Oct 1, 2014
Back at the start of summer, our jaws dropped to the floor as we watched what might be the coolest commercial for Nissin Cup Noodle instant ramen ever, in which a man dressed in samurai armor travelled to Brazil and wowed the people of the World Cup host country with his amazing freestyle football skills.
The Japanese national team turned in a less than impressive performance in the contest, though, failing to advance past group play. Would the disappointment over his countrymen’s early exit lead the soccer samurai to retire?
Not at all, as his second video finds the samurai with a new set of armor, new, European surroundings, and now a group of adversaries: ninjas!
Sep 9, 2014
Should you visit a history museum in Japan, and, like I do, make an immediate beeline for the collections of samurai armor and weaponry, you might be surprised to notice that Japanese swords are customarily displayed with the stitching removed from the hilt. Visually, it sort of dampens the impact, since the remaining skinny slab of metal is a lot less evocative of it actually being gripped and wielded by one of Japan’s warriors of ages past.
The reason this is done, though, is because many Japanese swordsmiths would “sign” their works by etching their names into the metal of the hilt. Some craftsmen achieved almost legendary status, becoming folk heroes whose names are widely known even today.
The most respected of all, though, was Masamune, whose reluctance to sign his blades has made identifying them difficult. But difficult and impossible are two different things, and for the first time in over a century, a sword has been confirmed by historians as being the creation of the master himself.
Even though it’s been a week since we made the trip to downtown Yokohama to see the packs of roaming Pikachus, and we’ve still got a warm fuzzy feeling. Actually, warm and fuzzy is also an apt description of the lovable pocket monsters’ plush yellow coats, which brings up a concern.
Cuddly softness is all fine and good when Pikachu is handing out hugs, but what about when he goes back to his regular duties of fighting other Pokémon? Shouldn’t he be wrapped in something a bit more durable, like his own custom set of samurai armor?
The age of the samurai makes one of the best thematic settings for any Japanese movie or TV show. There are so many great historical figures to profile, and even more fictional characters to imagine ourselves as! We might have the look, but how did they talk? What words did they use?
The Japanese language has a word for this “samurai language” called monofu-go. An accidental de gozaru (samurai for “to be”) and a parting katajikenai (samurai for “grateful” or “indebted”) is only the beginning of being “old school” cool. Well fear not, RocketNews24 brings you level two! Here are four more phrases and words that were used back in the day that will help you expand your monofu-go vocabulary!
Jun 14, 2014
Ever since it hit the scene back in the ’70s, Star Wars was an early pioneer of movie merchandising. Decades later the gravy train of action figures, posters, lunch boxes, notebooks continues. Underoos, Shrinky Dinks, Jell-o molds, clothes hangers, chess sets, virtual keyboards, book ends, and um… I forgot where I was going with this.
For those of you who think it’s all been done before, we present to you something new from Bandai. Behold: Samurai Taisho Darth Vader.
Jun 9, 2014
There’s now less than a week left until the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and media and businesses all over the world are gearing up. Japan is no exception, with celebratory events going on and brands rushing to launch special themed products. In amongst it all, one particular advert from Cup Noodle maker Nissin has caught our eye for its great combination of traditional Japan and modern Brazil.
Jun 8, 2014
Japanese family crests (or kamon), have been passed down through the generations for centuries, although these days they’re mostly seen in the patterns of kimono or the logos of sushi restaurants, as well as on flags and armour. Kamon are circular, often featuring animal or plant motifs.
These family crests have found a new home now, though – as logos on cute shoes! These kamon pumps, from an Ikebukuro-based cosplay store, use the actual family motifs of four armoured generals (“busho” in Japanese) from the Sengoku period, to make up this new feudal warlord series. We do love it when Japan combines old and new!
The Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art is located in Yamazaki, a place of historical significance in Japan since medieval times when it served as a field of battle for Toyotomi Hideyoshi to avenge the betrayal and murder of his lord Oda Nobuaga. The museum is currently hosting an exhibition that pays homage to the samurai of those ancient times, in a very modern and surreal fashion.
An extremely exciting part of Japanese culture that can be felt even in the recesses of modern Tokyo is its history with bushido: the way of the samurai. There were morals and rules and a strict code of honor that samurai followed and are even in this day still referred to for answers and strength.
But bushido is only a part of what makes a samurai a samurai, with another huge aspect being the look. A man in armor said as much about being a samurai as the practice of Bushido did. The name and place of every piece of armor is certainly daunting, but a very easy-to-understand illustration has surfaced on the Internet, and we are happy to report it’s in English!
May 23, 2014
Since the 1950s, Seizo Fukumoto has been a fixture of seemingly any Japanese production involving samurai. However, you probably wouldn’t recognize his face as he tends to be given the role of “guy who gets killed.” Although he has occasionally taken work outside of period pieces, his constant roles as “soon-to-be-dead guy #2″ has earned him the industry title: The Man Who Was Slashed 50,000 Times.
Having enjoyed a long and bloody career in cinema slightly off center-stage, Fukumoto has finally been given his chance at a starring role in Uzumasa Limelight, a new film hitting Japanese theatres this summer.
Apr 28, 2014
Between the way Japan has embraced technology and just how incredibly safe the country is, it’s easy to forget that it really wasn’t so long ago that the whole nation was still under the feudal system. Until 1868, “samurai” was still very much a viable career choice, as the ruling shogunate relied on a trained warrior class to keep the peace.
How much the traditions of Japan’s fabled swordsmen live on in Japanese society today is something scholars love to debate, and while there are points to be made both for and against their importance, there’s one thing that unquestionably remains, and that’s photography of real-life, genuine samurai.
Apr 2, 2014
Have you ever looked at the current crop of Johnny’s and female idol groups streaming out of Japan and thought that their high energy hair styles and in-your-face costumes were a little genki for your tastes? Have you ever wondered, “what would they look like as samurai or geisha?” Look no further than this video showcasing the style and class of the 19th century!
Take a look at the video after the jump and see what the rest of the world thinks of Japan’s stoic idols.
Mar 31, 2014
The samurai are one of the most enduring icons of Japanese culture. While anime, manga, and Godzilla are obviously all huge parts of popular Japanese culture that have received attention overseas, the old-school warriors continue to fascinate people of all ages and nationalities. Unfortunately, the real samurai haven’t existed for quite some time, and we’ll never get to see them in action again.
Or will we?!
Mar 29, 2014
A couple of weeks ago, we shared some historical photos of Japan’s most attractive samurai. Sure, with the arsenal of specialized soaps, lotions, and multi-bladed, razors available these days, it’s not unusual to find handsome models, movies stars, and Internet writers. But how did these guys manage to look so good without all these modern luxuries?
It turns out that along with sword fighting and horseback archery, a strict grooming routine has long been part of the samurai tradition.
Posed portraits in history textbooks can all look the same after a while. Formal clothes, dark to create enough contrast for a black-and-white photo; stiff posture because old cameras required the sitter to be still for at least a few minutes; no smiling, in case the photo blurred. It’s no wonder students love to embellish the illustrations in their textbooks with creative graffiti.
Luckily for us, Japanese site Bakumatsu Gaido, an online guide to Bakumatsu, the Edo period’s final years (1853-67), is on hand to liven things up with a light-hearted look at the samurai with the best-chiseled features, sharpest dress sense and most awesome photo poses. Join us after the jump for Japan’s top 10 ikemen (cool, good-looking) samurai, plus a few bonus selections of our own!
Back in 2009 an interesting design for a bottle of Samurai Vodka was posted on Behance, a website where graphic artists and designers can showcase their works. More recently, it was picked up by a Reddit user, thus sending the clever design by Arthur Schreiber viral around the world. And quite frankly it deserves to be seen in all four corners.
Dec 18, 2013
It’s all happening on Asia’s trains this week, isn’t it? According to Southeast Asian news sources, a man dressed in “samurai” garb faces up to five years in prison and “flogging” after jumping the ticket gate and then brandishing a full-length samurai sword on board a busy subway train on Monday this week.
Earlier this year, we brought you news of cute earphone jack puppies, perched atop owners’ smartphones in a number of irresistibly cute poses. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any cuter, the company behind the adorable animals announced an update to the series with an extraordinary litter of samurai warrior kittens.
If you like your cats with a side of history, this could be the most perfect gift you could ever wish for.
When people think of Japan, they often think about anime or giant robots or giant robot anime. They are also likely to think of Japan’s medieval version of giant robot anime: the samurai. For many of us, the first introduction we got to Japan was through the amazing films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, leaving with us images of unrelenting master swordsmen.
While the world may mostly be entranced by the swords, it’s impossible to deny the beauty of the armor we also saw on the silver screen. Though surely nothing so fancy was ever actually worn during the years of Japan’s civil wars, right??
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