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kottke.org posts about Japan

Japanese treadmill game

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 20, 2010

Oh, this is hilarious:

The sweaty glass of the Tokyo subway

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 09, 2010

From photographer Michael Wolf — you might remember his Architecture of Density or 100x100 projects — a collection of photos of people pressed against fogged-up Tokyo subway windows.

Michael Wolf Tokyo

(via coudal)

The Cove

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 21, 2009

The Cove has been getting great reviews: four stars from Ebert (who calls it “a certain Oscar nominee”) and a score of 82 on Metacritic. A quick synopsis from Wikipedia followed by the trailer:

The Cove is a 2009 documentary film documenting the annual killing of more than 2,500 dolphins in a cove at Taiji, Wakayama in Japan. The film was directed by former National Geographic photographer Louis Psihoyos, and was filmed secretly during 2007 using underwater microphones and high-definition cameras disguised as rocks.

Hiroshima, 64 years ago

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 06, 2009

In remembrance of the mass destruction of life and property due to the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima 64 years ago today, The Big Picture presents a typically excellent selection of photos.

Update: From Design Observer about a year ago, Hiroshima, The Lost Photographs.

2-D lovers

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 23, 2009

Nisan is a balding 37-year-old man with gray hair and Nemutan is his girlfriend, a video game character printed on a pillow.

When I joined the couple for lunch at their favorite all-you-can-eat salad bar in the Tokyo suburb of Hachioji, he insisted on being called only by this new nickname, addressing his body-pillow girlfriend using the suffix “tan” to show how much he adored her. Nemutan is 10, maybe 12 years old and wears a little blue bikini and gold ribbons in her hair. Nisan knows she’s not real, but that hasn’t stopped him from loving her just the same. “Of course she’s my girlfriend,” he said, widening his eyes as if shocked by the question. “I have real feelings for her.”

2-D love has similarities to objectophilia. (via waxy)

An almost virtual world

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2009

A cyber cafe outside of Tokyo has been coverted into an apartment complex of sorts. “Cyber drifters” pay $500/month to live in the cafe’s computer cubicles.

Giant fire-breathing robot

posted by Ainsley Drew   Mar 31, 2009

Sure, it looks like Astro Boy with heartburn, but Kenji Yanobe’s Giant Torayan is not the kind of toy you leave with just any kid.

This GIANT TORATAN doll is the ultimate child’s weapon, as it sings, dances, breathes fire, and follows only those orders given by children.

Masterminded at Nagoya Institute of Technology, its Command Device uses voice-recognition technology to differentiate between instructions given by adults versus those given by younger evil geniuses.

Half-dragon, half-Mary Poppins, all awesome.

Japanese bladesmiths

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 12, 2009

Photo essay of how Japanese knives get made by hand.

Japanese kitchen knives cost more than a camera, they can’t be washed in a machine, are subject to rusting and boy, they are so sharp that if you slip you’ll lose a finger or two before you can say banzai. There is no doubt that these are the best knives in the world. Nothing comes close to them in terms of sharpness. With one of these knives, you could slice fish so thin you could read a whole chapter of La Physiologie du Gout through the slices. Earlier this month, I had the chance to see how knives are made in Japan like they have been for the last 200 years.

(via serious eats)

Pervert trains (chikan densha)

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 10, 2009

At the Shibuya Pink Girl’s Club in Tokyo, men pay upwards of $130 to grope the girl of their choice on a simulated subway train.

The connoisseur picks out from the menu the girl of his choice, dressed either as a schoolgirl or office receptionist. This girl then beckons him through the window of a mock-up train carriage, which not only broadcasts station announcements, but even shakes and rattles.

Real-life incidents of subway train groping are on the decline, in part because more women are reporting them and the subway offering women-only cars during peak times.

Lost photographs of the bombing of Hiroshima

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 10, 2008

A month after the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, the US government imposed a code of censorship in Japan, which means that photos of the effects of the nuclear device are somewhat difficult to come by. Enter diner owner Don Levy of Watertown, MA.

One rainy night eight years ago, in Watertown, Massachusetts, a man was taking his dog for a walk. On the curb, in front of a neighbor’s house, he spotted a pile of trash: old mattresses, cardboard boxes, a few broken lamps. Amidst the garbage he caught sight of a battered suitcase. He bent down, turned the case on its side and popped the clasps.

He was surprised to discover that the suitcase was full of black-and-white photographs. He was even more astonished by their subject matter: devastated buildings, twisted girders, broken bridges — snapshots from an annihilated city. He quickly closed the case and made his way back home.

The photographs were taken by the US Strategic Bombing Survey immediately after the war and are now in the possession of the International Center of Photography. A copy of a report made by the US Strategic Bombing Survey is available online at the Truman Library.

What are the Japanese up to right now?

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 20, 2008

As part of the Japanese census, people were asked to keep a record of what they were doing in 15 minute intervals. The data was publicly released and Jonathan Soma took it and graphed the results so that you can see what many Japanese are up to during the course of a normal day.

Sports: Women like swimming, but men eschew the water for productive sports, which is the most important Japanese invention.

Early to bed and early to rise… and early to bed: People start waking up at 5 AM, but are taking naps by 7:30 AM.

Fascinating.

Photos fool face scanners

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 02, 2008

Japanese face-scanning vending machines designed to distribute cigarettes only to those of legal age can be fooled by holding a photo of an of-age person in front of the scanner.

In an effort to curtail healthcare spending,

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 11, 2008

In an effort to curtail healthcare spending, the Japanese government is requiring companies to cut the number of overweight workers (and their dependents!) by 25% as of 2015. Companies which fail to do so will have to pay into a fund for elderly care.

Reduced exercise, the adoption of western foods and an aging population have made Japanese men about 10 percent heavier than they were 30 years ago, ministry statistics show. Women are 6.4 percent fatter.

The ministry estimates that half of men over age 40 and 20 percent of women will be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. For men, a key yardstick is whether they have a waistline wider than 85 centimeters (33.5 inches). Body mass, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and smoking will also be taken into account.

Here’s a video of a car driving

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 26, 2007

Here’s a video of a car driving on Japan’s aforementioned melody roads. (thx, kyle)

The top 60 Japanese buzzwords and buzzphrases of 2007.

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 21, 2007

The top 60 Japanese buzzwords and buzzphrases of 2007.

The term “monster parents” refers to Japan’s growing ranks of annoying parents who make extravagant and unreasonable demands of their children’s schools.

(via bb)

Japanese researchers have developed “melody roads” that

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 20, 2007

Japanese researchers have developed “melody roads” that play tunes when you drive on them. You could use this technique for traffic calming…i.e. the road plays music only when you’re driving the speed limit and hope that there’s no second-order melody that plays at two times the speed limit to entice highway hackers to speed for forbidden tunes.

Japanese treadmill game show

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 14, 2007

Video of a Japanese game show where contestants have to clear hurdles while running on treadmills. There’s something Sisyphean about their task. No word on whether any of the contestants were able to take off.

Japanese retailer Uniqlo has opened a store

posted by Jason Kottke   May 07, 2007

Japanese retailer Uniqlo has opened a store in Tokyo that is essentially a giant vending machine for tshirts.

A Japanese temple building company goes out

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 18, 2007

A Japanese temple building company goes out of business after 1428 years. Kongo Gumi was founded in 578 and was the “world’s oldest continuously operating family business”.

Very much on the travel to-do list:

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2007

Very much on the travel to-do list: head to Japan to see the cherry blossoms.

There are some goldfish in Japan that

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 29, 2007

There are some goldfish in Japan that live in a functioning deep fat fryer. The frying oil floats above the water where the fish live and as long as they don’t try jumping out of their layer, they’re fine. A nice side effect of this arrangement is that the fish keep the fryer clean, eating whatever food scraps fall from the fryer above. (via cyn-c)

Japan’s top 30 emoticons. (via andre)

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 26, 2007

Japan’s top 30 emoticons. (via andre)

Do Japanese pitchers, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, a

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 23, 2007

Do Japanese pitchers, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, a new member of the Boston Red Sox, have an extra pitch called the gyroball? “The pitch started on the same course as a changeup, but it barely dipped. It looked like a slider, but it did not break. The gyroball, despite its zany name, is supposed to stay perfectly straight.” Nice accompanying infographics as well.

With rising domestic silk prices, decreasing sales

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 13, 2006

With rising domestic silk prices, decreasing sales and retiring masters, Japanese-made kimonos may become a thing of the past. One of the last remaining masters, 102-year-old Yasujiro Yamaguchi, says, “It cannot be helped. All we can do now is keep trying to make kimonos so beautiful that they will no longer be able to resist it. What choice do we have?” (via rc3)

Very simple Japanese game show: fail to

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 27, 2006

Very simple Japanese game show: fail to correctly repeat a tongue twister and you get hit in the balls. Bonus video: a monkey playing with a dog.

Update: The video in question is not a game show, it’s of some sort of comedy team; here’s a bunch more of their stuff. (thx, evan and gavin)

Author Haruki Murakami has spoken out against

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 05, 2006

Author Haruki Murakami has spoken out against a rise in Japanese nationalism and is planning to address the issue in his next book. “We don’t have to be tied by the past, but we have to remember it.”

New Japanese device records smells for later

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 29, 2006

New Japanese device records smells for later playback. Smell is the sense most associated with memory, so this could be quite a compelling personal history recorder.

Some photos of contemporary Japan.

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 16, 2006

Some photos of contemporary Japan.

The most popular video game in Japan

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 26, 2006

The most popular video game in Japan isn’t even a game…it’s software for the Nintendo DS for improving your mind.

“At elementary schools, kindergartens, and preschools all

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 20, 2006

“At elementary schools, kindergartens, and preschools all across Japan, kids are losing themselves making hikaru dorodango, or balls of mud that shine.” I really want to make one of these. (via rodcorp)