Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Tweet Beat: #e3, #ふなっしー, #ジブリファン

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags for each week. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag.

Was this generation’s console war fought and won at E3?

Last week gamers turned their attention to the action happening at this year’s #e3 in Los Angeles June 11-13. That includes Japanese gamers, who reacted much the same way as gamers elsewhere when it came to comparing Sony and Microsoft‘s press conferences on the 10th.

One person noted they were glad they weren’t interested in the (Xbox exclusive) Halo series, while another was surprised that the price of the #PS4 was lower than they expected (it undercuts the Xbox One by $100).

Nintendo showed off their new lineup via streaming video (#nintendodirectjp) and #pokemonxy got #pokemon fans around the world fired up. One observer of the “Super Mario 3D World” (for Wii U) trailer compared Mario’s cat form attacks to the way another game character, Kirby, sucks up his enemies and steals their powers.

“News flash! Final Fantasy Versus XIII will be sold as Final Fantasy XV on PS4! Yesssssssss”

Of course, a three-day conference had too many game announcements to include in this post, but there is an organized run-down of them all over here.

What the heck is a Funassyi?!

Maybe you’re not familiar with the unofficial yuru-kyara of Funabashi: #ふなっしー (pronounced “Funasshii,” but officially romanized “Funassyi”). Well he’s a pear from Funabashi, Chiba . . . and don’t be thrown off by the unofficial nature of “the fairy of the Funabashi pear.” He appears in Asahi Soft Drink’s Juroku-cha commericals alongside the likes of Sky Tree-neighboring Azumabashi’s Azu-chan and Yoshida-no-udon-buri-chan, who promotes Yoshida City’s noodles with her bowl-shaped head.

But let’s not get distracted. Funassyi leads a bustling life, so bustling it’s sometimes hard to tell whether it’s the real Funyassi or someone ripping him off. The above makankosappo meme pic is pretty great, even if it was posted by a “bot” that collects Funassyi memes such as this mash-up with the manga “Attack on Titan” and not the official account (which boasts over 150,000 followers).

The real source of the current trendiness, though? New crane game-prizes released on June 14:

“[Prize Info] Pear fairy “Funassyi Mascot” has boldly appeared! Dazzled by the pear juice, huh. The list of participating stores apPEARs on our official website!”

Studio Ghibli fans unite in hashtag . . . or?

Trend #9, #ジブリファン (“Ghibli fan”), seemed like a no-brainer: Who doesn’t love animated classics such as “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Porco Rosso”?

But why now? In little more than a week, the account @fanghibli amassed thousands of followers on the back of this tag. The account’s bio roughly translates as “A bot for Ghibli fans. I’ll be sharing misc. info, urban legends, funny or heartwarming jokes — anything.” Here’s an example of how the account engaged fans:

“Black hair! (RT @Fanghibli: Which Howl do you like?)”

Strangely, though, by June 19 , every single tweet had been deleted.

What’s even more mysterious is that another account, @ghiblitalk, has appeared, tweeting some of the exact same memes and jokes, racking up followers at the same breakneck speed — over 10,000 in four days.

The account’s bio reads, “I’ll be tweeting interesting or moving Ghibli stories. And maybe some scary stories?!”

Obviously this is only speculation, and the owner may have a perfectly good-yet-unfathomable reason to abandon such a “valuable” account, but one could guess that someone is taking advantage of Ghibli fans to fatten up follower counts just like Chihiro’s parents in “Spirited Away.” For what purpose? Probably not anything allowed by Twitter’s rules.

Pulsations (06.14.13)

Friday, June 14th, 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 . . .

Visual Pulse

Kazuki Yamamoto takes latte art to the next frontier (from Spoon & Tamago): You may have seen latte art before, but probably not like this. If you’re a big enough fan, follow his Twitter page, where he posts daily photos for you to enjoy alongside your cup of joe. Recent caffeinated creations include a version of Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”.

Japan by the numbers (06.11.13)

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Tweet Beat: #tof2013, #ビフォーアフター, #rubykaigi

Friday, June 7th, 2013

The Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags for each week. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag.

Good memories for “Tales of” fans

Tales of Festival 2013 (#tof2013) was held June 1 and 2 at the Yokohama Arena. The annual event is put on by Bandai Namco for fans of the “Tales of” RPG series that has been going strong since 1995’s “Tales of Phantasia.” The biggest news was that “Tales of Symphonia” and “Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World” (originally released on GameCube and Wii respectively) are getting upgraded and ported to PS3 as “Tales of Symphonia: Chronicles.” The main draw, however, was the chance to see series voice actors perform original skits live. Each day was different, so there was a lot to take in. Comprehensive reports on both days are online on various sites, but if you regret not making it to Yokohama, watch the official page for news of the DVD release.

Did you even know pro wrestlers lived in a dorm?

On June 2, Asahi Broadcasting Corporation’s home make-over show “Daikaizou Gekiteki Before After” (hashtagged as #ビフォーアフター) aired a two-hour special about  “a dorm whose fighting spirit is almost burned out,” the dorm of . . . the New Japan Pro Wrestling crew. According to the show recap, besides a myriad of spacial issues, the foundation was held together in some places with packing tape and poking a hole in the wall was as easy as laying a hand on it.

One of the major changes was adding a lobby to connect the dorm, dojo and bathing area, but Liger‘s new room was especially impressive, having been tailored to his taste for tatami:

People laughed at some of the staging, felt inspired by the positive attitude of the athletes and noted that Tanaka and Kobayashi got a follower bump  (yet another before and after).

Rubyists gather in Tokyo

If you know anything about Ruby, you know it was born in Japan. #rubykaigi, the conference for Rubyists (people who code in the Ruby programming language), came back in 2013 after taking last year off. For three days from May 30-June 1 at the Tokyo International Exchange Center, participants celebrated the release of Ruby 2.0 with talks focusing on a variety of projects, including a robotics framework, not to mention the past, present, and future of Ruby itself and how programmers can stay involved in the community. This time there was Ja-En interpretation available.

Beyond being a great place to learn about developments in the Ruby world, it was apparently also a great place to eat lunch (handed out by no less than the creator of Ruby himself, Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto). One participant met an old friend after 15 years. If you weren’t able to attend, talks that were filmed will be available on Vimeo soon.

Pulsations (06.02.13)

Sunday, June 2nd, 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 . . .

Visual Pulse

Japanese feline Internet sensation, Maru, has turned 5 years old. In his latest video, he can be seen trying to squeeze his frame into just about anything. We find his attempt at a paper envelope particularly entertaining.

Tweet Beat: #真4, #ソクラテスの死, #キスの日

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

The Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags for each week. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag. 

Demons and Samurai

“Shin Megami Tensei IV,” the first numbered title in the Shin Megami Tensei role-playing game series in 10 years, was released on May 23 in Japan. Between the anticipation of the release date, the build up of PR like the 10-minute gameplay video above and the tweets of fans buying and playing the game, it’s not surprising that the hashtags #真4 (“shin”) and #メガテン4 (“Megaten” is the series’s nickname among fans) would trend.

“Shin Megami Tensei” is known for its brutal difficulty. One player finds a humorous way to say he was annihilated in the tutorial. This time around, the characters are samurai from the Mikado Kingdom, but they still become stronger via the series hallmark of negotiating with demons for help. The game is due out in North America July 16.

“The Death of Socrates” as re-created by Japanese students

Jacques-Louis David painted “The Death of Socrates” in 1787. According to Plato in “The Apology of Socrates,” the great thinker was sentenced to death by poison for “act[ing] unjustly in corrupting the youth, and in not believing in those gods in whom the city believes, but in other strange divinities.” David’s work is said to be somewhat historically inaccurate, though it is nonetheless famous.

In fact, it’s so famous that some Japanese students decided to re-create it as a photo the other day. Once tweeted May 25, with the hashtag #ソクラテスの死 (“The Death of Socrates”) the image promptly blew up (on a popularity trajectory that had it beating out a tweet from kawaii idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu by some metrics) as people expressed their interest in giving it a shot, wished they had enough real-life friends to be able to pull it off or just laughed.

Taking creative photos like this has been a popular hobby lately, it seems. You may remember Makankosappo but have you seen the “Attack on Titan” meme yet?

Kiss Day

May 23 is #キスの日 (Kiss Day). No, really! It commemorates the first time a kissing scene was shown in a movie in Japan, which, by the way, was the premiere of Yasushi Sasaki’s “Hatachi no Seishun” in 1946. People tweeted a lot of kissing pictures, whether of celebritiesDisney characters, dolls or their single selves. There is also plenty of fan art, even some featuring Harry Potter characters.

Can Etsy’s crafty goodness be recycled in Japan?

Monday, May 27th, 2013

On May 16, NTT DoCoMo launched d creators, an online market service for creative people in Japan. Similar to Etsy, all the items available are handmade and the content is user generated. Unlike Etsy, though, to sell and buy via the website, you will need a Japanese bank account and purchases are made using bank transfers. This means that it’s likely that the majority of products are being designed and made in Japan, and judging from the exhibition held last weekend (May 25-26) at Daikanyama T-Site Gallery, quite a few of the goods do appear to inspired by Japanese aesthetics.

The website was created for NTT DoCoMo by the advertising agency Dentsu, who have so far curated the current sellers and their goods. Predictably, some of the chosen creators may be familiar to those who like to peruse Tokyo’s design stores. There’s Kokechi’s kokeshi dolls, for example, and Ribbonesia’s brooches. The standards are pretty high, and prices vary, but anyone is allowed to sell products via the site, so there will be more variety in the future.

Products available online include interior goods, accessories, tableware, art, fashion, textiles — even comics, novels and essays.

There’s also information on hands-on workshops led by sellers, the next one being held by Ribbonesia at the Fab cafe in Shibuya on June 9.

Tweet Beat: #NintendoDirectJP, #華麗なる公式 , #デザフェス

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags for each week. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag. 

The latest news from Nintendo

When Nintendo has something to announce, it has been tending in recent years to do it via a Nintendo Direct presentation. These streaming events allow “direct” communication with fans of their games. On May 17 the latest #NintendoDirectJP included a special focus on Sega. The next three Sonic the Hedgehog games will be made exclusively for Nintendo platforms; “Sonic: Lost World” is slated for release on Wii U and 3DS this fall. Sega is also bringing “Yakuza 1 & 2 HD” to Wii U in Japan.

Another highlight was downloadable content for “New Super Mario Brothers U” called “New Super Luigi U” with 82 revamped Luigi-only levels. It will also be available as a stand-alone Wii U game. For the the full details of the presentation, check your local Nintendo Twitter account: @Nintendo, @NintendoAmerica, @NintendoEurope.

The “magnificent” presence of official Twitter accounts in Japan

If you follow Japanese companies on Twitter, you may have noticed some of them have boatloads more personality than you might expect. Forgoing stiff PR and capitalizing on the “social” in “social media,” accounts such as @kumamototaxi (a taxi service), @enganbus (a bus company), and @imuraya_dm (food company known for red bean sweets) became known as #病気公式アカ (“sick official accounts”) last fall (perhaps because it seemed as if they had gone off the deep end). The tweets that chronicle the history of the hashtag are archived here.

suggestion from @nhk_pr that they come up with something less insensitive to people who are actually suffering from illness led to adopting #華麗なる公式 (“magnificent official [accounts]). For a good example of how these accounts interact with each other, see this collection of tweets between @tanitaofficial and @sharp_jp. Note the liberal emoticon usage.

So how did #華麗なる公式 end up so trendy this particular week? It’s hard to say for sure, since it’s continuously active, but I’d like to think because of this play on words by the Japan Self Defense Force Miyagi Provincial Cooperation Office:

They were having trouble cooking their Friday curry, but the best part is the hashtag duo: #華麗なる公式 (karei naru koushiki, “magnificent official [accounts]”) is joined by #カレーなる金曜日 (karē naru kinyoubi, “curry Friday”).

Design Festa Vol. 37

The “international art event” #デザフェス (“dezafesu,” short for “Design Festa”) vol. 37 was held May 18 and 19 at Tokyo Big Sight. Just browsing the tweets gives a great taste of what was on offer as exhibitors posted photos to promote their booth and attendees were documenting on the fly. If you’re distraught over discovering this gathering after the fact, don’t despair! Vol. 38 is already on the calendar for Nov. 2 and 3.


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