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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

Shoguns at the Sphinx, 1864

Ten years after Commodore Matthew Perry first visited Japan with four war ships and a letter from President Fillmore, Japan sent out a third Embassy to Western Nations (following the first Japanese Embassy to the United States in 1860, and the first Japanese Embassy to Europe in 1862). The third tour had the same goal as the first two: learn about Western cultures, and try to postpone the opening of Japanese ports to foreign trade. During that third tour, the group were on their way to France when they stopped in Egypt. On this stop, the members of the mission were photographed posing before the Sphinx, dressed in winged kamishimo costume and jingasa hats, carrying their feared long (katana) and short (wakizashi) swords. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 17, 2012 - 21 comments

Japanese Construction Worker Fashion

Kaseyama Co. makes clothes for Japanese construction workers, who are called "tobi." Here is what they look like.
posted by Sokka shot first on Aug 15, 2012 - 96 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

Print Your Own Foetus

For US$1275, You Can Get a 3D Model of Your Foetus The result is a scale reproduction of your unborn baby, composed of an opaque white fetus encased in the mother’s clear, colorless abdomen. [via The Verge]
posted by modernnomad on Aug 8, 2012 - 82 comments

Icelandic landscapes, set to Japanese post-rock

Legend: A Journey Through Iceland is a 12 min. 31 sec. long time-lapse video of Icelandic landscapes, set to the music of MONO, a Japanese post-rock band. A bit more MONO and pleasant landscapes inside. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 6, 2012 - 20 comments

These sound like a lot of fun

Japan Turns Masturbation into an Art "The days when the sex industry believed only women were in desperate need of self-pleasuring aids appear to be long gone. Nowadays, when one walks into a sex shop, aisles offering male masturbation tools are just as bountiful as those catering to women. At least in Japan. Seven years after Koichi Matsumoto left his car salesmen job to start 'something that hasn’t been done before' and launched Tenga 'New Adult Concept,' his company has sold over 15 million male masturbation units worldwide."
posted by bookman117 on Aug 2, 2012 - 85 comments

Like a cargo cult to 50 Cent

A recent trend in the ultra-fashion-conscious world of Tokyo teen girls: B-Style, or "black lifestyle", that is, emulating the black women in rap videos. In the video you will see Japanese girls with weaves and incredibly dark tans to mimic black skin. Rebellious rejection of convention, or weird sideways racism (one girl says: "when we do it it looks vulgar, but not on the black women")?
posted by DecemberBoy on Aug 1, 2012 - 132 comments

SAIKADO HANTAI! SAIKADO HANTAI!

Yesterday, July 29, 2012, saw a massive antinuclear protest, attended by young and old alike, in Tokyo. This video, and this one, too, (both well-edited and featuring English subtitles) bring you right into the center of the action, to get a feel for the energy that the movement is steadily gaining.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 29, 2012 - 112 comments

Teru Teru Bozu...Teru Teru Bozu...

Need some cuteness in your day? Teru Teru Bozu are small handmade dolls loosely resembling bald monks, which are traditionally made in Japan and hung up, to [allegedly] bring good weather. There's a cute song that goes along with the tradition. Want to make your own?
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey on Jul 28, 2012 - 11 comments

Individualistic Americans vs. Collectivist Japanese

Wisdom, Age, and Society in America and Japan "ONE stereotype of wisdom is a wizened Zen-master smiling benevolently at the antics of his pupils, while referring to them as little grasshoppers or some such affectation, safe in the knowledge that one day they, too, will have been set on the path that leads to wizened masterhood. But is it true that age brings wisdom? A study two years ago in North America, by Igor Grossmann of the University of Waterloo, in Canada, suggested that it is. In as much as it is possible to quantify wisdom, Dr Grossmann found that elderly Americans had more of it than youngsters. He has, however, now extended his investigation to Asia—the land of the wizened Zen-master—and, in particular, to Japan. There, he found, in contrast to the West, that the grasshoppers are their masters' equals almost from the beginning.... Japanese have higher scores than Americans for the sort of interpersonal wisdom you might think would be useful in an individualistic society. Americans, by contrast—at least in the maturity of old age—have more intergroup wisdom than the purportedly collectivist Japanese. Perhaps, then, you need individual skills when society is collective, and social ones when it is individualistic."
posted by bookman117 on Jul 23, 2012 - 31 comments

"The FDA recalled more than 60,000 tissue-derived products between 1994 and mid-2007."

"The business of recycling dead humans into medical implants is a little-known yet lucrative trade. But its practices have roused concerns about how tissues are obtained and how well grieving families and transplant patients are informed about the realities and the risks." After an eight month international investigation, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has published an extensive four-part exposé into the black market for cadavers and human tissue: Skin and Bone: The Shadowy Trade in Human Body Parts (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 20, 2012 - 32 comments

Yamamoto Gendai

While researching the robotic sculptures of Kenji Yanobe (previously) I stumbled across this remarkable, eye-popping collection of artists at the Yamamoto Gendai. Enjoy...
posted by jim in austin on Jul 19, 2012 - 7 comments

Fight on. The road to Hope (dumbassery) starts here!

Ahoge is a one-day Japanese game jam that takes its name from the "stupid hair" or antenna of anime characters. Every session has a theme; previous ones include Albatross, Oranges, 285, and Travel. The fifth one started a few minutes ago; the theme is "Yoshida", a common surname. [more inside]
posted by 23 on Jul 13, 2012 - 2 comments

You spin me right round, baby Right round like a record, baby Right round, round, round You spin me right round, baby Right round like a record, baby Right round, round, round

RRRRRRRROLL
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jul 12, 2012 - 65 comments

"We are one step closer to our dream otaku bros"

Man takes virtual augmented reality girlfriend for a walk in the park. (via)
posted by crunchland on Jul 9, 2012 - 103 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

'Oh hey, you dropped your handkerchief'

The curious case of the eroding eikaiwa salary. Now fraught with job insecurity and low pay, there was a time when the work was steady and salaries were high for those who taught English in Japan. Around the turn of the millennium, salaries and work conditions for English teachers in Japan began a downward trend — one that has now spilled into the '10s and shows no signs of slowing, let alone reversing.
posted by KokuRyu on Jul 4, 2012 - 49 comments

Virus 復活の日 Fukkatsu no hi

Virus (復活の日 Fukkatsu no hi, literally "Day of Resurrection") is a 1980 Japanese post-apocalyptic film about the release and spread of a deadly virus. [more inside]
posted by jiawen on Jul 3, 2012 - 17 comments

East Meets West

Japanese beatboxer Hikakin collaborates with American dancer Nonstop. [Previously]
posted by gman on Jun 27, 2012 - 6 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

Doot do do doo do doot do do do dooooo

Kame Chan is a cockatiel that likes to sing. The Chocobo theme! Zelda! Victory!
posted by The Whelk on Jun 22, 2012 - 10 comments

Electricity in Japan

In the year and a half since the earthquake and tsunami caused an industry-wide Japanese nuclear shutdown , Japanese consumers and businesses have been urged to conserve energy whenever possible. Although a few reactors are being brought back online temporarily, the Japanese government has pledged to move away from nuclear power sources. Yesterday the Japanese government announced what may be the world's highest solar photovolatic feed-in tariff at 53 cents per kWh generated. [more inside]
posted by thewalrus on Jun 20, 2012 - 47 comments

The Art of the Netsuke Lives On

"[N]early all Japanese people have figurines, anime or cartoon characters hanging from their mobile phones — for the most part without realizing they are in their mass-produced, contemporary way keeping alive the nation's netsuke tradition. In contrast, those netsuke on Kuroiwa's phone are the real deal — small, delicate, uniquely crafted sculptures in ivory and an assortment of woods." Julian Littler searches for traditional ivory netsuke carvers (print view; standard web view), and interviews Akira Kuroiwa, a member of the Japan Ivory Sculptors Association (Google auto-translation). [via MetaChat] [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 18, 2012 - 32 comments

"One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man."

Upgrade Your Nintendo 3DS’s Sound. [SLYT] "Of the variety of things one might find to complain about in regards to the Nintendo 3DS, the sound doesn’t immediately come to mind. It’s not great sound, mind, but there are a litany of things that are more obvious. Thanks to one intrepid inventor, however, you are now just a series of tubes, clips and metal funnels away from awesome sound. Now, in order to figure out the exact combination of these things you’ll need to translate the instructions from Japanese." [Via].
posted by Fizz on Jun 17, 2012 - 14 comments

This is my book. There are many like it, but this is mine.

In 1989 the Japanese Government passed the Media Betterment Act, permitting censorship of any media deemed to be harmful to society. On the basis of the imperative for libraries to resist any attempts at suppression of free speech, local governments created an armed resistance force to combat censorship. The conflict between the government and library forces continues to 2019, where the story of Library War begins. [more inside]
posted by 23 on Jun 15, 2012 - 12 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

Sakanaction is a band that is pretty good overall !

Sakanaction is a band from Sapporo with a very stylish web site and some pretty unique music videos, especially but by no means limited to: [more inside]
posted by DoctorFedora on Jun 9, 2012 - 12 comments

Don't you know what table tennis is? Come on. I'll teach you.

Taiyo Matsumoto's original five volume manga Ping Pong was one of the most surprising and gripping experiences I've had this year. But a huge reason for that is the artwork: he packs more kinetic energy into a single drawing of a shoe skidding across a floor than any real shoe has ever had. So it was with some trepidation that I saw posters for this adaptation going up in stores around Japan. Fumihiko Masuri is a first time director (not that you'd know it), with a background in computer effects. He seems to have directed this mainly because he's a really big fan of the manga too. On the film's website, they've placed images from the manga next to photographs of the actors in the film, so you can see how obsessive compulsive they were in matching faces. Not only faces, but movements, playing styles, and shot composition is all straight from the book, as if they'd used the manga in lieu of storyboards. Even the occasional surreal touch; a boy growing butterfly wings, a dragonfly landing on the net, is right out of the page onto the screen. -- Midnight Eye review; subtitled movie in 12 parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
posted by filthy light thief on May 14, 2012 - 22 comments

Hoooooooooo!

Hard Gay was a Japanese pro wrestler turned TV personality popular in the mid 2000s. Like Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno, he is a cartoonish gay foreigner portrayed by a straight person, but has come under considerably greater scrutiny for his more minstrelsy than satyrical approach. The BBC has profiled Hard Gay as part of their series, Japanorama. [more inside]
posted by modernserf on May 10, 2012 - 39 comments

7 Days in Tokyo

Pascal Ken, after taking several trips to Japan between 2007 and 2011, took some beautiful, dreamlike infrared photos of Tokyo.
posted by reenum on May 6, 2012 - 14 comments

Where There Are No Street Names

Derek Sivers explains the fascinating Japanese addressing system.
posted by Foci for Analysis on May 5, 2012 - 95 comments

Japanese painted manhole covers

Japanese painted manhole covers
posted by roll truck roll on May 3, 2012 - 23 comments

Robot Hair Washer.

Robot hair washer has twenty-four fingers [via].
posted by feelinglistless on May 2, 2012 - 30 comments

Spring, When the Harleys Return to British Columbia to Spawn...

Ikuo Yokoyama lost his home and three family members in the Japanese tsunami last year. Among the losses was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle he had bought five years ago and keeping in the back of a cube van... which floated across the Pacific Ocean and was found by Peter Mark, a resident of British Columbia, on an beach on Graham Island (it's the big one up the B.C. coast, near Alaska). Aside from some rust, the motorcycle seems to be in decent condition, and Harley-Davidson plans to restore it and ship it back to Yokoyama.
posted by Etrigan on May 2, 2012 - 21 comments

Never forget, never again

We Japanese Americans must not forget our wartime internment - George Takei on the the treatment of Japanese-Americans during WWII and Allegiance, his new musical. Previously.
posted by Artw on Apr 29, 2012 - 45 comments

Obscura Day, 2012

Atlas Obscura (seen 'round here before) has organized its third annual Obscura Day for April 28. It's "an international celebration of unusual places," from the Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Particle Accelerator at John E. Edwards Accelerator Laboratory in Athens, Ohio, to a tour of the Secrets & Oddities of the National Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland and an Expedition to the 1,553 Stone-Carved Monks of Nihon-ji in the city of Kyonan, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 25, 2012 - 3 comments

Only those in love would know what a town without pity can do

I prepared for my first-ever trip to Japan, this summer, almost entirely by immersing myself in the work of Haruki Murakami. This turned out to be a horrible idea. For his cover article on the novelist Haruki Murakami, Sam Anderson visited some key places from Murakami’s life and work. Murakami's Tokyo. The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Apr 20, 2012 - 49 comments

"That will be the end"

A month ago, the Japanese TV show "Morning Bird" discussed the current state of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and specifically Unit 4, which is in terrible condition. During an interview with Dr. Hiroaki Koide, Research Associate at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University, who explains the immense difficulty in moving the radioactive fuel rods - a process that will not even start until 2013 - the presenter asks what would happen if even a moderate earthquake struck near the plant before the fuel rods can be moved. Koide replies:
That will be the end.

posted by crayz on Apr 14, 2012 - 107 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

that's one mellow cat

Little parakeet just won't leave kitty alone. I mean, really. Doesn't matter if kitty is drinking, or trying to sleep. He just won't leave kitty alone. I mean, really. Kitty's cool with it, though, and they enjoy the same food. And neither of them are especially interested in the beetle.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 8, 2012 - 55 comments

TETSUUUOOOO!!!....'s creator returns

In 1982 the manga, Akira (previously) , began its run. It would ultimately spawn a film that would lead the way for the growth of the anime medium outside of Japan. An attempted Americanized remake (previouslyer) was in production before being ultimately canceled. The manga’s creator, Katsuhiro Otomo, in the meantime, had taken a 20 year break from long-form manga. It was recently announced that this break was coming to an end and that Otomo would be working on a new long-form shonen series.
posted by sendai sleep master on Mar 29, 2012 - 30 comments

Living in a Washing Machine.

The Nakagin Capsule Tower (slyt) is a prime example of the uniquely Japanese architecture known as "Metabolism", as well as the main inspiration for Tokyo's famous Capsule Hotels. The most unique feature of this building style is the interchangeability of the individual units, supposedly to allow it to adapt to changes in density and lifestyle (although that plan hasn't exactly panned out). Local residents are calling for the tower to be demolished, although a group of architects are trying to preserve it as an architectural landmark [more inside]
posted by steamynachos on Mar 25, 2012 - 14 comments

It's getting hot in herre...

From Japan, a way to rapidly cool down your car on a hot day. (SLYT)
posted by reenum on Mar 18, 2012 - 109 comments

Stop-Motion Dance

Wrecking Crew Orchestra (original Japanese site) are a young dance crew from Japan. Last week, they put on a light-synchronized performance in electroluminescent suits that has to be seen to be believed.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Mar 13, 2012 - 21 comments

One Year Later

On the one year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, the Economist magazine now considers Nuclear energy to be "the dream that failed", in an issue with articles covering the history, safety issues, handling of nuclear waste, and costs (with emphasis on China) of nuclear power. [more inside]
posted by vidur on Mar 11, 2012 - 50 comments

The Great Tohoku Earworm of 2011

Following the March 2011 earthquake in Japan, commercials largely disappeared from television. To fill space between the news reports and lists of missing people, the Ad Council of Japan put together a number of PSAs. Since there were only five or ten of them, the PSAs played thousands of times over the course of a few months, searing themselves into the memory of the Japanese public. Most were typical messages about common courtesy, perseverance, listening to your kids, conservation, and international support. But one PSA in particular quickly took on a life of its own, instantly being mashed up with a classic Japanese TV trope: Robot Transformation Sequences! [more inside]
posted by azuresunday on Mar 11, 2012 - 37 comments

Floods, aftershocks, and fallout.

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. Japan, still feeling the aftershocks of the earthquake, the tsunami, the Fukushima exclusion zone... An opportunity for everyone to reflect on the disaster, share stories, and contemplate the impact of a year ago and what it means today.
posted by markkraft on Mar 10, 2012 - 10 comments

Listening to the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake

What does a magnitude 9.0 earthquake sound like? Researchers sped up low-frequency ground waves recorded during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, bringing them within range of human hearing. Hear the mainshock from just off the coast of Japan. And how it "sounded" in California. [more inside]
posted by Mercaptan on Mar 7, 2012 - 14 comments

Eat It, in Japan

Weird Al performs Eat It in Japan. Stay for the giant lobster man. [more inside]
posted by Think_Long on Feb 27, 2012 - 11 comments

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