Why the Japanese TV Show that came to Ireland is just about the best program ever.

Japan, it seems, has embarked on a love affair with the rainy little island in the Atlantic ocean that some people call “Ireland”. It’s not surprising, I guess, Irish bands have been touring around Japan recently, Guinness is fast becoming one of “the usual foreign beers” alongside Heineken and Corona. All of these factors combined with others, have had such an effect that Japan is now Ireland’s 11th largest trade partner.

As such, Japanese people are wantin to know a bit more about Ireland…. So they send a talk show host and actor, Toshiyuki Nagashima, to Ireland to track down a Japanese woman to talk to… Don’t worry, it’s not as creepy as it sounds, it’s part of the show “Japanese over Here”.

Jshow

That sky must be photoshopped…

 

When the guy steps out of Terminal 2 in the Dublin Airport the first thing he notices is the cold and rain. Of course he couldn’t show up on one of the rare sunny days, so the world gets to see Ireland in all its rainy glory. However, when Nagashima realizes that he’s arrived on the wrong side of the country, he asks a nearby market-stall owner how to get to the town of Dowra. (hint, it’s far away). But when our plucky hero pulls out an enormous map of Ireland, the stall owner doesn’t bat an eye and gets down on his hands and knees to locate Dowra.

I think we have to get INTO the map

I think we have to get INTO the map

MUCH better

MUCH better

 

Our hero also gets an education on how to drink a Guinness right. After being reprimanded for getting a Guinness outside of a bar, a fellow train passenger shows Nagashima that for a good Guinness, you have to wait.

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trying to drink Guinness before it’s settled, NOOB!

 

Japan’s public transport is a marvel to behold. The only thing more impressive is the lack of public transport in the Irish countryside! The host encounters this little factoid when he’s trying to get from the “major town” of  Carrick-on-Shannon to the tiny village of Dowra. So he has to hitch-hike. and don’t worry, the Irish show their kind hearts. The third car to pass by stops to give a lift to him and the camera crew. Granted, it took 45 minutes for the third car to even make an appearance, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

jshow 6

Proper Gentleman

 

Probably the best thing are the kids though. Seeing a half-Japanese, half-Irish girl with jet black hair and masses of curls is a strange sight. Taeko Lowe and her husband Peter have been married for a few years, operate a business together and have 4 kids, all with appropriately Irish names.

jshow5

 

 

The show is almost entirely in Japanese, so get ready for a challenge if your Japanese isn’t up to snuff, but if it is, or you just want to have a quick look, check it out here:

http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x1sq8xz

 

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What is an Otaku?

akb48-picture

Idol Group AKB 48

A couple of days ago, two members of the Japanese pop idol group AKB48 were attacked by a saw-wielding maniac. The man slashed the faces and hands of two members, and also injured a member of staff who attempted to restrain him. The victims are said to be stable and recovering swiftly. However, when most people heard of the attacker’s details, (he is an unemployed 24 year old man), they dismissed him as being “just another otaku freak”.

They have covered their injured hands and face

They have covered their injured hands and face

For those westerners who are familiar with Japan and Japanese Culture, but  have never spent a long time here, “Otaku” is just another way to say “nerd” “guru” or “geek”. Most are unaware of the pejorative implication it carries, less of a “nerd”, but more of a “basement-dwelling, obsessive-compulsive loner”. To identify yourself as “Otaku” in Japan can cause a great deal of apprehension in Japanese people, but why? I mean, isn’t it normal to want to marry a pillow with your favourite cartoon character printed on it?

This totally happened

This totally happened

Let’s look at the word itself. Taku means a person’s house, and Otaku refers to a person who never leaves their house, passing their time alone. In the west, individualism is prized, and people are often assessed on their ability to function independently, the opposite is true for Japan. Japanese culture is built around consensus and harmony, called Wa (和) in Japanese.

As such, being an outsider is something to be avoided in Japanese society. Outsiders find it difficult to get employment, start relationships, or even just bond with other people. So, being labeled an Otaku is something people generally strive to avoid. They have a reputation for being strange people who take a hobby to the extreme.

otaku

Otaku people have a reputation of being essentially “overgrown man-children”, think of the “Bronies” or “Neckbeards” in western culture, and you’re on the right track.

Pictured: the Western Otaku

Pictured: the Western Otaku

A lot of people have an image of Japan being a technological wonderland, full of strange fashions and oddments, and while this may be true for Tokyo, and some areas in the bigger cities, it is not true for all of Japan. Japan is a country, and like all countries, it has office workers, it has policemen, it has farmers, it has doctors and it has nerds. It is important for people to remember that not all of Japan is like Akihabara (the famous electronic district in Tokyo).

Many Japanese people actually get upset when people assume that all of Japan is like Tokyo, and that the modern anime-scene (which is viewed as being childish) is all Japan has to offer. These people will be quick to point at the hundreds of years of history and culture that survives in Japan today.

Just look at all that culture

Just look at all that culture

So remember, it may be fun to call yourself an Otaku at home, with friends, or at conventions, but should you find yourself in Japan, stick to safer terms, like fan, guru, nerd or geek.

Western Remix of an Eastern Hit

hatsune and guests
Guess Who?

How many of those 6 colourful characters up there can you recognise? If you’re not Japanese, there should still be one you can recognise… 

I’ll give you a hint: he’s happy…

phar-anime
I like to call him Phar-anime.

That’s right, it’s Pharrell, given a new Anime make-over. But why? Simple, he remixed a song, originally sung by the Japanese vocaloid: Hatsune Miku. The remix was intended to publicize the release of a film, “Jellyfish Eyes”, but has since taken on a life of its own.

Thanks mostly to the video, and the anime-Pharrell showing off his dance moves and trademark hat, the remix has eclipsed the original intent, and already gotten about 600,000 views, with most of the commenters unaware of the film even existing.

trippy
It is pretty captivating after all…

The song, embedded below, is called “Last Night, Good Night (Re:Dialed) – Pharrell Williams Remix.” If you want to space out for a few minutes and view some psychedelic scenes, while listening to a surprisingly catchy beat, then give it a look.

 

 

Keeping the love fresh, Japanese photographer’s bizzare new photo-style

Japan has always had a taste for stretching the boundaries and finding new ways to express ideas. Tokyo is, more often than not, the centre of Japanese innovation.

 

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This, no matter how “cutting edge”, is definitely odd.

 

The photographer Haruhiko Kawaguchi has launched his own project, dubbed “Flesh Love”, and aims to bring it to the mainstream.

Thus far, he has photographed over 100 couples in the prestigious surroundings of… his kitchen. Hey, many artists starve for their art, some just happen to do it while in their kitchen…

 

Kawaguchi spends a huge amount of time talking with his subjects and arranging them into “artful” positions before popping a bag over them and attaching a vacuum to them. After they are completely without air, he starts snapping away. While they are trapped in the bags, he rotates them and arranges them to suit the photo… all while they are without air. Here’s a video of the process.

 

 

Now, I don’t happen to understand it, but then again, I’m just a normal guy… maybe you’ll understand them a bit more. Enjoy, I guess…

 

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See the merit?

Me neither… but hey, it’s Tokyo, and that place is like a whole other country.

 

5 examples of why Japanese prank shows are just better

These videos pretty much speak for themselves.

When it comes to scaring the crap out of people, the Japanese just don’t seem to care about damaged pride, emotions or bones…

1 The poor girl who drops out of a gameshow, don’t worry, she has a plunger to keep her safe

 

2 These people learn that if you ever encounter a wild red button, you should absolutely NOT push it… (skip the first minute of introduction)

 

3 These people who get caught in the middle of a gang war between rival Yakuza.

 

4 The people who stumble into the set of Jurassic Park.

 

5 A man who goes out to catch some human cockroaches… (skip to 1:10 to see the trap spring into action)

 

Truly, if the best we can come up with is “Punk’d”, we’ve lost this battle…