Hot Pulse

J-blip: Pipo-kun’s new song and dance

October 22nd, 2013 by

The Pepo-kun song on the website of the metropolitan police

Pepo-kun, as seen on the metro police’s website

Japanese netizens are apparently all in a lather regarding the question of whether virtual pop star Hatsune Miku is the new voice of police mascot Pipo-kun. The “Pipo-kun Song” video, made to celebrate the fact that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s counter crime initiative Twitter account now has more than 60,000 followers, is a collaboration between a synthetic voice and the police headquarters’ orchestra.

However, the consensus on the web seems to be that there is no mistaking that Pipo has Hatsune’s distinctive saccharine sweet voice. When asked by J-Cast if this was a correct assumption, the police replied, “The identity of the singer hasn’t been announced.” One wonders why they’re being so reticent as Hatsune’s “dulcet” tones are now commonplace, having been widely used in the many commercials and TV show theme songs.

Pulsations (10.15.13)

October 15th, 2013 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 . . .

The Mystery of Japanese “Sauce” (from Just Hungry): You may know the sweet brown concoction as “tonkatsu sauce” but it’s not only for drizzling on breaded pork. What is it, anyways?

Asleep at the wheel (from Ikimasho!): A short-term foray into taxi driving turned into 15 years.

Feel better fast: Eight home remedies from the little old ladies of Japan (from RocketNews24): Is that a cold coming on? Learn how to say no to germs in the language of Japanese DIY medicine.

Looking for Scary Faces (from Japanese Streets): A regular club event called Heavy Pop had an early Halloween party. Check out this great photo collection!

Koloro wagon teaches little kids to be organized (from Spoon & Tamago): It’s a wagon! No, a shelving unit! No, a bunch of baskets! Actually, the new “storable furniture” designed by Torafu Architects is all of the above.

Exploring the GSC Offices with wooser (Part 1) (from Kahotan’s Blog): If you ever wanted to check out the inside of hobby figure maker Good Smile Company’s office, here is your chance, with a cute character guide.

The Successor to Duck-Lips is Sparrow Face (from Kotaku): Will just smiling for the camera ever be good enough again?

Video Pulse

Design Taxi tipped us off to this cool navigation app that is more fun than a map. Can’t find the Sunshine Aquarium? Just follow the penguins!

Psssst! Wanna bottle of fresh air?

October 10th, 2013 by

Frisk is taking the phrase “like a breath of fresh air” quite seriously — or rather not seriously at all.

The breath-mints brand’s latest online campaign involves a lottery to win a grand prize of seven bottles filled to their brim with exotic air (or, if you’re a cynic, seven completely empty bottles).

The Frisk Select World Fresh Air Collection campaign is promoting the introduction of the brand’s newest flavor — Fresh Herb Mint — as well as the return of Frisk Spearmint. And, doing what must be one of the most enviable jobs, one Frisk employee is being sent to seven scenic destinations across the world, just to pump air into glass bottles.

So far he’s been to Waipio Valley in Hawaii to collect air of a “mysterious atmosphere.” You can watch a rather exhilarating video of the process.

Yes, who wouldn’t want this man’s job? He’s being jetted around the world to simply don a lab coat and white gloves, and then stick an air-compressor tube into a bottle for 15 seconds.

His next destination will be Canada’s glacial Moraine Lake for some “romantic” air, which will be followed by South America’s Iguazu falls (healing air), England’s Oxford (intelligent air), Matterhorn of the Northern Alps (freezing air), Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro (wild air) and finally Tasmania (beautiful air).

To prove that the air really has been obtained and make anyone with a desk job feel completely inferior, sad and jealous, a video of the air-collection at each destination will be uploaded onto the campaign site.

The Frisk Select World Fresh Air Collection is being described as a gift for people suffering the daily stress of modern life. Quite how it will help, though, is unclear. Perhaps it’s just a case of positive thinking: The bottles are NOT empty, they are full!

Five sets of bottles can be won, as well as 50 original Frisk gift boxes. To enter the lottery, you just fill out the form here. And do it before 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31, when the opportunity to win will vanish . . . into thin air.

Rent a dude for ¥1,000: an interview with Takanobu Nishimoto of Ossan Rental

September 18th, 2013 by

“In Japan, old guys get a fair amount of ridicule, basically bad-mouthing. That had been kinda ticking me off, so I was thinking if we could create a bunch of good — not looks-wise, but lifestyle-wise — fun, older guys, then maybe the value of older guys would be seen.”

Meet professional ossan Takanobu Nishimoto

Meet professional ossan Takanobu Nishimoto (Emily Balistrieri photo)

That seed grew in the mind of Takanobu Nishimoto, a 46-year-old jack of all trades, and blossomed into what is now known as Ossan Rental (“Old Guy Rental”). Thanks to the unusual brand name, the experiment attracted customers early on, and later, the attention of social media and web watchers on sites like NariNari and Kotaku.

So who rents themselves out for ¥1,000 an hour? How did Nishimoto find time between his college and vocational school lectures, fashion consulting, modeling and everything else? As I learned more about him, my curiosity was definitely piqued. And part of me wanted to confirm that he is simply a guy doing something interesting . . . and not a creep, as some people might assume.

I requested an interview and got an enthusiastic “yes.” When I asked him to choose a cafe where we could relax and chat, as if I were renting him, he suggested one on a fifth floor overlooking Shibuya.

His introduction was as casual as his button-down shirt and jeans. “Hello, I’m Ossan Rental,” he says, half laughing, perhaps realizing how goofy that sounded. We order tea and coffee and get right into it.

“Outside of work there’s a distance between older guys and young people.  I think it’d be cool if we could connect more. I’m 46. There aren’t many opportunities to talk to people in their 20s in our private lives. I thought it would be neat if I could set up opportunities to make that happen.

“I would go to Tsutaya or some rental shop and think, ‘If older guys were lined up on the shelves, that would be something.’ But how would you order them? Well, putting them in a cart would work. And then you could return them by mail. Well, ‘returning by mail’ would be parting ways at the mailbox, but . . . (laughs).”

This past February he turned his crazy Ossan Rental vision into a reality.

Continue reading about ossan rental →

Pulsations (09.11.13)

September 11th, 2013 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…

Japan’s Real-Life Kick-Ass Is Very Helpful (from Kotaku): A friendly guy helps locals carry strollers or luggage at a station where this is no elevator or escalator. Oh, and he’s dressed as a Power Ranger.

An ‘Origami’ Chair Folded From A Single Wooden Strip (from DesignTaxi): This chair concept was inspired by Japanese paper-folding techniques.

The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success (from Buzzfeed): Get your facts straight on that delicious taste, umami, including how University of Tokyo chemist Kikunae Ikeda discovered the man-made version.

Kiritoshi House by Sugawaradaisuke (from Dezeen): Looking at these pictures, it feels like this must be something much more than a two-bedroom house in Chiba, and yet . . . it’s a two-bedroom house in Chiba.

Famed Photog Yasumasa Yonehara Wants Kids to Tack Back Fashion for Themselves (from MTV81): “The culture informs their choice of clothing – but these outfits aren’t exactly practical. I want cosplay kids to stay true to themselves after removing their outfits.”

The old-timey treat that’s back in style thanks to Hayao Miyazaki (from RocketNews24): Everyone’s curious to try the “Siberia” cake featured in “The Wind Rises” and luckily, you can!

Control Bear Store Tokyo — Beyond Character Goods (from Tokyo Telephone): As mentioned in this month’s On Fashion in The Japan Times, Control Bear now has its own shop in Harajuku. This post goes in-depth!

Video pulse

“The Light Shooter” is a first-person shooter with a peripheral you’ve never seen before — a real, stringed bow, no arrows necessary.

 

10 charming things believed by little kids in Japan

September 3rd, 2013 by

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?

Pulsations (08.23.13)

August 23rd, 2013 by

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 . . .

Clever naming has New York diners raving about Japanese-style cod roe and pigs’ feet (from Rocket News 24): How you market your food may have as much to do with success as how you cook it.

Japanese Banana Art Is So Damn Appealing (from Kotaku): One artist unpeeled a banana and saw potential.

Tokyo Disneyland’s Halloween Vinylmations are revealed (from Tomopop): Sio designed spooky versions of Minnie and Donald that glow in the dark.

shinobu koizumi’s useful snow-like objects won’t melt away (from designboom): Salt crystals can mimic the frosty white stuff quite convincingly.

LT Josai – A new shared living space in Nagoya (from Spoon & Tamago): You’ll want to move in when you see these pictures.

 

Video pulse

Earlier this month, six Japanese cigar box jugglers traveled to Canada to meet one of the world’s greatest, Eric Bates. From the video they ended up with it looks like they had an awesome time, and of course you can see lots of impressive cigar box juggling.

The cutest little whitehead, Kakusen-kun

August 20th, 2013 by

Yeah, you’ve heard it a hundred times: Japan’s weird. “They had that bagel head thing,” you may say (which was never a “thing,” actually). Well, Japan has once again come up with something that will get under your skin, only this time it’s actually a “thing” broadcasted on national television.

It’s an animated series called “Nyuru Nyuru!! Kakusen-kun” (nyuru nyuru being the sound of something squeezing out of somewhere), which follows a newly formed whitehead (kakusen in Japanese) during his adventures living on the surface of a human nose. The two-minute show is supposed to be an obscure comedy that occasionally drops some skin care tips. The characters try their best to survive attacks by pore strips and face mites, which is more kimoi than kawaii. Popular idol group Dempagumi.inc sings the theme song, adding to the buzz factor.

While we certainly appreciate the cuteness and fidelity of having an 8-year-old boy play the young protagonist, rather than an older girl (as is the practice in many anime shows), it is pretty strange to hear him saying stuff like, “I wonder how much money I’d have to spend to get that lady-whitehead to go out with me,” about a beauty queen contest-winning zit, or learning to appreciate the lashes of her whip later on.

If curiosity has gotten the best of you, check out more videos here.

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