Japan Pulse » » Culture http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse Taking the pulse of trends, trend-watchers and trendmakers in Japan. Mon, 22 Jun 2015 07:31:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/wp-content/themes/orange/favicon.ico Japan Pulse Shochiku Kabuki x Uniqlo http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/shochiku-kabuki-x-uniqlo/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/shochiku-kabuki-x-uniqlo/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 03:09:19 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20077 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEK5HYQVHYc

Iconic Japanese clothing store Uniqlo has a tradition of teaming up with other companies to create unique clothing lines drawing from both pop culture icons and traditional designs, especially when it comes to their UT collections.

In 2011 they created more than 30 products with Manga Entertainment based on the popular manga/anime series Naruto.

On the UT floor, customers will find designs paying homage to Keith Haring and Andy Warhol rubbing shoulders with time-honored motifs from Eirakuya, Japan’s oldest cotton textiles trading company.

This month Uniqlo is collaborating with kabuki powerhouse Shochiku Co. to produce a new clothing line inspired by the traditional motifs of Japan’s most famous cultural export.

The line, comprising more than 60 items, will be launched in Paris on March 20 before hitting shelves in Japan on the 26th.

Ennosuke Ichikawa IV, one of kabuki’s most prominent stars, will play a new role as the project’s ambassador. Given the insular tendencies of the the kabuki world, this is quite a milestone.

The T-shirts serve as the collection’s focal point with designs invoking patterns seen in kabuki costumes and the bold colors of kumadori, kabuki stage makeup.

The project was created to merge traditional Japanese art form with modern clothing, featuring pieces with traditional colors and patterns formatted to contemporary designs.

The collection includes both men and women’s clothing as well as accessories and totebags.

Building on the success of its special Nippon Omiyage tees, Uniqlo clearly sees the value of more Made in Japan designs targeted at tourists who want to wear their love of Japan on their short sleeves.

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/shochiku-kabuki-x-uniqlo/feed/ 0
Pulsations 9.25.14 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-9-25-14/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-9-25-14/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 07:58:12 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19844 Here’s a new batch of 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 . . .

Japanese Rice Cakes Shaped Like Cute Japanese Rice Cakes Shaped Like Olaf, Pokémon, Iconic Cartoon Characters(from ufunk): Do you really have the heart to eat these cuties?

The Cicada’s Song: Japan’s Summer Soundtrack (from Tofugu): Whether you hate them or love them, it’s not summer in Japan without the symphony of semi.

Top 10 tricks for cheap traveling in Japan(from kirai): There’s no need to spend all your savings during a trip to Japan (or what’s left of them after you’ve paid for the flight).

rooms 29 – September 2014 (from Japanese Streets): Care to be impressed by home-grown do-it-yourself creativity? Then scroll these photo highlights from the recent “rooms” event in Harajuku.

Saying goodbye to the buddha of the Yakuza (from Japan Subculture Research Center): Investigative journalist Jake Adelstein says, “even amongst the yakuza, there are some good people – in their own way.”

Visual Pulse

In his recent masterpiece, “Cooking ramen with yarn,” YouTuber and super-knitter betibettin shows us how to knit yourself a tasty-looking bowl of ramen.

In previous videos showcasing his craftsmanship, you can see how he creates objects such as teddy bears, umbrella handle covers and, um, fake boobs.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fc-imr_8Xk

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-9-25-14/feed/ 0
Hanami! Sakura! Spring snacks have also sprung http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/hanami-sakura-spring-snacks-have-also-sprung/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/hanami-sakura-spring-snacks-have-also-sprung/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 09:07:23 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19636 I am not one to require too much of a reason to throw a mini cream puff party in the office, but Beard Papa‘s announcement of karintō cream puffs was a good one; so, I take the liberty of starting this spring snack write-up with our impressions.

If you’re not familiar, karintō are those things in the snack aisle or local dagashi-ya (sweet shop) that look like dirty twigs. The dirt, however, is brown sugar and the twig is best explained as “fried.” Not fried “something” but just . . . fried. The main ingredient besides sugar is flour, and they’re crunchy like cookies despite being cooked like doughnuts. By the time you get that far, it’s only a couple leaps to the cream-puff idea.

Beard Papa‘s surprisingly delicious karintō cream puffs

Beard Papa‘s surprisingly delicious karintō cream puffs

The website copy calls it a “masterpiece confection that can be confidently recommended to karintō fans since it captures the flavor of the real thing.” Here are some comments from our tasting panel . . .

Mark: “The mega sugar hit is almost too much, but the consistency of the cream — not too light or gooey — is perfect. What makes them great is the crunch of the karintō, and I doubt they’ll get soggy and limp like the regular cream puffs.”

Rina: “It was really tasty! The outside is crunchy, but inside it’s smooth and creamy, so it’s a good combination.”

Andrew: “These are bound to be a hit with Japanese folks nostalgic for a corner-store sugar rush.”

Mizuho: “There wasn’t enough. I want to eat more! If you eat a couple karintō, you’ll want to keep eating and be unable to stop. In that way, this was very true to [the real thing].”

Alan: “This cream puff is full of yumz!”

Kate: “I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be a guinea pig! I was a little bit concerned with the aesthetics of its look, since my mind drew a parallel with a certain brown substance, but the taste was worth ‘the risk’!”

By the way, if you are wondering what the flecks are in the cream, they’re azuki (red beans)! An appropriate extra, but hardly noticeable in the overall caramel-y sweetness. For me, the overwhelming impression was the nostalgic taste of pancakes with syrup. The cream gives it that buttery finish. I wonder if eating karintō themselves dipped in whipped cream would produce a similar effect . . .

Beard Papa will pack your puffs with cooling pouches, so they are definitely transportable to your favorite blossom viewing location.

Here are some other snacks that might be fun under the cherry trees:

Two great tastes ... but do they belong together?

Two great tastes … but do they belong together?

Ghana chocolate-covered Kappa Ebisen? These limited-time-only shrimp chips are not new, but they are rather elusive in the konbini wild. It’s possible that someone in your hanami party might be impressed with your hunting and purchasing skills if you bring them, but it’s also possible that you open the bag and no one takes a bite. The shrimp flavor is mostly eclipsed by the chocolate coating at first, but there is a bit of a hazy aftertaste.

Who or what is The PotericanKoikeya‘s latest potato chips boast “American taste” and a wavy shape. Don’t let the hokey, red-nosed sheriff mascot stand between you and the “Sour Cream Onion” and “Cheddar Cheese” flavors, if they’re your kind of thing. Before that, though, take a moment to place your tongue firmly in cheek to applaud the website copy (an example of which can only be fully appreciated in Japanese): サワークリームの濃厚なコクと、さっぱり酸味がオニオンの香りとマッチしてSOOOO GOOOOD!!! MyワイフもFAVORITE(大好き)さ!(Translation: “The depth of the rich sour cream and acidity of the onion flavor match and are so good! My wife loves them!”) At least, they will go better with hanami booze than candy.

But speaking of candy, if there are kids to sugar up entertain, Kracie Foods has a couple new items that might keep them busy for more than a minute. One is Pazuru Choko (“Puzzle Chocolate”). Don’t expect anything so fun as a solution featuring all the jigsaw-y pieces in the bag, but “You’ll find yourself wanting to put them together.”

Secondly, the Petitte [sic] series has grown. These tiny soft candies come bunched together so little fingers can enjoy ripping them apart and sharing. With flavors mainly consisting of fruit, it makes you wonder if a bunch of actual grapes or bananas wouldn’t accomplish the rip-and-share goal just as well.

Another new snack under the “Why not just eat real food?” umbrella is Calbee‘s asparagus-bacon Jagariko. If you were really serious about hanami, you might undertake the challenge of actually wrapping some asparagus in bacon, but in a pinch, this flavor of potato stick snack might be interesting to try since it’s the result of a Jagariko fan brainstorming session.

OK, OK, enough with the random munchies. It’s cherry blossom season for crying out loud, so we know what you’re here for . . .

Sakura-themed food and drink 2014 (an in-no-way exhaustive list)

Craft beer made using cherry blossom petals from SanktGallen Brewery

•Spring Blossom sakura-flavored peach tea from Kirin

•”Melty” Sakura royal milk tea from Coca-Cola

•Sakura amazake from Morinaga

•Sakura Häagen-Dazs

•Sakura tea latte and sakura cream doughnut from Krispy Kreme

•Will the Sakuranbo (Cherry) Mocha and Sakuranbo Frappe replace the Sakura Cherry Mc -Float and -Fizz at McDonald’s? Either way, they’re pink. Don’t forget the Sakura Teritama.

•Nihonbashi Sweets sakura pudding with chunky red bean paste from Meito

If store-bought items don’t quite do it for you, take a tip from Higuccini (in Japanese) and make your own sakura-maple mixed nuts!

Finally, before you head to the park, check you local Don Quijote for the latest seasonal party wear . . .

hanami costumes

Decisions, decisions: Cho! O-hanami Afro or the Sakura Ranger?

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/hanami-sakura-spring-snacks-have-also-sprung/feed/ 0
Tokyo Designers Week 2013 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tokyo-designers-week-2013/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tokyo-designers-week-2013/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 08:25:38 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19255 This year’s Tokyo Designers Week’s main event at Meiji Jingu-Gaien has had a bit of a makeover. As “Creative Fes,” it now includes a music venue, various food stalls and a market of hand-crafted goods. But, of course, the main focus remains design, and the event’s new Asia Awards, which includes categories for design schools, young creators and professionals, pulled in plenty of entries.

From architectural constructions to jewelry, we took a look at what the students and pros had to offer, as well as perused our old favorite — Designboom Mart. This year, we also found an extra favorite spot: the TAPAS Spanish Design for Food exhibition, which not only made us hungry for more, but proved that design can have a great sense of humor.

"Lump-bowl, lump-cup, lump-plate"/ Design Next Exhibition "Chackshade" by Masashi Yonemoto/ Asia Awards, Professional Ex "it knit" by Shogo Kishino, 6D-K/ Asia Awards, Professional Ex Bluetooth wooden keyboard by Oree Wood + Tech + Design/ Designboom Mart "Cultural Life, Native Senst Project, Bangkok University / Asia Awards, School Ex "Mama memo wrap" Kyushu University/ Asia Awards, School Ex "Music Factory" by Liu Yu-shuo/ Design Next Exhibition Bouncing balls installation by Nihon University "Detective survival guide" notebooks by Kimu Design/ Designboom Mart "The Box!" onigiri pouch by Chitow, Kun Shan University/ Designboom Mart Leather plaster rings by Kawa Shiki/ Try Market "Saddle Blossoms" by Takaya Sakano/ Asia Awards, Professional Ex Tokyo Smart Driver/ Container Exhibition "Table-soccer table/ mesa-futbolin" by Jose Andres, RS/ TAPAS Spanish Design For Food "La Cool Vie Boheme - Romantic table set for a couple on minimum wages" by Daniel Gantes/ TAPAS Spanish Design For Food Neorest x 4 Creators, a collaborative project with Torafu Architects, Noriko Hashida, Asao Tokolo and Mai Miyake/ Design Next Exhibition ]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tokyo-designers-week-2013/feed/ 1
10 charming things believed by little kids in Japan http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/10-charming-things-believed-by-little-kids-in-japan/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/10-charming-things-believed-by-little-kids-in-japan/#comments Tue, 03 Sep 2013 09:02:32 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19095 bug photo

Great great grandma?

Certainly everyone has some embarrassing things they thought were true as a kid. Me, I thought that chipmunks were baby squirrels. A recent 2ch forum thread (later rounded up and commented on at Itashin!) took up this at times awkward topic and we selected 10 particularly cute ones. Note that our highlights are mostly skewed toward things that seemed unique or particularly Japanese (e.g. not Santa, although he came up). Please remember that since it was just a forum conversation, these are not necessarily widespread beliefs.

When I was little I thought (paraphrased from Japanese) 

. . . that there was a city in the United States called Downtown.

. . . that when you got married kids would just show up from somewhere.

. . . that all TV was live and how amazing it was that the actors in the commercials could do exactly the same thing every time.

. . . that there was only one ambulance in the world (and how amazing that was).

. . . that during Obon our ancestors came back as bugs.

. . . that if I told a lie I would be forced to eat 1,000 needles.

. . . that the bamboo shoots in ramen were pull-apart chopsticks soaked in soy sauce.

. . . that you went from: kindergarten —> elementary school —> middle school —> high school —> college —> Tokyo University (I thought Tokyo University was where you went after college).

How about you? What sorts of things did you believe when you were a kid?

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/10-charming-things-believed-by-little-kids-in-japan/feed/ 1
Cinderella stories inspire women to find their prince on social networking sites http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/cinderella-stories-inspire-women-to-find-their-prince-on-social-networking-sites/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/cinderella-stories-inspire-women-to-find-their-prince-on-social-networking-sites/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 06:31:59 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18761 Omiai has a strict privacy policy to alay women's fears about online dating

Omiai has a strict privacy policy to alay women’s fears about online dating

According to a recent study by Trend Soken, the phenomenon of the “Social Cinderella” is one of the driving forces behind changing attitudes towards internet dating among young women. “Social Cinderellas” are women who snag “high spec guys” (i.e. well-educated, good-looking men with high salaries) via social networking sites. As stories about these fairy-tale romances spread, more and more women have begun to warm to the idea of internet dating.

Out of the 500 single women in their 20s and 30s interviewed for the study, 81% said that they felt had few chances for romantic meetings in their daily lives and 58% believed that social media was an effective tool for finding their dream man. Columnist Ai Azawa states in the report that modern Japanese women are throwing themselves into their work and are also really into self-improvement, as a result, they’ve got higher standards and are not particularly interested in settling for the men in their immediate social circle.

Azawa says that she often hears Social Cinderella stories. But how common are they in practice? Out of the 61.4% of respondents who claimed to regularly use social media, 16% said that they’d encountered a dreamy guy in this way and 9.4% said they’d even managed to strike up a friendship with the guy in question.

The study uses the term social-networking services to loosely refer to a whole slew of sites, from professional matchmaking websites to social networking sites like Facebook and Mixi, so it’s important to bear in mind that women are not necessarily signing up for dating services. One 26-year-old women questioned for the study mentions attending “meetings of social networking communities.” This could mean joining a group of people who meet over shared interests. Not necessarily aimed at encouraging people to hook up, social clubs tied to a hobby may be one of the ways that women are using the web to widen their social network as they fish around for potential partners.

There are also matchmaking sites linked into Facebook. — sites like Omiai, which currently has 270,000 registered members. Omiai caters to the Cinderella element by boasting that 2,313 of the members are guys who have annual earnings of over ¥10 million. As many are cautious about the perils of online dating, the company highlights its safety policy which allows users to remain anonymous while chatting with a potential partner.

Safety and privacy is a huge concern for Japanese women, so other social networking dating clubs take the risk out of going to meet with a stranger by bulking up the numbers. Pairs of friends who sign up for the rather unfortunately named Nikukai (meat club) service can go on double dates together at yakiniku (Korean barbeque restaurants). Nomitomi (drinking buddies) is a service that holds group mixers for singles, meaning singles don’t have to risk it alone with an unknown person.

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/cinderella-stories-inspire-women-to-find-their-prince-on-social-networking-sites/feed/ 1
Crafty creators converge on HandMade in Japan Fes 2013 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/crafty-creators-converge-on-handmade-in-japan-fes-2013/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/crafty-creators-converge-on-handmade-in-japan-fes-2013/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 03:30:15 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18708 Second-hand mashups from Toumei Manila Watermelon bikini from Punto Punto Funky faced rings and baubles from Ogoh Ogoh Leather creatures from Nomuo Nature suspended in acyrlic, from mishicusa.com Shoes from drawing on the fabric Traditionallly styled bags from Tama Gyoku Accessories from Kaku Shika Descartes

More than 2,000 creators converged on Tokyo Big Sight this past weekend for HandMade in Japan Fes 2013. While the range in styles and quality was wide, the creators did share one thing in common: they’re part of the virtual shopping/community site Creema, which is basically Japan’s version of Etsy. The inaugural event, while not yet on the scale of Design Festa, is definitely off to a strong start.

Here are a few of the creations on display that caught our eye. (All photos by Mio Yamada.)

Happy faces from Ieshima Prints Felt headgear from Honoyo Fun footwear from Holy Crap! A smartphone case that was born from a collaboration with Hamee and Tokyu Hands. Traditional sandals from Ei Japan A rainbow of bags from Cucco Accessories from 4ma 4ma Panda sandwiches from Katokoto ]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/crafty-creators-converge-on-handmade-in-japan-fes-2013/feed/ 0
Pulsations (07.19.13) http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-07-19-13/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-07-19-13/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2013 09:57:13 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18634 What’s in a Japanese Woman’s Purse? Let’s Look Inside! (from Tofugu): Phone, check. Day planner, check. Face-blotting paper, check. Shout-out to Tofogu’s intern, Rachel, for a great read on what lies in the depths of a Japanese woman’s bag.

On Getting by in Japan (Without Speaking Japanese) (from This Japanese Life): The author of this post wishes he could have read this upon arriving in Japan two months back. Plenty of helpful tips for the less fluent among us gaijin.

Japanese Tattoo Stockings (from Spoon & Tamago): Tattoo taboo is notrious in Japan, so several companies have rolled out a new variety of temporary ink. Designs of origami cranes, mirror frames and other images can give you the edgy look without the all the pain and shame.

Is Sushi ‘Healthy’? (from Just Hungry): A lunch set from your favorite sushi joint could cost you ¥1,000 and nearly as many calories.

Shigeru Ban Wins Competition to Design ‘Cite Musicale’ in Paris (from DesignBoom): Japanese architect Shigeru Ban just won the design competition for a revitalization project in southwest Paris. The compelling design is slated for completion in 2016.

SDF: Looking for a Few Good Women — to Date (from Japan Real Time): The nation’s Self-Defense Force has plenty of bachelors who are single and ready to mingle. Finding that man in uniform may not be so tough, after all.

Google Tour of Hashima Island (from Google Street View): A coal-mining facility for nearly a century, the haunting haikyo of Hashima was made famous with the release of last year’s mega-hit “Skyfall,” which used the island as locational inspiration for several scenes.

Visual Pulse

This vibrant music video for pop artist Cuushe’s “Airy Me” comes to life through 3,000 hand-drawn sketches. (Don’t watch if you’re disturbed by illustrated entrails.)

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-07-19-13/feed/ 0
Tweet Beat: #七夕, #鯖アニメ, #愛国競争 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-%e4%b8%83%e5%a4%95-%e9%af%96%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-%ef%bc%83%e6%84%9b%e5%9b%bd%e7%ab%b6%e4%ba%89/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-%e4%b8%83%e5%a4%95-%e9%af%96%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-%ef%bc%83%e6%84%9b%e5%9b%bd%e7%ab%b6%e4%ba%89/#comments Fri, 12 Jul 2013 11:18:15 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18426 The Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags for each week. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag.

A tweet is a wish your heart makes

May everyone’s wishes come true. Hikoboshi casually greets Orihime in English.

#七夕 (Tanabata, the Star Festival) takes place at different times depending on where you are in Japan, but July 7 is the first major date. It’s a holiday for making wishes and celebrating the once-a-year reunion of legendary separated lovers Hikoboshi and Orihime. The accompanying decorations make for great tweets, but the concise format (and this tool that allows your text to mimic the shape of a traditional paper tanzaku) is also perfect for sharing wishes.

Write your wish on a tanzaku.

Some people expressed personal aspirations or concerns:

“I want to belong to Amuse.”

“I wanna be a hottie.”

“May I become fluent in Japanese.”

“May my smartphone not break until I can buy a new one.”

“I want friends.”

Some looked outward:

“World peace.”

“May black kigyo go under.”

“May I be able to repay many favors.”

One person wrote a wish for the manga character Detective Conan, and one, instead of wishing, realized that he hadn’t done anything Tanabata-ish at all.

May all my follower’s wishes come true.

Summer anime take the trends by storm

Of last week’s top trending hashtags, all except three were anime-related, and while the NTV Friday Roadshow showing of Studio Ghibli’s #耳をすませば (“Whisper of the Heart”) grabbed the top spot, most of them were fans buzzing about summer season premieres.

July 1:

#inuhasa (“Dog & Scissors”), based on the light novel by Shunsuke Sarai, is the story of a bookworm who is killed during a robbery, reborn as a dog and terrorized by a novelist.

July 2:

#monogatari (“Monogatari Series Second Season”) further adapts NisiOisiN’s urban fantasy light novel series that began with “Bakemonogatari.”

#bc_anime (“Brothers Conflict”) is adapted from Atsuko Kanase and Takeshi Mizuno’s light novels where a girl ends up with 13 stepbrothers when her dad remarries.

July 4:

#symphogear (“Senki Zesshō Symphogear G”) is the second season of an original anime where idols battle aliens with music.

#love_lab_tv (“Love Lab”) is based on Ruri Miyahara’s 4-panel gag manga about students at an all-girls academy preparing for romance.

#danganronpa (“Danganronpa: Kibō no Gakuen to Zetsubō no Kōkōsei The Animation”), based on the videogame series by Spike Chunsoft, takes place at a high school where students have to kill or be killed.

#c3部 (“Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3″), based on the manga created by Ikoma and Momoka Midorito, focuses on girls who play military survival games.

#rozen (“Rozen Maiden – Zurückspulen”) adapts Peach-Pit’s second “Rozen Maiden” manga about living dolls.

#kitakubu_anime (“Chronicles of the Going Home Club”), based on the manga by Kuroha, is a school life comedy that follows a group of girls who have fun going home instead of doing extra-curriculars.

#鯖アニメ (“Servant x Service”) is based on the manga by Karino Takatsu about government office workers in Hokkaido. The hashtag appears to be a pun on “servant” and “mackerel” (saabanto, saba).

We went with #鯖アニメ as the hashtag as a way to get people who don’t know about it to be like “An anime about . . . mackerel?!” . . . I’ll leave it up to you guys.” — Karino Takatsu

July 7:

#makaiouji (“Makai Ouji: Devils and Realists”), adapted from Madoka Takadono and Utako Yukihiro’s manga, follows a guy who is strapped for cash, accidentally summons a demon and ends up a candidate for substitute ruler of hell.

If you can believe it, these are only the anime that premiered last week and made it into the top twenty trends; there were other shows that weren’t as heavily tweeted, and all the shows of the season have not even premiered yet! You can check a digest of recent and upcoming titles at Anime News Network.

Political Activists Stage ‘Twi-Demo’

I might be called stupid, I might be called an otaku, I might be called net-uyo, but today I just love Japan, and hate anti-Japanese. That’s it.

“Will you betray your country? Will you quit being Japanese? The Upper House election is a #愛国競争 [patriotism competition]!” shouts the website of a rightwing movement staging demos on Twitter. “Round 1: Our nation’s people are angry about the comfort women hoax! Twi-demo” was held 9-11 p.m. on the day the campaigning officially kicked off, July 4.

There were two main issues on the table. One was (United States Congress) House Resolution 121. Introduced by Mike Honda and passed in 2007, it recommends that Japan apologize to comfort women. Demo organizer Nadesiko Action [sic] is promoting a White House petition to repeal it.

A secondary hashtag #撤廃署名 (“repeal the signature”) seems to refer more to the second main issue, the Kono Statement of 1993, which acknowledged the coercion of comfort women by Japan. The demo participants are collecting signatures to pressure for a repeal of this as well.

The enemies are here in Japan! Now is the time to stand up and fight to reclaim the nation of Japan! Look to the right! THE RIGHT!

As for the demo itself, the official round-up is here. It sounds like at least one of their tags made it to the #1 trending spot and they estimate that there were around 10,000 tweets.

Many people people posted tweets directly related to the themes of the demo, even some in English. Others mixed in their own themes:

One participant combined distrust of Koreans with an explanation of the Hinomaru (rising sun) flag.

A Tanabata tanzaku tweet made with the tool mentioned above wishes for the dissolution of NHK. Incidentally, the people who believe the national broadcasting company is somehow controlled by Koreans or Chinese, protects their interests, runs commercials that promote their products on purpose and is in-general anti-Japanese, are pretty vocal on NHK hashtags, so they are hard to miss.

Conservative girls are beautiful / Leftist girls are ugly.

A fan of erotic manga finds it baffling that the “patriot right” will recognize the necessity of comfort women and then restrict ero-comics like child pornography. One of the many hashtags is a play on the words “porn” and “brain.”

A tweet calling out specific politicians hits them with the slang 害国人 (gaikokujin) meaning “people harming the nation,” but it’s hard to ignore the homophone 外国人 (also gaikokujin) “foreigners/non-Japanese.” One could imagine, coming from a nationalist, that play on words only deepening the insult,and it seems to tie in to the “Will you quit being Japanese?” taunt.

At least one voice takes a cynical view:

We still haven’t figured out who is the biggest patriot yet?

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-%e4%b8%83%e5%a4%95-%e9%af%96%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-%ef%bc%83%e6%84%9b%e5%9b%bd%e7%ab%b6%e4%ba%89/feed/ 1
Pulsations (07.12.13) http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-07-12-13/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-07-12-13/#comments Fri, 12 Jul 2013 09:02:04 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18421

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 . . .

  • Sales of adult diapers surpass baby diapers in aging Japan (from Quartz): Some say the adult variety of “incontinence products” are already beating their infantile counterparts in sales. For those looking for new business opportunities, Japan’s shrinking population may not be all bad news. 
  • Spelling your name out loud in Japanese (from LinguaLift): Whether your surname is Smith or Finklestein, for longterm gaijin, spelling a Western name in Japanese can be a headache. Here are some helpful tips to make your next pizza ordering experience less painful.
  • Japan-China white (paper) hot tensions (from Japan Real Time): Controversy in the East China Sea is nothing new, but this year’s official reports from Japan reveal a concerning trend that received a harsh reception from Beijing.
  • Volunteers building ‘Great Forest Wall’ tsunami barrier from earthquake debris (from Japan for Sustainability): On 3/11, the pines planted near the coast tumbled easily from the force of the tsunami and rammed into structures. Now, volunteers have begun planting the first of 90 million trees as part of a natural seawall.
  • Meet Yohio, the Most Kawaii Man in Sweden (from BuzzFeed): On a lighthearted note, check out Yohio (if you haven’t already). Well known for his eccentric, androgynous style, the young Swedish pop sensation is a genuine Japanophile — with the Twitter account to prove it.

Visual Pulse

This impressive little video’s artificial lighting effects will leave you thinking, “How did they do that?”

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-07-12-13/feed/ 0
Cashing in on Fuji fever http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/cashing-in-on-fuji-fever/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/cashing-in-on-fuji-fever/#comments Fri, 12 Jul 2013 08:00:45 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18392 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lake_Kawaguchiko_Sakura_Mount_Fuji_3.JPG

Commemorative merchandise celebrating this majestic mountain has been flying off the shelves

Since the announcement that Mount Fuji, Japan’s most iconic landmark, had finally won World Heritage status on June 23, Fuji fever has swept the nation. As souvenirs commemorating the event hit the shelves, sales of Fuji-themed merchandise were brisk. Stores selling climbing gear to those who have been inspired to make the pilgrimage up Fuji have also been doing well.

Loft in Shibuya reported that sales of Fuji merchandise, which had been growing steadily prior to the announcement, suddenly shot up by 150% — the bestselling item being a Fuji-san folding fan that retails for ¥2,100. They’re not anticipating a downturn in trade either: When the shop gets a refit in September there’s going to be a special area in the new “Japan Souvenir” floor dedicated to Fuji souvenirs.

New products also went on sale to commemorate the occasion. Among these is a ">Mount Fuji wooden cup and ball game that costs a rather eye-watering ¥6,090, and a rubber stamp that incorporates elements of the famous 36 views of Mount Fuji, which would set you back ¥3,360. In addition, blue traffic cones with a snow capped peaks have suddenly popped up in car parks around the country. Formally sold mainly to businesses in the area around Mount Fuji, 300 of these cones were sold in the last month, three times the amount of typical annual sales.

The climbing season for Mount Fuji began this month and shops selling climbing equipment have been cashing in. Sales have also been boosted by the inspiring news back in May that 80-year-old Yuichiro Miura managed to scale the summit of Everest. Mizuno outdoor sports told Sankei Biz that sales of hiking gear for women are almost double that of last year, an indication that the yama girl trend is continuing to climb.

Mizuno outdoor sports store also runs hiking schools and a trip to Mount Fuji for July sold out almost as soon as it went on sale. But hordes of hikers heading for the mountain are putting a strain on local infrastructure. The authorities of Fujinomiya, one of the gateways to the mountain,  have announced that the toilet facilities available will not be sufficient to deal with the increased volume of hikers and are asking climbers to take their own portable toilets with them.

While toilets will be in short supply, Wi-Fi access in the area ought to be excellent. As of June, Yamanashi, one of the prefectures Fuji is located in, has 933 free Wi-Fi spots. Visitors surfing the web might want to download a free new app from Fuji-san Beno, which tells you what events are going on in the area during the day of your visit. More info can be found at Fujiyama Navi. The site launched July 8, and offers tours, hotels, and, of course, Fuji-themed merchandise.

More Fuji goods on our Pinterest board: Mount Fuji mania

Read more about the economics of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site at our sister blog, Yen for Living.

Photo by Midori via Wikicommons

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/cashing-in-on-fuji-fever/feed/ 0
Kimo-kawaii: a chronology in 13 steps http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/kimo-kawaii-a-chronology-in-13-steps/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/kimo-kawaii-a-chronology-in-13-steps/#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 09:48:56 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18246 Kimo-kawaii, the slang that mashes up kimoi (yucky, gross; which is a shorter, slangier version of kimochiwarui, itself) and kawaii (cute, sweet) has become an apt description of more and more things over the years. While aficionados might disagree on what defines kimo-kawaii, generally if something has an eerie, sweet creepiness that makes it hard to look at but harder to look away, it’s kimo-kawaii.

Here are 13 things deemed so in Japan, in chronological order:

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Skr2s1LMcA

1999: Dancing Baby, a funky CG animation, became a meme in United States in the ‘90s (even appearing on the TV show “Ally McBeal”), but it became so popular in Japan that Toyota put it in a Cami ad (above). Young people of the time who had already begun saying kimo-kawaii applied it here in an early use case.

Mid 2000s: Ungirls, the comedy duo comprised of Takushi Tanaka and Yoshiaki Yamane became known as kimo-kawaii, somewhat cruelly, mostly due to their looks. Over the years and depending on whom you ask the assessment seems to change from “Tanaka is kimoi, but Yamane is kawaii” to just deciding that Tanaka himself is kimo-kawaii. Or maybe not even kawaii. . . Last year on the variety show “London Hearts” when Tanaka ranked high (low?) on a list of most disliked celebs, he said everyone should give being him a try because it’s a hellish life, but he will keep doing it as long as he lives.

Kobitozukan

Kobitozukan

May 2006: “Kobito Zukan” originated as a picture book illustrated by Toshitaka Nabata. Literally “dwarf encyclopedia,” these weird little humanoids were first aimed at children. Adult fans, however, greatly expanded the fan base and the dwarves became a popular Nintendo 3DS video game last year. The official online store is also chock full of figurines, which one could argue are an art form all their own.

By the way, 2006 is the year that the word “kimo-kawaii” is considered to have really “arrived.”

August 2007: Face Bank, the piggy bank designed by artist Eiichi Takada that actually pigs out on your savings, went on sale. When you place a coin near its mouth, it opens and swallows the currency — a perfect way to add some kimo-kawaii to your everyday life.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn4wWEdzcj8

2008  Noi Asano’s manga “Chiisai Oyaji Nikki” (something like “Little Old Man Diary”) about a girl who one day discovers a tiny man began airing as a series of anime shorts  last year and most recently got promoted with latte art at Double Tall in Shibuya.

nishikokun

Nishiko-kun

October 2010 Nishiko-kun (right), the mascot of Nishi-Kokubunji, was born. The “fairy” is one of many regional mascots that have become widespread across Japan in recent years. Unlike its traditionally cute counterparts, however, Nishiko-kun is a lanky, armless thing with a huge head that evokes the image of a happy manhole. His proportions have made for some especially awkward dance moves, but he remains oddly alluring, don’t you think?

October 2010 Jigokuno No Misawa‘s “Kakkokawaii Sengen” comic was collected and published. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the extravagantly eccentric singer known for being the current flag-bearer of Harajuku kawaii fashion, is a big fan of series. In fact, she had a cameo in the comic last year — of course with the artist’s trademark pudgy-faced style.

nameko

Nameko

June 2011 BeeWorks‘s “Mushroom Garden” (aka “Nameko Saibai Kit”) smartphone game series has exploded in popularity since its release two years ago. These nasty-yet-endearing fungi have gained quite the following (ask almost any elementary schooler), leading to an avalanche of merchandise, including a Nendoroid that reaches back to its “Touch Detective” roots on Nintendo DS.

June 2012 Body part jewelry makes a kimo-kawaii splash from across the globe. Handmade in the U.K. and sold on crafty website Etsy, these doodads allowed people to attach ears to their ears, mouths to their fingers and noses to their necks, among other things.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9kB1ezSETU

alpaca

Alpaca

Fall 2012: Later that year, the freaky-looking toy with its own language, Furby, relaunched with a smartphone app and a Momoiro Clover Z campaign (including the above commercial).

March 2013: There are plenty of kimo-kawaii videogames, but Cocosola‘s smash hit “Alpaca Evolution” is a textbook example of how strangely addicting bizarre characters can be. Your objective is to absorb other alpacas in a cannibalistic fashion as you mutate into a more and more grotesque creature. A prequel has already been released and it looks like the merch parade is marching along.

June 2013:  Isopods are something like gigantic, aquatic cockroaches. Naturally, the Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium decided to make a life-sized stuffed animal based on the critter, because who wouldn’t want to cuddle one? As evidence to the popularity of kimo-kawaii nationwide, all 140 were sold out within a few hours, despite costing a hefty ¥6,090 (around 60 USD) apiece. Another creepy aquatic sensation is based on the NHK television documentary that captured footage of a giant squid  for the first time. With help from the National Museum of Nature and Science, the TV channel is selling a variety of tentacle-related merchandise.

shingeki3

“Attack on Titan” stamps for LINE

June 2013: “Attack on Titan”-branded LINE stamps feature a number of human characters from the anime, but also explore a kimo-kawaii side of the monstrous titans that will give fans a chuckle (or surprise/gross out the unsuspecting friend on the other end of your LINE chat).

This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor do we presume to be authorities on the matter. In fact while researching we noticed Tofugu had nicely summarized the trend recently. We’re sure the wave of kimo-kawaii will be good surfing for years to come, so remember this useful word when you come across a sort-of-cute character that makes you feel kind of icky at the same time.

Additional research for this story contributed by Emily Balistrieri. (Full disclosure: Emily is the Japanese-English translator of “Alpaca Evolution.”)

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/kimo-kawaii-a-chronology-in-13-steps/feed/ 0
Pulsations (07.05.13) http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-07-05-13/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-07-05-13/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 11:25:05 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18165 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 Pulse

A singer-songwriter and an illustrator formed a duo called MimimemeMIMI to delight your eyes and ears simultaneously. Their debut single “Sensational Love” goes on sale Aug. 14, but in the meantime, check out this clip of “Mr. Darling.”

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5jPgM_VKZo

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-07-05-13/feed/ 0
Pulsations (07.01.13) http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-06-27-13/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-06-27-13/#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2013 07:58:35 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17992 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 Pulse

Follow the Yurikamome line at hyper speed as it wraps through Shiodome’s steel canyon’s and coils around Rainbow Bridge in one of the better Tokyo time-lapses we’ve seen.

#

]]>
http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-06-27-13/feed/ 0
Japan by the numbers (06.25.13) http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/japan-by-the-numbers-06-25-13/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/japan-by-the-numbers-06-25-13/#comments Tue, 25 Jun 2013 12:25:52 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17968 ]]> http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/japan-by-the-numbers-06-25-13/feed/ 0