Culture

Japanese Village Faces Ninja Shortage–Even With Salaries As High As $85,000

2018-07-19 12:49

Japan’s Iga City, the birthplace of ninja, is running out of ninja in 2018. Iga City, located in Japan’s Mie prefecture, is believed to be the birthplace of ninja and home of the Iga school of ninjutsu. It also hosts Japan’s most famous ninja museum, where visitors can not only watch skilled ninja performers, but undergo training to pick up the skills themselves. Unfortunately, the city’s claim to fame is at risk as Iga is facing a shortage of skilled ninja performers for their annual ninja festival as the result of a nationwide depopulation problem, according to a recent episode of “Planet Money” on NPR. In the episode, Sally Herships…


Cosplayers to Watch: Yuria Fujino (Photos and Interview)

2018-07-19 11:07

Yuria Fujino is a proud otaku who is not only passionate about cosplaying, she has made efforts ever since her middle school days to reach out beyond Japan, in particular, to France, where her experiences meeting and interacting with local anime and manga fans were so inspirational that she made otaku culture in France her university thesis. In addition to cosplay and photo book production, Yuria also does some conventional model work. If you’re lucky, you might find her at sake bar Katsurada in Shinjuku where she has occasional part-time shifts. Interview grape Japan (gJ): Since when have you been cosplaying? Yuria Fujino (YF): Since around ten years ago. In…


Omiya Railway Museum Showcases Dawn of Railroads in Japan Until Sept. 30

2018-07-18 09:00

© Japan Forward Text: Earl H. Kinmonth, Professor Emeritus, Taisho University This year is the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration. In a narrow sense the Meiji Restoration meant restoring the imperial institution to a central position in the Japanese polity. In a broader sense, though, it meant renovation and restructuring. One key component of this was the construction of railroads. Whereas the pre-Meiji regime carried out limited road and bridge building and restricted the size of ships, the new Meiji government saw improved transportation in general—and railroads in particular—as of prime importance in making Japan a strong, modern country. Just five years after the overthrow of the Tokugawa regime…


Cosplayers to Watch: Chamomile (Photos and Interview)

2018-07-13 08:02

Raised in Yokosuka, Chamomile is a multicultural cosplayer with Japanese and Filipino-American heritage. Her range of activities stretches very wide across the gamut of cosplay, encompassing everything from cosplay modeling, event modeling, modeling for color contact lenses, performing on stage and creating photo books. She’s also active as a cosplay makeup artist. Chamomile is very keen on making international connections, and she hopes she can serve as a bridge between countries through her various talents and activities. You can call her Chamomile or Chami! Interview grape Japan (gJ): Since when have you been cosplaying? Chamomile: I started cosplaying four years ago. gJ: Why do you cosplay? Chamomile: I love anime,…


Interview With Touko Nakamura, Japan’s Cutest Anime Song DJ [Video]

2018-07-12 07:06

Touko Nakamura Is Performing This Weekend at Re:animation 12, Japan’s Largest Outdoor Anime Song, Techno and House Music Festival We had the pleasure of interviewing Touko Nakamura, anime song DJ and aspiring singer, now registered in famous talent agency Horipro’s newly established subsidiary Horipro International, as she prepares for her upcoming performance at Re:animation 12, Japan’s premiere outdoor rave for anime song and game song lovers as well as techno and house music fans. Profile “Hi, I’m Touko Nakamura and I’m 22 years old. I love anime and anisongs! I was a finalist in the Singer Actress Audition at the 39th Horipro Talent Scout Caravan. As ‘the cutest anisong DJ…


Japan’s Most Beautiful Calligrapher Demonstrates Writing The Most Difficult Kanji

2018-07-12 05:31

Bisen Aoyagi At 28, the beautiful master calligrapher Bisen Aoyagi has already made a name for herself, having exhibited at numerous galleries, performed live calligraphy for major Japanese companies and outside of Japan at expositions and cultural festivals. She also has a growing following on social media with nearly 89,000 fans on Instagram and over 25,000 on Twitter. 昨日の撮影🎥😀 ヘアメイクさんすごく上手😂 お母さんと同姓同名でビックリした!笑 #アルビオン #albion #artwork #art #architecture #beauty #movie #aoyagibisen #青柳美扇 #love #instagood #instadaily #JAPAN#j #japanese #手書き #tatto #calligraphy #japanesecalligraphy #calligrapher #書道 #書道家 #ink #書道パフォーマンス #美扇筆 #training #artist #artistsoninstagram 青柳美扇 aoyagibisen 書道家/墨象アーティストさん(@aoyagibisen)がシェアした投稿 – 2018年 7月月10日午後9時31分PDT The most difficult kanji In a video she posted on her Twitter account, Ms. Aoyagi shows…


Artist Beautifully Combines Japanese “Spiritual Birds” And Trees To Illustrate The Four Seasons

2018-07-12 05:00

One of the minor but common grievances you’ll find among expatriates in Japan is a disdain for being asked “Does your country have four seasons?” or what sometimes comes across as excessive praise for Japan having four seasons. While it can be a bit comical at times, these comments are usually misunderstood, as most Japanese people are referring to how distinct and pronounced the differences between the four seasons are in Japan, and is an appreciation of the sights, sounds, and events celebrated between fall, winter, spring, and summer. Japanese artist @white16074 has created a series of four illustrations that beautifully highlights those seasonal distinctions through the imposing but graceful…


Meet Noname-chan, Psychedelic Costume Character and Aspiring Fashion Model

2018-07-11 09:23

Noname-chan (pronounced “no-na-mé-chan”) is a costumed character with a psychedelic fashion sense, beautifully sparkling eyes and a passion for fashion and music. Produced by miyako, who garnered international attention last year with her ishoku hada gyaru 異色肌ギャル fashion (which can be translated as “unique skin” or “other skin”), Noname-chan was revealed to the world on May 17th when she launched her Twitter account. Source:@nnm_tube Source:@nnm_tube While much about Noname-chan is still veiled in mystery, we were able to ask her producer miyako a few questions: grape Japan (gJ): What is the purpose of Noname-chan’s activities? miyako: The purpose of her activities is to be a happy presence and a fashion…


A Look Into Doujin Cosplay ROM Event Cosnug.

2018-07-06 06:35

Doujin “Cosplay ROM” Events in Japan One increasingly popular way for amateur cosplayers in Japan to expand their network, reach out to more fans AND put some yen in their pockets is to participate in “cosplay ROM” events such as Cos-Express, Cosprecious, Cosnug. and Cosholic in Tokyo and Cosplay ROM Express in Osaka. It’s important to specify “doujin” here, which means fan-organized or fan-based. Although the majority of the goods being bought and sold are cosplay CD-ROMs containing photos as well as photo books, you can also find posters and even keychains, pins, badges and the occasional fashion accessory or clothing item catering to niche customers. Another service some cosplayers…


Party In a Fundoshi Loincloth At The Wildest Summer Party, Phantasm Tokyo DJ Night

2018-07-06 01:06

For centuries, Japanese people have worn fundoshi loincloths and danced at festivals. On July 7th, the auspicious day of the Tanabata Star Festival, the Fundoshibu group wants you to wear fundoshi and dance the night away in an amazing summer party called Phantasm Tokyo. With the concept of creating “festivals to shape the next 100 years,” the Fundoshibu group has reserved the 1st through 3rd floors of the 100Banch building near the New South exit at Shibuya station and invited the leader of Japan’s dance scene, Afromance, who you may remember from the Maguro House event we covered earlier this year, along with an amazing lineup of DJs and musical…


“Otaku House” Promises Cheap Lodging and Fun Experiences For Otaku Tourists

2018-07-04 03:25

Whether or not you identify yourself as an “otaku,” if you’re a fan of anime, gaming, cosplay and other aspects of Japanese subculture and you have plans to visit Tokyo any time after March 2019, there’s a good chance you’ll appreciate what “Otaku House” has in store. An Otaku’s Home Away From Home in Tokyo A project launched by SouthWorks Co., Ltd., a Japanese IT startup which distributes Japanese games overseas as well as develops and manages websites, “Otaku House” is a new kind of themed accommodation and experience place with the first location planned for Akihabara. It will feature comfortable bunk rooms with walls decorated with anime characters, a…


After Heartbreaking World Cup Loss, Japanese Team Cleans Locker Room And Leaves Thank You Note

2018-07-03 05:57

Japanese soccer fans are reeling after a heartbreaking 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16 loss that came in the 94th minute of a roaring comeback by Belgium. While the team is being commended for showing a spirited efforts and taking part of one of this year’s most entertaining matches, the players, much like their traveling supporters, are gaining attention for cleaning up after themselves, even after such a bitter loss. Much like with 2014 World Cup in Brazil, this year Japanese fans in attendance gained international attention and praise for staying after games to clean up not only their own seating areas, but surrounding sections as well. While not…


Sailor Moon Theme Song Performed on Traditional Japanese Instruments Sounds Magical

2018-07-03 04:59

When talking about iconic anime and manga, it’s impossible to discount Sailor Moon. The title character and her band of Sailor Guardians revolutionized the magical girl genre in their quests to vanquish evil. Just as iconic is the original opening theme ‘Moonlight Densetsu’. As soon as anyone hears those first few bars, they will immediately want to grab their talking cat and take down some baddies. 【更新】アニメ『美少女戦士セーラームーン』が、2018年8月よりCS東映チャンネルにて放送開始となります!https://t.co/ES1CknwQAX pic.twitter.com/xXAhiceABi — セーラームーン25th公式 (@sailormoon_25th) 25 June 2018 Thanks to Nami Kiniei and her accompanying band, this nostalgic tune takes on a new traditional twist. She plays the shamisen, a stringed Japanese instrument. Backed up by flute, percussion, a 20 stringed koto, and a…


Tourists’ Good Luck Ritual Is Tarnishing Beauty Of Japan’s Most Iconic Shrine

2018-06-29 04:39

The famous gate of Japan’s famous Itsukushima Shrine is suffering from structural damage caused by travelers cramming it with coins. Itsukushima Shrine, located on the island of Miyajima in Hiroshima prefecture, is celebrated canonically as one of three most scenic beauties in Japan, and a permanent heavyweight on the top ranked places to visit in Japan. The small island boasts gorgeous mountain trails and views, and hosts free-roaming deer who aren’t afraid to mingle with human visitors. It’s main attraction and most iconic view, however, is undoubtedly the shrine’s torii gate, which appears to float on the water at high tide. じゃらん〈公式〉さん(@jalan_net)がシェアした投稿 – 2018年 6月月27日午前2時12分PDT It’s considered an all-day attraction,…


Japanese AI Automatically Generates Faces of Idols Who Don’t Exist

2018-06-22 01:25

According to their announcement on June 19th, 2018, Kyoto-based IT startup DataGrid Inc., which specializes in creative applications of AI, as well as developing or consulting on AI-related systems, has developed an AI system capable of smoothly and automatically generating high-quality and high-resolution (1024 x 1024) photorealistic Japanese idol faces. Making use of Deep Learning based on GANs (generative adversarial networks), DataGrid’s new AI “learns” from a database of existing idol images and then generates entirely fictitious yet photorealistic idol faces. Without providing any specifics, DataGrid states on their website that they intend applying this new generative technology to other fields in order to provide [clients] with proposals for new…


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