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Building hope

Shigeru Ban’s Pritzker win proves that building hope is finally in vogue
The architecture world has a new laureate, and he builds in cardboard. Japan’s Shigeru Ban was named this week as the winner of the Pritzker Prize, an annual award that is often called architecture’s Nobel – and his win sends a clear and timely message. Social change, sustainability and improving the lives of the many: This is what matters now to the world of architecture. With Ban’s Pritzker, the global design elite is marking that shift.
Take a Tour of Pritzker Winner Shigeru Ban's Paper Tube Structures [more inside]
posted by infini on Mar 31, 2014 - 9 comments

 

She will melt your face and warm your heart

Li-sa-X is an adorable 8 year old Japanese girl who plays rock guitar covers (youtube channel)
posted by roaring beast on Mar 26, 2014 - 44 comments

the simple-ish ideas are the best

MEG - PRECIOUS is a music video. Enjoy.
posted by Sticherbeast on Mar 7, 2014 - 4 comments

Foreigners Abroad.

11 French Tourist Tips For Visiting America. Tips For Russians. Tips For Japanese Visitors.
posted by The Whelk on Mar 6, 2014 - 162 comments

"I always want to write erotic music..."

In An Autumn Garden "I always want to write erotic music... Not only about the love between men and women, but in a much more universal sense - about the sensuality of the mechanism of the universe... about life." Toru Takemitsu Part 1 Part 2> I close my eyes for this (you don't have to).
posted by lucerita on Jan 19, 2014 - 3 comments

conspiracy of kindness

A Japanese Holocaust rescuer, it is estimated that Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania in WWII, facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family's lives. The profoundly moving story is now on YouTube: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Jan 4, 2014 - 9 comments

Plan A to Z

"I felt the only way to make any progress with the project was to make a clay model to show Katayama-san, gain his support, and ask him, as the President of Nissan USA, to push for the model's development."

The Datsun 240-Z In The Styling Studio
Concept To Reality 1965 to 1968

posted by timshel on Nov 13, 2013 - 29 comments

Apparently there are a lot of video games based on this novel

On Megami Tensei:
Based on the Japanese horror novel series by Aya Nishitani, this one’s about a student computer genius, who’s also the reincarnation of an ancient Japanese deity, who uses his giant clunky 80s mainframe to summon up some horrifying devils. This involves some not-bad animation of a well-endowed teacher’s frilly brassiere heaving up and down as she becomes the conduit for horrifying monsters from another dimension to invade our world. Then giant piles of red goop start crushing students and a big blue hairy devil named Loki fights our student computer genius hero, who fights back with his reincarnated girlfriend and his magic sword and his pet devil animal throughout several alternate universes.
let's anime presents: The Top Ten Least essential OVA (anime) of the 80s. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Nov 3, 2013 - 35 comments

we are friends

The Daily Life of a Grandma and Her Odd-Eyed Cat
posted by Sticherbeast on Oct 28, 2013 - 36 comments

These guys are fucking AMAZING.

Kiyohiko Senba is a composer who’s been likened to Zappa for his ambition, talent, madness, and virtuosity, but his music is considerably easier to get into. Get ready, because his large-scale orchestra project, Kiyohiko Senba and the Haniwa All-Stars, is about to blow your goddamn mind.

Let's start simple and ramp up. Hohai Bushi sounds a bit like an Ennio Morricone composition but with more electric guitar. Taiikusai is so heartfelt, yearning, and soaring that I cried when it got to the climax. They cover both Franz Schubert’s “Standchen" and Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t To Say You Love Me” in ways that are all kinds of awesome. But the real treasure for me is this one, which begins with them playing the Village People’s “YMCA” but then transitions into Daimeiwaku, a freaking phenomenal good original piece that sounds – I don’t know how else to describe it – like James Brown and John Philip Sousa decided to play Katamari Damacy together and had a really good time. (With some klezmer and Leonard Bernstein thrown in there too, for good measure.) But wait! There’s [more inside]
posted by Rory Marinich on Oct 25, 2013 - 24 comments

Wladimir Balentien breaks Japan's single-season home run record

Japanese baseball's single-season home run record has been broken. Set by the legendary Sadaharu Oh (still holder of the world career home run record) in 1964, it stood for 49 years. In recent years, several players had come close to breaking it... only to be walked for the rest of the season, by teams managed by Oh himself. The record was broken by Wladimir Balentien, who's from Curaçao -- an island familiar to baseball fans partly for its oddball names which combine Dutch, Papiamentu, and other influences. In affectionate tribute, Notgraphs published this guide to figuring out your Curaçaoan name.
posted by LobsterMitten on Sep 18, 2013 - 32 comments

Eiji Toyoda, Promoter of 'Toyota Way,' Dies at 100

Eiji Toyoda, architect of the “lean manufacturing” method helped turned the automaker Toyota, into a global powerhouse and changed the face of modern manufacturing. 'In almost six decades with the company he helped transform a tiny spinoff of a textile loom maker into the world’s biggest automaker. Early on, he helped put Toyota at the forefront of a wave of automobile production in Japan, pushing it to bolster its lineup, first by adding compact vehicles and sports cars in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s he initiated the development of luxury models to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, culminating with the Lexus brand in 1989.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Sep 17, 2013 - 45 comments

"A mind as curious, subtle, and complex as yours, as mine, as anyone’s."

The book that helped me understand my son. Author David Mitchell's introduction to The Reason I Jump, a newly-translated memoir by thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida on what it's like to have autism.
posted by Rory Marinich on Sep 8, 2013 - 13 comments

An Open Letter to Bigot Diners

"Why yes, we do have a female sushi chef. She also happens to be Caucasian. Her name is Mariah Kmitta, and we are blessed to have her behind our sushi bar." Sushi chef Hajime Sato of Mashiko in Seattle responds to customers who find a non-Japanese sushi chef distasteful with "An Open Letter to Bigot Diners". The opinion is not universally accepted. Slate author LV Anderson wonders, "does raising your eyebrows at a white sushi chef really make you a bigot?" [more inside]
posted by saeculorum on Sep 5, 2013 - 177 comments

and rare flowers on the shelves will bloom for us beneath a lovelier sky

Chouchou are a Japanese duo of artist/musicians who make haunting, ethereal electronic lullabies of otherworldly beauty. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Aug 29, 2013 - 3 comments

Extreme Kendama

In this video, you'll see people doing tricks on skateboards, rollerblades, and kendamas, for which the crowd goes wild. Yes, kendamas, the traditional Japanese wooden toy consisting of a handle, three cups and a spike (the "ken"), and a wooden ball (the "dama") on a string, with a hole opposite of the string. This toy has a long history, and is similar to a number of games found elsewhere in the world. But it wasn't until 1975 that it was formally organized as a competitive sport in Japan by the Japan Kendama Association, which has patented the design of the kendama and designated the tricks required to reach specific rankings. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 21, 2013 - 8 comments

Japanese recipes for the Anglophone

Cookpad is Japan's largest recipe site and cooking community. Yesterday, an English version was launched. [more inside]
posted by Tanizaki on Aug 6, 2013 - 52 comments

Deijī, deijī wa, okonau, watashi ni anata no kotae o ataeru

World's first talking robot sent into space Japan has launched the world's first talking robot into space to serve as companion to astronaut Kochi Wakata who will begin his mission in November. [more inside]
posted by arcticseal on Aug 3, 2013 - 23 comments

The ship will suck us!

What if the movie Titanic was translated into Japanese with a crappy online translator then translated back into English? Japanese Titanic, that's what.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts on Jul 16, 2013 - 26 comments

The Lazy, Free-Thinking, Leisure Loving Japanese

How development leads to cultural change, and not the other way around. Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang shatters stereotypes, showing how common descriptions of the Germans, Koreans and Japanese right before their nations' intensive economic development mirrors current slurs against workers from African and Latin American countries today.
posted by blankdawn on Jul 3, 2013 - 9 comments

Mascots.

Everyone needs professionally-trained Mascots. Especially Princesses. (Wait for the 2 min. mark) [more inside]
posted by lemuring on Jun 13, 2013 - 6 comments

Physics + Art = Awesome.

This is the current state of YoYo mastery. It is excellent.
posted by lazaruslong on Jun 6, 2013 - 27 comments

How long will you forget me? Forever?

This is Our Music [part 2] is a short documentary about naivist composer Tori Kudo, who's best known under the name Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Kudo is fascinated in mistakes and imperfection, and his music is warm and charming, crackly and washed-out like a Polaroid picture, sometimes energetic and surprisingly short, other times calm and gentle, and sometimes just gorgeous folk rock. Some of his most powerful songs are religious in nature: How Long Will You Forget Me is a moving, unpretentious adaptation of Psalm 13, and Moving Without Ark is a soft but powerful epic which could be about the Flood or the Second Coming. Tori's wife Reiko is also a naivist composer; I'm especially taken by her song Son of Man.
posted by Rory Marinich on Jun 6, 2013 - 7 comments

Japan's love of meals, sandwiched

Lotteria will release a ramen sandwich later this month. Back in February, McDonald's announced the return of its Texas and Idaho burgers. [more inside]
posted by ChuckRamone on May 11, 2013 - 36 comments

All the world's a stage, And all the men and women NOM NOM NOM!

Kyaraben (or charaben) is a style of elaborately arranged bento which features food decorated to look like people, characters from popular media, animals, and plants. Mari Miyazowa (previously) creates stop-action animated shorts featuring her bento box creations. Waking Up is the latest from the lunchbox auteur. [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on May 1, 2013 - 10 comments

Say you love me or I’ll kill you!

Jun Togawa is sort of like what you'd get if you crossed Kate Bush and Mike Patton. Togawa, who became known in Japanese culture after appearing in a bidet commercial, was half of the electro-cabaret band Guernica, which sometimes sounded very classical and sometimes sounded very new wave and sometimes much stranger. Somewhat more straightforward is her rock outfit Yapoos, which similarly varies quite a bit in sound and style. Her solo work, unsurprisingly, is quite melodramatic, with some very interesting arrangements, both parodically poppy and funky. I particularly like her covers of All Tomorrow's Parties by the Velvet Underground, Brigitte Fontaine's Comme à la Radio, and – weirdly – Pachelbel's Canon.
posted by Rory Marinich on Apr 21, 2013 - 14 comments

When I stop listening, I have a hard time believing I just heard it.

Katra Turana is the most delightfully baffling band I know. Sometimes they sound like a calypso band gone mad. Sometimes they sound like a tornado slamming into a string quartet. Sometimes they're catchy and heartwarming. Sometimes they're sparse and sinister. Or they're annoying in grandiose ways. And sometimes they blossom into something that's vulnerable, lush, and devastatingly beautiful. I know next to nothing about them. They confound me. I hope you find them as wondrous and as special as I do.
posted by Rory Marinich on Apr 20, 2013 - 25 comments

Toren Smith, 1960-2013

I had discovered the Animage comics version of Nausicaa, which provided my entry into the world of Japanese comics--a world which was to cause me to devote my life to bringing it to all English-speaking people.
Toren Smith, a brilliant editor and translator and one of Japanese comics' first and greatest advocates in the English-speaking world, is dead. [more inside]
posted by Sokka shot first on Mar 7, 2013 - 30 comments

The Lafcadio Hearn of Our Time

Donald Richie, American author, journalist, critic and expert on Japan, dies at 88.
Smilingly excluded here in Japan, politely stigmatised, I can from my angle attempt only objectivity, since my subjective self will not fit the space I am allotted . . . how fortunate I am to occupy this niche with its lateral view. In America I would be denied this place. I would live on the flat surface of a plain. In Japan, from where I am sitting, the light falls just right – I can see the peaks and valleys, the crags and crevasses.
-- from The Japan Journals, 1947-2004
[more inside]
posted by Ice Cream Socialist on Feb 19, 2013 - 23 comments

Don't fail your New Year's Resolution!

A Daruma doll will always remind you of your goal. First read it here then watched it here. Nana korobi yaoki!
posted by xicana63 on Jan 31, 2013 - 11 comments

Japanese Designers 101

I’ve found that while Japan has always been a significant force in the world of design, not many people are familiar with the names or faces behind the distinct aesthetic. In this edition I would like to briefly introduce some of the notable* industrial designers of the 20th Century that have made meaningful contributions to what we know today as Contemporary Japanese Design. by the ever wonderful Spoon & Tamago [more inside]
posted by infini on Jan 18, 2013 - 8 comments

Japanese Woodblock Print Database | Ukiyo-e Search

Starting in the early 1700s and exploding in popularity throughout the 1800s, Japanese woodblock prints depicted the fantastic world of Kabuki actors, courtesans, warriors, and nature. Ever since then keeping track of all of the incredible artwork has been a pain, traipsing between dealer and museum websites, awkwardly shuffling through academic library 'websites', wandering aimlessly through GIS, not to mention all the trouble a patron had to go through to see these before the Internets. Well, The Japanese Woodblock Print Database aggregates prints from a number of museums, dealers, and auction houses into a single resource, searchable by keyword and by image, and thereby provides a shining example of web-accessible art database interface. Enjoy! [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by carsonb on Jan 7, 2013 - 20 comments

Convoy Conquest!

Tireless eaters Jenne and Miko set out to try every restaurant along San Diego's Convoy Street. (via Projects) [more inside]
posted by threeants on Jan 5, 2013 - 19 comments

Christopher Robin is a Sadist

Flash Friday!!! It's Winnie The Pooh Home Run Derby! In Japanese! And insanely difficult!
posted by clorox on Jan 4, 2013 - 42 comments

The War Tourist

Toshifumi Fujimoto is a Japanese tourist. On the Syrian front line (his Facebook page).
posted by elgilito on Jan 3, 2013 - 18 comments

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Via io9: "The first nine Superman cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios from 1941 to 1942 are a wonder of animated retrofuturism, giving us a peek into a world that not only had a flying superstrong protector, but also filled viewers' heads with dreams of autonomous robots, comet-controlling telescopes, and machines that could shake the Earth. These films are in the public domain and have been available on the Internet Archive," but now Warner Bros. is releasing them (remastered) on YouTube. The first short, "Superman" (also known as "The Mad Scientist,") was nominated for an Academy Award. Also see: The Super Guide to the Fleischer Superman Cartoons. Find links to all nine episodes and more inside. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 25, 2012 - 28 comments

Ever wonder what happened to Fukushima Storage Unit #4?

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? (PREVIOUSLY) 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 - 24 comments

Online Catalogue of Japanese Prints

Japanese Prints Online - The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts provides an on-line catalogue for its collection of 18th- and 19th-century Japanese prints, which includes over 600 prints made by Japanese artists between the middle of the 18th century and the turn of the 19th century.
posted by misozaki on Oct 22, 2012 - 4 comments

舞踏 Butoh

Dance of Darkness (Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt.3, Pt.4) is a documentary about the Japanese art form, Butoh. (Video links are generally NSFW:Nudity) [more inside]
posted by lemuring on Sep 30, 2012 - 12 comments

Ukiyo-e Heroes

Illustrator Jed Henry and woodblock printmaker David Bull recently collaborated on a set of videogame-inspired woodblock prints in the ukiyo-e style. Just recently funded through Kickstarter, the prints are already underway. There are videos of the creative process here and at the bottom of the first link.
posted by gilrain on Aug 31, 2012 - 53 comments

Special Mario Bros.

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 - 45 comments

Brighten up the landscape with... a gas storage tank

The artistic gas storage tanks of Japan. Some explanation Includes a NSFW image, strangely enough. [more inside]
posted by asok on Jul 6, 2012 - 31 comments

Available online, 30 issues of Mangajin!

Mangajin was created in the early 90's as a monthly English publication for students of the Japanese language. Unlike most text books that focused solely on teaching people Japanese through boring text, Mangajin was different in that it focused on showing readers a page of manga and then a page of English translations. As great of an idea that this sounds today, it didn't catch on in the 90's and Mangajin ended in 1996. Now manga in America is as popular as ever, which is why I have decided to put Mangajin onto this web site. Fans of Japanese manga and who are looking to learn Japanese will undoubtedly find Mangajin very useful!
posted by KokuRyu on Jul 5, 2012 - 32 comments

STAR WOLF, or, he tried to kill me with a forklift!

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 - Two - Three - Four. (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 - 26 comments

Forging a Sashimi Knife

Forging a Sashimi Knife. The bladesmith is Murray Carter. [more inside]
posted by Deathalicious on Jun 15, 2012 - 24 comments

Best tetris ever?

Have you ever bought one of those cheapo generic Tetris games? From an article on Understanding Japanese Comedy.
posted by PeterMcDermott on May 22, 2012 - 24 comments

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How to assemble a happy kitchen hamburger [more inside]
posted by special-k on May 2, 2012 - 26 comments

GUTS, GUTS-GUTS

Sombody once said,
"There is a beast with such succulent meat, it melts all over your tongue. There is a bubbling spring flowing with tastes of countless fruit juices, such as sweet musk melons and ripened mangoes."
It is the Gourmet Era. The era in which one will search for undiscovered tastes. [Hulu link for US-based viewers] [more inside]
posted by lemuring on Apr 17, 2012 - 9 comments

Was last seen approaching the power plant!

Japanese kids draw Henry Rollins. More at Hello Henry.
posted by KevinSkomsvold on Apr 9, 2012 - 34 comments

Kyoto tofu

Fresh tofu in Japan is far better than it is anywhere else, and the tofu in Kyoto is generally held to be the best in the country. This is generally attributed to the skill, refined court and/or temple-influenced culture and the quality of the local water. ... During my week in Kyoto, I was able to pursue one family business’s vision of what tofu should be from beginning to end. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Mar 22, 2012 - 30 comments

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