Hot Pulse

J-blip: Morphing time for Okamoto’s ‘Tower of the Sun’

September 26th, 2014 by

Bandai has created toy robot versions out of virtually everything from Hello Kitty to Mickey Mouse. Now it’s morphing time for Osaka’s iconic “Tower of the Sun.”

Taro Okamoto’s “The Tower of the Sun” was created to commemorate the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka and represents Japan’s past, present and future. Okamoto was known for his promotion of peace in works such his “The Myth of Tomorrow” mural, which depicts the horrors of the atomic bombings.

So we’re not sure how Okamoto would take his reflective tower becoming a menacing robot. The figurine, which will tower over your other toys at 280 mm, has the ability to transform from a tower to its final robot version. Well, actually you have to do the transforming, but still cool, no?

“The Tower of the Sun” figurine will break out of its shell on Sept. 27 and will retail for ¥17,000.

Pulsations 9.25.14

September 26th, 2014 by

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.

 

We are the World Cup: anthems from pitches past

June 12th, 2014 by

Brazil soccer fans pose with a replica of the World Cup trophy on June 11 inside a metro station near Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. | AP PHOTO

Brazil soccer fans pose with a replica of the World Cup trophy on June 11 inside a metro station near Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP PHOTO)

Japan plays its first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, against Côte d’Ivoire this weekend. Although the tournament kicks off two days earlier in São Paulo, for many the Samurai Blue’s opening game ushers in the event, along with the activities that would normally raise eyebrows but get a pass every four years, such as waking up at 2 a.m. to watch football and drinking before noon.

It will also unleash a new batch of World Cup songs that will play practically on loop for the duration of the competition, including the television network’s special theme tracks to various commercial tie-ins. And that’s just on the domestic side. Pitbull’s voice will haunt many for months to come.

World Cup-related songs have a long and interesting history, including official anthems (from superstars like Shakira down to half of Hall & Oates) and all sorts of country-specific tunes (Weezer sining for the U.S., the Village People putting on for, uh, Germany). Having qualified for their first World Cup in 1998, Japan doesn’t have the rich soccer-music history of other nations (“World Cup Willy!”), but entering their fifth cup, the country now lays claim to a handful of Cup anthems.

Here are the most noteworthy from each edition of the World Cup:

CONTINUE READING about World Cup support songs →

UTme!: Want your own Uniqlo T-shirt? There’s an app for that!

May 30th, 2014 by

Fast-fashion titan Uniqlo had already ventured into the domain of smartphones applications with not-so-exciting Uniqlo Calendar, fashion-style browsing Uniqlooks or again Uniqlo Wake Up applications. However, the Japan-based brand has finally released something that speaks directly to its target customers with UTme!, an application that lets smartphone users design their own T-shirts.

The idea is simple, and all you need is an iPhone or Android device. You input text, a picture or draw some shapes on your screen to make the design to be printed on your T-shirt to-be. But before finalizing, you can add cool effects such as mosaics, splashes and glitches just by shaking your phone to create the final touch. An easy and fun way to give customers more choice in what they wear and attract potential buyers.

Be aware, however, that if you’re aiming to become the next fashion phenomenon, UTme! might not be the right place to experiment as all the uploaded designs belong to Uniqlo, and are then available on utme.uniqlo.com for purchase by anyone.

 

Ultra Hawai’i: Even superheroes need a vacation

May 25th, 2014 by

oahu_1280_800

The Ultra tourists get a quick lesson before hitting the waves

In a stroke of genius, travel-deal website TravelZoo, in collaboration with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and tokustasu pioneers Tsuburaya Productions, has enlisted serious star power to promote its current Hawaii travel packages.

Targeting a wide range of would-be travelers, the “Ultra Hawai’i ” campaign follows the well-loved characters from the generation-spanning Ultra series as they engage in classic tourist activities on the main Hawaiian islands of Maui, O’ahu, Kaua’i and Hawai’i.

For a look at how the Ultra family spends its time off,  click over to the campaign site and travel along with Ultra Dad, Ultra Mom (yes, they really do exist in the series), Ultraman Taro and even their alien cohorts — the friendly, spindly-fingered creature Pigmon and the pincer-handed Alien Baltan.

Best of all, their special moments have been chronicled on their YouTube channel and set to the Ultraman theme song, played on ukelele no less.  In true Japanese fashion, they pack a lot into their vacation, which includes surfing lessons, hula dancing, poolside yoga, a friendly game of golf and a side trip to the volcanic terrain of Kīlauea, which surely must feel like a home away from their extraterrestrial home.

The campaign is both hilarious and touching in the way it humanizes the superheroes as they shoot selfies in a gelato shop and are moved by an afternoon of whale watching. In  rare moments away from the universe-saving day jobs, the family take in romantic sunsets and even Baltan Seijin, one of Ultraman’s archenemies, can put aside their differences to attend an intimate Ultra wedding on O’ahu. The beauty of Hawaii clearly brings people together.

The Ultra Hawai’i campaign runs until July 18. Oh, and there’s an island-hopping stamp rally. Collect ‘em all and get a special campaign souvenir.

Schwatch!

Pulsations 5.2.14

May 2nd, 2014 by

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 . . .

A pool transformed into a shop in Aoyama (from Spoon & Tamago): Hiroshi Fujiwara turned an empty old swimming pool into a fashion boutique with the help of architect Nobuo Araki.

Why is Kirby always angry? Nintendo explains (from GameSpot): Kirby’s selling point in Japan may be his cuteness, but “Kirby: Triple Deluxe” director Shinya Kumazaki says the U.S. seems to like him tougher.

Yamazaki Kentaro’s Unfinished House offers little privacy to residents (from dezeen): Open spaces are nice, but take a look at the photos and see if you would want to live in a house this open.

Tokyo’s Rainbow Week Kick’s Off (from japanese streets): A fun collection of photos from the events in Yoyogi Park.

A brief history of Japanese girls’ rock (from RocketNews24): From Princess Princess to Scandal (but somehow missing Tsushimamire), you can sample Japanese girls’ rock via this collection of YouTube videos.

Visual Pulse

Even if you’re a pretty powerful Pokémaster, you may not know all the trivia BuzzFeed collected in their video “How Well Do You Know Pokemon?”

My little pork industry can’t be this cute: ‘Pig Farm’ and ‘Slaughterhouse’ smartphone games

April 25th, 2014 by

Is making a game butchering cute little pigs kimo-kawaii or just real talk? JOE Inc.’s “Yōtonjō” (“Pig Farm”) is a pig-raising simulation game with a predictable outcome. After all the vaccinating, poop scooping and keeping track of each porker’s picky eating habits, you send ‘em off, and not not on vacation.

“That’s how it works — they’re pigs after all!” The game’s copy reminds us.

 Left: Isn't it only right that each one would have its own preferences? They're pigs, after all. Devote yourself to their care. Then give thanks for the pork! Right: A chance a day! Get rare pigs in the piglet hunt! The better the pig, the higher the price it will fetch! Compete with pig farmers from around the country!

Left: Isn’t it only right that each one would have its own preferences? They’re pigs, after all. Devote yourself to their care. Then give thanks for the pork! Right: A chance a day! Get rare pigs in the piglet hunt! The better the pig, the higher the price it will fetch! Compete with pig farmers from around the country!

Here’s a look inside my pig pen:

YOUTON PIG PEN

I like how that one is sleeping with his face planted in his food. Pigtastic!

The color of the pig-pen floor is different on the right because I applied a sawdust coating to help the pigs grow faster. Where do you think I got that sawdust? I bought it, of course. Did I have enough points right off the bat for that? Of course not! “Pig Farm” is perfect for short bursts (those moments of time between checking your Twitter and Facebook at the bus stop, for example) but if you’re busy and you just want to see what kind of goofy pigs you can raise as fast as possible, or expand your pen faster, the in-game store is more than happy to take your money. Farmers who want to invest can buy points in increments ranging from 2,000 for ¥100 to 200,000 for ¥5,800.

Here are some of the fine specimens I managed to raise so far:

CONTINUE reading about JOE's "Pig Farm" app

Pulsations 4.18.14

April 18th, 2014 by

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 . . .

Gadgets before flowers – Japanese moms reveal what they really want for Mother’s Day (from RocketNews24): Survey says that the most popular present on Mother’s Day will be a bouquet of flowers, but when moms themselves were asked what they most wanted, the results were a little different.

An Indoor Floating Forest by Sou Fujimoto (from Spoon & Tamago): Are the mirrored boxes these trees sprout from beautiful or busy?

LEGO Builder Creates Life-Sized Hatsune Miku Statue (from Kotaku): Of course, the final product is charming, but Chaos Brick’s photos documenting the process are truly fascinating.

Q&A: Disney Executive Tells of ‘Frozen’ Success in Japan (from Japan Realtime): “Frozen” fans should be happy to hear the film is doing well in Japan, too.

Traditional Japanese craft informs Jo Nagasaka’s furniture for Ichiro (from designboom):  Designer and architect Jo Nagasaka came up with furniture featuring bamboo-weaving and rope-tying techniques.

Visual Pulse

A teaser trailer for upcoming Lupin III spin-off movie, “Lupin IIIrd: Jigen Daisuke no Bohyō” (“Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone”), was released this morning. Takeshi Koike, who designed the characters and served as animation director in the 2012 TV anime “Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” continues as the character designer and director of the movie, which features manga artist Monkey Punch’s famous thief Lupin III’s partner, Jigen, as its protagonist. The film will run in a special screening June 21-27 at the cinema Shinjuku Wald 9.

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