[Download "Core Pride" MP3]
Here's your cheat sheet for June:
Chiffony floral-print dresses in light colors (think more "prairie" than "boheme")
Straw boater hats
Straw or "basket" bags
Navy & white stripes ("Nautical" chic, if you are so inclined)
Bright red, orange, or yellow acccessories
Brown leather platform sandals
White lace / eyelet dress or skirt
I saw those same items repeated over & over again in various guises. There was also a fair bit of plaid and denim, but those items are staples you should be able to re-purpose from your existing wardrobe.
While hitting the local thrift stores this weekend, I was able to find a woven basket bag and an adorable navy & white stripe dress. Surprisingly, I wasn't able to dig up a light dress in a floral print, which is amazing because I thought surely that is something old ladies donate all the time. But the only floral prints I could find were in colors that were too bold and in heavy fabrics like thick cotton with structured cuts-- the opposite of the lighter-than-air feeling you want to go for.
Forever21 brown floral a line dress, $25
Forever21 pink floral dress, $20
Forever21 Country floral smocked dress, $18
TopShop long full skirt, $70
Wedge sandal, $23
ASOS straw clutch
TopShop straw hat, $44
Pour La Victoire Loelle pumps, $250
Color Fever Lip Color - No. 102 Electro Flash Orange (..., $28
M·A·C Cosmetics | Sheen Supreme Lipstick, $15
[Download "Take Off" MP3]
This week's countdown is continuing the May trend of shaking up the top 30 every week. Again, more than half the singles are new, and all of the top 5 are new. Many singles dropped off the charts this week, including most of the ones that were new last week. 「I Love You, I Need You Fukushima」 is still barely holding on to the #30 spot, and several K-pop artists like KARA, Shoujou Jidai, and Jang Keun Suk have proven they have staying power.
「Take Off」 by 2PM debuted at #4, which is honestly, a bit lower than I expected because it's the closing theme for Ao no Exorcist and a damn catchy song (I actually woke up to it on my alarm clock this morning). Perfume made it all the way to #2 with their single 「Laser Beam」. I like the song, and I like the group, but let's be honest, 「Laser Beam」 just sounds like a mashup of previous Perfume songs.
Taking the #1 spot this week is KAT-TUN with 「White」.
As always, these songs and more will be added to our Radio Station. This month, we're also going to start doing MP3 downloads of as many songs / videos on the countdown as possible. おたのしみに！
An explosion rocked the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant today. Officials say it was likely a few gas tanks in reactor four that exploded, but no further radiation leakage was caused. A "small oil spill" was also found to be leaking from reactors 5 & 6, but company officials say it was contained by an "oil fence" and there was also no further radioactive contamination.
Amidst fears of radioactive contamination, two of the biggest stars of New York's Metropolitan Opera-- Soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Joseph Calleja-- have bowed out of a Japan tour at the last minute. The tour was scheduled to perform in Nagoya, which interestingly enough, was never contaminated or in any danger of contamination. Which makes me think these opera stars are just being divas; especially since last month Placido Domingo performed in Japan and donated $200,000 to relief efforts.
The Nikkei goes up, the Nikkei goes down. The Nikkei goes up, the Nikkei goes down. Today, the Nikkei hit a 2 week high, but that isn't stopping international economic pimp Moody's Investor's Service from threatening to lay an economic bitchslap on Japan. The rating agency has put Japan's ratings on review for a possible downgrade.
Taking a break from posting for the long Memorial Day weekend. Get out and enjoy some nice weather!
Labels: Site News
Kanji are the bane of my existence. Like most learners of Japanese, I have trouble making them stick. I don't feel too bad about it because even native speakers don't exactly love kanji-- most literate adults only know about 2,000 of 6,000 or so that exist and there are a variety of gameshows that revolve around giving the correct reading of various obscure ones.
In my never-ending effort to increase my Kanji retention, I stumbled across Declan Software's site.
I've been using their ReadWrite Kanji program for about 5 months now and have found it to be insanely useful. The basic package contains 1945 kanji (the Jouyou kanji until November of last year) which is enough to become functionally literate.
It has information on everything from the expected-- on & kun readings, stroke order, pronunciation quizes-- to the unexpected, but welcome-- radical identification and a kanji seek-n-find type exercises. They also offer programs that teach hiragana (above) and katakana, as well as a Japanese dictionary and flashcard program. Versions are also available for Windows Mobile / Pocket PC, and the flashcard program is available for iPhone/iPad.
You can download a trial version of the program for free. But lifetime registration is a scant $12.80, making this one of the first freeware programs I've ever paid to register.
Japanese retailer COMME des GARÇONS (I'm not yelling at you, they like to be spelled in all-caps like that) has teamed up with Simpsons & Futurama creator Matt Groening to offer a line of limited edition clothing featuring artwork from his original 1977 comic strip "Life in Hell."
Groening discovered COMME des GARÇONS through some friends of his and reportedly admired the firm's "wit and audacity." Says Groening, "I was aware of Kawakubo and her work as a powerful avant garde designer but I never thought my silly work of cartoons and her fashion would ever coincide."
The line features T-shirts and canvas tote bags in prices that range from $106-$207 (高い!)and can be purchased at Comme des Garçons stores (I dare you to find anything on their website), Dover Street Market and I.T Hong Kong
TEPCO is reporting that up to 57 tons of radioactive water has leaked from storage tanks at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant. They've been monitoring groundwater contamination and so far there isn't any, leading people like me to ask, "How in the hell not?" Green Peace is the first environmental watchdog group to harshly criticize the Japanese government about this latest incident, but I'm sure they won't be the last.
Spitz has been forced to cancel their May 24th & 25th performances-- just hours before they were scheduled to start-- due to Kusano Masamune’s poor health. The 43 year-old Masamune is said to have contracted an "acute upper respiratory infection" but his general well-being has been in question since the group cancelled 4 of its April performances to give Masamune time to recover from an "acute stress disorder" brought on by the Tohoku disaster. Sounds fishy to me.
The Japanese government lodged a protest with South Korea on Wednesday over visits made by some South Korean officials to a few disputed islands. It's just the latest jab in the" all your island are belong to us" ongoing dispute in the Pacific.
Refugee and foreign exchange student volunteers remove debris in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, earlier this month
Refugees often get a bad rap. Just being referred to as a 'fugee automatically places a stigma on a person, conjuring up images of someone who is poor and destitute, running for their lives from any number of threats-- both natural and man-made-- fleeing from their homelands with next to nothing and depending upon the good graces of whatever country they land in for support; in short, a burden on the host country.
Of course this is a broad, often inaccurate stereotype of what a "refugee" is. Refugees are also conscientious, generous, and well-off-- sometimes they are even masters students at the University of Tokyo.
Take for example, Myo Myint Swe, a 42-year-old refugee from Myanmar who has been living in Japan for the last 20 years. Myo may be a refugee, but he is also a student at Todai and a frequent volunteer who considers Japan his second home.
Recently, Myo and several other refugees and foreign exchange students travelled to Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture as part of a volunteer project organized by the Japan Association for Refugees. The group helped clean up debris from the March disaster in many different locations, such as a strawberry farm that had been littered with trash swept in by the tsunami, or a stretch of road that needed to cleared so elementary school children could get safely to school.
Myo explains that after watching the coverage on TV, he wanted to do something for his adopted country, not only to "raise awareness among Japanese that asylum seekers are just like anyone else and are part of the community," but also because he personally sympathizes with the victims of the disaster.
"We're refugees because of human-made disasters. In the case of the people in (the) Tohoku region, they are evacuees of natural disasters. But while we have someone to cast our anger at, people in Tohoku, they lost their families and homes but don't have anyone to blame because it's an act of nature," he said. "It may sound a bit strange coming from me, but I really feel sorry for them."
Being a foreigner in Japan can be really difficult. I imagine it's even more difficult if you are a refugee who went there because you had little choice in the matter and were just trying to stay alive.
I applaud Myo, and others like him for getting out there and volunteering and making a good name, not just for refugees and foreign exchange students, but for all foreigners in Japan. Through activities like this volunteer effort, they're proving to the often hard-headed and biased Japanese citizenry that Japan's foreign residents can be an asset to the community, not a burden on it-- regardless of how they happened to land on the island.
In my mind, they're also making up for that time when I tripped and spilled my beer on an elementary school student outside a train station. Good on ya, mates! The circle of Gaijin karma is complete.
A Fukushima Daichi fallout prediction map based on weather patterns
The Japan Meteorological Agency has stopped giving projections about the spread of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Since March 11, the IAEA has asked for projections up to 3 times a day based on weather conditions. This is a good sign because it appears to mean that the reasonable possibility of fallout has passed.
The International Volleyball Federation has declared that it's safe for Japan to host the Olympic qualifying tournament, just like it has every year since 1991. The Women's World cup will be hosted in 7 venues from November 4-18; the men's in eight venues from November 20-December 4th. Volleyball remains a very popular sport in japan for both men and women, so the matches are sure to drawn plenty of spectators.I'm not sure, but if you have an Xbox, there's a good chance you'll be able to watch the matches through their free ESPN portal.
The annual Tokyo Bay Fireworks festival, scheduled for August 13th, has been cancelled this year out of consideration for the victims of the March disaster. Another famous fireworks festival, the Sumida River fireworks festival, has been rescheduled from July to August 27th in order to avoid power shortages that are expected to occur then. Personally, I don't think they should cancel any of these. People need to celebrate, now more than ever. Catharsis is a necessary part of any disaster recovery.
Sorry the News Bites were a bit late today; Blogger was having issues.
Pepsi released a new product today called ペプシドライ (Pepsi Dry) which is half as sweet as original Pepsi and has a slightly bitter taste. It's being marketed as an alternative to sweet colas, which is great for people like me who like the fizz but not necessarily all the sugar and feel that artificial sweeteners taste like powdered death.
One blogger had rave reviews of the product, describing its taste as not just bitter, but "adult bitter."
"Even after swallowing you can still taste that wonderful, almost black coffee-like flavor, in the back of your mouth. Surprisingly it is very refreshing too and filled with tons of carbonation. I absolutely LOVE this product and expect it to be a huge hit.
The bitterly-refreshing beverage is being rolled out to retailers today (24.5.2011) and will set you back 140円 a bottle, if you live in Japan. If you live overseas, you can get it shipped to you for $4.50 a bottle.
College students attend a ceremony to kick off their hunt for jobs (credit:AP)
Only 91% of graduates from 4-year universities in Japan were hired this year. In America, a 91% placement rate would make college career centers cream their pants. But in Japan, a place where going to college typically guarantees a decent salaryman job, it's pretty bad. 33,000 new college graduates failed to find jobs. Many who had received offers of employment had them rescinded after the March disaster and subsequent economic downturn. It's still not as bad as it was in January of this year, when only 70% of December graduates were able to find jobs. But this month's number may be skewed in the positive direction because many of the districts hardest hit by the quake didn't were unable to report their numbers.
Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka, along with his partner German researcher Rudolf Jaenisch,won one of Israel's prestigious Wolf Prizes for their work with stem cells. The pair discovered that induced stem cells could be used to treat genetic diseases. The Wolf prize is a BFD because about 30% of those who win a Wolf prize in Chemistry, physics, or medicine go on to win a Nobel.
The body of Japanese climber Takashi Ozaki was removed from Mt. Everest on Monday. Ozaki was part of the two-person team who made the first ascent of the north face of the mountain in 1980. He died on May 12th-- most likely of altitude sickness-- just a few hundred feet from the summit.
Almost the entire countdown is new this week. 16 new singles debuted and only a few of the ones from last week are holding on for dear life, including Maximum the Hormone and Inawashirokos. There are too many new songs to name, so I'll just mention the ones I actually like and skip the dribble like "Carnival~Kinjirareta Ai~" by Diamond*Dogs, which you immediately know is going to be crap as soon as you look at the title because it has all those superfluous, meaningless characters in it; always a bad sign.
I'm excited to see 「C'Mon Let's Go」 by KREVA debuting at number 13, and 「Love Song」 by Sandaime J. Soul Brothers coming in at number 7. I enjoy their music, but didn't think they'd be able to break through the イケメン / cute adolescent girl / super celeb retaining wall that surrounds the countdown.
I'm surprised that 「Sora ga Natteiru」 by Tokyo Jihen (#6), 「Core Pride」 by Uverworld (#5), 「Koi no Superball」 by Aiko (#4) and 「Kakkowarui I Love You」 by French Kiss (#2) are just now debuting on the countdown (albeit in top spots). I thought those singles had already been out for a while, but that's probably just internet confusion-- everything is available on the interwebs long before it's available in stores. Or in my case, because I live in the U.S., everything is only available on the interwebs, and long before it's on the Oricon Countdown.
「My Home」 by Kanjani 8 takes the top spot this week, finally ousting the string of cute-but-not-much-going-on-musically girl groups who have been dominating the top of the charts for several months now. I have no doubt the otaku underground will rally next week and buy multiple copies (per-person) of some iffy single in order to get whoever-chan back in the top spot because she'll be so sad if she isn't. (Don't ever doubt that this happens on a weekly basis.)
As always, as many of these new songs as possible have been added to our radio station, so you can listen to / keep up with the latest Jpop music while doing office work or cleaning out your fridge.
TEPCO's Fukushima Daichi nuclear power station No. 1 (left) and reactor No. 2 in May 2011
A disposal facility into which they've been pumping radioactive water from the Fukushima plant since the March disaster is almost full. They don't have anywhere else to put the stuff, so they're going to stop pumping out the tainted water until mid-June when a new facility comes online. They can't also stop pumping seawater into the damaged reactor core however. The seawater keeps it cool enough to stop it from melting down, but for every gallon of seawater that is pumped in, a gallon of radioactive seawater (that has to be safely stored) comes out. It's a major problem.
The Nikkei hit a 5 week low this morning, which oddly enough, had little to do with the after effects of the March disaster. Instead, stocks tumbled because construction and other infrastructure development activities in "developing" countries slowed, which in turn devalued machine shares.
Huh. Global economy. Go figure.
The U.S. Supreme court will decide if a Japanese couple can be deported because of false tax returns that bilked the government out of more than $200,000 worth of taxes. The couple have been permanent, lawful residents (but not citizens) since 1984, but monetary crimes over $10,000 are considered aggravated felonies.
Ao no Exorcist Opening Theme, 「Core Pride」by Uverworld
Ao no Exorcist - episode 5, The Boy from the Cursed Temple
I'm only 5 episodes in, but so far I'm really liking this series. I was prepared for it to be a whiny emo, occult piece of jank, like most "dark" anime that tries to incorporate Catholic dogma (Priests, Angels, Demons, etc.) but so far I've been pleasantly surprised. It's been more "Disgaea" than "Vampire Knight".
Sket Dance - episode 6, Even Onihime Has Tears in Her Eyes
This is a goofy, short-format (two mini-episodes per 30 minute show) show about a school club called the "Sket-dans," a 学園生活支援部 (school support club) whose objective is to "support" the rest of the student body, solving problems for them and just being general go-to guys. スケット(SKET) is an acronym that stands for "Support, Kindness, Encourage, Troubleshoot." Add the kanji 団,which is generally used as a suffix to denote that something is a "group," and you get "Sket-dans" which was romanized as "Sket-Dance" for the title of the series. The members of the club are kind of...quirky however, and their problem-solving methods are unconventional. The manga is well-loved and won the Shogakukan Manga Award in 2009. It's a hilarious, silly program that's good if you want a laugh without taking anything too seriously.
Fairy Tail - episode 79, Fairy Hunting
I don't have to say much about Fairy Tail, do I? One of the most popular mangas in Japan for the last 5 years and a popular anime for 2 seasons now. Love, love, love, LOVE this series. And we're finally in the Edolas Arc! Yay, EdoLucy!
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Managed to get my hands on an HD version. This anime is even more amazing when you can watch all the episodes back to back without any in-between time to take you out of the story. I've been on a bit of a binge lately, watching 6-7 episodes a day. ^W^
Who doesn't love that crazy, psychotic Chinese bitch from hell, Revy? One of my favorite fem anime characters of all time. The only problem with watching this anime is it makes me want to smoke, a lot. Had that same problem with Cowboy Bebop.
With nutjobs predicting tomorrow as the end of the world-- an end they plan to watch on tv-- people all over the US are getting into the spirit of the apocalypse.
Tom Junod over at Esquire magazine proposes that May 21st be National Apocalypse Day while Elizabeth Gunnison surveyed 20 celebrity chefs to get their take on the perfect last meal.
Even the CDC is getting into the spirit of the day, releasing a zombie survival guide--and proving they have a sense of humor.... which now that I think about it may not be something I desire in an epidemiologist. Though it's tongue-in-cheek, it reminds me that I don't really have a good emergency kit. Maybe I'll spend tomorrow putting one together-- provided I don't get raptured up into the sky.
Finally, Fox News (of all people, FOX NEWS) has a recipe to make the ultimate zombie cocktail."...what better way to ride out continued attacks by hordes of creatures intent on nothing more than devouring your brains and entrails than relaxing with a stiff drink?"
Hold up now. Fox News displaying a sense of humor? Maybe there's something to this whole apocalypse thing after all.
For quite some time, Japan has been the focus of much criticism on the subject of international abduction, due to the apparent ease with which Japanese parents-- mothers in particular-- can abduct their children to Japan when leaving a relationship with someone from another country. Once the mother and children are safely inside Japan, there is next to nothing the other parent can do, particularly because current Japanese law does not allow joint custody-- only one parent may have custody, usually the mother.
Ergot, if you are a gaijin poppa whose wife took your kids to Japan, you may never see them again.
You might remember the story of Christopher Savoie, who was arrested in Japan in 2009 after trying to "re-kidnap" his children from his estranged wife. His story is just one of many but is a good example of all the problems with current Japanese law regarding international abductions and custody between parents of different nationalities.
Today however, Japanese government spokesman Tetsuro Fukuyama said that several ministers have endorsed plans to change domestic laws to bring them in line with the 1980 Hague Convention on International Abduction-- a statute that has been ratified by all G7 nations except Japan. This is seen as an important first step, and an official Cabinet approval is expected on Friday.
The law on single custody isn't expected to change, but the government will establish a "liason office" aimed at giving foreign parents some recourse when their kids are taken from them.
To me, it doesn't sound like they're really serious about changing the situation, but I guess any movement at all on this front-- an issue which has been stalled for almost 30 years-- is a good sign.
Workers harvest the first crop of tea leaves of the year 「一番茶」in 埼玉県- Tokyo Times
Another Playstation Network glitch prompted Sony to take down a password reset website. They're saying they "discovered a glitch" and took the site down on their own to fix it, and that there hasn't been another attack, but really, who knows with them.
The Japan Prize Foundation announced the winners of its 2011 award. There were 4 winners: Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, who developed the Unix operating system, and Tadamitsu Kishimoto and Toshio Hirano whose biomedical research has led to treatments for many diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and Castleman's disease. The Japan Prize Foundation (formerly known as the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan) has been awarding the Japan Prize to innovators in the fields of science and technology since 1985.
Several publications are reporting that Japan is now officially in a recession due to the aftermath of the March tsunami & earthquake.
Keyhole TV is an amazing little program that will allow you to watch Live Japanese TV streaming over the internet. (Above, you can see me watching one of those programs where they eat things and rave about how delicious everything is.)
It works with Windows 2000, XP, VISTA, Windows7, Linux, & MacOSX(10.4,10.5,10.6).
You can download it here.
I turn it on every now and then when I get home from work. You have to remember that they're 14 hours ahead and adjust accordingly. When I get home from work at 5, it's time for the morning news shows. I find it a good way to keep up with the news and to brush up on my listening skills. Watching programs without subtitles is a must if you're trying to learn the language.
The quality is not always great-- there's a fairly large amount of artifacting-- but for a free program it's damn good. And as far as I know, it's the only way to watch live Japanese TV without a satellite dish.
They also have several Japanese radio stations available for live streaming, so you can listen to Japanese radio too. From time to time I turn on Nack5 and listen to their terrible programming just because it makes me nostalgic for my time spent in the Saidai dorm.
scram by heiseighore
The crosswalk area in front of Asakusa's famous Kaminarimon has been converted to a "pedestrian scramble" which is a term I'd never heard before today. To me, it conjures up images of pedestrians competing in a scavenger hunt or being fried in a big pan. But it's nothing so exciting or cannibalistic.
Basically instead of only having crosswalks running at right angles, they've added an "X" in the center so pedestrians can cross through the middle of the intersection-- a design that's fairly rare even in a city like Tokyo that has crosswalks everywhere.
The reporter in the video shows you how convenient and safe this new design is and interviews a few workers in the tourist trade. One rickshaw driver says that tourists, both Japanese and foreign (but especially foreign) have become scarce in recent days; most likely due to the earthquake/tsunami. Another shop worker suggests tourists could be further enticed to visit the area by blocking off the entire street to automobile traffic--they already do this is many areas (like Akihabara and Ginza) on the weekends to accommodate extra foot traffic.
Shizuoka and Kanagawa don't want the government to check for radiation in their tea leaves. Radioactive cesium exceeding the legal limit was detected in green tea leaves harvested in Ibaraki and Kanagawa prefectures, which prompted the government to instate mandatory screening. But the governors of Shizuoka and Kanagawa say screening is really only necessary for certain types of tea.
Don't ever doubt that our world is interconnected. In April, U.S. factories produced fewer goods for the first time in 10 months, primarily because of part shortages caused by the March earthquake & tsunami in Japan.
60th-ranked Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori will compete in the French Open as soon as he gets treated for his kidney infection.... I had a kidney infection once and could hardly walk. How the hell is he gonna play tennis?!
A relic is paraded to Tu Dam Pagoda in Vietnam
Buddha's Birthday (known by different names in different countries) is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, primarily by Mahayana Buddhists.
Except in Japan. Because Japan formally adopted the Gregorian calendar, Buddah's Birthday is celebrated there on April 8th, and sometimes May 8th, but hardly ever on the "orthodox" Chinese Lunar Calendar date. It's like the U.S. with our standard system of measurements, refusing to use metric.
The Japanese Holiday is also celebrated a little differently, typically with flower festivals at various shrines, most notably Asuka-dera. Small mikoshi are decorated with flowers and believers pour ama-chan (made from a type of hydrangea) over small statues "as if bathing a newborn child."
Anyway, this year Buddha's Birthday (which is really fun to say, try it) fell on the 16th or 17th-- depending on whom you ask. Millions of devtoees in Nepal, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand and others celebrated by chanting sutras and eating special dishes.
Happy Birthday Buddha, you bishi!
A dragon lantern in Seoul's annual festival
Finally, after weeks of stagnation, this week's countdown is seeing some new blood. Singles by Shu-i, U, 松下 優也 (Matsushita Yuya), 平井 堅 (Hirai Ken), Fevers, The Alfee and MBlaq all debuted this week. However, the number one spot is still being monopolized by groups of adorable girls between the ages of 12-20, this week by Shoujou Hokou's single Passpo*. I stand in awe of the power of the mighty otaku horde.
You might also notice that there are a lot of 韓国 (korean) artists on the countdown this week, prompting one Youtube viewer to comment "韓国多すぎ!" But hell, some really great music has been coming out of Korea while much of Japan's music industry has been monopolized by gimmicky girl/boy groups with undeniably good looks and questionable music chops.
Like always, as many of these songs as possible will be added to the rotation over at our "radio" station on blip.fm.
While I'm mucking around with the layout and figuring out the posting schedule, I figure the least I can do is give you some wallpapers. Everybody loves desktop customization, right?
This is will be a monthly feature here on Anti-occident. The papers will always be ever-so-slightly Japan-related and based vaguely on a flimsy theme. For instance, May's theme is "green." Why green? Because we're in the middle of spring-turning-to-summer and everything feels super green. You expect me to give a coherent explanation of something so vague and flimsy? They're pretty pictures for your desktop-- don't read too much into it.
Twenty-seven みどり papes of various sizes await you in the May Wallpaper album. Use the "Download" button at the top of each image to get the full-size image.
...I use too-many-hyphens.
AntiOccident has moved from Tumblr over to Blogger, to give us more options for customization. You can still check out the old blog over there, but all new posts will be here. I hope the new home breathes some new life into the blog.
Labels: Site News