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
posted by flapjax at midnite
on Aug 1, 2007 -
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 -
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 -
In late March the body of Lindsay Ann Hawker
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 -
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 -
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 -
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
posted by Rumple
on Jun 7, 2007 -
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 -
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
posted by monju_bosatsu
on Jun 3, 2007 -
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
, and occasionally just filthy
stuff for cartoon nerds. Besides the usual metal, ballads, and pop rock, there's some Daft Punk
, and downtempo
accompaniment. Or you can just go to hell
. Wear headphones and no-one will know.
posted by anthill
on May 28, 2007 -
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
posted by jonson
on May 10, 2007 -
(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 -
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 -
The familiar story of 20th century philosophy is one of analytic
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 -
"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
] might come in handy. Happy squatting!
posted by flapjax at midnite
on Apr 19, 2007 -
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 -
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
, 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 -
[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 -