Rankin Taxi

So last weekend Rob, Chip, and I inadvertently stumbled upon the Reggae King of Japan, Rankin Taxi. I’m not sure if that is his real name.

Taxi-san. Note the mosh pit.

We had been at our favorite Hayama beach bar, LAH,  having cocktails (they have margaritas! Real frozen ones with straws!) when a very friendly fellow named Tosh (like Peter) told us we had to get to another bar, Oasis, to see the king of Japanese reggae. I didn’t even know there was a Japanese reggae scene, much less a king of it. It was closing in on Chip’s bedtime, but I felt we couldn’t pass up this cross-cultural opportunity. Oasis was packed and Rankin Taxi was worth the visit. He is definitely the first Japanese man I have ever seen wear a paper crown. Chip was mesmerized. Rankin Taxi sang in Japanese except for the refrain to one song which was “Catch…and release!” What a natural resources management term has to do with reggae I might never understand, but the music was really catchy. Taxi-san was accompanied only by a guitarist, and it made for a lovely, mellow sound. Sometimes reggae is a little apocalyptic for me, but I really enjoyed this. Rob took a video, which you can see here (or on his flickr page).

Rob did some research when we got home and found this article on Japanese reggae, too, which is very informative. It makes it sounds like the dancehall variety of reggae is more popular in Japan. Rankin Taxi was definitely more sway-along than dancehall. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, globalization never ceases to amaze me.

Candy is dandy but liquor is a quicker way to spend a lot of yen

Just yesterday someone was telling me how they have started to collect Kit Kats here in Japan, because they come in all sorts of crazy flavors. So imagine my delight when I heard an NPR story today (American NPR–I can listen online) about all the different Kit Kat flavors in Japan! You can listen/read here. The story also talks about the ubiquity of the convenience store in Japan, something I have really enjoyed. My favorite thing to do at the convenience store is to go pay my utility bills (just bring them to the cashier, any day, anytime, and they scan them and I pay) and then bring home a delicious bento box lunch. (The only thing I have failed at doing in a convenience store so far is buying baseball tickets. The little machine that dispensed them definitely didn’t speak English.) Well now, I will bring home Kit Kats as well.

In fact, I couldn’t wait for my next utility bill. Chip and I hurried down to the mysteriously named “Lawson’s Station” convenience store on the corner, and scoped out the Kit Kat selection. Banana! Green tea! Strawberry! Mini! Since I am a fan of the fake banana flavor, I went with that. While I was there, I also found…orange M&Ms!

Two servings of fruit.

Verdict? Not bad. I might not buy it again, but I don’t think that’s the point.

The banana, peeled.

And all for only 120 yen. For some reason, the Green Tea Kit Kat was 126 yen.

Speaking of yen, last Saturday night Rob and I went to Yokohama for a proper date. Chip we just left in the house–Japan is that safe. No, really we took him to the base day care’s “Saturday Night Out” session, which is a fantastic thing. Anyway, Rob wanted to get drinks at a bar at the top of Japan’s tallest (for now) building, the Landmark Tower. To get to the top, we rode the world’s second-fastest elevator. It goes so fast that it made my ears pop.

I ordered a scotch and the waitress asked if I wanted single or double. “Single,” I replied, not wanting to be extravagant, and so I was treated to maybe a half of an ounce of liquor pooled at the bottom of several flawlessly clear ice cubes. Rob? He ordered the “Guavacation” which, I’m sure you can imagine, had a flower and fruit stuck in it and was redolent of sunscreen. The view was the best part, overlooking a twinkling carpet of lights rolled out all the way to Tokyo. I took a picture with my phone, so you kind of get the idea:

Guess how much two drinks at this lovely establishment cost us? Really, guess. (Mama can’t, because I already told her.) To whoever guesses most closely I will send the craziest flavor of Kit Kat I can find (or a gluten-free alternative). Mama, I will send you a Kit Kat anyway because I know you like them. Contest ends Friday morning, Japan time. No purchase necessary.