A Youtube playlist of short and beautiful videos portraying various traditional Japanese crafts. For example: Decorated paper. [more inside]
Some short videos from a Japanese construction shop that practices traditional joinery techniques. The tools are modern, but the components and joinery techniques are traditional. For instance, joining two beams end-to-end. [more inside]
78 78s - In Search Of Lost Time - is a streaming mix of beautiful 78s from around the world, collected and curated by Ian Nagoski. "I started sifting through boxes of junky old 78s that no one else wanted about 15 years ago, and almost right away, I made a rule: Anything that wasn't in English, buy it." [more inside]
Tokyo drifts ... cat2525jp has a neat YouTube channel of voyages through Tokyo transit systems, set to electronica. They include timelapse (e.g. Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line), and the lovely mirror effect "Tokyo Sky Drive" series (e.g. 1 2), and povs of high-tech automated parking systems with bowing attendants.
Japanese Bicycle History Research Club With a nice gallery of photos, illustrations, and ukiyo-e of vintage bicycles in Japan.
Nihongo Bongo! - Latin music by Japanese artists from the 40s, 50s and 60s. "Mambo, rumba, cha cha cha, bossa nova, calypso, you name it... it was big in Japan. The exodus of Japanese migrants to Brazil ensured a lasting connection with South American culture as many Japanese artists toured Brazil."
Quicktime VR photos of Tokyo - tunnels - night - large drains - buildings - etc. The nav is mainly in Japanese but the "VR List" link, lower right, seems to be the main index.
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.
Animals in Japanese Paintings and Prints Organized into three online essays - traditional - realist - and imaginative art. Among the menagerie: monkey - tiger - eagle - camels - praying mantis - fox and puppy.
Meiji architecture The Meiji Mura is an open-air museum with many examples of Japanese Meiji-period architecture from between the mid 19th century and the early decades of the 20th. The buildings, often rescued from the threat of demolition, show how Japan developed its own distinctive modern architectural style during this period.
The Sukiyaki Song [mp3] Depending on your age, you may have heard your parents humming this, or even hummed it yourself. Sung by Kyu Sakamoto, the Sukiyaki Song was the only number 1 hit by a Japanese artist in the US, in 1963. It remains the biggest international hit by a Japanese popular singer. The song has nothing to do with the popular Japanese beef dish; the Japanese title was "Ue o Muite Aruko" (I Look Up When I Walk), but was changed because it was thought that western DJs would be unable to pronounce it. The song spawned many covers, and Maddmansrealm has collected over 60 of these, including French and German versions, bossa nova versions, a short accordion version by Styx, and a live instrumental version by Bob Dylan and Tom Petty [mp3s]. Kyu Sakamoto died in 1985 in the crash of JAL 123.
Night Windows Gorgeous images of night-time urban Japan (Japanese titles, English alt tags, 1024x768 images available). Includes: sleeping bullet trains, trams, cats, Tokyo Harbour tunnel, bridges, tail lights, Narita airport, offices, Mount Fuji, Tokyo Disneyland (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and many more.
360 photographs of Allied-occupied Japan after World War Two, taken by anthropologist John W. Bennett, arranged in portfolios with comments by Bennett and links to large images, such as hotel umbrellas drying in the sun. The exhibition includes selections from Bennett's journal and letters with his first impressions of Japan. Portfolios include views of Tokyo, children in the park, women of the night, traditional architecture, and Japanese resorts.
Astronomy in Japan by Steve Renshaw and Saori Ihara, describes the cultural history of astronomy in Japan, including lunar and solar New Year festivals, the star lore of Orion and other constellations, star festivals, shrines to meteorites, 17th century observations of a comet, celestial alignments in the urban fabric of early Kyoto, and much else besides.
Black ships and samurai In 1853 four ships under Commodore Perry anchored off the coast of Japan against the wishes of the Japanese. According to historian John Dower, "This initial encounter between the United States and Japan was eye-opening for all concerned, involving a dramatic confrontation between peoples of different racial, cultural, and historical backgrounds. We can literally see this encounter of "East" and "West" unfold through the splendid, yet little known, artwork produced by each side at the time." This beautiful exhibition includes many examples of this artwork, juxtaposing scenes of the encounter from Japanese and American artists' points of view. (Part of MIT's open courseware initiative.)
Ping Pong Pang Pong ... (MIDI file). Archives of public transport departure chimes and announcements. From Japan, MIDI files [+] [+] (via Boingboing) and live recordings [+] [+] of various elaborate tunes (no I don't speak Japanese, just keep clicking the blue links until you hit an MP3!). European recordings [+]. The very excellent Shonen Knife used a sample of the Osaka subway chimes in their rockin' cover version of the Carpenter's 'Top of the World.' (WFMU archive here, click "Hear the show", song starts with Osaka chimes at approximately 15:23)
Kazumi Namiki uses a slit camera to capture panoramic pictures onto a whole roll of film. He uses his slit camera to take photographs of Japanese railway trains; lots and lots of trains. [via boingboing]