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How Japan copied American culture and made it better.

There’s something about the perspective of the Japanese that allows them to home in on the essential elements of foreign cultures and then perfectly recreate them at home. "Part of what’s going on is simply the globalization of taste, culture, cuisine and the way that, in the modern world, you can get almost anything everywhere. But Japanese Americana is more than that. There’s a special way that the Japanese sensibility has focused on what is great, distinctive and worthy of protection in American culture, even when Americans have not realized the same thing."
posted by bitmage on Apr 13, 2014 - 67 comments

 

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

Have a Nice Day

World Order take us on a tour of Akihabara. World Order release yet another fabulous video. Previously. Previouslier.
posted by arcticseal on Mar 25, 2014 - 8 comments

Clogs and windmills and tulips oh my

"Picture the scene: you’re on Family Feud (US) or Family Fortunes (UK), and the oily host summons you to go head-to-head with a member of the opposing family. “Hands on the buzzers, please. Top eight answers in this round. We asked 100 people…to name something associated with Holland.”

Suppress lewd thoughts of red-light districts, window brothels, and sex clubs—this is a family show—and quick, the buzzer!

[...]

And that, in essence, is Huis ten Bosch, a $3bn theme park answer to a quiz show question nobody asked."
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 15, 2014 - 26 comments

Nyalan and Deshi

These cats are the "image characters" (mascots) for Jalan, a travel site in Japan. Stars of many adverts, the older cat is "Nyalan" ("nya" is "meow" in Japanese), and his apprentice is "Deshi." They also have their "own" Twitter account and more pictures are on the Jalan Facebook profile. And yet more pictures.
posted by Wordshore on Feb 25, 2014 - 27 comments

Just when you thought it was safe to feed the bunnies.

Herd of rabbits in soft pursuit of woman on Japan's Okunoshima Island. [more inside]
posted by ActingTheGoat on Feb 18, 2014 - 66 comments

Paper Haiku

How to make handmade Japanese scroll paper.
(Many other traditional artisans at Gucci Japan)
posted by growabrain on Feb 8, 2014 - 19 comments

【電音道-DEN ON DO-】 is A Japanese woman's bride practice

Japanese Techno Girl Love
posted by empath on Jan 30, 2014 - 24 comments

Just for a second, honestly

Japanese folklore and horror stories are known for their psychologically terrifying ghosts and monsters that prey on the minds and bodies of humans. But there’s also a lighter side to Japanese folklore, where bumbling spirits cause only mild annoyance, actually enhance your daily life, and otherwise generally botch the whole job of haunting mankind and teaching vague moral lessons about treating your parents with respect and such. 8 Hilariously Nonthreatening Monsters from Japanese Folklore
posted by timshel on Jan 28, 2014 - 44 comments

NINTENDO COMPANY JAPAN

The beforemario blog showcases the toys and games Nintendo created in the period from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s, including: Nintendo Popeye Trump cards, Nintendo Love Tester, Nintendo Ultra Hand, Nintendo Disney Baseball Board, Nintendo Companion, Nintendo Mamaberica baby stroller, Nintendo Monster Copy, Nintendo Bee Hive Game and Nintendo Mister Magician Coin & Stick. Full list.
posted by timshel on Jan 22, 2014 - 19 comments

Japanese Ghost Stories and Weird Tales

10 Famous Japanese Ghost Stories: ten short kaidan translated by Zack Davisson and posted along with many others at Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jan 21, 2014 - 18 comments

I'm a pretty big deal in Japan.

You might not know me, but I’m famous. Don’t feel bad. Until recently, I didn’t know I was famous either, and most days, even now, it’s hard to tell.
posted by graventy on Jan 12, 2014 - 64 comments

Yank of the Yalu

The First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) was notable for having the first confrontation between ironclad ships with modern weaponry, at the Battle of the Yalu River. And the presence of foreign advisors among the Chinese fleet, like German Captain von Hannecken and American Captain Philo Norton McGiffin [same text with some embellishment, Google Books links to Collier's article and Real Soldiers of Fortune], who later wrote The Battle of the Yalu for Century Magazine. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 8, 2014 - 5 comments

Monitoring the raindrops that keep falling on your head from space

The successor to the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), the NASA/JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) spacecraft is preparing for launch at the Japanese Tanegashima Space Center. GPM will be the newest international Precipitation Measurement Mission and will be the core observatory of the GPM Constellation. The two sensors on-board GPM are the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) and the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR). The GPM/DPR team has produced a fantastic anime about the DPR instrument. [more inside]
posted by Rob Rockets on Jan 8, 2014 - 6 comments

Birth of an island

Lava flow connects new islet with Nishinoshima island A new islet formed by volcanic activity in late November in the Ogasawara island chain far south of Tokyo (halfway to Guam) has now grown and connected to neighboring Nishinoshima island. Spectacular footage of magma eruptions. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Dec 26, 2013 - 17 comments

World Order - Last Dance

World Order's latest, "Last Dance", starts with a shot of TEPCO corporate headquarters. Also making apperances are the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), anti-nuclear protesters outside METI, and the Ministry of Finance. [more inside]
posted by needled on Dec 24, 2013 - 4 comments

"We are open even during air-raid drills"

Japanese Film Posters in the Prewar Period: Part 1
Japanese Film Posters in the Prewar Period: Part 2
Japanese Film Theaters in the Prewar Period: Part 1 Asakusa, Tokyo
Japanese Film Theaters in the Prewar Period: Part 2 Ginza/Yurakucho/Hibiya, Tokyo
Japanese Film Theaters in the Prewar Period: Part 3 Shinjuku/Shibuya/Kanda/Roppongi, Tokyo
posted by timshel on Dec 19, 2013 - 4 comments

Bare Necessity

Glass Box Public Toilet with a Garden
posted by maggieb on Dec 19, 2013 - 42 comments

SMS Is Passe

Japan and other Asian countries have moved from SMS to smart phone messaging apps, with great success for all.
posted by reenum on Dec 18, 2013 - 91 comments

The dark powers

In the last few weeks, extensive evidence has emerged that Japanese show business is saturated with the yakuza’s influence. Police records and sources, along with testimony from current and former yakuza members, have revealed that many powerful Japanese talent agencies and production companies are not simply fronts for the yakuza—they are the yakuza.

Yakuza Goes Hollywood – Jake Adelstein reports on recent attempts to remove the yakuza from the entertainment industry
posted by timshel on Dec 14, 2013 - 18 comments

メインヒロインのおばあちゃんだよ! (It's Grandma main heroine!)

Cookie Clicker + video sharing site NicoNico Douga (Wikipedia article) (English user guides for the pre-English site) + Vocaloid = Grandma's GIFT 3D Model of cursor appears courtesy of Bowlroll.net. Music taken from the video GIFT, recorded using GUMI. Vocaloids previously.
posted by Going To Maine on Dec 13, 2013 - 18 comments

So smart it's stupid

Unbrella is everything bad about umbrellas, improved. Once you see its innovations (dry side out when closed, water repelled away from you as you close it, stands on its own) you'll wonder like I did why no one thought of this decades ago. [more inside]
posted by mathowie on Dec 5, 2013 - 53 comments

“Storm from a clear sky”

Researchers have located a sunken World War II Imperial Japanese submarine on the ocean floor off the coast of Hawaii. [more inside]
posted by bryon on Dec 3, 2013 - 33 comments

It's all about the pre-blowjob trash talk.

Orgasm Wars is a Japanese game show in which a gay man tries to force a straight man to orgasm. (Link is to Huffpo Article, and relatively sfw. Video within the link, not so much.) [more inside]
posted by emperor.seamus on Nov 22, 2013 - 85 comments

Spoiler: It's largely cultural

Why Japanese Web Design Is So… Different... If you've ever visited a Japanese website, it's a little like time traveling back to 1998. Randomwire explains some of the reasons why.
posted by SansPoint on Nov 12, 2013 - 80 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

No sex please, we're Japanese

Young people in Japan are increasingly abstaining from romantic relationships and sex. The media refers to this phenomenon as sekkusu shinai shokogun, or "celibacy syndrome". [more inside]
posted by acb on Oct 20, 2013 - 109 comments

Back Streets of the Internet

Back Streets of the Internet [YT] - A short film from W+K Tokyo
posted by Mchelly on Oct 8, 2013 - 9 comments

Now that's a fast dog.

Momoko: Is it good?
Paulo: Oh, yes! Please try it.
(and other insane Japanese textbook doodles from Twitter user 茶んた). [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Oct 4, 2013 - 15 comments

Hey, let's go see that movie soon as we get off the plane!

Swinging Sixties Film Posters from Japan - Bootleg Film Posters from Ghana - Retro Film Posters from Thailand
posted by flapjax at midnite on Oct 2, 2013 - 8 comments

Suddenly, every Japanese child wanted their own pet raccoon

How a Kids’ Cartoon Created an Real-Life Invasive Army. At the peak of their popularity following the animated series Araiguma Rasukaru, Japan imported more than 1,500 North American raccoons annually... Raccoons compete both for food and for territory with the native raccoon dog (tanuki) and the red fox, and push native owls out of nesting spots in hollow trees. Ever since raccoons attacked a reproductive colony of grey herons in Nopporo Forest Park in 1997, the grand birds have not returned to their historic breeding grounds. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Sep 24, 2013 - 54 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

"...Japan does not have a vigorous tradition of satire."

France has made Japan angry again, this time with insensitive political cartoons about Fukushima. With radiation levels still spiking, and the government only reticently admitting to constant leaks, some are questioning the legitimacy of PM Abe's insistence that Tokyo is safe. With decisions not to prosecute anyone involved in the disaster, it seems that amakudari is, in Japan as in most other countries, still alive and well.
posted by GoingToShopping on Sep 13, 2013 - 43 comments

Lincoln Logs: Interesting playthings typify the spirit of America

John Lloyd Wright might not have the renown for the architectural creativity of his father, but John found inspiration in his father's work and designed toys that are still being made today. I'm talking about Lincoln Logs. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 11, 2013 - 13 comments

Japan energy: the sun also rises

Abe's Nuclear Energy Policy and Japan's Future: "Japan has nearly doubled spending on solar power projects to $20 bn and ramped up renewable energy capacity equivalent to six nuclear reactors, pointing the way to a sustainable and cheaper alternative to nuclear energy." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 11, 2013 - 32 comments

Jii! Jii! USB!

Lighters never looked so cute.
posted by mippy on Sep 5, 2013 - 17 comments

The Chasing Out Room

With mass layoffs still taboo in Japan, senior workers who refuse to resign are sent to "chasing-out rooms" instead of being allowed to work. (SL NYTimes)
posted by reenum on Sep 4, 2013 - 48 comments

Beasts of the Past

“One day, we looked around and realized that almost no one is making tokusatsu anymore,” said Shinji Higuchi, one of a handful of Japanese directors who still have experience in the genre, having directed three movies in the 1990s featuring the giant fire-breathing turtle Gamera. “We don’t want this technique to just quietly disappear without at least recognizing how indebted we are to it.” - The last days of the rubber-suit monsters.
posted by Artw on Sep 2, 2013 - 41 comments

Cast the first Yellowstone

Massive earthquakes in Chile and Japan have been found to cause the dramatic increase in violent quakes around fracking's largely unregulated wastewater injection wells observed in the Midwest in the past two years, where injected water acts as a lubricant for geological faults that were previously thought to be "dead" or stable for millions of years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 1, 2013 - 12 comments

Hitotsu no Namida

yu-ra (Google translation) are (were?) a Japanese duo who've produced an eclectic mix of beautiful, layered, often ethereal music. [more inside]
posted by jiawen on Sep 1, 2013 - 2 comments

First you see The Ring, and then this shit happens...

Sadako throws out the first pitch at a baseball game - undoubtedly you'll want a Sadako Hair Dog and Sadako Well Water after watching that, just be careful when you order it.
posted by Artw on Aug 27, 2013 - 19 comments

Life finds a way

This is the greatest practical joke of all time...(via io9.com)
posted by Renoroc on Aug 27, 2013 - 87 comments

On Saturday Mornings in 1967

In 1967, Fran Allison, along with her friends Kukla and Ollie, began hosting The CBS Children’s Film Festival. It offered many American children their first look at foreign films, and their contemporaries from other cultures. [more inside]
posted by timsteil on Aug 26, 2013 - 15 comments

Man in Power Ranger costume becomes hero of Tokyo subway station

Man in Power Ranger costume becomes hero of Tokyo subway station Compared to how Kanemasu started, he claims that people have been more positive in their response. “When I first began, people basically said, ‘Get away from me, you weirdo’,” he recalled.
posted by KokuRyu on Aug 22, 2013 - 44 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

Dorito Powder

"The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success: The umami craze has turned a much-maligned and misunderstood food additive into an object of obsession for the world’s most innovative chefs. But secret ingredient monosodium glutamate’s biggest secret may be that there was never anything wrong with it at all."
posted by arcolz on Aug 19, 2013 - 276 comments

I wanna be where you are

On a hazy February day in 2011, a special rainbow-colored train sped down the tracks to celebrate the newly-completed bullet train line spanning the island of Kyushu, Japan, and everybody came out to greet it.
posted by Sokka shot first on Aug 19, 2013 - 19 comments

"All I wanted to do was make something beautiful."

An English-subtitled trailer is now available for Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's latest film, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu), which will premiere to English-speaking audiences at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. [more inside]
posted by Sokka shot first on Aug 15, 2013 - 67 comments

The lengthy voyage of Yamamoto Otokichi

In the autumn of 1832, 14-year old Yamamoto Otokichi was aboard the cargo ship Hojunmaru when a storm hit. 22 years and a trip around the globe later, he finally got back to Japan.
posted by Chrysostom on Aug 13, 2013 - 6 comments

The sea unleashed

Recently surfaced video of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. An incredible 25 minutes of breathtaking power and destruction.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 12, 2013 - 81 comments

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