Archive for the ‘News/media’ Category

Today’s J-blip: Yoshitomo Nara for No Nukes

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Last Friday, depending on whose estimates you believe, as many as 40,000 protestors gathered in Tokyo to send a message to Japanese Prime Minister Noda over the government’s decision to restart two nuclear reactors at the Oi power plant. Their rally cry? Simple and to the point. “No Nukes!” Later today, protest organizers hope to have over 100,000 protestors gather to make sure the message is reiterated, loud and clear.

And they’ve got some help. Popular contemporary artist Yoshitomo Nara has been outspoken against the use of nuclear energy for many years and his painting of a young girl carrying a No Nukes sign has become a major icon in the movement. Last week he tweeted (@michinara3) that he wouldn’t mind if people borrowed his 1998 book “Slash with a Knife” from a library and photocopied his “NO NUKES girl” to use for protest, as long as they didn’t plan to profit from it. You can download a high-resolution version at A3 size here.

Tonight’s protest is 6-8 p.m. in front of the Prime Minister’s office in Nagatacho. More information is available in Japanese at Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes.

Pulsations (6.29.12)

Thursday, June 28th, 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 . . .

  • Why raising the consumption tax is a good idea, and good politics (from Mutant Frog): A must-read for anyone who wants to engage in the debate. Blogger Adam Richards offers a reasoned argument on why raising the consumption tax is good fiscal policy as well as a wise political move. The debate in the comments is smart, too.
  • Fujimori’s new “Trojan Pig” tea house (from Spoon & Tomago): Japanese architect extraordinaire Terunobu Fujimori is famous for designing striking and unique tea houses. His latest creation, which has been likened to a “trojan pig,” does not disappoint. But why a pig?
  • Sculpture or photography? (from Art It): We all know photographs can freeze a moment in time, but have you ever considered sculpture as a medium for doing so? Artist Rirkrit Tiravanija has. Read about how he started creating these full-size scenes, his ideas, inspiration, and latest solo exhibition at Gallery Side 2 in Tokyo.
  • Japanese photo exhibit on Korean “comfort women” sabotaged (from Global Voices): During World War II, the Japanese military forced tens of thousands of foreign women into sex slavery for soldiers overseas. Known as “comfort women” these victims were made to endure horrible atrocities. Ahn Se-Hong, a South Korean photographer who documented the now aging women, has faced numerous obstacles leading up to and during his Tokyo exhibition.
  • Green-roofs in Saitama Prefecture (from Japan for Sustainability): No, those aren’t weeds you see growing on the roof of your local konbini. Well, they might be, unless you live in Saitama Prefecture. The region has introduced a green-roof project for local convenience stores, which can help off-set carbon emissions.

A time-lapse video of Toyota engineers customizing their new, family-oriented concept car, the Camatte.

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.

Pulsations (06.15.12)

Saturday, June 16th, 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 . . .

  • You had me at “sumimasen…” (from Loco in Yokohama): Some foreigners enjoy the extra space they get on trains, when Japanese commuters are hesistant to sit by them. Others are offended, feel judged, and call it racism. In this personal anecdote, the author dives into the complexity of seat dynamics.
  • Former Yamaguchi-gumi member arrested for attempted extortion of Yoshimoto Kogyo celebrity (from The Tokyo Reporter): While news of a gangster’s high bail made headlines this week, Tokyo Reporter found a more interesting story in the pages of Shukan Asahi Geino. It would appear that Kozo Hattori, a former member of the Yamaguchi-gumi, was arrested for blackmailing Hazama Kanpei, an entertainer who claimed he never knew of Hattori’s gang affiliation. Taking a closer look at both parties, Asahi Geino reports that there’s more than meets the eye.
  • Deaf Net News (From Touching Sounds of Hands): Many deaf people were left out of the loop during the 3.11 disaster, as most news bulletins lacked sign language or subtitles. Enter Deaf Net News, an emergency channel specifically for the hearing impaired.
  • Tokyo police give shoeshines the boot (from Japan Subculture Research Center): With the new anti-organized crime laws, Tokyo police have been harassing and removing street side shoeshiners based on “public complaints.”  Often thought to be protected by organized crime, shoeshiners have been struggling in recent years as the old generation is replaced with the new. As such, street-side shoeshiners, whose high prices cannot compete with more established services, may soon become a rare breed.
  • Microaggresions or Icebreakers? (From Gakuranman): If you’ve been keeping up with the firestorm sparked by Debito Arudo’s column on microaggresions, you may have had enough of it all. But if you’ve still keen for more, here’s an analytical work that dives very deeply into the details. So pull up a zabuton and prove your Zen-like focus by reading every word. You might just be able to use chopsticks when you’re finished.

Today’s J-blip: Japanese soldiers march through Tokyo

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

You’ve no doubt read the story and seen the pictures, but did you see the news footage of  armed Japanese Ground Self-Defense rangers marching through Tokyo for the first time in 42 years? Some by-standers could be seen snapping pictures and waving, while others lodged protests. So what was the occasion? A drill for the Big One? Potential attack from North Korea? A manhunt for the final Aum fugitive? Or simply a case of Godzilla coming into town to check out Tokyo Skytree? One thing is for sure:  The GSDF camo palette didn’t exactly mesh with environment of the gray urban jungle. (More videos at Japan Probe.)

Pulsations (06.01.12)

Friday, June 1st, 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 . . .

  • City of Kitakyushu Starts Test of Tidal Power Generation (from JapanFS): Solar power is so last decade. Check out how the city of Kitakyushu is looking to harvest the power of the moon by generating electricity from the tides.
  • Political kabuki in Japan (From Ampontan): Observers who toss around the term “political kabuki” are usually way off base, Ampontan says. However, he explains why the Osaka political maneuvering around the restart of the Oi reactors is indeed a drama worthy of the name.
  • Making sense of dollers (From Tokyo Scum Brigade): Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask about dressing up like a giant, silent, perpetually grinning anime doll. Did we say “afraid?” Maybe “terrified” is the word.
  • Are Japanese Moe Otaku Right-Wing? (from Neojapanisme):  Passionate about anime? Check. Teen idols? Check. Right-wing politics? Ch . . . wait, what?  It may be surprising, but those are some of the most common topics on Alfalfa Mosaic, a popular blog and 2ch aggregator. Is this is the start of an otaku political movement?
  • Simplifying Chopstick Etiquette (from Spoon & Tamago): You know that awkward moment when you’re using chopsticks and aren’t quite sure where to place them after a bite? Fear no more, because designers Takeshi Hamana and Yuya Iwagaki plan to teach proper dinner etiquette with their new chopstick packaging. (Disclaimer: Basic origami skills required!)

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 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.


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