If you’ve ever heard of the PS1 cult classic LSD Dream Emulator, then you might already recognize this art. It was created by the game’s producer: Osamu Sato. This trippy exploration game has gained quite the reputation over the years for its aesthetic visuals and for the fact that it rejects most common game principles such as having a clear objective for the player to accomplish. At the start of the game the player is given a diary based on the dreams that director Hiroko Nishikawa recorded for a decade (see Lovely Sweet Dreams). The music and environment changes completely based on your actions making it so each playthrough is entirely unique. Depending on what objects you interact with, you can see very psychedelic dreams or dark and catastrophic ones.
Each time you do an action in the game (such as running into a moving object or falling off the map), your progress on the dream chart is recorded and a day advances. The chart has four labels that produce different visuals: Upper, Dynamic, Downer, and Static. Different cutscenes and pages of the dream diary will be unlocked depending on your actions. There is a “Flashback” option in the menu where you can review your progress.
Many players try to see the dark parts of the game by running off the map and “killing” their character, but this won’t necessarily produce a downer dream—sometimes an upper one is generated instead. People have tried to write guides on this but how exactly the game evaluates your actions is unknown. Still to this day there is much unknown about LSD…
Since the game was never officially localized outside of Japan, physical copies are quite rare and coveted. LSD Revamped is a popular fan-made version of the game that tweaks the original in a more user-friendly way. The web author describes it as:
“The genre isn’t adventure, it’s not action, and it’s not even an RPG. If I had to define a genre, it would be a ‘walking dream emulator’.”
Osamu Sato is a graphics designer and photographer originally from Kyoto that has created digital art exhibitions and also worked as an artist for Sony. He has traveled abroad and used many of his photos as design materials for his works. He also produces music. In his website biography it states his ideas are drawn from both consciousness and unconsciousness in his intellectual level. These ideas are clearly reflected in this exhibition as some pieces appear to have a sense of identity.
“GRATEFUL IN ALL THINGS” is not only the name of this art gallery, but also his latest music album which I managed to purchase along with a T-shirt:
I am very grateful that I could make it to this exhibition. I respect artists that reject the principles set before them and seek to create things in their own methodical way. I hope to attend more of his events in the future and continue to deconstruct the human mind.
People always ask me what my favorite place to visit outside of Tokyo is—and though it’s extremely hard to for me to choose because there’s simply so many—one of my favorite destinations of all time is Kanazawa. Kanazawa is the capital city of Ishikawa prefecture and is known for its famous seafood market, historical buildings including samurai houses, and brilliant gold architecture. It has a rustic charm that is similar to Kyoto, but is far less touristy and is surrounded by the beautiful sea.
Kanazawa is also the birthplace of famous musical artist Nakata Yasutaka (producer of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, capsule, and Perfume), who created his own indie music festival called OTONOKO that was held once a year from 2016-2018 (it currently if unknown when it will be held again). The festival attracted around 200-300 people and created a close community of music lovers that had traveled from all over Japan. It’s one of the best music festivals I’ve ever been to in Japan because it features both the experienced artists of ASOBISYSTEM and the new and upcoming talents too. I was happy to share this experience with many friends I had met at his previous music events held in Tokyo and other cities as well as explore the famous capital that is his hometown. There is so much to do in Kanazawa outside of the festival too!
Here’s a list I’ve compiled of all of my favorite places in Kanazawa. You can easily spend 3 full days doing things here:
Kanazawa Castle & Kenrokuen
Kanazawa Castle is one of my all-time favorite castles in Japan and is located right next to the famous Japanese garden Kenrokuen. This castle is massive compared to other ones I’ve visited and you can tell a lot of detail was put its re-construction after in caught on fire in the 1600s. I first came here in the winter when a light layer of snow had piled on top of the castle’s roof and it was extremely aesthetic. I was glad that it was one of the first places I had visited because it’s a huge part of the city’s history.
Strolling through Kenrokuen and listening to all of my favorite music was also a huge pleasure. It’s considered one of Japan’s “three most beautiful landscape gardens” and is the best garden of Kanazawa so you should definitely check it out if you’re here.
The castle is free to enter, and Kenrokuen’s admission is 320 yen.
What you see here might just be my favorite exhibition in the world. The image of the pool looks like some kind of mirage or frozen frame from a vaporwave music video, but there are actually living, breathing people going about their daily routines under the waters of this pool. You can even “dive in” and join them—but you can’t jump or use the ladder. Instead you must reach the underwater zone from another entrance (which can easily be found by following the signs). In addition to the pool, there are various rooms with simulations you can enter.
This museum is an important part of Kanazawa’s culture because it draws a large number of people to the city. Its design is very modern but somehow fits in the center of Kanazawa’s historic streets because it has a beautiful outdoor park and is near the Kenrokuen Garden. The outside of the museum has free exhibits you can see as well.
The entrance fee is 360 yen for temporary exhibitions (some exhibits are free).
Golden Ice Cream & Sake
Since Kanazawa is the city of gold, you can find all sorts of golden souvenirs here. The golden ice cream is by far the most famous (and delicious too). At a confectionery shop called Hakuichi, you can savor the best gold-leaf ice cream in Japan. I went during October one year and they added an edible ghost topping too! The gold sake is also something I bought back for home. It tastes just like any other sake but the gold flakes inside make it look like a glittery snow globe. My friends joke that I have eaten more gold than anyone they know, and that very well may be true.
Omicho Fish Market
The Omicho Fish Market is where you’ll find some of the freshest seafood in mainland Japan. Kanazawa is most famous for crab, but you can find almost any other kind of fish imaginable. My personal favorites were Kaisen Maruhidon (rice bowls with mountains of seafood on top) and the tiny servings of sea urchin sold in the stalls outside. Most restaurants will gladly customize your orders for you and there are amazing sushi restaurants here as well.
One of my favorite memories was when Nakata Yasutaka’s first solo album Digital Native was announced the night before the festival, so my friend and I split a crab then ordered a pitcher of sangria from a restaurant below the station in celebration. A waiter peeled a fresh avacado for us too, but I don’t actually remember what we ordered in last photo… That just goes to show how much fun I had here!
Higashi Chaya District
The Higashi Chaya District of Kanazawa is where some of the traditional teahouses and upscale ryokan are located so it’s one of the prettiest parts of the city. There are also cafes, souvenir shops, and a lot of interesting architecture here. It’s a lot similar to Kyoto’s Gion district but the crowds are more evenly distributed. I love the winding streets and also the liveliness here. Everything seems like it was built to perfection.
I highly recommend checking out the Nomura Clan Samurai Home here because it has unique artifacts and a beautiful home garden. The Godburger is also a nice meme. Although haven’t eaten there yet, it’s definitely on my bucket list.
Piano of Memories (思い出ピアノ)
As I was walking underneath Kanazawa Station, I noticed a really interesting exhibit. Here sat an ordinary piano that anyone could walk up to and play but it had an interesting concept. People could upload videos with the hashtag “sharepiano” for others to listen to online. I uploaded this video I took to Twitter and the pianist actually found it and was happy I captured this moment!
Kanazawa is a popular destination for both foreign and domestic tourists, but it’s spread out enough so that things like this can be heard and appreciated.
Hotsprings, Hotels, & Other Recommendations
When I first came to Kanazawa, I didn’t have a lot of money so I decided to stay at a hostel called Good Neighbors Hostel (now called Off) near the station for around 2500 yen a night. The 2nd time I stayed at Neighbors Inn (owned by the same people) for around the same price. Both were extremely memorable times.
The first time I met a Perfume fan from Hong Kong who had awesome stickers of all the idols on his laptop. We became good friends during the duration of the festival and the hostel had a Death Note-inspired “Guest Note” that we wrote in (fortunately no one died). The second time the hostel had a ball pit so I took hilarious photos of myself pregaming in it. I always have the best time staying in this city no matter where I am.
If hostels aren’t your style, you can find a variety of cheap hotels on websites like Booking. Additionally, if you are looking for a day hot spring I recommend Terume Kanazawa. The admission fee is only 1100 yen.
The official after party for the festival was held at an event space called Double with two floors (one bar floor and one music floor). It is here where the strong gather and continue to party until down. In 2018 I managed to meet Nakata-san before he left and get me T-shirt signed. It was on my birthday weekend so it made it extremely special:
Here is a shot of the after-party I recorded in 2018. It truly was a time to be alive and I hope to go again if it resumes in the future:
From Tokyo Station, take the Hokuriku-Shinkansen towards Kanazawa. This takes approximately 3 hours and costs 15,000 yen one way. Nakata Yasutaka actually designed the shinkansen departure melody for this train so it’s extremely special!
You can also fly to Komatsu Airport and take a bus to Kanazawa Station which may be cheaper unless you have the JR Rail Pass.
If you are interested in other day trips from Kanazawa, please see my Shirakawago article.
Throughout my travels in Asia, I’ve managed to stumble upon some pretty awe-inspiring museums. I enjoy traditional art as well as hands-on modern exhibits found in galleries around the world today. My favorite museums are those that combine innovative technology with art and science—shattering perceived ideas and adding a whole other dimension to the viewer’s experience.
I’ve compiled a list of my top 3 favorites museums in Asia that are phenomenal examples of how innovative technology can be used to break the borders of art as we know it (starting from the top):
1. The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (Kanazawa, Japan)
Mana Pool. What you see here might just be my favorite exhibition in the world. This image looks like some kind of mirage or frozen frame from a vaporwave music video, but there are actually living, breathing people going about their daily routines under the waters of this pool. You can even “dive in” and join them—but you can’t jump or use the ladder. Instead you must reach the underwater zone from another entrance (which can easily be found by following the signs).
This pool was constructed with a limestone deck at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan (shortened to Kanazawa 21). A thin layer of water is contained in transparent glass giving it the look of a real swimming pool. However, underneath the glass is an underground room that is completely empty. From the point of view of those who stand at the surface, you can create the illusion that you are walking underwater by taking a staircase beside the pool. It truly is a vaporwave dream that has been realized by the power of aesthetics and science.
In addition to the pool, there are various rooms with simulations you can enter. My personal favorite was “The Killing Machine”. Photography was not allowed in some areas, so I will leave the contents up to your imagination. I found some neat aviation and space exhibits when I first visited. Some exhibits rotate, so please check the Exhibition page for the most recent ones.
This museum is an important part of Kanazawa’s culture because it draws a large number of people to the city. Its design is very modern but somehow fits in the center of Kanazawa’s historic streets because it has a beautiful outdoor park and is near the Kenrokuen Gardens. The outside of the museum has free exhibits you can see as well.
Here is my pool-walking video that I took in 2017. The Swimming Pool is a permanent exhibit that can be seen year round so I hope to return and take better quality videos in the future.
1 Chome-2-1 Hirosaka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-8509 Entrance Fee: 360 yen for temporary exhibitions (some exhibits are free)
2. Nexon Computer Museum (Jeju, Korea)
Over Golden Week I traveled to the island of Jeju in Korea, but instead of the beaches (which are by far the best in Korea) I was most drawn to the iconic Nexon Computer Museum. Nexon is the company responsible for creating Maple Story and the longest running commercial graphic MMO in the world: Baram, also known as Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds. I was really surprised to see that a modest company in Korea had this award; which makes me think that Nexon is seriously underrated so naturally I wanted to learn more.
When I entered the museum, a wall full of lockers shaped like keys greeted me. Instantly I was impressed with the on-point aesthetics here. The cafe also had keyboard-shaped waffles, or what you’d call “sticky keys” which was another reason I had to travel all the way out here.
The museum is split into 4 floors; starting with the history of computing, then videogames and educational programs, and finally arcades in the basement! I felt a strange sense of nostalgia but also was fascinated with some of the original things that Nexon had worked on. From fantasy MMORPGs to EA Sports, there was quite a repertoire of games you could play here. They also had collections of old Apple computers and the infamous Nintendo Power Glove on display here.
Here is the Guinness World Record for The Kingdom of the Winds on display which was originally launched in 1996:
3198-8 1100(Cheonbaek)-ro, Nohyeong-dong, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea Entrance Fee: ￦8,000
3. Open Air Museum (Hakone, Japan)
While day tripping to Hakone from Tokyo, I discovered the loveliest museum with a stained glass cathedral, Persona-esque sculptures, and even a foot bath outside of the cafe! The Hakone Open Air Museum is almost entirely outdoors and is close to Mt. Fuji so you have the perfect mountain backdrop for your viewing experience. Right as I entered I was greeted by a marble head floating in an empty pool that gave me massive リサフランク420 vibes. There is an indoor Picasso Exhibition Hall as well, but the main draw is the abstract sculptures and mysterious moats on the outskirts:
These sculptures are said to symbolize the balance of harmony and art, but some of them are warped beyond belief and seem to represent a feeling of discord or solitude. I personally thought they looked a lot like shadows from the Persona series; especially the ones wearing masks. However you interpret it, you’ll definitely have a good time here. Especially if you bring some good music.
Here is one of the best shots I captured by climbing up the cathedral with my old camera:
Mori Art Museum (Tokyo) – This museum is one of the most frequently visited ones in Japan due of its upscale art and central access. I visited it once and thought it was nice to see, but the exhibits change frequently so it’s hard for me to gauge it. There wasn’t a piece that really stood out to me like in other galleries I’ve visited, but it is worth seeing if you’re interested in modern art.
Benesse House (Naoshima) – An contemporary art museum on a remote art project island in Shikoku, Japan. There is a beach nearby that you can go swimming at, and it’s absolutely gorgeous! I will be writing more about this quirky art island in a future article.
teamLab: Everyone is talking about this “borderless” art museum, and it is undoubtedly one of the most high-tech in the world. I’ve been to both the Planets and the new museum that opened up in Odaiba. Both have blown me away with how much work was put into the lighting with the interactive exhibits. It almost feels like you’re living in a neon hologram when you walk through some rooms. However, due to this museum’s popularity, you can only see some exhibits for a short period of time. Unfortunately due to the crowds it is sometimes difficult to fully enjoy things here, but it is worth seeing.
*I will be expanding upon these honorable mentions in future articles. My travel plans have been slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic so I am currently digging through my archive to create more content.
At the beginning of the month I traveled all the way from Tokyo to Hiroshima in order to attend two events that were part of Pasocom Ongaku Club’s Night Flow Album Release Tour. The first was held at Mondo Cafe in Fukuyama, and the second was at a food and music venue called ONDO in central Hiroshima. in the blue shirt—who is one of my favorite indie electronic producers in Japan—was also a part of this Hiroshima tour so I was ecstatic to go on this trip!
Hiroshima is typically a place where people go to visit historical sights, so before my arrival I had no idea what the nightlife was like. I was pleasantly surprised to see how interactive the music scene is here. Not only did the quality of music and talent of the artists exceed my expectations, but I also have fond memories from both events because they connected me with a lot of different people. I also had the experience to see rare parts of Japan, so coming here was worth all of the time and effort.
In my previous articles, I covered how to travel around Hiroshima and Fukuyama, so in this article I will be writing a detailed report on the music producers that I saw here.
Who is Pasocom Ongaku Club?
Pasocom Ongaku Club (パソコン音楽クラブ in Japanese; also stylized “Pasocom Music Club” in English) is a unit formed in 2015 focused on creating desktop music (DTM) of the new age. They have an adorable dog mascot named Maron (マロン) that appears in a lot of their photos and merchandise. Pasocom Ongaku Club have performed at numerous venues in Japan and utilize modules and digital synthesizers like the Roland SC series and Yamaha MU series to create 90s style music. They have also participated in music production and remixes with other artists, commercials, and a wide range of other activities. ⇢ Official Website
A Brief Timeline of Pasocom Ongaku Club’s Releases:
2015: The unit was formed and started uploading DTM tracks on their Soundcloud.
2017: Released their first major album “PARKCITY” on Maltine Records. Also self-released a miscellaneous album “SHE IS A“.
2019: “Night Flow” and “Night Flow Remixes” were released with critical acclaim. Arranged “Pokémon Shiritori” (ポケモンしりとり)━the ending for the latest Pokémon anime based on the games Sword/Shield. The group of children singing the lyrics to their song are called “Pokémon Ongaku Club”.
One of the most popular Pasocom Ongaku Club songs out right now is “reiji no machi” which features lovely vocals by Inoue Warabi:
I first saw Pasocom Ongaku Club in 2018 at a music/Q&A event called “ゆパ交流戦” in Osaka. I was very impressed by their music production method and how they sang through what looks like a talk box to record some of their vocals.
Saw Batsu, in the blue shirt, ゆnovation and Pasocom Music Club in Osakadai night at an underground music conference. It was very fun, I had never seen someone play a show with a melodica before!!!! 🎶 #ゆパ交流戦pic.twitter.com/8sNjGP7YKc
The event was held again this year  with a slightly different lineup. I could not attend the event this year because I was in Korea, but the highlights were uploaded to in the blue shirt’s YouTube channel.
Who is in the blue shirt?
Born in 1991, “in the blue shirt” is the solo project of a trackmaker named Arimura Ryo who currently resides in Osaka. He started creating music in 2012 and also has managed sound production for commercials and web advertisements. Released his 2nd album, “Recollect the Feeling” in April of this year. Recently he has been organizing a recurring trackmaker/DTM workshop event called “Potluck Lab” and working on his own vlog series tentatively titled “Travels in the blue“. ⇢ Official Website
in the blue shirt also released a remix of “reiji no machi” on “Night Flow Remixes”:
The First Night: At Mondo Cafe
After seeing all of Hiroshima’s major sights, I arrived at Mondo Cafe in Fukuyama around midnight. This was my first time ever going to a music event in Hiroshima so I was a bit nervous by myself, but I was happy to see that some of my friends I had met at Kyoto Metro were here too! It had been several months since I had last saw them so drinking together and catching up was a very pleasant time. Some nice boys from Hiroshima also bought me drinks and I was grateful for their hospitality.
Though I didn’t know many of the local Fukuyama DJs, all of them had great talent. The night was a mix of DTM, disco house, electronic, indie, and funk music. During the event I tried to make conversation with other people, but the music was so good I didn’t want to leave the dancefloor!!
Pasocom Ongaku Club’s set consisted of their own custom intro, hit tracks Night Flow, and some nostalgic tracks from PARKCITY like “oldnewtown”. It was very refreshing to see how much they had improved since I first saw them over a year ago! I recommend their music to everyone.
in the blue shirt’s set consisted of many different genres; his own songs released on Sensation of Blueness, Recollect the Feeling, and toward morning were mixed in with songs from other international artists. He also played “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” by KYLE, “Nishio 2” by Lemaitre, and “Whatever You Want” by 95 Royale━which is one of my favorite house tracks of all time! This is one of the best in the blue shirt performances I had ever seen!
By the end of the night I was filled with happiness and inspiration from all of the amazing tracks I had danced to that night. It was extremely hard to sleep, but I managed to get a few hours in before the next event on Sunday.
The second event was on a Sunday evening so it started early around 6pm. Much like Mondo Cafe, this event space was very homey but well-suited for the event. Most of the people from last night also came here, so I had the chance to talk to some of the DJs and also see my friends again. I was very grateful for everyone’s kindness and the hard work put into this event. It felt more like a house party than a club event!
What made this event extremely unique was that Pasocom Ongaku Club dropped “Pokémon Shiritori” in one of their sets for the very first time. The composition of this song is brilliant because they sampled the Pokémon Center healing SFX. You can see the video I captured of it (this is one of my most-viewed videos):
Additionally, the VJ here was very talented. The series of flashing logos and animations was the perfect level of stimulation for this kind of event. The lighting at Mondo Cafe was ambient and soothing, but I liked the way ONDO was set up even more.
in the blue shirt’s set was once again filled with a high level of energy and precise mixing of multiple genres. This set had his famous song “Seven Bridge” on it that made the club go insane as well as several tracks that I did not recognize. I am now even more excited to hear the new EP he is working on! I was really fortunate to talk with him and buy one of the few remaining vinyls of Recollect the Feeling. He signed it with my name on it too! I left the venue with a very good feeling.
Afterwards, I went to a lovely Chinese restaurant with some of my female friends. It was so nice to catch up after all this time had passed and share these moments together.
〒730-0026 Hiroshima, Naka Ward, Tanakamachi, 6−3, 音戸温泉ビル
Traveling around Japan for music events has been extremely rewarding for me. I’ve learned much about the world, the people, and the culture of different prefectures of this country through music, and I’ve still got much to learn! I go to clubs and events in Tokyo almost every week, but the atmosphere of the venues in Hiroshima and Kyoto are much more welcoming. The artists and listeners are able to connect so much more freely with this type of event. I will cherish all of the memories that I made here.
I do not have any big trips planned for the rest of the year, but I am planning to go to Nagoya in 2020. Please stay tuned for more updates, and thank you always for reading. ♡
I never dreamed I would be swimming through the mud in a giant elephant bath during my first day in Phuket, but as soon as I heard that the elephants were in need of protection, I signed up to be a volunteer at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. There are a total of 4 parks in Thailand you can visit to help save the elephants (Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Samui, and Phuket) that all offer an educational hands-on experience with them.
The day starts with a free pickup from your hotel (from most locations) to the sanctuary. After listening to a presentation on why it is important to protect the elephants, you are handed a knitted shirt and are given directions on how to feed them with corn stalks, bananas, and sugar cane. The elephants are extremely friendly and approachable, and the English-speaking guides will tell you each of their stories. You can tell that each one has been through a lot by the marks on their bodies. They seem much happier in their natural habitat than anywhere else!
Most of the elephants I met were rescued from a harsh lifestyle of show business. Due to being forced to lift heavy equipment and be trained to do tricks, some of their ears were worn from leather harnesses and and straps. Additionally, their skin was discolored from being away from the mud for so long. It is evident that elephants used for riding and for circuses are lacking in hygiene and not taken care of properly. This is why we must do what we can to collectively help them and spread awareness.
A very important lesson to learn is: elephants shouldnever be ridden. The elephant’s spine will degrade overtime from the weight on their backs and it can cause permanent damage to their bodies. One thing that upsets me with tour companies in Thailand is that they often feature both an elephant sanctuary and and elephant riding course. Elephant riding should be discouraged as much as possible to tourists and permanently removed from the tour companies because it is extremely harmful to them. Even though elephants look strong, they are fragile creatures that should be treated with respect.
After our feeding session, we headed to the mud bath where we happily washed and played with them! The mud is extremely important in nourishing elephants’ skin and you can tell that they really enjoy it. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous to get in, but the group of friends that I met here encouraged me to so I took the plunge! I am so happy that I decided to do this because I feel like I understand the elephants a lot more now.
You can choose from a half day and full day course with them, and an overnight course is available as well. I decided to try the half day course just to see what it was like for 2,500 baht. All of the money is used for medicine and maintaining the elephants in the sanctuaries, so I felt like this experience was well worth it.
After you bathe with the elephants, you will be able to take a shower and feast on a delicious Thai buffet meal, I enjoyed my experience here very much because I feel like I learned a lot about them, and I even got to hug one at the end of the tour!
For those looking to volunteer, please look at the volunteer page, and cherish the moments you are able to spend with these precious animals.