Archive for April, 2013

J-blip: Taro Aso ‘gang style’ t-shirts

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Serious stylin'

Serious stylin’

When Finance Minister Taro Aso set off for a G20 meeting earlier this year, he did it in style, sporting a natty felt hat, pulled rakishly down over one eye. No sooner had he stepped out in public in this getup than Twitter was abuzz with comments celebrating the finance minister’s “gangster style.”

Now the outfit has even been immortalized on “Gang Style” t-shirts, sold by Osaka-based brand t-shirts Trinity. The t-shirts have been a big hit, inspiring the company to bring out Taro Aso “gang style” sweatshirts and tote bags.

The t-shirts are only ¥2,980, but if you’d like to get your hands on a hat similar to the one Aso wore, you’re going to have to shell out quite a bit more. Business Media reported that sources close to Aso have said that the hat is probably made by Italian brand Borsalino. The company itself says that a hat in a similar style to Aso’s retails for around ¥90,000. It seems that gangster style comes at a hefty price!

Pulsations (04.30.13)

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

Google Street Views goes inside a Fukushima school

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

As everyone knows, Google Street Views lets you wander around 3D visualations of remote locations, giving you that You Are There sort of experience. Last year, the Street Views team traveled to Fukushima’s Namie-machi, making it possible for everyone to experience Japan’s no-go zone.

Straying from the usual Street View approach, the Google team actually went inside a building for this expedition. One of them is Ukedo Elementary School, and the images of its abandoned school rooms are heartbreaking.

"We love Ukedo elemantary School and we will be back"

“We love Ukedo elemantary School and we will be back”

Namie-machi was evacuated right after the explosion of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The location, which suffered heavy damage from the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, is now a ghost town.

Fortunately, all 77 students Ukedo Elementary school, located 500 meters from the coastline of Fukushima, were evacuated safely.

"You guy can accomplish anything"

“You guys can accomplish anything,” reads the whiteboard.

Messages, probably written by students or teachers before leaving the area, can be seen written on the school’s whiteboard.

On the stage it says"Congratulations to the New Graduates "

“Congratulations to the new graduates.”

This last photo shows the school gym with a banner hung to to celebrate graduation day.

If you want to explore the no-go zone yourself, head over to Google Street Views.

J-blip: Shitamachi gets flash-mobbed

Friday, April 12th, 2013

One day in March, in a shopping arcade in Tokyo’s Asakusa, two tap dancers, along with a human beatbox, broke into a song and dance routine. A few minutes later they were joined by more dancers, including a moonwalking and miming salaryman. Just as they were hitting their groove, a housewife swooped in and tried to break it up. “Let me show you how its really done!” she scolded, and proceeded to lead the dancers. Before the innocent bystanders knew what hit them, more than 200 dancers had joined in on the act.

The large-scale flash mob event, titled TRF EZ DO Dancercise, was the work of Exabody, a company that offers dance courses aimed at people who want to lose weight. Exabody hired 11 pro dancers and the rest of the participants were volunteers. With the blessings of the Asakusa City Hall, the event organizers used nine cameras to document it and speakers were installed to amplify the music.

Whether it goes viral or not, remains to be seen. Judging by the appearances of pedestrians and unsuspecting shop-owners, though, the event was success in at least putting a smile on people’s faces.

J-blip: Scorpionfish on the menu in Shizuoka

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Fancy a slice of scorpion fish?

Fancy a slice of scorpionfish?

It’s come to our attention that some truly bizarre looking creatures are being served up in seafood restaurants in Shizuoka lately. Ever since a new deep sea aquarium opened up in Numazu just over a year ago, deep sea seafood has been all the rage in the area. Monkfish, scorpionfish, lumpsucker and rosy seabass are being served up as sushi, sashimi or simply on a bed of rice, in local restaurants.

Pioneering this local trend has been Uoshige Shokudou, a restaurant that serves up a weird and wonderful deep sea sashimi platter that varies according to the season. The most expensive item on the menu, costing between ¥10,000 to ¥15,000 ($101 to $151), is the Japanese spider crab that lives at depths of 600 meters.

Photo courtesy of Wikicommons

Interest in final resting places never dies

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Can't afford prime real estate in Aoyama Cemetery? Have we go a deal for you.

Can’t afford prime real estate in Aoyama Cemetery? Have we got a deal for you.

With graveyards often located on the outskirts of cities, visiting the family grave to perform memorial services can be somewhat of a mission for busy families. But new businesses have now eased the burden for many with new “graveyards” built within office blocks conveniently located in cities. Nowadays these crypts can even be visited virtually by those who are physically unable or too busy to make the trip.

Syunkei-ji high-tech crypt offers virtual memorial services for busy relatives

Syunkei-ji high-tech crypt offers virtual memorial services for busy relatives

The high-tech graveyard business is growing, according to a recent article in the Yomiuri. Scheduled to open its doors in 2014, a six-story crypt just five minutes’ walk from Shinjuku Station will offer 7,000 spaces to store the ashes of loved ones. Built on prime real estate, the project indicates that it is potentially more profitable to rent out space in a building for “burial” slots rather than for offices or apartments. A similar crypt opened in 2009 in Machiya in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward has now filled 70 per cent of its 3,400 capacity.

Two kinds of new-school cemeteries are now crowding the final resting place market. The first is the simple “coin locker” variety where remains are stored in a slender box that family members can visit. The second is more high tech. Activated with an electronic key card, a robotic arm retrieves the funereal urn of a loved one from a storage shelf and places it in a special booth. Relatives can perform memorial services in peace as photos of loved ones are displayed on the screen above them.

Burial slots in these buildings go for far less than a plot in a traditional cemetery and have the added convenience that family members can get to them easily and even fit in a spot of shopping or some lunch afterward. Those too busy to get there can take advantage of virtual memorial services offered by organizations like Syunkei-ji. When you log in to make your visit, a priest chants sutras as you pray for your relative from the comfort of your own home.

In a final resting place side-note, visiting old school graveyards has become a popular pastime for some Japanese, as has the  hobby of visiting the graves of celebrities. Enthusiasts trade info on the web , take guided tours offered by volunteers and consult books such as “Tour the Graves of Celebrities all over Japan.”

A team of volunteer guides at Zoshigaya Cemetery in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, show visitors the graves of famous people such as writers Natsume Soseki and Kafu Nagai. According to Asahi Shimbun, visitors come from as far away as Shizuoka. They’re not only interested in seeing the graves, but are also drawn to the peaceful environment of these old-fashioned graveyards.

April Fool’s in Japan — the joke’s on you

Monday, April 1st, 2013

April Fool’s Day doesn’t have very deep roots in Japanese culture, but obviously branding creatives and open-minded corporations are seeing the potential benefits of making potential customers laugh. Rather than pulling a fast one, these pranks put their silliness up-front and center.

Ika

>

Never runs out of batteries, glows in the dark and easy to handle.

Introducing the iKA Organic Ebook from publisher Kodansha. Drawing its power from the squid’s natural bioenergy, there’s no need to recharge the batteries. The iKA’s long tentacles serve as a handy neck-strap, it glows in the dark and has endless supply of ink. The iKA is provided via a subscription service, which delivers a fresh squid each week (note:  size and weight may vary). You get the added bonus of being able to cook and eat the old one (special squid dish recipe available to early buyers!). How’s that for eco-friendly technology?

Domino's can pizza

Don’t you hate how unwieldy pizzas can be? Dominos’s new canned pizza is not only compact, it’s long-lasting, so you can stock up your bomb shelter and never go without a slice!

giant squid

Need something with a bit more substance? How about Hanamaru Udon‘s giant squid, caught daily by harpoon fishing and fried up as tempura, from  That will be ¥87,000, please.

Silky

Taking aim at Line, the runaway hit app of the past year, search site Goo offers Silky, the old favorite for free and simple communication. And you can send silly stamps too!  And  yes, it’s biodegradable tech, too?

Forcebook

We have to give full props to Eiga.com, a movie info site, for its execution of Yoda’s account on Forcebook. They got every detail right … from George Lucas friending J.J. Abrams to  Anakin Skywalker changing his account name to Darth Vader to R2D2 denial of Jar Jar Bink’s friend request. One ad shows has Imperial Storm Troopers raising funds to rebuild Death Star. May the forceful guffaw go with you.

By the way, did you spot this one in The Japan Times. I mean we highly admire professor Mogura Tataki’s mission to eliminate society’s bias against lefties but  something tells us we’re being pawned.

 (Research by Shinjin Ono and Kazuhiro Kobayashi)

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