Ten years ago today saw the English launch of a quirky Japanese puzzler, a sleeper hit
that would go down as one of the most endearing, original, and gleefully weird
gaming stories of the 2000s: Katamari Damacy
Its fever-dream plot has the record-scratching, Freddie Mercury-esque King of All Cosmos
destroy the stars in a drunken fugue, and you, the diminutive Prince, must restore them with the Katamari -- a magical sticky ball that snowballs through cluttered environments
, rolling up paperclips, flowerpots, cows, buses, houses, skyscrapers, and continents into new constellations.
It also boasts one of the most infectiously joyous soundtracks of all time
-- an eccentric, richly produced
, and incredibly catchy blend of funk
, bossa nova
, experimental electronica
, bamboo flute
, hair metal
, buoyant parade music
, soaring children's choirs
, Macintalk fanfares
, and the finest theme song this side of Super Mario Bros
Called a consumerist critique
by sculptor-turned-developer Keita Takahashi
(who after one sequel
moved on to Glitch
, the supremely odd Noby Noby Boy
, and playground design
), the series has inspired much celebration
] on its way from budget bin to MoMA exhibit
. Look inside for essays, artwork, comics, lyrics, more music, hopes, dreams... my, the internet really is full of things. [more inside]
Diggin' in the Carts:
A documentary series about Japanese video game music, and it's effect on global music.
Three and a half years after the most devastating nuclear accident in a generation, Fukushima Daiichi is still in crisis. Some 6,000 workers, somehow going about their jobs despite the suffocating gear they must wear for hours at a time, struggle to contain the damage. So much radiation still pulses inside the crippled reactor cores that no one has been able to get close enough to survey the full extent of the destruction
A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
A profile of a monk who provides therapy to suicidal and depressed people in Japan, but is not himself suicidal.
Satoshi Kon - Editing Space & Time
A short video on Vimeo which explains the editing techniques of the late anime director Satoshi Kon used in his works by Tony Zhou. [more inside]
Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design
"Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster" [more inside]
In October 1990, Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez visited Tokyo during the shooting of Akira Kurosawa’s penultimate feature, Rhapsody in August. García Márquez, who spent some years in Bogota as a film critic before penning landmark novels such as One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, spoke with Kurosawa for over six hours on a number of subjects.
I Am The Eggplant
: This American Life
tells the bizarre story of one man's unwitting stint on the Japanese reality show Susunu! Denpa Shōnen
. [more inside]
Didn't get enough fireworks on the Fourth? Got fogged out? US holidays irrelevant anyway? "長岡花火大会2012年2日間の総集編 Fireworks the most beautiful in the japan"
is 30 minutes of HD fireworks from the Nagaoka fireworks festival, one of several fireworks festivals
in Japan. It has two segments, one each from the first and second night of the fireworks. According to Japan Guide, "both nights feature two straight hours of fireworks...The show's finale covers nearly two kilometers of the riverbank and is the widest span of fireworks in the world." [more inside]
is a Japanese musician who has been doing electronic composition since 1972. [more inside]
Chris Broad bought up a bunch of copies of a Japanese book
called 正しいFUCKの使い方 (How to Use "Fuck" Correctly)
and proceeded to introduce it to some locals
With a vague promise to support more women
in the workplace as one of the key points of pushing an economic recovery, the reality is much more bleak for working women in Japan. Yesterday, while delivering a speech on the importance of supporting working mothers, Ayaka Shiomura, a member of the Tokyo government assembly was heckled
, with jeers from other lawmakers demanding to know why she hadn't gotten married, and demanding to know if she was able to bear children
. The Liberal Democratic Party has so far refused to reprimand the members responsible, and while members of Shiomura's party point out that Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe (with his own history of outright sexism
) was evidently laughing
as Shiomura at first laughed in disbelief, then was quickly reduced to tears
(Japanese link, no English subtitles).
Japanese kids house dancing (SLYT)
Does exactly what it says on the tin.
Yamada Gouki (山田剛毅), aka goking
, has been illustrating creatures from the Cthulhu Mythos and similar horrors in an ukiyo-e style: Cyaegha
, The Thing That Plays with Fate
, and would like to wish you a very Merry Fishmas from Innsmouth
. You can find more illustrations on his Twitter or his blog, 2D6
. [more inside]
Disney Studios censors Miyazaki collection, pulls Studio Ghibli compilation.
"On Your Mark
" a video directed by Hiyao Miyazaki, and produced between early January and late May, 1995 by a team of over fifty animators at Studio Ghibli
, in cooperation with other studios, is being censored
from the upcoming 13-disc "Collected Works of Director Hayao Miyazaki" collection
. Disney is also stopping shipments of a 2005 Ghibli Shorts collection
, which features the video, along 22 other shorts that Studio Ghibli produced over the course of decades.
The rationale?! Nineteen years after the video's release, one of the members of the band that did the music for the video has been arrested, along with a female acquaintance
, after police found MDMA at his home. The musician was arrested Saturday, but has not been charged or convicted, as yet. Both he and the woman he was arrested with claim to be innocent.
Have you ever wanted to visit Japan? Enjoy this tranquil video journey
. ありがとう! [more inside]
Valley of Dolls
Eleven years ago, Ayano Tsukimi returned to her home in Nagoro. Confronted with constant departures, she has populated the village with dolls, each representing a former villager. Around 350 of the giant dolls now reside in and around Nagoro, replacing those that died or abandoned the village years ago.
In a recent documentary titled The Valley Of Dolls, Fritz Schumann explores Tsukimi's world, highlighting the time and artistry that goes into making the figures, and explaining her motivations. In it we're shown around a local school, once filled with children and teachers, that now houses dozens of dolls, sitting statically, waiting for class to begin.
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.
There’s something about the perspective of the Japanese that allows them to home in on the essential elements of foreign cultures and then perfectly recreate them at home.
"Part of what’s going on is simply the globalization of taste, culture, cuisine and the way that, in the modern world, you can get almost anything everywhere. But Japanese Americana is more than that. There’s a special way that the Japanese sensibility has focused on what is great, distinctive and worthy of protection in American culture, even when Americans have not realized the same thing."
Shigeru Ban’s Pritzker win proves that building hope is finally in vogue
The architecture world has a new laureate, and he builds in cardboard. Japan’s Shigeru Ban was named this week as the winner of the Pritzker Prize, an annual award that is often called architecture’s Nobel – and his win sends a clear and timely message. Social change, sustainability and improving the lives of the many: This is what matters now to the world of architecture. With Ban’s Pritzker, the global design elite is marking that shift.
Take a Tour of Pritzker Winner Shigeru Ban's Paper Tube Structures [more inside]
"Picture the scene: you’re on Family Feud (US) or Family Fortunes (UK), and the oily host summons you to go head-to-head with a member of the opposing family. “Hands on the buzzers, please. Top eight answers in this round. We asked 100 people…to name something associated with Holland.”
Suppress lewd thoughts of red-light districts, window brothels, and sex clubs—this is a family show—and quick, the buzzer!
And that, in essence, is Huis ten Bosch, a $3bn theme park answer to a quiz show question nobody asked.
are the "image characters" (mascots) for Jalan, a travel site in Japan. Stars of many adverts, the older cat is "Nyalan" ("nya" is "meow" in Japanese), and his apprentice is "Deshi." They also have their "own" Twitter account
and more pictures are on the Jalan Facebook profile
. And yet more pictures
How to make handmade Japanese scroll paper
(Many other traditional artisans at Gucci Japan
Japanese folklore and horror stories are known for their psychologically terrifying ghosts and monsters that prey on the minds and bodies of humans. But there’s also a lighter side to Japanese folklore, where bumbling spirits cause only mild annoyance, actually enhance your daily life, and otherwise generally botch the whole job of haunting mankind and teaching vague moral lessons about treating your parents with respect and such. 8 Hilariously Nonthreatening Monsters from Japanese Folklore
blog showcases the toys and games Nintendo created in the period from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s, including:
Nintendo Popeye Trump cards
, Nintendo Love Tester
, Nintendo Ultra Hand
, Nintendo Disney Baseball Board
, Nintendo Companion
, Nintendo Mamaberica baby stroller
, Nintendo Monster Copy
, Nintendo Bee Hive Game
and Nintendo Mister Magician Coin & Stick
. Full list
You might not know me, but I’m famous.
Don’t feel bad. Until recently, I didn’t know I was famous either, and most days, even now, it’s hard to tell.
The successor to the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)
, the NASA/JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement
) spacecraft is preparing for launch at the Japanese Tanegashima Space Center
. GPM will be the newest international Precipitation Measurement Mission and will be the core observatory of the GPM Constellation.
The two sensors
on-board GPM are the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI)
and the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR)
. The GPM/DPR team has produced a fantastic anime about the DPR instrument
. [more inside]
Lava flow connects new islet with Nishinoshima island
A new islet formed by volcanic activity in late November in the Ogasawara island
chain far south of Tokyo (halfway to Guam) has now grown and connected to neighboring Nishinoshima island. Spectacular footage of magma eruptions. [more inside]
's latest, "Last Dance"
, starts with a shot of TEPCO corporate headquarters. Also making apperances are the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), anti-nuclear protesters outside METI, and the Ministry of Finance. [more inside]
Japan and other Asian countries have moved from SMS to smart phone messaging apps,
with great success for all.
In the last few weeks, extensive evidence has emerged that Japanese show business is saturated with the yakuza’s influence. Police records and sources, along with testimony from current and former yakuza members, have revealed that many powerful Japanese talent agencies and production companies are not simply fronts for the yakuza—they are the yakuza.
Yakuza Goes Hollywood
– Jake Adelstein reports on recent attempts to remove the yakuza from the entertainment industry
Unbrella is everything bad about umbrellas, improved.
Once you see its innovations (dry side out when closed, water repelled away from you as you close it, stands on its own) you'll wonder like I did why no one thought of this decades ago. [more inside]
Researchers have located a sunken World War II Imperial Japanese submarine
on the ocean floor off the coast of Hawaii. [more inside]
is a Japanese game show in which a gay man tries to force a straight man to orgasm. (Link is to Huffpo Article, and relatively sfw. Video within the link, not so much.) [more inside]