Watch: "Godspeed You! Black Emperor," a short 1976 documentary about a Japanese motorcycle youth subculture

In the 1970s, a youth subculture of anti-establishment motorcycle clubs emerged in Japan called bōsōzoku that's still raging to this day, albeit in smaller numbers. Mitsuo Yanagimachi's short 16mm documentary "God Speed You! Black Emperor" is a fascinating and fun look into this tribe through the story of a member of the Black Emperors club. And yes, the film title was the source of the Canadian experimental rock band's name.

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

FaceTime some eels -- because they are "forgetting about people"

The Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo is pleading with the public to video-chat their garden eels starting on Sunday, because they are forgetting that humans exist.


"Could you show your face to our garden eels from your home?"

Yes, they're asking people to call in for a sub-aqua video chat and remind the eels that humans are friendly.

"Creatures in the aquarium don't see humans except keepers and they have started forgetting about humans," the aquarium wrote on Twitter.

"Garden eels in particular disappear into the sand and hide every time the keepers pass by."

The eels are particularly sensitive - and the aquarium is keen to reacquaint the 300 eels it homes with humans so they can carry out important health checks on them.

From May 3 to 5, you can use your iPhone or iPad (no Androids or PCs) to FaceTime these sensitive creatures. The aquarium will have five tablets pointed at the eels and ask that you (Google-translated from Japanese):

1) Open the app from the iPhone or iPad, please take a video call by entering the following one of the gmail address to the destination... Helpchin001attogmail.Com Helpchin002attogmail.Com Helpchin003attogmail.Com Helpchin004attogmail.Com Helpchin005attogmail.Com 2) After the beginning of the tablet terminal and a video call that was placed before the aquarium, to the spotted garden eel Shake or call while showing your face. Please refrain cry loudly ※. 3) terminal to be installed is five. When you can see your face for about 5 minutes, hang up the call for the next person.

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Tokyo's busy Shibuya area before and during the pandemic

The Tokyoite who creates videos for the Nippon Wandering TV YouTube channel took a bike ride around Shibuya and shot video of the streets, then spliced in pre-pandemic video of the same area.

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Osaka mayor says men should buy groceries because women "dawdle at shops"

In the interest of reducing the chances of exposure to the coronavirus, Osaka, Japan mayor Ichiro Matsuimen thinks men should be entrusted with buying groceries, because women "take a long time as they browse around and hesitate about this and that," according to Channel News Asia. "Men can snap up things they are told (to buy) and go, so I think it's good that they go shopping, avoiding human contact."

Photo by Cleyton Ewerton on Unsplash


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How Animal Crossing is modeled on 18th century debt-based Japanese villages

Naomi Clark is on the faculty of New York University's game Center. In this video she talks about how Tom Nook, the leader of the island communities in Animal Crossing, is much like the leader of an 18th-century Japanese village, who is task with managing communal debt.

Image: Nintendo Read the rest

Video of a deserted-looking Tokyo after state of emergency declared

The guy who runs the Nippon Wandering TV YouTube channel hopped on his bike and took a video of Tokyo's Shinjuku ward six days after the Japanese government declared a state of emergency. The video was shot at 7:30 at night, which is usually a busy time for this area. Many of the businesses still have bright lights on but the number of pedestrians is much lower than usual.

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People stuck at Japan's Narita airport are sleeping in $70/night cardboard boxes

Everyone entering Japan must be tested for coronavirus. While waiting for test results, they are welcome to stay in Narita airport's cardboard box hotel, conveniently located next to baggage claim. The service, which was set up by the Japanese government, charges about $70 a night. The average stay is 2 days.

From Samchui:

The cardboard beds have a futon mattress that is “pretty good”, according to an online review from a passenger who arrived at Narita on an ANA flight from Vietnam.

Many travellers have commented that sleeping is difficult, since the lights remain on at all hours.

The open-air beds have partitions at alternating corners, but are mostly exposed. Beverages and snacks are provided.

You've got to admit, it looks pretty cozy. Read the rest

Video of desolate Tokyo streets

Japan is under a state of emergency. Nippon wandering TV took an hour long bike ride through Tokyo's Akihabara district to reveal the nearly empty streets and sidewalks.

Compare to this short video of Akihabara I shot in the the summer of 2018: Read the rest

Tokyo records highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day

Pressure for lockdown in Japan is building, as Tokyo recorded the most coronavirus cases in a single day. Read the rest

Japanese street interview: should Japan cancel the Olympics

That Japanese Man Yuta went on the streets of Japan to ask people if they thought the Olympics should be canceled, or at least postponed. Most people interviewed said it should be postponed until an effective vaccine is available. Second most common opinion is to wait and see what plays out. Read the rest

Must-haves: Drunk in public Japanese capsule toys

Capsule toys from vending machines are a big deal in Japan, often putting our less-inspired ones to shame. Case in point, these new miniature figures introduced by the Tama-Kyu company, that depict people who are intoxicated in public!

SoraNews24 reports:

The series, named #YopparaiNau (Drunk Now), is made up of five different lushes, each in a different predicament and measuring about five centimeters (two inches) in height.

All the greatest hits are there:

...“Person Wearing a Pylon” ...“Person Sleeping on the Side of the Road” ...“Person Hugging a Telephone Pole” ...“Person Hugging a Telephone Pole” ...“Person who Needs a Waste Basket.”

The cost? 300 yen (approx. US $2.72) each.

Get a closer look at all five figurines at SoraNews24.

Thanks, Lynn!

images via PR Times Read the rest

What do Japanese people think of the "Japanese Only" ramen shop?

The owner of a ramen shop in Japan thinks non-Japanese people are more likely to have and spread coronavirus, so he put a hand drawn sign in front of his restaurant that says "Sorry!! Japanese Only Sorry!!!"

In this video Yuta, host of the YouTube channel That Japanese Man Yuta, interviewed Japanese people to find out what they think about this. As you might guess, some people are in favor of banning foreigners from the shop, while others think it's wrong. Read the rest

French photographer explains how she was able to take photos of Yakuza bosses' wives

Photographer Chloé Jafé worked as a hostess in a Tokyo bar to meet and gain the trust of members of the Japanese mafia. Six years later, she published a photography book called I Give You My Life, which according to BBC, "reveal hidden sides to the wives of men in the Japanese underworld – including the tattoos that cover their bodies."

Image: Vimeo Read the rest

Fun new Japanese anti-drug video featuring creepy cannabis bats

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government presents this new public service announcement to warn children against cannabis bats, among other things. Rough translation of the video description via Google Translate:

In Tokyo, we created educational videos, posters, and leaflets for the younger generation to raise awareness of the prevention of substance abuse. The contents are easy to understand about the dangers of drug abuse such as cannabis and dangerous drugs, the effects of abuse, and how to decline when invited.

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If you lose your keys, phone, or wallet in Japan, you will probably get it back. Here's why

When I was in Tokyo in 2017, I left my daypack in a taxi. I asked the person who was running a cooking class I was attending if there was anything I could do about it. He made a phone call and within an hour the backpack was returned. This article in Mental Floss explains why it's so easy to recover lost items in Japan. The reason is that large cities like Tokyo have lots of tiny police stations, called kōban (交番) in every neighborhood. People who find purses, wallets, etc., take them to the nearest kōban. Here's how it works, according to Mental Floss:

In 2018, 4.1 million missing items were turned in to police, and the chances of reuniting them with their owners is pretty good. That same year, 130,000 of 156,000 lost phones (83 percent) were returned and 240,000 wallets (65 percent) went home.

Missing items are typically held at the local koban for one month in case the owner retraces their steps and comes back. After that, they’re sent to a Lost and Found Center at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, where the item is cataloged, searched for information relating to its owner, and then put into an online database that the public can check. Belongings are held for three months. After that, they might be handed over to the person who found it. If not, they become the property of the local government, where they might eventually trickle down to secondhand thrift sales.

Image by Suikotei - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 Read the rest

Kapibara-san, Capybara plush toys from Japan

Japan is increasingly obsessed with capybaras, the best rodent and very likely the best animal of all time. Accordingly, there's a plush toy craze to go with it: behold Kapibara-san.

No animal is complete without its own cute character in Japan—and capybaras have Kapibara-san (link in Japanese). By one estimate, over 5,000 items (link in Japanese) now bear the face of the character, which was launched in 2005. According to Kapibara-san’s owner, toy giant Bandai, capybaras are known for their ”happy, natural, and easygoing lifestyle” and loved for their healing effect on humans.

The photo above was posted by Tryworks. Kapibara-San are available on Amazon, but eBay has better deals.

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Video of a cool old Tokyo neighborhood slated for redevelopment

One of my favorite YouTube channels is Nippon Wandering TV, in which a guy walks and bikes around Japanese streets with a GoPro camera. In his latest video he bikes around Keisei Tateishi station in northeast Tokyo. and takes a look at an old neighborhood that is going to be plowed to make way for redevelopment. "Tokyo plans to redevelop this neighborhood and the retro street, old hidden bar izakaya will be all gone in the near future," he writes. "I miss these old alleys, but it can’t be avoided."

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