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Classic Japanese punk band ‘The Star Club’ covering Sham 69,The Clash, & the Ramones
02.01.2016
10:17 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Japan
The Clash
1980s
punk rock
Sham 69
The Star Club

The Star Club
An early photo of The Star Club

Since getting their start back in Nagoya, Japan in the spring of 1977, Japanese punk band, The Star Club, has put out more than 30 records (their most recent Max Breakers was released in December of 2015), and despite numerous lineup changes over the decades, the band continues to tour and perform with original vocalist, Hikage.
 
The long-running vocalist for The Star Club, Hikage, 1978
Hikage, the long-running vocalist for The Star Club, 1978
 
There were no shortage of punk bands in Japan during the late 70s and early 80s such the influential Blue Hearts, Anarchy, The Stalin, Crack the Marian, noise-punks Outo and hardcore punks, Gauze. Obviously, most of these groups got their inspiration from the punk that was happening thousands of miles away in the UK and New York, as the title of this post alludes to. Over the years, the rotating members of The Star Club even have even used mashups of the names of members of the Sex Pistols and Clash as their own. At one time back in the day, the bass player was known as “Paul Vicious,” the drummer called himself “Topper Cook,” and the guitarist became “Steve Cat Jones.”
 
The Star Club, early 1980s
 
From heavy metal to art, I’m a huge fan of the creative forces that emanate to my ears and eyes by way of Japan. And watching videos of The Star Club performing not only their own music back in the 80s, but the music of their punk idols, pioneers like Sham 69, The Clash and the Ramones, pretty much made my day. I found it especially enjoyable to watch the 80s version of Star Club vocalist Hikage swirling around while spewing out “Bodies” in a shirt not unlike Johnny Lydon’s straight-jacket-looking muslin “Destroy” shirt.
 
The Star Club
The Star Club “Aggressive Teens/Bodies” Australian release, 1986
 
If you dig what follows, I have some good news for you as many of The Star Club’s recordings can be found on Ebay and Discogs. I’ve also posted videos of the Star Club covering “Borstal Breakout” by Sham 69, The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Bodies,” by the Sex Pistols, and “I Fought the Law” as famously covered by The Clash (which is a part of the performance in first video below). The first video also includes a short amusing interview with the band, which was recorded at a show The Star Club did under the alias of “Anarchy in the J.A.P” in support of their fifteenth anniversary and cover album of the same name in 1992.
 

The Star Club performing as “Anarchy in the J.A.P” in the early 90s. A brief interview with the band pops up just before their cover of Sham 69’s 1979 single, “If the Kids are United”
 
More from the Star Club, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Upskirt underpants umbrellas are a thing in Japan
01.15.2016
10:33 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion

Tags:
Japan


 
The latest supposed craze in Japan are upskirt umbrellas featuring images of popular schoolgirl anime characters. Certainly something like this would never fly in the states, but Japan is Japan and so we must experience brain freeze and go with it, I suppose. Anyway, the underside of the umbrella—called an “Un-burera” which is a play of “umbrella” and “underpants”—showcases the underpants while the topside features the anime character’s face. 

Apparently the umbrellas come with strong warnings that they will cause, “extreme embarrassment for the user” and that the owner uses the item in public “at their own risk.”

Gee, I wonder why? Nope, nothing sleazy about this at all!


 

 

 
via Rocket News

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Retro rockabilly gangs of Tokyo
12.28.2015
02:37 pm

Topics:
Fashion
Music

Tags:
Japan
rockabilly


 
For the past 30 years (if not more), you can see a re-creation of leather jackets, greased-back pompadours, and lollipop dresses, just like something out of the movie Grease, if you go to Tokyo’s famous Yoyogi Park near the Meiji-Jingumae station, for that is where the Tokyo Rockabilly Club assembles every Sunday to pay tribute to musical heroes like Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley.

Rockabilly has been making inroads in Japan as far back as 1955, when Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” dominated the charts in the country, but the current groups probably trace their origins to the 1970s, the same decade that Americans were enjoying American Graffiti and Happy Days, not to mention Grease itself.

Rockabilly, especially the form that partakes so much of the 1970s revival phase, has a cutesy edge redolent of sock hops and guys named “Potsie,” but the genre has always had an authentically rebellious edge, and the same is true of the rockabilly gangs of Yoyogi Park. This particular tribe is probably influenced by an earlier Japanese youth culture called the Kaminari zoku (“Thunder tribe”), which was considered a dangerous gang in the 1950s due to its involvement with illegally customized motorcycles, reckless driving, street racing, and fighting. The group that gathers today in Tokyo, of course, is a tourist attraction and perfectly harmless.
 

“Kaminari zoku” from the 1950s
 
Dave Barry poked fun at the rockabilly nuts of Yoyogi Park in his 1992 book Dave Barry Does Japan (1992 was a big year for interest in Japan and Japanese pop culture):
 

... the first thing we saw was the Bad-Ass Greasers. These were young men, maybe a dozen of them, deeply into the 1950s-American-juvenile-delinquent look, all dressed identically in tight black T-shirts, tight black pants, black socks and pointy black shoes. Each one had a lovingly constructed, carefully maintained, major-league caliber 1950s-style duck’s-ass haircut, held in place by the annual petroleum output of Kuwait. One of them had a pompadour tall enough to conceal former president Carter. [Note that the pictures here feature just such a pompadour, as well.]

-snip-

One of them turned on a boom-box cassette tape of “Heartbreak Hotel.” The circle started clapping to the music; one of them got up, went to the middle of the circle, and began dancing. The dance he chose to do was—get ready for the epitome of menacing Badness—the Twist. He did it stiffly, awkwardly, looking kind of like Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd doing the wild-and-crazy-guys routine, except that he was deadly serious. So were the guys clapping in the circle. They clearly believed that they were too hip for mortal comprehension. They did not seem to sense that they might look a little silly, like a gang of Hell’s Angels that tries to terrorize a small town while wearing tutus.

 
Well, 2015 isn’t 1992, and the existence of a small group of people dorkily enjoying whatever they choose to enjoy flies a lot better today than it did then. Dave Barry is amused that they don’t look sufficiently “cool” or “badass,” but this is Japan, land of simulacra and, more to the point, exuberant cosplay.
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Japanese man supposedly captures ‘fabled Ghost Child’ on video
12.03.2015
08:52 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Japan
ghosts
Ghost Child


 
I live for stupid stuff like this: A Japanese man “allegedly” captured a “Ghost Child” (aka a zashiki-warashi) on video. If you don’t know what a “Ghost Child” is (I didn’t) it’s a popular character from Japanese folklore and it’s considered good luck if one is seen roaming around your home. That sounds terrible to me, but whatever. Japan.

Footage of the encounter was uploaded to Facebook by the home owner in Japan and shows what appears to be a child moving around a light.

It is first seen floating from the left, before crouching down and disappearing. Moments later it reappears on the right side of the light and appears to hover above it, before vanishing completely.

Let me start by saying: I dig the soundtrack. I can groove to it.

One YouTube commenter named Phaota gave the following reasons for calling shenanigans on the “Ghost Child” video:

Fake.  The spirit is showing for way too long and too much detail.  If it was a real spirit, you’d be seriously lucky to even get a few seconds of detail that good.  Everything about the video is too perfect.  Also, the child is not “floating”, but clearly walking.

If it was a “real spirit” it seems unlikely that it would have a higher video resolution than the room it’s walking through, too, no? I mean, isn’t that the case with “real spirits”?

Again, did I mention that magical soundtrack? And is the spooky kid reading a magazine at one point? I like that detail. It’s so mundane! But can “real spirits” really pick up stuff? If so how?

So many questions. so many questions…

 
h/t Geekologie

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Art classes (with naked models) help Japanese virgins get to the next level
06.30.2015
11:01 am

Topics:
Art
Sex

Tags:
Japan


 
It’s almost impossible to write about this story without referencing The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the successful 2006 movie that did so much for Steve Carell’s career. In Japan, it seems, the proliferation of Andy Stitzers (Carell’s character in that movie) has become something of an active social problem. According to the Japan Times, “A 2010 survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research found that around a quarter of unmarried Japanese men in their 30s were still virgins — even leading to the coining of a specific term, yaramiso, to describe them.”

For anyone who is not in that position, the heartache of being in such a situation, a fully grown adult with little experience to draw on and few prospects to look forward to, can be a devastating psychological toll of failure. One 49-year-old whose name was withheld in the Japan Times article felt romantic and sexual feelings for a woman only twice in his life, and both times the woman in question rejected him. “It was devastating,” he said. “It seemed to invalidate my life and take away my reason to live.”
 

Shingo Sakatsume and his Virgin Academia textbook.
 
Statistics for a straightforward comparison across international boundaries are scarce, but a superficial look at the numbers suggests that the Japanese do have less sex than most western countries. For instance, a poll conducted by Durex found that 68 percent of Japanese respondents of the ages of 18 and 19 were virgins, whereas the typical figure for Germany was closer to 20 percent, in Turkey 37 percent.

To help alleviate this problem, Shingo Sakatsume, whose company White Hands specializes in finding ways for “people with severe disabilities find an outlet for their sexual needs,” has turned his attention to what he can do for those who are sexually frustrated for more parochial reasons. His motto is “Sexual maturity means social maturity. ... Even if the person has disabilities, one who recognizes and accepts his own sexuality tends to be able to build balanced relations with others. ... People who are not sexually mature tend to get timid socially.”
 

 
Sakatsume’s program for adult virgins has been dubbed “Virgin Academia.” One of the main tools for helping such men has been art classes, pictured here, with live models—without clothes on—in order to help them get more familiar with the female body. As Takashi Sakai, a 41-year-old virgin, commented, “The first time I did this, in autumn last year, oh . . . I was so amazed. Their bodies are incredibly beautiful. ... One thing I learned is that there are many different shapes of breasts and even genitals.”

As Sarah Cascone of Artnet reports, “The correspondence course comes with a 100-page textbook, Virgin Breaker!, and runs for a full year, with participants keeping a counselor apprised of their progress in their efforts to meet women.” Cascone continues: “The figure drawing sessions, which take place every other month in Tokyo, allows the yaramiso to encounter a naked woman in a neutral environment, free of romance and pressure to perform sexually.”

Here’s a report from AFP News Agency about the yaramiso phenomenon:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Meiko Kaji and the ass-kicking female gangs of the ‘Stray Cat Rock’ films, 1970-71
06.26.2015
10:10 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Japan
Stray Cat Rock
Meiko Kaji

Stray Cat Rock
 
During the early 1970s, Nikkatsu Studios out of Japan released a series of youth films that helped define an era. Very much of their time, the five motion pictures that make up the Stray Cat Rock cycle were inspired by the late ‘60s counterculture. Amidst a backdrop of psychedelic imagery, the characters represent Japan’s wayward youth, juvenile delinquents hell-bent on living life on their own terms, stealing, drugging, and fighting along the way.
 
psychedelic imagery
 
on the road
 
knife fight
 
Two different filmmakers were at the helm for the series. Yasuharu Hasebe directed Delinquent Girl Boss (1970), Sex Hunter (1970), and Machine Animal (1971), all of which focused on gangs—especially the ass-kicking, female sort—and organized crime. Toshiya Fujita was behind the camera for Wild Jumbo and Beat ‘71, films that, while still featuring unlawful and violent behavior, are really about youth enjoying life.
 
Machine Animal
The young women of ‘Machine Animal’; Meiko Kaji, center

The Stray Cat Rock cycle represent the breakout films of Meiko Kaji. She would achieve her greatest fame starring in Lady Snowblood (1973), a film which, decades later, proved to be a major influence on Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003).
 
Beat '71
Meiko Kaji in ‘Beat ‘71’

On July 14th, Arrow Video will release the five Stray Cat Rock flicks as a limited edition boxed set. This will mark the North American debut of all the films in the Blu-ray format.

We’ve selected a clip for you, dear reader, one you’re sure to enjoy. It’s from the fourth installment, Sex Hunter, and features a female gang on a mission to rescue fellow members from a party gone wrong. Led by Meiko Kaji’s character, Mako, the young women show up armed with a surprise for the captors.
 
Sex HunterMeiko Kaji in ‘Sex Hunter’

Preorder the limited edition Stray Cat Rock Blu-ray/DVD boxed set via MVD or Amazon. Probably best to get yours sooner rather than later, if demand for the 2014 UK version is any indication, as its already out-of-print.
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
The wild wild world of Japanese rebel biker culture
05.28.2015
02:50 pm

Topics:
Fashion
History
Pop Culture

Tags:
Japan
bikers

Former bosozuku leader, Kazuhiro Hazuki
 

“I was interested in them because they were punks and they were against society.”—Kazuhiro Hazuki, Narushino Specter gang

 
Back in the 1970s the term bōsōzoku (or “speed tribes”) was first used to describe Japanese biker gangs that routinely fought in the streets with rival gangs and the police. Often dressed like Kamikaze pilots, the bōsōzoku wreaked havoc speeding through the streets on their illegally modified bikes, blowing through red lights, and smashing the car windows of any motorist that dared defy them with baseball bats. Foreigners were an especially favorite target of the bōsōzoku’s aggression.
 
Bosozuku photo from a Japanese biker magazine with modified bike and helmet
Bōsōzoku biker with illegally modified bike and helmet (taken from a Japanese biker magazine)
 
Bosozuku bikers, 1970's
Bōsōzoku bikers, 1970’s
 
Bosozuku biker with his bike and bat, 1980's
Bōsōzoku biker, 1980’s
 
Bosozuku biker with bike and bat
 
The earliest incarnation of the bōsōzoku, the kaminari zoku, appeared in the 1950’s. Not unlike their idols from the films, The Wild Ones or Rebel Without a Cause, the group was formed by the youthful and disenchanted members of Japan’s proletariat, and the gang provided a place for the emerging delinquents to call their own. A fiercely disciplined and rebellious group, the bōsōzoku once boasted more than 40,000 members. By 2003 the bōsōzoku’s numbers had dwindled to just over 7000. According to first-hand accounts from former senior members, the modern version of the bōsōzoku (known as Kyushakai) no longer embody the rebel spirit of their predecessors. In fact, some have returned to homaging their rockabilly idols by donning elaborate Riizentos, a style of pompadour synonymous with disobedience. These days many ex-bōsōzoku parade around on their bikes in non-disruptive groups and enjoy dancing, performing music and socializing in groups in Harajuku, an area well known for its outrageous fashion.
 
Harajuku Black Shadow dancers (ex-bosozuku), 2008
Harajuku Black Shadow dancers (ex-bōsōzoku), hanging out in Harajuku, 2008
 
Ex-Bosozuku hanging out in Harajuku, 2008
 
Many factors are to blame for the demise of the traditional bosozuku. A former leader of from the Narushino Specter gang in the 90s (and one time Yakuza loan shark), Kazuhiro Hazuki recalls that the police were once content to allow the bōsōzoku to run riot and no matter how many times they were arrested, a gang member never had their license revoked. Over the years, revised traffic laws have led to a rise in the arrest and prosecution of the bōsōzoku. Some also point to the inclusion of women as bōsōzoku riders, now a common sight in Japan, and a less than robust economy (many bōsōzoku bikes can cost as much as ten grand) for the drastic reduction in the gang’s numbers.
 
Modern day Bosozuku
Modern-day bōsōzoku
 
Bosozuku biker girl
 
Modern Kyushakai bikers
Modern Kyushakai bikers
 
If this post has piqued your interest of vintage Japanese biker culture, there are several documentaries and films based on the bōsōzoku and other speed tribes in Japan, such as 1976’s God Speed You! Black Emperor, 2012’s Sayonara Speed Tribes, a short documentary that features historical perspective from the aforementioned Kazuhiro Hazuki, or the series of films from director Teruo Ishii based on the bōsōzoku that began in 1975 with, Detonation! Violent Riders. If you are a fan of Japanese anime, the story told in the cult film Akira deeply parallels the real world of the bōsōzoku in their heyday. Many images of the bōsōzoku of the past and their mind-boggling motorcycles follow.
 
Bosozuku biker, early 1970's
Bōsōzoku biker, early 1970’s
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Teenage Wasteland: Photos of rebellious youth in Japan, 1964
01.27.2015
12:15 pm

Topics:
History
Pop Culture

Tags:
Japan


 
I thought I’d share these absolutely stunning photos of the decidedly wilder side of Japanese youth culture circa 1964. The images, taken by LIFE photographer Michael Rougier, document “one Japanese generation’s age of revolt.”

From the 1964 issue of LIFE:

All through that past, a sense of connection with the old traditions and authority has kept Japanese children obedient and very close to the family. This sense still controls most of Japan’s youth who besiege offices and factories for jobs and the universities for education and gives the whole country an electric vitality and urgency. But as its members run away from the family and authority, this generation in rebellion grows.

The photos have a very raw, punky energy, if you will, for 1964. If you’re curious about who the band that everyone is rocking out to, they were called the Tokyo Beatles. I’ve added a YouTube clip of their cover of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” at the bottom so you can get an idea to what the kids are freaking out about in some of these evocative photos.


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Move over Tom of Finland, macho Japanese gay comic art is soooooo hot right now
09.15.2014
04:28 pm

Topics:
Art
Fashion
Queer

Tags:
Japan
manga


 
Watch out Tom of Finland, there’s a new milieu of gay nationalist iconography in town! Massive is a new brand producing clothing, accessories, art and original and translated books centered on gay manga—meaning Japanese comic books celebrating bears, bears and more bears! I’m generally of the opinion that pin-up art has jumped the shark, but these manly men are just as delightful as they are niche—sort an army of Bettie Gay-ge’s!

The art itself is really charming: sophisticated, without being pretentious or self-important. Japanese artist Jiraiya comments on his work for the the sweatshirt above:

These two guys have the same muscle mass, but I’d guess different body fat percentages. In my opinion, they’re a perfect couple. But if they fight, their house will be partially destroyed.

And how!

I don’t know about you, but much I’d rather wear this than one of those bland, now ubiquitous American Apparel “Legalize Gay” shirts. Between that jumper and my Hüsker Dü tee, bear culture will always have a place in my wardrobe… but never in the closet!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Japanese cafe seats solo diners with stuffed animals to ward off loneliness
04.25.2014
10:08 am

Topics:
Amusing
Food

Tags:
Japan
Moomin

Moomin Cafe
 
Oh, Japan. Will you never stop coming up with ingenious, adorable, and/or strange practices that confound Westerners? At the Moomin Café chain, which is dedicated to a series of popular picture books from Finland that are also very popular in Japan, it is apparently the policy to seat a large stuffed animal at the tables of unaccompanied guests.

The Moomin characters are cute and hippopotamus-like, and the cafe is decorated in the style of the book series. The characters are awfully damn cute, and have names like Moomintroll, Moominpappa, Moominmamma, Sniff, Snufkin, and so on. It’s a little as if you cross-bred the Teletubbies and the characters from Babar the Elephant, but I confess I don’t know the series well. Here’s a delicious entrée with the rice shaped like a Moomin character.
 
Moomin rice
 
Twitter user Haruo99 recently visited the Tokyo Dome City LaQua branch, and as she awaited the arrival of her food order, a staff member materialized who informed her that someone would like to sit with her, if she didn’t object. It soon emerged that this was a reference to the Snork Maiden, girlfriend of Moomintroll. “The waitress had such a big smile on her face, I couldn’t say no,” Haru recalls. “But it was also so cute!”
 
Snork Maiden
 
The policy of providing solo patrons with mute, inanimate (albeit cute) partners is neither new nor exclusive to this branch; the policy has been in place since the café opened in 2003. “Guests to Moominhouse are welcomed by the Moomin family,” according to a spokesperson from the company’s PR department. As RocketNews24 reports, the service is “also available at the Moomin Cafes at Solamachi entertainment complex at the base of the Tokyo Skytree, and also the Canal City shopping center in Fukuoka. Stuffed versions of Moomintroll, Moominpappa, Moominmamma, and Snork Maiden are standing by at all three locations, and the roster grows to six at Tokyo Dome City where the oddly-named characters Sniff and Stinky are also available to share your table with.”

Only in Japan would they invent the practice of supplying you with a temporary friend named “Stinky” to make you less self-conscious!

Here’s the opening sequence from the Japanese animated TV series of Moomin, to give you an idea of what it’s like:
 

 
via RocketNews24 and First We Feast

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Tokyo manhole covers remind us that US cities just do not give a damn, comparatively speaking
04.07.2014
11:30 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Japan
sewage


 
I love New York, but New York is truly disgusting, and a lot of it is unbelievably ugly. The infrastructure is crumbling (dear god, the subways), and what little public beauty that isn’t as dilapidated as a Dickensian wedding dress is relegated to the neighborhoods of the rich and powerful. Even Central Park is largely maintained by private donations—it’s their back yard, they just let us visit. Most of the time I can ignore this. I fell in love with New York through movies like The Warriors, so I expect a certain post-apocalyptic aesthetic. But when I see something like photographer S. Morita’s collection of Japanese manhole covers—there are nearly 6,000 on the Flickr, I get a little emotional.

Nearly every industrialized city in the world lives atop a sewage system—a literal, man-made river system of shit and filth. The Japanese have managed to make the access-point to their shit-rivers really pretty! (So has Milan, by the way. My admiration for this kind of attention to detail and investment in (functional!) public art is certainly tinged with jealousy. Okay, maybe “not tinged.” Maybe more like “infected.” I am riddled with jealousy. We have an absurdly wealthy nation! We have creative people! We should have nice things too!
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Tokyo Compression’: These images of Japanese commuters are not for the claustrophobic
04.03.2014
04:16 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Japan


 
I’ve never been to Japan. My husband—who’s been there before and loves it—is always trying to convince me we should take a trip there. The thing is, I’m someone who suffers from a mild to not so mild claustrophobia. I have to sleep with the window open every night (even if it’s 20 degrees outside). The thought of airlessness, stuffy rooms or crowded subway cars freaks me the hell out. New York City can be too much for me, so I’ve always been leery of what might await me in the Land of the Rising Sun.

After viewing these photos by German photographer Michael Wolf of Japanese commuters in Tokyo… they kinda sealed the deal: I ain’t going to Japan. Or at the very least, I’m not taking public transportation.

Wolf’s series is called “Tokyo Compression.”
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Someone is defacing hundreds of copies of Anne Frank’s Diary in Japanese libraries
03.07.2014
09:58 am

Topics:
Books
Crime

Tags:
Japan
Anne Frank

Anne Frank
 

Last month it was discovered that a total of 305 copies of the Japanese translation of The Diary of Anne Frank have been severely defaced—some most likely slashed with a knife, others with entire pages forcefully torn out—in a number of libraries across Tokyo, according to Asahi Shimbun, a major newspaper in Japan. The affected libraries, of which there are 31, have reported no other acts of vandalism or theft, leading authorities to regard the vandalism as the handiwork of a person or persons with a political motive.
 
The Diary of Anne Frank
 
The diary is one of the most moving and inspiring documents of the twentieth century. Anne Frank, of course, was a teenager hiding in Amsterdam with her family to evade detection from the Nazis during World War II. The diary covers the years 1942 through 1944, years during which Frank was 13 to 15 years old. In early 1945 she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In 1947 her diary was published in the Netherlands to widespread acclaim under the title Het Achterhuis (The Annex); the English translation would follow five years later, under the title Diary of a Young Girl, although it is most commonly called simply The Diary of Anne Frank. As one of the best-known testimonies about the Holocaust, it has been widely read in Japan and many other countries.

Officials in Japan have commenced an investigation into the mysterious mutilation of hundreds of copies of the diary as well as other books related to her at public libraries across Tokyo. The motive for the mutilations are likely to reflect Japanese politics more than ordinary anti-Semitism per se. The New York Times made reference to vague conspiracies from the late 1970s incorrectly claiming that the name of the Enola Gay B-29 bomber that delivered the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima meant “Kill the Emperor” in Yiddish. Meanwhile, the election of right-wing politician Shinzo Abe as prime minister in 2012 (he had served in the post for a year spanning 2006 and 2007) has emboldened right-wing groups across Japan.
 
The Diary of Anne Frank
 
Some libraries have elected to remove materials relating to Anne Frank off the shelves, which means that a personal request will have to be made with a library employee to read them. Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga has expressed disappointment at the damage; “It is extremely regrettable and shameful,” he told reporters. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights group, has issued a statement expressing “shock and deep concern” over the vandalism: “Only people imbued with bigotry and hatred would seek to destroy Anne’s historic words of courage, hope and love in the face of impending doom.”

On a more hopeful note, an anonymous donor has already funded the replacement of 100 copies of The Diary of Anne Frank.
 

 
via RocketNews24

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Hear a broadcast from the Tokyo Rose, Japan’s World War II radio propaganda disc jockey
03.06.2014
10:00 am

Topics:
History
Race

Tags:
Japan
World War II
Propaganda
Tokyo Rose

Iva Toguri
Iva Toguri D’Aquino
 
The Tokyo Rose is one of the more ingenious and chilling bits of psychological warfare in human history. During World War Two, in an effort to unnerve American GI’s and lower morale, the Japanese broadcast an English-language radio show hosted by a rotating roster of female voices. “Tokyo Rose” was the generic moniker given (by Americans) to all the announcers, but the most famous voice (and probably the one you hear in the broadcast below) was that of Iva Toguri D’Aquino, an American who had the misfortune to have been caring for a sick aunt in Japan when the war broke out. After the war, she was arrested and convicted of treason—apparently being a prisoner of war was no excuse for making a radio show. She wasn’t released until 1956.

The format of the show was actually pretty brilliant; in between coy “updates” on the war, (and insinuations of Japan’s impending attacks), Tokyo Rose would play the hits of the day. The show was incredibly popular among American serviceman. Rumors circulated that she possessed insider knowledge of American military actions. Some said she named specific servicemen as recent captures in her broadcasts—this is completely unsubstantiated, of course, and popular opinion is that the myth of Tokyo Rose flourished in the bewildered minds of her targets. And it that sense, the program was a complete success; Americans did overestimate the power and knowledge of Axis Japan.

Similar programs were employed by other Axis countries, including the insidious Lord Haw Haw in Germany, but none quite had the eery charm of Tokyo Rose, whose sweet voice and romantic tunes belied a brutal war.
 

 
Bonus: I’ve also included the grotesquely racist piece of American propaganda, Tokyo Woes. The 1945 Bob Clampett-directed Warner Brothers cartoon was only intended for viewing by the US Navy. Nothing sells war quite like racism and the promise of a hero’s welcome after a quick and easy victory.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
What if ‘Game of Thrones’ were set in feudal Japan?
01.22.2014
08:21 am

Topics:
Art
Television

Tags:
Japan
Game of Thrones

Feudal Japan
“Battle of the Trident”—Seiji writes: “This is the iconic duel between Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen that preceded the series by seventeen years. Instead of a war hammer, Robert wields a Kanabō, a club-like samurai bludgeoning weapon. His antlered helmet is inspired by the famous helmet of the warlord Honda Tadakatsu.”


What would “Westeros” be in Japanese? “Wesatarosu”? (Apologies if that’s way off.) At any rate, That’s the question prompted by these marvelous artworks by imgur user seiji, who is clearly a fan of the HBO series/endless series of novels by George R. R. Martin as well as of the distinctive visual steez of 18th-century Japanese woodblock prints.

As Seiji commented on his imgur page:

“I thought it would be interesting to draw a retelling of the [A Song of Ice and Fire] universe as if it took place in feudal-era Japan. These drawings are inspired by the Ukiyo-e style.”

Now I’m imagining Toshiro Mifune occupying the diminutive shoes of Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. Nah, can’t see it without Dinklage….
 
Feudal Japan
“Tyrion at the Eyrie”—“Catelyn Stark, her uncle Brynden Tully, and a dispatch of the Knights of the Vale journey to the Eyrie while transporting their captive, Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion is dressed in the robes of a nobleman.”
 
Feudal Japan
“Bran Stark and Hodor Journey North”—“Weirwood lore shares some interesting similarities to Shinto practices, so I drew a shimenawa (prayer rope) around the tree trunk.”
 
Feudal Japan
“Jon Snow Duels Qhorin Halfhand as Wildlings Look On”—“The wildlings are dressed like the Ainu, who are the indigenous people of northern Japan. The Ainu are thought to be the descendants of the first inhabitants of the islands, and throughout history they have lived independently in the cold far north, beyond the grasp of the Emperor.”
 
Feudal Japan
“The Execution of Eddard Stark”—“Instead of having Ilyn Payne simply execute Ned Stark, an amused Joffrey orders Ned to commit seppuku. Ilyn is on hand to perform the kaishaku, or ritual decapitation to quicken the death. The paper in front of Ned is a death poem, which a samurai would traditionally write before ending his life.”
 
Feudal Japan
“Mother of Dragons”—“Danaerys wears traditional Heian-period royal clothing and is seated on the Mongolian Steppes, a fitting analogy for the Dothraki Sea, far from Westeros.”
 
via RocketNews24

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