The Rebirth of Cool

Shibusa Shirazu keeps burnin’ down the house


It’s 30 minutes until showtime and the dark, cramped nightclub is already way past the fire chief’s recommended maximum capacity. College students elbow their way through the wall of bodies toward the front, while gentlemen with salted beards and sports coats settle near the back with scotch and sodas. Gradually, more than a dozen musicians meander in, filling a rickety stage that takes up the Spartan club. They begin to fiddle with their instruments onstage and do a final mike-check. Fans in the audience do mike-checks of their own, making sure that the mini-microphones clipped to their shirts and backpacks are connected to their MD players, ready to record.

A shapely young woman, wearing a sequined outfit, stilettos and fishnet stockings, struts seductively to center-stage and steps onto a small platform. Everyone instinctively goes quiet, fixated on her face, framed by locks of her neon-yellow wig.

As a lone trumpet begins a Spanish conquistador theme, the shimmering dancer begins to sway her arms above her head. The trumpet’s pace gains momentum and with six sharp blasts, unleashes the entire band into a polka gone mad.

Meanwhile, two butoh dancers quiver at the edge of the stage, dressed only in loincloths and covered in white body paint. They writhe and shudder, not to the music, but to some internal rhythm.

The front of the crowd is throbbing and rippling with people jumping, cheering and shouting. A second go-go dancer joins the first on stage, their serene smiles ignoring the frenzy of energy that has erupted in this tiny club.

The games have officially begun.

Read the full profile and interview at The Japan Times Online

Shibusa Shirazu: The rebirth of cool

About Jason Andrew Jenkins

In 1997, Jason left his home near Atlanta for a year abroad. He liked it so much that he never went back. After three years in Taiwan and 13 years in Japan, he and his wife quit their desk jobs in Tokyo, pulled their kids out of local schools and traveled as a family for six years, living in Malaysia, Spain, and Mexico along the way. They returned to Japan — Osaka this time — in the summer of 2019. Jason loves Google Maps, carry-on luggage, and most dishes registering on the Scoville scale.
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