Hayashi Paper Co. sells toilet paper that is printed with "Drop," a horror story written by Koji Suzuki, writer for "Ring" and "Spiral." An English version is coming soon.
The product is made by Hayashi Paper Co., a firm in Shizuoka Prefecture with a staff of around 30. It is the brainchild of Hiroyuki Hayashi, president of Hayashi Paper, who contacted Suzuki and rolled out the idea. The popular author then agreed to write a short story for the roll. It is expected that some people will buy the product as a keepsake due to its gimmicky nature, while others will use it to take care of more pressing business.
The trade ministry, recognizing the toilet paper as a “Cool Japan” product with a distinctive feature, is getting behind attempts to develop sales channels for the quirky item. On June 14, trade minister Yukio Edano met with Hayashi and Suzuki and offered words of encouragement.
“I hope you will generate more ideas like this,” said Edano as he checked out the product. Visually that is.
Tofugu has a short article on this unusual and beautiful Japanese island: Aogashima.
Aogashima (“blue island”) is a tropical, volcanic island in the Phillipine Sea. Despite being over 200 miles away from the country’s capital, Aogashima is governed by Tokyo. In fact, a whole stretch of tropical and sometimes uninhabited islands called the Izu Islands are technically part of Tokyo. Volcanic islands? Not typically what comes to mind when you think of Tokyo.
As you might imagine, Aogashima isn’t the most crowded place in the world. As of this year, only about 200 people live on Aogashima. The island only has one post office and one school.
There are two ways on and off the island: by helicopter or by boat. There’s only one, small harbor where the boats go in an out of, and it seems to be a little unreliable. Because Aogashima is so remote and isolated, it can sometimes be hard to get a boat to or from the island safely.
A fellow named Izuyan has been traveling to isolated islands of Japan and taking excellent photos. Here's his Flickr set for Aogashima.
This playlist from YouTube user hideyasann features more than 100 short clips of trains and train restrooms in Japan. Most of the train videos are of trains pulling into a station, or changing tracks. Most of the toilet videos emphasize the flushing mechanisms—of which there are a surprising variety.
As a rail fan, it's interesting to see what so many different Japanese stations and trains look like. And there's no narration, so it's also interesting to watch these very matter-of-fact clips and think about the visual context they trigger in your head. Men in suits waiting on a platform for a train to change tracks—that's a scene from a serious drama about the inner psychology of a businessman. A shakey clip where the videographer walks towards an arriving train, and a station agent, while breathing heavily—that's totally a scene from a horror movie. I'm honestly not sure what to make of all the toilets.
It's also kind of awesome to just think about the level of obsession that went into this playlist. I'm not really sure what hideyasann is trying to document—Train variety? Train cleanliness? Is he or she just collecting the same footage from as many trains as possible? Whatever the goal, you can clearly see the love and fascination here. There's totally a Happy Mutant at work.
Models present lingerie maker Triumph's new concept bra, the "Super Cool Bra", during its unveiling in Tokyo on May 9, 2012. The bra, modeled after a miniature fishbowl, contains a gel material designed to draw excess heat out of the body in its cups. It was created to help women "feel refreshed" during summer by wearing it, the lingerie maker said. Japan is headed for a power shortage this summer following the shutdown of all nuclear power reactors. I don't really get what's up with the pipe.
LIFE.com has a beautiful gallery of Michael Rougier photographs from Japan in 1964: runaways, rock and rollers, biker gangs, "pill kids" and other Japanese teens. LIFE Magazine published some of these in September, 1964, but some have never before been published.
Above, the original caption from 1964: "Kako, languid from sleeping pills she takes, is lost in a world of her own in a jazz shop in Tokyo."
Cat 'Luca' sleeps in his basket as a waitress serves some food to customers in Vienna's first cat cafe May 7, 2012. After three years of negotiations with city officials over hygiene issues, Austria opened its first cat cafe last Friday. 'Cafe Neko', "Neko" meaning cat in Japanese, was opened by Vienna resident Takako Ishimitsu, 47, from Japan. Customers can stroke and interact with their five feline hosts, named Sonja, Thomas, Moritz, Luca and Momo, who all came from an animal shelter and now freely roam about the cafe and take naps. There's a slide show with more photos here.
Above, Alin Nava (C) stands in a checkout line at a supermarket in Monterrey April 5, 2012. Nava, 25, is dressed in the so-called "Lolita" fashion style (ロリータ・ファッション Rorīta fasshon), a fashion subculture from Japan influenced by clothing from the Victorian or Rococo eras. The basic style consists of a blouse, petticoat, bloomers, bell-shaped skirt and knee-high socks. Nava is the co-founder of the "Lolitas Paradise" club in Monterrey and for members of the club, the Lolita style is not only a fashion statement but also a way to express their loyalty, friendship, tolerance and unity.
I'm incredibly chuffed to learn that the Japanese edition of Little Brother is up for this year's Seiun award, along with Bacigalupi's Windup Girl, Mieville's The City & the City, Wilson's Chronoliths, Delany's Dhalgren and Ballad's Millennium People.
Almost as much fun as the "Unicorn Chaser" plane Boing Boing named for Virgin America airlines! A passenger looks out of an Airbus A330-300 aircraft of Taiwan's Eva Airlines, decorated with Hello Kitty motifs, in Taoyuan International Airport, northern Taiwan, April 30, 2012. Taiwan's second-largest carrier, Eva Airlines, and Japan's comic company, Sanrio, which owns the Hello Kitty brand, collaborated on the second generation Hello Kitty-themed aircraft which was launched on October 2011. There are currently three Hello Kitty-themed Airbus A330-300 aircrafts flying between cities such as Taipei, Fukuoka, Narita, Sapporo, Incheon, Hong Kong and Guam. More photos here, and we've previously blogged about the earlier generation of the Hello Kitty planes on Eva. (REUTERS/Pichi Chuang)