Self-indulgent geekdom gone mad or an inventive play on an otaku motif?
A little while ago there was some buzz about a “flashing skirt” created by Kamakura-based Kayac Inc’s Kiyoyuki Amano.
The idea behind the Hikaru Skirt was to literally highlight the zettai ryouiki, the “absolute zone” — the area of flesh on a girl’s upper leg between her skirt and her socks. This is a common trope in otaku fantasies and Hikaru Skirt was playing on this by making a skirt that flashes in multicolor, drawing attention to the “zone” in a fun but hopefully not pervy way.
It actually looks much cooler than it sounds and the public response was good.
Or at least, good enough apparently for this one-off project to evolve into a crowdfunding campaign to commercialize the idea. The aim is to get it out as a product by October 2015.
Will they succeed?
Well, only 16 people have sponsored the campaign so far — 7% of the required ¥3.9 million. But there’s still 49 days to go, so let’s not write off Japan’s designer geeks quite yet.
Judging by the official website, the makers have hopes that the Hikaru Skirt could be a game-changer in music idol culture. The flashing lights change automatically according to music and can be adjusted by your smartphone. Just charge up the skirt by USB and then it can go for 3 hours, which is more than enough time for a leisurely walk around Akihabara or Harajuku.
Here is the group Moso Calibration demonstrating the Hikaru Skirt in action.
Be prepared to pay ¥16,000 (about $130) to claim one of the first skirts as your campaign perk. Presumably if it’s a hit, it will be available more widely in the future.
Idol support app Cheerz to feature at overseas events: Japan Expo, Connect Japan, J-Pop Summit FestivalWritten by: William on April 1, 2015 at 9:09 am | In CULTURE | No Comments
Cheerz is an app for showing your support for certain idols. It allows users to browse selfies and photos taken by over 250 music idols.
Users can then “cheer” the photos they like, which raises the ranking of an idol. The top-ranking idols then take part in special events and feature in Cheerz books.
The app will be showcased at a forthcoming series of Japanese pop culture and subculture events overseas, including Connect Japan in Thailand in May, Japan Expo in France in July, and J-Pop Summit Festival in America in August.
The Cheerz app has acquired a cult following. Since it started in late 2014, it has accumulated 50 million “cheers” from fans. The first Cheerz photo book with the most popular idols was published in march.
Cheerz is also available in Japanese, Chinese and English, and they even have an English slogan:
It’s up to you whether you find an [sic] new diamond or support your favorite idol!
Unfortunately, we have no idea what that really means but presumably they will sort out the linguistic issues before they head overseas.
The Self-Assembly Shamisen is, as the name suggests, a shamisen instrument that you can build yourself — and customize!
The shamisen is surely the most famous Japanese traditional instrument. You can see it at Kabuki performances, as well as other traditional events. Geisha play them and they are also part of Okinawan culture as the sanshin banjo.
However, they are expensive. Insanely expensive. Not only are they made solely by specialist artisans, the materials (snake leather?!) and twice-annual repairs all preclude any but those with the deepest pockets.
Itouhei have noticed this and come up with this solution.
The Self-Assembly Shamisen is a genuine shamisen but is designed for the player to build themselves. Certain materials and elements of the design have been adjusted to bring down the overall cost, though these choices have the benefit of also increasing durability and reducing the need for regular repairs to the instrument.
Best of all, perhaps, is how this is a shamisen that you can customize with your own paints and patterns.
Here are some snazzy examples.
Self-assembly toys and kits are very popular in Japan, as proved by the enduring success of the Otona no Kagaku (Science for Grown-Ups) series by Gakken. Entries in the series include a handmade home planetarium, mini electric guitar, and even theremin.
On April 4th, Mori no Tosho Shitsu (Mori’s Library) in Shibuya will be transformed into a club for a silent disco event.
Remember Mori no Tosho Shitsu? It was the crowdfunded “book and beer” library opened by a book worm in Shibuya last year. Not only can you go there for a drink and a bite to eat, if you become a member you can borrow the books, just like a library.
While there are plenty of public libraries in Tokyo (there’s even one right in the same building as the Cosmo Planetarium), places like Mori no Tosho Shitsu attract interest because their book curation is special. You don’t go there just to see any books; you go there to see THE books the owner has selected. This is similar to the appeal of places like B&B in Shimokitazawa, Village Vanguard, and Shibuya Publishing Booksellers.
Silent discos are nothing new, not even in Japan.
But this is a silent disco inside a “library” in the heart of noisy Shibuya. How cool is that?
Audiences to the silent disco event will get to enjoy the music through wireless headphones, in the unique bibliographical surroundings of Mori no Tosho Shitsu.
If you like your drink too, you’ll be pleased to know the event is being supplied by Tokyo Craft Beer Mania. Craft beer will be available from ¥500 a glass.
Music is by DE DE MOUSE and others.
It’s also being billed as a club event, since it starts at 11pm and carries on until 5am.
Tickets cost ¥3,500.
Flamboyant rock band KISS continue to conquer Japan. The makeup-loving rockers have for years been a staple of both summer music festivals and mainstream advertising campaigns.
And now they have joined the likes of Kabuki actors and animals from Ueno Zoo.
Isshin Do Honpo Inc has created the KISS Face Pack, a genuine mask meant to be worn by men or women to improve skin. It comes in two different two-packs based on the makeup of the glam metal band’s performers: Starchild (Paul Stanley) and Spaceman (Tommy Thayer), or Demon (Gene Simmons) and Cat (Eric Singer).
Despite their penchant for tongue-licking guitar solos and rumors of Satan worship, KISS is seen as harmless fun in the land of the rising sun.
The face pack series so far includes JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, the musical Cats, classic Hollywood horror movie characters, Kansai Yamamoto fashion, and even a spin-off Hello Kitty version from different makers.
It’s a dangerous game to throw the racism card around but this development has succeeded in getting that reaction from most corners.
A photo showing a behind-the-scenes shot from an upcoming Fuji TV show has idol group Momoiro Clover Z and veterans Rats & Star posing in blackface.
New York Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi and others shared the photo on Twitter and it has since gone viral.
Momoiro Clover Z are immensely popular right now, often appearing in mainstream TV commercials for major brands. They have previously teamed up with older music stars, such as their bizarre collaboration single with the rock band KISS.
As Kotaku points out, Rats & Star have a long history of blackface since they debuted in the 1980′s. But while Momoiro Clover Z are no strangers to costumes and dressing-up (the idol group’s concept is arguably a pastiche of anime like Sailor Moon), this is a whole new territory of role-play. Could their management really be so naive in this day and age?
Unless the (online) controversy succeeds in forcing the broadcasters to change their programming, tune into Fuji TV on March 7th to see Momoiro Clover Z and Rats & Star appear together in blackface on the show “Music Fair”.
Red Bull Studios Tokyo opens at the end of this month in Aoyama, in the heart of Tokyo.
It is the beverage brand’s eleventh such studio in the world and is designed by Kengo Kuma. Red Bull will lend out the recording studio for free to certain music artists.
Red Bull is celebrating the opening with a three-day series of music events from February 27th, featuring Chip Tanaka/Hirokazu Tanaka. There will be special studio visits, workshops, concerts and more.
While the name might imply traditional Japanese music, the “motion perform instrument” system is anything but historical, allowing you to “play” it intuitively through gesture recognition.
The makers describe as an instrument that “makes it possible to perform music by moving your body, without touching anything.”
It uses a patented technology that recognizes human movements and gestures so that the user can perform music freely.
It generates new music performance with visual effects.You can also append your voice to Kagura, arrange the tempo of music and where to put the sounds on the screen. And you can enjoy all of them by your gesture with the Intel RealSense 3D camera.
As The Bridge writes:
The Kagura app won the grand prize at the Intel Perceptual Computing Challenge competition in 2013. The new version introduced at this time has been upgraded to support Intel RealSense 3D, a new technology available on PCs from Lenovo, Acer, and others, enabling an app to understand and respond to natural movement in 3D with a built-in camera.
However, vision analysis for playing instruments is conducted in 2D, so if you are satisfied with playing instruments only, the app can work with any Windows PC with a built-in camera regardless of whether it supports the RealSense technology.
Currently it is designed for 64-bit Windows 8.1 only, but sure a Mac version is coming soon? iOS and Android mobile versions are also in development. Otherwise, all you need is the app and a webcam.
There is no limit to how many people can “play” it at the same time, though the makers recommend one or two maximum, since it can only recognize two hands simultaneously.
Where can expect to see the Kagura? Well, at special live events, perhaps, since it will be ideal for taking the role of the DJ or VJ to the next level.
Here’s an earlier prototype they made showing how your dance creates music and graphics.
Let’s have this in the 2020 Olympic opening ceremony please!
Learn more and download the app on the Kagura website.
High-res & Analog Spincoaster Music Bar is Shinjuku/Yoyogi co-working space storing LP records for customersWritten by: William on January 15, 2015 at 8:28 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments
Music media Spincoaster has launched a new crowd-funding campaign on Makuake to create a music bar they claim is the world’s first to focus on LP and high-resolution audio.
Seating 17, the High-res & Analog Spincoaster Music Bar will play LP records at the request of customers and offer a “record keep” service where customer’s records can be stored for safekeeping at the bar.
This later service may seem strange to an outsider but in space-strapped Tokyo, it makes a very cool alternative to a storage unit rental. (In this way, it reminds of the “library bar” in Shibuya that also had a successful crowd-funding campaign last year.)
The makers are also selling the Music Bar as a daytime co-working space — a growing trend in Tokyo — with free Wi-Fi and fixed seats. The evening will see it transform more into the “bar” of its name.
At time of writing, they have already exceeded their initial funding goal of ¥1 million (about $10,000) with nearly 90 supporters, and with more than 36 days still to go they are continuing to collect funds. It seems Tokyo has enough analog music fans to keep this bar in business for a while.
It will open at the end of March, four minutes’ walk from JR Yoyogi or JR Shinjuku stations.