Sunday, April 26, 2009

Loincloths make a comeback

This via Reuters. An underwear making is calling this the latest in 'liberation for women' due to the light feel of this cotton garment that doesn't need elastic to stay in place. Personally I'm not sure whether a nappy of cotton bunched up around my privates would feel particularly liberating. Besides, we all know it's not elastic that oppresses Japanese women but the very conspicuous glass ceiling in the workplace.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

SMAP in naked shame

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, long-standing member of boy band SMAP, has been arrested for cavorting around a park in central Tokyo totally nude. For anyone who doesn't know, SMAP are huge in Japan, they've been famous forever and constantly appear on TV. Apparently as Kusanagi is now in custody, many TV shows are scrabbling to fill his slot.
When arrested Kusanagi called out "What's wrong with being naked?". What indeed. Personally I think this will blow over in six months or so. Anyone taking a train at night can see drunken businessmen behaving badly and for the most part they don't face serious repercussions. Plus the Japanese are not really that uptight about nudity. He'll apologise on TV, keep a low profile for awhile and then be accepted back no questions asked. The Japanese entertainment industry would implode without SMAP. From The Times.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Giant spider terrifies Yokohama

French art group 'La Machine' have made a monster spider which patrolled the bay front at Yokohama yesterday. These French performance art groups are really amazing. Back in 2006 another group made a giant puppet elephant that marched through the streets of London. Check out the link. This story was via pink tentacle.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Poken the digi business card

It's a pain writing down people's phone numbers or carrying around business cards that fill up your wallet. A new gizmo launched recently in Japan is the poken that is basically a USB stick that can communicate its own personal information by exchanging info with other USB sticks. Pocken merely touch hands to transfer social networking info. But will it catch on, to be worth carrying it around the thing really needs to become a craze. It costs about 2, 480yen on their online shop so it may yet infest the nations pockets. Poken comes in a number of cute designs and I am seriously tempted by the geisha pocken above. Via What Japan Thinks.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Awesome new Harajuku store

Hanjiro clothes store just opened in Harajuku last month. I stumbled on it yesterday when I went clothes shopping and bought a t-shirt dress, skirt and top for 6,000 yen in total. As you can see from the dress above (4,900 yen), the fashions are really stylish. The clothes fall under 3 main categories: cheap and cheerful, second hand and well designed reasonable items (above). Hanjiro is for girls and boys. I also popped by H&M which is a huge sensation but have to say Hanjiro won hands down for value, style and range. Plus there aren't huge queues for the changing rooms.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dangerous voting habits

The above poster which has appeared on trains recently reads "Are you a dangerous young person". My reading skills being rather poor I assumed it was berating young people for looking scary to older people but actually it is a campaign to encourage people to vote. Pointing out that while 76 per cent of 60 year olds vote, only 36 per cent of 20 year olds bother. Overall only 58 per cent of the population vote. "Don't you think this figure is a little dangerous?" the advert adds. As Aso's outdated and incompetent government shows, it's really time for young people in Japan to get interested in politics.

Asahi Shimbun employee in discriminatory comment shame

The Daily Yomiuri reports that an Asahi Shimbun employee has been posting discriminatory remarks on an internet bulletin board about marginalized communities and mentally ill people. Japan Probe interprets marginalized communities to mean the Burakumin who traditionally held 'impure' jobs (executioners, undertakers, leather workers) that made them outcasts. I was unaware of the existence of Burakumin until I went on an anti-war march (before the Iraq invasion) where a group of them attended. Sick of being dumped on by most of Japanese society, they've become pretty militant and are often speak out against political injustice.
The other group the employee slagged off were the mentally ill who also get a rough deal in Japanese society. A recent feature in Metropolis painted a pretty grim picture of how these groups are treated. The stigma is huge. The feature was about a documentary film on the subject that has been made by director Kazuhiro Soda, since the making of the film three of the participants had committed suicide.
It's unclear whether this employee will face any disciplinary punishment but at least it's good his behaviour came to light and was not seen as acceptable.Jiichiro Matsumoto 'the father of Buraku liberation'

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Best places for hanami

Kirainet has put up this great little map of the best places for hanami in Tokyo. I'd also like to add that the palace moat and Yasakuni shrine by Kudanshita is also an exceptionally beautiful spot and Kinuta park in Setagaya ward is reputedly fantastic. The blossoms are now at their peak but I had my cherry blossom picnic a little early last Saturday in yoyogi. It was still beautiful though:Me, Kimi and Sergio