Particle science can be pretty mind-boggling at times, right?
But if you are region is competing to host the ILC (International Linear Collider), you need to have your grasp on what’s an electron and what isn’t a positron, and all that jazz.
How do you make this exciting? Well, you could hire Team Lab, for a start.
That’s what Sefuri did. The region is located in Fukuoka and Saga prefectures and is one of Japan’s candidates for the ILC (the other is in the Kitakami Mountains in Tohoku).
Team Lab came along and recruited some actual local schoolgirls from Saga to make a “high school musical” about the science.
The result is the vibrant Sefuri ILC High School video.
According to Team Lab, “even though this work is less than 300 seconds and has had over an incredible amount 200 shots taken, it has incorporated the determination of the production team that have worked through scenes mere seconds long for extensive shots of scenes, costumes, props, motion graphics, animation, and more.”
Along with an exhibition at Tokyo Cultuart by Beams, they also made a very spectacular GIF Tumblr website for the promo, and which is guaranteed to give you a headache if you watch it for too long.
Although it’s very well done, we do wonder what it’s appeal could be to the bods that make these multi-billion-dollar decisions. Sure, it shouts “Cool Japan” (in a way that the central government could never understand) but it might be shooting itself in the foot by not taking itself seriously.
The ILC is, in the words of ScienceMag.org, “The ILC is expected to pick up where Europe’s Large Hadron Collider leaves off in studies of the Higgs boson and other exotic particles. Physicists in North America, Europe, and Japan agree on the need for the collider and have collaborated in the design stage. Each region would like to host the ILC, but Japan has emerged as the most ardent suitor. It is not clear, however, how the machine will be paid for.”
With Tohoku’s budget set to be occupied by post-disaster reconstruction for many years to come, ILC Kyushu is in with a real chance.
Here is the making-of video too!
The video also features the brilliant Shota Mori. He made this hilarious Taxi Driver-inspired “Sleeve iPhone” that generated quite a buzz earlier a few months back.
Doppelganger might just be the most interesting outdoor wear brand in Japan.
First they rocked our world with the Doppelganger Outdoors Wearable Sleeping Bag, an all-in-one jacket coat outer wear that becomes a sealable cocoon that also looks rather trendy as well.
Now they have also released the Doppelganger Humanoid Fleece, which frankly is a little more startling to look at. But if you aren’t put off by the “faceless” nature of this sleeping bag that you can walk around in, you will certainly appreciate its warmth.
It sold out of its initial batch on its very first day, so Doppelganger had to quickly crank up its production line to cope with demand.
You can unzip the bottom and keep it on while visiting the toilet (always an unpleasant task on cold winter nights, especially in the outdoors!), while we just love the four pop colors it comes in, even if it does kinda remind us of a rejected character from a Kick Ass 3 script.
Doppelganger make a nice antidote to the Yama Gaaru (“mountain girl”) and other fashionable outdoors/hiking trend that has been big for the last few years, where girls take themselves off to Gaienmae and Aoyama to buy ridiculously expensive gear for day trips to Tochigi.
Doppelganger’s approach is more fun and bold, both in terms of color and design, and functionality.
While the crowds were flocking to see the latest innovations in the Japanese automotive industry for the Tokyo Motor Show, there was another big car event in Odaiba last week.
As Nissan and Toyota et al showed off their concept cars that might just indicate the future of mobility (or the labors of an generously funded R&D department), November 24th also saw a one-day-only Itasha exhibition out in the bay.
Itasha are heavily — well, let’s be honest, overly — decorated cars that reflect the owner’s tastes in moe. A typical Itasha will feature shojo girls and other anime characters, and of course is driven by a self-professed otaku.
On Sunday, over 80 cars were driven down to Odaiba to be shown off to the world.
This “three-dimensional” Madoka car was spotted earlier this year and caused a storm on Twitter. Nice to see it back.
[All images via MyNavi.]
Leading fashion magazine CanCam has been going for over thirty years and now it has finally got itself its own exclusive male model.
After launching the careers and seeing immense success in the heyday of Japanese magazine publishing with the likes of Norika Fujiwara and Ryoko Yonekura, and most famous the trio of Moe Oshikiri, Yu Yamada and Yuri Ebihara (aka Ebi-chan), now CanCam has finally turned to a man to prop up its brand.
Yuuki Sawa is a nineteen-year-old sophomore student at Rikkyo University in Tokyo and this is his first modeling gig, which isn’t a bad debut by any standards. He was spotted by the editor of CanCam during the Mr Rikkyo Contest, where he was one of the judges.
CanCam’s prime readers are said to be young office ladies and female college students looking for tips for how to be mote-kei, i.e. popular with the boys.
Its name is an inventive if bizarre take on “I can campus”… whatever that means. Since the departure of Ebihara as its main cover model a few years back, its fortunes have famously declined, along with most fashion titles, though the one-time boom in offering omake fashion item giveaways helped boost sales for many. (For a comparison of the first ever issue of CanCam and the thirtieth anniversary issue in 2011, see this interesting article on Néojaponisme.)
Yuuki Sawa’s debut in the magazine is in the January 2014 issue, which went on sale last week. As he is a senzoku moderu (exclusive contract model), we can look forward to regular appearances by him every month.
Can Yuuki Sawa and this new gimmick by CanCam help the magazine regain its once lofty circulation of 500,000 during the Ebihara days?
Sometimes I just wonder.
Japan is such a small country (geographically speaking, at least), so why do they even have to divide themselves into forty-seven prefectures and compete against each other? Recently I wrote a post on the result of recent survey which basically defined Japan’s most and least attractive places. The battle of yuru-kyara mascots is another means through which we get to know the undiscovered parts of this string of islands. Maybe we are all subconsciously waiting for super heroes who could represent all that Japan has to offer and unite us all together.
And One Piece might just offer the gang of heroes to do it.
Now that the manga series has sold over 300 million copies, One Piece has no doubt proven its worth to be the ultimate representative of all prefectures in Japan. In the 3-Oku [300 million] campaign, forty-seven characters from One Piece appear on ads in local newspapers to represent each prefecture in collaboration with various local specialties, events and tourist destinations across the nation.
Although almost all the featured items in these ads can be seen on the cover of major guidebooks, it’s a new approach that each prefecture is taking to show what they are proud of — whether it be the Tokyo Skytree (above), the hot springs of Gunma, Nebuta Festival of Aomori, Sasakamaboko (fish cake in the shape of a bamboo leaf) of Miyagi — or wara natto (natto wrapped in rice straw) for Ibaraki (below), recently announced the most unappealing prefecture in Japan.
About two-thirds of the ads have been revealed on the website so far, and we have yet to see the remaining works.
In addition to newspaper ads, One Piece posters can be seen on the walls of seven major stations across the country (Sapporo, Sendai, Shibuya, Nagoya, Umeda, Hiroshima and Nishitetsu Fukuoka Tenjin) from November 4th to 26th at intervals of a week or so.
While I’m not the biggest fan of the manga, I do have to admit that One Piece is loved by so many that it has the power to surpass regionalism, which sometimes can get really ugly and messy.
Nippon TV’s Song for Japan might seem like a typical singing contest except for the fact that none of the contestants are Japanese. It’s a contest that is exclusive to foreigners, presumably for the purpose of showcasing gaijin singers on stage first and foremost, for the entertainment of the Japanese. I consider this program to be more like a talent show rather than a singing competition because it’s not really the vocal skills that contestants are judged on — but on how well they can impress the audience with their unusually Japanese language talent, to say the least.
It’s one thing to say that we Japanese all love anyone who is genuinely interested in Japan and willing to show their love of Japanese songs. But why does the contest need to be so segregated, as if to say that one must first prove themselves alien to this country?
Often on the show we hear comments from the judges saying how perfectly a contestant can sing in Japanese. They say it with such good-hearted spirit it’s as if they feel grateful for foreign singers who remind them once again of just how great Japan is. To me, this sounds a little fake, as if the entire show is scripted. They called for foreigners who love Japanese songs, so they simply got what they expected. OK, maybe enough about the contest.
Some of the winners from past contests have gone on to their professional debut in Japan.
Chris Hart is perhaps one of the best vocals in Japan’s music scene today.
On October 30th, his latest single “Yume-ga-samete” was released from Universal Music Japan, a duet with Japan’s all-time queen of music idols, Seiko Matsuda.
Diana Garnet is another winner of the contest who recently made her professional debut on the label Sony Music.
And now Nicholas Edwards has released his first mini-album “Skies”, which hit the shelves on October 9th courtesy of Warner Music Japan.
We’ve all seen Jero, an American enka singer who found himself at the center of media attention not necessarily for his singing talent alone but rather for the novelty of being the first black enka singer ever. This catchphrase, by the way, was repeatedly used in a variety of media coverage, which no doubt made him experience both the best and the worst of being a foreign singer in Japan. He is actually one of the very few foreign singers who made a success here.
The Japanese would surely praise anyone who shows their love of J-pop and Japan through singing, but things become a little different when it comes to business. Are they good singers because they are foreigners singing in a non-native language or does their singing talent come first? That’s what they have to prove themselves once they pass the first phase of fame.
In post-Fukushima Japan, we need more projects like this.
While the LDP government slowly cranks up the return to full nuclear power, some Japanese corporations are being more realistic about the future. One of them is Kyocera, which has built the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant at a cost of $275.5 million.
The solar power plant is Japan’s largest and has a capacity of 70 megawatts. That’s enough to power some 22,000 Japanese homes (which are typically a bit smaller than American or European ones).
According to Kyocera, the plant “is being operated by a special purpose company established by Kyocera and six other companies to sell the electricity to a local utility under Japan’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) program.”
The Kyushu facility covers an area of 1,270,000m2, roughly the same area as 27 baseball stadiums.
Expectations and interest in solar energy have heightened to a new level in Japan with the need to resolve power supply issues resulting from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. To further promote the use of renewable energy, the Japanese government launched a restructured FIT program in July 2012, which stipulates that local utilities are required to purchase 100% of the power generated from solar installations of more than 10 kilowatts (kW) for a period of 20 years.
Kyocera is also being savvy about the PR advantages of being a green pioneer in Japan, not to mention how it can tie in with regional tourism, a formidable money-spinner. That’s why it is promoting the site not only for its long-term eco implications but also its own intrinsic value as a visiting destination for technology buffs (of which there are more than a few in Japan) or even sightseers hoping for good views of nearby Sakurajima.
Additionally, a tour facility has been built adjacent to the 70MW plant — which is open to the public — featuring a circular viewing room where visitors can observe the 290,000 solar panels from an elevated vantage point and enjoy the view of the ocean bay and grand Sakurajima volcano in the background. Display zones for visitors such as students and tourists provide information about environmental issues and the science behind photovoltaic energy generation. By dedicating this facility, all parties involved hope to foster a deeper understanding of renewable energy and further facilitate a low-carbon society.
Let’s hope that vision isn’t too far away.
Cement is one of those much-aligned materials. We rail against concrete buildings, slabs, roads and the like, but take an architect like Tadao Ando and he will show you what can be done with concrete when there’s a good design by it.
And here’s one.
Nobuhiro Sato is a craftsmen from that center of the art of monozukuri, Kyoto. He is a designer who likes to use procured materials such as plastic bags. Sato first worked with cement to make incense burners, molded into the shape of mini houses. Since then he’s gone on to try out coasters and other small domestic objects, taking what is usually relegated to the exterior and bringing it inside the home.
There’s something about cement that looks soft and cute when it’s reduced down to a household scale. What is usually masonry, propping up walls or roads, is somehow compelling when we can hold it in our hands as, in this case, a tack for pinning up photos.
The Cement Push Pins are a set of six tacks that will bring in a sense of construction and stone to your office or home.
Sato actually uses ice cube trays to make his pins by hand each time. It’s time-consuming to get them perfectly vertical and he had to experiment till he understood the curing process.
Now he makes two types of his sets of six; smooth or pebbles.
Get a taste of Chinese food in the appropriate Communist garb now in this Cultural Revolution-themed restaurant, which is apparently now open in Ikebukuro.
Ikebukuro is one of the most multi-cultural parts of Tokyo, though that’s not saying much. There is a large contingent of Chinese people but we’re not sure if they are behind this latest gimmick.
Well, in theory this kind of restaurant shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that there seems to be a themed eatery for almost any hobby or idea somewhere in Japan. Maids? Of course! Thunderbirds? Yep, there’s a cafe for that. Rabbits. Yes, one for those too. Robots and girls in bikinis? Check. Hypnosis?! You’d better believe it.
The staff at “The East Is Red” restaurant are supposed to dress in Red Army uniforms, while the menu is a (large) Little Red Book. Needless to say, the wall has plenty of Chairman Mao pictures.
Kitsch? Yes. Irreverent? Perhaps. Genuine? Not so sure.
So far, the only major media to pick up on the story has been the Xinhua network and a few 2chan-related blogs. Brian Ashcraft at Kotaku did some digging but even has not been able to ascertain if the restaurant actually exists or not.
We have also not been able to find the actual restaurant so are leaning towards thinking it must be a fake post.
In true Cultural Revolution style, could this just be a propaganda stunt by Chinese netizens or a late Halloween joke?
If anyone knows any better, please share in the comments section!