All the laser beams, neon lines, wireframes, Knight Rider-esque cars called Fairlady Z, and er… giant salamis floating in space that you could want in this 1983 demo reel by Japan Computer Graphics Lab.
修理、魅せます – Fascinating Repairmen– is, I’m sure, a nice skill to have but in this case it’s not an unusual talent or the first scene of an erotic film. Instead it’s the title of a Japanese series celebrating craftsmen and craftswomen who give new life to various old objects. This one is about a Tokyo bookbinder called Nobuo Okano and his process of restoring a much loved and therefore fairly well trashed English-to-Japanese dictionary. Its owner’s daughter is starting university and he wants to pass it on to her, so Okano does what he can to rescue and regenerate the book.
It’s a fascinating process, and you don’t really need to speak Japanese to appreciate what’s going on. The incidental music’s a bit overpowering, but it goes with the Japanese territory. About the only relevant information you can’t get just from watching is the client actually being quite pleased that the restoration will obliterate the embarrassment of his high school girlfriend’s initials still being written on the side (though you probably won’t miss the narrator triumphantly saying “sayonara” as the ex is amputated), and that it took Okano about four hours to re-flatten all 1000 dog-eared pages with tweezers and a small iron.
PS: Don’t try ironing or guillotining the edges off your Kindle if it stops working correctly.
PPS: Here’s a link to a playlist of another 13 episodes. Repairs to jeans, soft toys, ceramic statues, and old photographs, among others.
A Japanese vegetable juice company has made a backpack robot with a tomato-shaped head, designed to feed its wearer tomatoes… because of course they have. Another solution to a problem nobody in their right mind ever thought was a problem.
It is at least credited to an artist, so we’ll give him some leeway to not be entirely utilitarian, and possibly even satirical. In the picture above it looks disconcertingly like some kind of high tech kawaii BDSM ball gag get up, and even more disconcertingly like these mechanoid, fetor-powered parasites from the manga ギョGyo (Fish) by Junji Ito, who seems to have a boundless imagination for scatology, body horror and despair. Probably not the vibe that Kagome were going for.
“I wonder if they’ll be humans or vegetables?” You can love vegetables without making love to vegetables, OK?
The Rite of Spring (Onions) Vegetable children extol the virtue of eating vegetables through the medium of J-pop, dancing and Japlish word play.
I’m still not entirely sure if this project which “aims to spread human ride robots” is in earnest or some kind of satirical sci fi art concept. Sometimes in Japan it’s hard to tell. It’s also entirely possible for any given thing to be both. I think “both” is probably the answer here although if it is a joke or has jokey elements, then it’s a joke carried out with unusual thoroughness and commitment. Well, unusual if you’re not Japanese, anyway. Obviously as usual any humour, intended or otherwise, has been missed by 90% of the lumpencommentariat on YouTube. As I’ve pointed out before, like the British the Japanese have an international reputation for being somehow both joyless stiffs and unpredictably eccentric, but in fact both nations across all social classes share a deep affinity for daft, surreal, mocking humour that doesn’t necessarily register in the USA, or with their neighbours in mainland Europe/mainland Asia respectively.
If you’re reading this at work you can visit the comprehensive and quite pretty Suidobashi Heavy Industry site to design your own Kuratas. My effort can be seen in the picture above, a $1.8 million/¥190,813,241/€1.38 million super-kawaii ‘Hello Killy’ model that would be ideal for attending a lipsync meet-the-fans appearance by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu at a shopping mall or annihilating the last cowering remnants of the human race on the orders of Skynet. Again, perhaps both at the same time.
The people behind Suidobashi definitely have tongue in cheek for parts of the video below, one example being the unsettling and slightly deranged “smile shot” function at about 3:00. The robot will also hit targets only “from time to time.” On the other (robotic) hand, the prototype seems to be an actual and quite impressive thing that the artist has really built. It appears you can buy one from Amazon. You can also buy– via the related purchases on the same page– an 8.6 metre long Stegosaurus. Obviously.
Oh, and here’s the other hand I mentioned.
Apparently there’s some kind of public holiday going on. But sod that, how about some proper “me time”? Why don’t you start the new year by having a solo wedding with yourself in Kyoto?
You are single and you don’t know if you would be able to get married and have a wedding ceremony in the near future, but you would like to have some pictures of yourself in a wedding gown or in a gorgeous bridal kimono now, when you are young and beautiful..
..or you even believe that you don’t really have to get engaged to be able to wear a bridal outfit..
..or you are already married, but didn’t have a proper ceremony with a beautiful dress and you find this fact to be quite regretful..
..or you did wear a dress, but it was so long time ago that you would like to experience it again, or you were too busy with the wedding preparations to enjoy yourself fully during your special day and you are looking for a second chance..
Offer yourself an opportunity to experience the feeling of being a princess in a beautiful and charming city of Kyoto!
I was lukewarm towards the whole thing until the part about being a princess in a beautiful and charming city of Kyoto. I’ve probably already missed the boat on being young and beautiful, but I’m definitely a fucking princess. For prices starting at ¥300,000 (about €2.000, £1,650 or $2,500) you can get a wedding dress or kimono, professional photos, flowers and whatnot. The previous sentence ending in “whatnot” perhaps gives you a clue that I’m not particularly au fait with weddings, but even I know it’s exciting that you can additionally hire a “Japanese man for image partner during the photo shoot… from ¥54,000 (clothing included).” I like them specifying that it’s a Japanese man. No way of knowing if he just happens to be the fellow who’s willing and available, or if they know their market and even the Russians or the English speakers want to pretend-marry a Japanese man.
In any case, just paying the Japanese man and sending him home is a great idea. His clothes are included. What more could you want? Much better than all the tedious stuff that comes after a real wedding, like having to live with him for years and years, and all that domestic shit. Ooh, your husband looks so handsome in the wedding photos. WHAT, WHO? NO, I DON’T EVEN KNOW THAT GUY. It might be worth the money and the effort just to mess with the heads of those smug couple-type people who never stop boring the shit out of you by talking about whatever banal thing their horrible kids have done recently. Pro tip: nobody cares, especially not other parents because they all just want to blather about their own children.
Incidentally, I’ve been to Kyoto and it really is beautiful and charming, at least in places. Not so much around the train station, but that’s true of most cities. Would it be out of order for me to set up a Kickstarter page so I can go back to Kyoto in 2015 and fulfil my dream of being a princess in a gorgeous bridal kimono?
I know I’m making fun of this thing, and it is (delightfully) daft. It’s probably not as daft as the aforementioned smugly coupled people might think, though. By 2015 33% of Japanese households will consist of a single person. The same more or less holds true throughout the developed world and has done for some time, although one wouldn’t think so based upon the relentless nuclear family or couple-orientation of everything around us: hotels and holidays, consumer products, insurance and financial products, film and television, advertising, government policy, societal attitudes and the thoughtless comments and ill-founded assumptions people make, the unaffordability and unavailability of homes for one person, the deprioritisation of homeless or vulnerably housed single people, ad infinitum. In 2012, 29% of the UK’s households consisted of a single person. According to the charity Age UK, about one million elderly people in Britain regularly go for at least a month without talking to another human being in any significant way, if at all. A recent BBC study showed that 7% of its respondents similarly expected to spend the winter holiday period completely alone, rising to 10% for over 65s. 28% of all the adults said they were lonely.
Of course not everyone who lives alone is lonely or doesn’t have a partner, because obviously you can be with somebody and not marry them or live with them. To suggest so is just another part of the whole outdated framework of assumptions that makes some people feel so desperately lonely at those times when there’s overwhelming pressure to be (or pretend to be) part of society’s groupthink. We could call it the Eleanor Rigby Fallacy, that an introverted or single person is ergo a lonely person. Thanks for another blot on the collective psyche, McCartney.
Likewise, you can also not be with anybody, not get married, not get partnered or raise a family in any way and still be perfectly happy; if that’s what a person wants then it’s nobody else’s business and nobody needs to make comments, conjectures or insinuations about it. Especially during the darkest part of the winter and the new year/Christmas holidays, it would still be nice if people who aren’t alone had a bit more consideration – or indeed any consideration whatsoever– for those who are. If a person either by choice or circumstance is single but wants to do things that couples or families do, then why shouldn’t they? In short: fuck it, marry yourself if you want and good luck to you. Offer yourself an opportunity.
We all know by now don’t we my little blackguards my pretty roadside fartflowers of the friggingfields my dearest filthy fuckbirds yes we know yes yes yes oh yes that the top pages on the site are invariably James Joyce’s paeans to using the tradesman’s entrance and the translation of Hokusai’s tentacle hentai. Tens of thousands of you, constantly, from all over the world, day and night. You must have massive right arms by now (if you’re right handed).
But there is so much more to explore, and some of it doesn’t even involve sexual fetishes. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.
Japanese office supply company King Jim offer this lovely wearable futon and air mat set for a mere ¥4,500 (about £25, €30 or $40), because Japan. It’s ideal for those times when you’ve come to hold your own life and dignity so cheap that you’re willing to voluntarily wear a futon at your workplace and sleep next to your desk like a dog. The title in the blue box says “kiru futon & eaamatto” (literally “wear futon and air mat”). The kit also contains an air pump. I once slept on a legit air bed for far longer than is sensible and it nearly crippled me, so I’m guessing this glorified packing material is hardly better than the office utility carpet from which the air mat is supposed to protect you.
Stylish cuffs, no? It’s nearly as hip as turning up selvedge jeans, except you’re wearing a futon therefore you have gone beyond being trendy and you have lost your damn mind. I like the model’s expression in the picture above. He’s like “Dafuq? Is this really happening?” Maybe that’s why he looks dead in pic 1. He completely lost the will to live in the course of this photoshoot, laid down on the air mat in his wearable futon and gave up the ghost. Joking aside, Japan is a country where karōshi (過労死 “death from overwork”) is actually a thing, so if dressing up in a futon and catching a few Zs means somebody staves off a stress-induced stroke or heart attack then I suppose it would be ¥4,500 well spent.
Also, can I just draw attention again to the marvellous fact that the office supply company is called King Jim? Obviously this kingdom is not big on formality. In Jim’s kingdom everyone probably wears futons all the time. Possibly other soft household furnishings, too. Don’t ever change, O wonderful land of the rising futon-clad salaryman.