Times have changed though, and thanks to the Internet all of these obscure talents can finally come out to shine. Some people even get the best of both worlds, like Takayuki Haranishi.
Already a successful comedian in his own right as a member of the manzai duo Fujiwara, Haranishi was also able to let his secondary genius shine on YouTube recently.
▼ Takayuki Haranishi (left) and Toshifumi Fujimoto (right) are Fujiwara
You see, Harashi has a very particular set of skills — skills that he acquired over a very long career. Skills that make him a nightmare for any so-called “number one fan” of Pretty Cure.
He can correctly identify any character from the long running series simply by touching a figurine of them. What makes this especially impressive is that Pretty Cure, thanks to rebooting itself every year, it boasts a record-setting roster of 64 main magical warrior girls, or 69 if you want to count the starting lineup of Tropical Rouge! Pretty Cure which begins at the end of this month.
So watch with amazement at how Haranishi can tell which one is which simply by feeling up their statuettes. Although the video is in Japanese, it’s pretty easy to follow once they get into the challenge about four minutes in. The only Japanese word you’ll really need to know is “seikai” which means “correct!”
At last, the restored Kumamoto Castle has recovered its former glory. Free from scaffolding, one of Japan’s most beautiful castles now stands proud, a symbol of the locals’ unwavering strength.
Kumamoto Castle is known as the “castle of ginkgo nuts” for a ginko tree planted during its construction in 1600. The current castle is a reconstruction built in 1960, but it was heavily damaged after a terrible earthquake in 2016.
The earthquake caused 80 meters of the castle’s Nagabei Wall to collapse. The destruction of the city’s jewel was a tragic sight for the locals and a heartbreaking reminder of nature’s power. For the past five years, the beautiful castle has been covered in gaudy scaffolding.
“Here’s how it was when I went there. Hang in there, Kumamoto! Hang in there, Japan!”
After a lot of hard work later, the castle looks better than ever. The entire 242-meter long Nagabei Wall required demolition, but workers rebuilt it from the ground up using stainless steel reinforcements as quake-resistant measures.
While some work remains to be done inside the castle grounds, the castle’s office would like everyone to witness how much progress has been made in such a short period.
Given how filled Japanese entertainment media is with stories of idyllic teenage romances, you’d be forgiven for assuming that love is in the air whenever class is in session. The irony, though, is that it’s not uncommon for Japanese schools to have rules specifically prohibiting their students from having any sort of romantic life, under the logic that they should be focused on their studies and school-sanctioned extracurricular activities.
To clarify, these aren’t just rules against students making out in the band room after class or holding hands in the hall. Schools with no-romance rules place full bans on students dating, including their time off-campus.
Of course, young love has never been all that interested in the decrees of adult authority, and some students at no-romance schools develop feelings for one another anyway and date in secret. Sometimes, though, they get found out, which is what happened with two third-year students at Horikoshi High School, a private school in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, in the fall of 2019.
A teacher learned of their relationship in late November, which the pair admitted to after questioning. Horikoshi’s student handbook expressly prohibits students from dating, and so the school’s principal advised the girl, and presumably the boy as well, to “voluntarily withdraw” from the school.
The highest authority in the school advising a student to voluntarily drop out sounds an awful lot like threatening them with expulsion, and the even more negative stigma that goes along with it. So the girl dropped out, even though at that point she was only a few months away from graduation (Japanese high school lasts three years).
However, the time since has done nothing to bring her around to the Horikoshi’s way …continue reading
Josee, the Tiger, and the Fish, 2003 As Japan’s film industry enters its third decade in the new millennium, the inaugural ACA Cinema Project online film series 21stCentury Japan: Films From 2001-2020 takes a look back at the last 20 years of Japanese cinema to celebrate some of the most remarkable narrative fiction films and filmmakers […]
Local Japanese candy stores get ready for a bittersweet goodbye.
One of the hallmarks of vintage Japanese culture is the dagashiya or local candy store. Paneled in wood and metal, typically run by an elderly community member, and with shelves stocked with all kinds of delicious, cheaply priced treats, the local candy store is a source of nostalgia for adults, after-school respite for children, and once in awhile, controversy.
Regardless of their status and role in their respective communities, small-time local candy stores nationwide will soon be losing a trademark sweet: Amehama candy drops.
▼ Some candy wholesalers such as this one, located in Okayama, announced online the imminent departure of the 111-year-old candy maker.
Established in 1910 near the end of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), Amehama Seika is a confectionery company for small-time candy stores based in Aichi prefecture. While the company produces an assortment of delightful sweets, they are most famous for their ten-yen (US$0.095) hard candy drops.
▼ Typically packaged in transparent containers, Amehama drops come in the following flavors: cola, cider, grape, coffee, and Hokkaido milk.
Citing growing operational costs, the deterioration of its factory machines, and the overall economic burden of COVID-19, the company has declared its closure and will be shuttering its operations by April 2020. Netizens gathered online to mourn the loss of the iconic candy giant:
“For real?” “Another one lost…” “I remember growing up and buying a lot of these from the local candy store… feels a little lonesome.” “These are such a necessity for me! I even bought some the other day…”
Kimetsu no Yaiba fans aren’t pleased with election poster, but there’s not much publisher can do about it.
It’s been an incredible couple of months for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Between the manga ramping up to its climax in May and the premiere of the Mugen Train theatrical anime in October (which has since become the highest-grossing movie of all time in Japan), the franchise has become a full-blown cultural phenomenon.
As an example of just how big a hit Demon Slayer is, it’s not just the characters that are popular, but the patterns of their clothing. To be clear, we’re not talking about the characters’ outfits being popular with cosplayers (though they are), but the patterns on the fabric the Demon Slayer cast wear, with main character Tanjiro’s checkerboard black-and-green motif showing up on all sorts of merchandise over the past year. We’ve seen it on towels, face masks, and even fish cakes…and now it’s even been spotted on a Japanese politician’s campaign posters.
Keisuke Mitsumoto is a member of the Nippon Ishin no Kai party serving as a city councilman in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture. His current reelection poster has dignified-looking photos of him and fellow Nippon Ishin no Kai member Hirofumi Yoshimura with a background that looks almost identical to the pattern on Tanjiro’s haori coat. The font used to write Ishin no Kai (維新の会) also bears an incredibly strong resemblance to the one used to write Kimetsu no Yaiba (鬼滅の刃) in the series’ official logo.
I arrived at Yatsushiro Shrine in late November on the 44th day of my first walk around Kyushu. A few days earlier was the Yatsushiro Myokensai Festival which originates from the shrine. On display at the shrine are some of the “creatures” that are paraded during the festival.It is one of the major festivals of Kyushu and one of the 33 festivals that are registered as intangible cultural assets
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If we were to sum up the current status of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, “could be better” would be a pretty conservative estimate. Just as the global pandemic looks like it has a slightly more than zero percent chance of subsiding by July, we now have the emergence of a chairman with a superhuman ability of discrediting the entire tournament just by opening his mouth.
It’s times like these that I prefer to slip into the fantasy realm of video games to escape the harsh absurdities of modern life. And as luck would have it, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics: The Official Video Game on the Switch and PS4 is just the cure for my botched-Games-blues.
Ahhh, that’s the idyllic stuff I was looking for.
This adaptation of the global sporting event by Sega combines a realistic pageantry with the eye-grabbing effects and animation style of their popular Yakuza series for a downright fun time.
And unlike the real competition, which needed to be postponed for a year but still has to fend off deadly heat and even deadlier viruses, these virtual feats of athleticism have been going exceptionally smoothly.
▼ It’s always sunny at the Sega Games
In fact, since its release in late 2019, Tokyo 2020 Olympics: The Official Video Game is already kicking off its 34th “Challenge Top Athletes” update. This is where real-life greats from past Olympics are added to the game as your opponents.
In addition to the likenesses being realistically rendered, the athletes’ real voices have been recorded for use in the game. So, when beach volleyball giants Kaho Sakaguchi and Reika Murakami give each other a heads-up in the game, that’s really them.
One of the country’s most unusual property locations.
Ever since Google started capturing the Earth from above and sharing its images with the world online, people have been making unusual discoveries about the neighbourhoods they live in. Recently, this sky-high perspective unearthed yet another odd discovery, this time in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture.
▼ Google images show a building perched upon a high landing, surrounded on all sides by what appears to be a mine.
The images were recently shared on Twitter, where they sparked up a discussion over the why, what, where and hows of the mystery building.
“This looks like the last stronghold of an old castle fortress.” “It’s a secret research facility for the Earth Defence Force. In the basement of that house, an ancient monster, an apostle, or AKIRA is sleeping at a very low temperature.”
“Is it really okay to live on a spot like this? Wouldn’t it be dangerous in heavy rain?”
“How is this possible? I’d love to know the story behind this.”
“Could it be a shrine? That could explain why it’s undisturbed.”
“I think it’s more likely the owner didn’t agree to land acquisition.”
While the shrine theory was a good one, it was dismissed online as people confirmed this was a building that looked more like a home. Some wondered if there could be some sort of land dispute involved, with people likening the look of it to the “nail houses” seen in China.
“Nail houses”, known as “dingzihu” in Mandarin, are so-called as they can be seen standing alone, poking up out of newly developed areas. This happens when homeowners refuse to accept offers of relocation or compensation from developers who want to demolish their homes, and the construction goes up around them anyway, leaving them to stick out like a defiant nail on the developed landscape.