Japan is showing renewed interest as another contender in the race to build the world's first space elevator. Japanese scientists believe they can complete the project with an optimistic trillion yen budget, and are sponsoring an international conference (no English) this November to draw up a timetable. [more inside]
Four-year-old Rei-chan plays the electone on tv. Then the "genius electone girl" is invited to perform for Johnny Depp (part 2, part 3), when he went to Japan to promote the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie. (She and her friends also gave the same performance for Orlando Bloom.) [more inside]
The Eco Zoo - some amazing Japanese 3D Flash. If you take a close look at the animals there... you might be able to get some tips to live in a more environmentally friendly way!
As in most religions, Buddhism's pantheon of deities and saints has been male dominated. The preeminent exception to this is Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion, also called Guan Yin or Kannon. She is the female form of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, who underwent a gender shift after being popularized in China. She has inspired amazing forms of worship. [more inside]
RIP Nagi Noda (1973-2008) Amazingly talented art director/music video director. Sentimental Journey. Hearts on Fire. She's My Man. Her website of collected works, Uchu Country. Antville thread with a beautiful story from Aaron Stewart-Ahn is here.
Vintage 3-D stereoviews of old Japan, Meiji and Taisho era swimsuit girls, working people, geisha, and kids, old Japan salt prints, dozens of T. Enami glass slides, and strange or offbeat images: all part of a vast and superb collection of Japanese photos from 1862 to 1930 by flickr user Okinawa Soba. [more inside]
Puzzled by sugary J-Pop bands and their eccentric (and failed) TV shows? Frustrated and confused by the complexity of Japanese and want to see what your inchoate blustering looks like from the other side? Then join "perennially unpopular" gaijin celebrity Thane Camus (grand-nephew of Albert Camus), as he walks a class of fellow pop star clichés through an endearingly awkward English conversation class.
Tunnels no Minasan no Okage Desu is a Japanese game show where contestants strike poses to fit through cutouts in pink foam walls. International reproductions of this game show reveal much about national character; reproductions exist in Italy, Russia, France, Denmark, Hong Kong, Korea, and Australia. [more inside]
Viewing Japanese Prints is an encyclopedia of Floating World art (or ukiyo-e) and related genres. It has lots of images to go with the articles. Once you've gone through the site and familiarized yourself with pre-modern Japanese printmaking you might want to browse through the humongous image archive of Tokyo Metropolitan Library. Here are a few images that caught my eye: musicians attempt to keep a lady entertained, samurai pirate jumps into the water, crazed sea-captain wields very big axe, two samurais in combat, elfin man watches split-tailed cat dance while a giant feline stares angrily and giant toad belches up samurai while another samurai fights a gigantic fish and a third samurai observes the action from the banks of a river.
Women Explorers and Travellers of Asia and the Middle East - In an age where women struggled for basic human rights, these individuals were literal trailblazers. Leaving their homelands for varying motivations (but often due to dissatisfaction with their social lot in life), they devoted their lives to "explore these antique lands before they are irretrievably caught up in the cacaphonic whirl of the modern world." [more inside]
For over a thousand years, fishermen all over the world have been using cormorants to help them fish in lakes and rivers. In Gifu, Gifu Prefecture, Japan, cormorant fishing on the Nagara river has continued uninterrupted for the past 1,300 years. In Guilin and Yangshuo, China, cormorant birds are famous for fishing on the shallow Lijiang River. The islands of the Beaver Island archipelago in Northern Lake Michigan host what may be the densest concentration of the big, black diving birds on the continent, an estimated 50,000 that eat about 9 million pounds of fish from the surrounding waters from spring through fall. Fishermen and tourism interests want the state and federal governments to cut the number of double-crested cormorants around the Beaver Island group by half, raising the ire of bird lovers and animal-rights activists who say the cormorants aren't at the root of the problem.
30 years ago, Richard Brautigan's last collection of poems, June 30th, June 30th, was published. [more inside]
Pictures of 100 poems by 100 poets, explained by a Wet Nurse - Hokusai's pictures describe what the poems do in the head of a wet nurse. With high resolution scans.
RIP Tartan Films. The UK-based film distribution company has gone into administration, laying off it's entire staff. [more inside]
"I began to realize that "robots"-- in all their various forms-- can really be seen as a symbol of a larger relationship between people and technology." In 1988, Frederick Schodt wrote about the Japanese fascination and use of robots in his book Inside the Robot Kingdom, curious by the disparities between American and Japanese manufacturing processes . In 1988, the American public wasn't ready for the book, or for robots. Today, Japan still has embraced robotic automation in a way that arguably no other country has. For more similar topics, Mangobot is a column that reports on Asian futurism.
We've talked about BMI as a metric for health, and possibly laws regulating health. What about waist measurment? [more inside]
Until 400 years ago, the Ainu controlled Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. Today they are a small minority group of Japan. They are a hunting and fishing people whose origins remain in dispute. Long before the people who would come to be known as "the Japanese" completed their migrations from the Asia mainland, the islands of Japan were already inhabited by a race of people known as the Ainu ("human"). On this northernmost island, (Hokkaido), in the "snow country," there still may be found remnants of this once proud and vigorous people who roamed the Japan islands long before the Japanese themselves arrived.More links inside [more inside]
This fun Japanese contact juggler's clip is proving popular lately, but he is not the first Japanese practitioner of the art to surface online. Here are several more highly entertaining Japanese contact juggler clips worth watching: one, two (starts about 1:06), three, four, five. (all via the highly entertaining Ministry of Manipulation's blog). [more inside]
Enka is popular Japanese music which started to become popular in the Showa era after World War II. Until very recently, it's pretty much been popular only with the older crowd or in karaoke. Recently, though, a popular young star from Philadelphia has brought about a resurgence with the younger crowd. Look at his videos and be amazed. Presenting Jero. [more inside]
Sushi art. Weird sushi art. Sushi ASCII art. Sushi soap. Sushi jewelry. Sushi candles. Wind-up sushi. And finally, sushi made of chocolate!
Hello Kitty becomes Japan's ambassador to China. The little half-Japanese, half-English cat has become so globally recognisable that it is, perhaps, inevitable that the Japanese board of tourism has appointed her their official tourism ambassador to China and Hong Kong. This is not the first time the world has looked to Hello Kitty to perform an ambassadorial role; she has been United States children's ambassador for Unicef since 1983. [more inside]
Among industrialized nations, Japan has a pretty low rate of violent crime, a relatively high number of police, and a virtually non-existent acquittal rate. Yet, somehow the Yakuza persists.
Tohoku University's Kano Collection is an unparalleled collection of japanese books from the Edo period. The beautiful and grizzly Kaibou zonshinzu anatomical chart has been making the blogrounds lately but that's only one of the countless treasures the Kano Collection has to offer. Stumbling around near-blindly, like a non-Japanese reader such as myself, with only minimal help from the site, I have come across an amazing variety of beautiful objects, such as this picture book, a scroll with images of animals, city map, map of Japan, battle map, another picture book, the Kaitai shouzu anatomical chart and this picture scroll which has my favorite little scene I've come across in the collection. Whole days could be spent just surfing idly through the Kano Collection.
A Preview Of Tomorrow’s Olympic Torch Relay. Japan Probe has posted a few computer-generated examples of what the relay should look like, and links to a news report that states 10,000 Chinese will be in Nagano (location) (cuddly mascots) tomorrow to watch the torch relay. Japan had already canceled plans to stage the start of the torch run at Zenkoji Temple in the city; the temple was then mysteriously defaced. Previously on Japan Probe I II. Meanwhile, a tulip vandal who has been terrorizing Japan has been caught on tape. [more inside]
I want to put winter behind me like any other right-thinking Midwesterner, but these trees are too cool to ignore. [more inside]
Paradise: The Gardens of Tokyo. A collection of amazing photographs of Japanese gardens as taken by Tim Porter. [more inside]
Old Photos of Japan - a daily photoblog featuring images of Japan between the 1860s and 1930s.
Edo Photo Generator. Use this ancient photo generator (in JP, but a cinch to use) to give your photos that certain Edo look. Via C. Buddha's Hasty Musings
Whip it out and dance don't be afraid (NSFW?). Yes! It is that time of the year again : today Japanese people celebrate Kanamara Matsuri (金まら祭り), the annual Kawasaki Fertility Festival (previously on Hōnen Matsuri (豊年祭)
Samurai-Sword Maker's Reactor Monopoly May Cool Nuclear Revival There stands the only plant in the world...capable of producing the central part of a nuclear reactor's containment vessel in a single piece, reducing the risk of a radiation leak. From a windswept corner of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, Japan Steel Works Ltd. controls the fate of the global nuclear-energy renaissance. Each year the Tokyo-based company can turn out just four of the steel forgings that contain the radioactivity in a nuclear reactor. Even after it doubles capacity in the next two years, there won't be enough production to meet building plans. [more inside]
Iwase Yoshiyuki "In the late 1920s, young Yoshiyuki received an early Kodak camera as a gift. Since the main livelihood of the town came from the sea, he gravitated there, and soon found a passion for "the simple, even primitive beauty" of ama – girls and women who harvested seaweed, turban shells and abalone from beneath the coastal waters." "By the late 1960s, they had disappeared. This body of work stands as the final, most comprehensive visual document of the life and work of these divers." [NSFW] [more inside]
First it was hostess bars, then host bars, then maid/anime cafes, and now this. Where will the madness end? [more inside]
Bert Teunissen - Domestic Landscapes. Photographs of (mostly) senior citizens in their living rooms and kitchens. [more inside]
The 400 Million 四萬萬人民 - China, 1938 (53 minutes / sound / black&white / 35mm) Directed: Joris Ivens. Camera: ROBERT CAPA. Parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 "The Japanese aggression against China in 1937 forced the Chinese communists and Chiang Kai-shek's Kwomintang to take up the joint battle against their common enemy. With modern weapons the Chinese are pursuing their struggle behind enemy lines. This film shows all aspects of a war: the battle, the preparations, refugees, casualties and victims, the fear and distress, the human misery and the courage, and the land under fire."
Nyanko The Movie 2. I've been thinking about ordering this, but I'm afraid it'd be my own personal Infinite Jest. It's a movie about cats. [more inside]
Howl's Moving Castle - in papercraft. Stop motion animation of the assembly here, flickr set of the finished product here, details on the kit here. Found via.
Sushi Science and Hamburger Science: I had always regarded science as universal and believed there are no differences in science at all between countries. But I was wrong. People with different cultures think in different ways, and therefore their science also may well be different. In this essay, I will describe differences I have observed between Western science and Eastern science. Let me start with a parable......
Trying to get unemployed youth interested in farming, Pasana O2 boasts a slick website (Japanese only unfortunately), a vision statement, a newsletter and oh yeah, an underground farm covering one square kilometer inside a former bank vault. [Via our very own]
This is a post about 6'4", 380 lb. professional fighter and entertainer Bob Sapp. A good place to start is this fantastic, disdainful overview of Sapp's kickboxing career through 2005. It features lots of pictures, crooked officiating, illegal blows to the back of the head, and some well-deserved humbling. Sapp is also known for a less distinguished MMA career, which includes one of the most exciting fights of all time, against the great Antônio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira (Watch it here: [Round 1] [Round 2]). [more inside]
Kiuchi Nobuo - a Japanese airman in World War II, was captured and sent to a prison camp in the Ukraine. He tells his story with drawings.
There is a small but very dedicated and enthusiastic group of people around the world making music with Nintendo Game Boys and other cheap electronic gadgetry. While many of them are consciously fitting their low-bit sonics into relatively straightforward and predictable dance-oriented forms, some others are taking a rather more whimsical and less predictable approach. One such favorite of mine is the utterly charming, Tokyo-based henna dress. Then there's her alter ego, beta dress. Then there's her 3rd alter ego, CAMEBOY (of GGG) . [more inside]