With our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley now in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, she now has access to many of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations, like Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavillion, that we hope she makes her way to sometime during her stay.
This temple, which gets its name from the gold leaf that covers the upper two stories of the pavilion, was built during the Muromachi period (1337–1573), when much of the traditional Japanese art and culture recognized today began to flourish thanks to beneficial relationships between Japan and China as well as the spread of Zen Buddhism. This extended to architecture as well, where ornate decorations like gold leaf on Buddhist temples acted as a purifier against pollution of the outside world and inside the mind (on top of its structural benefits against weather and decay).
Over time, Kanazawa area of Ishikawa Prefecture, which produced the gold leaf used for Kinkakuji, became Japan’s top producer in gold leaf. Even today, Kanazawa produces 99% of the country’s gold leaf, and recently a wonderful documentary highlighting this traditional art has been garnering praise online both domestically and abroad.
From traditional culture to the latest in “Cool Japan,” Japan has a lot to boast about. Yet there’s another side to the island nation which has stirred up international contention over the past few decades.
Even those unfamiliar with specific components of Japanese popular culture have likely heard about the popularity of high school girls in Japan, as school uniform-clad girls often appear in the latest advertising, music videos, TV anime, and other forms of the country’s media. Dig a little deeper and you can also find a service industry which involves high school girls providing a range of services to older men in return for payment. Known colloquially as the “JK business” (the “JK” is derived from joshikosei, or “female high school student”), this phenomenon often includes such services as “JK walking” or “JK massages,” which may or may not be veiled fronts for prostitution in actuality.
Today, we’d like to introduce you to the darker side of the JK business through the lens of a short foreign documentary which has raised considerable debate online.
It’s no secret that Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. There are even popular “suicide spots” within Japan where many people go every year to end their lives. One such area is Tojinbo in Fukui Prefecture, where the tall seaside cliffs overlook the ocean, and as many as 100 people every year choose to fall to their deaths.
However that number has been declining in recent years, thanks to Yukio Shige, a 70-year-old retired police officer. He has made it his personal duty to patrol the area and talk to anyone who looks like they may want to jump over the cliffs, and he’s saved over 500 lives in the 11 years he’s been acting as personal seaside lifeguard.
And now he has a new role: the star of the movie that’s being made about his life.
Netizens on Twitter recently reported that a rather strange phenomenon was affecting their pet cats during the broadcast of NHK’s “Mitsuaki Iwago’s World Catwalk”, a documentary by prominent wildlife photographer and documentary filmmaker Mitsuaki Iwago.
Apparently, the scenes of furry felines in their natural habitat completely captured the attention of household moggies watching at home, to the extent that their owners felt compelled to tweet photographic evidence of the event. Join us after the jump for images of cute kitties viewing images of other cute kitties!
After a tragedy like the April 16 sinking of the South Korean ferry Sewol, many are left wondering how to appropriately commemorate the lives lost without forgetting the awful truth of the actual incident. Last week a South Korean newspaper revealed that a two-hour documentary about the accident is being planned to be released next year to coincide with the one-year anniversary. The film’s backers are relying solely on donations and are seeking just 400 million won (US$392,000) to finance the low-budget project. And with the entire country paying extremely close attention to every tragic detail to come out of the investigations surrounding the accident, this film is destined to be an instant hit in Korean movie theaters.
“Forget the reactor. Forget all the bull$#!^ Facebook posts about how radiation is melting the starfish and mutating our sushi. Forget about what it means to be a disaster, and discover what it means to be Fukushima.”
Filmmaker Cameron Anderson is on a mission to show the world the real Fukushima. Having spend months exploring the region, he – an outsider arriving long after Fukushima became known the world over as the centre of a tragic nuclear accident – has come to learn what Japan’s third-largest prefecture is really all about. Cameron has also seen how the news, careless comments shared via social networks, and a general fear of the unknown have caused people around the globe to label this land as a giant, black spot on the map of Japan, with stories popping up online every few weeks about tides of non-existent radioactive seawater and the prefecture’s potentially hazardous exports.
Hoping to obtain a special filmmaking grant, it is Cameron’s plan to put together a 10-minute documentary that explores this vast, rich part of Japan and introduce some of its genuinely remarkable residents–both Japanese and foreign. But he needs your help.
After the great earthquake and tsunami that came with the calamities of March 11 2011, many residents to the Kanto region of Japan experienced turmoil on an unprecedented scale. If natural disaster wasn’t enough, there was also the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant, spreading radioactive contamination even as far as Tokyo. Now after two years, Fukushima’s 20-kilometer radioactive exclusion zone still remains in place.
While most families fled the contaminated areas in the early stages following the explosion, one brave man remained undeterred by it all, staying put in his hometown. Naoto Matsura (53) is believed to be the sole inhabitant within the 20-kilometer red zone.
Matsumura’s determination to remain rooted in the same place and see through the nuclear catastrophe has caught the attention of many, with his accounts even being adapted into a documentary. The documentary tells of the events after the great earthquake and Mutsumura’s reasons for remaining at his home despite all those around him fleeing, never to return. Perhaps even more interestingly, it gives some rather candid accounts of this man’s feelings towards Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the company that operated the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.