Sat) - Hiroshima Blue Live
December 2nd (Sun) - Kagawa Takamatsu festhalle
December 8th (Sat) - Tokyo Zepp DiverCity (FT Only)
December 9th (Sun) - Tokyo Zepp DiverCity 
December 15th (Sat) - Fukuoka Drum Logos (FT Only)
December 16th (Sun) - Zepp Fukuoka
December 20th (Thu) - Kumamoto B.9 V1
December 22nd (Sat) - Kyoto KBS Hall

Tickets will cost 7800 yen plus fees, plus 500 yen for a drink ticket at the door of the venue. The tickets will go on general sale on September 8th, but there are bound to be presales before that time. If you'd like our help with ticket purchases, please contact us right away. Please note that we cannot under any circumstances ensure that you win a ticket to any specific show, let alone win a good number. We get that you want tickets and you want good numbers, but sometimes it simply isn't possible to get them, and that goes for fanclub members and Japanese fans just the same as it goes for y'all, so let's make that clear up front. 

Yeah, the last tour sold out unusually quickly, but there are a lot of dates on this tour, and some of them are for very big venues, so with luck, everyone who wants tickets will be able to get them. If you're worried about not winning the tickets you want, we recommend you apply for multiple shows and/or attend dates outside of the Tokyo area. If you're visiting Japan just for the tour, there's no reason whatever to stay stuck in Tokyo. As a Tokyoite, we can tell you personally that Tokyo, though it pulses with beauty and vitality and fascination, is also sardine-tin crowded with passive-aggressive snobs and nasty turtle-faced butt-groping salarymen, and you're likely to have a much more restfully "Japanese" cultural experience on your trip if you dare to venture outside the Tokyo city limits. Don't say we didn't warn you.

For those of you who are interested in traveling to Japan for the first time to see this tour, we encourage you to read our Japanese Concert Guide, So You Want to Visit Japan to See Buck-Tick guide, and our Train Travel in Japan guide. If you're thinking of emailing us with questions, please read these guides carefully first. Most of the information you need is probably in there.


And now for two regretfully unpleasant public service announcements.

On Rudeness. We hate that we have to say this, but if you're rude to us, we're afraid we will be unable to serve you. Apparently some of you (and we daresay you know who you are) seem to think that spamming our inbox with rude letters is the new trendy way to be endearing. Sorry, kids - we've never been much of a trend follower. If you cannot adhere to the good old fashioned convention of politeness in your correspondence with us, we cannot help you, end of story.

On Cayce's True Form. Blog-Tickers, we do love you, and we're not lying about that. In fact, we love you more than you could ever know, and we'd thrill at a chance to climb in your window at night and watch you sleep. But out of respect for the privacy of your fellow Buck-Tickistani citizens, before going up to random people at Buck-Tick shows and getting in their faces and asking them if they're Cayce, ask yourself the following questions. First, is it corporeal? If it is, we assure you, it's not Cayce. Please leave innocent corporeal beings alone. Second, is it wearing a corset and whipping, flogging, or spanking a fanboy, fangirl, or fanperson of indeterminate gender? If not, it's most certainly not Cayce. Incorporeal though we may be, we are nonetheless adamantly dedicated to our lifestyle of fashion and strict discipline, so once again, please in Kushiel's name stop bothering innocent corporeal beings in our name.

Thank you for your understanding.

Also, to the person who added us on LinkedIn - thanks for the professional networking! We will recommend you with fondness to the HR Manager at the Buck-Tickistani Bureau of Bureaucracy.