Over the years I’ve seen faces come and go and its my pleasure to see friends travel all over the world most of the time falling in love with a place and settling down. I had a chance to talk to an old friend of mine “Shortie” to see how life is treating him in Japan.
What is your full name? How did you get the nickname Shortie? It’s really stuck over the years.
My government name is Shane Francis William Dobbs. The name Shortie was given to me in school when I was about 15 I reckon. I started to use it when I began DJing and yeah I’ve never been able to get away from it.
Where are you living at the moment?
Right now I’m living in Tokyo, Japan and I absolutely love it here.
How long have you been there and how are you finding it?
I moved over in early 2012 on a working holiday and after getting settled into the way of life I decided to stay. During the first year I spoke hardly any Japanese so I decided to tackle the language head on. I enrolled in Japanese language school and studied full time for about 6 months. This really improved my quality of life, being able to do simple things stress free and make a lot more friends.
You’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture and I do believe you’ve been to visit many times. When and why did you finally decide to jump?
To be honest, I knew very little about Japan until I went to work for Muji on Chatham St. when I was about 21. I worked with a really lovely lady called Rie who used to tell me all about the culture, the food and the people. That’s when I start getting into it. After visiting for the first time I knew I had to live here. It’s like nowhere else I’ve ever been. It’s a very modern city but also holds so tightly onto the past. You have massive, ultramodern buildings alongside traditional old temples, parks in the city that are so quiet you’d swear you were in the countryside as soon as you step inside. Most days of the week I see something that leaves me in complete awe.
What kind of work are you doing abroad?
Like most native English speakers in Japan, teaching is my bread & butter. I’m working in the CBD teaching business men and women how to speak to co-workers abroad. It’s really good fun.
You’ve been a DJ for many years, have you been playing many gigs over there? What is the club scene like in Japan?
I was lucky enough to have a good network of people over here before I moved over. I met some really excellent DJs and promoters when I arrived and with two of these people, I co-founded Void. We run nights in a club in Harajuku, mostly UK Garage and Grime.
The scene over is a bit weird. There’s just so much going on. Weekly nights don’t exist. Most events are either monthly or even more sporadic. There are some really, really fun things happening though, quite random too. For example, there’s a grime event called Gum. Japanese DJs and MCs playing in a tiny basement club in Shibuya that runs from 4pm until about 10pm. It’s kind of surreal to see these guys MCing in Japanese over some really dirty grime tracks and it’s even weirder that it’s happening on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a really good scene though, my only complaint is that there’s too much happening on any given night so it’s really hard to fill a club.
I can only image all the interesting people and places you’ve seen in your new home, care to share with us one of the wildest places you’ve ever been to or person you’ve met over the last couple of years?
Tokyo is a city of contrasts. People have this image of a totally mental place with girls walking around dressed as Lolita maids and weird vending machines selling used underwear (I’m asked about this a lot!) but the reality is much different. Sure there’s the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku and there are cat cafes where you can go hang out with a couple of dozen kittens if that’s your thing, there’s even a goat cafe that offers the same service. These things exist but you have to really go looking for them. I generally only get to do weird stuff when people come to visit.I live in a really cool town called Shimoktazawa and there is one guy there that is loads of fun. He stands on the street and reads Manga comics. He acts them out playing each part in a ridiculous, over-the-top voice. He’s good fun! Oh and I managed to find ‘The Snapper’ in Japanese. The title roughly translates to ‘Who’s my Da?’
What does your average weekend entail?
It kind of depends on what’s on that particular weekend and things have changed a lot since I got married! Summer is awesome. I have a really tight knit circle of friends. Some Japanese speakers with a little English, some English speakers with a little Japanese and many abilities in between. We usually head to a park for a BBQ or to a fireworks festival. If there’s a good club happening we’ll head to an Izakaya then on to that. It’s really cheap to drink in izakayas but clubs are super expensive. Either that or I’ll take my car and head out of the city for the weekend with my wife. Even an hour out of Tokyo the scenery is absolutely amazing. Autumn is great for Koyo, when the trees start changing colour and a little later in the year it’s snowboarding season.
Do you plan on ever coming back to the emerald isle, even for a visit?
I’ve been back twice since moving here. I love Dublin. I love how compact the city is and the creativity that exists there. I have a fairly big extended family and a young niece and nephew that I do like to see. My wife really wants to live in Europe for a couple of years so we’ll probably move back to Dublin the future but I’ll definitely be settling in Japan.
Is there anything you miss from home?
Branson Pickle! Please send lots. I miss the smell of the Guinness factory in the mornings too.
Words: SBK Fox