Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Japan’s Jolly Old Elf: Colonel Sanders

December 24, 2011

Japan's Jolly Old Elf: Colonel Sanders

When Christmas comes to Japan, thoughts turn to that jolly old man, Harland Sanders. Kentucky Fried Chicken came to the Land of the Rising Sun in 1970, and homesick expat Yanks soon began gobbling the deep-fried fowl for the holidays. Japanese folks give Yuletide luxury gifts to their sweeties, and many have adopted this exotic Christmas culinary custom, too. Those who can afford it, that is. A KFC Christmas Barrel costs about US$40.

So クリスマス用のケンタッキー  (Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii! “Kentucky for Christmas!”) and to all a good night.

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Attention Sports Fans

November 14, 2011

Attention Sports Fans

American sports fans: upset that there’s no pro basketball due to the NBA strike? Bored by the NFL and NHL, disgusted with college football? Don’t despair. The Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament has just started at Fukuoka Kokusai Center and continues through November 27th. Don’t miss it, it’s the last big sumo tournament of 2011. This is truly heavy competition: rishiki (wrestlers) weight in at 250 to 400 pounds. And talk about your World Series: competitors are from Mongolia, Brazil, Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Estonia, and the Czech Republic as well as Japan.

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So you Want to Be a Sumo Champ

November 5, 2011

So You Want to Be a Sump Champ

Guys: if you want to be a champion sumo wrestler, don’t look as your belly, look at your hands.  According to a newly published study, the ratio between the length of your index finger and ring finger might indicate your chance of sumo success. A smaller ratio is believed to indicate greater in-utero testosterone exposure, and has been correlated with increased performance in competitive sports. Data about sumo pros seem to agree. A higher ratio? Well … fly-fishing is nice, too.

 More:

“Friday Weird Science: Look Carefully at your hands…were you meant to be a Sumo Champion?” Scicurious, Neurotic Physiology

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-bsZ

Image (“Mutsugamine Iwanosuke on the Cover of the Sports Illustrated Sumo Issue, after Utagawa Kuniyoshi”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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The ‘Floating World’ of Minneapolis

October 31, 2011

The 'Floating World' of Miinneapolis

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has 3,000 Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo period (1600–1868). These “pictures of the floating world”or ukiyo-e feature famous beauties, Kabuki actors, landscapes, floral studies, heroes, and spirits. The collection includes work by masters like Harunobu, Kiyonaga, Utamaro, Shunsho, Sharaku, Toyokuni, Hokusai, and Hiroshige.  Some of the best prints are on exhibit through January 8, 2012, along with the work of modern artists inspired by them.

Edo Pop: The Graphic Impact of Japanese Prints, Minneapolis Institute of Arts

“Eye-popping prints from Japan’s Edo period,” Emma Mustich, Salon
(An interview with exhibition curator Matthew Welch)

Short linkhttp://wp.me/p6sb6-bpG

Image (“Hummer in the Snow, after Torii Kotondo”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Information-Age Idol: Aimi Eguchi

June 26, 2011

Cute Aimi Eguchi (above) is a member of the Japanese girl group AKB48. She’s also a computer product, completely digital. The cybersongstress was created by sampling the attributes and actions of other singers in the group, synthesizing “Aimi,” then uploaded the result to the adoring public, who regarded her as another aidoru (アイドル), a pop idol. Now they know she’s a digital diva, but they dig it.

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Space Cucumbers

June 9, 2011

Space Cucumbers

Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa has been lifted to the International Space Station by a Soyuz rocket. What will Dr. Furukawa do in outer space? Grow cucumbers. And maybe some tomatoes.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Earthquake Shocks Reach Outer Space

March 14, 2011

 Earthquake Shocks Reach Outer Space

When the space shuttle Discovery (STS-133) visited the International Space Station (ISS), the Japanese robotic space freighter KOUNOTORI2 was already up there, and the station crew moved it to an alternate location. Discovery left for earth, and the crew moved the freighter back to the original port to continue working.  When the earthquake struck Japan, the Japanese space program’s ground control station at Tsukuba was evacuated due to power failure and shortages of fuel and water.  Photos indicate some interior damage, but there are no reports of injuries. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has  passed control of the space station’s Kibo module to NASA ground facilities in Houston and Huntsville.  The unmanned Japanese supply ship remains at the ISS and scheduled work with it has been postponed.

 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Say It Ain’t So, Sumo

February 6, 2011

Say It Ain't So, Sumo

This week’s big story in sports is the sumo wrestling scandal. It’s heavy: sumo wrestlers weigh in at over 300 pounds. The scandal: athletes have been fixing matches for Yakuza gangsters in return for cash payoffs. The repercussions: the grand tournament of Japan’s national sport has been cancelled for the first time since World War II.

Some sumo wrestlers have fixed matches by texting on their cell phones. The fingers of these huge pro athletes are so fat that some use iPads as cell phones.

In other sports news, three Pakistani cricket players have been banned from world play for cheating, and there is some kind of indoor football match in Texas.

Bonus: The Sumo Success Diet.

Secrets of the sumo wrestler’s diet,” Monami Yui, CNN City Pulse

It’s really not much of a secret. Eat lots of this with big hunks of meat.

Want to know how you’d look as a sumo wrestler? There’s an app for that.

 

Image (“Say It Ain’t So, Sumo, after Utagawa Kuniyoshi”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Sony Walkman: It’s Alive!

October 25, 2010

 Sony Walkman: It's Alive!

You may have heard that Sony is hitting “erase” on the Walkman cassette player, stopping sale of the machine that started the personal portable music era 30 years ago. Not quite.

Sony has stopped producing and selling the cassette players in Japan, reports Shan Li in the Los Angeles Times, but at this time there are no plans to stop sales in the U.S.A.

 

 For comprehensive Walkman information, see the fan site WalkmanCentral.com 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Wave of Relief in Japan

February 28, 2010

Wave of Relief in Japan

Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated the eastern coast of Japan yesterday in advance of predicted tsunamis. Powerful waves were anticipated, produced by the massive earthquake that struck Chile, on the other side of the Pacific.  Japan, always attentive to seismic events, had just been struck by a strong temblor of its own in the Ryukyu Islands, near Okinawa.

Relieved officials of Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a downgraded tsunami alert Sunday evening after the waves were milder than expected. Officials cautioned that tidal swells of up to 6 feet were still possible. NOAA’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had cancelled a similar warning for Hawaii, where initial seismic-reaction waves reached about 3 feet tall.

 

Image (“The Great Wipeout Off Kanagawa, after Hokusai”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


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