Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Book of Mansion Names 4

For previous entries in the tome, please click on the tag below.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Friends Hill, Mourai, Hokkaido

We drove out to Mourai to the beach and to the pet graveyard there.

It was beatiful, we should all be so lucky to have a view like this when we're gone.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Rising Sun Rock Festival Tickets and Pouches!

As if summoned by my Rising Sun music post, this lot arrived this weekend:

Tickets and campsite reservation and free bonus pouches for everyone! These little pouches may look... um... utterly useless, but they're the height of fashion for indie kids in Japan. I saw people wearing these things from last years festival at a gig last month, and this year's grey and pink is a bold step away from last year's functional black and white. Actually considering pockets are for suckers, I'm sure I'll enjoy using one of these this year, although while cute, Japanese indie chicks can sling them over their shoulders like a purse, the cord length looks like it'll do nothing but dig into my armpit.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

More Rising Sun Rock on 8tracks

Wow! Less than two months until Rising Sun Rock in EZO 2009 (to give it what I believe might be it's full name). Better get on with posting some more music by the artists playing there.

I already posted 8 assorted tracks (on the appropriately titled and wonderfully useful 8tracks) for you're listening pleasure, but in case you skipped lunch that day here that business is again:

That's got Polysics, Sakanaction, Chara, Beat Crusaders, Soil and "Pimp" Sessions, Eastern Youth, HiGE and 9mm Parabellum Bullet. The theme is that they're all playing at - I'M KIDDING! I already covered that didn't I.

Here's part two:

This time featuring Guitar Wolf, Mass of the Fermenting Dregs, capsule, Yoshinori Sunahara, Ohashi Trio, Midori, The Pillows and Flower Travellin' Band.

Y'know I'm not gonna say anything about those folks, I'm just gonna let you listen for yourself. It's more... pure that way. Oh by the way, if you're a last.fm user you can sign up for 8tracks and last.fm will scrobble your 8tracks listening, which is GENIUS.

Incedentally, just heard the new Black Eyed Peas song. Is it just me, or was there a time when they weren't the worst band in the world? Because now, I'm pretty sure they are. And it was really surprising for me because I was watching the video thinking - "I like this modern 808 bullshit, I love glitches in pop, I don't get pissed off by vocal manipulation anymore, I don't mind dumb lyrics or trying-to-be-cool electronic minimalism in mainstream pop, and yet this track - this song - which seems to be composed of things I usually quite like, is a hideous travesty of pop music, such that I may have to take a bathroom break the next time anyone punches in Black Eyed Peas at karaoke."

Friday, 26 June 2009

Steven Wells is dead

Time out for a tribute. I just read that Steven Wells died this week. He was probably more of an influence on me than I realise, and although I didn't always dig everything he wrote I had his last ever Banging On column from the NME pinned to my notice board for years. It's still in a file at home I think.

I didn't even realise he'd been suffering from cancer, I read it on Warren Ellis's site, and his final column for Philidelphia Weekly is here. You should read it really.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The New Shiina Ringo Album

I was going to start this post off with a link back to my big post about Shiina Ringo, who is basically awesome and whom I have become a "Superfan" of since coming to Japan. Only to find, y'know, that the big post about Shiina Ringo doesn't exist, because I kept thinking I'd written it and never actually wrote it.

So that gives me something to write about when I've got a spare couple of hours (here's looking at you August!).

Anyway as I said it would earlier this month Ringo-chan's new album Sanmon Gossip came out this week, and to be a "Superfan" I got up early, trotted over to the record store about three minutes from my appartment and bought it the day it was released:

It's very pink and very good. Opening all the packaging up is like taking off someone's skin and finding more skin underneath, if that isn't too creepy. It is, isn't it? Sorry.

After the last few years with her band Tokyo Jihen this is very much a solo record like her earlier stuff. It's a real blend of genres too, but not in the way that her earlier stuff is - everything chucked together into a big indie-electro-swing mulcher. This one has indie-ish songs, up-beat swing stompers, torchy ballads, orchestral melodramas, electronicky hip-hop tracks and a woeful 80s soul version of one of her most popular singles as a bonus track. It's really very good. It doesn't even feature either of the tracks off her single last month (which is very cool). Sadly, the first promo-vid from this album though is for one of the ballads (I don't approve of ballads as the lead off single for an album - hit 'em with something snappy for godsssake!):

Still a great video though. Now, to work on that Shiina Ringo mega-post...

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Product Review: Pepsi Shiso

Bangorang Rufio:

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking - it's finally happened, Alex has finally mistaken drain cleaner for a fizzy drink and gone and killed himself. Either that or he thinks he's in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze, and he's trying to turn himself into a giant monster-man like Shredder. Well my friends, no to the first and yes to the second. I mean, no to both of them. But how could I say no to Pespi Shiso?

Brewed to an unhealthy green that makes melon soda look positively organic, Pepsi Shiso hit the shelves this week. I was disappointed to find that it wasn't some unholy Shiso-tainted Pepsi-cola. Instead it seems to be just a Pepsi-branded shiso-flavoured fizzy drink. It's actually not bad, and does smell and taste (at least at first) like shiso (oh, which is a strong, sour, basil-like herb that's used in Japanese cooking). Like Green Tea Coke though, it's not the affront to man and God that I was hoping for. Well, this is Japan, another candy or soft-drink assault on the palette is always just round the corner.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Moments from David Arquette's "The Tripper"

Bunny mentioned this again on her blog (as part of her nigh-on inexplicable crush on Tom Jane) and I immediately resolved to watch it (and almost immediately did). The Tripper is a slasher movie set around a free-love music festival in the woods of Northern California, where a murderer dressed as Ronald Reagan is going around chopping up hippies. It's a really good movie!

And, considering I reckon no-one really expects David Arquette to be a fantastic visual stylist, it's also a very good looking movie. The framing and composition throughout is great, adding to the suspense or trippiness, and they've got a fantastic natural set in those woods. Of course it's thoroughly tongue in cheek, and when the bodies start piling up they do so remarkably rapidly, but it's got better pacing that most horror movies at this level. David Arquette sir, I salute you.

Monday, 22 June 2009


I went to see Mass of the Fermenting Dregs for real this time. Last time they cancelled and, if you remember, on the door they said "Didn't you read the website?" and OF COURSE I didn't read the website because I can barely read any Japanese. Anyway, they came back and me and Matt decided to hit it again, because they're really very good:

And they were very, very good last night. The singer/bassist Natsuko is astonishing, she's a great player and performer but also seems to be loving every moment when she's onstage, throwing her arms around and shooting huge, unselfconcious grins all the time. She knocked over her mic and some of the drum mics with a few exuberant swings of her limbs. She also jumped down into the audience to rock out at the very end, spinning round and staring ecstatically at everyone. She's awesome. They also announced that they were playing Rising Sun this year and I will be there for their set with bells on (n.b. I may not actually be wearing bells).

It was the first time I'd been to Hall Spiritual Lounge, one of Sapporo's indie venues. It's not much of a hall or a lounge, but they've certainly got a sound system. It was deafening - on reflection in the top ten loudest shows I think I've ever seen (which includes Wolf Eyes and that two piece British metal combo... I don't remember their name, and My Vitriol, who weren't loud, but who worked with torturously trebly sonics). I'm 24 hours away and my ears are still ringing and certain frequencies are still distorting in my ears - man that's a show.

There were three other bands too, and none of them sucked. The first band (who probably did most of the ear-damage) were fluke, from Sapporo. I'm gonna have to listen again when I can actually tell the difference between a bass and a guitar, but they actually sounded really good. Straight, hooky post-punk rock with great shouty vocals. I'm gonna try and check them out again.

After that was a secret guest which turned out to be Discharming Man. Discharming Man, as a spoonerism of the Smith's song, is an awesome band name and I'd checked them out before and... y'know. Wasn't blown away.

The flyer I picked up a few months ago was full of endorsements from bands like MOTFD and Bloodthirsty Butchers, and they're an up-and-coming band from Sapporo but I'm still not sold. However they (or he? possibly it's a one man band with backing musicians) were much better live. He has a great voice, the music sounded good, the arrangements were interesting... I just don't like the songs much. Oh well. Actually, the video above is kinda growing on me... maybe it's a grow-on-you thing...

It was interesting because Hideki Yoshimura, the singer from Bloodthirsty Butchers (who are from Sapporo, why do I always forget that?) was playing guitar in his band, and often talked between songs. Because Yoshimura is much older, and I would guess, is acting like something of a mentor here there was a lot of respect flowing his way across the stage, a real sempai thing going on.

The third band was another local group called dry as dust. They were very... competent? They all looked about 12. As Matt said, "mass appeal" but not much appeal for me. They didn't suck at all, mind you, just... not as exciting as the other groups.

And that was what is probably gonna leave my ears ringing for a few days. Just like the old days when it never used to go away at all.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Happy Father's Day Stephen!

I'm not being all that straight, I already sent this picture to my pa as an online Father's Day card. I snapped it in the window of United Arrows in Parco:

You can laugh, but I think they've really hit on something here. Even in Japan, the land of the beardless, a beard is still an integral part of the Father's role in their child's development. How many infants' growth have been stunted by a clean-shaven pater? Think on't recent fathers and fathers-to-be, do not deny your child the joy of a bearded dad.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Product Review: Sapporo Yubari Melon Soda

Melon soda is a viciously sweet, luridly green soft drink popular in Japan. It doesn't taste much like melons, maybe a little, which is good coz I don't like melons. It tastes like sugar and additives in the best way, and looks like Nilbog juice as Bunny pointed out. Yubari is a town in Hokkaido that is struggling as I have informed you before, but which is famed for deliciously sweet melons with bright orange flesh. One of the few melons that I really like the flavour of (if only they weren't so darned expensive) Sapporo (the drinks company, not the city) has brought these two entities together in the inevitable way:

Sapporo Ribbon Yubari Melon Soda. It's really nice, though actually I couldn't say it's much nicer than Sapporo's regular Melon Cream Soda, which I love. This certainly has more of a fruity taste, but I expected to be supping on the elixir of the gods and what I got was just... great. Oh and it's bright orange (like Yubari Melons) not bright green. Still - I recommend!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Moments from Tromeo and Juliet

Tromeo and Juliet is like Citizen Kane. It's one of those movies that you've always known you should see, but somehow you've never got round to it. Well, I finally got round to it.

And it was worth it. God bless you people of Tromaville. God bless you every one.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Seaguy Once More

It would be remiss of me not to mention that Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye, the second chapter of one of the greatest comic books ever, came to a close a couple of weeks ago.

And it was just as good as I'd hoped. One day, we'll see Seaguy Eternal, and the world will be a better place for the completion of a masterpiece.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Dietary Sustenance

Cleared out my cupboards after my birthday. Utter farce. Not as bad as the Christmas before last, but still:

Inventory includes:

Special Okinawa Haichuu Sweets
Large Gourmet Boiled Lollipops (x3: chocolate covered banana, buttered popcorn and peanut butter)
Reese's Pieces
Reece's Peanut Butter Cups
Trident Sweet Kicks Chocolate Mint Flavour Gum
Dairy Milk 8 Chunk Bar
Grapefruit Sour Candy Shot
Apple Sour Candy Shot
Toxic Waste Hazardously Sour Candy
Atomic SourBall Sour Hard Candy Sweets
Some sort of Sour Japanese Candy with a one in five chance of getting a sour covered curry sweet.
Chocolate Panda Biscuits
Wasabinori Snack
Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
Rowntree's Randoms
Mikan Sweets
Soft Ice Cream Chocolates (three flavours)

What must people think of me?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Cats vs. Dogs

Again, I really don't want to be degenerating into a lacklustre, parody of a blogger, but I'm stretched a little thin and I'm determined to keep this ticking.

And a news article like this just begs me to post it:

Do you like cats more than dogs? Oh? You do? Do you often smirk about how cats are smarter than dogs, those four-legged buffoons? You do that too? Then I strongly recommend you read the article. Upshot?



If you'll pardon my French.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Greatest Bands Ever #751: The dB's

Sorry about all these "cultural" posts. Things are a little busy and stressful while I try and sort out my... um life. Anyway, virtue lies in the daily application of one's mind to a problem and blogging. Or something like that. Anyway, anyway...

The dB's

The first time I heard the dB's I was just utterly astonished that I'd never heard them before. The first two albums Stands For Decibels and Repercussion (which admittedly, having read that those are the best, I haven't progressed beyond) are staggering feats of power-pop genius. The melodies are so catchy, the arrangements and performances sizzle and pop, everything seems both tossed off and meticulously arranged at the same time. If you like guitar pop, I can't recommend them enough. Well, I can try obviously, but in the end you'd just get bored of me harping on about them and just stop listening.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Yosakoi Soran 2009

Yosakoi Soran Carnival is huge. I mean, I had no idea how big - last year I was too busy to see any of it and I was kind of pissed off because people kept saying how it was everywhere, and they couldn't get away from it. Well this year, it was everywhere for me too. Yuki said that someone claimed more people come to see Yosakoi now than come to see the Snow Festival in Sapporo, and I find that pretty hard to believe, since due to the rain, most places seemed fairly sparsely attended. However I can easily believe that more people come to dance in the festival than come to Snow Festival because there were Yosakoi dancers bloody everywhere. And since they've all got to appear at different locations all over the city on some meticulously planned schedule they were always running around in huge groups, like crack teams of extras from Steven Spielberg's Hook.

Oh yeah, I should explain. Yosakoi is a massive kind of contemporary Japanese team dance contest. It's less than twenty years old, and started like the Snow Festival, when a student from Hokkaido University... um... felt like having a team dance thing? Things snowballed and lo and behold 18 years later Tara can sit in Odori Park while separate performances (each with their own deafening sound system) go on in front of her, behind her, and in the streets either side of her.

We saw the Yosakoi Illusion Parade which was a big kind of doss for all the different teams to get together and march in one long line. It was kind of fun, but not all that special as regards... um choreography.

After that we squeezed ourselves behind a tree to get a look at the actual competition stage; I think we were watching the semi-final.

Yosakoi is kind of Japanese dance, but with lots of contemporary elements. The only requirements are that you have the little hand shaker things, and that your music incorporates elements of Soran - Hokkaido fishermen's songs. That literally just means shouting "SORAN" every now and then. Every team has someone on the mic to either sing, or mostly just shout things like "Here we go!" and "Ha!" The college team pictured above had a girl with a voice like cheese-wire - it was painful. Another team featured a phenomenal singer, and two MCs who were wasted on the lumpen dancers.

On Sunday we went over to Olivia's place because one of the MANY parades goes right past her window.

It was pissing it down, so turnout was minimal, but the dancers still gave it a hundred and twenty percent. I especially liked the teams who featured a burly flag bearer at the rear:

The winners this year were Hiragishi Tenjin, from Sapporo. They're one of the two best teams who dominate the competition every year (or so I'm told, I also found a video of them dancing in Thailand to launch the first Bangkok Yosakoi Soran, and I think I heard the core team work as backing dancers for J-Pop people sometimes). While a lot of teams are doing it for fun, you've gotta audition to get into the big teams and they have corporate sponsorship to put on a great show and hire professional choreographers. And, as might be expected, they're head and shoulders above everyone else. Here's the final ceremony and their performance:

Yeah, that's pretty good. Both years I've been in Sapporo now though, Yosakoi's been a really wet event - lots of rain. Let's hope it's a sunny spell next year.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

A Happy Birthday which included watching dancing, eating at my favourite restaurant, watching more dancing, looking at appartments and eating sukiyaki.

Pictured: Beer, Alex, Cake, Sukiyaki, Yuki's Arm, Olivia's Arm.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Greatest Bands Ever #243: The Nation of Ulysses

Unlistenable, but you get the idea.

Further evidence.

And Plays Pretty for Baby is the most exciting record ever, bar none.

That is all.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Green Tea Coca-Cola

I used to love lime coke when it was brought out in the UK. Do you remember? It came in an opaque, toxic green bottle, that - without the coke label - made it look like you were drinking toilet cleaner. But that wasn't the only reason I dug it: I love stupid flavour mash-ups of almost any kind. When I found the double-stacked vanilla-cherry coke in Cyber Candy Brighton years ago it blew my tiny mind. I love being in Japan where Kit-Kat is on a never ending mission to explore every possible flavour combination in existence. And in all of these cases the flavour is never really all that important, it's the thought that counts, the idea that some flavour scientists in a bunker in Olso have been toiling away trying to find a chemical compound that accurately reflects both Pepsi and "Wet Dog" or whatever.

This week saw the release of Green Tea Coca-Cola in Japan:

Disappointingly it's quite nice. That is, it doesn't really taste like green tea to me at all, althought it does kind of smell like green tea. If it had tasted like an actual mix of green tea and diet coke then it would probably have induced vomiting. It avoids tasting like swill by tasting less like like chemical run-off than regular diet coke does, but it doesn't really have the promised green tea after-taste. I would describe it more as foliage, possibly artifical leaves. The after-taste certainly sticks around though, I can still taste it now, and it's not all that pleasant... Hmmm, on reflection I'm gonna give it a thumbs down. Sorry Coke.

I wasn't so excited about green tea coke to start with, but apparently the end of the month will see the launch of something truly deranged - Shiso Pepsi. Shiso has such a strong, some might say pungent flavour, I can't imagine how it could be happily married to anything. That has a very real possibility of being undrinkable, and as such sounds a lot more awesome to me.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

J-Pop: Chara

Chara is playing at Rising Sun this year. She's married to Tadanobu Asano, who I like, and this song is the one that's made me happiest in the past few hours.

Ergo I post. Those chords at the start of the chorus are sublime.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Vanity: Jeremy Scott for Adidas

C'mon now, who at Adidas Originals gave Jeremy Scott a free reign. Whoever you are, you deserve sexual favours, because it's all incredible.

I'm still regretting not picking up this hoodie he brought out last season, that I saw in Tokyo:

And while I was umming-and-aaahhing about it for a while, I've now decided that the Winged Attitude sneakers are also bostin':

Next season's looking just as good with this goddamn beautiful coat:

I want it SO MUCH. Please also note the insane triple-tongued sneakers. Oh my soul.

And the hideously, sublimely stupid concept of boots that look like snowboard boots, but which aren't.

They're terrible... but in a way they're WONDERFUL.

OK, mostly they're terrible.

But still...

Monday, 8 June 2009

Alex Recommends Comics! Scott Pilgrim

So, to return to recommending comics that THE ENTIRE WORLD should be reading (including that shemp wot set me on this mission) I'd like to point you in the direction of Brian Lee O'Malley's ongoing magnum opus Scott Pilgrim :

Dear sir, when you asked me to recommend comic books, you requested single volume works. Scott Pilgrim is currently running at 5 volumes and will conclude at 7, so you may wish to disqualify it from your investigations. HOWEVER, if ever there was a comic book that was specifically designed to hammer your specific pleasure buttons (i.e. indie rock and geekery) until you beg for mercy, this is that comic book. I can't believe it didn't just jump to the front of my mind as soon as you asked. Buy all and read all and you WILL NOT REGRET IT.

That goes for everyone else too, but to the guy who wanted me to recommend comics - Scott Pilgrim is so right up your alley, it's going through your bins.

Thank me later.

Saturday, 6 June 2009


You know, you're only playing serious poker if you're playing with Rilakkuma playing cards.

I'd like to think that the stately progression of a poker game would be approved by Sanrio's relaxed bear.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Sometimes I just forget that there are movies coming out and being released and not being released in Japan. Except for Terminator 4, there's posters for that everywhere. Then Nicholas Cage comes along and reminds me:

Directed by Werner Herzog! I defy anyone to explain that. Obviously that's not coming out for a while, but I'm even more stoked about another forthcoming feature that's even further away. Kenneth Branagh directing The Mighty Thor? With Brian Blessed rumoured as Odin? Holy balls. Sweet, holy balls.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Stimulation At Last!

Man, as a fully tax-paying member of Japanese society I've been waiting long enough for this:

Twelve thousand yen from Aso-Sori for me to go out and spend to stimulate the Japanese economy. Apparently Sapporo is one of the last cities to deal this out, and even in Sapporo some people I know already had theirs so Kita-ku was probably pretty far down on the Sapporo list.

Now what to spend it on? One suggestion so far "twelve thousand yen worth of ramen and coca-cola". Tasty, but ill-advised.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

More 8tracks

I put more music up on the internet. Y'know other people's music for you to listen too.

This time it's dreamy, wonderful stuff from Japan, not like all that electronic beeping and whooping I usually listen too (I've found a peach of a "beep-and-whoop" number that I'm gonna find a way to upload though). Also, lest you think I'm more widely listened than I am, there's a lot of interconnectedness in this list. Nika Soup & Saya Source are Nikaido Kazumi (who is also represented) and Saya from Tenniscoats (who get their own track). The singer Haco is also the singer for After Dinner and Hoahio. And I'm pretty sure Nagasi Ni Te and Maher Shalal Hash Baz have worked with... at least the Tenniscoats. They all probably live in a big house on a small mountain that rises from a rolling forest sea.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Zazen Boys: Live in Tomakomai!

I kicked myself, hard in the ass, when I realised that Zazen Boys had come to Sapporo last autumn and I missed them. As always bears restating, they are not only one of the best bands in Japan, but in the world, because no-one else in the world sounds like them. And when I saw them at Rising Sun last year they were awesome. Then I noticed they were playing some dates in Hokkaido this May... but not playing Sapporo. Nuts. Then Yuki, who was an instant convert at Rising Sun, said... well we both have a day off on Sunday why don't we just go to Tomakomai? And she offered to drive coz she's awesome. So as kind of a last minutish thing - we did.

It was pissing down with rain all day, a two and a half hour drive to Tomakomai on the South coast of Hokkaido and I had to do some very dodgy Japanese A-Z reading, but we got there. And when we got there, what a there it was:

I'm not sure if that photo adequately conveys the sheer "middle-of-nowhere" backwater-ness of the venue. There was no parking anywhere, we just left the car in a video store parking lot and hoped it wouldn't get clamped or towed. It was way out of central Tomakomai (which I didn't see, but if the rest of Tomakomai is anything to go on, I'm in no rush to check out, sorry Tomakomaians) and basically a kind of live/rehearsal space above a guitar shop. Zazen Boys are a pretty big band, it was awesome so see them in a venue about the size of the ones I used to play in.

Close enough for the bassist to spend a long time staring at me really hard in a really strange way. They were incredible, even though they ended their set on an actual free-form jam (ugh) and the timing and interplay live makes them one of the best live acts I've ever seen. I'm still harboring a secret hope that they'll be added to the Rising Sun bill this year, but if not, well, I'm glad we hit "Toma" as Mukai Shutoku called it.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sapporo Food... or hallucination? - Half Dime

EDIT! As is the way with some restaurants with a bafflingly convoluted concept and not the greatest menu in the world. Half Dime is gone now - flattened in fact - bulldozed to the ground to make way for something infinitely less awesome than a steak restaurant staffed by post apocalyptic miners named Mermaid.

So we were driving back from Tomakomai in the dark, in the rain and I fell asleep in the car. When I woke up we were back in the outskirts of Sapporo, but it was night so I had no idea where we were. Yuki asked where I wanted to eat, and suggested Italian, which sounded good, but suddenly we seemed to be approaching some kind of densely forrested mountain:

Is that a restaurant? I asked, still half asleep. Yes, she said, the same one that you took pictures of closed down near the freeway. Wait, so are we in the past now? I thought, but luckily we weren't so we went there to eat.

I didn't take pictures inside because it's so incredibly dark I doubt they would have come out. For a long time I thought I was still asleep too because the place was so unreal. The waiters wore kind of Peter Pan rags and face paint. Our waitress took us to our table, I was half asleep so I didn't listen to what she said, Yuki whispered to me: "She's Mermaid". Nothing was making any sense, so I looked at her costume, which didn't resemble a mermaid one bit. "No, her name. She said her name is Mermaid." It made as much sense as anything.

It turns out that the concept of the restaurant is that it's a MINE, and they serve roast beef and choice meat cuts. The menu was severely lacking in choices to be honest, and was kinda pricey, but when the food arrived it was great. That said, I certainly wouldn't recommend it on the strength of that, but for the whole experience... it was really something. It was late at night when we went, and the place was deserted, and inside it's huge and labyrinthine, so we sat at a booth in a curved passage and couldn't see a single other diner from where we were. I'm not sure how the face paint and fantasy names fits into the Mine theme, but possibly they used to be miners but they became trapped underground and developed their own society... that would make sense. As much as anything does. They had a gift shop full of utter junk, generally themed around dinosaurs, jewels and statues that their "Miner King" had found.

I'm going to try and mark the place on my Sapporo map, but I really have no idea where it was - possibly you have to still be dreaming to access the dimension on which it rests.

EDIT! Well, it does exist, and can even be seen on google street view (marked on my map of course), althought it looks half the size it did in the dark. There's even some info on the Hokkaido Gourmet Navigator that says that it's: "
based on the idea of an underground shelter in the 49th century world that has terribly ruined after 3000 long years. Our staff wear moor than 30 types of "character uniform," and we have lots of fun with magic, fortune-telling, parades of a musical troop and more!" We didn't get magic tricks, but it's probably for the best. At that point I would have totally lost my mind.