28 posts tagged with Japan by filthy light thief.
Displaying 1 through 28 of 28.
Destruction and sacredness of life are often reasons for conflicts in Western culture; on the contrary, ceremonies like hari kuyo can become, even for Westerners, precious opportunities for reflection. In our habit of first producing and then acquiring, often with craving, a great quantity of objects destined to be thrown away like useless, harmful, and cumbersome rubbish shortly after their acquisition, are hidden the germs of attachment and hate that, together with nescience (avidyā), form the sad trio of spiritual poisons. We generally believe we are good custodians of the environment when hurriedly, even with a bit of resentment, we throw in the rubbish bin all that has been discarded. In transforming "removal" into "restitution," the getting rid of useless objects can instead become a stimulus, and not a mere gesture of refusal, for considering our relationship with activities, objects, and the environment, by carrying out, through decorous and at times melancholic farewell ceremonies, daily exercises of kindness and giving.Farewell Ceremonies for Things, from Dharma World, providing context for a number of Japanese ceremonies, including Hari-Kuyo, the Festival of Broken Needles, Fude-Kuyo, a ceremony for brushes, Ningyo-Kuyo, "a doll funeral", and other ceremony for valued items, activities, and professions.
Last February, a Japanese snow monkey got hold of someone's smart phone (as discussed on Reddit and elsewhere), and Marsel van Oosten captured a great view of that same Japanese macaque, winning accolades and awards around the 'net and globe. If you'd like to know even more, he chatted with the 500 px ISO blog, discussing these hot-tub bathing macaques and nature photography in general. If you'd like to know more about Japanese macaques in general, here's a broad overview of the photogenic monkeys, and an hour long PBS documentary to delve even deeper. (Snow Monkeys bathing in hot springs previously)
Batman has been spotted on Japanese highways, or rather, someone dressed in a Dark Knight Rises style Batman suit and on a custom batcycle-like trike in the Chiba Prefecture, earning him the nickname Chibatman. He has been found and interviewed (Japanese without subtitles), and he even invited the interviewer back to his
bat lair humble home. The 41 year-old Chibatman works as a welder, and he wears his Batman costume when he commutes to work, "because I want to see everyone smile."
Geo-Cosmos is one of the three interactive features that are part of the Tsunagari display at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, simply known as the Miraikan, in Tokyo. Geo-Cosmos consists of OLED squares configured a 6m (~19.7 ft) diameter spherical display of over 10 million pixels, which can map out clouds as captured by weather satellites, the expanding effects of the March 11 earthquake in Japan (Audience video), or pretty much anything you want to see on a spherical display.
A few miles off the coast of Japan lies "Battleship Island," or Gunkanjima (軍艦島), the Japanese nickname for Hashima Island, due to its resemblance to the Japanese Tosa battleship. The island was formerly a densely populated coal mining town, purchased by Mitsubishi in 1890, but by the 1960s the coal was running out, and in 1974 the island was quickly vacated as Mitsubishi offered residents jobs elsewhere. Now, the island is an urban explorer's dream, though the island is not completely open to the public for tours. Last year, Google trekker walked the island, providing a virtual tour of the island. And if the roughly 40 year old ruins aren't foreboding enough, Bryan James put together a Chrome experiment called Hashima Island: Forgotten World, based on the Google maps tour of the site.
John Lloyd Wright might not have the renown for the architectural creativity of his father, but John found inspiration in his father's work and designed toys that are still being made today. I'm talking about Lincoln Logs. [more inside]
In this video, you'll see people doing tricks on skateboards, rollerblades, and kendamas, for which the crowd goes wild. Yes, kendamas, the traditional Japanese wooden toy consisting of a handle, three cups and a spike (the "ken"), and a wooden ball (the "dama") on a string, with a hole opposite of the string. This toy has a long history, and is similar to a number of games found elsewhere in the world. But it wasn't until 1975 that it was formally organized as a competitive sport in Japan by the Japan Kendama Association, which has patented the design of the kendama and designated the tricks required to reach specific rankings. [more inside]
Ten years after Commodore Matthew Perry first visited Japan with four war ships and a letter from President Fillmore, Japan sent out a third Embassy to Western Nations (following the first Japanese Embassy to the United States in 1860, and the first Japanese Embassy to Europe in 1862). The third tour had the same goal as the first two: learn about Western cultures, and try to postpone the opening of Japanese ports to foreign trade. During that third tour, the group were on their way to France when they stopped in Egypt. On this stop, the members of the mission were photographed posing before the Sphinx, dressed in winged kamishimo costume and jingasa hats, carrying their feared long (katana) and short (wakizashi) swords. [more inside]
Legend: A Journey Through Iceland is a 12 min. 31 sec. long time-lapse video of Icelandic landscapes, set to the music of MONO, a Japanese post-rock band. A bit more MONO and pleasant landscapes inside. [more inside]
"[N]early all Japanese people have figurines, anime or cartoon characters hanging from their mobile phones — for the most part without realizing they are in their mass-produced, contemporary way keeping alive the nation's netsuke tradition. In contrast, those netsuke on Kuroiwa's phone are the real deal — small, delicate, uniquely crafted sculptures in ivory and an assortment of woods." Julian Littler searches for traditional ivory netsuke carvers (print view; standard web view), and interviews Akira Kuroiwa, a member of the Japan Ivory Sculptors Association (Google auto-translation). [via MetaChat] [more inside]
Taiyo Matsumoto's original five volume manga Ping Pong was one of the most surprising and gripping experiences I've had this year. But a huge reason for that is the artwork: he packs more kinetic energy into a single drawing of a shoe skidding across a floor than any real shoe has ever had. So it was with some trepidation that I saw posters for this adaptation going up in stores around Japan. Fumihiko Masuri is a first time director (not that you'd know it), with a background in computer effects. He seems to have directed this mainly because he's a really big fan of the manga too. On the film's website, they've placed images from the manga next to photographs of the actors in the film, so you can see how obsessive compulsive they were in matching faces. Not only faces, but movements, playing styles, and shot composition is all straight from the book, as if they'd used the manga in lieu of storyboards. Even the occasional surreal touch; a boy growing butterfly wings, a dragonfly landing on the net, is right out of the page onto the screen. -- Midnight Eye review; subtitled movie in 12 parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Atlas Obscura (seen 'round here before) has organized its third annual Obscura Day for April 28. It's "an international celebration of unusual places," from the Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Particle Accelerator at John E. Edwards Accelerator Laboratory in Athens, Ohio, to a tour of the Secrets & Oddities of the National Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland and an Expedition to the 1,553 Stone-Carved Monks of Nihon-ji in the city of Kyonan, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
"I can’t even tell you how excited I was to finally see the cards that “killed my grandfather” and drove my family into extreme poverty. I actually think Haruo did a pretty good job interpreting my grandfather’s original sketch, considering the severely confusing nature of his drawing. It’s anybody’s guess as what my grandfather expected to get back, but needless to say it wasn’t this beautiful card." Bradwick J. McGinty III tells the story of the Japanese cut-away Santa cards from 1955, similar in style to the yōkai and kaiju illustrations seen previously. (via)
Studio 4°C is a Japanese animation studio, named for the temperature at which water is most dense, which they convey in their creative manifesto: "create only works that are dense with substance and extreme quality." The studio has produced a range of works, from commercials (Honda Edix | Nike iD REALCITY) and music videos (Ken Ishii - 'Extra' [prev] | Utada Hikaru - 'Fluximation'), to animated series (The Adventures of Tweeny Witches | Thundercats reboot [prev]) and feature-length films (Memories  | Mind Game ). More on their movies inside. [more inside]
Gauche the Cellist [Google video, 63 minutes] is based on a story [Japanese; English translation #1, #2] by Kenji Miyazawa, one of the most-loved poet/storytellers in Japan (Miyazaki and Takahata love his works, and have been influenced by him). The movie was made as an independent project by a Japanese animation studio, OH Production (wiki), and took 6 years to complete. It is rather difficult to make a Kenji story into a movie because there are many Japanese just waiting to rip you apart if you screw up, but Gauche has been highly acclaimed, and is considered one of the best Miyazawa movies (IMDb). The story is about a cellist, Gauche, who becomes a better cellist by interacting with animals who visit his home every night. *
Kamikuishiki was a village in the Yamanashi Prefecture in Japan that gained unwanted international attention in 1995 as a key location for Aum Shinrikyo, the religious cult behind a number of acts of violence, including the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. To change the nature of attention given to the picturesque village, a new attraction was built on the former site of the cult complex: Gulliver's Kingdom, a mixed up theme park with a Scandinavian town, a petting zoo, a French puppet theater to tell the story of Gulliver, and a 45 meter version of Gulliver himself, pinned to the ground. The park was opened in 1997, but Niigata Chuo Bank was facing serious problems two years later, collapsing "under the weight of nonperforming loans." The theme park's owners were the largest borrowers from the bank, and the park closed in 2001. The park was finally purchased in 2002 in the 3rd auction attempt. In 2006, Kamikuishiki disappeared, divided and the parts merged into neighboring municipalities. The next year, Gulliver's Kingdom was demolished, leaving behind photos (new and old), and memories.
Neon Genesis Evangelion was an anime series created by Hideaki Anno, a rather mysterious and reclusive director who has declined most interviews and has been likened to Alan Moore in his attempt to up-end a major genre. Where Moore doesn't want to work on anything Watchmen-related, Anno has returned to NGE in a very major way with Rebuild of Evangelion, a tetralogy of films to re-tell the original story and present a new ending (again). [more inside]
Yet for some reason the machines always produce a beverage almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea
Japan is home to a lot of vending machines, some estimations placing one machine for every 23 people, and they're getting "smarter." In 2008, some cigarette vending machines had a digital camera with equipment to judge the age of the cigarette buyer, though relatively small magazine pictures could fool most of these new machines. In the last few months, JR East Water Business Co, a subsidiary of train operator East Japan Railway, has started to roll out high-tech vending machines that recommend a drink based on the users age and gender, using facial recognition technology and drink-preference data. [more inside]
September 13, 2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the original Japanese release of Super Mario Bros, featuring the return of everyone's favorite sailor, Popeye. That's not right, he's the Italian carpenter, Mario. Wait, now he's a plumber with a brother (named Luigi Mario), and they're not normal, they're super! And they're fighting to save Princess Peach Toadstool from an angry ox king, who became the stubborn but cute turtle Bowser. [more inside]
Less than a year after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States detonated the fourth and fifth nuclear weapons under the name Operation Crossroads in July 1946. Beyond testing the capabilities of nuclear bombs, the Navy said it wanted the Bikini tests treated like "the story of the year, maybe of the decade, and possibly of a lifetime." Only two of the three bombs were detonated, and the project was shut down over the next months. To celebrate the efforts of Operation Crossroads, a cake in the shape of a mushroom cloud was featured at a publicized event on November 5, 1946. In response to this display, Reverend Arthur Powell Davies, the minister of the Unitarian All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., gave a sermon on the "utterly loathsome picture" and the message it sent to other nations. That sermon set off a flurry of replies and reactions, that extended around the world, including a connection formed between Reverend Davies' All Souls Unitarian Church and school children in Hiroshima. [more inside]
"In Japan, animation is not seen as the exclusive realm of children's and family films, but is often used for adult, science fiction and action stories, where it allows a kind of freedom impossible in real life. Some Hollywood films strain so desperately against the constraints of the possible that you wish they'd just caved in and gone with animation." -- Roger Ebert on anime, with this excerpt being related to Tokyo Godfathers. Ebert has been a fan of anime for a while, especially the works of Hayao Miyazaki. Ebert has reviewed 6 of the 18 Studio Ghibli films released to date, and even interviewed Miyazaki with a bit of fanboy glee. More reviews and videos inside. [more inside]
Beware the Electronic Automatic Sound-Spectrograph Computing Digit Translator Playback Recognizer Machine
Telephoneme: Even if your Alphabet Conspiracy succeeds and you destroy the books, machines have no minds of their own. They are easily confused by different voices and different accents. It is the brain of man that tells them what to do. [more inside]
Mid-week pick-me-up, straight outta Japan: Soil & "Pimp" Sessions, live in 2009 at the annual North Sea Jazz Festival. If those live clips are a bit noisy, check out Pop Korn, My Foolish Heart~Crazy on Earth~, and My Foolish Heart ~Foolish in Mind~. And for a cool-down, try Welsh producer Doc Daneeka's bassy slowed down house version of Pop Korn (image source: Fotos+Mono, from the Chilean artist Relleno De Mono). [more inside]
Seba Jun, aka Nujabes, was a quiet and rather reclusive Japanese hip-hop DJ/producer/label head, as far as hip-hop personalities go. He didn't do many interviews, and his two albums and 15 or so vinyl singles which were released on his own Hydeout Productions label, all of which were only released in Japan. Regardless of the limited push, he gained renown world-wide for his relaxed, jazzy hip-hop, due in part to his music being featured on the anime series Samurai Champloo. The musician's life was cut short in late February, following a car accident. He was 36 years old. [more inside]
Kōfuku-no-Kagaku (幸福の科学), also called Happy Science, is a relatively new religious and spiritual movement, founded in Japan in October 1986. The organization is gaining ground world-wide, with the international headquarter office in central Tokyo, 6 local temples located in London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seoul and Taiwan, and an additional 37 local offices around the world. The group's leader, Master Ryuho Okawa, has is not limiting the scope of the movement to politics, and in May 2009 the Happiness Realization Party was formed, with over 300 HRP candidates running for the coming general election. To provide background on the religion and political movement, here is a little investigation of Happy Science by MeFi's own shii [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Takeshi no Chōsenjō: it came before the endurance test that is Desert Bus, and served as an inspiration for Janey Thompson's Marathon. In English it is known as Takeshi's Challenge. Released in December 1986 for the Famicom system, the game mechanisms include use of the Famicom microphone to sing karaoke for an hour. And that's after you drink to the point of blacking out, divorce your wife, quit your job, and learn to hang glide AND learn the Hintoba language, amongst other things. All of this takes place in lands populated with nothing but people that want to beat you to death. Of course, you can skip that all and complete the game in a mere 4 minutes by simply walking off the edge of existence, and magically ending at the final treasure room. [more inside]
Professors Ross W. Boulanger and Dr. James Duncan have put together a Geotechnical Engineering Photo Album, with details of the successes and disasters. The album includes compaction techniques for a highway off-ramp, deep excavation methods, an offshore tank structure, and earthquake hazards of many sorts (mountain landslides, liquefaction damage to ports in Kobe, Japan, surface rupture in Taiwan, and problems with shallow foundations and subsidence in Turkey). (via oi9)
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, casually referred to as Sōkendai (a contraction of Sōgō kenkyū daigakuin daigaku), was founded in 1988 as the 96th national university in Japan. Amongst other things, it is home to the Soken Taxa Web Server which in turn hosts the first online Japanese Ant Color Image Database that currently lists 273 species of ant, the Illustrated Guide of Marine Mammals and the Marine Mammals Stranding DataBase, the Mammalian Crania Photographic Archive that currently includes 704 specimens, the Morning Glories Database that covers the many mutants of Ipomoea nil, closely related species and interspecific hybrids, the Makino Herbarium Database, which is named after the pioneering Japanese botanist, Tomitaro Makino, and the Japanese Bees Image Database.