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Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Fans of the Fox series “Glee” are known for their passion and enthusiasm.  Some “gleeks” are so dedicated to the show and its elaborately staged musical numbers that they perform their own versions of songs from the show and post them on YouTube.  Now perhaps the unlikeliest of performers has joined their ranks.

Retired sumo wrestler Akebono has lent his talents to two recent Japanese commercials promoting “Glee” on Fox Japan, where it premiers this Sunday, February 7.  The sumo champion (born in America as Chad Rowan) became a celebrity in the 1990s when he rose to the ultimate rank of yokozuna.  And judging by the lithe movements he displays as he belts out Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” he’s still plenty light on his feet…

[YOUTUBE=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc4hfhj8VoI]

One American export to Japan introduces another — and Fox Japan must be hoping that “Glee” is as successful in living rooms as Akebono was in the arena…

[YOUTUBE=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWTslWUlV_E]

Bullies everywhere, beware.

– Michael Guerriero

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A couple weeks ago, Kurt spoke with director James Cameron about his spectacular new movie Avatar.  He told Kurt that while the technology he used to craft the movie is important, at heart it’s a love story: it’s just that instead of boy meets girl, it’s boy meets twelve-foot blue humanoid-cat… by posing as a virtual twelve-foot blue humanoid cat, himself.

Pure fantasy?

Well just a couple of months ago a Japanese man married his virtual girlfriend, a character from the Nintendo DS game “Love Plus.”  The man Sal9000, and the bride Nene Anegasaki, wed at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.  The ceremony was broadcast live online, and among the human attendees were Sal’s best friend, an emcee, and, of course, a priest.  The virtual world was represented by the bride’s girlfriend, who toasted the new couple’s happiness.

Boing Boing contributor and Studio 360 pal Lisa Katayama made this report of the ceremony:

And on this week’s show — a special episode all about JapanLisa takes Kurt into a Tokyo sticker picture booth.  When Lisa offers to make him into “a beautiful girl,” will Kurt lose himself in his own virtual world?  Find out this weekend!

– Michael Guerriero

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Instead of drinking my daily 8 cups of water, I’ve kept myself hydrated (and warm) this winter with tea. I once thought making tea was as simple as boiling water. Oh, how wrong was I. Everything I now know about tea I learned on Malian Dao, a mile-long street in Beijing exclusively devoted to the wholesale of tea. When my legs were tired, I picked a random store and asked the sales clerk to pin cha or tea taste. What I thought would be a 20-minute errand turned into a three-hour lesson in how to enjoy a cup of tea.

I asked to try green, jasmine, and pu’er teas. A woman in ornate silk qipao dress served me a few of each kind of tea. In wine, not all Pinot Grigios are equal. Similarly, a single type of tea can range widely in quality and price tag. The best tea is a personal choice discovered only by tasting lots. And so we did, beginning with green tea.

Tea leaves (www.tea-of-chinese.com)

Step 1. She started by heating the water kettle. To accentuate the tea’s qualities, the water should be at about 70 degrees C for green tea and hotter for the more fermented teas.

Step 2. She then sprinkled a small palmful of tea leaves in the teapot. She filled it with water, waited 30 seconds, and poured the liquid out. It seemed like a waste, but she explained the first pot doesn’t express the tea’s full flavor.

Step 3. She rinsed the teacups with hot water, a necessary but oft-overlooked step that brings out the tea flavor.

Step 4. She soaked the tea for no longer than 2 minutes, or just long enough so that the green tea gave off a subtle green hue.

She also explained tea trends in China: molihua cha (or jasmine tea) is for fashionable young women, green tea is for older people and traditionalists, and pu’er cha is for people on diets. Who knew the kind of tea you drank broadcasted so much. I ultimately settled on the longjing green tea, with individually pressed green tea leaves grown in the southern province of Zhejiang and a gentle clarifying taste that lasted long after the teacup was empty. Does my tea choice make me classic or grandmotherly? You choose.

***

This week’s show will re-air last year’s “Studio 360 in Japan” episode. To get Japan on your mind, listen to Studio 360’s Jenny Lawton describe the ritual art of serving chado or tea in Japan:

– Jess Jiang

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In this month’s Vanity Fair, contributing editor Jim Windolf tries to analyze the wave of cute overtaking our culture.  From Hello Kitty to the laughing baby (you know which baby) (yes you do) (you don’t?  Really?), Windolf leaves no fuzzy, big-eyed stone unturned.  And he thinks it’s getting worse.  Why now?

A few years ago – before the baby neared 100 million views on YouTube – we took our own look at cute.  Japanese art mogul Takashi Murakami explained how cute is a reaction to the atom bomb; and we heard what it’s like to hate cute in a too-cute world.  Not pretty.

– David Krasnow

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Blogger Lisa Katayama took Kurt to Tokyo’s girl haven: the sticker picture booth.

You can download the video here.

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We have a show!

We proudly present the complete Studio 360 in Japan episode! Listen here:

Check out our website for more Japan stories, video and photos.

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Ladies and Gentlemen…

Greetings from Studio 360’s home base in New York City!

After weeks of listening to tape and mixing (and remixing) our stories, we’re proud to post the first sounds of our trip to Japan. On this past week’s show, we broadcast an interview with the writer Pico Iyer in Nara Park (remember Bad Bambi?), a lesson in Japanese tea ceremony, and Pejk’s trip to a mysterious forest at the base of Mt. Fuji.

Also, with the help of Matthew Cavnar, we present the first of three Studio 360 high-definition shorts. The first is from Kurt’s conversation with Pico in Nara Park:

We’ve got a full episode of material from Japan in this week’s (upcoming) episode. Hope you’ll tune in!

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