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100 volts. And what you can do with them.

Time once again to pay a little visit to Japan's ever-engaging electro-mechanical music overachievers, Maywa Denki. Here's some of their latest and greatest efforts.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 1, 2007 - 26 comments

Top Tokyo tape typography

Signs in Shinjuku station made with coloured sticky tape.
posted by WPW on Jul 30, 2007 - 17 comments

Japanese JB Juxtaposition Jamboree

Interpreted: JamesBrown meets Kraftwerk.
posted by Burhanistan on Jul 28, 2007 - 16 comments

Japanese host club documentary

Following this 2005 post, this documentary on Osaka "Host Clubs", "The Great Happiness Space" [Google vid 1:15; misleading preview here] is like nothing I've ever seen. Dark and light and wrenching and weird and funny. And dark. Kafka comes to mind for a lot of viewers, but this would fail as fiction. A midpoint shift forces you to confront a reality that is staggeringly complex. It's a kaleidescope of self-awareness and -delusion; compassion and manipulation; candor and deception. Layered, nuanced, and self-referential. The chief host's blog translated somewhat idiosyncratically by google, gives you another perspective [note: not included in the spirit of "LOL Engrish"]. This insider's account of a hostess club, written by a Duke University sociologist, is a lot more predictable and straightforward.
posted by Phred182 on Jul 28, 2007 - 24 comments

Rice paddy art.

"Pimp my rice paddy." Crop art for aliens, instead of by them.
posted by dersins on Jul 20, 2007 - 24 comments

pliable beauty

Contemporary Japanese bamboo art.
posted by nickyskye on Jul 17, 2007 - 13 comments

Japan suffers major earthquake

Strong earthquake hits Japan, hundreds of homes have been destroyed, bridges have been leveled, tsunamis are forming, and most frightening, the nuclear power plant appears to be leaking radioactive water. The quake registered as a 6.8 on the Richter scale. I hope that our Japanese Mefites are safe and sound and will let us know if there is anything we can do to help.
posted by dejah420 on Jul 16, 2007 - 52 comments

Your hobbies are not nearly obscure enough

Traffic signals! Yes, an entire page devoted to the myriad varieties of Japanese LED traffic signal. They even have a mapping feature and a traffic signal lingo dictionary. I hereby dare ANYBODY to find a cooler hobby than this.
posted by odasaku on Jul 11, 2007 - 32 comments

scholar's rocks

Known as scholar's rocks or gongshi, viewing stones are rocks of complex shapes that suggest worlds within worlds, microcosms in stone. In Japan they are called Suiseki, from the Japanese characters for water "sui" and stone "seki", placed on a daiza, a carved wood base. They are at once a miniature landscape and a point of imaginative departure…
posted by nickyskye on Jul 10, 2007 - 11 comments

The Life of Otokichi

The true story of Yamamoto Otokichi (or John Matthew Ottoson, a transliteration of "Oto-san"): a Japanese seaman who in 1832 got caught in a storm off the coast of Japan and ended up floating all the way across the Pacific, becoming the first Japanese (documented, at least) in North America. And that's only the introduction to his story. To get back to Japan he traveled around the world, setting many firsts for a Japanese native, and played a part as the inspiration for Commodore Matthew Perry and his "Black Ships." Although barely a footnote in history, in 2005 half of his ashes were brought back to Japan to rest in home soil.
posted by switchsonic on Jul 4, 2007 - 20 comments

Jaw Droppingly Beautiful Underground Japanese Observatory

The Super-K is a neutrino observatory in Japan; it is 1000 meters underground, contains a lake of 50,000 tons of pure water & every inch of the the 41 meter high walls are lined with over 11,000 photomultiplier tubes. It is also one of the most amazing man made objects I've ever seen images of. Super high res photos available here. More photos of the construction & recent restoration. Via.
posted by jonson on Jul 3, 2007 - 49 comments

It takes lot of practice to sit that still in meditation

Sokushinbutsu - The self-made mummies.
posted by Burhanistan on Jul 2, 2007 - 55 comments

Quicktime panoramas of Kyoto

Quicktime panoramas of Kyoto
posted by carter on Jun 30, 2007 - 12 comments

Where is Tatsuya Ichihashi?

In late March the body of Lindsay Ann Hawker was found in a bathtub on the balcony of a Chiba apartment. This week, with the help of UK officers, the Hawker family has returned to Tokyo, to seek help to find the main suspect Tatsuya Ichihashi, who has been missing since the discovery of the body.
posted by gomichild on Jun 28, 2007 - 48 comments

One thing leads to another.

The folks from Japanese public TV's excellent children's show "Pythagora Switch" have for several years been creating some of the most delightful and inventive Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions you're likely to ever see. Here's a 9 minute clip featuring lots of these little kinetic masterpieces, guaranteed to entertain.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jun 24, 2007 - 43 comments

What's with all the water?

Many Japanese game shows involve water humiliation.
posted by Dave Faris on Jun 20, 2007 - 43 comments

DEVO Lives

On the cusp of DEVO's first tour of Europe since 1990, it's become clear that, though largely cast aside after their 1980 hit "Whip It", DEVO's influence is finally being felt on modern audiences, around the world. DEVO has inspired tribute bands, some traditional, some not. They've also spawned new bands, domestic [MySpace link], and Foreign like Japan's POLYSICS [YouTube], and Germany's Mutate Now [YouTube]. With musical inspiration like this, can't we forgive such missteps as Devo 2.0?
posted by SansPoint on Jun 15, 2007 - 55 comments

Fish pedicure

Japanese onsen are now offering fish pedicures, where little flesh eating fishes nibble your toes. It's very youtube-genic, but there's a longer video report here.
posted by tombola on Jun 12, 2007 - 21 comments

Koichiro Tsujikawa : self-taught surrealist filmmaker.

Koichiro Tsujikawa : self-taught surrealist filmmaker. Mostly music videos : Like a Rolling Stone .. Eyes [hi-fi, making of] .. Untitled .. Fit Song.. Breezin' .. Tone Twilight Zone .. Wonder Word .. Gakaxy in the Groove .. I Hate Hate
posted by Dave Faris on Jun 11, 2007 - 5 comments

manga review of da Vinci's "Annunciation"

Painter and comic artist Jun-Pierre Shiozawa visited the Tokyo National Museum recently to view da Vinci's Annunciata which created protests in Italy when the Uffizi Gallery lent this artwork to Japan. Shiozawa then created a fantastic "manga review" of the experience for Tokyo Art Beat's TABlog. You can see the steps Shiozawa made to create his manga review on Shiozawa's Flickr account or blog.
posted by gen on Jun 10, 2007 - 9 comments

Japanese historical photographs ca. 1910

A nice set of photographic glass-plate transparencies depicting life in Japan ca. 1910. These "Yokohama photographs" were sold to foreign tourists between about 1868 and 1912. I found the Crafts and Trades section most interesting.
posted by Rumple on Jun 7, 2007 - 18 comments

The last samurai

Bakumatsu - from this to this. Photographs from an exhibition at the University of Tokyo. [related]
posted by tellurian on Jun 6, 2007 - 7 comments

Surprise! Fish!

La-Mulana is a Japanese homebrew game, with English translation available, for Windows that exhaustively replicates the experience of playing on an MSX home computer, a machine not sold in the U.S. but was contemporary with the likes of the Commodore 64 and Amiga in other markets. (Fun fact: the "MS" in MSX stands for Microsoft!) Although it looks very much like retro warez, La-Mulana is freeware. It is also notoriously long and difficult, with a character who controls like old-school Castlevania, enemies that will frequently knock you around like a rag doll, puzzles of amazing deviousness, and traps that think nothing of walling up a player without escape, or forever restricting access to certain powerups.

That said, the game does have charm, and is basically a love letter to the MSX hardware. Those who want to see it without beating their hands bloody against the keyboard can watch a guy play through the whole game in 85 installments, cursing at it all along the way.
posted by JHarris on Jun 4, 2007 - 14 comments

The Ultimate Sushi Experience

Sheets of kombu (kelp) covered with herring roe; big white sacs of octopus roe. Among a biochromatic wealth of mysterious mollusks and other sea invertebrates of unknown nature, I see the weirdest creature I've ever seen. Now, that's a fucking organism. Tom Asakawa looks at it awhile, too. Hoya, or sea pineapple. "Sea pineapple," he says. "Attaches to rocks in the ocean. Tastes something like iodine. Sendai people like it." It looks nothing like a pineapple. It looks like something that could exist only in a purely hallucinatory eco-system. It looks like, I don't know, maybe an otherworldly marital aid of inscrutable purpose for the brides of Satan. "I need to eat that," I say. "I'll see what I can do," Tom says.
Nick Tosches visits Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market for Vanity Fair. [previously on mefi]
posted by monju_bosatsu on Jun 3, 2007 - 36 comments

Japanese Bicycle History Research Club

Japanese Bicycle History Research Club With a nice gallery of photos, illustrations, and ukiyo-e of vintage bicycles in Japan.
posted by carter on Jun 2, 2007 - 5 comments

MTV for emotaku

Anime Music Videos. Yet another remixing web subculture, they're usually a source of amateurishly produced angst. From the competitive perfectionists, though, come well lipsynched, action packed, meta-mashuped, and occasionally just filthy stuff for cartoon nerds. Besides the usual metal, ballads, and pop rock, there's some Daft Punk, club, and downtempo accompaniment. Or you can just go to hell. Wear headphones and no-one will know.
posted by anthill on May 28, 2007 - 22 comments

One click

1 click!
posted by wilful on May 27, 2007 - 20 comments

Sushi Bar Video

Someone puts a video camera on a Japanese sushi bar conveyor belt. You can tell it's in Japan because it doesn't get stolen as it travels around the bar. Via b3ta.
posted by Mwongozi on May 25, 2007 - 103 comments

Suicide Attack kaiten 回天

The Kaiten Memorial Museum on Otsushima Island, on the site of the original kaiten base. WWII Japanese suicide tactics included planes, boats, and suicide submarines. The submarine discovered recently near Sydney harbor was not such a craft, yet the pilots took their own lives rather than lead their pursuers to the I-class mother submarines nearby.
posted by acro on May 22, 2007 - 10 comments

Exploring the world of Japanese whisky

Exploring the world of Japanese whisky. [via mefi projects]
posted by chunking express on May 22, 2007 - 27 comments

Evil Crabs?

Joe Is Japanese So far all there is are some Myspace profiles and a nifty teaser but I'll be darned if this doesn't look five shades of awesome. Desperate for more information? DeviantArt account of one of the animators.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia on May 21, 2007 - 15 comments

Toilet seats are cleaner than keyboards

Dirty Toilets in Tokyo Many more photos (in Japanese) here.
posted by KokuRyu on May 16, 2007 - 57 comments

Faster than the average bear.

Teddy Bear Pilot.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on May 14, 2007 - 22 comments

Sugar and Spice and OH NO! PILEDRIVER ONTO THE EXPOSED CONCRETE!

Meet Obasan: Adorable demon-possessed little girl and Japanese professional wrestler for the horror-themed Triple Six promotion. More highlights: (1) (2)
posted by StopMakingSense on May 12, 2007 - 30 comments

Post Apocalyptic Tokyo in Lithograph

Hisaharu Motoda’s “Neo-Ruins” series of lithographs depict the cityscape of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, where familiar streets lie deserted, the buildings are crumbling and weeds grow from the broken pavement. More here, here & here.
posted by jonson on May 10, 2007 - 39 comments

Tokyo stories from curious outsiders

Hitotoki.org (Japanese for 'a point in time') is a "new literary site collecting stories of personal, singular experiences in Tokyo." If you've visited Tokyo, please consider sharing a part of your Tokyo experience at hitotoki.org. If you plan to visit Japan, please peruse what will be an interesting collection of personal stories of life in Tokyo.
posted by gen on May 7, 2007 - 23 comments

Photos of Poverty and Rebuilding in Post-War Japan

The Walter Pennino Photo Collection of the Occupation of Japan. Eighty photographs of Japan under Allied occupation taken around 1948, from children enjoying a picture-card show, to fishermen, to repatriated soldiers. (Follow the "pic index" link on the front page to see the thumbnail images.)
posted by sudasana on May 4, 2007 - 14 comments

Solar Ark

The Solar Ark - built to symbolize the goal of becoming a "clean energy society".
posted by Burhanistan on May 1, 2007 - 7 comments

The Crying Game.

The Crying Game. The Japanese proverb Naku ko wa sodatsu says that "A crying child thrives." During the annual Konaki Sumo ("Crying Sumo") festival held at certain temples in Japan, babies are held facing each other and encouraged to cry by priests and sumo wrestlers. The one who bawls first, or loudest, is the winner, thought to be blessed by the gods with good health.
posted by gottabefunky on Apr 30, 2007 - 29 comments

Ewe won't believe this, folks!

A Japanese actress complains that her new poodle doesn't bark and won't eat dog food. Why's that? Because it's a lamb. Apparently as many as 2,000 people in Japan may have been duped. Let the punning commence.
posted by cerebus19 on Apr 26, 2007 - 106 comments

Philosophy is Not Philosophy

The familiar story of 20th century philosophy is one of analytic versus continental philosophies. In spite of this, behind the exaggerated differences is the common history that these two traditions often forget. In failing to remember this common history, it's easy to forget that for all its supposed universality, philosophy is so distinctly western. It's naive to think that this narrow-mindedness is due to western intellectuals being unable to hear the wisdoms of the world over the din of their own arguments. Rather, it is only that these wordly traditions don’t have that flavour – that hardness of crystal. [more inside]
posted by Alex404 on Apr 20, 2007 - 20 comments

In the hot seat?

"Fortunately nobody was using the toilets when the fire broke out and there were no injuries," a company spokesman said. "The fire would have been just under your buttocks." The flaming toilets of Japan! Of course, if these kinds of problems with new-fangled techno-toilets continue, people might be advised to go back to the traditional Japanese toilet. In which case, this refresher course in How to Use Japanese Style Toilet Bowel [sic] might come in handy. Happy squatting!
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 19, 2007 - 24 comments

Since 578 CE

14-century old Japanese business folds. How often does one get to type that?
posted by Pope Guilty on Apr 18, 2007 - 32 comments

TV in Japan

TV in Japan. A hyper representation of what airs, or has aired on Japanese TV. Ranging from action packed to truly awesome (and from monkeys to ninjas), set your eyes to "dazzled" and brain to "frazzled".
posted by myopicman on Apr 13, 2007 - 7 comments

A horror movie in the make

More companion robots! Another in a series (see PARO, previously) of healing toys for Japan's rapidly greying population, Yumel the Healing Partner from Tomy. Like some kind of unholy cross between a Cabbage Patch Kid and Teddy Ruxpin, you can see a promotional clip of the doll here, or read a list of translated stock phrases (thank you Harper's). Also, an interesting article from the Economist about WHY the Japanese love robots so. (Hint: it's Shinto)
posted by ikahime on Apr 3, 2007 - 3 comments

Tha Japanese Tradition

Comedy duo, Ramenz (ラーメンズ), aka Kobayashi Kentaro and Katagiri Jin, also known as the Japanese versions of Mac and PC, have recently done a number of shorts collectively called "The Japanese Tradition." Apparently, these tongue-in-cheek pseudo-instructional vids about famous aspects of Japanese culture (Tea, Chopsticks, Sushi, Origami, Apology, Onigiri, and Relationships) have been fooling a lot of non-natives into thinking they are actual guides. (YouTube, each approx 4-6 min).
posted by ikahime on Mar 29, 2007 - 35 comments

This is so stupid it's actually...

Discovery [youtube] Anyone who's ever been to Tokyo or any other big city on Earth knows how hard it is to navigate crowded, narrow sidewalks, especially when you have to "take a dump."
posted by KokuRyu on Mar 15, 2007 - 61 comments

Robots

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo...domo
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo...domo
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo...domo
posted by jason's_planet on Mar 2, 2007 - 22 comments

Protest-song Percussionist

Metafilter's own flapjax at midnite was interviewed by an English language Japanese webzine named gyaku. Check out flapjax's generous contributions to mefi music here. Do yourself a favor and listen.
posted by Ynoxas on Mar 2, 2007 - 12 comments

Illustrated Ise Monogatari

An illustrated edition of the Ise Monogatari (Wikipedia, review of translation). Yeah, yeah, it's in Japanese, but just keep hitting the forward button (the leftmost of the two on the right, red/brown rather than blue/green) and you'll find lots of pretty pictures. I can't improve on the descriptions by Matt of No-sword, where I found it, so I'll just quote him: "Behold our hero maxin' and relaxin' at his writing-desk, looking like he just got hired as a middle manager at his dad's lighter-flint concern! Thrill to the famous scene where he is visited by the Pineapple of Golden Week Past! Laugh as he is mistaken for a member of Aerosmith! Wonder why everyone is just sitting around smiling contentedly when the building is obviously on fire!"
posted by languagehat on Feb 27, 2007 - 23 comments

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