"In the U.S., they're mixing drinks with herbs and other weird ingredients, but in Ginza the best guys just polish their cocktails like jewels." And perhaps no Japanese mixology master has contributed more than Kauzo Ueda, who has perfected the art of the hard shake, a refinement over more traditional shake styles. He has a disciple in NYC's Eben Freeman, who now imparts the secrets of the hard shake via a video tutorial. [more inside]
TOKYO International Great Quilt Festival 2008, a photo collection of beautiful Japanese art quilts. From Moonstitches via CRAFT.
American audiences remember Akira Kurosawa as the genius of the samurai epic, a past master who used the form both to revise and revive Western classics - Shakespeare with Ran and Throne of Blood, Dostoevsky with Red Beard and The Idiot, Gorky with The Lower Depths - and to give splendid and ultimately immortal life to new archetypes, as in The Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo. But Kurosawa also made films of his own time. His masterpiece, in fact, was the quiet story of a gray Japanese bureaucrat dying in post-war Tokyo, and of his attempt to do something of lasting good before he leaves. The film is Ikiru ("To Live"; 1952). [more inside]
The Japanese National Archives have a nice set of late 1930s, pre-World War 2, civil defence posters, created in response to their hostilities with China: General Air Raid Defence; Blackout Control; Fire Protection; and Gas Attack. via Airminded, an excellent blog on "Airpower and British Society 1908-1941, mostly." [more inside]
Election poll fatigue? Diversify your daily dose of stats with What Japan Thinks. Check out Japan's favorite emoticons, thoughts on drinking vinegar, and of course awwcats. [more inside]
Japanese places and people photographed by Felice Beato, a pioneer 19th century photographer who documented the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny and the Anglo-French military intervention in China before opening a studio in Yokohama in 1863. He also seems to have been the first photographer in Korea.Wikipedia NYPL archive First two links are units in MIT's Visualizing Cultures project.
...Japanese hip hop has become a significant national, cultural, and business genre since the late twentieth century, and this phenomenon has been applied and has succeeded by using almost the same ideology that was historically used by other Japanese industries like automobile manufacturing. The pioneers in the Japanese hip hop industry like Buddha Brand learned their skills in the U.S. and have successfully been influencing the contemporary Japanese music scene. As a result, the imported hip hop has become a ''Japanized'' products. Many hip hop industries in Japan have modified the American hip hop into Japanese ways, and their businesses, like the hip hop dance schools, have succeeded.The Japanese Hip Hop Movement: Its Cultural and Economic Impact [more inside]
"Australians must not use whales to justify the racist ideology" The Australian government's [proto] stance on Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean has drawn a strong response by an anonymous youtube poster, citing racism as the core reason the Australian Government is taking a stand on the Japanese Whale Research Programme [caution, gruesome video and yet more racist youtube comments]. It seems Steve and Terri Irwin are trying to stop them.
Dee Dee bellbottom jeans. According to a friend who lived in Tokyo recently, Dee Dee is rumored to be one of the hottest independent brands this winter, among the ultra-hip Shibuya youth. Dee Dee's shop is just a few blocks from the notorious Shibuya 109 building, the homebase of all kogals. (prev) [more inside]
Netsuke of the Meiji Period is an online exhibit from the Los Angeles County Museum, noted for the depth of its collection. (more). The György Ráth Museum and the Ferenc Hopp Museum also house a fine classic collection. (more). Today, netsuke carving is alive and well - see the Kiho Collection for one young master. If you would like to explore more sculpture for the hand, the International Netsuke Society has a good link list to many excellent contemporary netsuke artists.
Rule No. 1: Two bugs to a fight. Rule No. 2: Bug fights go on as long as they have to. Rule No. 3: No outside weapons in bug fights.
After I posted this article, many people asked me who listens to that berserk music. Well, it's most popular with Japanese girls lumped under the general term "gyaru". It is not really a fashion movement per se, as it has fractured into scores of rapidly-evolving subgroups--usually hostile to each other, even though many appear the same to the uninitiated. In fact, the book Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno, published in 2007, is already said to be out of date. This website is a bit more current. What do "gyaru" look like? There are now quite a few slideshows of gyaru on the streets of Tokyo on YouTube. Examples: here, here, and here. And for those who need to buy these "fashions", the primary bibles are FRUiTS and Egg. There is something wrong with that country.......
Girlfriend just broke up with you? Feeling a little stress? Be careful how you relieve it - you may end up on the wrong side of the law (or be the subject of a cartoon depiction).
The Zen Mind - An Introduction. A Day in the Life of a Zen Monk. Zazen - A Guide to Sitting. Interview with a Zen Buddhist Priest (previously). [more inside]
"My humble efforts to assist in the elucidation of the social condition of a distant and comparatively unknown race."
Mizuko Kuyo, meaning "water-child memorial service" is a memorial service held by or for those who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion, and has become widespread in Japan since the 1970's. (Wikipedia definition). Peggy Orenstein relates her experience with miscarriage and this ritual in Mourning My Miscarriage - In Japan, I Find a Culture Willing to Acknowledge My Loss. [more inside]
Child-bearing machines, net café refugees and bottom-biting bugs: Top 60 Japanese buzzwords of 2007.
"Over and over he scoops up a chick with his left hand, expels its droppings with a squeeze of his thumb, opens its vent with his fingers, peers through the magnifying lenses attached to his spectacles and determines its sex." It's a dirty job (YT). Sexing chicks early is important so that the cockerels can be separated and culled^ or fed to be broilers^. The obvious differences take weeks to develop, so when the vent sexing method was developed in Japan in the 1920s, professional chicken sexers became sought after. [more inside]
"[Game Center CX] is comedic, dramatic, even a bit mental, but altogether it’s an unforgettable show about what sounds like a forgettable concept: a guy trying to beat old Nintendo games." [more inside]
Meet Rob Pongi (sometimes known as Evil Pongi) an american, doing something different in Japan. Sometimes he's chillin with some sexy and beautiful Japanese women enjoy a very exciting Tokyo dance party! Other times he translates North Korean soap operas into english for our edification. He just finished his first Hollywood movie, and he's very proud of it. Join his fan club here. You can watch all of his videos here.
Respect speed limit, get free music from...asphalt ? When driving in Japan remember to respect the speed limits , you may be instantly rewarded by hearing a tune as played by...your car and the road.
The manga series "Death Note." The first volume. The adapted anime series, newly arrived on Adult Swim. The Japanese movie trailer. Spoilers: Possible origins. The early press. Interviews with writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata. The controversy. The collectibles. The online Death Note. The last volume, finally released in the US and reviewed.
An Identification Guide of Japanese Moths Compiled by Everyone. Well, not everyone, but a lot of people and a lot of moths.
Some countries are shaped like their economic Phillips curve. Japan bears a strong resemblance to its Phillips curve. The Czech Republic does too, a little. And Canada’s similarity to its Phillips curve it less obvious, but it’s still there.
Now that the "World Series" is over, you can enjoy Joe Posnanski's coverage of the Japan Series in the Kansas City Star (on account of Nippon Ham Fighters coach Trey Hillman going to coach the KC Royals in 2008.) It's great to see Posnanski's perspective of Japanese baseball as he compares and contrasts American and Japanese baseball. It's also interesting to see American mass media cover Japanese sports when the Japanese mass media is going ga-ga over the US World Series (due to 3 Japanese players, Matsuzaka, Matsui and Okajima being in the finals.)
The Yamanote Halloween Train vs. Japanese Netizen Rage The Yamanote Halloween Train party was planned to be held on Saturday night in Tokyo. However, sometime on Saturday morning, the Japanese megaforum 2ch.net discovered an English-language post about the event on JapanProbe, and translated the information about it into Japanese, igniting a raging storm of anti-foreign hatred and sending over 10,000 visitors to the popular English-language blog about Japan. Scroll down for an interview with a JR employee about the event. [more inside]
Garra Rufa treatment, video, before and after pics. Fish that will eat you alive and make you healthy, "when you get over the ick factor, the nibbling can have a calming affect". [more inside]
Tokyo-Ga: this excerpt from a Wim Wenders film offers an interesting little glimpse into the world of pachinko, a gambling obsession for so many in Japan. But while most are gazing hypnotically into the noisy little machines in order to win prizes or money, others are circuit bending them to make them even noisier. [more inside]
Way too much thought about tentacle porn on this page, which details the history, current usage, and 'media' coverage of what to many seems the extreme of internet porn weirdness. Also covered are Lovecraftian stories, trinkets, movies, bestiality-inspired poetry and modern pictorial porn (this is weird porn, NSFW, I'm warning you). Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bleach my mind.
Why is anonymous group suicide so popular in Japan? From 2003 through 2005, 180 people died in 61 reported cases of Internet-assisted group suicide in Japan . . . All but two of these cases have proceeded according to a common blueprint: The victims meet online, using anonymous screen names, and then take sleeping pills and use briquettes, charcoal burners, and tape to turn a car or van into a mobile gas chamber.
In a secular age, an authentic miracle must purport to be a hoax, in order to gain credit in the world.
The Mahikari Hoax The Harvard Asia Quarterly tells the story of Fujimura Shinichi, a once-renowned amateur Japanese archaeologist nicknamed 'God's Hands' (神の手） for his seemingly preternatural talent for finding artifacts, who was caught planting planting stone tools, some of which he had fabricated himself, others he had taken from other sites, at an archaeological dig in Miyagi, northern Japan. [more inside]
Nova eikaiwa is the biggest foreign language school in Japan, teaching predominantly English through a network of over 600 branches across the county and employing over 7,000 foreign nationals. After adverse rulings to a number of complaints regarding Nova's refund policy, the Japanese Government imposed a 6 month ban from July to prevent the company from selling large lesson packages to students. The company has experienced a severe downturn in cashflow as a result and there are reports of late payment to Japanese staff and suppliers in the last two months. Foreign teachers were unaffected until salary payments for the 15th September were paid late, and more senior teachers have not yet been paid. Despite not being paid, many staff face a tough decision: quit, or continue to show up to work in the knowledge that if the company goes bankrupt they are eligible for unemployment benefits. Despite this, CEO Nozomu Sahashi declared last Friday "The dark clouds that have been hanging heavily over us will be cast aside... I said previously 'the darkest time is before the dawn,' and finally the first light of dawn can be seen". Five days later and some teachers are still waiting to be paid.
"What is so striking about the work is that EVERYONE is crossing a line: The couples who are engaged in sex in public, the Peeping Toms who trespass on that intimacy, the photographer who has betrayed his acquaintance's trust, and of course US -- so willing to look at what was not meant for us to see." See also: NYTimes slideshow Layers of Voyeurism (Via boingboing) SFW, IMHO
GTA anime mod A video of a Grand Theft Auto mod with gun toting anime girls and deadly Pikachu/Doraemon attacks. Via the ever-wonderful Japan Probe.
DJ Sara and DJ Ryusei. Sara is 8 years old. Ryusei is 5 years old. I reckon maybe those are papa's hands working the platter and fader in this clip? Also on the vinyl tip, and coming at ya outta Japan, the SOUNDWAGON.
Playboy. Cowboy. Mandom. The late Charles Bronson and his perfect chest, in one of his finest early pre-Death-Wish roles. And look out for Percy Helton. Here's a shorter version with more horse. Via here. [more inside]
It's hard to think of any music that's any more fun than The Ventures, and here they are, live in Japan, 1965, at the top of their game. This footage is really good: Walk Don't Run. Wipe Out. Apache. House of the Rising Sun. Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Flight of the Bumblebee. The Cruel Sea . . . But WAIT! Opening for the Ventures on that steamy summer night was homegrown Ventures cover band The M-Ventures! Straight outta Tokyo! Check out their versions of The Pink Panther Theme, Surf Rider and Yellowjacket. And in case you were wondering if the Ventures' influence is still being felt in Japan, well, check out 9-year-old guitarist Chicchi's versions of The Cruel Sea, Penetration, Walk Don't Run and Pipeline.
Lake Biwa: David Attenborough's Satoyama on YouTube, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6. [more inside]
Epaksa. Or Dr. Lee (a.k.a "Sinbaram" Epaksa). Purveyor of "Techno Ponchak". It's a mixture of electronic music with "ponchak," a dismissive, onomatopoeic reference to a Korean musical style known as "teuroteu" (trot). [More inside.]
The Royal Randwick Racecourse has been locked down. At least 8 horses have tested positive for equine flu. It is predicted that 700 horses will contract the virus. [more inside]
Animated population pyramids project a steady increase in the median age. England and Wales. United States. Canada. China. Japan. "The number of older persons has tripled over the last 50 years; it will more than triple again over the next 50 years." [pdf] There will be a shortage of workers to support the retired and disabled. The looming crisis has been predicted for years. Proposed solutions include robots and immigration. [previously, previously]
The X-Seed 4000 is currently the Earth's tallest proposed structure. The project is currently on hold, due to a funding shortage^, but adventures in Arcology will probably continue.