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Topic: Japan Discussion

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RR529

701. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered the 14th annual Japan Expo 2013, held in France. They spent most of their time at their own NHK World booth, where they held an anime song karaoke tournament during the event (the booth also had sections for four of their shows, Tokyo Fashion Express, J-Melo, Kawaii International, and of course Imagine-Nation). The first anime to gain success in France was 1979's Princess Knight, but it wasn't until the breakout success of Dragon Ball/Z in the late 90's, that anime became a popular in the nation. Anime music CD's are popular in France (particularly Naruto, One Piece!, & Fullmetal Alchemist). They visited Paris' first maid/cosplay café, which opened in 2011. They than examined the growing popularity of Karaoke in France. They then gave a little in depth interview with the winner of their karaoke contest. They mentioned that they were also going to be present at London's upcoming Hyper Japan Expo.

Some of the things I noticed at the event were Attack on Titan (anime), and Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMix (PS3).

There were no Side Theme or Creator's Interview this week.

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RR529

702. Posted:

Tokyo Eye was on today! This week, they covered unique cafés in the city.

First, they came to FabCafé. The first thing you'll notice here, is that the menus are all laser printed onto wooden slabs. As it turns out, they have both a laser printer & 3D printer, each of which can be rented for ¥4,000 for 45 minutes (as long as you book a week in advance, due to popularity). You can also just watch people create, as you enjoy a cup of coffee.

They then went to the Planetarium Café inside Haneda Airport. Admission is ¥500, and they constantly show planetarium shows during their operating hours (amongst other things, such as a short anime film). All their menu items have cosmic themes.

They then showcased the Baby Café. It's only open to expecting mothers, and parents with children less than 7 years old. They have a large, sanitary play area for children, while their parents enjoy a cup of coffee, and the entire establishment is set up to accomodate children anywhere. Baby meals are ¥300, child meals are ¥500, and adult meals are ¥800. Twice a month, they also have professional photographers come in to take family photos, for ¥6,800.

Then, they went to the Falconer Café. Owls, falcons, and eagles roam free inside, and customers are free to handle the owls & falcons. They sanitize the establishment during opening & closing, and constantly clean the tables. The owner is heavily involved in conservation programs, and hopes to shed a positive light on birds of prey.

Finally they went to the Vegan Café, where every menu item is vegan. They are masters of imitating the real flavors of meat & dairy though, and you may not notice the differences between their dishes, and the real thing.

They also briefly mentioned a "stationary" café, where users are free to create using stationary (such as pens, crayons, etc), and with a ¥700 membership fee, you get access to exclusive stationary & menu items (like a ¥800 notebook pancake). They also briefly mentioned a café, that lets you play with 20 year old games & toys (riding on nostalgia of the time).

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RR529

703. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! This week's theme was stationary!

First they talked about the ball point pen. They were first introduced to Japan after WWII (by U.S. soldiers), but were too thick to write intricate Japanese characters. Soon, they invented ball points with finer tips. Innovation didn't stop there, however. Japanese companies were the first to introduce water based pen ink (which wouldn't fade or clot), and gel ink (which had all the advantages of water ink, plus would dry faster & came in a variety of colors). More recently, they've invented pen ink that vanishes whenever heat is applied to it (so you can erase pen writing).

They then talked about mechanical pencils. First introduced to Japan from the west in the 1910's. These western mechanical pencils required you to turn a crank to get the lead to come out though, so Japanese companies set out to improve it. They introduced the click action mechanical pencil in the 1950's, and afterwards released a side click mechanical pencil & a shake powered one (so you don't have to change your grip). More recently, they've developed one that constantly rotates the graphite, so the tip always stays sharp.

They also talked about the Japanese company that invented the plastic eraser (after realizing a hose would wipe off pencil marks better than western rubber erasers), and invented correction tape (which made correction liquids, like White Out, obsolete).

They then chronicled the story of the man who invented the craft knife (which can discard the dull edge, for a sharper one underneath), and built a business empire making variations on it. (they haven't changed much in the past 50 years, and are sold in over 100 countries)

They then talked about decorative masking tape. Originally developed for use in construction/home improvement, a masking tape company stated making decorative variations, after receiving a homemade book of cute uses for masking tape, sent to them by a group of housewives (they were so impressed, that they invited the group to tour their factory, and the next year came out with a decorative line).

They then went to a stationary section in a store, to showcase some unique items, like a pen with a fan, an eraser made of multiple cubes, a memo pad shaped like an elephant, and sticker tape (a variation on correction tape, that imprints images on paper).

They then talked about the growing sport of pen spinning, where competitors pull tricks by twirling a pen between their fingers. There are competitions held in Japan for the sport, and many people showcase their skills with online videos. A Japanese man discovered his talent while studying for his university entrance exam, and is now a top rate competitor, who runs an online encyclopedia about the world history of pen spinning. At day, he's a school science teacher, but at night he passes his skills down to his children. He also is helping students at the University of Tokyo to develop a sophisticated robotic hand, by letting them examine his skills.

Finally, they stopped by a "stationary" café. In fact, the same one mentioned in yesterday's episode of Tokyo Eye (found in above post).

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maxcriden

704. Posted:

Hey @RR529, forgive me for not reading back into the thread to find out--how do you come to watch these TV shows? Do you live in Japan? I was just wondering. I really enjoy your write-ups. Thanks!

Edited on by maxcriden

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RR529

705. Posted:

maxcriden wrote:

Hey @RR529, forgive me for not reading back into the thread to find out--how do you come to watch these TV shows? Do you live in Japan? I was just wondering. I really enjoy your write-ups. Thanks!

The shows are on NHK World. I live in the Midwest U.S., but for some reason, one of our local channels shows some of their programming.

If you have a computer or tablet, you can stream all of their content live though, through their website or app (which is free).

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RR529

706. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered the manga series Toriko, which has sold 60 million copies, and has been adapted into an anime. Set in a "Gourmet Age", it follows trong warriors who fight gourmet monsters (called ingredients) to eat them (the stronger they are, the better they taste). Things aren't that simple though, as an evil organisation wants to monopolize all the ingredients in the world. They covered the newly released movie, Toriko the Movie, which sees the main characters (led by Toriko) traveling to an island to hunt down a rare & powerful ingredient. Nearly all of the ingredients in the film (and many in the manga) are actually creations sent in by fans (such as a "barbecue crab"). They interviewed fans at an early screening of the film, and interviewed some of the people behind the series.

Side Theme: They mentioned the Action RPG The Witch and the Hundred Knights (PS3), The RPG Mind = 0 (Vita), and the action game Killer is Dead (PS3/360).

Creator's Interview: They interviewed manga artist Macochin Ishihara, who is known for his offbeat series, The San Be-Sama.

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RR529

707. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They showcased the comedy anime Watamote. It started as a free to read online manga 2011, but the physical manga releases (available since 2012) have been popular as well. They mentioned that most of it's popularity surprisingly comes from it's overseas fans. It follows the day to day exploits of a gloomy, unpopular girl, and expresses the stressful everyday socializing she goes through in a humorous manner. Focusing on this type of character is new for manga & anime, and due to it's success, many new series are trying to capitalize on it's success. Of course, then they spent time looking at the behind the scenes making of the series, by interviewing animators & voice actors. They mentioned the English DVDs will be releasing soon.

Side Theme: They briefly mentioned the beat 'em up KUNIO-Kun Special (3DS), which is releasing on August 8, and the Action RPG One Piece Romance Dawn (3DS), a port of a year old PSP game.

Creator's Interview: They interviewed Daisuke Iwasaki, who has created the popular visual novel dating sim, VitaminR, and has another game releasing soon.

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RR529

708. Posted:

Tokyo Eye was on today! They discussed the various "made to order" services in Tokyo.

First they went to a well established men's ware suit shop. They're a classy joint, that has serviced generations of families. They tailor make suits for their clients. Claim their suits are the ultimate "green" clothing, as they are made to last 10 years minimum, instead of the throwaway lifespan of mass produced fashion clothes.

Then, they went to a professional cutlery maker. His knives are extremely sharp, and restaurants from across Tokyo & the world, order his hand made knives (made just like samurai swords used to be). They cost ¥30,000 & up.

They then went to a purveyor of fancy fountain pens, whose pens are made with traditional lacquer art (some costing up to ¥600,000!). They study your handwriting habits, and your hands to make your personalized pen (cost is ¥20,000 up).

They then went to a Tokyo Asics shop (sport footwear), where they personalize your shoes. Everyone's left & right feet are different, so need their own specially fit shoes.

They then went to a custom pillow shop. Each pillow has 5 compartments, because each section needs to have different properties based on what your head needs for various positions. They have seven different pillow fillings, from feathers to special polyurethane materials. You can take your pillow home the same day as the consultation.

They then went to a place that will make personalized manga. Just give them some pictures of yourself for reference, tell them your life story, and they will make a biography of your life, in manga form.

They then went to a music studio which will make anyone into a singer. They'll take your hums, arrange them into a composition, add musical sound effects, and give you a copy of your song.

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RR529

709. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight! It was a repeat tonight (The episode where they covered Yowamushi Pedal, which I covered in comment #690).

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RR529

710. Posted:

Man, Japan just can't catch a break. Earlier today, Sakurajima volcano erupted, coating Kagoshima city in ash.

Luckily, it appears that it erupts pretty often, so it wasn't a major eruption, and there aren't any reported casualties.

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RR529

711. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: they covered the new anime, Gatchaman Crowds, which is a reboot of a Tatsunoko series from the 70's. The new series doesn't borrow much from the original besides the name, and the ability of the main characters to don special battle suits called "Gatchaman" (which have a much more robotic look than the originals). It follows the story of a group of high school students who use these powers to protect the Earth from alien invaders. All battle scenes in the suits are created using CGI rather than traditional animation (they worked closely with the art team, so the CGI blends in seamlessly with the animation, and doesn't look out of place). In the original 1972 series, the "Gatchaman" battled a shadowy organisation bent on world domination, and is currently getting a live action film adaptation. (Personal note: You may recognize some of the original characters, as they appear in the Wii exclusive Tatsunoko VS Capcom fighting game)

Side Theme: They briefly mentioned the airport simulator I'm an Air Traffic Controller: Premium (3DS), the JRPG Conception II (3DS/Vita), and the 3rd person shooter Lost Planet 3 (PS3/360).

Creator's Interview: They interviewed manga artist Natsuko Taniguchi, who rose to fame after posting a short online manga about her falling in love with a living piece of raw liver (written after the government banned the selling of raw liver for health concerns).

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RR529

712. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They showcased London's Hyper Japan 2013 expo, which had 60,000 attendees this year. This expo is focused more on traditional Japanese culture than other Japanese conventions, due in part to the fact that anime has a smaller following in the U.K., than in the rest of Europe or the U.S. NHK had it's own booth, of course, with Imagine-Nation being center stage. They talked about DAISUKE.net, a social networking site where British anime fans have been gathering (for some reason, they played Pokémon music during this segment, lol). They then visited a Japanese pop-culture shop located in London, which is only 2 years old. They then discussed the growing popularity of Vocaloid in Britain (a music form largly popularized by Hatsune Miku). They ended out by covering the event's cosplay competition, with contestants dressing up as Luigi, Link, Chocobo, Gohan, and more.

There were no Side Theme or Creator's Interview segments tonight.

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CrazyOtto

713. Posted:

Fikachu wrote:

Mainstream media likes to paint Japan's economic slowdown as an "economic crisis" but this really isn't the case

Japan pretty much has the same economic problems right now as the US and most other first world countries.

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RR529

714. Posted:

Journeys in Japan was on today! This week, they visited Ise-Jingu shrine in the city of Ise.

First, they visited the inner sanctuary of the shrine grounds, called Naiku. This is where the main shrine is located, and where it's believed the "sun goddess" Ameteratsu is enshrined. the camera isn't allowed to go any further than the bottom of the steps. There is actually a new, second shrine erected next to the old building, as the shrine is rebuilt every 20 years (alternating between the two spots for centuries). This fits the Shinto ideal of staying young, and was traditionally believed to increase the deity's power. 2013 is said to be a great time to visit the shrine, as both buildings will be up (the shrine will be officially relocated to the second building in October).

Then, they ventured into the city of Ise, to visit a museum that has a lifesize replica of the shrine (built using the exact same cedar wood), so the cameras could get a closer look.

They then visited a 300 year old confectionery shop that lies on the street leading up to Ise-Jingu. It's a popular stop for pilgrims, and they're well known for their treats consisting of sticky rice covered in a sweet red bean paste (which the host was allowed to try out).

Then, they went back to Ise-Jingu to visit the outer sactuary, Geku. Another sacred area, the "Dining Hall of the gods" is located here, and again, the cameras are stopped at the steps. Twice a day, a ritual is held here where priests offer a meal of staple & seasonal foods to the gods.

Finally, they visited a traditional shoe maker, who is the last in the city who makes the ceremonial shoes priests wear in their rituals.

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RR529

715. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered the dark fantasy manga Übel Blatt, which has been running since 2004, and has just recently released it's 14th volume. It follows an elven warrior who is out for revenge against his old comrades, who betrayed him by falsely labelling him as a traitor, and tried killing him years ago. Along the way, you learn more about his mysterious past, and why he was betrayed. It's a story that explores the darkness in human nature, and has few happy endings. It's inspired by dark European fantasy tales, like The Count of Monté Cristo. It's growing in popularity overseas, especially in France.

Side Theme: They briefly mentioned the action game puppeteer (PS3), and the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC).

Creator's Interviews: Katsuya Teyada (may have misspelled that last name, as it was cut off before I could see it). He is well known for blending the art styles of Japanese manga & western comics. The director of the recent hollywood blockbuster *Pacific Rim, is a fan of his work, and asked him to create the film poster for it's Japanese release.

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RR529

716. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! This week's theme was the traditional Japanese instrument, the Shakuhachi.

It is one of ten traditional Japanese wind instruments that are made out of bamboo. It's made out of a hollowed bamboo shoot, and has four holes on the front, and one on the back. It's unique sound is said to represent the wind blowing through bamboo. Other traditional Japanese wind instruments include the Sho, which represents sunlight bursting through thick cloud cover, and the Noh-Ken, which is used to create unsettling sounds in Noh theatre (often signaling the arrival of a supernatural character).

The ancestor to the Shakuhachi was introduced from China to Japan during the 8th century, and over time was altered to suit Japanese breeds of bamboo & music preference, to create the Shakuhachi we know today. The oldest existing Shakuhaci is 1000 years old, and has 5 holes on the front, instead of the 4 we see today. After first being introduced from China, it (among other imported Chinese instruments) became a popular past time amongst the aristocracy. It eventually lost favor, and almost faded into obscurity, until it had a comeback in the 16th century. Around this time, traveling monks would use it to occupy their time on long trips, and even use it's sturdy frame to defend themselves (since it was illegal for monks to carry swords). For the next couple hundred years, it was illegal for anyone other than a monk to play the instrument, until the 19th century, when it was opened to the public.

They then visited an artisan, who crafts Shakuhachi. After cutting down the bamboo, it dries for years (up to ten years in some cases), before being crafted into the instrument. The host was given a little lesson in playing it here.

They then interviewed John Neptune, an American who was captivated by the Shakuhachi during his college years (during a trip to Hawaii), and is now a professional performer in Japan. He likes to blend it's traditional sounds with modern western styles.

They then showcased a Shakuhachi revitalization project in an elementary school, as traditional Japanese culture is being lost in the youth (since the late 19th century, most Japanese school music curriculums taught western style music only). They are mass producing imitation Shakuhachi, using plastic piping, to save it.

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RR529

717. Posted:

SPECIAL NEWS!!!

Tokyo has just been selected to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games!

So, what are everyone's thoughts? As an Olympics fan who has been really into the games since the Beijing hosting, I'm personally pretty excited! It's gonna be a long wait, but at least we have Sochi next year (winter), Rio in 2016 (summer), and whoever has the 2018 games (winter) to tide us over :)

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DestinyMan

718. Posted:

RR529 wrote:

SPECIAL NEWS!!!

Tokyo has just been selected to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games!

So, what are everyone's thoughts? As an Olympics fan who has been really into the games since the Beijing hosting, I'm personally pretty excited! It's gonna be a long wait, but at least we have Sochi next year (winter), Rio in 2016 (summer), and whoever has the 2018 games (winter) to tide us over :)

Yes, I'm very excited and happy for Japan! It's so nice that the Fukushima leak didn't ruin it. It's been a really long time apparently, with 1964 being the last time Japan hosted the Summer Olympics. Now I'm going to start dreaming about how awesome the opening ceremony is going to be.

And South Korea is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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MonocledMetroid

719. Posted:

I think a colon or something should be placed after the word "special" in the title, as it's a little misleading the way it is now.

MonocledMetroid

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RR529

720. Posted:

^ Have that fixed now.

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