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.
Recently surfaced video of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. An incredible 25 minutes of breathtaking power and destruction.
In anticipation of the Wii U Virtual Console release of EarthBound (Mother 2), Nintendo asked series creator Shiegato Itoi (official homepage) to say a few words about the game. What he wrote is nostalgic, heartfelt and perhaps even a little bit wise. [more inside]
Sound Opinions, the ever-excellent radio show / podcast based out of Chicago, have embarked on a 'world tour'. With the aid of a local musician or journalist, each episode covers the history of modern music in a certain country. They look at what's new and exciting in both the mainstream and underground as well as what foreign music is cracking the market. So far the tour has touched down in Mexico, Japan and Sweden, and Greg & Jim are encouraging feedback on where they should go next. [more inside]
Japan Times journalist Mark Schreiber, exposes the Japanese eyeball licking story as the hoax that it was for the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. Sadly, none of the news sites that reported the story pulled their posts and only one site added an addendum after the fact.
Cookpad is Japan's largest recipe site and cooking community. Yesterday, an English version was launched. [more inside]
A Water Storage Nightmare: Fukushima Daiichi is back in the news. "Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an 'emergency' that the operator is struggling to contain."
Real-time tracking of emoji use across twitter. Click on each emoji to see who is using it.
You might want to check out this video primer first, just to get the idea, or you might just want to dive in and zoom, zoom, zoom into the Tokyo Tower Gigapixel Panorama
放浪息子 Hourou Musuko (often translated as Wandering Son) is one of the better depictions of transgender life in manga and anime (and maybe in any medium). It's a slice of life drama about two young people who are trans and starting middle school in Japan. The manga is being published in English by Fantagraphics, and the anime is officially licensed in English subs on Crunchyroll. [more inside]
At the dawn of the millennium, Japanese society has suffered a severe economic collapse, leading to widespread youth apathy and 800,000 students boycotting school. Adult society sought to reassert their authority by passing the Millennium Education Reform Act, otherwise known as the BR Act. - a look at Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale.
Tomohiro Anraki might be the next big Japanese pitcher, if he manages to survive high school baseball in Japan. [more inside]
Nintendo's Famicom (the Japanese counterpart to the NES) launched in Japan three decades ago this week. Ars Technica and NintendoLife have posted tributes and history lessons of this console.
Stereophoto maker lets you make anaglyphs and stereo animated gifs, like these. (You can control the point of focus with your mouse in the flash versions.) Instructions for making it work on a Mac.
A case currently before the International Court of Justice has Australia (supported by New Zealand) seeking to either stop the flagrant abuse of a loophole in the International Whaling Commission's rules by Japan, or a nasty cultural imperialist "moral crusade" attempt to suppress a sustainable, ancient tradition of killing whales with factory ships around Antarctica. You can watch Court arguments here.
Come over my house and we'll cook up a tiny Re-Ment dinner...do you prefer Japanese cuisine? Maybe something European or Chinese? Perhaps fresh from the farm? Save room for Decoration Cake and Gummy Crepes for desert. RRcherrypie's YouTube channel has served up mesmerizing meals to millions. [more inside]
"Hi, I am Francis, the host of this show - Cooking With Dog." We will be cooking Choux Creme (Cream Puffs) / Tako-meshi (Mixed Rice with Octopus) / Cheese in Hamburg / Chicken Curry / Okonomiyaki / Agedashi Tofu / Yaki Gyoza / Bento Lunch Box / Green Tea Ice Cream. "Good luck in the kitchen!" (Previously)
Nill Kamui is an independent island caught in a power struggle between the forces of Donatia, the land of Knights and the Church, and Koran, an empire of secrets and the immortal empress Ghost Mother. When the Red Dragon, the ancient protector of the island, goes berserk and starts killing for no reason, a desperate plan is hatched: a team of representatives from each of the three powers is given a mission to find why the Red Dragon went mad and stop him by any means necessary. Red Dragon is a tabletop RPG campaign with its own trailer, and that's not all. [more inside]
Mechanised Japanese Underground Bicycle Parking Pictures and video of space-saving bicycle parking in Japan.
Everyone needs professionally-trained Mascots. Especially Princesses. (Wait for the 2 min. mark) [more inside]
On Saturday, September 1, 1923, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck the Kantō region of Japan. The resulting fires destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes in Tokyō and Yokohama, resulting in 142,800 deaths. A new resource site hosted by the University of Hawai'i, The Great Kantō Earthquake Japan of 1923, provides images of 199 scanned photographs documenting the destruction and aftermath of what, at the time, was the most powerful earthquake to strike the region. [more inside]
"...there is never a moment when the film doesn't look absolutely realistic, and it isn't about sand anyway, but about life. 'Are you shoveling to survive, or surviving to shovel?' the man asks the woman, and who cannot ask the same question? 'Woman in the Dunes' is a modern version of the myth of Sisyphus, the man condemned by the gods to spend eternity rolling a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it roll back down." 1, 2 (NSFW: some nudity). Video essay by James Quandt. Based on the novel by Kobo Abe.
"I lived in a hut near the summit of Mt. Fuli, the highest mountain in Japan,[more inside]
for five months straight, four years in a row,
for a total of 600 days. Each morning,
I photographed the dawn from the same spot, chasing the ever-changing
drama that unfolded before my eyes.
Each event has a different theme, revolving around a past era. Previously, Steam Garden did a Meiji-themed party — a fascinating time when Japan was opening its doors to the West, and fusing Victorian fashion with traditional kimonos and obis. This time, the code word was Celtic Fantasy. Luke describes it as “a blend of industry, fantasy, and epic adventure set to a soundtrack of exciting tribal and Celtic music.” - Japanese Steampunk, complete with bagpipes, medieval food, fire dancers and wood elves.
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.
How Mercedes Benz sells cars in Japan: anime car chases against legendary food trucks (slyt).
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.
Little Witch Academia is an accessible and gorgeous original anime about students learning magic and believing in yourself, available offically on YouTube. [more inside]
In the late '80s, documentarians Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker spent six months in Tokyo looking at how symbols and imagery familiar to Americans had been appropriated and given new significance in Japan. Though more than 20 years old, the resulting video remains popular in undergraduate courses across the social sciences and humanities in part because it's so entertaining. [more inside]
North Korea has warned foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it cannot guarantee their safety from the threat of conflict after 10 April, and has advised them to consider pulling their staff out of the capital. This follows North Korea blocking South Korean Workers from the Kaesong industrial complex - a sign that this might be more material than the usual posturing, warning that a 'moment of explosion' is nearing and moving missiles with "considerable range" to its east coast. Though the US is playing down the threat and the UK and Russia have no plans of moving their diplomats the possibility of an accident or miscalculation leading to war looms. North Korea has earned the reprobation of Russia and Fidel Castro in recent days and even longtime supporter China is beginning to lose patience with it - something some say is not before time.
Wrestling Out Of The Olympics - The Gods Must Be Crazy Mad
The whole lucrative sham of it all was exposed once again this week when the executive board of the IOC — Informal Motto: "Me Some Too, Yes?" — recommended that wrestling be dropped as an Olympic sport in the 2020 Summer Games, which are supposed to be held in Istanbul, Tokyo, or Madrid, depending on whose checks clear first, I believe. According to the board, wrestling is no longer a "core sport" in the Olympics and it will have to petition for inclusion in 2020 along with, and I am not making this up, sport climbing and wakeboarding. This is terrific. Why don't we just hold the Olympics in an REI outlet store somewhere?[more inside]
Ultraman Hit Song History Legend Hero Hen and Ultraman Hit Song History New Hero Hen are two 45 minute commemoration compilations of theme songs and clips of the Japanese tokusatsu hero Ultraman that were put together for the show's 45th anniversary. If you're pressed for time, you can just watch the original theme song with English subtitles.
Tire jumping in japan The olympic sport where the auto enthusiast can comment endlessly about the tire he used to have, that would have won.
Methane hydrates, also known as clathrates, are crystalline ice structures which trap molecules of natural gas. They are fairly ubiquitous in near-shore seafloor sediments, where methane from decaying organic matter is trapped in an ice structure at low temperature and high pressure. Though methane hydrates are believed to contain substantially more natural gas than conventional deposits, extraction of the natural gas was thought to be impractical. Until now. [more inside]
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]
In Korea, Changes in Society and Family Dynamics Drive Rise in Elderly Suicides - "The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation's runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries." [more inside]
"Yamada had already become interested in beer after going drinking with fellow students around Cambridge, and taken trips to Belgium and Munich to widen his beery knowledge. Listening to Bilimoria talk about his desire to brew a beer that would match up with Indian food, Yamada had a revelation. What about a beer specifically brewed to match up with Japanese food?"
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]
So, I’ve been doing my research. Because there are so many prefectures and so many famous foods, I’m going to be breaking this article up into two parts. One for North, East, and Central prefectures of Japan, and one for West and South prefectures of Japan. At the end of the second part, we’ll also include a printout that has a map with numbers on all the prefectures corresponding to a list down below it. That way you can print this out, take it with you, and go on a rompy food excursion in Japan.
A couple days ago, Minami Minegishi, a 20 year-old member of the wholesome, innocent idol group AKB48 posted a video of herself, head shaved, tearfully begging not to be fired from the group. What horrible crime did she commit? What awful, unpardonable sin caused her demotion and public humilation? Dating. [more inside]
Japan attempts to set the world record for the greatest number of mascots dancing at once. [more inside]
"Japanese cinema’s preeminent taboo buster, Nagisa Oshima directed, between 1959 and 1999, more than twenty groundbreaking features. For Oshima, film was a form of activism, a way of shaking up the status quo. Uninterested in the traditional Japanese cinema of such popular filmmakers as Kurosawa, Ozu, and Naruse, Oshima focused not on classical themes of good and evil or domesticity but on outcasts, gangsters, murderers, rapists, sexual deviants, and the politically marginalized." The great Japanese director Nagisa Oshima passed away at the age of 80 last week. Appreciations from the Guardian, Slate, Fandor, Telegraph, NY Times, AV Club, and a few in-depth articles over at Senses of Cinema and Film Comment.
While you're waiting for the third My Bloody Valentine album or just their next show why not listen to Yellow Loveless, the newly released, All-Japanese cover of My Bloody Valentine's 1991 classic Loveless? [more inside]