Japanese Toast Art

"Earlier this spring," begins Brian Ashcraft, "Hittomii began uploading toast art in earnest."

Why does Japan love giant robots so much?


Transforming pop culture: Giant robots, such as those in Guillermo del Toro's blockbuster 'Pacific Rim' (above), have been big in Japan for decades.

About this Japan Times article he wrote, Matt Alt in Tokyo tells Boing Boing, "I interviewed several anime industry legends and combined it with some of my own research. The upshot: it's all about the toys. Sort of. The illustration is by my pal Hideo Okamoto, whose designs grace everything from the Gundam series to Pokemon. Unfortunately the digital version has none of the glory of the paper!" But you can click here to see a scan of the print version.

Tokyo's "unmanned stores" - honor-system sheds where farmers sell their surplus produce


In Japan, farmers sell their blemished, surplus and otherwise unmarketable vegetables in unstaffed, honor-system roadside stalls called "Unmanned stores" ("mujin hanbai"). Produce is set out in trays with an anchored cashbox and a note inviting passers-by to take what they please and leave payment in the box. Farmers sometimes add recipes and other serving suggestions. Here's a map of 120+ mujin hanbais, in Nerima ward -- part of greater Tokyo (a city whose sprawl encompasses a surprising amount of farmland). A fascinating, lavishly illustrated article on PingMag explores the use and practice of these stores, including the growing trend to coin-operated lockers.

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Giant panorama of Tokyo from the Tokyo Tower

Jeffrey from 360 Cities sez, "I have spent the last few months working on the Tokyo Tower Gigapixel. This is the second-largest panorama I have ever made, but it is my #1 favorite overall. (Here is the biggest one - and previously: 1, 2, 3, 4."

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TEPCO admits Fukushima is leaking into the ocean

Experts have long suspected that the Fukushima nuclear power plant site is leaking contaminated water into the nearby ocean. Today, TEPCO, the Japanese energy company that owns the site, admitted this is, in fact, the case.

A neat seventies mashup gadget from Japan: The Sharp Abacus-Calculator

[Click for large view.] Author and blogger Matt Alt writes from Japan:

Ah, Seventies Japan! A Sharp Abacus-Calculator. Owned by Frederik Schodt, Japanese manga expert and all around great guy. (His book "Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics" is THE must-read on the topic). Abacuses were widely used throughout Japan up until fairly recently (the 1990s or so) and there are still a handful of schools out there who teach the techniques. "These aba-calcs were really used by people who wanted the best of both worlds," he told me.

Tokyo Disneyland's Jungle Cruise

At long last, Tokyo Disneyland is getting its own Jungle Boat Cruise, a first for a non-US Disney park. It will run night and day, and will sport a soundtrack and special effects. No word on whether the skippers will spiel and improv their way through the ride, or whether they'll just drive the boats. Cory 9

Source of increasing contamination at Fukushima Nuclear Plant unknown


Via VOA: "A leakage detective unit (C) and its detection punch unit on an underground water storage tank are seen at TEPCO's tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Fukushima, in this undated photograph released by TEPCO on April 6, 2013."

Snip from a report by Voice of America's Steve Herman in Tokyo:

"Fresh revelations about radiation contamination from the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant and a government regulator are prompting new concerns in Japan. What is expected to be a decades-long battle to halt radiation leaks and to clean up contaminated soil and water at the Fukushima-1 nuclear plant is back in the public eye following the release of new information this week."

TEPCO, the plant's operator, says there's a steady increase in the levels of radioactive cesium in the groundwater, and in levels of strontium and tritium offshore.

Tokyo tattoo tights


Tokyo Fashion Diaries reports on "tattoo stockings" that are apparently hot items this summer. They make their wearers appear to have elaborate tattoos up and down their legs -- a lower-limb twist on the tattoo sleeve shirts.

TATTOO STOCKINGS ARE STILL BOOMING IN JAPAN. HERE ARE SOME OF THE COOLEST (AND WEIRDEST?) FOR THIS SUMMER (translation)

(via Crazy Abalone)

What it’s like to order a pizza online in Japan

[Video Link] Sharla is a Canadian college student living in Japan. Here's a video she took that goes through the process of ordering a pizza to be delivered. It turns out you get a free gift when you order a pizza! (Via Dooby Brain)

Hyperlapse video from the PoV of a Tokyo automated train

Here's time-lapse footage from the front of a Tokyo Yurikamome automated train, shot and post-processed by DarwinFish105. It's a properly Gibsonian bit of video:

Darwinfish105's video is shot from the front of the train, and is a time-lapse taken from a moving viewpoint - hence the term "hyperlapse". He's modified the footage somewhat, mirroring the video horizontally to give a surreal, kaleidoscopic effect.>

Hyperlapse video shows off Tokyo's Turikamome railway (Thanks, Rob!)

Safecast, crowdsourced radiation monitoring project, logs 10 million data points

The crowdsourced radiation monitoring project Safecast, which was launched in the weeks after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, has reached a big milestone: they have collected and published over 10,000,000 individual data points.

Tokyo's underground bike-storage robots

Culture Japan Network TV shows us the underground bicycle-parking robots of Shinagawa, Tokyo. These machines ingest RFID-tagged bicycles and whisk them into their bowels and set them lovingly into huge subterranean crypts, from which they are robotically disinterred when their owners are ready to ride. Each machine holds 200 bikes. The manufacturer's representative explains that storing bikes underground protects them from "pranks" and frees up surface area for better applications, but inexplicably the area around the robo-ingesters is a blank field of paving bricks of approximately the same area that the bikes would occupy on the surface.

Underground Bicycle Parking Systems in Japan (via Kadrey)

Prosthetics maker does a roaring trade in replacement pinkies for ex-yakuza


Shintaro Hayashi, a Tokyo prosthetics maker, spent most of this life making medical prostheses for people who'd lost breasts, limbs, etc, but now does a booming trade in fake pinkie fingers for ex-yakuza gangsters who don't want to broadcast their criminal past (yakuza members who screw up have their pinkies lopped off in retaliation).

The doctor molds silicone prosthetic pinkies, made to seamlessly mask the amputation, making for a smoother transition to the outside world. Priced at nearly $3,000 each, the fingers are carefully painted, to match the exact skin color of the client. Former yakuza members, who make up 5 percent of Hayashi's business, often keep several sets of fingers for different seasons – the light skinned version for winter, and a tanned look for summer.

Hayashi sums up his clientele in three categories: Those who are dragged into his office by girlfriends worried about their reputations, ex-members who are eager to move up the corporate ladder but worried about the repercussions of their past being exposed, longtime yakuza who have no intention of getting out, but need to cover up for a child's wedding or grandchild's sporting event.

"Many people keep a fist, to prevent detection," he said. "But there comes a point where you can't hide your fingers any longer. Some people have one joint severed, others have worse," he said.

Prosthetic Fingers Help Reform Japan's Feared Yakuza Gangsters [Akiko Fujita/ABC]

Eyeball face makeup


The Brazilian website "Arte do Medo" identifies this amazing eyeball face horror makeup as originating in Japan, though no other details are forthcoming.


Update: Thanks to BB commenters FakeNina and Daemonworks, this fellow has been identified as Hikaru Cho, whose Tumblr is here, and whose personal site is here.

ARTE DO MEDO #5 (via Super Punch)