Archives: February 2009

Wicked Walkman web videos

26 Feb 2009

As part of an online marketing campaign for the Walkman media player over the past few years, Sony has produced over a dozen short videos featuring a stellar assortment of underground Japanese musicians cutting loose in the studio.

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- Tucker

DJ/keyboardist Tucker shows off his mad cooking skills by whipping up a spicy blend of rhythmic kitchen noise topped with crunchy guitar. >>> Video

+ More Tucker: Clocks, toys & turntable // Oil drum, thumb piano, bass & keyboards // Guitar, bass & keyboards // Misc. items in aquarium

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- Fuyuki Yamakawa

- Video

Armed with a bone conduction microphone and electric artificial larynx, performance artist/body musician Fuyuki Yamakawa drops a flurry of skull-thumping, mouth-tweaking beats.

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- Tomo Yamaguchi

- Video

Wearing an assortment of tin containers, junk percussionist Tomo Yamaguchi crashes and bangs his way through quiet residential backstreets.

+ More: Studio solo // Collaboration with Tucker

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- Goma da Didgeridoo

- Video

Goma da Didgeridoo plays the aboriginal wind instrument with a twist of techno.

+ More: Collaboration with chef Tucker

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- Atsuhiro Ito

- Video

Atsuhiro Ito gets down with the Optron, a miked-up fluorescent light tube run through an array of effects pedals.

+ More: Collaboration with drummer Yoichiro Shin

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- Taeji Sawai

- Video

Interactive media designer Taeji Sawai shows off his scintillating light-controlled sound generator.

+ More: Ito's Optron vs. Sawai's light-controlled sound generator

Tasty treat: Sea otter boogers

26 Feb 2009

Sea otter boogers --

These delectable, sweet-tasting Sea Otter Boogers (rakko no hana-kuso) are available at zoo and aquarium gift shops across Japan. The ones shown here are from Kamogawa Sea World in Chiba prefecture.

??????? --

The protein-packed booger snacks are actually made of amanatt?, or candied black beans, and they are quite tasty if you can get over the name.

Rakko no hanakuso --

Priced at 525 yen (under $6) per 110-gram package, Sea Otter Boogers can also be purchased online via the Hanakuso web shop (shipping in Japan only), which also sells the ever-popular Gorilla Boogers.

‘Karada no V’ – the ARROWS

24 Feb 2009

This captivating promo video for the ARROWS' "Karada no V" track (on the recently released AROI album) features footage from the award-winning "Frog in the Well" performance by the Okayama University Modern Dance Club.

+ Video

Mashup madness: ‘Nihon Town’ by Ken Taya

23 Feb 2009

Nihon Town, by Ken Taya --

US and Japanese consumer/pop culture icons converge in an explosion of mashup madness on the festive streets of "Nihon Town," an illustration by Ken Taya (Enfu).

Nihon Town, by Ken Taya --

Search the the high-rez version for the likes of Hello Miffy, Bossbucks Cha-fe, Astroboy-Mickey, Yebiweiser, Doraemon-Garfield, Oubei Baba (Obey Giant meets Giant Baba), and much more. Consult the detailed image index if you get lost.

Poster and print versions of the work are available at Enfu.

Nihon Town, by Ken Taya --

Also check out the Enfu Flickr stream for other awesome creations like Super Ultra Man and the yummy-sounding Ase Cola (pictured below).

Super Ultra, by Ken Taya --

Ase Cola, by Ken Taya --

[Link: Enfu]

Space bling: Video of eclipse from the moon

19 Feb 2009

Diamond ring effect during eclipse on moon --

On February 10, Japan's KAGUYA (a.k.a. SELENE) lunar explorer shot video of the Earth as it passed between the Sun and the Moon. The probe's high-definition cameras captured a rare view of the so-called "diamond ring effect" seen from the Moon. The phenomenon is usually only ever observed during total solar eclipses on Earth, just as the Sun emerges from behind the Moon.

+ Video

This video shows the Sun emerging from behind the Earth, just as they are rising over the lunar horizon. The bead of sunlight peeking over the edge of the planet looks like a diamond on a precious ring.

[Link: JAXA]

Gas attack!: Vintage air raid defense posters

19 Feb 2009

Gas attack air raid poster --
Devastation of Urban Gas Attack

In 1938, the Japanese Red Cross worked with government authorities to create a series of posters to teach the public about the new Anti-Aircraft Defense Law, which was enacted in seeming anticipation of air strikes following the outbreak of the Japan-China War (1937-1945). Among other things, the new law required citizens to take protective measures against gas attacks and prepare for disinfection, evacuation and relief. For the government, one purpose of the posters -- which were created as part of a military exhibition at the Red Cross Museum -- was to instill a pattern of "anti-aircraft defense thought" among the population.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Asphyxiant Gas: Evacuation and Aid

Do not allow victims to walk. Carry them gently.
Head to a nearby shelter.
Move to a safe location upwind.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Gas Detection: Smell and Color

- Asphyxiant gas (chlorine, phosgene, etc.): Pungent or hay-like odor. White or yellowish in color.
- Blister gas (yperite/mustard gas, lewisite, etc.): Mustard or geranium-like odor. Colorless in gas form, reddish-brown in liquid form.
- Tear gas and sneezing gas: Odor resembles pepper, spicy mustard or bitter almond oil. White, yellow or colorless.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Blister Gas: Evacuation and Aid

Toxic area! Run! Flee!

Better to seek soap and water nearby than to travel to an aid center far away.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Poison Gas Symptoms

- Asphyxiant gas: Accumulation of fluid in lungs/ Suffocation (dry drowning)
- Blister gas: Blisters/ Respiratory inflammation/ Inflammation of the eyes
- Tear gas: Watery eyes
- Sneezing gas: Salivation and nasal discharge/ Coughing/ Chest pain/ Vomiting/ Sneezing

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Gas Masks: Type and Purpose

Military use
- Full protection
- Rubber face mask
- Body suit (rubber)
- Filter
- Gloves (rubber)
- Boots (rubber)

Civilian use
- (Right) For any gas except blister gas and tear gas
- (Center) For various types of gas
- (Left) Transparent visor

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Gas Attack and Emergency Escape

Quick emergency mask
- Gauze
- 2% sodium carbonate/water solution
- 10% urotropin-water solution

Simple homemade masks
- Can contains charcoal particles

Use when no gas shelter is available or when your home has been destroyed.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Making Gas Protection Tools

For small children, prepare a gas-tight baby carriage or bag with attached oxygen supply.

Keep this type of protection on hand at all times.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Phosgene Poisoning: Progression of Symptoms and Death
(Based on British Army research during the War in Europe)

Death rate by day:
- Day 1: 81%
- Day 2: 12%
- Day 3: 4%
- Day 4: 2%
- Day 5: 1%

Progression of symptoms
- Fluid begins to accumulate in lungs within 2 to 8 hours, causing difficulty in breathing.
- Fluid seeps into alveoli.
- Victim turns pale in mild cases, ashen white in severe cases.
- Fluid in lungs becomes increasingly evident.
- Absorption begins.
- Recovery.

Caution: Sudden death may occur within minutes or hours.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Yperite (Mustard Gas): Progression of Symptoms and Death
(Based on British Army research during the War in Europe)

Death rate by day
- Day 1: 1%
- Day 2: 2%
- Day 3: 5%
- Day 4: 8%
- Day 5: 23%
- Day 6 to 30: 61%

Progression of symptoms
- Initial 2 to 8 hours: Itchiness
- Day 2: Pain
- Day 5: Rupturing of blisters, intense itchiness

Recovery takes 2 to 7 weeks.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Treatment of Asphyxiant Gas Victims

1. Bed rest and warmth
2. Fresh oxygen supply
- Do not use an artificial respirator (victim may worsen if moved).
3. Blood draw
- Do not perform if the victim is pale.
4. Heart stimulants and beverages
- Strophantin/ Digitoxin/ Caffeine/ Camphor

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Treatment of Blister Gas Victims (Part 1)

1. Undress.
2. Clean the skin of poisonous substance. (Use cotton or absorbent paper.)
3. Apply solvent (oil, benzene or alcohol).
4. Sterilize. (Apply calcium hypochlorite.)

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Treatment of Blister Gas Victims (Part 2)

5. Wash thoroughly with soap. (Dispose of mask after washing.) Decontaminate with water if no medicine is available.

6. Wash eyes (2% baking soda/water solution) and put on clean clothes.

7. For poisoned lungs...
2% baking soda/water solution
Gauze mask

- Immediate action required, at least within 15 minutes of exposure.
- Treatment within the first few minutes of exposure may prevent the development of blisters.
- Symptoms begin to show within a few hours.
- Failure to quickly remove poison from the skin will result in death.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Effectiveness of Gas Masks
(Based on British Army statistics from the War in Europe)

- April 1915/ No masks/ Chlorine gas (weak)/ 7,000 casualties/ 85.7% casualty rate

- December 1915 - August 1916/ Primitive masks (cloth)/ Chlorine, phosgene gas (strong)/ 4,207 casualties/ 24% casualty rate

- July 1916 - July 1917/ Canister gas masks/ Phosgene, diphosgene gas (strong)/ 8,806 casualties/ 6% casualty rate

Canister gas masks reduced the casualty rate by a factor of 12. Primitive masks reduced the casualty rate by a factor of 4.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Gas-tight Room and Mosquito Net

1. Seal all gaps in the ceiling, doors and floor to create a gas-tight room.

2. To create a gas-tight tent, keep the bottom hem of the mosquito net pressed to the floor and place a layer of paper over the tatami.

3. Assuming there is one person per tatami mat and you stay calm, you can remain safely in the room for 7 hours and in the tent for 3 hours.

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Blister Gas Decontamination (Part 1)

Chemical treatment
- For mustard gas, use calcium hypochlorite.
- Wash rubber products 30 minutes after exposure.

Wet-heat treatment
- Steam: 20 minutes
- Boil: 15 minutes
- Hot water (80 degrees Celsius): 30 minutes

Dry-heat treatment
- Incinerate

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Gas attack air raid poster --
Blister Gas Decontamination (Part 2)

Wash and wipe

- Winter: 5 days
- Spring/Autumn: 1 to 3 days
- Summer: 8 hours

- Disappearance of gas odor is a sign of decontamination.
- Do not allow residual gas indoors when decontaminating.

[Link: National Archives of Japan]

‘Blast’ – Naoya Hatakeyama

17 Feb 2009

Blast, Naoya Hatakeyama --

In his "Blast" series of photographs, Naoya Hatakeyama uses remote-control cameras to capture the drama and destruction of Japan's limestone blasting operations from point-blank range.

Blast, Naoya Hatakeyama --

The dangerous, close-up views of exploding debris inspire the viewer to consider the human capacity for destruction, while providing a unique perspective on the instant obliteration of these ancient rock formations.

Blast, Naoya Hatakeyama --

Hatakeyama began photographing Japan's limestone mining operations in the early 1980s. In 1994, he published Lime Works, a photo book focused on limestone processing facilities.

Blast, Naoya Hatakeyama --

In 1995, he turned his camera toward the detonation side of the mining process, which he has been photographing ever since.

Blast, Naoya Hatakeyama --

Limestone, a sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), is one of the few natural resources in which Japan is totally self-sufficient.

Blast, Naoya Hatakeyama --

It can be argued that Japan's (and the world's) entire way of life is dependent on limestone, a key ingredient in the production of concrete, steel, glass, plastic, and even medicine.

Blast, Naoya Hatakeyama --

Japan extracts about 200 million tons of limestone from quarries each year, scarring countless mountainsides in the process.

Blast, Naoya Hatakeyama --

The nation is believed to have an additional 10 billion tons of limestone deposits at its disposal -- enough to last another 50 years at the current rate of consumption.

Blast, Naoya Hatakeyama --

[More "Blast" photos: 1, 2, 3]

Stairways to ammonite heaven

16 Feb 2009

Walk the stairwells of some of Tokyo's oldest department stores and you will find some remarkable ammonite fossils embedded in the marble walls.

Ammonoid in Mitsukoshi stairwell --
Mitsukoshi (Shinjuku)

Ammonites are hard-shelled, squid-like creatures that inhabited the world's oceans for nearly 350 million years, until they died out with the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. They are known only from the fossilized remains of their spiral-shaped shells.

Ammonoid in Mitsukoshi stairwell --
Artist's reconstruction of ammonites

The fossil-rich marble staircases at the Shinjuku Mitsukoshi department store, built in 1929, are embedded with numerous ammonite specimens, some of which are indicated with arrows and labels.

Ammonite in department store stairwell -- Ammonite in department store stairwell --
Mitsukoshi (Shinjuku)

Ammonoid in department store stairwell --
Mitsukoshi (Shinjuku)

Likewise, the magnificent marble staircase at the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi department store, constructed in 1914, is also loaded with ammonite fossils.

Ammonite in department store stairwell --
Mitsukoshi (Nihonbashi)

Ammonite in department store stairwell --
Mitsukoshi (Nihonbashi)

Ammonite in department store stairwell --
Mitsukoshi (Nihonbashi)

Still more fossils can be found in the marble stairwells and columns inside the Nihonbashi Takashimaya department store, constructed in 1933.

Ammonite in Takashimaya stairway --
Takashimaya (Nihonbashi)

Ammonoid in department store staircase -- Ammonite in department store stairwell --
Takashimaya (Nihonbashi)

Ammonite in department store stairwell --
Takashimaya (Nihonbashi)

The Ueno Matsuzakaya department store, built in 1929, includes marble staircases, but there is no trace of ammonites.

Ammonite in Matsuzakaya stairwell --
Matsuzakaya (Ueno)

However, a rare fossil of what is believed to be a type of brain coral is embedded in the wall near the third floor.

Brain thinks ‘your pain, my gain’ (and vice versa)

13 Feb 2009

Envy in the brain -- Your gain, my pain? New research from Japan shows that the human brain treats feelings of envy like physical pain, while schadenfreude -- the pleasure derived from another person's misfortune -- triggers the brain's reward circuits. The findings, published in the February 13 online edition of Science magazine, suggest our brains may be wired to treat abstract feelings much more like concrete physical experiences than was previously thought.

Led by Hidehiko Takahashi of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS), the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor the brain activity of 19 male and female university students while they read two stories about other fictional students.

The first story described the success of three characters: (A) a superior "rival" student of the same gender in the same field of study, (B) a superior student of the opposite gender in a different field of study, and (C) an average student of the opposite gender in a different field of study. The subjects were then asked to rate their own level of envy toward the characters on a scale of 1 to 6. Character A garnered the most envy and triggered a high level of activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, which plays a key role in processing pain. The results indicate that the brain uses the same circuitry to process both social pain (envy) and physical pain.

The subjects then read a second story in which characters A and C suffer a series of misfortunes, including food poisoning and financial trouble. The fMRI data showed that the depiction of character A's hardships induced greater activity in the ventral striatum, the "reward reaction" area of the brain that normally lights up when receiving social and financial reward.

In addition, the researchers were able to predict which subjects would experience stronger schadenfreude (ventral striatum activity) when reading story 2, based on the degree of envy (anterior cingulate cortex activity) they experienced when reading story 1, suggesting a strong relationship between the way the brain processes the two feelings.

"We now have a better understanding of the mechanism at work when people take pleasure in another's misfortune," says Takahashi of the research. "Perhaps our findings can be put to use in the field of psychological counseling."

[Sources: Asahi, 47News]