"Earlier this spring," begins Brian Ashcraft, "Hittomii began uploading toast art in earnest."
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.
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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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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.
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 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.
(via Crazy Abalone)
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!)
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.
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]
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.