Posts Tagged ‘“lisa katayama”’

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

You can download the video here.

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Today I joined Lisa Katayama for her interview with Erina Matsui, a 24-year-old artist who’s already gotten the attention of Takashi Murakami and other art world big-wigs. Erina paints playful and surrealistic self-portraits, which she says should make people laugh. So as we walked into the Yamamoto Gendai galley, I have to say I was a bit shocked to be greeted by photographs of guts being ripped out of cows. (The artist is Hermann Nitsch, if you’re up for being disturbed.) Kudos to the gallery for variety, I guess.

Anyway, once we went into the other room, Erina charmed us with her humility and quirkiness. She said her work is influenced by Dali and Rembrandt, but she also likes to incorporate characters and creatures from toys and manga.


Erina Matsui, "I love shrimp chili" (2003)

One image that shows up in a few of her paintings is an alien-looking amphibian, which I thought was her own creation. Then she said she had three of them as pets. (Named Napoleon I, II and III.) I asked, wait, they’re real? Yes, she said. It’s an axelotl. People used to tell her she looked like one, so she felt compelled to paint it. Am I the only one who hasn’t heard of this animal? Apparently they come from Mexico and were all the rage here a while ago.


I don’t know how I’d feel if my friends compared me to a little critter like that, but she embraced it.

When we were wrapping up the interview, I had to ask her one last question, which was what did she think of the art in the other room? Scary, she said. But she understands if the guy’s got a vision – that’s his prerogative.

She ended up joining me and Lisa for lunch and was kind enough to ride back with me on the subway. A remarkably sweet and humble young gal for someone who’s bound to make a big splash very soon.

– Leital Molad

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The motto of a fictional character of mine was All Cliches Are True. As I was reminded twice, spectacularly, during my first full day in Tokyo.

Of course I knew about the (cliche of the) Japanese schoolgirl subculture, and its devotion to cuteness, uniformity, pinkness, intense girl-to-girl friendliness, technology, and so on. But my visit yesterday afternoon to an arcade of elaborate photo booths in Shibuya, right after school let out, was a hands-on gas. Now I viscerally know what that subculture looks and feels like, instead of just having read about it.

Lisa and Kurt vogue teenaged-girl style.

Lisa and Kurt vogue teenaged-girl style.

Our Japanese colleague Lisa Katayama accompanied me — and indeed, as a man (or boy) I wouldn’t have been allowed into the place without her. The booths are individually themed to produce a particular kind of group (girl) portrait, and the booths are large — 3 times as big as the ones we know in America. Once inside, you’re cued to pose in particular ways — to “vogue” according to prescribed super-cute situations. And then, in a second both, one adds stars and hearts and unicorns and flowers and mushrooms and and letters and numbers to one’s portrait at will. And the final product is a postcard-sized, adhesive-backed montage of 24 photos, which is supposed to be cut into 24 individual stickers and shared with one’s BFFs. I now have an uncanny desire to attend a boy-band concert with Lisa.
Another true cliche about Japan — the insane, inefficient illogic of the street address system; that is, the lack of a system easily usable even by natives — I experienced last night.
I left my hotel, and handed the printed, Japanese-language address of a restaurant to my cab driver; he loaded the address into his GPS device. And still, he couldn’t find the destination. Finally he parked, turned off his meter, and wandered away to find a human being who could tell him where the (Italian) restaurant was. Twenty minutes later, he returned, drove 2 blocks, and we were there.
The ill-fated cab.

The ill-fated cab.

For a country where humiliation avoidance is supposed to be a prime cultural driver, how weird that this daily opportunity for minor humiliation is hard-wired into life. Consider the time (and gasoline) wasted — and consider how many millions of times the same thing happens every year in Tokyo. Japan is one of the most supremely modern, well-organized places I’ve ever been — with for this bizarre, gratuitous premodern exception.
– Kurt Andersen

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