Joe Nishizawa's new photojournalism book, Deep Inside, is a visual exploration of the amazing, highly mechanized world under Japan's urban areas. This brief interview with the author is accompanied by several interesting photos.
Japanese animation from 1933. A bizarre Max Fleischer-inspired 11-minute cartoon about some critters from traditional Japanese folklore, complete with a soundtrack of traditional Japanese music. [youtubefilter]
'In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife. But this method doesn't work with a tomato". Finally, a blade worthy of Hattori Hanzo, so sharp it can slice a bullet in two.
Katatsumuri (Escargone) (mirror here, in case you don't want to sit through a commercial), a Super Mario-ish Flash game from Japan, except instead of an Italian plumber, you are a snail. With a mustache. From the fine folks at SKT. Left click to jump, left click and hold to climb walls, reach the end-of-level ring before the time runs out. Watch the animation before each level to see what new obstacles and enemies are in store.
A fascinating series of Japanese toilet training videos for the very young (duh). Of note, the anthropomorphizing of the toilet, the weird bits of Engrish thrown in, and the remarkably frank approach to the whole messy business.
For those who enjoy (or despise) the netubiquitous (Hey! A new word! Feel free to meme it for me. Thanks.) "Engrish" sites, here, via ctheory, is a more theoretical explanation of the phenomenon than you're likely to get by Googling "Engrish." (Two million hits and rising!)
The Museum of Fantastic Specimens is an online (virtual) museum of taxidermy specimens of imaginary creatures, all created by hand by Japanese artist Hajime Emoto. The museum itself can be difficult to navigate, as all the links are in Japanese, so the link in this post goes to an unrelated overview page in English.
It's not your grandfather's Bazooka Joe. The ol' reliable chewing-gum icon gets hipsterized and multicultified, with a new DJ buddy and an African-American nerd sidekick. The classic pink mouth-filling wad in the goofy wrapper has also been reformulated, apparently. Note that it's not the first time Joe has tried to be down with teh youth, with decidedly mixed results. Next up for Bazooka Janes in Japan: gum that enhances your bustline. (Bazooka Joe previously chewed over here.)
Gimmie Gimmie Octopus is apparently a Japanese children's television show from the 1960s.
Yes, it's YouTube, but at least there's no lip synching.
Yes, it's YouTube, but at least there's no lip synching.
Japanese Rube Goldberg Ramen Machine (warning: link goes to embedded video)
The Asian Giant Hornet is cool, unless it's baked. Japanese honeybees can detect the hornet's secretion and they attack en masse. With approximately 500 honeybees surrounding the hornet in a tight ball, the temperature within the cluster rises to 47 degrees Celsius which bakes the hornet alive.
My earliest memory was when I was three. I had a fever and my mother was wiping a cold wet rag on my body. There were fish swimming in my room, as though I was underwater, but I could breathe just fine. That's why I was surprised to find this. "The contemporary art in Japan (english) is naturally influenced by the world contemporary art. But the power of the Japanese traditions, the oppressive presence of a dense urban environment and the various traumatism undergone by Japan for 60 years (defeat of 1945, Hiroshima, earthquakes, economic crisis, etc.) involve a production very rich, original and little known."
Cheap 1.7 million yen toy. When Keiko Nakamoto of the Ishikawa prefecture came across an old vinyl robot covered in a thick layer of dust, she had no idea that she had unearthed only the third known specimen of an item described by Tokyo toy dealers as "the most sought-after item in Japan." From ToyboxDX [toy robot goodness].
Hungover this morning? Here's why.
Howard French - Asia photos Photos from across Asia by Howard French, who works for the New York Times. Includes many photos of the 'Disappearing Shanghai' that is being obliterated by the city's relentless urbanization.
Wal-Mart fails in South Korea. As a student of business and a resident of Asia, I am fascinated by the examples of "foreign" businesses who either succeed or fail in Asian markets. Recently, Vodafone failed in Japan but in a strange twist has signed a J-V with Softbank to keep their presence in Japan. eBay failed in Japan as did Memoirs of a Geisha. I'd love to have a discussion on the successes AND failures of non-Asian businesses in Asian markets and what, if any, lessons can be taken away for those of us who are in Asian markets or wish to enter Asian markets. (Yes, I realize that "Asia" is too broad of a region but I don't want to limit the discussion to just one nation.)
"...this clip of a Japanese show called Gaki No Tsukai stands out not for what it includes, but for what it lacks - talking and screaming. It takes place in a studio made up like a library, with the participants (including Kickboxing champion Ernesto Hoost) stifling their laughter, screams of pain and retching noises, just like any student did in their own junior high school library." [youtube video, text shamelessly lifted from wfmu]
Avenue is a site of a snap photograph. Please enjoy it slowly. Here's a Japanese site of exquisite photographs. And lest I be accused of self-posting, let me say for the record that I neither took nor posed for the photos in the Orange Swan series.
The Digital Silk Roads Project continues to grow apace with more additions from the Toyo Bunko rare books archive. Now available online, among others, are Les grottes de Touen-Houang, The Thousand Buddhas and several German books, including Chotscho. Unfortunately, all of the high resolution images are greyscale. [related]
Some people rap their way out of Osaka's slums. Others are forced. The lucky ones get to stay in their little blue houses for now, but how long will it be until another Rose Convention comes to town to spoil their fun?
Incredible Machine 01 - clever Japanese Rube Goldberg type devices in action. Film clip, annoying soundtrack alert. (via digg)
Yukio Mishima led a remarkable life: in addition to being an internationally renowned writer, he was also an actor, a filmmaker, a gay icon, a bodybuilding exhibitionist(possibly slightly NSFW), and leader of a paramilitary organization. Yet, all of this is often overshadowed by the even more remarkable way he ended his life. [more inside]
Hardcore Gaming 101 has a e-newsletter, but the best things there are the loving introductions to dozens of classic games and game series, all either sadly forgotten or practically unknown to the Western World. Thrill to the serious action of Compile shooters! Avoid the mocking gazes of friends, roomies and significant others while reading about venerable Konami cute-em-ups Twinbee and Parodius! Figure out why the hell so many Namco games have Valkyrie in them! Try to keep a straight face when confronted with the likes of Ganbare Goemon, Phoenix Wright, The Neverhood, No One Can Stop Mr. Domino!!!, Panic!, Urban Yeti and Segagaga, the Sega Simulator! Do, uh, something along with the T&A delights of Keio Flying Squadron, Popful Mail and Valis! All this and much, much, much much more.
Engineering the perfect night's sleep. Because I want my bed to monitor my heartbeat.
The tradition of making Japanese dolls, called ningyo—meaning human figure—goes back as far as 10,000 years to clay figures made during the Jomon period. The more recent rise in popularity, though, is most often traced to Hina Matsuri--Girls' Day, or the Doll Festival, celebrated on March 3--originating during the Edo period. These antique ningyo are highly sought after by collectors, such as the American expert Alan Pate, who has written a number of articles on the subject. The modern Japanese doll culture, however, is anything but traditional. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the ningyo tradition was exported to make toys for the West (previously featured on MeFi), and has culminated in popular Barbie-type dolls such as Superdollfie and others. Contemporary artists have transformed the Japanese doll tradition into something else entirely: Simon Yotsuya, Ryo Yoshida, Koitsukihime, Yoko Ueno, Mario A., Etsuko Miura, and Kai Akemi. A number of these artists were featured in the Dolls of Innocence exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Of course, notable artists outside Japan have worked with dolls before, including Hans Bellmer, who inspired much of the artwork in Innocence, the follow-up to Ghost in the Shell. Explore more:     . [Several links are nsfw.]
The J Marimba Ponies have performed at Carnegie Hall, as well as in concert halls from Vienna to Japan. Even more impressive, the oldest member of the group is 12, and the youngest is 4 years old. Musical prodigies or novelty act? See them play Khachaturian's Sabre Dance (Coral link to Quicktime video) and judge for yourself. Via Music for Maniacs. Previously mentioned on MeFi but worth its own thread.
Milky Lovers (NSFW) is a love doll brothel: Being not to be the woman of the raw body, there is no inconvenience, there is no how thing where "affinity of the girl is not agreeable". Manner of play spreads unlimited with imaginative power circumstance of the customer. Combination and double of each course, the triple is possible. From everyone the large quantity inquiring, thank you for. [via sexblo.gs]
Animation... More clips available at his homepage.
The Site of Reversible Destiny is an "experience park" conceived on the theme of encountering the unexpected. By guiding visitors through various unexpected experiences as they walk through its component areas, the Site offers them opportunities to rethink their physical and spiritual orientation to the world. [via]
Bad Engrish can be found on popular sites on the net, and not so well known as well.
There are some that consider such sites racist, but it also cuts both ways.
There are some that consider such sites racist, but it also cuts both ways.
John Coltrane. Thelonious Monk. Hank Mobley. Lennie Tristano. Blue Note. Impulse. Riverside... In other words: jazz. Now three fans in Japan -- a country that has always appreciated America's gift to music even more than the US itself -- have created The Jazz Discography Project, a bare-bones, open-source, astonishingly exhaustive database of the hippest sounds on the planet. For aficionados, just reading an ASCII entry for long out-of-print stuff like A Message from Garcia, featuring a young and then-unknown musician named Bill Evans who would later reinvent his instrument, is thrilling.
Foshata! Write your own English subtitles to Japanese commercials.
Slow Life is a Japanese movement that eschews the fast-paced consumption of modern urban life for the slower pace of farming and small villages. It emphasizes self-reliance, sustainability, and the appreciation of leisure. From some perspectives, it can be seen as a reaction to hazards in the modern world or as a peer to Shinto and modern schools of thought.
Gunkanjima or Battleship Island is 480 x 160 meters and was home to more than 5000 people. Abandoned for more than 40 years it is a microcosm of 20th century industrial development. A soundtrack to the photos. Or take the multimedia tour. Urban exploration.
In the Twilight of Modernity and the Silent Film (.pdf) Irie Takako was the most popular actress in 1930s Japan: film scholar Tanaka Masasumi locates the turning point of Japanese modernity in 1933, the year Kenji Mizoguchi's The Water Magician was made, arguing that Irie's transformation from radiant embodiment of moga(modern girl, the Japanese version of the flapper)-hood to suffering beauty in a kimono (.pdf) epitomized modernism's (modanizumu) defeat by nationalism in 1930's Japan. (via Camera Obscura; more inside)
We want you as a new recruit. The Japan Defense Agency has a short recruitment video on their site. [via]
Would somebody please think of the radish? Well, the Japanese certainly do. (More news stories in Japanese.)
And suddenly, in my memory, everything turns real: the summer breeze of Izu, the lazy sun of an early afternoon, the stale smell of water standing in the rice fields. For a moment it is that day in 1956, 37 years ago, and I am standing there, 33 years old myself. See—just to the left of the camera, just out of range. Here comes Mifune running, and there stands my younger ghost, right of that pillar, just off screen... And the summer sun beats down and the fresh breeze of Izu bathes my face, and then the story continues and the film ends and the lights go up and the students open their notebooks and I stand up and began talking about the influence of the Noh. Donald Richie (previous post), the worldwide authority on Japanese film, shares his movie memories.
(Knock, knock) "Candygram!" We don't know if ZDF has shown early SNL skits (nostalgic photo here), but German Greenpeace made a dramatic delivery to the Japanese Embassy in Berlin: a 55-foot-long fin whale that had been stranded in the Baltic. The dramatic gesture underscored the organization's contention that Japan's whaling, long defended as research, is in fact unnecessary: sufficient numbers of beached whales are available for research. The leviathan — 20 tonnes of blubber — was craned onto a truck and driven 150 miles from Rostock-Warnemünde to Berlin, and was due to be returned to the coast for study. (German-language stories on Greenpeace.de website here, here, and here, including logistical details for those curious about arranging their own special deliveries.)
Mighty Morphin' Spider Ranger. In 1978, Japanese company Toei produced a TV show for a live-action version of Spider-Man. It's like the American version, with just a few small differences, such as Spider-Man gaining his powers from a bracelet given to him by an old man in a cave. Also, he has a giant robot and fights aliens. The entire first episode is viewable online, which has been accentuated with deliberately incorrect subtitles.
Ancient rice festival has reputation smeared by 'therapeutic' facial cream claims. [link SFW] A Fukuoka festival dating back to ancient times is growing increasingly popular with Japan's adult movie fans because it involves smearing gooey, white liquid all over the faces of participants.
Having a filthy mind, I'm able to come up with several non-medical uses for the Digital Rectal Examination Simulator. However, when I noticed that the company selling the device was Japanese, I realized that the intended use is most likely as a way to hone your skills away from the arcade for the video game Boon-Ga Boon-Ga.