The world record for Flash Anzan
was broken this year at the 2012 All Japan Soroban [abacus] Championship. Competitors in Flash Anzan sum up 15 3-digit numbers that are displayed in turn within a set time. The record is now 1.70 seconds, which means that each number is displayed for just over 0.1s. Here is a video of a "slow" 1.85 seconds
seconds where the numbers are barely readable. [more inside]
posted by milkb0at
on Nov 2, 2012 -
Ever wonder what happened to Fukushima Storage Unit #4? You remember, the one filled with 1,500 wet stored and combustible fuel rods that threaten a total of ~134 million curies of radioactive cesium137 and, at least as of last April, seemed to be in maybe not such great shape
) This August, TEPCO released a comprehensive and easily understandable report on the condition of the structure as well as measures being done to both reinforce it against likely earthquakes and ultimately remove the fuel rods, which are still hot enough to require wet storage elsewhere (PDF)
. On the other hand, Kohei Murata, the former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland who had the attention of the world during the crisis
, remains both unimpressed and eschatological.
posted by Blasdelb
on Oct 23, 2012 -
is an artificial island on the Tokyo Bay Aqualine that has had to reinvent itself as a tourist trap
to justify the continued maintenance of a little-used bridge-tunnel crossing.
posted by 256
on Oct 2, 2012 -
The Pacific War Photographs
of Pfc Glenn W. Eve — "In the summer of 1942, the U.S. Army called up a skinny California boy barely out of his teens. But at 5’9’’ and 125 pounds, Private Glenn W. Eve was deemed unfit for combat.
He might have spent the duration of World War II at a desk, except that he had field skills the Army needed – he was a gifted artist, draftsman and photographer who'd spent the previous four years working for the Walt Disney Co.
In July 1944, they promoted him to private first class (Pfc) and assigned him to the Signal Photo Corps, bound for the Pacific to document the war. This is his collection, never before published. All comments in quotes are Pfc Eve's, written on the back of the photo."
posted by unliteral
on Oct 1, 2012 -
The Great Wave off Kanagawa
is probably the most iconic Japanese artwork in history
, often used to illustrate tsunamis, and scientists have attempted to analyze what kind of wave it depicts
. The woodprint is part of the 36 Views of Mount Fuji
series, which depicts the famous mountain from different spots in Japan
. The artist who made the Great Wave, Katsushika Hokusai, created thousands of images, many of which can be viewed online, such as in the internet galleries of the Museum of Fine Art
(Visipix' Hokusai page
). Besides woodprints, Hokusai produced sketchbooks he called manga, one of which, number twelve, can be flipped through on the Swedish Touch and Turn website
posted by Kattullus
on Sep 22, 2012 -
When is a private space a public space? When it's a Privately Owned Public Space (POPS)
. In accordance with the planning codes of some cities, owners or builders of buildings are mandated to provide members of the general public access to spaces which include rooftop gardens, courtyards, and plazas. [more inside]
posted by larrybob
on Aug 31, 2012 -
Super Mario Bros. Special
occupies a strange place in Mario history. It's one of the few Mario games produced for a system other than Nintendo's own, licensed by Hudson Soft for the Japanese
PC-8801 computer system. The system was fairly weak compared to an NES, so it didn't scroll; when Mario gets to the edge of the screen, it flips to the next. The game wasn't always designed with that in mind however, leading to a lot of blind jumps. You can play a hacked version of the original Super Mario Bros. designed to recreate this game using the patch found here
. And here's a video playthrough of the whole game: World 1
, World 2
, World 3
, World 4
, World 5
, World 6
, World 7
, World 8
, Last level & ending
. And here's a trap room in World 4
posted by JHarris
on Aug 14, 2012 -
Japan Turns Masturbation into an Art
"The days when the sex industry believed only women were in desperate need of self-pleasuring aids appear to be long gone. Nowadays, when one walks into a sex shop, aisles offering male masturbation tools are just as bountiful as those catering to women. At least in Japan. Seven years after Koichi Matsumoto left his car salesmen job to start 'something that hasn’t been done before' and launched Tenga 'New Adult Concept,' his company has sold over 15 million male masturbation units worldwide."
posted by bookman117
on Aug 2, 2012 -
A recent trend in the ultra-fashion-conscious world of Tokyo teen girls: B-Style
, or "black lifestyle", that is, emulating the black women in rap videos. In the video you will see Japanese girls with weaves and incredibly dark tans to mimic black skin. Rebellious rejection of convention
, or weird sideways racism (one girl says: "when we do it it looks vulgar, but not on the black women")?
posted by DecemberBoy
on Aug 1, 2012 -
Yesterday, July 29, 2012, saw a massive antinuclear protest, attended by young and old alike, in Tokyo. This video
, and this one
, too, (both well-edited and featuring English subtitles) bring you right into the center of the action, to get a feel for the energy that the movement is steadily gaining.
posted by flapjax at midnite
on Jul 29, 2012 -
Wisdom, Age, and Society in America and Japan
"ONE stereotype of wisdom is a wizened Zen-master smiling benevolently at the antics of his pupils, while referring to them as little grasshoppers or some such affectation, safe in the knowledge that one day they, too, will have been set on the path that leads to wizened masterhood. But is it true that age brings wisdom? A study two years ago in North America, by Igor Grossmann of the University of Waterloo, in Canada, suggested that it is. In as much as it is possible to quantify wisdom, Dr Grossmann found that elderly Americans had more of it than youngsters. He has, however, now extended his investigation to Asia—the land of the wizened Zen-master—and, in particular, to Japan. There, he found, in contrast to the West, that the grasshoppers are their masters' equals almost from the beginning.... Japanese have higher scores than Americans for the sort of interpersonal wisdom you might think would be useful in an individualistic society. Americans, by contrast—at least in the maturity of old age—have more intergroup wisdom than the purportedly collectivist Japanese. Perhaps, then, you need individual skills when society is collective, and social ones when it is individualistic."
posted by bookman117
on Jul 23, 2012 -
The curious case of the eroding eikaiwa salary.
Now fraught with job insecurity and low pay, there was a time when the work was steady and salaries were high for those who taught English in Japan. Around the turn of the millennium, salaries and work conditions for English teachers in Japan began a downward trend — one that has now spilled into the '10s and shows no signs of slowing, let alone reversing.
posted by KokuRyu
on Jul 4, 2012 -
スターウルフ, "Star Wolf
," was a half-hour sci-fi TV show produced and aired in Japan in 1978. (TV Tropes page
-- addiction warning) It had somewhat cheesy special effects, understandable being a TV series made just one year after Star Wars, but it made up for it with style, energy, and ACTION PACKED MUSIC
American viewers will know it best as the show ripped apart and reassembled into two Fugitive Alien movies by Sandy Frank Productions
, then shown on two memorable episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. (Episodes on YouTube: Fugitive Alien, its sequel.)
Although the Japanese show got at least two seasons (the second under the title Space Hero Star Wolf
), only the first four episodes appear to exist on the internet. Here they are: One
. (There are no subtitles, but you should be able to figure out what is going on if you've seen the MST episode.) [more inside]
posted by JHarris
on Jun 27, 2012 -
Upgrade Your Nintendo 3DS’s Sound. [SLYT]
"Of the variety of things one might find to complain about in regards to the Nintendo 3DS, the sound doesn’t immediately come to mind. It’s not great sound, mind, but there are a litany of things that are more obvious. Thanks to one intrepid inventor, however, you are now just a series of tubes, clips and metal funnels away from awesome sound. Now, in order to figure out the exact combination of these things you’ll need to translate the instructions from Japanese." [Via].
posted by Fizz
on Jun 17, 2012 -
In 1989 the Japanese Government passed the Media Betterment Act, permitting censorship of any media deemed to be harmful to society. On the basis of the imperative for libraries to resist any attempts at suppression of free speech, local governments created an armed resistance force to combat censorship. The conflict between the government and library forces continues to 2019, where the story of Library War
begins. [more inside]
posted by 23
on Jun 15, 2012 -
Taiyo Matsumoto's original five volume manga Ping Pong was one of the most surprising and gripping experiences I've had this year. But a huge reason for that is the artwork: he packs more kinetic energy into a single drawing of a shoe skidding across a floor than any real shoe has ever had. So it was with some trepidation that I saw posters for this adaptation going up in stores around Japan. Fumihiko Masuri is a first time director (not that you'd know it), with a background in computer effects. He seems to have directed this mainly because he's a really big fan of the manga too. On the film's website, they've placed images from the manga next to photographs of the actors in the film, so you can see how obsessive compulsive they were in matching faces. Not only faces, but movements, playing styles, and shot composition is all straight from the book, as if they'd used the manga in lieu of storyboards. Even the occasional surreal touch; a boy growing butterfly wings, a dragonfly landing on the net, is right out of the page onto the screen.
-- Midnight Eye review
; subtitled movie in 12 parts: 1
posted by filthy light thief
on May 14, 2012 -
Ikuo Yokoyama lost his home and three family members in the Japanese tsunami last year. Among the losses was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle he had bought five years ago and keeping in the back of a cube van... which floated across the Pacific Ocean and was found by Peter Mark, a resident of British Columbia
, on an beach on Graham Island (it's the big one up the B.C. coast, near Alaska). Aside from some rust, the motorcycle seems to be in decent condition, and Harley-Davidson plans to restore it and ship it back to Yokoyama.
posted by Etrigan
on May 2, 2012 -