Posts Tagged ‘japan’

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Japanese Masked Hero Comes To The Aid Of Tokyo Subway Users

September 4, 2013

In a green outfit with silver trim and matching mask, a superhero waits by the stairs of a Tokyo subway station, lending his strength to the elderly, passengers lugging heavy packages and mothers with baby strollers.

“Japanese people find it hard to accept help, they feel obligated to the other person, so the mask really helps me out,” said Tadahiro Kanemasu.

The slender 27-year-old has spent three months being a good Samaritan at the station on Tokyo’s western side. Like many in the city, it has neither elevators nor escalators and a long flight of dimly lit stairs.

Inspiration came from the children he met at his job at an organic greengrocer, which also prompted the color of his costume. He picked up the green Power Rangers suit and two spares at a discount store for 4,000 yen ($41) each.

Since Kanemasu can set aside only a couple of hours each day for his good deeds, he hopes to recruit others in different colored suits. Already he has inquiries about pink and red.

Hayato Ito, who works alongside Kanemasu at the greengrocer, said his kindness to others over the years meant his alter ego did not come as a complete surprise.

“There were hints of this from a long time ago but finally he flowered as a hero,” Ito said.

Kanemasu admitted he got off to a bit of a rocky start.

“When I first began, people basically said ‘Get away from me, you weirdo’,” he said. “Now they still think I’m weird but in a good way.”

($1 = 97.6850 Japanese yen)

Text by Tokyo Reuters. Via Huffington Post

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Nishinihon Tenrei Funeral Services

May 27, 2013

When I think of funeral homes I think of muted colors like blacks, whites and greys. And indeed, funerals in Japan are largely a black & white affair, with any deviation from the code being considered taboo and disrespectful. So when Tokyo-based ad agency I&S BBDO was approached by Nishinihon Tenrei to create an unconventional ad for funeral services, it understandably posed several challenges.

“The March 11th earthquake and tsunami had a traumatic effect on Japan. Issues of life and death, hope and despair, beauty and tragedy became an all too real part of people’s everyday lives,” says the agency, reflecting on how to communicate the funeral home’s new role of remembering and celebrating the beauty of a lost person’s life.

Creative director Mari Nishimura decided to create a real-size human skeleton made from pressed flowers. The striking image is both beautiful, as well as celebratory, expressing through flowers what remains after death. Text and Image via Spoon & Tamago

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After Catastrophe

May 13, 2013

For a lesson in the compounding effects of surprising events, go back to a March afternoon in 2011: A powerful earthquake hits 40 miles off the eastern coast of Japan. The country’s building codes ensure that most structures can cope with even this major stress, but a resulting tsunami pounds the shore, unexpectedly breaches the sea walls, and ends up killing most of the more than 15,800 who die in this disaster.

The wave also knocks out the cooling system at a major nuclear-power plant situated on the coast, causing a meltdown. In time, the prime minister admits that the accident could have gotten out of control, forcing the abandonment of Tokyo, which would have crippled Japan. Citizens of the resource-poor country advocate abandoning nuclear power; analysts say that relying on imported coal or liquified natural gas could raise Japan’s carbon emissions by 37 percent. The meltdown hobbles a renaissance for nuclear power in the United States, and miscommunication about the disaster leads to upheaval in the Japanese government.

The quake, tsunami, and meltdown also affect an area known for manufacturing products vital to the world economy, notably cars and other vehicles, and those plants are shuttered for months. Twenty percent of the world’s silicon wafers come from this area, and electronics companies, which rely on just-in-time delivery of parts, brace for shortages. The meltdown also causes a brief worldwide panic about radioactive materials that might hitch onto Japanese exports.

Excerpt from an article written by Scott Carlson at The Chronicle Review. Continue HERE

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Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto

August 14, 2012

Motoi Yamamoto: Salt seems to possess a close relation with human life beyond time and space. Moreover, especially in Japan, it is indispensable in the death culture. After my sister’s death, what I began to do in order to accept this reality was examine how death was dealt with in the present social realm. I posed several related themes for myself such as brain death or terminal medical care and picked related materials accordingly. I then came to choose salt as a material for my work. This was when I started to focus on death customs in Japan. In the beginning, I was interested in the fact that salt is used in funerals or in its subtle transparency. But gradually I came to a point where the salt in my work might have been a part of some creature and supported their lives. Now I believe that salt enfolds the memory of lives. I have thus had a special feeling since I started using it as a material. Text via http://www.motoi.biz/

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A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths

July 31, 2012

In part by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership, Japan has as few as two gun-related homicides a year.

Waikiki’s Japanese-filled ranges are the sort of quirk you might find in any major tourist town, but they’re also an intersection of two societies with wildly different approaches to guns and their role in society. Friday’s horrific shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater has been a reminder that America’s gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.

Excerpt from an article written by Max Fisher, The Atlantic. Continue HERE

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WE ARE ALL RADIOACTIVE

June 29, 2012


We Are All Radioactive is an episodic documentary film created by San Francisco-based journalist Lisa Katayama and TEDTalks creator Jason Wishnow. It tells the story of a community of young surfers who are helping to rebuild a small coastal town destroyed by the tsunami in Japan in March 2011. Motoyoshi was a secret surf spot for ocean enthusiasts from Sendai. When the tsunami swept away the people and buildings there, a team of young surfers drove out to the coast, pitched tents on unaffected patches of land, and started helping generations of fisherman become entrepreneurs so they could spearhead their own reconstruction projects and develop new business ideas.

Seven short themed chapters make up Season 1. Half the footage is shot by our team, and the other half is shot by the locals themselves. The first half of the series was entirely crowdfunded. All the episodes are subtitled in Japanese and English.

In Chapter 1, we meet Autumn, an American woman living in Sendai. When the tsunami hit Motoyoshi, her favorite surf spot, she drove out to the coast and enrolled local surfers and fishermen in reconstruction projects.

In Chapter 2, a fisherman takes us on a journey around the world on his blue fin tuna boat, and a veteran surfer tells us how his uncle saved his entire family from being swept away by the tsunami.

In Chapter 3 of this online episodic crowdfunded documentary, we see how a hodge podge crew of volunteers has rallied to build a beer garden in a town devastated by the Japanese tsunami.

WWW.WEAREALLRADIOACTIVE.COM

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TOUCHY touches the untouchable

May 5, 2012

TOUCHY, by Eric Siu, is a phenomenological social interaction experiment that focuses on the relationship of giving and receiving by literally transforming a human into a camera. Touchy, (the person wearing the device) is blind most of the time until you touch his/her skin. Once vision is given to Touchy, he/she can take photos for you. This human camera, with its unique properties, aims at healing social anxiety by creating joyful interactions.

Social Concern

It is common for humans to be separated into social bubbles, to avoid sharing social space and to connect to strangers. However, technologies like Internet social networking or the mobile phone loosens social boundaries, hence dehumanizing physical communication. To a certain extent, it generates social anxiety such as the one experienced in the “Hikikomori” and “Otaku” cultures in Japan. Touchy criticizes this phenomenon and suggests a solution by transforming the human being into a social device: a camera. The Touchy project investigates how such a device improves social life, presupposing that a camera is a known tool for sharing memories, valuable moments, enjoyment, emotions, beauty and so forth.

Text and Images via TOUCHY