Old Fart Who Loves Japanese Pop Culture 日本の大衆文化を愛する中年

Japanese Dramas, Manga, Anime and Japanese Movies, Jpop, and anything else about Japanese pop culture that I find interesting.


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Location: Akihabara@DEEP, NY, Christmas Island

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Just in time for Halloween

Sent to you by kevn57 via Google Reader:

via Google Book Search Blog by Inside Google Book Search on 10/21/08
Posted by Ryan Sands, Book Search Online Team

Today marks the birthday of the influential author, Edogawa Rampo, who is well-known and beloved in Japan as the godfather of mystery and detective fiction.

114 years ago today, he was born Hirai Taro in Mie Prefecture. As a young author with a deep interest in Western authors like Arthur Conan Doyle, he turned his love of the great American writer (and sometimes madman) Edgar Allan Poe into his nom de plume, Edogawa Rampo. Hint: say it 5 times fast, let the syllables blur together and the verbal connection should become clear.

Rampo has long been one of my favorite authors, and with a few simple searches on Book Search, I can relive some of the chills and dark pleasures of reading his short stories. The best collection of his work in English, Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination, includes such shocking stories as The Human Chair (a story in the form of a letter from an obsessed craftsman to a rich aristocrat's wife, who encases himself in the chair you are sitting in as you read this, OMG!) and The Caterpillar (a Johnny Get Your Gun-morality tale of a horribly disfigured veteran and his tortuous, psychosexual relationship with his distraught wife upon his return from the battlefields). These and the seven other stories in this collection still give me goosebumps when I read them.

In recent years, there has been an exciting surge of female authors from Japan writing dark and modern suspense novels. Books by Miyuki Miyabe and Natsuo Kirino, for example, have recently enjoyed great success in English, and the seeds of these contemporary tales can be traced back to Rampo. As scholar Amanda Seaman notes:

Rampo is the defining figure of Japanese detective fiction because of his unique ability to combine the suspense story tradition of the Edo period with the scientific methods and logical devices of the Western detective story.

Rampo's works have also been adapted into a number of films and television programs, and a number of film studies titles on Google Book Search trace his influence on Japanese film. Queer Asian Cinema looks at Rampo's themes of decadence and Japanese subjectivity, while Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film includes an interview with Kinji Fukasaku (director of Battles Without Honor and Humanity, Tora! Tora! Tora! and Battle Royale) discussing his adaptation of Rampo's Black Lizard (which featured a cameo by another famous Japanese author, Yukio Mishima).

In his later years during the post-WWII period, Rampo focused on writing critical essays and advocating for the expansion of detective fiction in Japan via the Japan Association of Mystery Writers.

Rampo's grave; his given name is listed.

Rampo passed away on July 28, 1965, and to this day his works remain popular and relevant to Japanese audiences. For American audiences looking for further stories, two of his novellas were recently released in one collection, and a book of newly-translated mystery stories and essays is in the works for next year.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Steal This Comic

via xkcd.com on 10/12/08
I spent more time trying to get an audible.com audio book playing than it took to listen to the book.  I have lost every other piece of DRM-locked music I have paid for.

The RIAA doesn't make any money off of you either!

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Naked man from Spain jumps into Japan's Imperial Palace moat

Maybe he should have went to the Monkey Bar

Sent to you by kevn57 via Google Reader:

via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder on 10/7/08

Tokyo Times reports that a man took off his clothes and jumped into the Imperial Palace moat to retrieve a bag, and ended up getting into a tragicomic tussle with the police. More photos and videos at the link. Tokyo Imperial Palace pandemonium

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Monkey waiters at restaurant

Man, I have to take a trip to Japan, Cat Cafes and Monkey Bars how cool is that.

Sent to you by kevn57 via Google Reader:

via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz on 10/7/08
Yat-chan and Fuku-chan are waiters at the Kaoru Otsuka sake house north of Tokyo. The two are monkeys. They bring hot towels and also serve drinks. From Reuters, where you can also see video:
Monkeyyyywineeeti "Yat-chan first learned by just watching me working in the restaurant. It all started when one day I gave him a hot towel out of curiosity and he brought the towel to the customer," the 63-year-old owner of the tavern, Kaoru Otsuka, told Reuters...

"We called out for more beer just then and it brought us some beer! It's amazing how it seems to understand human words," said 71-year-old retiree Miho Takikawa, who said she came to the tavern specifically to meet the monkeys.
Monkey waiters

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