Daily life in Tokyo, as an animated pixel GIF 

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Japanistas (by Pamela Drobig):

Tokyo can be chaotic, relaxing, exciting, an adventure, or plain and simply: beautiful. One pixel artist, who goes by the name 1041uuu, has created breathtakingly amazing pixel-style gifs to capture daily life in and around Tokyo.

1041uuu’s whole tumblr site is filled with animated Tokyo scenery, be it a slow and rainy day, a calm sunset behind Tokyo’s skyscrapers, or a beautiful afternoon with cherry blossoms.

The gifs are simple, the movements subtle – but that is exactly what makes the artist’s work so intriguing and unique. They wonderfully illustrate a never-sleeping city like Tokyo, that, especially to people living in the metropolis, is so much more than its landmarks and hot spots.

The longer you look at 1041uuu’s gifs, the more there is to discover. Be it some subtle movement that you didn’t noticed before, or a beautiful small detail hidden in the pixels. The images perfectly capture the symbiosis between calm day to day life and the business of the big city.

Be sure to visit 1041uuu’s tumblr and Twitter page to discover more of their work.

Chinese villagers are successfully selling bags of fresh air to people in the city

 

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Next Shark:

Business-minded locals in the mountainous part of Guandong province in China are making money off the region’s natural fresh air.

Lianshan Zhuang and Yao autonomous county residents, have set up stalls atop its mountain and began selling air in plastic bags to city dwellers escaping the smog.

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According to NetEase (via Shanghaiist), the price of the fresh air ranges from 10 yuan ($1.50) for a small bag and up to 30 yuan ($4.50) for a larger bag.

Lianshan county, reportedly the greenest area in northern Guandong, is a favorite getaway spot for city folk who want to escape from urban pollution.

Marketing a bag of air is not that difficult for these crafty entrepreneurs as many customers find the idea of taking home fresh mountain air quite reasonable.

Air pollution has become a major issue in China especially in its highly industrialized cities and continuously poses a threat to the public health of its people.

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Korean female bodybuilder Jhi Yeon-woo breaks hearts and beauty standards

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Korean female bodybuilder Jhi Yeon-woo is probably going to break the internet with her rock-hard muscles.

Yeon-woo has competed in female bodybuilding contests both in South Korea and internationally, winning several of them. She’s become a bit of a celebrity in her home country, where her atypically adorable appearance has earned her the nickname “King Kong Barbie.”

Yeon-woo, 31, boasts a healthy following of nearly 35,000 followers on her Instagram account. and 37,000 on her Facebook page.

She has competed in female bodybuilding contests at home and abroad, winning international competitions and in her home country of South Korea. Yeon-woo competed in her debut competition at the 2010 Korea YMCA and won.

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She is promoter of Advanced Performance Nutrition Supplements, a company “committed to introducing to the athletic community new, effective and ‘state-of-the-art’ performance enhancing products.”

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In 2013, Yeon-woo won the Arnold Classic Europe Women’s Physique competition.

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Yeon-woo has also been featured on the YouTube channel of Bodybuilding League, an online blog magazine covering lifestyle, diet and nutrition news for fitness fanatics.

And just in case there are any doubters, here’s a video of Yeon-woo posing and taking pictures with fans during the 2014 Olympia, “Meet the Olympians” event.

 

At SXSW, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen reveals he accidentally created the third biggest site in the world and that YouTube was initially to be a dating site

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Next Shark:

In an alternate universe, there’s probably a version of YouTube designed to match potential couples — sort of like how its founders originally intended it to be: Tinder with video.

Speaking at the South by Southwest conference on Monday, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen revealed that the popular video-sharing site was supposed to be a dating site.

We thought dating would be the obvious choice,” Chen said.

Videos wherein users would describe themselves, their match preferences and other details would serve as personal profiles. Such a service would be similar to the ‘80s-era video-dating services that were popular long before the internet.

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The idea failed to materialize in five days of that format, however, as no one uploaded a single video. This is when the founders decided to open the platform to accept all forms of video content, birthing the YouTube that we know today.

Currently, YouTube is the world’s third most-visited website and an infinite source for reaction videos, fake pranks and makeup tutorials.

Six professional ninja jobs being offered by Japanese tourism board, women and foreigners welcome

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

Japan is looking for a few good shinobi.

If you’re feeling sad because you weren’t chosen as one of the two samurai being recruited  in Aichi Prefecture this month, cheer up! It turns out there’s now another opportunity to become a professional sword-wielding warrior, as Aichi’s tourism board is now looking to employ six new ninja.

Similar to Aichi’s samurai-themed Nagoya Hospitality Generals Brigade, the Hattori Hanzo Ninja Squad, which also operates under the name Hattori Hanzo and the Ninjas, is a Nagoya-based group that makes live appearances to promote tourism to the Aichi area and Japan in general to both domestic and overseas travelers. As a ninja, your work tasks will include putting on awesome martial arts stage shows and instructing kids in proper shuriken throwing technique.

At 180,000 yen a month, the Hattori Hanzo Ninja Squad starting salary is identical to that of the Nagoya Hospitality Generals Brigade. The Ninja Squad also looks to be an equal opportunity employer. Not only does the group include kunoichi (female ninja)…

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…the applications seem to be open to non-Japanese would-be ninja as well, as evidenced by the fact that the Ninja Squad has made its recruitment information available in English as well.

A high degree of athleticism and acrobatic talent are of course prerequisites for the job, as are these seemingly contradictory, yet in this case totally justified, personality traits:

● A desire to be in the spotlight, even though you’re a stealthy ninja
● A fondness for talking with others, even though you’re wearing a mask and hood
● A kind heart, even though you’re carrying a sword

If you meet all those criteria, and you think you’d look good in black, applications can be found here, and will be accepted until March 22.

 

How a poor refugee from Vietnam became CTO of the billion-dollar startup Uber

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Next Shark (by Ryan General):

Today, Thuan Pham is the successful Chief Technology Officer at Uber, the most valuable ride-sharing startup in the world worth over $62 billion, but as a child, Pham struggled to survive as a poor refugee boy escaping a war-ravaged Vietnam.

Pham was among the tens of thousands of refugees who fled from the Vietnam War in 1979.  The 10-year-old Pham, his mom and his siblings were crammed with hundreds of other Vietnamese refugees on a 60-meter boat on their way to an uncertain future.

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The refugees endured a perilous journey with their boat being raided by pirates twice.

“We would not panic. In fact we would be calm and surrender ourselves,”  Pham told Tech In Asia. “That’s the way a startup journey is. Even if you lose all one day, you can build all over again if you retain your calm.”

Their boat landed on the shores of Malaysia but they were immediately rejected as refugees. Instead of returning to their country, his mother took a chance in taking her children on another boat to Indonesia, where the family stayed for 10 months.

Living on the island of Letung, young Pham would swim to the nearby town to buy candies which his mother sold in the refugee camp to earn money.

“We used to make 10 cents of profit a day, and that would be a luxury,” he recalled. “We could buy fresh fish.”

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Pham’s life began to change after his mother’s asylum application in the U.S. was approved. They relocated to Maryland, where his mother worked as a ledger keeper at a gas station during the day, and as a grocery packer at a supermarket at night.

While studying in American schools, Pham struggled initially as he didn’t know English and had to start from scratch. He also wore donated clothes and shoes and found work at a local car wash station.

“I remember wearing girl socks for almost two years in oblivion, until someone pointed,” Pham told Tech in Asia.

A persistent and hardworking student, Pham graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s in computer science in 1991.

“I strongly encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to educate themselves, even if they don’t wish to graduate,” he said. “College education opens doors for you.”

After MIT, he found work at HP Labs, Silicon Graphics, DoubleClick and VMWare. When Pham joined Uber in 2013, it was already present in 60 cities with 200 employees. Currently, the company has an estimated net worth of $62.5 billion, has a presence in almost 400 cities and employs thousands of employees around the world.

As the Uber CTO, he has helped improve the Uber app which was prone to crashes in its earlier versions.  To ensure that the app is responsive and crash-proof, Pham has developed innovations that enable its architecture to keep running even if something goes wrong.

“Now we don’t crash, because we have done that in our early journey,” he said. “Entrepreneurs should fail fast in the early days.”

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Growing up with hardship and the constant threat of death back in Saigon, which today is Ho Chi Minh City, Pham was forced to overcome fear at an early age, but that trait still stick with him today.

“It taught me that life is ephemeral,” he said. “I advise young entrepreneurs to treat their startups as a learning experience. Even if it all fails you can rebuild it again. You’re in a free world.”

Calbee teams with gourmet French chain for uni and dried roe potato chip flavor

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RocketNews 24:

Calbee and the casual-gourmet French chain Ore no French will release an “Uni and Dried Roe Kyokujo Cream Saucepotato chip flavor on March 21.

The “Ore no” series of restaurants boasts a unique concept: By doing away with all the niceties of typical gourmet restaurants, such as spacious dining areas, unfailingly polite and classically trained servers, and chairs, the chain serves up gourmet meals devised or prepared by renowned chefs at just a fraction of the price you’d typically expect to pay.

It’s this exact dynamic of delicious and kind of crusty that sort of makes “Ore no French” — the company’s French fusion lineup of restaurants — and Calbee, the Japanese potato chip maker, a match made in heaven. And in fact, the two entities have just announced their third release in a collaborative potato chip series, this time introducing “Uni and Dried Roe Kyokujo Cream Sauce” potato chips due to hit shelves on March 21.

The flavor was specially conceived by the head chef of the Kagurazaka area location of Ore no French, Yousuke Yamazaki, and contains real powdered uni and mullet roe.

 

Academy apologizes for Asian jokes at the Oscars

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Yahoo/Variety:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences apologized on Tuesday for the Asian jokes on the Feb. 28 Oscar telecast, after receiving a protest letter signed by 25 AMPAS members, including Ang Lee.

An Academy spokesperson issued the statement, “The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive. We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive.”

ORIGINAL POST: Two dozen members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, including Ang Lee and several other Oscar winners, have asked the AMPAS board for “concrete steps” to ensure that future Oscarcasts will avoid the “tone-deaf approach” to Asians that was exhibited in the Feb. 28 ceremony.

The protest was delivered in advance of Tuesday’s board meeting, where diversity promises to be a key item on the agenda. The missive was sent to the board, AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, and ceremony producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill.

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The letter said, “We are writing as Academy members of Asian descent to express our complete surprise and disappointment with the targeting of Asians at the 88th Oscars telecast and its perpetuation of racist stereotypes. In light of criticism over #OscarsSoWhite, we were hopeful that the telecast would provide the Academy a way forward and the chance to present a spectacular example of inclusion and diversity. Instead, the Oscars show was marred by a tone-deaf approach to its portrayal of Asians.

“We’d like to know how such tasteless and offensive skits could have happened and what process you have in place to preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts. We look forward to hearing from you about this matter and about the concrete steps to ensure that all people are portrayed with dignity and respect.

“We are proud that the Oscars reach several hundred million people around the world of whom 60% are Asians and potential moviegoers.”

In addition to Lee, other Oscar winners on the list include Chris Tashima (shorts and feature animation) and four members of the documentary branch: Ruby Yang, Steven Okazaki, Jessica Yu, and Freida Lee Mock. Aside from Mock, two other former governors signed, Don Hall (sound branch) and Arthur Dong (documentaries). Another three signers were Oscar nominees: Christine Choy, Renee Tajima-Pena, and Rithy Panh, again all docu-branch members.

Other signers were Yung Chang, documentary; Maysie Hoy and William Hoy, editors; Marcus Hu and Teddy Zee, executives; Janet Yang, producers; David Magdael and Laura Kim, PR; and six members of the actors branch: Nancy Kwan, Peter Kwong, Jodi Long, France Nuyen, Sandra Oh, and George Takei.

According to the International Energy Agency, Asians represent 4.3 billion, or 60% of the population. However, they are estimated to represent less than 1% of the Academy.

Sources close to the show told Variety that Chris Rock made decisions about his material (including a series of jokes about Asian children), while Sacha Baron Cohen’s crack was apparently ad-libbed. However, at a time of heightened sensitivity with racial matters, many viewers were shocked that old Asian stereotypes were trotted out for a laugh.

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