Uni's Kuru Toga Roulettes are mechanical pencils that solve a problem I've never had, which is that the tip wears differentially, eventually creating a blunt instrument (I am a clod whose draftsmanship looks like I tried writing in a zeppelin caught in a tornado, so this is not a problem for me) -- the Roulette contains a tiny gearing mechanism that rotates the lead by a quarter-turn every time you lift the tip (e.g. between words); this creates an even wear around the lead's tip, keeping it sharp and reducing the likelihood that it will snap. (via Core 77)
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Yosuke Kurosawa takes a tour of Nara Juvenile Prison, which was in use until 2017 and will soon be turned into hotels for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It's like a really clean Shawshank Prison. Read the rest
I've been to Japan seven times, once staying for five months. Most of the facts in the video new to me (free dry ice in supermarkets!) This short video presents 50 interesting facts about modern Japanese society, and many of them are useful for people visiting. Read the rest
Yoko Eda, a recent grad from Musashino Art University's Science of Design department, has produced a series of gorgeous, hyperealistic acrylic paintings showing everyday objects (glue bottles, toothpaste tubes, packages of plastic tubs, cleaning brushes, boxes of matches, lip balm tubes) sliced and arrayed like sashimi. Spoon and Tamago has lots more of Eda's outstanding work.
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This summer, I am working as an intern at the company Switch Science in Tokyo, Japan. Switch Science creates electronics kits for people to build and learn from. They produce products that are enjoyable for kids in elementary school all the way up to adults interested in electronics. Read the rest
This is amazing to watch. Read the rest
Amidst all the hubbub surrounding a trapped soccer team, Supreme Court nominations and idiot-Canadian music stars getting engaged to models, there’s not been much talk about what’s going on in Japan right now—and that’s a shame because it’s some very serious shit.
Torrential rains battered the Pacific island nation last week, causing landslides and flash floods which, at last count, had killed at least 127 people and have forced the evacuation of millions. Many of the displaced have been able to return to their homes, but things are still really fucked up. According to Reuters, just about all of homes that lost power as a result of the storms have been reconnected to the grid. But the people in storm-affected areas are still pretty fucked. Temperatures in city of Kurashiki, for example, which was hit particularly hard, are set to reach 91°F, with high humidity. They might have air-conditioning, in some cases, but very likely don’t have easy access to potable water. Some areas are able to have bottled water, medical supplies and food trucked in, but a lot of the roads in areas strike by mudslides are just gone.
The Japanese government has budgeted billions of bucks for cleaning up after disasters like this one, but it takes time to bring infrastructure back from the brink. What’s more, the worst may still be yet to come.
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A new evacuation order was issued on Tuesday in one part of the western prefecture of Hiroshima, after a river blocked by debris overflowed its banks.
Eight-two-year-old Masafumi Nagasaki is being called the Japanese Robinson, a reference to Robison Crusoe, the fictional castaway who lived on a deserted island. Now, after living on a remote island for nearly 30 years, Nagasaki has been forced back into civilization by the Japanese government.
Masafumi Nagasaki arrived on the island of Sotobanari, on the Yaeyama Islands, an archipelago in the southwest of Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, in 1989 and lived a life in solitude until he became known as the “naked hermit” as a 76-year-old in 2012. The island is one of the few that remain deserted in Japan where according to locals, even fisherman rarely stop...
It’s unclear how Mr Nagasaki ended up on Sotobanari in the first place...
Mr Nagasaki said he was working in a factory in Osaka when one day a colleague told him about a mysterious archipelago and since then he dreamt of escaping from civilisation. One day, when on a flight, he was “horrified” by the amount of pollution he saw in the sea below and “exploded”. So the self-confessed “city man with no outdoor experience” packed his bags and found his remote island hideaway. He thought he would stay perhaps two years max, but ended up clocking almost 30 years...
Alvaro Cerezo of Docastaway, a company that provides remote island experiences, tracks castaway types like Nagasaki and spent five days with him in 2015. During that time, he was able to interview him in the place he's lived peacefully since 1989:
It had been Nagasaki's wish to die on the island. Read the rest
Artist Masumi Ishikawa has announced a new project to immortalize iconic David Bowie imagery in the style of ukiyo-e, or Japanese woodcuts. Read the rest
Nerikomi is a classical form of pottery where different colored clays are rolled into cylinders, then cross-sectioned to reveal a pattern. So soothing to watch the string cut through!
Faith Rahill has a great step-by-step demonstration here:
Nerikomi (often referred to as “neriage”) is a decorative process established in Japan that involves stacking colored clay and then slicing through the cross section to reveal a pattern, which can then be used as an applied decoration. Nerikomi designs provide a wonderful way to work three dimensionally with patterns and images. The results reflect a combination of both careful planning and accidental surprise, plus it’s exciting work for those who love patterns and are drawn to the wet-clay stage of pottery making.
Here are a couple more examples with far less annoying music. The agate pottery revealed after firing the glaze is especially nice:
• Centuries old pottery gets new layer (YouTube / NHK WORLD-JAPAN) Read the rest
When Sony announced in 2014 that support was ending for Aibo, their pioneering line of robotic dogs, former Sony employee Nobuyuki Norimatsu launched A-Fun, a repair service in Japan, to take care of any ailing Aibos. Things progressed from there. Video below. From National Geographic:
Norimatsu came to regard the broken AIBOs his company received as “organ donors.” Out of respect for the owners’ emotional connection to the “deceased” devices, Norimatsu and his colleagues decided to hold funerals.
A-Fun approached Bungen Oi, head priest of Kōfuku-ji, a Buddhist temple in Chiba Prefecture's city of Isumi. Oi agreed to take on the duty of honoring the sacrifice of donor AIBOs before their disassembly. In 2015, the centuries-old temple held its first robot funeral for 17 decommissioned AIBOs. Just as with the repairs, demand for funeral ceremonies quickly grew...
According to Head Priest Oi, honoring inanimate objects is consistent with Buddhist thought. Nippon.com quotes the priest: “Even though AIBO is a machine and doesn’t have feelings, it acts as a mirror for human emotions.”
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Asian Boss asked Japanese people on the streets in Tokyo to try American style sushi.
"I can see that they try to hide the fish flavor by using mayonnaise and adding a bunch of avocado."
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In the latest episode of Asian Boss, people in the streets of Japan are given American style sushi and asked what they think about it. Most of them don't consider the complex, spicy concoctions to be sushi at all. Sample comments: "This is sushi?" "It tastes like Indian food." "Japanese people won't like this." "Not sushi." "I'd rate it 0 as a sushi." "I would never order this at a restaurant."
Image: Youtube/Asian Boss. Read the rest
Bandai created armored cats ("Nekobusou") as a jokey tweet whose unexpected popularity inspired the toymaker to go into production with a like of armored cat figurines ranging from $5-14 each.
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Tokyo artist Monde created a set of bookends for last week's Tokyo Design Festa that are tall, narrow dioramae containing detailed miniatures of the narrow laneways of Tokyo, with street furniture, signage and cobblestones; alas, these don't appear to be production items (and would need some kind of weight or underbook tongues to serve as effective bookends), but they're lovely to look at!
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Purikura means "printing club" in Japanese. It's basically a place for teens and kids to take their pictures in photobooths, filter them, and print them out as stickers. I took my daughters to the purikura shown here on Takeshita Street, and we really didn't know what we were doing, because the touch screens were in Japanese and loaded with options. I also noticed signs that said "No Men Allowed." The guy working there noticed that I was looking at the sign and he said, "Family OK!" and gave me the OK sign with his hand.
This video explains how to use a purikura machine. It still confuses me. Read the rest