Japan

Green tech finds: Wildlife goes virtual, Farmville gets real

Green tech finds: Wildlife goes virtual, Farmville gets real

Assembly lines rolling out the Focus Electric: Think Nissan’s the only game in town for a true electric vehicle? Not anymore: Ford’s started production of its 2012 Focus Electric in Michigan. (via @edbegleyjr)

Ranger Rick comes to the iPhone: Your kids bug you to play games on your smartphone? The National Wildlife Federation has created a way to make sure they’re learning something. The new Ranger Rick mobile apps provide games for kids as young as 2 (yes, 2!) to sharpen their knowledge about wild animals.

Art Buzz: Hear 35,000 heartbeats, see painted people & a look back at 1980's pomo

Art Buzz: Hear 35,000 heartbeats, see painted people & a look back at 1980's pomo

Heartbeat Island: French artist, Christian Boltankski, has recorded the heartbeats of over 35,000 people and stored them on a tiny Japanese island for his project, “Les Archives du Coeur.” His touring booth is slated to come through Finland in 2012, so you romantic types should probably start booking tickets for Valentine’s Day…

Japan: six months after the earthquake

Japan: six months after the earthquake

In the past few months I’ve been thinking about how quickly the story and aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan disappeared from the front pages of the mainstream news. I’ve been wondering about the recovery efforts and what in hell happened with those nuclear power plants. The Atlantic’s photo blog, In Focus, with Alan Taylor (creator of The Boston Globe’s popular Big Picture feature) at the helm, somewhat answers my question with a collection of before and after photos of Japan. The earthquake and tsunami hit Japan earlier this year on March 11th, and the devastation of the immediate aftermath seemed overwhelming. Clearly, a lot of work remains, but these photos (such as the one above) taken six months later reflect how remarkable the clean-up and recovery efforts have been.

Hollywood stars in Japanese commercials

Hollywood stars in Japanese commercials

Although famous actors don’t like to broadcast it, for one to protect their public image, they often go overseas to star in silly commercials, especially in Japan. Thanks to YouTube this is no longer a secret. In fact it was a plot device used in LOST IN TRANSLATION where Bill Murray’s character “Bob Harris” finds…

Heartwarming Japanese bullet-train commercial goes viral

Heartwarming Japanese bullet-train commercial goes viral

Tokyo Mango shared this heartwarming Japanese commercial promoting a new bullet train getting cheered on as it made its “debut trip across the southern island of Kyushu on March 12, just one day after the earthquake.” The spot was pulled from the airwaves for fears of insensitivity after the earthquake, but it quickly went viral…

Japanese World Order featuring amazing dance

Japanese World Order featuring amazing dance

This new music video and catchy song out of Japan is one of the more remarkable things I’ve seen lately, especially the unique synchronized dance choreography. Also, the song’s message is more of a hopeful manifesto, as explained in the video description: Many disasters are ongoing in Japan; earthquakes, Tsunami, and nuclear accidents. These unprecedented…

Covering Christoph Niemann's nuclear flowers

Covering Christoph Niemann's nuclear flowers

The New Yorker has an interesting look behind the process that led to the final design of their recent cover (see above) created by Christoph Niemann (a SUNfiltered favorite) which reflects the delicate ongoing struggle and tragedy in Japan. This assignment was difficult because, as Niemann explained, “A drawing often comes across as lighthearted, and…

Fiction in the face of crisis: Japan and "The Airborne Toxic Event"

Fiction in the face of crisis: Japan and "The Airborne Toxic Event"

When Don Delillo’s seminal masterpiece White Noise came out in 1985, it not only won The National Book Award and landed a spot on TIME’s “100 Best Novels” list, but it hit readers like a sonic boom, a tidal wave, a nuclear explosion – all apt comparisons given the ongoing events in Japan as well as the novel’s treatment of the “Airborne Toxic Event” that strikes midway through.

Even though White Noise was written over 25 years ago and is filled with references to pop culture and contemporary consumerism (DeLillo even wanted to name the book “Panasonic,” but they objected), it manages to escape the ties that bind it to a specific time period, avoiding obscurity or becoming dated over time. Instead, it not only remains relevant, but the book’s implications about modern life seem to intensify with age. It’s a supremely humanistic novel: while our world changes and trends come and go, people stay the same.

Japan relief poster

Japan relief poster

While the world watches the devastation occurring in Japan right now the design community is responding. All over Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr graphic artists are creating visual designs intended to encourage giving and help. The best I’ve found so far is W+K’s poster. Combining the flag of Japan with the cross symbol, the poster is…

Peace on Earth…or how about just in the bathroom?

Peace on Earth…or how about just in the bathroom?

A Japanese (who else?) company has invented a special kneeling toilet stool — two styles available! — which facilitates splash-free urinating by the male(s) in your life. Because sometimes, the real secret to domestic bliss is a peaceful shared bathroom experience. Well, that and a lot of reciprocated oral sex.

Super slow motion slap

Super slow motion slap

If you’re having a bad day, I highly recommend you watch this Japanese video of someone (willingly) getting slapped in super slow motion. It’s strangely gratifying. If anyone is interested in recreating this, I’m more than willing to be the cameraman. (Editor’s note: as is often the case with anything in modern pop culture, the…

Take Ivy finally available!

Take Ivy finally available!

Until quite recently, very few people knew about “Take Ivy,” a discontinued fashion book of photos published in 1965 with a cult following. I had actually blogged about it a couple years ago when a friend mentioned it. I explained then, “In the late 1960s Japanese photographer Hayashida visited our Ivy League universities and documented…

Spears vs. Takashi Murakami

Spears vs. Takashi Murakami

This year we’ve already seen one pop princess (Christina Aguilera) reemerge from hiding only to be written off as a Gaga-wannabe past her prime. This was a shame as Xtina’s album had brilliant highs and it just seems she was a victim of Gaga’s power over the press.

Now we ready ourselves for Britney Spears’ comeback. And while Spears has always been more likable than Aguilera, and was never one for put-on art/fashion reference, the news about, and accompanying images for, her cover shoot for Japan’s POP Magazine seem a bit desperate, no?

Master animator and storyteller Satoshi Kon dies

Master animator and storyteller Satoshi Kon dies

Yesterday, news of master Japanese animator Satoshi Kon’s death started circulating wildly. It came as a shock because, first, Kon was only two months shy of his 47th birthday and, secondly, because nobody could confirm what was then thought to be a rumor. The news started after two trustworthy members of the anime industry posted on Twitter: the President of Madhouse Studios (MINDGAME), Masao Maruyama, and one of the founding members of Gainax (NEON GENESIS EVANGELION), Takeda Yasuhiro. It’s been confirmed today that Kon passed away due to pancreatic cancer.

FULL FRONTAL FASHION highlights

FULL FRONTAL FASHION highlights

Abraxas Rex jewlery Step into the amazing world of Abraxas Rex – filled with crystal rings the size of your palm, prehistoric-shark-tooth necklaces, and cuffs with geodes like enormous craggy graphite-colored apples! Betsey Johnson turns 68 – and she’s still turning cartwheels! Check out her fabulous birthday celebration, complete with pink cupcakes and a pink…

FULL FRONTAL FASHION highlights

FULL FRONTAL FASHION highlights

Looks from the new Thomsen collection No matter how busy you were this week, we are sure you took a moment to check out Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. Find out what Lynn Yaeger had to say about the glamours event. Check out Thomsen; A chic little collection – easy, breezy, calm, and cool. Almost Parisian, nearly…

Hot child in the city: 25 again, Japan trip, and constant jet-setting

Hot child in the city: 25 again, Japan trip, and constant jet-setting

Maybe just one cupcake. A girl’s gotta watch her figure! Photo by Moises De Pena/WireImage.

Johnny’s back! Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@SUNfiltered) for all the latest Johnny news and updates.

Damn, it’s hot. I can’t get over the heat of the summer; maybe it’s global warming, but, in my twisted little mind, summer is when people’s inner sexiness starts to reappear, and that’s why it gets hot. The shirtless-ness, the bikinis, the sky-high stilettos of the drag queens…it’s amazing.

My summer has been insane. The season finale of BE GOOD JOHNNY WEIR was a huge hit, thank you for watching. The episode left a lot of people guessing about what’s next for me, and I suppose all I can say is wait and see, that’s what I’ll be doing too.

Stop-motion Mario

Stop-motion Mario

A Japanese student combined two of the Internet’s favorite things, stop motion animation and Mario, in this video. What makes this even more impressive is that everything was created with just sticky notes and a whole lot of time. According to the Google translation of this Japanese website, it took him about 2 weeks to…

iPad magic show

iPad magic show

Japanese magician Uchida Shinya posted this YouTube (subtitled) video where he uses an iPad with some magic tricks to briefly describe and explain the past, present, and future of human communication. The slight of hand tricks are pretty cool, but if you want to ruin the fun, just read the spoiler comments or watch it…

50 Tokyo taxi tops

50 Tokyo taxi tops

Los Angeles Times Magazine has a cool gallery of 50 Tokyo taxi cab tops by photographer Alexander James, which are also on view at Ann 330 Gallery in LA. Alexander explains “I want to capture that light play with the energy and bustle of city life and the stillness of individual with it” Which is…

Anger release venting machine

Anger release venting machine

Artists Katja Kublitz and Ronnie Yarisal created this outlet for one’s pent up anger and frustrations. Subverting the ubiquitous snack vending machine (especially in Japan, home of the highest number of vending machines per capita FYI), which incidentally sustained me all through junior high school, the artists filled this vending machine with fragile glassware and china. Anyone having a tough day can insert a coin, select their preferred item and watch it fall and land with a satisfying smash.

ASIA EXTREME: Roots of the Extreme

ASIA EXTREME: Roots of the Extreme

Though the ‘Asia Extreme’ moniker has only been around since 2005, Asian cinema, particularly from Hong Kong and Japan, has a long and illustrious history with cutting edge genre fare, and has been producing and distributing envelope-pushing films for nearly fifty years. While these films rarely found a home outside of their native countries, their taboo-busting efforts were not unnoticed at home where they had loyal and dedicated followers.

Animated amigurumi ukulele duo

Animated amigurumi ukulele duo

This video for Japanese ukulele duo, U900′s cover of “Walk, Don’t Run” originally by The Ventures features the cutest animated amigurumis or crocheted creatures ever. This is an improvement on the instrument which my sixth grade elementary school teacher used to strum while forcing, I mean leading us in a singalong. Also, check out this…

ASIA EXTREME: J-Quirk and The New Surrealism

ASIA EXTREME: J-Quirk and The New Surrealism

If one were to survey Japanese films that have been distributed in America over the last thirty to forty years, certain patterns would form. Works from the great masters, historical epics, dramas, monster movies and of course horror have certainly been well represented for decades. But one genre that’s severely lacking is comedy. In 1985, Juzo Itami’s noodle-western TAMPOPO became a smash hit, playing to sell-out crowds for months. However, since that time there haven’t been many Japanese comedies to find their way into the cultural zeitgeist, but that’s not for lack of material.

ASIA EXTREME: By The Time You Read This, Takashi Miike Will Have Completed Another Film

ASIA EXTREME: By The Time You Read This, Takashi Miike Will Have Completed Another Film

Though not quite a household name, prolific auteur Takashi Miike has made quite a splash outside of his native Japan, both within the fanboy community as well as the cinephile set. Then again, when you’ve completed nearly eighty films in only eighteen years, you’re bound to get recognized.