The coolest portable record players in the world

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Fumihito Taguchi's fantastic collection of vintage portable record players, including the wonderful specimens seen here, will be on display at Tokyo's Lifestyle Design Center from July 30 to August 28. See more at this Fashion Press post and in Taguchi's book "Japanese Portable Record Player Catalog," available in the US from my favorite vinyl soulslingers Dusty Groove. (via #vinyloftheday)

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Watch 32 out-of-sync metronomes magically synchronize

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The magic of physics.

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In Japan, you can rent your friends

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For around US$115 for two hours, you can rent a friend via Tokyo company Client Partners. (No, this isn't code for prostitution.) From Chris Colin's article in The Week:

As we nibble at pork with ginger, (rent-a-friend) Yumi cheerfully tells me about the gigs she has had since joining Client Partners. (The six-year-old agency is the largest of its kind in Japan, with eight branches across Tokyo and another that recently opened in Osaka.) There was the mystery writer who wanted her to read the novel he'd toiled away at for 10 years. Another man needed someone to talk with about his aging parents — not in person, but via months of emails. Like Miyabi, Yumi works weddings. For one, she was hired to play the sister of the bride — a real, living woman who was in a family feud that precluded her actual attendance. The mother of the bride was also a rental. The two impostors got along swimmingly.

Yumi explains that these are just the more theatrical gigs. The bulk of her clients? They just want basic, uncomplicated companionship. From Yumi's vantage point, the breadth and depth of that need says something profound about her country.

There's a word in Japanese, gaman, that translates roughly as "stoic forbearance in the face of the unbearable." It's a deep-seated Japanese value, this idea that you suck it up no matter what. A lot has been happening lately. Anxiety and depression spiked after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The country itself is shrinking, its population plummeting and aging rapidly.

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Monsters from The Grudge and The Ring square off for first pitch at Japanese baseball game

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A promo for "Sadako vs. Kayako," a forthcoming movie in which the monsters from J-horror classics The Ring and The Grudge fight one another, saw the two of them playing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Nippon-Ham Fighters baseball game, with The Ring's Sadako pitching a 96km/h ball to The Grudge's Kayako, who handed off running duties to Toshio. Read the rest

Watch Supaidāman, the 1970s Japanese live action Spiderman

Supaidāman (スパイダーマン) aired in Japan for one season from 1978-1979. Spider's suit is familiar, but in this series his main power is that he, um, pilots a transforming robot named Leopardon. From Wikipedia:

Although the show's story was criticized for bearing almost no resemblance to the Marvel version, the staff at Marvel Comics, including Spider-Man's co-creator Stan Lee, praised the show for its special effects and stunt work, especially the spider-like movement of the character himself.[5] While it is said that Marvel initially opposed the addition of Leopardon, the robot was viewed as a necessary gimmick to attract younger viewers and was ultimately kept. The show's mechanical designer, Katsushi Murakami (a toy designer at the time), expressed concern about Toei's capability to market Spider-Man to Japanese audiences and was given permission by producer Yoshinori Watanabe to take whatever liberties he deemed necessary. Murakami came up with the idea of giving Spider-Man an extraterrestrial origin, as well as a spider-like spacecraft that could transform into a giant robot (due to the popularity of the giant robot shows in Japan at the time).

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Massive, coordinated ATM heist in Japan nets $12.7 million (¥‎1.4 billion)

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Crooks hit 1,400 convenience store ATMs in the space of two hours, using forged ATM cards based on data stolen from a South African bank. Read the rest

Mitsubishi's dieselgate: cheating since 1991

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Mitsubishi has admitted that it cheated on emissions standards tests for a quarter of a century, and it admits that this affected 600,000 cars, but the company says that the cheating cars were only sold to Japanese people. Read the rest

A place for Peanuts fans to go wild

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Roppongi Hills is a very hoity-toity shopping area in Tokyo. You have to buy tickets to get into the mall! But a seven minute walk from the Roppongi subway station you will find the brand new Snoopy Museum. Now, it may be called the “Snoopy” Museum, and from the outside it looks like the Snoopy Museum …

… in fact it’s really a “Peanuts” Museum. If your response to that is “Good grief,” then please hit the back button and all of Boing Boing awaits you. But, if you’re like me and you’ve been reading “Peanuts” your whole life, this is a sublime pleasure and I look forward to visiting in October.

The museum has just opened on April 23, and its English language website says that tickets sell for a measly 1,800 yen ($16.50) if you buy them in advance, which I would since the Japanese are very well organized and obsessive about this kind of stuff:

Visitors will have the opportunity to view unique original cartoons from the collection of the Charles M. Schulz Museum. This will include large-scale works created by Mr. Schulz himself, featuring popular characters like Snoopy and Woodstock.

Every six months, the Snoopy Museum will introduce new exhibitions curated by the Charles M. Schulz Museum. These will include early comics that were drawn before Peanuts, such as his Li’l Folks cartoons, animation art, Vince Guaraldi’s jazz music from animated Peanuts cartoons, and rare vintage Peanuts memorabilia. In addition, unpublished sketches and artwork will be displayed in a section highlighting an unknown side of Schulz sure to surprise and delight even his most loyal of fans.

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Beautiful Japanese "minimalist survival kit" that fits in a tube you wear on your back

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The Minim+Aid is a "minimalist survival kit" from Japanese design firm Nendo that features "a whistle to alert others of one’s presence, a radio [that can also charge your phone], raincoat, lantern, drinking water and a plastic case, all packaged inside of a 5cm wide tube that is waterproof and floats." Read the rest

Music video made for viewing on a smartphone

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Japanese pop group Lyrical School made a video for their song "Run and Run" that looks like it has taken over your phone. It's another indication that the portrait mode vs. landscape mode war is over.

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Japanese teen girl metal band Babymetal performs on Colbert

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Babymetal made their US TV debut when they performed their song "Gimme Chocolate!!" on Colbert's Late Show last night. Read the rest

Babymetal, live on Colbert!

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Babymetal, Japan's greatest synthetic all-woman heavy metal band, just released their second album, Metal Resistance, an occasion they celebrated with an outstanding live appearance on Colbert, performing Gimme Chocolate, their biggest hit. (via Metafilter). Read the rest

Watch: Magician dexterously floats credit-cards around Tokyo

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Zach Muller, a card mechanic (previously, previously) got a commercial gig for JAL that has him wandering the streets of Tokyo, dazzling people with amazing credit-card tricks. (Thanks, Magicpeacelove!) Read the rest

A wonderful 4 minute video tour of Japan

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Each scene in Vincent Urban's video of the wide variety of wonderful things in Japan lasts just a couple of seconds. I can't wait to return.

This film is a collection of audiovisual moments and memories of a 3-week railway journey through Japan in 2015. We were whizzing through the country with the Shinkansen visiting Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and Kyoto as well as lots of wonderful little places along the way, meeting the most friendly people and experiencing a culture that somehow balances its rich tradition with a very futuristic present.
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Starving pensioners in Japan responsible for shoplifting crime-wave

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Japan's recently expanded prisons are already at 70% occupancy, an incarceration epidemic blamed on hungry pensioners who account for 35% of the nation's shoplifting, with a high rate of re-offending. Read the rest

Learn what it takes to be a sushi chef

Oona Tempest is an apprentice sushi chef at New York City's Tanoshi Sushi. I do love my sushi, but I definitely wouldn't have the fortitude or filleting-skills to be trained as a chef. (Eater)

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All aboard the railroad at Tokyo Disneyland!

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While the railroad at Disneyland in Anaheim, California is out of service for a year and a half while the route is being changed and “The Star Wars Experience” is being built, I thought it might be fun to take you for a ride on The Western River Railroad at Tokyo Disneyland, which remains exactly the same as it was on park opening in 1983.

While the railroads at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris run around the perimeter of the parks and are a both a method of transportation as well as an attraction (the latter at some parks more than others), the railroad at Tokyo Disneyland is something else entirely.

Because of burdensome government regulations regarding railroad operation which would have prevented a typical Disney-style railroad that circled the park with multiple stations, the executives at The Oriental Land Company (a consortium of well-known Japanese corporations formed specifically to build and operate the Tokyo Disney park) and Walt Disney Imagineering cleverly decided to do something different.

Called “The Western River Railroad,” the attraction has four steam powered trains: The Colorado, The Mississippi, The Missouri, and The Rio Grande. There is only one station, which sits atop the entrance to The Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. It functions solely as an attraction, and so there’s a lot more to see (particularly after the subsequent construction of some major attractions after the park opened).

From the station, the train runs around the perimeter of the Jungle Cruise and then past a small scenic station called Stillwater Junction. Read the rest

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