Top 10 Japanese Anything, by Shelby Cinca (Tanimura Midnight)

Tanimura Midnight is a synthwave project of mine that I've been building on and off since 2009. It is heavily influenced by Japanese culture and memories/feelings from when Frodus went on tour in Japan in 1999. This list comprises these influences and general things that I love about Japan.

10. Kinnikuman

Otherwise known as M.U.S.C.L.E. figures in the '80s in the USA. These toys (and what I later learned was a manga) blew my young mind. All the different characters had my imagination go wild, and I would spend hours building my own pro-wrestling league with these toys. Even to the point where I made a magazine for myself, and tiny championship belts out of twist ties and paper.

9. Yellow Magic Orchestra

A Japanese friend who played in Atomic Fireball, which Frodus toured with, turned me onto this band. Ever since he sent me the CD many years ago, I was intrigued by this band and their solo work. Something about the Japanese electronic/art/Kraftwerk vibes make this band intriguing for me.

8. Udon/Ramen

What's not to like? I really "got it" when traveling by car in Japan and stopping to have noodles at various rest stops and restuarants. Love that red, spicy pepper powder.

7. Japanese Packaging/Graphic Design

I'm a graphic design nerd and love Japanese packaging. I have a hardbound book of just music packaging from Japan, which really shows you the attention to detail and next-level quality of the work. Really pushing the medium, too, with interesting extras and continuity. 

6. Japanese 7-Eleven

Yeah, they have better 7-Elevens than we do in America. Similar to Swedish 7-Elevens, Japanese 7-Elevens have distinct cultural flavor, and are clean and enjoyable places to go. 

5. Vending Machines

I wish every country had the vending machine culture of Japan. Hot tea, beer, whatever you want!

4. Modern Enka Music

Distinctly Japanese postwar sentimental ballad songs. Pretty sad with glimmers of hope. It's rather cheesy and croony, but something about it I love. It must be the distinct melancholy. I think that my music with Tanimura Midnight attempts to build off this feeling.

3. Snow Monkeys

They actually play with snowballs and roll them down mountains. They enjoy hot baths in springs. Kind of an ideal life, if you ask me. I'd be happy to be reincarnated as one.

2. New Japan Pro-Wrestling

I've become a big fan of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Yeah, back to wrestling! We saw FMW [Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling] live on tour in 1999 and I loved the high-flying and rough-edged quality of it. Later, I delved deeper and really came to appreciate the artform and storytelling in the ring of Japanese pro-wrestlers. They have a bit more kicks and strikes, and really pace things in a kind of old school '80s way. Axis TV airs NJPW and I always try and catch it. 

1. Nuance

Maybe this is a bit of an abstract #1, but there is a nuance in Japan which is unique to itself, and pervasive in all things. And with that, it extends to my appreciation of the things I listed. (It also prevents me from making a list of 100 things!)