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    • Spring
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Into the Mystic

        While you probably won’t encounter an elusive river sprite in the highlands of the Northern Japan Alps, you may feel a bit lightheaded from the refreshing thin air, remarkable vistas and mystical aura of the mountains and valleys in Kamikochi.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • Summer
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
        A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Autumn
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Winter
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Shuzenji Sanctuary

        Nestled in the ...
    • Near Tokyo
      • Air it Out

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        Ark Hills Marche

        Tucked away in ...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Summer Runs, Races & Tours

        Trail running is a great way to explore the beautiful nature of a country while getting away from the usual tourist spots.

        Tokyo Escapes: Summer Camping

        Tokyo summers can be stifling—luckily it’s easy to escape the city for a cool break from the heat.
    • Near Kyoto
      • A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Cycling Awaichi

        “Awaichi” is sh...
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...

        Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • River and Lake
      • Air it Out

        There is no bet...
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...

        Minakami Mofest

        Head up to Japan's outdoor mecca of Minakami for the country's biggest outdoor adventure festival!
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        All-Season Outdoor Playgr...

        Enter the all-season world of Shinetsu Shinzekyo in Nagano and Niigata with outdoor professionals
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        The Reemergence of Arai

        Lotte Arai Resort will definitely become a hotspot for western skiers and boarders over the next few years.

        Tohoku Storm Chasing

        Just a few hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train) await remote mountains and the countryside of Tohoku’s Akita and Iwate prefectures.
    • Travel
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

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    • Food and Drinks
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
    • Races and Events
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

The Kooks

The Kooks say: ‘HEAD NORTH, YOUNG MAN!’

This month we feature newcomers to the music scene, The Kooks, and we get their take on traveling in the U.K.

The Kooks are a four-person team featuring Paul (vocals), Hugh (lead guitar), another Paul (drums) and Max (bass guitar), and most of them are still in their teens. Despite their youth, they signed a contract with a major label only three months after putting the band together, and the release of their debut album in Japan this year marks them as a force with which to be reckoned.

Their sound is both simple and melodious, and it seems to exist outside the ebb-and-flow of what’s “in.” Whether listened to 10 years ago or 10 years from now, their style would be just as well received, making them a bright spot on today’s new music scene.
Regarding travel tips. “We’re based in Brighton, so without question that’s one of our recommendations,” states Hugh. “Actually, it’s the coolest city in the Kingdom. Plenty of music from all genres, and no shortage of places to visit.”   
The band was formed in Brighton which also was the stage for “Quadrophenia” (1979 Franc Roddam film), and the holy land for those into The Who or mod style.

“Next would be Liverpool with its musical history,” chimes in Paul.

Hugh replies with, “That place is definitely cool. Plenty of good vibes. Maybe because it’s in the North, but Liverpool people are different from others. Like, if you’re standing in line at the bus stop, the guy next to you will eventually say, ‘It’s freezing cold out here!’ and you might reply with, ‘You’re damn right!’”
   
“My hometown, Leeds, is the same way—friendly and open. People just chat with anyone,” comments Peter.

Hugh adds, “There’s a lot of sincere folk in Leeds.”

“That’s why it was so rough when I first moved to London,” Peter confesses. “Even though I’m being open and friendly, talking to folks I don’t know, people are looking at me like, ‘What are you, begging for money?’ Londoners are a lot more closed.”

Hugh says, “Londoners are way too skeptical.”

“Northerners have such a better feel about them,” chips in Peter.

Our conversation moves further and further from the original intent of finding out what places they recommend, but apparently it is best to get out of London and head north.

“Maybe we should recommend Swansea, as well?” Hugh suggests, and everyone laughs uproariously.

Even more laughter as Paul comments, “If you’re into being naughty, I’d head there.”

With Peter confessing, “For stress relief, there’s nothing like Swansea,” the laughter reaches its apex. Perhaps it’s youthful exuberance, but one minute they’re speaking of friendly villages, and the next thing you know it’s getting quite volatile.

Unfortunately I was never able to discover the mystery behind the Southern Wales city of Swansea.
   

SOUNDING OFF

The Kooks debut album and recent releases from other English newcomers.

The Kooks
Inside In/Inside Out
(Toshiba EMI)
Sweet and painful English royal rock. Limited in sounds, but expansive in scale. With this high quality of production on their freshman effort, it’s scary to think what their next album will be like.

Arctic Monkeys
Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m not
(Domino/Hostes)
The hot wax on the street. Layered and up-tempo, the impatient rhythm makes for a great beat on all the songs. The unique vocals are a big draw.

Dogs
Turn Against This Land
(Island)
Rough tastes and youthful punk are mixed with improved arrangements to give life to this album. A great variety of songs keeps this album fresh for a long time.

My Latest Novel
Wolves
(V2 Records)
Melancholy strings mixed with folk-inspired vocals to bring about a somewhat psychedelic feel to an inexplicable world of beautiful sounds. Can’t miss for those searching out contentment.

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