I’m crazy about all things Hello Kitty, so imagine my delight when I discovered the plane I was flying on from Tokyo to Taipei was the famed Hello Kitty plane we talked about two years ago. Just so you can have a glimpse of what it was like, I took photos from start to finish!
Kudos to Tommy Lee Jones. The actor is one of the few Hollywood stars to visit Japan after the March 11 disaster. Jones was in Tokyo earlier this month to film the latest in a long series of commercials for Suntory’s BOSS coffee. I didn’t realize this until recently, but Jones has been starring in these popular Japanese commercials for years now. The TV ads feature him as an alien disguised as a human à la “Men in Black” and is living in Japan to learn more about Earth.
Here’s one that I found particularly hilarious. He’s in the Akihabara shopping area in Tokyo, working as a camera man as he learns the ways of Japan’s quirky, anime-inspired people. It’s so awkwardly awesome…you gotta watch it!
I can’t believe it’s a New Year again! 2011 is the year of the rabbit, which means a more chill and laid back year compared to the 2010 tiger volatility. I kept in with the rabbity tradition by having a very relaxing New Year countdown — didn’t go too crazy and face hordes of people unlike all my previous new years. I considered going to a temple for hatsumode, or making the first visit to a shrine in the New Year (equivalent to Times Square countdown, albeit with more religious and cultural significance), since I was in Tokyo to ring in the New Year Japanese style. However, I decided against it, and I’m kind of glad I did. Check out the picture to see how crazy crowded it was!
Hope you had a relaxing New Year countdown as well AbFob readers. Hoppy Rabbity New Year to you — here’s to a fobulous 2011!
While the Koreans are busy churning out young and cute K-pop groups, the Japanese are turning to another demographic—old, retired men averaging the age of 61. A new Tokyo group, OJS48, consists of 16 old men who are all retired police officers and detectives. OJS48, produced by Akimoto Yasushi (who is also known to have produced famous Japanese idol groups like AKB48), will debut on October 13 with a song titled “Shinkokyu” (deep breathing). I’m not sure how well a song entitled “deep breathing” will resonate for a group consisting of men my father’s age, but who knows, this could be the next revolution of “boy” bands. Check out their singing below!
For the first time, the Japanese are doing a remake of an American horror film instead of the other way around. Released in 2009, Paranormal Activity made over $100 million in ticket sales on a $15,000 budget. The movie became super popular among Japanese audiences and, as a result, a Japanese distributor, Presidio Corporation, will be creating Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Night.
The Japanese sequel takes place in Japan with a girl who visits San Diego as an exchange student. She brings back into her own family’s house the evil that had originally haunted the main character of the American version. After watching the Japanese versions of The Ring and The Grudge (OK, Googling these links will not help me sleep tonight), I have no doubt the Japanese version of this movie will leave me with more sleepless nights.
Remember the days when you were a little kid, when listening to someone read a storybook drew you into the imaginative world of fiction? Well, meet Rikimaru Toho, 35, who has caught the attention of passersby and international newspapers alike with his passionate manga readings.
“I was a classic hikikomori (recluse) and NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) type of person. I couldn’t fit in,” Toho tells CNN. “Now I get offers to perform on stages in clubs and theaters. Media people in Japan are interested in me. But the best thing about my manga performances is when audience members are sweating when they thank me after a reading. I’m the one who performed — but they’re the ones sweating!”
Check out this highly entertaining clip from one of his regular Saturday night readings on the streets of Shimokitazawa, 10 minutes west of central Tokyo. Toho is reading from “Slam Dunk,” Takehiko Inoue’s bestselling manga series about competing high school basketball teams.
The scene depicts a crucial moment in the story when the hero, a newbie, manages to steal the ball from a veteran captain. Toho starts with streams of onomatopoeia, evoking mayhem on the court. At around the 50-second mark, the hero says: “Heh-heh. I got the ball!” and at 57 seconds, the crowd roars: “Amazing! He finally got it! He got the ball away from the captain!” Finally, at 1:05, Toho impersonates a young female fan featured in close-up gushing “He’s so awesome. And now everyone understands how great he really is. Yes!” (Translation by CNN.)
This Japanese vending machine could have been from the sci-fi flick, Minority Report. There’s a scene where Tom Cruise is bombarded by personalized advertising — infrared sensors recognize his identity by scanning his eyes, allowing companies to know things like his name and how many times he’s visited a store.
Similarly, this digital, uber high-tech vending machine has an embedded camera that identifies your gender and age, allowing the machine to suggest products typical of your demographic. It even remembers your purchasing history, so it will tailor its ads to you every time you use it.
If you’re in Japan, go visit Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station to check out the brand new vending machine! Five hundred more units will be installed around Tokyo over the next two years.
And if you haven’t watched Minority Report yet, here’s what I’m talking about.
The bananas of Japan’s first banana vending machine have been selling like hotcakes. The machine was installed on June 23 in Shibuya, and has been so successful — bananas were sold out everyday since its debut — that the company wants install more fruit vending machines in places like commercial buildings and colleges. One yellow fruit will cost you about $1.50 and a bunch is priced around $3.90.
Unsure of your religion? A simple solution would be to get a robot to marry you and your loved one. This Japanese couple decided to have I-Fairy, the 4-foot pigtailed marrying contraption made by Kokoro Co., help them cement their vows in Tokyo. Since the lovebirds are involved in the robot industry, they thought that this type of wedding would fitting because robots were what brought them together.
The new husband Tomohiro Shibata, 42, a robotics professor at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, said:
“It would be nice if the robot was a bit more clever, but she is very good at expressing herself.”
You know what this means right? It’s only a matter of time before robots take over our world! Ah!