"There's something very shabby about a noble grave... Political power and the power of wealth result in splendid graves. Really impressive graves, you know. Such creatures never had any imagination while they lived, and quite naturally their graves don't leave any room for imagination either. But noble people live only on the imaginations of themselves and others, and so they leave graves like this one which inevitably stir one's imagination. And this I find even more wretched. Such people, you see, are obliged even after they are dead to continue begging people to use their power of imagination." - Yukio Mishima via Kashiwagi in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. On this, the anniversary of Mishima's transformation into a headless god, a collection of video links. [more inside]
“A Dream To Have In Heaven” (Tengoku De Miru Yume - 天国でみる夢) is a non-narrative, surreal manga created by Maki Sasaki. It was published in the November 1967 issue of Garo, a now-defunct alternative and avant-garde monthly manga anthology magazine that peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In a series of sixteen advertisements screened in Japan, Tommy Lee Jones plays extraterrestrial 'Alien Jones', who has taken the form of a man to check on the world of humans, all the while drinking a Japanese brand of coffee named BOSS. I have no idea how Tommy Lee Jones got talked into doing these advertisements, or why. And after watching them for yourself (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16), you probably won't either.
It's not even Thanksgiving yet and already the 2008 "best of" lists have begun. Here's a list of the Top 60 popular Japanese words/phrases of 2008. "Morning banana" doesn't mean what you think it does. Is Sarah Palin an obaka-aidoru - おバカアイドル ? (via)
Perfume, a three-girl Japanese technopop sensation formed in 2001 now consisting of Nocchi, Kashikuya and A~chan, is about to release their ninth single, "Dream Fighter". Perfume's July 2008 single "Love the World" was the first technopop song ever to debut at #1 on the Oricon sales chart. The previous highest debut for techno was Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Kimi ni, Munekyun" 25 years ago in 1983. (original article citing #1 record translated via Google translator) [more inside]
Live doom. KFJC in Los Altos Hills, California is streaming live video and audio of Japanese doom gods Corrupted and Oakland's Asunder starting immediately. Requires free download of VLC media player shareware to get the live feed (instructions in first link). Equipment being set up as we speak. [more inside]
浄閑寺—Jokanji, the "Throw Away" Temple "From the street, it looks like many other Tokyo temples, but behind the new main building is an old cemetery that has one particular point of interest, a crypt and monument to twenty-five thousand prostitutes interred there."
On a Japanese island just east of Taiwan lives the Iriomote wildcat. Numbering between 60 and 100, this creature has been critically endangered since its discovery in 1967, although it has likely never numbered more than a few hundred in the 200,000 years it's lived on the island. The Iriomote wildcat is protected, and endearing to many Japanese - it was even featured in the popular anime Azumanga Daioh (warning: English dub). The chances you'll see one are slim, but conservation efforts continue.
Kuroda Tetsuzan Sensei is an incredible Japanese martial artist. As a skilled swordsman, he practices very old and unusual forms of iaido, kenjutsu as well an interesting form of ju jutsu. He is both incredibly still and incredibly fast and he knows a few tricks too. [more inside]
Military equipment drawn as anime girls. Probably SFW, but good luck explaining it to the boss. Wikipedia explains.
A restaurant in Japan employs Monkey Waiters. They're not the worst waiters in the world and you only have to tip them with edamame.
Tsukiji knife photos by Tony McNicol. List of published articles. List of selected photo galleries. I’ve been taking photos of a 240 year old knife shop in Tsukiji fish market.... If you buy a knife at the shop you can bring it back to be sharpened for free. [more inside]
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.