Here’s hoping Tokyo’s fashion rebels will start something

Monday, 7 April, 2014

Photo by Thomas C. Card

The world could probably do with a few more fashion rebels, especially if they are attired as vibrantly as those photographed by Thomas C. Card in Tokyo recently.

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An illustrated, and elevated, history of Japanese cities

Tuesday, 18 March, 2014

Illustration by Hatsusaburo Yoshida

Almost one hundred years ago Japanese cartographer Hatsusaburo Yoshida drew up a fascinating series of illustrations, depiciting towns and cities in Japan as seen from the air.

This before it was really possible to take to the air for this sort of work.

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Taking a long, hard, and very slow, look at the daily commute

Friday, 24 January, 2014

While filmed at Tokyo’s Shinjiku station, by Berlin-based Hungarian photographer Adam Magyar, at a glacial frame rate, the scene captured here would differ little from any other train station in the world, during the peak hour commute.

Watch closely though, you will see some movement among the seemingly stationery people.

Via The Fox Is Black.

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Don’t want redundancy? Then it’s off to the lay off room for you

Monday, 26 August, 2013

Employees of a company who have effectively been laid off, or made redundant, but remain on the payroll, can, assuming no one else is in fact aware of their status, carry on – in a manner of speaking – as if nothing has happened.

Alternatively they can, as is the case in Japan at least, while away office hours each day in a special room set aside for workers who refuse to leave, or take early retirement from, an employer who has, or wants to, left them go:

Shusaku Tani is employed at the Sony plant here, but he doesn’t really work. For more than two years, he has come to a small room, taken a seat and then passed the time reading newspapers, browsing the Web and poring over engineering textbooks from his college days. He files a report on his activities at the end of each day. Sony, Mr. Tani’s employer of 32 years, consigned him to this room because they can’t get rid of him. Sony had eliminated his position at the Sony Sendai Technology Center, which in better times produced magnetic tapes for videos and cassettes. But Mr. Tani, 51, refused to take an early retirement offer from Sony in late 2010 – his prerogative under Japanese labor law.

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We’re not living in internet cafes because we like being online 24/7

Tuesday, 16 July, 2013

While some, long term unemployed, Japanese men are refusing to leave their rooms at their parent’s house, for decades at a time in some instances, others who are likewise down on their luck, but perhaps can’t turn to their families anymore, are being forced to live in local net cafes.

Unlike internet cafes I’m familiar with, those in Japan are clearly a little different… where computers are housed in small, individual, cubicles with their own doors, and customers even have access to communal showers and toilets.

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Travelling the Yurikamome line by hyperlapse

Monday, 1 July, 2013

Hyperlapse video footage of Tokyo’s automated, that is, driverless, Yurikamome train/transit line, filmed by Japanese photographer Darwinfish105.

Unlike timelapse photography, where a camera in a fixed position records whatever is in front of it, cameras used in hyperlapse photography take photos while they are moving, or in motion.

Best viewed in full screen mode, and with headphones on.

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To do at least once in your life, stay at a Japanese Capsule hotel

Friday, 22 March, 2013

I’d really have no problem staying in a capsule hotel if I were visiting Japan, in-fact a stay of at least one night should be on any visitors to-do, or bucket list. After all, you only go around once.

Of course the capsule experience is a little different from conventional hotels, in more ways than one… needless to say such confined rooms do not have their own bathroom, so you’ll be sharing communal facilities with other guests, and this means it will be necessary to observe a certain etiquette:

Many capsule hotels put a lot of effort into their bathing facilities, giving guests a sentou or communal bathing experience. So, yes, you’ll be bathing with strangers. Capsule hotels are segregated by gender, so if you are a man, you’ll be bathing with men. Likewise, females bathe with females. A note on bathing in Japan: Wash your body and hair before you get in the bath. There will be a washing area with faucets. Also, if you have tattoos, you will either need to cover them with bandages or not take a bath. Tattoos are typically prohibited due to their organized crime connotations in Japan.

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Moving to Japan, think I’m moving to Japan

Tuesday, 5 March, 2013

Unless you live in Japan, you may not have encountered a removal service as attentive as that offered by Japanese home moving companies. I expect you’d pay a premium for such treatment, but it would surely reduce – considerably – the stress and hassles associated with moving.

Via Kottke.

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Japan’s ninjas will always live on in popular culture

Tuesday, 15 January, 2013

While there are seemingly endless popular culture references to Ninjas, covert Japanese secret-agent like operatives, they are in-fact very few in number today, and most likely will eventually disappear all together:

Both Kawakami and Hatsumi are united on one point. Neither will appoint anyone to take over as the next ninja grandmaster. “In the age of civil wars or during the Edo period, ninjas’ abilities to spy and kill, or mix medicine may have been useful,” Kawakami says. “But we now have guns, the internet and much better medicines, so the art of ninjutsu has no place in the modern age.” As a result, he has decided not to take a protege. He simply teaches ninja history part-time at Mie University.

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Can something be learnt from Japanese gun control laws?

Monday, 17 December, 2012

We woke on Saturday morning to the news of the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Despite the shocking and senseless scale of this tragedy, I fear we are not going to stop being told that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.

The argument goes that if people couldn’t use guns to kill, they’d find another way. While that may be so, there is clear evidence (this via an article I saw on Kottke) that full gun control drastically reduces fatalities, something that has been observed in Japan, where gun ownership laws are perhaps the strictest in the world:

What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally. Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.

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