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Move over Tom of Finland, macho Japanese gay comic art is soooooo hot right now
09.15.2014
01:28 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
07:08 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
08:30 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
01:16 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
06:58 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
07:00 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
05:21 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

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
With its giant fembots, Japan is winning the go-go arms race
01.17.2014
05:32 am

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
Japan
robots

Giant fembots
 
In the ten zillionth instance of Japan provoking a “Why didn’t anyone else think of this before now?” reaction, the aptly named Robot Restaurant in Tokyo’s well-known Kabukichō entertainment district has adopted what might be considered the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach. With an aesthetic vaguely reminiscent of Kaiju Big Battel (itself a goof on the excesses of Japanese culture) as orchestrated in the style of, say, Gaspar Noé‘s Enter the Void, Robot Restaurant features (in what is surely not an exhaustive list) endless flickering lights, pterodactyls, glow sticks, robot dogs, animatronic sharks, a blinking army tank, a bunch of people wearing African masks, go-go girls wearing fairy outfits, go-go girls in hyperbolic pretend battle with each other, go-go girls playing rock music, and go-go girls driving around giant animatronic fembot amusement park cars. The fembots have “pneumatic busts,” in the reliable verbiage of Time Out Japan.

I keep calling them “go-go girls,” but the proper term is “para-para dancers.” The price tag for a couple of hours of this madness is 5000 yen (about $50). The joint’s website gives a vivid impression of the batshit craziness that goes on there.

It all sounds utterly awesome.
 
Peace sign
 
Dayglo tank
 
African masks
 
Robots
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Zany geologist suggested bombing Japan’s volcanoes to force unconditional surrender in 1944
12.30.2013
06:07 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
Japan

Volcanoe Bomb
 
By January of 1944, Colgate University geologist Professor Harold Orville Whitnall has, like so many others around the globe, pretty much had it with the War in the Pacific. Too many American boys are dying overseas, and the world needs a plan for a quick resolution to the conflict. So much so that Whitnall feels compelled to unveil a rather unorthodox master plan.  That month in Popular Science Magazine, he suggests that the U.S. bomb Japan’s volcanoes. 

Why? First, Whitnall concludes, the Japanese are terrified of volcanoes. He cites the fact that people in Japan place shrines at their bases hoping to ward off impending eruptions. According to Whitnall’s logic, the Japanese worshipped volcanoes like gods, and blowing “these smoking mountain deities” to smithereens would really freak people out.  Second, bombing the volcanoes might trigger earthquakes!  “Hardly a day passes without some of Hirohito’s dupes feeling the earth wobble beneath their feet,” Whitnall continues, and this, of course, must also be very scary to the people of Japan. Whitnall argues that the island nation with its 30 active volcanoes and “hundreds that jut skyward in uneasy slumber,” along with its unstable, fissure-ridden crust is one of the most geologically volatile places on the planet. The earnest professor concludes, therefore, that U.S. bombers should agitate the island’s fragile topography as much as possible thereby wreaking havoc on the Japanese population through acts of geological sabotage, which, in turn, will virtually guarantee a triumphant U.S. victory.  Problem solved. 

Crazy, right?

But, Whitnall is serious. He wants readers to know that he isn’t just some mad scientist doing that twiddling thing with his fingers and laughing hysterically towards the heavens. To the contrary, he has been cooking up this magmatic bombing campaign concept of his for quite some time:

Since shortly after Pearl Harbor, I have recommended that our all-out attack on the Japanese homeland be accompanied by bombing raids on Japan’s volcanoes.  I believe that explosives dropped down their throats may cause such a vomiting of lava and ash as to hasten the day of unconditional surrender.  Bombs are growing bigger and bigger, and I am increasingly convinced that such an attack is worth trying.

Whitnall acknowledges that his idea might prove to be just a little controversial to some of the more narrow-minded members of the scientific community, but, he contends, the naysayers lack the kind of forward thinking upon which this country was founded:

The idea of bombing volcanoes into activity and jarring the earth into earthquakes probably will be met with mingled derision and approval.  Ultraconservative scientists whose vision is often swathed in mathematical formulas, will snort, “Impossible!” while those with the imagination of Ben Franklin with his kite may murmur, “Could be, could be.”

The whole thing is pretty chuckle-worthy in its audacity (albeit truly terrifying and jingoistically unconcerned with the plight of ordinary Japanese citizens), but Whitnall’s article becomes a lot more ominous when you consider the fact that (obviously) the United States at the time has something far more horrifying up its collective sleeve than obliterating volcanoes.
 
I’ll let Whitnall himself fill you in on the rest of the details of his own earth shattering plot in the original article which you can find here.

Meanwhile, check out another seemingly hair-brained WWII bombing idea in this History Channel segment on weaponized bats.   
 

 
Via Weird Universe.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Bauhaus, Japan, Cocteau Twins and more on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’


 
This morning, in the course of searching for a King Crimson video, I ran across an incredible - and given the criminally low view counts, apparently undiscovered - trove of high quality New Wave and Gothic videos from the legendary British television show The Old Grey Whistle Test, few of which are to be found on the DVD collection. I’ve posted a few of my favorites here, but there’s plenty more on the profile of YouTube user ArtNoyze. Enjoy.
 

Altered Images - ‘Insects’
 

Japan - ‘Ghosts’
 

Adam & The Ants - ‘Ant Invasion’
 
The Teardrop Explodes, Cocteau Twins and Bauhaus after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Heartless Japanese English instruction will crush your soul
10.31.2013
11:27 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Japan

English textbook
 
It doesn’t seem like this bizarre snippet from a Japanese book designed to teach English can be chalked up the usual problems that generate “Engrish”—defined as “the misuse of the English language by native speakers of some East Asian languages.” No, it seems that the writers of this textbook just weren’t thinking about what they were writing or else decided to indulge in a delirious moment of black comedy.

In a sidebar entitled “Rest Station,” the student is given a typical bit of English conversation that you might encounter in a doctor’s office. The participants are a small boy and his doctor. The boy speaks first:

A: Doctor, I’m so alone. Nobody seems to notice me.
B: Next patient, please.

In an illustration, the speech balloon for the poor kid contains only a single black blot, a pretty good visual approximation of clinical depression, while the smiling, clueless doctor is depicted barking out his insensitive sentence.

Best of all, the kid is making the Akbar and Jeff gesture with his index fingers.

via RocketNews24

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Want to see what’s ahead for America’s young? Pay attention to what’s already happened in Japan
08.28.2013
01:15 pm

Topics:
Class War
Economy
Thinkers

Tags:
Japan
Charles Hugh Smith


 
This is a guest post from Charles Hugh Smith. His newest book is Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It

Social recession is my term for the social and cultural consequences of a permanently recessionary economy such as that of Japan—and now, Europe and the U.S.

Forget Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of expansion (“growth”) or recession—what really matters is the social recession, which continues to deepen in America.

The term social recession has two distinct meanings: around 2000, the term was used to describe the erosion of social cohesion via the decline of institutions such as marriage and the rise of social problems such as teen pregnancy.

Many commentators pinned the responsibility for this erosion of social constraints and bonds on rampant individualism and overstimulated consumerism, while others pointed to urbanization, the commodification of child care, women entering the workforce en masse and similar trends. Poverty was explicitly rejected as a causal factor, hence the term “social recession.”

This notion of social recession was aptly described by Robert E. Lane, author of the 2001 book The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies:

There is a kind of famine of warm interpersonal relations, of easy-to-reach neighbors, of encircling, inclusive memberships, and of solidary family life… For people lacking in social support of this kind, unemployment has more serious effects, illnesses are more deadly, disappointment with one’s children is harder to bear, bouts of depression last longer, and frustration and failed expectations of all kinds are more traumatic.

(For more on the subject, please see “The Social Recession” (The American Prospect.)

I use the term social recession to describe a very different phenomenon, the social and cultural consequences of permanently recessionary economies such as Japan, and now Europe and the U.S.

I have defined and used social recession in this way since 2010:

The Non-Financial Cost of Stagnation: “Social Recession” and Japan’s “Lost Generations”
(August 9, 2010)

Here are the conditions that characterize social recession:

1. High expectations of endless rising prosperity have been instilled in generations of citizens as a birthright.

2. Part-time and unemployed people are marginalized, not just financially but socially.

3. Widening income/wealth disparity as those in the top 10% pull away from the shrinking middle class.

4. A systemic decline in social/economic mobility as it becomes increasingly difficult to move from dependence on the state (welfare) or parents to the middle class.

5. A widening disconnect between higher education and employment: a college/university degree no longer guarantees a stable, good-paying job.

6. A failure in the status quo institutions and mainstream media to recognize social recession as a reality.

7. A systemic failure of imagination within state and private-sector institutions on how to address social recession issues.

8. The abandonment of middle class aspirations by the generations ensnared by the social recession: young people no longer aspire to (or cannot afford) consumerist status symbols such as autos.

9. A generational abandonment of marriage, families and independent households as these are no longer affordable to those with part-time or unstable employment, i.e. the “end of work”.

10. A loss of hope in the young generations as a result of the above conditions.

I have described the “end to (paying) work” many times:

End of Work, End of Affluence   (December 5, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence II: Cascading Job Losses (December 8, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence III: The Rise of Informal Businesses (December 10, 2008

Endgame 3: The End of (Paying) Work   (January 21, 2009)

Demographics and the End of the Savior State   (May 17, 2010)

What happens to the social fabric of an advanced-economy nation after a decade or more of economic stagnation?

For an answer, we can turn to Japan. The second-largest economy in the world has stagnated in just this fashion for almost twenty years, and the consequences for the “lost generations” which have come of age in the “lost decades” have been dire. In many ways, the social conventions of Japan are fraying or unraveling under the relentless pressure of an economy in seemingly permanent decline.

While the world sees Japan as the home of consumer technology juggernauts such as Sony and Toshiba and high-tech “bullet trains” (shinkansen), beneath the bright lights of Tokyo and the evident wealth generated by decades of hard work and the massive global export machine of “Japan, Inc,” lies a different reality: increasing poverty and decreasing opportunity for the nation’s youth.

The gap between extremes of income at the top and bottom of society—measured by the Gini coefficient—has been growing in Japan for years; to the surprise of many
outsiders, once-egalitarian Japan is becoming a nation of haves and have-nots.

The media in Japan have popularized the phrase “kakusa shakai,” literally meaning “gap society.” As the elite slice of society prospers and younger workers are increasingly marginalized, the media has focused on the shrinking middle class. For example, a bestselling book offers tips on how to get by on an annual income of less than three million yen ($30,770). Two million yen ($20,500) has become the de-facto poverty line for millions of Japanese, especially outside high-cost Tokyo.

More than one-third of the workforce is part-time as companies have shed the famed Japanese lifetime employment system, nudged along by government legislation which abolished restrictions on flexible hiring a few years ago. Temp agencies have expanded to fill the need for contract jobs, as permanent job opportunities have dwindled.

Many fear that as the generation of salaried Baby Boomers dies out, the country’s economic slide might accelerate. Japan’s share of the global economy has fallen below 10 percent from a peak of 18 percent in 1994. Were this decline to continue, income disparities would widen and threaten to pull this once-stable society apart.

Young Japanese, their expectations permanently downsized, are increasingly opting out of the rigid social systems on which Japan, Inc. was built.

The term “Freeter” is a hybrid word that originated in the late 1980s, just as the Japanese property and stock market bubbles reached their zenith.  It combines the English “free” and the German “arbeiter,” or worker, and describes a lifestyle which is radically different from the buttoned-down rigidity of the permanent-employment economy: freedom to move between jobs.

This absence of loyalty to a company is totally alien to previous generations of driven Japanese “salarymen” who were expected to uncomplainingly turn in 70-hour work weeks at the same company for decades, all in exchange for lifetime employment.

Many young people have come to mistrust big corporations, having seen their fathers or uncles eased out of “lifetime” jobs in the relentless downsizing of the past twenty years. From the point of view of the younger generations, the loyalty their parents unstintingly offered to companies was wasted.

They have also come to see diminishing value in the grueling study and tortuous examinations required to compete for the elite jobs in academia, industry and government; with opportunities fading, long years of study are perceived as pointless.

In contrast, the “freeter” lifestyle is one of hopping between short-term jobs and devoting energy and time to foreign travel, hobbies or other interests.

As long ago as 2001, The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that 50 percent of high school graduates and 30 percent of college graduates now quit their jobs within three years of leaving school.

The downside is permanently downsized income and prospects. Many of the four million “freeters” survive on part-time work and either live at home or in a tiny flat with no bath.  A typical “freeter” wage is 1,000 yen ($10.25) an hour.

Japan’s slump has lasted so long, that a “New Lost Generation” is coming of age, joining Japan’s first “Lost Generation” which graduated into the bleak job market of the 1990s.

These trends have led to an ironic moniker for the Freeter lifestyle: 
Dame-Ren (No Good People).
The Dame-Ren get by on odd jobs, low-cost living and drastically diminished expectations.

The decline of permanent employment has led to the unraveling of social mores and conventions.  Many young men now reject the macho work ethic and related values of their fathers. These “herbivores” also reject the traditional Samurai ideal of masculinity.

Derisively called “herbivores” or “grass-eaters,” these young men are uncompetitive and uncommitted to work, evidence of their deep disillusionment with Japan’s troubled economy.

A bestselling book titled The Herbivorous Ladylike Men Who Are Changing Japan by Megumi Ushikubo, president of Tokyo marketing firm Infinity, claims that about two-thirds of all Japanese men aged 20-34 are now partial or total grass-eaters. “People who grew up in the bubble era (of the 1980s) really feel like they were let down. They worked so hard and it all came to nothing,” says Ms Ushikubo. “So the men who came after them have changed.”

This has spawned a disconnect between genders so pervasive that
Japan is experiencing a “social recession” in marriage, births, and even sex,
all of which are declining.

With a wealth and income divide widening along generational lines, many young Japanese are attaching themselves to their parents, the generation that accumulated home and savings during the boom years of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Surveys indicate that roughly two-thirds of freeters live at home.

Freeters “who have no children, no dreams, hope or job skills could become a major burden on society, as they contribute to the decline in the birthrate and in social insurance contributions,” Masahiro Yamada, a sociology professor wrote in a magazine essay titled, Parasite Singles Feed on Family System.

This trend of never leaving home has sparked an almost tragicomic counter-trend of Japanese parents who actively seek mates to marry off their “parasite single” offspring as the only way to get them out of the house.

An even more extreme social disorder is Hikikomori, or “acute social withdrawal,” a condition in which the young live-at-home person will virtually wall themselves off from the world by never leaving their room.

What we’re seeing in Japan is the confluence of three dynamics: definancialization, the demise of growth-positive demographics and the devolution of the consumerist model of endless “demand” and “growth.”

Japan is the leading-edge of the crumbling model of advanced neoliberal capitalism: that consumerist excess creates wealth, prosperity and happiness.

What consumerist excess actually creates is alienation, social atomization, narcissism,and a profound contradiction at the heart of the consumerist-dependent model of “growth”: the narcissism that powers consumerist lust and identity is at odds with the demands of the workplace that generates the income needed to consume.

Japan and the Exhaustion of Consumerism

The Hidden Cost of the “New Economy”: New-Type Depression

The Future of America Is Japan:  Stagnation

The Future of America Is Japan: Runaway Deficits, Runaway Debts

The younger generation of workers raised in a consumerist “paradise” are facing an economic stagnation that reduces opportunities to earn the high income needed to fulfill the consumerist demands for status symbols. Given the hopelessness of earning enough to afford the consumerist lifestyle, they have abandoned traditional status symbols such as luxury autos and taken up fashion and media as expressions of consumerism.

But the narcissism bred by consumerism has nurtured a kind of emotional isolation and immaturity, what might be called permanent adolescence, which leaves many young people without the tools needed to handle criticism, collaboration and the pressures of the workplace.

Narcissism is the result of the consumerist society’s relentless focus on the essential project of consumerism, which is “the only self that is real is the self that is purchased and projected.”

Narcissism, Consumerism and the End of Growth  (October 19, 2012)

In my analysis, this is the direct consequence of the supremacy of a consumerism that is dependent on financialization: an economy dependent on debt-fueled consumption to power its “endless growth” is one that will necessarily implode from its internal contradictions: debt and leverage eventually exceed the carrying capacity of the collateral and the national income, and the narcissism of consumerism leads to social recession, a crippling state of “suspended animation” adolescence and great personal frustration and unhappiness.

The ultimate contradiction in this debt-consumption version of capitalism is this: how can an economy have “endless expansion and growth” when pay and opportunities for secure, high-paying jobs are both relentlessly declining? It cannot. Financialization, consumerist narcissism and the end of growth are inextricably linked.

This leads to a dispiriting no exit:It’s as if there is a split in the road and no third way: some young people make it onto the traditional corporate or government career path, and everyone else is left in part-time suspended animation with few options for adult expression or development.

We need a third way that offers people work, resilience and authentic meaning. In my view, that cannot come from the Central State or the global corporate workplace: it can only come from a relocalized economy in revitalized communities.

For more on this topic:

Generational Wealth and Upward Mobility
(October 24, 2012)

Priced Out of the Middle Class
(June 28, 2012)

Do We Have What It Takes To Get From Here To There? Part 1: Japan
(November 8, 2012)

Degrowth, Anti-Consumerism and Peak Consumption
(May 9, 2013)

Tune In, Turn On, Opt Out
(May 17, 2013)

Will Crushing Student Loans and Worthless College Degrees
Politicize the Millennial Generation?
(May 31, 2013)

The Recession That Never Ended: 2008 -2013 (and Counting)
(August 26, 2013)

This is a guest post from Charles Hugh Smith. His newest book is Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
This Japanese dinosaur prank would totally make me shit my pants
08.26.2013
03:44 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Japan
Pranks


 
Oh, this poor, poor bastard. Just look at his face after experiencing a terrifying dinosaur prank on a Japanese TV game show.

This particular prank is “up there” on the shit-your-pants-silly stress-o-meter.

 

 
Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Where will Frank Zappa, Faust and other progrockers go when Tokyo wax museum closes?
07.23.2013
03:47 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Japan
Frank Zappa
Faust


 
In an area of Tokyo known as “Foot Town,” a G-rated entertainment neighborhood for tourists, there sits the Tokyo Tower’s Wax Museum, the world’s greatest (only?) collection of progrock and krautrock wax figurines—but not for long. On September 1, the museum will be closing due to losing its lease as the Tokyo Tower building undergoes updating.

Exhibits on display in the wax museum include the improbable figures of Ash Ra Tempel’s Manuel Göttsching, Klaus Schulze, Mother of Invention Don Preston and members of Faust, along with the better-known faces of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, ELP’s Keith Emerson, Robert Fripp and Frank Zappa. The majority of the wax figurines there have nothing to do with krautrock, prog or music in general.

It is not known what will happen to the wax figures, which are owned by Gen Fujita, the son of Den Fujita, the multi-gazillionaire who originally brought McDonald’s to Japan.
 

 

 
Via The Wire/Thank you kindly Nick Abrahams!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Japanese face slimmer is TOTALLY NOT a sex toy
07.02.2013
09:32 am

Topics:
Sex

Tags:
Japan
beauty

face slimmer
Get your mind out of the gutter

Ha ha, very funny, Beavis and Butthead, so you think this Japanese face slimmer is some kind of a typically kinky sex toy? Nope. Not at all. It is the product of rigorously legitimate beauty pseudo-science, and only to be used for its intended purpose. To suggest otherwise undermines our intelligence and demeans our maturity.

To get and maintain the perfect visage, you don’t need the cosmetic surgeon’s knife. All you need is a mouthpiece. Yes, the Face Slimmer is a simple solution to the timeless problem of how to give sagging facial skin and muscles that much-needed daily lift. Just three minutes per day is all you need; pop in the mold and then make mouth movements. The makers recommend you say vowel sounds out loud over and over again, producing regular and methodical exercises that will strength the twelve facial expression muscles in a comprehensive way.

Just don’t forget to say those vowel sounds out loud over and over again… Their words, not mine.
 
face slimmer
 
See?!? It’s a totally nonsexual beauty product! And for a pittance of 61 US Dollars, you too, can look like a beautiful, slim-faced blow-up doll!
 
Via Today I Learned Something New

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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