Japanese YouTube user HMS2 creates meticulous handmade dollhouse miniatures: DIY Fake Food, DIY Dollhouse Items. There are also hundreds of kit-making videos, from food replicas to complete villages. Yes, there are Re-Ment unboxings! And oh yeah, he also built a ninja mansion for his hamster. h/t [Alert: Ninja mansion link has auto-hamster music.]
A year after the bomb was dropped, Miss Sasaki was a crippIe; Mrs. Nakamura was destitute; Father Kleinsorge was back in the hospital; Dr. Sasaki was not capable of the work he once could do; Dr. Fujii had lost the thirty-room hospital it took him many years to acquire, and had no prospects of rebuilding it; Mr. Tanimoto’s church had been ruined and he no longer had his exceptional vitality. The lives of these six people, who were among the luckiest in Hiroshima, would never be the same.--originally published in The New Yorker, August 31, 1946.
Portland is courting Japanese tourists with this absurd video (warning: earworm). [more inside]
The history of the wafuton goes back to ancient times more than three centuries before the Common Era. Considered to be good for the health, yet convenient to roll, store, and air, the Japanese futon is rather a different beast from that more familiar convertible futon common in the West. William Brouwer is credited with the original concept and industrial design of the wooden structure, while in Japan, it is master craftsmen like Hisayoshi Nohara, Grand Champion of Futon Making, who are revered for their work. You can try one out in a ryokan.
In 2003, the small Kochi Racetrack in southern Japan was in trouble. The Lost Decade hit the provincial raceway hard, and the staff was scrambling to find some way to stave off bankruptcy. One day, they found an unlikely savior. This is the story of Haru Urara, the losingest racehorse in Japan, and how she gave hope to millions.
538 crunches the numbers behind 255 years of professional sumo tournaments.
Japan has a national gift for holding in balance the stateliness of tradition and the marvel of novelty. So it ought to come as no surprise that on the western margin of the archipelago, on a serene bay in a remote area of the Nagasaki Prefecture, there is an enormous theme park dedicated to the splendors of imperial Holland. It follows with perfect logic that the historical theme park’s newest lodging place is the world’s first hotel staffed by robots.
The Yamanote Line is the most famous and well-travelled train line in Tokyo. Each station on the Yamanote plays a song (eki-melo, "train melody", 発車メロディ or "hassha melody") when trains are about to depart, differing by platform, direction and station. Click any post to listen to that station's eki-melo! (Links to sound clips can be tricky to discern - begin with the station list, find a station you like and then click on the title of song which follows the platform & station names.) [more inside]
Tastemade, the food and travel video network, (previously) has an extensive collection of short (15-60 second) food and cooking videos (and photos) from around the world. Incredibly, many recipes are self-explanatory on their own, but most have the full recipe in the comments: Japan; Brasil; Español; Indonesia; Chile; UAE. The main Tastemade Instagram account includes English versions of at least some of the other videos. [Jaunty auto-playing music alert.]
Brian Feldman, Hopes&Fears: Why are people obsessed with Japanese miniature cooking videos?
There is an irreconcilable conflict at the heart of working with miniatures: “It’s about as far removed as you can get from the chaos of real life, but at the same time it requires you to be a very attentive observer of real life if you hope to capture that in your miniature art. It’s a cool paradox and one that’s really fun to play with as an artist.”[more inside]
Filmmaker SOEZIMAX (Shingo Soejima) visits his sister. Her cat really, really hates him. [more inside]
Embroider a Guanyin with the hair of the descendant of Rinpoches. Embroider with hooks and gold in India. Embroider with the techniques of European (late) renaissance and modern embroidery. Embroider (...eventually) a kimono. Embroider with horsetail. Embroider with designer Yohji Yamamoto. Embroider like a Ukrainian.
20+ drones; 16,500 LEDs; 3 shamisen players; 1 Mt. Fuji: Filmmaker Tsuyoshi Takashiro orchestrates a performance combining drones and the Oyamakai shamisen ensemble.
Ever wondered what a possible Japanese equivalent for How It's Made could be like? The jstsciencechannel has one! There are from 2 to 150, and 151 to 309 videos to choose from. Sadly, they lack English subtitles, however there are a handful of videos that do have them. Starting with mayonnaise, the series takes you through the making of steel balls (available in English), the construction and testing of sewing machines, how rice crackers are made, a thermos factory, the recycling of PET bottles, a matcha tea factory and the creation of bamboo whisks, and plenty more.
Supper Mario Broth is a wonderfully obsessive blog devoted to all sorts of Super Mario Brothers minutia. Really, you are not prepared for this. Things like.... [more inside]
Four experts talked to the BBC World Service Inquiry programme, which was published on March 24th, about how to make earthquake-prone cities safer. More people may be asking that question in the wake of the major earthquake that struck earlier today, April 16, in Ecuador and the twin earthquakes that hit Japan on April 15 and April 16. US residents have reason to worry as well. [more inside]
Tarento, a Japanese rendering (gairaigo) of the English word "talent," or actors, though often is used to refer to actors who take part in more comedic panel shows. Gaijin tarento are "foreign talent," non-Japanese actors who speak Japanese and often represent a stereotyped view of their given nationalities. One of the best-known and longest operating gaijin tarento is David Spector, a relative unknown in his native Chicago, but a household name in Japan (NYT, 2014). The strange cult of the Gaijin Tarento (YT, 5:41) [more inside]
In the Victorian Era, "the language of flowers" (floriography) was all the rage. According to The Smithsonian Gardens History in Bloom summary (and activities sheets) for The Language of Flowers (PDF), "Nearly all Victorian homes would own at least one of the guide books dedicated to the ‘language of flowers.’ The authors of these guidebooks used visual and verbal analogies, religious and literary sources, folkloric connections, and botanical attributes to derive the various associations for the flowers." But where did it come from? (Google books preview) Istanbul in the Tulip Age (PDF, first chapter of Crime and Punishment in Istanbul: 1700-1800), and Turkish love-letters and harems ... somewhat. [more inside]
As part of its job recruitment program, McDonalds in Japan have released a (pretty adorable) anime ad. (More character info here though it's all in Japanese.) People are lovin' it - and there's a fandom already.
Five Years Later, Cutting Through the Fukushima Myths by Andrew Karam [Popular Mechanics] Radiation expert Andrew Karam, who covered the disaster for Popular Mechanics in 2011 and later traveled to study the site, explains everything you need to know about Fukushima's legacy and danger five years later. [more inside]
The Only Thing I Envy Men is an essay about women writers by Rivka Galchen, taken from her book Little Labors. The book focuses partly on writing by Japanese women, especially the 11th Century writers Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu, authors of The Pillow Book and Tale of Genji respectively. The latter has recently been retranslated, and was the subject of a lengthy article in the New Yorker by Ian Buruma.
Kawaii but not as you know it. (SL slightly pretentious advertisement)
Ramen, despite its reputation as a cheap fast food, is a complex pillar of modern Japanese society, one loaded with political, cultural and culinary importance that stretches far beyond the circumference of the bowl.Dive in with one of Japan's top ramen bloggers.
Whatever happened to the animators who worked on Akira? (NSFW) Find out with over 30 minutes of clips that start with a scene from 1988's masterpiece of Japanese animation, Akira, and follow each animator's career across the decades. [more inside]
Net cafe refugees | Dumping ground | Overworked to suicide. A three-part documentary based on Shiho Fukada's portrait series, Japan's Disposable Workers. Previously. [more inside]
When “Mike” spotted a newspaper advert for a clinic making prosthetic fingers in the 90s, he thought it was a scam. But the ex-yakuza member had booked himself a consultation within the hour. For almost a decade, a stumpy pinkie on his left hand had marked out his previous allegiance to the criminal world, preventing him from leading a normal life. A fake little finger, he thought, sounded outlandish, but it was worth a shot. It might allow him to disguise his past—and help shield against Japanese society’s prejudiced view of ex-yakuza members in search of redemption. [more inside]
Five Japanese girls meet in Los Angeles. They are far from home but they have same goal, chase the dream of becoming hip hop dancers. [SLVimeo]
history of japan in 9 minutes by bill wurtz
On This Spot is a history blog that focusses on then and now photography, comparing historical and contemporary photographs of the same locations. Locations include cities and battlefields in the UK, Germany, France, Japan and Canada.
If you like Shiba Inus, and you like slow-paced videos, you will love this hour-long video of a doge on a leisurely walk through a Japanese village. They visit a temple, stop for some noodles, take some photos, and create some paw print art. No dialogue, only music. No Japanese knowledge required. [more inside]
North Korea says it just tested a hydrogen bomb. Here's what we know. [Vox]
According to top experts, it's very plausible this was a test. "I think it is *probably* a test," Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, tweeted. "DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the formal name of North Korea] event epicenter close to test site and on 1/2 hour." Generally, earthquakes don't just happen on exactly the half hour.[more inside]
Since I first discovered moss ten years ago, the joys of examining moss in its natural habitat and marveling at the sporey, crazy geometries on the other end of my magnifying glass has become one of my greatest pleasures in my life. And I’m not alone: a growing number of young Japanese women have taken up moss-viewing, calling themselves “moss girls” and holding moss viewing parties all over Japan. More recently, the trend has spread to people of all ages and sexes, who are discovering new venues all over the country where moss enthusiasts can gather to share their passion. [more inside]
"It was Asian enough for my immigrant parents and American enough for my sister and me." In the PBS feature documentary, Off The Menu, filmmaker Grace Lee traverses the US into the kitchens, factories, temples and farm of Asian Pacific America that explores how our relationship to food reflects our evolving communities. Food Republic spoke with Jonathan Wu and Wilson Tang, whose NYC restaurant, Fung Tu, is featured in the film.
Supreme Skills is a show on the NHK, presented here dubbed well into English, in which two groups of Japanese engineers who compete to meet the challenge of exceptionally strict production standards according to their talents and natural biases. Eight additional shows are linked inside.
In Supreme Skills! Miracle Tops: May They Spin Forever! [24:47] A group of young satellite engineers and a group of wizened craftsmen compete to produce a top that will spin the longest in an understated drama of rapidly rotating dreams. It showcases the design focuses and production process of both teams as well as the engineering and physics concepts they demonstrate supreme mastery over as we watch the tops spin and the engineers grow increasingly nervous.[more inside]
Architeuthis Dux: Giant Squid observed in Toyama Bay, Japan. [SLYT] The story from CNN. This one was 12 feet long; they can grow to 60 feet. [more inside]
From the beginning of the first episode, you can see that Yakitate!! Japan is a silly show about bread. The title, which translates to Freshly Baked!! Ja-pan, alone is enough to warn you that it's full of puns ("pan" is Japanese for bread). If you're inspired by the show or manga, here are a ton of recipes, beyond the rice cooker bread recipe from the show, which was converted to US units for the English manga translation. [more inside]
Vice Motherboard on the immortal jellyfish and Shin Kabota, the man who sings their praise. Shin Kubota music video.
Since 2006, a group of lonely single men in Japan calling itself Kakumeiteki Hi-mote Domei (“Revolutionary Losers’ League”) has been protesting against Christmas, arguing that the holiday, as practiced in Japan, marginalises the uncoupled. [more inside]
This stressful, ongoing debate fuels the seeming paradox of an “endearing” military force. In Japan, where indirect communication is highly valued, cute illustrations have long played the role of tension-breakers and mediators in situations of conflict. Thus kawaii mascots, whether miniskirted girls or bunny-rabbit decoy launchers, are both a reflection of pop-cultural trends and a way to defuse the very touchy issues surrounding the military’s undeniable presence.
2015 marks the 400th anniversary of the famous Rinpa School painting of the Wind God and Thunder God (Fujin-Raijin-zu). This has led a modern painter of the Rinpa School to add his own twists on the iconic painting, first in a collaboration with Nintendo to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. and, shortly thereafter, to celebrate the new Star Wars movie's release. In addition to these, the artist, Yamamoto Taro, has quite a history of producing traditionally-styled Japanese paintings with a modern sensibility and a touch of humor.
Asha Leo of Refinery29 travels around the world to learn about international fashion subcultures and the way fashion affects society worldwide. So far she's met Gothic (and other) Lolitas in Amsterdam, Moroccan expat culture, hijra in India, Hasidic designers in Brooklyn, Korean matchy-matchy fashion for couples, and the highly colorful world of Japanese decora.