Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Today’s J-blip: Bang a paper drum

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Yumiko Matsui’s “Portable Shrine (Omikoshi).”

The booming of the taiko drums and the shouts from touts at carnival games and food stalls — you can almost hear the sounds of a Japanese summer festival when you look at Japanese artist Yumiko Matsui’s delightful paper sculptures. She is known for intricately crafting scenes with a whimsical take on familiar sights, from the stands at the festivals to the billboards in Shibuya.  While you’re in a matsuri mood, don’t forget to bookmark the JT’s monthly festival listings.

Pulsations (06.23.12)

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

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 . . .

  • How to Spend 3 Nights in Tokyo All Included on ¥10,000 ($US125) (from Tokyo Cheapo): While some tourists in Japan spend at least ¥10,000 a night for a hotel alone, others prefer to spend the same amount for their entire stay in Japan. Impossible? Well, these guys claim they have a plan for spending three days in Tokyo for just ¥10,000, everything included!
  • 1929 Japanese animation “Kobu tori” (from Japan Sugoi): Here is your chance to see the 1929 Japanese anime “Kobutori” by Chozo Aoji and Yasuji Murata. It is a 10-minute piece featuring two old men with large lumps, the “kobu” in the title, on their faces. They encounter similar situations, but one has a good temper while the other has an evil one.
  • Pots made from radioactive soil collected from within the Fukushima exclusion zone (from Spoon & Tamago): That’s the fascinating but radioactive idea Hilda Hellström had for her senior thesis show at the U.K.’s Royal College of Art. The project indeed is historical as the artifacts will always remind us of the most serious nuclear disaster in human history.
  • Lesbian invisibility in Japan (from Japan culture blog): Lesbianism is not as widely discussed as male homosexuality in Japan, where women are expected to be primarily good wives and wise mothers. Ramona Naicker explains how three decades ago, plenty of lesbian activist groups emerged seeking change but were forced to shut down due to lack of support.
  • Why Do Japanese People Wear Surgical Masks? (from Tofugu): I have been asked several times why so many Japanese people wear masks in public spaces. I did not know how to answer this question until I stumbled upon this post on Tofogu. Find out if you should be wearing one, too.

A former Australian rugby captain puts his unique skills to use on a rush-hour Tokyo train.

Today’s J-blip: Geek-approved cutting board

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Mario cutting board

Instead of bopping mushrooms with his head, this Mario helps you slice and dice them. Iowa artist Jim Van Winkle takes Mario and other 8-bit favorites off the screen and into the kitchen. No coins required for use!

From Prairie Oak Studios on Etsy

Pulsations (06.08.12)

Friday, June 8th, 2012

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 . . .

  • Kikuchi Naoko’s sarin (from Mutant Frog): In honor of Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Kikuchi Naoko’s arrest, blogger Roy Berman shares gripping excerpts from “Aum and I,” a book by former cult doctor Ikuo Hayashi. Berman was part of a collaboration that translated the text into English. The quotes are chilling.
  • Japanese artist Takeshi Miyakawa on his time in jail (From Spoon & Tamago): Takeshi Miyakawa, a Japanese-born artist who now lives in New York, talks about an installation mix-up that got him thrown in jail and his surprising approach to locked-up life.
  • Iseya, an old Tokyo establishment, set to close this month (From Tokyo Times): Amidst the multitude of chain restaurants and bars, Iseya stands out as being laid back and lacking requirements or expectations of its guests. The restaurant is slated to be closed this month in the name of progress, but some wouldn’t call it that.
  • Thoughts on the life and alcoholism of Prince Tomohito (from Shisaku): Japan politics blogger Michael Cucek offers a critical reflection on Prince Tomohito and his struggle with alcoholism. He also highlights some of the Prince’s positive contributions to Japan during his life.
  • The future of disaster relief (from Asiajin): A new technology to aid in disaster relief may soon be available to anyone with a smartphone. Augmented reality shows  real-time data on a user’s mobile device about potential dangers and how to avert them.

Video blogger ‘BusanKevin‘ talks about the tsunami protection in Kobe.

Pulsations (05.25.12)

Friday, May 25th, 2012

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 . . .

  • What Do Japanese Children Want to Be When they Grow Up? (Survey) (from Skeptikai): You know, kids, working as an animated character is not all it’s cracked up to be — long hours, bad pay, plus the jump from being a human to the 2D world really takes its toll on your body. Better have something to fall back on, like professor or astronaut.
  • Whale-safe beer (from LLP): The anti-globalists were right all along: Commercial society has now reached a point where all products look alike. That is the only explanation we can think of for the fact that beer companies are competing on which beer contains the least amount of whale.
  • Nintendo characters as Ukiyo-e prints (from Geekologie): Someday, maybe archaeologists will find these prints and use them as proof that aliens visited Japan in the 17th century. This is how deranged historical theories are created, people!
  • The 2012 annular eclipse seen from Tokyo (from Hikosaemon): Yeah, this blog round-up wouldn’t be complete without the event that for once had the entire east coast of Japan on their feet at 7 in the morning. Hikosaemon gets the Japan Pulse Photo of the Week Award (disclaimer: not an actual thing) for the shot of a helicopter passing in front of his lens just at the moment of total eclipse.

Rediscovering Japan’s ‘lost generation’ and Tokyo Beatles

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Life magazine has dug into its vault and recently released a treasure trove of photos that photojournalist Michael Rougier took for a Life special issue on Japan, published in September 1964. Many of them have never been published before. Rougier contrasted the outer appearance of “youth who seem as wholesome and happy as a hot fudge sundae” with the subcultures he found hanging out in jazz clubs and taking drugs at all-night beach parties. In text that accompanied the photos, correspondent Robert Morse wrote:

Having sliced the ties that bind them to the home, in desperation they form their own miniature societies with rules of their own. The young people in these groups are are bound to one another not out of mutual affection — in many cases the “lost ones” are incapable of affection — but from the need to belong, to be part of something.

Morse and Rougier documented the kids who rebelled against their parents through pill popping, motorcycle riding, swigging booze — and gyrating to the sounds of the Tokyo Beatles. The band was a relatively short-lived phenomenon, with only one album to show for its three years in existence. The music is covers of Beatles’ songs rendered in a mix of Japanese and English. It sounds at once like a straight copy and like something completely new. Judging from the photographs, it hit the right chords with the teens of Tokyo. We strongly recommend that you see the full gallery of photos and read more at LIFE.com. It won’t be time wasted.

Pulsations (05.10.12)

Friday, May 11th, 2012

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 . . .

  • Visual guide to Japanese kaomoji (emoticons) (from Japan Sugoi): One of the sad things about coming to Japan is discovering that your phone is able to express more shades of human emotion than you. The only logical step is to start copying the emoticons — Japan Sugoi shows you how.
  • A Poppin’ Cookin’ Good Time (from Sake Puppets): “Where’s my flying car,” you might ask. “Where is that love-making robot I was promised?” If you feel a little sad about this future we’re living in, maybe this DIY ice-cream cone candy set will cheer you up.

Pulsations (05.04.12)

Friday, May 4th, 2012

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 . . .

  • Superhero time 5-1-12 (from Japanator): Your friends at Japan Pulse are very disappointed that you haven’t kept track of your favorite Japanese superhero tv-shows. This post recaps some of the latest episodes – read it, or no rice balls for you!
  • Bang A Gong (from Shisaku): It’s award season at the government quarters in Tokyo. A great day of bureaucrats pinning orders on other bureaucrats — unless, of course, the other bureaucrats are women.
  • Unmanned Wave-Powered Boat Developed by Tokai University (from Japan for Sustainability): Sure, a boat that can harvest energy from waves and sail unmanned around the world is impressive and everything, but just remember this: One day, when machines have taken control of our civilization, we will look back and blame Japan.
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