Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Japan’s Jolly Old Elf: Colonel Sanders

December 24, 2012

Japan’s Jolly Old Elf: Colonel Sanders

When Christmas comes to Japan, thoughts turn to that jolly old man, Harland Sanders. America’s 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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Faxing: Big In Japan

June 10, 2012

Faxing: Big In Japan

59 percent of Japanese homes have fax machines.

“One reason is that computers, at the outset, never worked well for the Japanese. The country’s language — a mix of three syllabaries, with thousands of complex ‘kanji’ ideograms — bedeviled early-age word-processing software. Until the early 1990s, Japanese was nearly impossible to type. Even today, particularly for older Japanese people, it’s easier to write a letter by hand than with a standard keyboard. Japan also relies on seals, called ‘hanko,’ that are required for most official documents.”

“The government’s long-standing monopoly on phone lines kept high-speed digital Internet rates relatively high — particularly compared with South Korea, where the government promoted cheap broadband use.”

 — From “In Japan, fax machines remain important because of language and culture,” by Chico Harlan, Washington Post

Related:

“The Idea for the Fax Machine Has Been Around for 170 Years,” Matt Soniak, Mental Flosss

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Short Link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-djS

Image (“Faxing Wishes for the Star Festival, after Toshikata”) 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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Forget Rap Music’s ‘Robot Voice.’ Hire a Robot Singer.

April 28, 2012

Forget Rap Music's 'Robot Voice.' Hire a Robot Singer.
Rapper and producer T-Pain popularized that “robot voice” now infesting the world’s Pop Music recordings. But why imitate a singing robot when you can have a robot vocalist? A Japanese tech company has produced a robot chick singer who is remarkably life-like, at least compared to most of Japan’s aidoru pop stars. Of course, the most animated members of J-Pop girl groups are really digital animations.

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iPad 3 Invades Japan

March 16, 2012

iPad 3 Invades Japan

The new iPad 3 went on sale in Japan this week. When the Apple Store in Tokyo’s Ginza district opened on the day of its release, 450 people were in line.

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Pleasure Palace in Japan: Wendy’s

January 5, 2012

Pleasure Palace in Japan: Wendy's

Want a Wendy’s Foie Gras Rossini Burger? It’ll cost you $16 and a plane ticket to Japan. Wendy’s has reentered the Japanese market and introduced a luxury menu at a location in Tokyo’s tony Omotesandō neighborhood. That Foie Gras Burger also features truffles. You want fries with that?

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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.

(more…)

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

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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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

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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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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