One of the cooler things about summer in Japan is the centuries-old tradition of swapping ghost stories. Some argue that the fear induced by a spine-chilling story can actually lower one's body temperature, making it a great way to deal with the summer heat. With this in mind as the summer heat sets in, here is "Severed Mouth Woman," a video produced by Buildup as part of their Bizarre Creatures of Japan series.
The video recounts the well-known story of the severed-mouth woman (kuchisake-onna), a malicious blade-wielding lady with a slit mouth (which she keeps hidden behind a surgical mask) who is bent on cutting open the mouths of strangers. Apparently a modern interpretation of an old Heian period legend, this tale sparked a mass panic in Japan in the late '70s and early '80s, as news reports circulated about a slit-mouthed woman terrorizing neighborhoods across the country. In this video, produced more than two decades after the hysteria passed, a former coroner comes forward with details about the severed-mouth woman's identity. Using old skeletal records, her head is reconstructed here.
On May 18, buildup Co., Ltd. unveiled the Tamanoi Vinegar Robot, the world's first robot designed to make presentations about vinegar. The robot is scheduled to go to work at the Tamanoi Vinegar Corporation's Osaka office in July.
Relying on pre-programmed speech and gestures to communicate its knowledge of vinegar, the robot features a system of pneumatic servos that control 24 points of articulation in the upper half of its body. The 180 cm (nearly 6 ft), 100 kg (220 lb) machine has a mouth that moves in sync with its voice, as well as a fiber-reinforced plastic outer shell that is colored black -- like Tamanoi's black vinegar -- with an iridescent coating that changes hue according to the viewing angle.
The robot's first duties will be to entertain guests at Tamanoi's "Cyber Trip" amusement theater located in the company's new head office in Osaka. In addition to the robot, the theater will feature a 12-minute high-definition video on vinegar, also produced by buildup.
Multimedia production company Buildup Co., Ltd. has announced plans to begin renting high-quality animatronic suits in June. First up for rent will be the company’s panda suit.
(The panda suit appeared on NHK's "Tensai Terebi-kun MAX")
The realistic-looking panda suit consists of two layers -- an inner layer of padding to reproduce the panda’s muscles and an outer layer featuring a coat of high-quality fur. The eyes, ears and mouth are equipped with a total of 14 remote control servo motors, allowing the panda to make facial expressions ranging from pleasant smiles to angry grimaces. To add to the realism, the designers eliminated the peepholes for the person inside. Instead, the performer sees by means of video goggles connected to a CCD camera system.
Although Buildup generally loans its suits to production companies, the panda suit is available for rent to individuals as well. With the rental service scheduled to begin today (June 1), the company has yet to announce the rental price. Only one panda suit is available at the moment, but Buildup is looking into expanding its lineup with suits modeled after other animals.
You can see a short video of the panda frolicking on the side of a road on Buildup's panda suit webpage.