- “Short skirts cause sexual assaults” according to Japanese school uniform poster
- This beautiful up-and-coming Japanese fashion model isn’t actually a person【Photos】
- Chiitan the otter rejected as mascot character for Japan’s Susaki City due to reckless behavior
- Prior owners of Keiunkan ryokan, the world’s oldest hotel, liquidate company
- Japanese Internet confused and intrigued by sudden influx of “choking Sasuke memes”
- Starbucks Japan gets ready for Valentine’s Day with heart-shaped check boxes
- Man buys CD from amateur musician on streets of Tokyo, stomps on it in front of her face【Video】
- Three-way “yankee” street brawl breaks out following Coming-of-Age Ceremony in Japan【Video】
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 07:00 PM PST
Poster implies that female students are to blame for groping.
If you’ve ever travelled on a Japanese train, chances are you’ve walked past or sat near a poster warning of the dangers of chikan, which literally translates to “pervert” or “molester”, and is commonly used to refer to groping, and the men who grope women on crowed trains.
As something that affects many schoolgirls in particular, a number of organisations have come out with goods to help female students in the fight against chikan, while police departments regularly use posters aimed at young women to encourage them to report assaults.
While anti-groping posters continue to be used at stations and onboard trains, one school recently came under fire for displaying a poster that warned about the dangers of short skirts rather than the dangers of groping. The poster read:
The controversial message was brought to the attention of the Internet by a Twitter user who said her younger sister saw the poster up at school and sent her an image of it, saying “This is ridiculous”.
The original tweet has since been deleted by the uploader after it made headlines with major media outlets, but the image of the poster can still be seen online. Along with the words “Beware of chikan!” and an ugly brown handprint is the image of a schoolgirl’s skirt, with the hem falling above the knee.
People who saw the poster online were outraged at its message, which suggests that the length of a girl’s school uniform is to blame for groping incidents. The outcry against the statement, with people pointing out that the victim is not to blame for the action of gropers, quickly reached the company who created the poster, Kanko, which is one of Japan’s biggest manufacturers of school uniforms.
Designed to help prevent crime, the posters were put up at a number of schools, but after the recent uproar, the company decided to recall all the posters from schools on 15 January.
They also posted a lengthy apology on their website, saying:
▼ The company also posted a link to their apology on their social media channels.
As the apology went on, though, it became apparent that the company wanted to make clear that the poster was created in conjunction with crime prevention activities conducted by police at schools back in 2012.
This section of the apology suggests that their message was in line with advice doled out by police to students at the time, which, if true, is a worrying state of affairs. However, cautioning women to take measures to protect themselves is different to blatantly blaming the length of their skirt for the crimes, and Kanko acknowledges this by saying:
While it took six years for the poster to come to light and be recalled in the midst of heavy criticism, chikan incidents are yet to show any signs of disappearing. In fact, it’s still so common that the word “chikan” even appears on the U.K. government's official online foreign travel advice for Japan.
Hopefully the controversy surrounding this poster will remind women that incidents of groping are not their fault, and encourage them to speak out and make reports to authorities. After all, it’s never okay to touch people without their consent, no matter what they’re wearing.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 05:00 PM PST
Say hi to imma, although she'll never know your name since she's a CG virtual model.
Right away it's clear that up-and-coming Japanese model imma embodies a highly developed sense of modern of fashion. With a trendy non-capitalized name derived from ima, the Japanese word for "now," imma usually bypasses photos studios and instead opts for on-the-street snapshots, which she shares through her personal Instagram account.
She's even got a company representing her, ModelingCafe, whose office is nestled among the boutiques of Tokyo's fashionable Daikanyama neighborhood.
But take a look at ModelingCafe's website, and you'll notice something strange. The company's list of prior clients and collaborators doesn't include any apparel companies or accessory makers. Instead, the organization boasts about its involvement in the Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV and Shin Godzilla movies, as well as video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
That's because the "modeling" in "ModelingCafe" doesn't refer to attractive humans posing in front of a camera, but rather to digital artists crafting 3-D renderings, as imma is a model in both senses of the word: she shows off cool clothes and she's a CG construct.
While imma is pasted into photos of real-world environments, she herself exists entirely as digital data. The level of detail and realism is astounding, with ModelingCafe (which also produced Kyushu’s kaiju tourism video) even taking into account how an actual person's naturally colored roots would start to show as their hair grew out after being dyed pink.
Oftentimes, the cracks in a CG illusion start to show when you zoom in close. In imma's case, though, the visuals arguably look even more convincing.
ModelingCafe credits this to the company's decision to put female employees in charge of fine-tuning the look of imma's skin. Since she's supposed to be spruced up to take photos, logically she'd have on makeup, and ModelingCafe felt that its male staff's lack of personal experience with cosmetics would prevent them from achieving the realistic results its female artists could.
At the same time, ModelingCafe says they want to preserve the casual atmosphere imma projects, with their goal being to make her feel like an ordinary (if very fashionable) young woman sharing snaps on social media, as opposed to a world-famous supermodel.
ModelingCafe's eventual goal is to combine imma with an AI-program capable of real-time animation, and from there to have her branch out into Japan's extensive media personality industry. However, just like with her still shots, the aim is for her to look as real as possible. Rather than the exaggerated, anime-influenced movements and aesthetics of the recent crop of virtual YouTubers in Japan, ModelingCafe wants imma to be indistinguishable from an actual person.
Before that, though, the company is looking for apparel companies that would like imma to serve as spokesmodel for their brands. After all, if one pink-haired CG beauty can do it, why not another?
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 09:30 AM PST
That adorable otter just took one too many blows to the head for the liking of city residents and officials.
The reason for her expulsion was the endless series of videos on her social media accounts in which the small clawed otter attempted various activities that would be very challenging for someone in a giant otter costume such as kickboxing or making a cup of instant noodles.
▼ Some of Chiitan’s greatest hits
Chiitan the costumed character is based on a real otter of the same name who gained fame over the Internet in 2016 and even landed her own public access show in the Kanto region featuring appearances by Kamen Joshi, the idol group who frequently market their various odors and textures as fried chicken flavors.
Due to the real otter’s popularity, an anthropomorphic yurukyara version was made to give Chiitan’s brand added mobility. To accomplish this her Tokyo-based management used an existing otter costume design that was created for Shinjo-kun, the official, and preexisting, mascot character for Susaki City.
Possibly because the similarities were hard to ignore, Chiitan declared herself to be a “tourism ambassador” for Susaki City. Likely realizing the potential of her popularity, the city accepted and recognized her status as a quasi-official representative of the city. The costumed Chiitan even made several videos alongside Shinjo-kun.
However, it was clear to see that Chiitan’s edge was hampered by the strict rules of conduct that bound an official mascot like Shinjo-kun. While still cute, the videos lacked the sudden instances of violence that had originally made the costumed Chiitan a hit.
Still, on her own social media accounts, it was business as usual.
This dual role continued, but as Chiitan grew even more popular, residents of Susaki City began to take notice and wonder if this is really the otter they want representing their way of life. The city hall reportedly received upwards of 100 complaints regarding Chiitan’s antics.
Looking back at their relationship, and realizing that Chiitan spent all her time hitting things with bats and not promoting Susuka City at all, city officials felt it was in their best interest to sever official ties with the otter.
Chiitan fans might worry that this falling out could endanger her future, given the issues of intellectual property surrounding her likeness. However, it seems that’s not a concern. The mascot’s agency told Yomiuri Shimbun that they are still on good terms with the city.
▼ The real Chiitan, meanwhile, has yet to issue a statement on the matter. She is likely weighing the political fallout of choosing either side.
Susaki mayor Kosaku Kusunose also told Yomiuri that the decision was made with a heavy heart, but Chiitan’s behavior was having a negative effect on Shinjo-kun’s work towards regional unification.
It’s a bit of a stumble for her continuing rise to fame, but in the end Chiitan’s got to be Chiitan. To deny her that is to deny her very existence.
As for Susaki City, if they are interested, we have some free-agent mascots that could fill-in for tourism ambassadors such as the hypnotically undulating Satosshi or our sinewy latex-clad bear Hard Ku**mon.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 08:00 AM PST
The Keiunkan hotel in Yamanashi Prefecture gets its name because it was opened in the second year of the Keiun period. So when was the first year of the Keiun period? 704.
Yes, Keiunkan received its first guests way back in 705, and the ryokan (Japanese inn) has been open ever since. In the centuries it's been in business, it's had some pretty prestigious visitors, and we're not just talking about movie stars, recording artists, or other modern celebrities. The hotel's collected guest list of those who came for a soak in Keiunkan’s hot spring baths is said to include Takeda Shingen, the samurai warlord who ruled Yamanashi in the 16th century, when the region was still called Kai, and also Tokugawa Ieyasu, who started the final shogun dynasty that would rule Japan for 265 years.
We spent a night at Keiunkan ourselves a while back, and came away thoroughly impressed by what the Guinness World Record association has certified as the oldest hotel in the world. But while the accommodations may be radiant, things aren't looking so bright in ledgers of the hotel and its affiliated companies.
In 2005, the inn was renovated to add a private, free-flowing hot spring bath to each and every guestroom. However, the costly project, followed by a slump in reservations and strong competition from less expensive inns in the area, has hurt the hotel's bottom line, with its sales falling by nearly 50 percent between 2000 and 2016.
In 2017, Yushima, the company that had managed Keiunkan, decided to restructure and establish a new company called Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, transferring the Keiunkan hotel to it. Things haven't gone so well for Yushima, though. Last summer Yushima's shareholders decided to dissolve the company, and as of January 8 the Tokyo District Court has ordered it to begin liquidation.
Thankfully, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, and the hotel itself, are still in business, though the inn expects to find itself in the red yet again this fiscal year, in part due to disrupted travel patterns following severe typhoons during the latter half of 2018. Still even as Yushima's liquidation begins, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan president Kenjiro Kawano said that the company hopes to "Continue operating a single ryokan and preserving its traditions, while working hard to improve its hot spring, cuisine, and service."
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 07:00 AM PST
Sometimes humor doesn’t translate between languages… even if there’s no language involved.
Now Japanese netizens are scratching their heads trying to figure out a meme that recently exploded online. Why do they care? Because it involves Sasuke, the much beloved/hated friend/antagonist from the Naruto anime and manga series.
▼ Basically random characters choke-slam Sasuke against the wall.
For those who don’t know, this scene originally comes from a part in Naruto where Sasuke attempts to fight his older brother Itachi. Sasuke has been hunting him his entire life, vowing revenge after his brother killed off their entire clan.
But when Sasuke finally confronts his brother for the first time and attacks him, he is quickly subdued.
▼ It’s a powerful scene, Sasuke being so easily defeated,
But now anyone can choke Sasuke! Thanks to the power of Twitter and/or MS Paint, a plethora of “choking Sasuke” memes have popped up online.
▼ The tidying-up legend Marie Kondo tosses Sasuke away…
▼ …Bob Ross makes Sasuke into a happy little accident…
▼ …and Seto Kaiba shows Sasuke that his Blue Eyes White Dragon means business.
Since Sasuke is from a Japanese manga/anime, news of the meme made its way to the Japanese Internet pretty quickly. But rather than having a chuckle with their fellow English-speaking netizens, many Japanese people were confused by what they were seeing:
Unfortunately jokes in one language or culture don’t often work in another. I can’t count the number of times I’ve translated English jokes into Japanese, laughed at the punchline, and was greeted by blank stares from my Japanese friends. In fact this kind of Japanese/English joke misunderstanding is so common there’s a word for it: American Joke.
Of course it wasn’t all confusion. There were some Japanese netizens who appreciated the meme for what it was:
There were also some Japanese Twitter users who tried their hand at putting their own spin on things:
▼ Sasuke and Hatsune Miku
▼ Sasuke and Gackt taking a selfie
▼ Sasuke and Kanan Matsuura from Love Live! Sunshine!!
▼ And of course, Sasuke and Kiki
▼ Although several users also wanted to remind people that
While the meme will likely die out soon, it’s still nice that for some people it acted as a common bridge between two parts of the Internet for a little while.
Now as for Japan trying to understand America’s sudden obsession Szechuan sauce last year, that still remains hopeless for all parties involved.
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 06:00 AM PST
Love is in the air, and the Starbucks paper cup is reflecting it with Valentine’s style boxes for syrup, milk, decaf and everything else!
There are few things as quintessentially “Starbucks” as the coffee chain’s stylish paper cup. The cup has inspired artwork and comes in a wide range of sizes, although it’s less likely to change in design than the seasonal cups and tumblers they sell.
This Valentine’s season comes with a twist. The regular old square check boxes, used as an in-house code for how to make the drink, are replaced with cute heart shapes instead! There is a row of six hearts, just like on an ordinary cup: Decaf, Shots, Syrup, Milk, Custom and Drink.
The announcement for the seasonal cup campaign has already gathered over 29,000 likes on Twitter!
The comments are as loved-up as the cups, too:
The cups tie-in with the Customania promotion, their first seasonal promotion of 2019. Valentine’s Day this year at Starbucks, which emphasizes the slogan of “More Freedom on Valentine’s Day, More Fun”. Customers are encouraged to take snaps of their custom Frappucinos and highlight the check mark side of the cup, to give their social media a passionate power-up!
You can purchase a heart check cup from Starbucks from January 16, but hurry – they’re only available while stocks last! This is a great start for a new year of Starbucks seasonal specials, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of 2019 has in store!
Source, featured image: Twitter/@Starbucks_J
Posted: 18 Jan 2019 05:00 AM PST
Claims it was an accident, but absolutely no one believes him.
In Japan, amateur musicians who're trying to build a name for themselves often hold what are called "street lives," live performances held on the sidewalk, often outside of train stations. Unlike other street entertainers, though, street live musicians don't pass around a hat or ask for a donation when they're done playing. Instead, they sell copies of their CDs right there on the street.
For new or unknown performers, street lives can be incredibly small-scale affairs, sometime attracting less than a dozen passersby who actually stop their steps long enough to listen to a complete song. Still, being able to add even just one more fan to your fanbase is a big deal for someone who dreams of going pro with their music, and recently singer Misato Koide spent a cold, windy night performing on the streets of Tokyo's Akihabara neighborhood promoting her very first single CD. As she was packing up, a man approached with a 1,000-yen (US$8.85) to buy a copy. Koide handed him the disk and bowed in courteous thanks, but what the man did next wasn't nearly so polite.
As shown in the video above, shared by Twitter user @Gretchen198, the man drops the CD to the pavement then, with Koide still standing right in front of him, stomps down on it with all his might, producing a sharply audibly crack that almost certainly means the disc is ruined and unplayable. Koide appears to say something to him but the man waves her off as he retrieves the smashed disc and begins backing away.
Things get even stranger when we take a look at the text for @Gretchen198's tweet, in which he claims the man in the video is his friend. The tweet reads:
@Gretchen198 sent out his tweet on the morning of January 14, and roughly 10 hours later another Twitter user, @otentocha, sent out a tweet of the same video, but with blurrier quality, in which he admits to being the person shown buying the CD, but denies stomping on it on purpose.
His tweet reads:
However, the body language in the video makes @otentocha's denial of destructive intent hard to believe, and the hashtags he tacked on to the tweet are even more damning, since they include:
Also suspicious is @Gretchen198's Twitter username, which is currently "gretchen コレリスの中の一人をランダムで特○します," with the Japanese-text portion roughly translating to "bringing a random fan of [YouTuber] Korekore." However, when he first tweeted the video of the CD-stomping, screenshots show that his username was "Gretchen 違法路上ライブを永久追放," with the Japanese meaning "permanently exile illegal street lives." At the time, his Twitter profile also pledged:
Legally, musicians are required to obtain permits before holding concerts and selling goods on the sidewalk, but @Gretchen198's manifesto seems to imply he's against the public performance of music in general, whether or not the musician has filed the proper paperwork. On December 23, he even proudly tweeted:
▼ It's worth noting that Shinjuku and Kawasaki are almost 40 minutes apart by train.
The videos have met with a swift backlash from other Twitter users, though @otentocha maintains the CD's destruction was an accident. He also claims that Koide was performing in an unauthorized area, but that hasn't won him or @Gretchen198 much sympathy from online commenters, whose reactions have included:
And yet, the story gets weirder still, because currently both @otentocha and @Gretchen198 are calling for people to support Koide's musical ambitions. @otentocha's Twitter username is now "おてんと総統 美里応援垢！プロフ見て！," meaning " President Otento Support Misato Koide! Look at my profile." Said profile includes a link to Koide's Twitter account, and asks people to follow the singer and purchase her CDs and concert tickets. "She didn't do anything wrong," @otentocha's profile continues. "Only I did something bad," though he's yet to offer any admission that he stepped on the CD on purpose, let alone offer an apology for doing so.
▼ Misato Koide
Meanwhile, @Gretchen198's Twitter profile also asks people to follow Koide. This is at odds, however, with the attitude he's shown in responding to angry Twitter comments. "Dumb people sure make a lot of noise. What happens in the video that's illegal?" he tweeted on January 16, and when someone exasperatedly asked him "Just what kind of person are you?" on January 17, he cheerfully said "I'm a great person! My butt is bouncy and my skin is smooth."
The whole situation is strange enough that apparently some people thought it might be a bizarre publicity stunt orchestrated by Koide herself. However, Koide has tweeted that she has absolutely no connection to @otentocha or @Gretchen198. "I still can't watch the video" she says, apparently finding it too emotionally painful, "and want to focus on moving forward," and both @otentocha and @Gretchen198 also deny having any personal connection to the singer.
True to her word, Koide is now focusing on promoting her second single CD, hoping to sell 500 copies by the end of March. The modest goal suggests that under ordinary circumstances even a single sale would be something to be happy about, but odds are @otentocha's 1,000 yen is something she could have done without.
Posted: 17 Jan 2019 09:00 PM PST
Kimono vs. suits vs. cops.
Every year in January, cities across Japan hold a Seijinshiki, or Coming of Age Ceremony, for residents of the community who have turned 20, the age of legal adulthood in Japan. Usually the mayor or some other dignitary makes a speech, but the main thing that Japan's newly recognized adults look forward to is getting dressed up and taking pictures with their friends.
Men wear either a suit or formal kimono, both considered attire befitting a full-grown man. However, in recent years there's been a growing (though still minority) trend of choosing extremely outlandish styles, often coordinating garish colors and outlandish accouterments with friends, leading to some truly spectacular group shots.
However, not everyone appreciates the aesthetic, and it's not just because of a stereotypical Japanese preference for conformity. The attention-grabbing outfits incorporate many cues from Japanese "yankee," or "delinquent" subculture. Critics see the glamorization of teenage rebelliousness as a gateway to adult mayhem, as yankees often grow up to become full-fledged gang or yakuza members, and some worry that wearing yankee-inspired fashion for one's Coming of Age Ceremony isn't so much a last burst of silly youthful fun as it is an early declaration of a lawless lifestyle from there on out, with the video below a manifestation of their fears.
Shot and shared by Twitter user @_araisa_ in Yokohama, Japan's second-largest city, the video opens with the police pulling over a pair of vans with yankee kimono-clad men hanging out of the windows holding banners of some sort. But as the camera pans down the road, we see the cars couldn't have kept going forward anyway, because a brawl has broken out in the middle of the street.
With so many people throwing so many punches, at first it's a little hard to make out who's fighting who, but there seem to be two groups of 20-year-olds going at it. One group is made up of kimono-wearers, and trading blows with them is a group of men in gray or black suits. Aside from hitting each other with fists and throwing each other to the asphalt, many of the combatants can be seen swinging flagpoles at each other's heads, and at some point a bottle hatters, spreading a white, possibly foamy substance onto the ground.
▼ 20 is also the legal drinking age in Japan.
Then a third group enters the fray: police officer clad in dark blue jacketed uniforms. When their repeated commands to break it up go unheeded, the officers start wading into the combat zone and dragging individuals out, although when one officer puts a suit-wearer in a full nelson at the video's 35-second mark, a kimono bro takes advantage of his enemy's inability to use his arms by socking him in the face before the police officer can pull him out of harm's way.
"I'm glad I wasn't down at street level," tweets @ _araisa_, who filmed the fight from a pedestrian overpass, and commenters were quick to express their anger, worry, and embarrassment at the scene.
More than a few commenters also chimed in to poke fun at the group of would-be street kings rolling in a budget-priced kei car, sometimes seen as a mark of financial failure in Japan, but really, that's the least of what they should be embarrassed about.
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