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]
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.
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.
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]
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]
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)
“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.
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.
yu-ra (Google translation) are (were?) a Japanese duo who've produced an eclectic mix of beautiful, layered, often ethereal music. [more inside]
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.
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]
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.
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]
"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."
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.
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]
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]