Former Gravure model and television personality Ayaka Ichinose (34) and actress Akane Sugimori (28) have announced that they are a couple and will marry in Tokyo next April.
This follows the news earlier this month that Hotel Granvia in Kyoto is offering a “gay weddings” service, in cooperation with a local Buddhist temple, joining Tokyo Disneyland in accommodating gay couples who want to marry in Japan.
Japan, needless to say, does not legally allow gay marriage, and so these “marriages” are all purely ceremonial. Article 24 of the Constitution of Japan is interpreted to mean only men and women may marry.
Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.
While there are some famous openly celebrities in Japan — perhaps most notably Akihiro Miwa — Ichinose and Sugimori might be the only open LGBT couple in the entertainment industry. Ichinose came out in 2009 and met Sugimori at a gay bar in Shinjuku in late 2012. They also now say they hope to adopt a child, though again their chances here are surely slim.
Japan has a rich gay history but LGBT rights get short shrift in the mainstream media, despite some estimates that around 5% of the population may be a sexual minority.
In the recent Lower House election former Toshima ward assemblyman Taiga Ishikawa failed to become Japan’s first elected openly gay member of parliament.
In June a lesbian couple generated headlines when they submitted a wedding application to Aomori City, which was rejected on constitutional grounds. The 23rd Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival in July included a reading of the play “8″ by Dustin Lance Black, which portrays the federal trial that led to the overturning of Proposition 8 in California. Could a similar court case in Japan be a possibility in the future?
Gotta catch ‘em all. Or should that be “eat and drink ‘em all”?
Shibuya Parco will open the Pokémon Cafe (Pokémon cafe Ω Ruby & α Sapphire) next month.
Opening January 9th, the pop-up cafe will be around until the end of February at THE GUEST cafe & diner, on the seventh floor of Parco 1 in Shibuya.
It will feature a menu of Pokémon-themed dishes, snacks and latte art, along with selling official merchandise. Customers who place an order will get a free coaster and the cafe will also have a “photo spot” for the serious fans.
You take a look at some of the drinks, dishes and desserts on the menu here.
If we’re honest, Japanese television is not acclaimed for its sophistication or journalistic integrity.
And the coverage of the recent Lower House election last weekend did little to boost that reputation, especially the screen captions employed by TV Tokyo.
The channel is known for doing things a bit differently to other broadcasters but it might have taken this policy for being alternative to a new level this time.
Its captions gave extra “tidbits” about the politicos that were frankly sometimes funny, often surreal — and always politically irrelevant. Perhaps the channel knew how silly the election was and just wanted to make light of the situation?
Here are some of our favorites, which delighted Japanese netizens.
Eisuke Mori (66)
Former Justice minister. Approved execution of 9 people. Went with daughter to GLAY concert with 200,000 people. “I strain my back once or twice a year.”
Masatoshi Akimoto (39)
Was once turned away by a taxi because he is anti-nuclear power.
His first love was kindergarten teacher.
(former Prime Minister) Yoshihiko Noda
His special skill is a strong punch.
Katsuya Okada (61)
“Top class” for numbers of questions. Has trouble parking.
Karen Makishima (38)
Has dissected a wild boar. Holds a license for trap hunting.
Recently worries about his metabolism.
Well, now how about the Monster Face Pack?
Makers Isshin Do Honpo’s next remarkable skin care tool is a series of four face packs inspired by classic Hollywood horror ghouls. They not only make you look like something straight out of an old movie, they are appropriately made with rosemary, a plant that has traditionally been used in Europe to ward off evil spirits.
First up is the Vampire Face Pack.
The red and white colors are as vibrant as you’d expect from the creators of the Kabuki Face Pack. The details are great, from the bat wings around the eyes to the fangs and the drip of blood on the mouth. Isshin promises that wearing it won’t make you develop an appetite for other people’s blood!
Here’s the Wolfman Face Pack, which transforms you into a werewolf. Feel free to wear the face pack at full moons or any other time of the month for that matter. Don’t worry, it’s not hairy.
The Skeleton Monster Face Pack is, of course, black and white. We love the teeth! Since the one thing skeletons are seriously lacking is skin, we do wonder about the irony of a face pack with this particular undead creature!
Lastly, Frankenstein’s Monster Face Pack is inspired by the classic Boris Karloff look of the creature Baron Frankenstein makes, from the green skin to the “stitches”. You don’t have to do a silly walk while wearing the face pack but it might help!
While these are obviously novelty ideas which put the fun back into skin care, they are still nonetheless genuine beauty treatment tools that contain nutrients and ingredients designed to improve the quality and vigor of your face. Such face packs are popular in Japan with women as daily items worn before bed.
Isshin Do Honpo have also issued a new Kabuki Face Pack, the Kabuki Face Pack Kotobuki with two new colorful designs based on Kabuki make-up.
We’ve all seen them. We’ve all pitied them. We’ve all admired them.
Japanese trains are full of odd sights — but perhaps none so odd as the spectacle of people managing to get some shuteye no matter how crowded or what position they are in, whether standing, sitting, kneeing or (unfortunately for those around them) leaning. No matter how fast the train is going, no matter who is watching — the Japanese are able to sleep anywhere.
Even more impressively, they are more often than not able to wake up in time for their stop. It must be some sort of innate ability taught when salarymen join major corporations.
A new music video called “Dreamer Nippon Inemuri” is proving popular because it pays tribute to these sleepy commuters, featuring a series of shots of people sleeping while riding a train. (“Nippon Inemuri” literally means “Japan dozing”.)
The roughly 50 sleepers were filmed by digital marketing planner Kairi Manabe over two days on public transport. We’re not sure if this counts as infringing on their rights but the results are interesting to watch — not least to admire the tenacity of these train passengers determined to get some sleep no matter what.
The music for the video is by Yusuke Emoto.
The video is actually a Web commercial for Home’s, a real estate portal site which offers a function where you can filter searches based on the commuting time. In other words, it’s encouraging you to move somewhere that’s closer to work! “A long, long way to bed” as the video poignantly says at the end…
Google has shared shared the top search terms in Japan for 2014.
Here are the top search terms, which were of course originally in Japanese and so vary slightly from the translation or English equivalent.
Overall Searchword Ranking
4. Weather forecast
7. Pazudora (Puzzle & Dragons)
9. Yahoo! Auction
1. World Cup
2. Yo-Kai Watch
3. Sochi Olympic
6. Kei Nishokori
7. Yuzuru Hanyu
8. Dengue fever
9. Ken Takakura
10. Mt Ontake
1. World Cup
2. Sochi Olympics
4. Dengue fever
5. Mt Ontake
6. Ebola virus
7. Nobel prize
9. Asia Games
1. Kei Nishikori (tennis player)
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (figure skater)
3. Ken Takakura (actor)
4. Ryutaro Nonomura (politician)
5. Takajin Yashiki (singer, TV personality)
6. Mamoru Samuragoch (composer)
7. ASKA (musician)
8. Sota Fukushi (actor)
9. Noriaki Kasai (ski jumper)
10. Robin Willians (actor, comedian)
1. Haruko Obokata (stem cell biologist)
2. Mao Asada (figure skater)
3. Ayaka Shiomura (politician)
4. Zawachin (celebrity impersonator)
5. Kanna Hashimoto (music idol)
6. Nippon Erekiteru Rengou (comedy duo)
7. Seiko Yamamoto (wrestler)
8. Takako Matsu (actor)
9. May J. (singer)
10. Keiko Kitagawa (actor)
Trending Deceased Persons
1. Ken Takakura (actor)
2. Ken Utsui (actor)
3. Eiichi Ohtaki (actor)
4. Takajin Yashiki (singer, TV personality)
5. Robin Williams (actor, comedian)
6. Keiko Awaji (actor)
7. Takako Doi (politician)
8. Junko Ouchi (fashion critic)
9. Yoshiki Sasai (stem cell biologist)
10. Akio Sanpei (writer)
Trending TV Dramas
1. “Hirugao” (Fuji)
2. “Ashita mama ga inai” (NTV)
3. “Hanko to Anne” (NHK)
4. “Gochisousan” (NHK)
5. “Shitsuren Chocolatier” (Fuji)
6. “Massan” (NHK)
7. “First Class” (Fuji)
8. “Roosevelt Game” (TBS)
9. “Kuroda Kanbei” (“Gushi Kanbei”) (NHK)
10. “Gomen ne seishun” (TBS)
2. Jibanyan (from Yo-Kai Watch)
Move over Christopher Nolan. Mitsubishi recently offered an interstellar virtual test drive for its Outlander Phev model using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Like the Nissan Leaf, the Outlander Phev is as much a giant battery as a vehicle. The EV can be charged up and store the electricity needed to power a household for a day. This makes it ideal for this kind of marketing gimmick, since you can plug in your computer and Oculus Rift directly into the car.
With the aid of the system, one lucky guy recently drove an Outlander Phev to the stars in a Mitsubishi showroom. He had two computers running in the trunk of the Outlander Phew and was connected to the nine speakers in the car.
Slipping on the headset, our intrepid adventurer then drove the vehicle through a virtual city and beyond…
The “virtual space drive” graphics for the Oculus test drive were developed by Mitsubishi as part of its Starry Sky Project to encourage interest in astronomy and stargazing in Japan.
Though these images show a preview, the Oculus Outlander Phev car was also available at a booth at the Eco Products 2014 expo last weekend, following earlier tests at other events in October and November.
Following last year’s top trends and major buzzwords and memes, we are going to take a look back at the big trends and topics for 2014 in Japan. We already examined some of the main Twitter buzz of the year, but what about the overall trends?
Sadly there is rarely a year in Japan without natural disasters. Mudslides in Hiroshima in August killed over 70.
Even more dramatically, Mt Ontake suddenly erupted, killing over 50 hikers. Nikon provided one of the most heartwarming stories of the year, however, when they restored a digital camera of one of the deceased and returned the data to his family.
While Abenomics continued to falter, the nation was hit by a comprehensive price hike when the sales tax, for years a very modest 5%, was bumped up to 8% in the spring. One day everything changed, since shops and restaurants started advertising prices without tax included in an effort to persuade consumers that their items were still cheap, only to frustrate and confuse at the register when the actual price is revealed.
While sales tax in Japan remains far lower than most industrial nations, it was a big shock for a population whose wages had no increased in real terms for decades. It ended up becoming the Kanji of the Year.
Self-Immolation and Politics
As the Shinzo Abe government continued to push forward with controversial changes to the Constitution after the introduction of a worrying state secrets law last year, there were two shocking acts of protest. One man attempted to kill himself by self-immolation in the heart of Shinjuku one Sunday, while another succeeded one evening in November in Hibiya Park.
The government’s newly introduced “right to collective self-defense” then became one of the “words of the year”, though for all the wrong reasons. Members of the Abe government were also accused of having ties to ultra-nationalists and race hate groups.
Abe apparently made a gesture of reconciliation with China when he met with Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit in November, though the lack of enthusiasm on both parties’ faces showed how they really felt about each other. Was this the world’s most awkward head-of-states handshake ever?
Wailing and Whaling
In late March, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s “scientific whaling research” was illegal, though it has not yet halted the nation’s disputed annual hunt.
Meanwhile, Hyogo politician Ryutaro Nonomura became a global sensation for his incredible, tearful apology at a press conference as he attempts to explain his suspicious expenses to the public.
Ghostwriters and Liars
The year also saw a “modern-day Beethoven” exposed as a fraud who had a ghostwriter composing his music for years. Oh, and he wasn’t even really deaf.
Even more seriously, the female scientist at Riken who claimed to have discovered STAP cells was found to have doctored part of her paper. It was later withdrawn and Haruko Obokata was made a scapegoat, vilified by the media who had so hyped her up in the first place. Riken also backpedalled over its support for its young “star” and her supervisor eventually committed suicide.
Japan’s biggest sporting success is an easy one: Kei Nishikori went on to become World No. 5 and secured a place in the finals of the US Open, the first male Asian ever to reach the last match of a Grand Slam tournament. “There’s no one left I can’t beat,” declared the confident Nishikori at one point (though he was ultimately beaten by Croatian player Marin Cilic).
A fun one to end with. The word seemed to come out of nowhere and now it is being used for marketing events by GU and Morinaga. Originally a phrase for describing how you might “pound the wall” when your neighbor is being loud, now it seems to mean when a guy traps a girl against a wall and leans in for a smooch.
Twitter Japan has announced the top ten hashtags and top ten trends for Japan in 2014.
Top trending themes include receipts showing the increase in sales tax on products, as well as plenty of sport like Sochi, Formula 1, and tennis star Kei Nishikori. Less positive moments of the year included the STAP cells scandal and natural disasters such as the Hiroshima landslides and Mt Ontake eruption.
Trending celebrity Twitter accounts included right-wing politician Toshio Tamogami, comedian Daisuke Muramoto, and Satoshi Fukase from the band Sekai no Owari and (ironically, his girlfriend), Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.