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Topic: Japan Discussion

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RR529

721. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered the CGI movie, Space Pirate Captain Harlock! At $30 million, it's the most expensive animated production Toei Animation has made. They brought in people who worked on the highly successful CGI Appleseed reboot, and it's the first Japanese animated production that uses full motion capture body & facial technology (in fact, they were thinking about using a mix of live action & CGI, like James' Cameron's Avatar, but decided upon full CGI to be truer to the source material. In this story, Earth has been long since uninhabitable, and humans have spread far out into space. Everyone is under the iron fisted rule of the corrupt Gaia Coalition, and Harlock is a space pirate who does battle with them, in order to earn freedom, and find out a mysterious truth about Earth. It's based off of a late 70's manga and anime of the same name, but this adaptation is meant to be a Hollywood style blockbuster, and is to be aimed at a worldwide audience (evidenced by the insanely high production costs mentioned earlier). They then took a behind the scenes look inside the studio where it was produced.

Side Theme: They briefly mentioned the Action RPG Monster Hunter 4 (3DS), which is being released by Capcom later in the year.

Creator's Interview: They interviewed the Renoir Brothers, who are known for their humorous gag manga.

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722. Posted:

Journeys in Japan was on today! This week they visited the island of Yakushima that lies to the south of the Kyushu mainland.

The island is known for it's mountains, one of which is the highest peak in the Kyushu region. They hiked up the mountain, viewing scenic landmarks such as a small creek, the 1,000+ year old Cedar trees, and the "Tofu Rock" landmark (as it looks like sliced tofu).

Once at the top, they took in the scenery, observed the local deer & monkeys (which aren't afraid of people), and even visited a small shrine wedged between two large boulders, where the "mountain god" was believed to be enshrined in ancient times.

On the way down, they camped out for the night, eating a simple local dish of stew (consisting of miso broth, meat, and vegetables) & a side dish of rice. The next morning, they came across the oldest Cedar on the island, which is over 7,000 years old! They finally came across a group of Shinto priests, who were gathering sacred water at a spring, in preperation for a festival.

They then visited said festival, which is held annually in a small town on the northern shore of the island. It's been practiced since ancient times, and although tradition now, it was once used to celebrate the "mountain god" mentioned earlier. It climaxes at night, where they light bon fires with flaming arrows (which looked pretty sweet, BTW).

Lastly, they went down to the coast with some local volunteers, marking sea turtle nests, and rescuing sea turtle nests that were disturbed by unaware tourists (some 40% of sea turtle nests are destroyed this way, endangering the babies), and they ended the segment by saying goodbye to the baby sea turtles they rescued, as they made their way into the ocean.

As time was running out, they briefly mentioned other things to do on the island, such as visiting a local waterfall, mentioning a hiking trail that's exceptionally good for viewing wildlife (particularly the deer & monkeys), and kayaking down the river.

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RR529

723. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: This week they just had recap roundup of all the manga stories they've highlighted in the past few months, like Yowamushi Pedal, Toriko, Watamote, & Übel Blatt.

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

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RR529

724. Posted:

Tokyo Eye was on today! This week was part 2 of their theme of covering the Arakawa Line (the last street car route operating in Tokyo.

First, they stopped in a quiet old style neighborhood, with the main attraction here being the Yuru Café Kirara. For ¥880, you can get the daily lunch special, and it has a wonderful view of the street cars passing by (with extra long windows accomodating this). All the wood in the establishment, is from native trees.

They then stopped off at Arakawa district itself, which is popular for Arakawa Yuen Amusement Park. Established in 1922, it's run by the city government, and admission is free for chidren, ¥200 for adults. It also costs ¥200 to ride each attraction, such as a carousel, train, and a kid's roller coaster (that looks identical to one we have in my area, lol). They also have a museum in the park that celebrates the history of the Arakawa Line, and it has model replicas of every model of street car to run the line.

Also in the area, they have a restaurant called Kodomo no Ie, which is known for it's ¥350 Manja-Yaki (popular amongst children). The area also has lots of factories, such as a factory that produces dollhouses & accessories (a fully equiped stainless steel kitchen set costs ¥420,000!), and a pencil factory (there used to be 100 in the area, but they're down to about 10).

The next stop was at the Murie Museum, which is gives a look back into the history of coloring in Japan. Most of their items are from the 50's when Japan was still a poor nation after the war, and coloring was popular amongst children. Kiichi was the man most known for his colloring books in that time (the images came seperately packed in a sleeve, instead of bound together), and is said to be a forerunner to modern manga. You can buy replicas of his coloring books for ¥600 at the museum.

Their next stop found them conversing with a vegetable peddler. As far back as the 80's, there were hundreds of these farmers, who would ride into Tokyo on the line, then spread across the city to sell their goods, but now they're getting older, and their numbers are dwindling. The host bought a package of tomatoes for ¥500.

Their last stop found them at a Bon dance festival, so they decided to join in. It's an ancient festival which occurs every August, and is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. This particular set up was local, so it was smaller in scale, but it was popular amongst foreign tourists, because they put up flyers around the city in english, advertising the get together.

You can buy a ticket that will let you ride the line all day long, stopping as much as you'd like.

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CanisWolfred

725. Posted:

RR529 wrote:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: This week they just had recap roundup of all the manga stories they've highlighted in the past few months, like Yowamushi Pedal, Toriko, Watamote, & Übel Blatt.

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

Wawawawawa-wait! They highlighted Toriko?

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RR529

726. Posted:

@CanisWolfred, yeah, but they probably didn't mention anything you didn't already know. They generally just give a general overview of the series, and then talk to the creator about where they get their ideas from, etc.

I'll still quote the post I wrote about that episode though, in case you want to read it.

RR529 wrote:

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.

In their little update this week, they mentioned that the movie opened up to around $500,000, and would have probably been higher if it wasn't up against a new Ghibli film.

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DawnOverALilly

727. Posted:

DestinyMan wrote:

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.

As far as openings go, I can't help but remember the last Olympics (think it was the last) that the most voted on a very popular poll to sing was Miku Hatsune.

Flandre- "I've been in the basement. For about 495 years."
Marisa- "That's sweet, I only get weekends off."
_
Marisa- It's so hot, I'm gonna die here.
Reimu- If you die, I'll feed your corpse to the birds.
Remilia- My, it'd be fine if you'd let me take care of that.
Marisa- That's a definite no.

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RR529

728. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! This week's theme was "Used Books".

They started off in Tokyo's Jimbocho district, which has around 160 used book shops. Not only are there a bunch of shops, but they are very specialized. One specializes on fasion magazines, one on traditional Japanese performing arts, another on plant info, one has nothing but books on Go & Shogi, and yet another on pre-modern Japanese literature (they even have a rare ancient Buddhist sutra, that's one of the oldest written documents in the world).

Jimbocho also holds book auctions regularly (for over 50 years), where shop owners & book connoisseurs look & trade for rare finds.

Massive book chains have also gotten in on the action, with simplified structures that make it easier than ever for the stores to sort & stock the inventory, and for consumers to get what they're looking for.

Books first became popular in Japan in the 18th & 19th centuries, thanks to wood block printing (they showed off antique cook books, magic trick books, and more), but due to the expensive nature of book ownership, book lending became extremely popular in the time. In the late 19th century, many western style universities popped up in what's now the Jimbocho area, so that's how that district got it's start (catering to the students' needs). After the economic boom after WWII, book ownership became widespread.

They then went to Inuyama to talk to a used book collector who looks for books where the previous owners have written in them. He says that all books are identical & have no value, until someone interacts with it, and imprints their emotions onto it, at which point it becomes a one of a kind.

They also went to a trendy area in Tokyo, where a woman has opened up a laid back used book shop where people in their 20's & 30's gather. Her income isn't as stable as it was when she worked for a large book chain (so she sometimes has to supplement herself by taking side jobs), but she's doing what she loves to do, while getting younger people back into reading.

Lastly, they went out to a used book dealer in the small town of Kawamoto, who sells used books online. He used to operate his business out of a small space in Tokyo, but to to the limited space & high rent, he couldn't make profit & almost had to close down. Luckily, he was able to buy out the space from a closing book shop in the small town, and due to the much larger space for inventory & smaller cost of operation, he was able to make 5 times more profit, and is growing.

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729. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight! It was a repeat tonight, the episode where they showcased Watamote. (which I covered in post #712)

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730. Posted:

Tokyo Eye was on today! This week, they covered the Heaven Artists program, which the Tokyo government runs in order to attract street performers to the city, in an organized, legal fashion. Over 300 artists apply each year. Lately, the city has been sending them up to the region affected by the earthquake & tsunami, as part of a relief program.

First, they met up with Eppai. He's a one man band that plays 10 instruments at once (Large Cymbal, Little Cymbal, Drum, Fiddle, Kazoo, Maracas, Sleigh Bells, Bell, and a couple more). He used to be part of a group, but as his friends left, he continued to take up their instruments until he got to where he is today.

Then they listened to Kiki, a duo of women who play the traditional Japanese instrument, the Shamisen, and mix it with modern styles (then, they spent some time talking about various Japanese performing arts, which can be found in a lot of these street performances).

Then, they went to see Shiva, a living statue. Normally, he stands completely still, but if you donate money, he moves! the amount of movement depends on the amount donated, with ¥10 causing him to change facial expressions, ¥100 causing him to move around on his pedestal, and ¥1,000 causing him to get off the pedestal.

Next up, they went to Asakusa to meet up with Kuromaru the Slayer. He is a man who is dressed up as a traditional Japanese demon, often times surprising locals & tourists. If someone brings up the courage to give him a donation, however, he'll show a lighter side & dance. He performs on weekends & holidays, and after being in the neighborhood for 3 years, he's become well known in the area, and hopes to become a recognizable landmark of the area.

Next they went to Ueno Park. there are over 60 allocated areas for street performances in Tokyo, and the highest amount can be found here, with over 20 people performing at once sometimes.

While there, they visited Magical TOM, who is a balloon artist, and the only Japanese one who has an international license. He made a sword for a little boy, a bunny ear hat for a girl, and for the host, a surprisingly detailed scorpion! He's known for his almost surreal sense of detail, making everything from horses to Thomas the Tank Engines.

Lastly, they watched a performance by CONRO. He's a world class juggler that uses Devil Sticks to keep various items airborne. Anything from simple balls, to traffic cones, and even brooms fall under his highly skilled spell. (At one point in his performance, the music to the act was the music from the Lupin III anime, lol)

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CanisWolfred

731. Posted:

^Okay, that sounds really awesome.

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732. Posted:

CanisWolfred wrote:

^Okay, that sounds really awesome.

Any particular one, or all of them?

I was partial to Kiki, Kuromaru, & CONRO (especially when he made the broom look like it was sweeping).

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CanisWolfred

733. Posted:

All of them. Just the fact that Tokyo's doing that is awesome.

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RR529

734. Posted:

CanisWolfred wrote:

All of them. Just the fact that Tokyo's doing that is awesome.

Yeah, they said they started doing it around 20 years ago (the special host for the episode was an American juggler who moved there shortly after the program first started), but it's grown really large since it's humble beginnings.

They said it's either modelled after, or just similar to, a program started in New York City (where performers can get official licenses).

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CanisWolfred

735. Posted:

Huh, never knew New York had something like that.

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736. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! This week's theme was Lake Biwa.

It's located outside of Kyoto, it's the largest freshwater lake in Japan, & is believed to be over 4 million years old. It has over 10 different types of fish & shellfish that are unique to the lake, including the Biwa Trout, & Large Biwa Catfish.

There is an island in the northern part of the lake that is home to various Buddhist & Shinto spiritual locations, and is an important spot for pilgrimages.

There are various watersports popular here, with over 20 beaches hosting such activities, with one of the most popular being a plastic bubble you can ride in while a boat pulls you along (the host, & the lake's mascot, designed after a catfish, took part).

They then showcased some local cuisine, such as a forerunner to modern sushi, made by fermenting Biwa Trout with rice for months (it's prepared in spring, but eaten during later festivities, like the new year), and a very little fish that is grilled, then eaten whole (due to it's very soft bones).

Historically, the lake was first mentioned in official texts in the 7th century, when the first national systems were being set up in Japan. During the feudal wars of the 15th-16th centuries, it became a key location. Oda Nobunaga, who was trying to unificate Japan, built four castles around the lake, making an impregnable fortress. If one were attacked, the other three could easily send reinforcements their way by ship. When peace returned to the nation, the lake became a popular stop for travellers, and artists loved using for inspiration. During Japan's industrialization, a canal was built to revitalize Kyoto. The nation's first hydroelectric power supply was built through this, successfully bringing power to Kyoto.

The lake was severely polluted in the 60's, but due to various programs & eco-friendly farmers, the lake has revitalized, and many animals are coming back. A certain small village only uses spring water from the lake. Each house has a higher basin, where they clean vegetables & get fresh drinking water, then the water flows down into a lower basin, where they wash clothes & dirty dishes. They don't use any soap, however, as catfish live in the lower basin, & keep everything clean (they feed on the left over food, for example). The water then flows down to the next house (there are more catfish in the waterways inbetween homes, to ensure cleanliness).

They then went to the Lake Biwa Museum, which shows how people lived alongside the lake in the past, and it even has an aquarium where they show off all the different types of fish that live in the lake.

Finally, they talked about invasive fish species, especially Bluegill & Black Bass. They are trying to get rid of these fish, while finding a use for them. Bluegill, for example, gets ground up into a paste which is eaten by seniors (it's very nutritious, but it's many sharp bones make it to troublesome to prepare traditional style dishes with). All sorts of invasive fish are also ground up into chicken feed, which farmers claim to have increased the quality of eggs.

Sorry I didn't give a lot of specific names for things (namely the island & it's many temples). There were a lot of long traditional names, & I couldn't retain them, lol.

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737. Posted:

Journeys in Japan was on today! This week, they visited Lake Kasumigaura.

The fishing season here is summer & fall, and the host visited an 80 year old shop where they sell the popular local fish, the lake smelt.

Then, they talked about the Lotus flowers that line the shore (they're as tall as people), which are both beautiful & a source of income for the locals. The host went out with a local farmer to harvest the Lotus roots, which are eaten (and they randomly played circus music during this segment, lol). The farmer's wife made a stir fry with the root & bacon.

They then talked about the traditional fishing vessel, the Hobikisen. It's fallen out of favor, replaced by motorized boats, but people who want to keep the tradition, take them out on the weekends, allowing tourists to come along.

The host stayed the night at a Ryokan (traditional inn) in the area, where she was served Kasumigaura Carp, which is a delicacy which is enjoyed all around Japan (often eaten during weddings, funerals, & festivals).

In the morning, she went to a bird watching station, so she could observe birds in the Myoginohana Wetlands without disturbing them.

Finally, she met up with an old fisherman & his wife, who were drying lake smelt. They catch them, and turn them into a local condiment. The fisherman also helps with lake conservation, as he & other fishermen set up bamboo fences in the lake, to protect the delicate reed system from harsh weather (the reeds help protect young fish).

As they were closing out, they mentioned that there is a road following the shoreline, perfect for biking.

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738. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They showcased the manga, Young Black Jack (a prequel to the famed manga Black Jack), which has been serialized in Young Champion magazine since 2011, and was created in honor of the original's 40th anniversary. It's set during the 1960's, where student protests were clashing with the government. Black Jack however, just wants to study & become a doctor. He saves patients others say can't be saved & is very compassionate, but demands huge payments (to pay off a debt he owes). The original series started in 1973, and ran for 10 years. In the series, Black Jack is an unlicensed surgeon, who shows up to save patients. Some consider him to be a danger to the medical community, while others revere him as sort of a cult hero. This prequel will explain why the young eager medical student became a rebel of the medical world. Interestingly enough, they mentioned that Ozama Tezuka (the creator of the original, & Astro Boy) was qualified to take on a medical career.

Side Theme: They mentioned the Blazblue Alter Memory anime, which is based upon the popular arcade fighting series by Arc System Works.

Creator's Interview: They interviewed Tomoya Takashima, who is known for pioneering CGI in anime. He is currently working on a horror series.

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CanisWolfred

739. Posted:

I didn't know there was a Black Jack prequel. I'll have to check it out someday...after I check out Black Jack...

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740. Posted:

Tokyo Eye was on today! This week's theme was "Fun & Games in Tokyo".

Firstly, they went to Tokyo Joypolis, an indoor amusement park. They have many attractions that are a hybrid of ride & arcade game. One of which is a futuristic tunnel racer, which is almost like any other arcade racing game out there, except when the player initiates a boost, the entire car does a barrel roll! If both players boost at the same time, it does two barrel rolls together at once. They also have a skateboarding attraction, where four teams of two compete in a half pipe competition to pull off tricks, and build their high scores. They also have an indoor roller coaster.

Next up, they went to Kontamura, a museum featuring classic mechanical games, which are the predecessors to modern arcade games. Everything here still works, and visitors are allowed to play them (popular ones from the time involved getting a ¥10 coin to fall into a particular hole).

They then went to Tokyo Leisure Land Akihabara, a five story arcade complex (each floor houses a different genré of games). The fighting floor is very popular, and they hold tournaments every two weeks. They then showcased a game that is a fast paced third person shooter (players use plastic pistols), that is online multiplayer (players choose a major Japanese city, and compete with players from arcades across Japan). Finally, they showcased a rhythm game that has a circular touch screen that players touch & swipe all over to the beat (if you sign up, it will record you, and you can upload the video of you playing to social networks).

Next up was the Diamond Igo Salon. Here visitors play the classic strategy game of Go. It's drawing in a younger croud, particularly young women (thanks to a magazine started recently that showcases fashionable women playing Go). They hold socials every Wednesday & Thursday, which are very popular.

They then visited Igocafé Kosumi, another place to play Go. They have Go boards etched into their tables, which is a unique feature of this establishment. They also offer light drinks & snacks to their guests (like cake).

Finally, they went to an incense shop called Kogado. What's so special about this shop though, is that they have preserved a traditional Japanese game called Kimuka. In Kimuka, two teams of three people have to guess what type of incense is being burned. A team gets a point for every member who gets it right, which are counted by moving two mounted Samurai dolls down a path. The first team to get their Samurai across the finish line wins, but the winner isn't announced until all incense has been enjoyed, as that's what's most important. In the end, the winning team, & the most accurate individual player are announced. While traditionally played in Japanese, they hold special events where they play in English, so tourists can enjoy it.

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