Friday, November 7, 2014

'Happy Halloweeeeeen!'

Halloween in Japan = party time for adults (or for a Cosplay kid, just another night on the town). offers full coverage of this year's festivities here, including a terrific video shot mainly in and around Shibuya's famous Center Street and "scramble" intersection..

Thursday, October 30, 2014

amazing music video shot in Japan - with a drone! and umbrellas!

It's good to be back, posting for the first time in months... So here's what prompted me to return, two years, three months and exactly 18 days after leaving Tokyo for New York and share something with ya'll.

OK Go's new music video!

Spoon & Tamago sums it up nicely: 2,400 dancers with umbrellas, a drone and an incredible 5-minute single sequence shot. The band teamed up with Honda—who provided the motorized scooter-chairs—and Japanese creative director Morihiro Harano to make this marvel happen. Watch it on YouTube here. The song "I Won't Let You Down" is from album Hungry Ghosts, out now in North America on iTunes.

Remember back when OK Go did their treadmill video? Get your flashback here.

Ok so I'm just now reading Billboard's coverage of this, which mentions that the members of the band, while cooking up their latest "eye-popping, retro-futuristic" video, visited "Tokyo's Robot Restaurant, a 12-floor underground theater with robots roller-skating to heavy metal music." HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS PLACE? Now I really have to go back.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Here's a cool shot published by The Wall Street Journal showing folks in Wakayama, Japan, receiving fire from special torchbearers at a festival there on Thursday. Once the torches are lighted, temple gates are opened and participants run down hundreds of stone steps to the bottom of a mountain - an ancient ritual and part of the annual New Year's celebration. 

Photo credit: Everett Kennedy Brown/European Pressphoto Agency

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

just in time for Valentine's Day

Today I learned the following while listening to a podcast of my favorite NPR program, the news quiz show, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!. It came up during Lightning Fill In the Blank

Host Peter Sagal: "Japan has introduced the Love Bra, which has a clasp that will only unlock if the wearer's heart rate elevates to a certain level. Meaning that the bra can only be removed if the user is in love. Or... jogging."

Panelist Mo Rocca: "Or... had a lot of coffee."

Sagal: "Or...thinking about her bra suddenly popping open."

You can watch the ad from Japanese lingerie brand Ravijour here. In it, a man in a white coat explains that when we're excited, the adrenal medulla secretes catecholamine; this affects the autonomic nerve, which stimulates the heart rate. (It's science!) Then the company's technical director chimes in with a bit about the bra's built-in sensor detecting that heart rate, and using Bluetooth to transmit the data to a smartphone app for analysis.
"Like a chastity belt for the social network age, the bra remains firmly locked shut most of the time, to defend its wearer from hordes of sleazy menfolk," The Guardian's culture blog reports. When it's true love, the bra "dutifully bursts open with a gleeful spring." 
Did I mention there's an ad?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

bunking with the royals

I am hoping to have a close encounter-by-proxy with Japan's Prince Akishino and his wife Princess Kiko. They're in Lima this week, staying in the same hotel as my husband, who's there on a consulting gig. The purpose of the royal couple's visit is to commemorate 140 years of diplomatic ties between Japan and Peru. (Prince Akishino is second in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne - his older brother, Crown Prince Naruhito, has one child, a daughter, so it is Akishino's son who is third in line.)

So far no confirmed sighting, though Terry has noticed an unusual number of Japanese moving through the hotel lobby - the security detail, or other members of the royal entourage, perhaps. In the meantime, this photo will have to do.
 Photo credit: Andina, for Peru This Week

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dispatch from England

My friend Anna grew up in Arkansas, spent a decade of her adult life in Asia (Hong Kong and Tokyo mostly) and now lives in the UK. She writes:

10 Things I Miss Most About Tokyo

1. Needing sunglasses. Ever.

2. The vegetables. Even if they were radioactive. Oxfordshire's can be quite repetitive: broccoli, broccoli, broccoli, broccoli, broccoli, broccoli, oooh! a carrot!

3. Ian's commute lasting 20 minutes, not 2 hours: file under ‘trains that run on time.’

4. Seasons - although last summer almost made up from the gloomy spring. Oxford is colder than London, and Ian & I joke that Tolkien wrote from life (Laura has a teacher who is a proper hobbit) and I know exactly where C. S. Lewis came up with the White Witch's Endless Winter.

5. Ito-ya and Tokyu Hands. Remember that room with all the little screws & bolts?

6. Other expatriates & my Japanese friends. (Maybe this # should have been first?) Monica Anstey!

7. Groovy shops. Plus the vending machines…

8. Weird signboards in English (although "Bellyful of Tasty" in Oxford's train station almost counts).

9. Skiing in powder, not ice crystals.

10. Dressing up. I spend my entire life here in mud-spattered cords & Wellies.

11. Driving. I've forgotten how. (Again.)

Anna at a little Shinto shrine in Taito-ku in March 2012, the day she and I took the "Ghosts and Goblins of Old Tokyo" tour: