Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Godzilla Christmas Tree

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

The search for the coolest Christmas tree is officially over. You’re never going to beat the giant, fire-breathing Godzilla Christmas tree of Aqua City Odaiba shopping mall in Tokyo.

Merry Christmas!

Shoegazer Sunday: Lemon’s Chair’s “Swallowtail”

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Here’s another beautiful song from Japan’s Lemon’s Chair. However, “Swallowtail,” unlike most of their songs, is available in the U.S. on iTunes, and I think it’s my favorite of their work.

This is the fourth Lemon’s Chair song I’ve put up, and yes, I like them a lot.

Halloween Scares: Self-Mummifying Japanese Monks

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Next on our Halloween tour of scary and/or creepy phenomena: Mummies.

Yawn. Bad Universal monster movies. How banal.

OK. How about Japanese mummies?

Meh. Maybe worthy of a slightly-arched eyebrow.

OK. How about Japanese monks who mummified themselves while they were still alive?

!!!

I thought that would get your attention.

Meet the Sokushinbutsu:

Let’s go to Wikipedia, the source of all vaguely-accurate knowledge, for the grisly details of how a monk would voluntarily turn himself into a Sokushinbutsu:

For 1,000 days the priests would eat a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another thousand days and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, normally used to lacquer bowls.

This caused vomiting and a rapid loss of bodily fluids, and most importantly, it made the body too poisonous to be eaten by maggots. Finally, a self-mummifying monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would not move from the lotus position. His only connection to the outside world was an air tube and a bell. Each day he rang a bell to let those outside know that he was still alive.

When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed. After the tomb was sealed, the other monks in the temple would wait another 1,000 days, and open the tomb to see if the mummification was successful.

If the monk had been successfully mummified, he or she was immediately seen as a Buddha and put in the temple for viewing. Usually, though, there was just a decomposed body. Although they were not viewed as a true Buddha if they were not mummified, they were still admired and revered for their dedication and spirit.

There are reportedly some 24 “successful” examples of monks turning themselves into mummies in northern Japan, which suggests that they were probably hundreds of unsuccessful attempts. So just imagine a starving monk, entombing himself alive, wasting away toward his inevitable demise.

That would be one hell of a time to discover you have claustrophobia…

Shoegazer Sunday: Lemon Chair’s “Halcyon”

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

I’m really digging Japan’s Lemon Chair. Plus it’s after 1 AM Sunday morning and I’m feeling lazy.

Previous Lemon’s Chair offerings here.

Shoegazer Sunday: Tokyo Shoegazer’s “Back to My Place”

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

A while back I put up Tokyo Shoegazer’s “Bright.” Here’s “Back to My Place,” another long song, that starts off all ethereal but just after 2:30 in turns back into a soaring, reverb-drenched wall of shoegazer guitar goodness.

Off their debut album 「crystallize」, which is available through iTunes.

Shoegazer Sunday: Lemon Chair’s “Vividness”

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

I thought the previous dose of Japan’s Lemon’s Chair worked pretty well, so here they are with “Vividness.” The beginning and end are soft and noodly, but the center is jam-packed with magisterial sludge of rich, gooey Shoegaze goodness.

Shoegazer Sunday: Lily of the Valley’s “IOK-1″

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Here’s another obscure Japanese Shooegaze band, Lily of the Valley, with “IOK-1″ performed live at the Apple store in Shibuya. I think the echoey acoustics of the place actually adds to the song’s charm.

They hail from Sendai, which was the region hardest hit during the earthquake/tsunami. This tune, and some others from them, are available on iTunes.

Who better to throw out the first pitch than a horrifying, vengeful ghost?

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Oh Japan, don’t ever change.

But there’s no reason this idea can’t succeed in the U.S. Why not have Freddy Kruger, Leatherface, Jason or Pinhead throw out the first pitch? Granted, this still wouldn’t be enough to get me to watch baseball…

In related news: Hello Kitty Ringu products.

FLCL on Blu-Ray for $18.99

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

We now interrupt this blog for some shameless huxtering: Amazon has the complete 6-episode run of the wonderful and completely insane anime series FLCL on Blu-Ray for $18.99.

This is probably my favorite anime series of all time. It’s weird, funny, and endlessly inventive. You spend 5 episodes thinking “This is great, but it makes absolutely no sense!” And then you watch the sixth episode and go “Wait, it does make sense!” It really rewards re-watching.

It’s about a boy a who has a mysterious woman bump into and then start hitting on him. That is to say, bumps into him with her Vespa at full tilt and starts hitting on his head with her bass guitar. After that, giant robots come out of the resulting bump.

Then it gets weird.

It’s awesome. Trust me.

And if a paying media outlet wants an already completed review of FLCL that Locus Online passed on, please let me know…

Movie Memories of Excessive Vagueness

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Last Saturday I was over at A.T. and Carol’s house watching a Japanese science fiction action film called Returner (imagine every big budget American science fiction film between 1980 and 2000 being jammed into a blender and set to frappe and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the plot elements). It was fine if you didn’t mind the complete lack of originality, but we watched it because I thought it might be the one I saw a clip from a year or two ago. The problem is, while my memory of the clip is fairly clear, I can’t remember sufficient details to find it via a Google search.

In the clip I saw, people were fighting some freaky looking monsters that were obviously some sort of CGI (about the same level of the CGI in Returner, i.e. better than the Skiffy Channel’s cheap monster movies, but not as good as a major U.S. release). I think the monsters were sort of pale and slightly taller than human sized (but not multistory kaiju sized monsters). It was live action, not anime. And they were fighting in some sort of open, brightly lit interior area, like an atrium, or foyer, or perhaps somewhere in a museum. And the monsters weren’t guys in suits and didn’t look anything like the monsters on Ultraman, etc.

This should be enough to find the clip again, but it doesn’t seem to be. Maybe it wasn’t a movie, but part of a TV show. And maybe it wasn’t from Japan, but Hong Kong or South Korea. Or maybe Taiwan. (But not the Philippines. Probably.) And maybe they weren’t monsters, but aliens. Or maybe demons. Beings from another dimension? And I thought I saw it on Fark, but couldn’t find it when I searched there. Maybe it was linked from comments in the thread?

Movies I know it’s not:

  • The Host
  • Funky Forest
  • The live action Hong Kong remake of Wicked City
  • Any ideas? It’s driving me to distraction…