An axis for artistic and creative-types of the Asian persuasian… Redefining Otaku Culture.

President Obama signs bill eliminating ‘Oriental’ from Federal Law

U.S. President Barack Obama signed a bill Friday that modernizes the terms used for minorities.

NBC News (by Stephany Bai):

President Barack Obama has signed a bill eliminating all known uses of the term “oriental” from federal law.

The bill, which was sponsored by Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), was passed by the House of Representatives unanimously on Feb. 29 and again by the Senate on May 9. It was co-sponsored by 76 members of Congress, including all 51 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said in a statement that she was “proud to have seen this effort through.”

After months of advocacy in both chambers of Congress, derogatory terms in federal law will finally be updated to reflect our country’s diversity,” she said. “Mahalo to President Obama for his quick action.

Oriental” had still existed in Title 42 of the U.S. Code, which was written in the 1970s. It will be replaced with “Asian Americans.”

In a statement, Congresswoman Meng expressed relief that “at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good.”

Many Americans may not be aware that the word ‘Oriental’ is derogatory,” she said. “But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land.

Google’s homepage honors the legendary Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama on her 95th birthday.

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In honor of Yuri Kochiyama‘s 95th birthday on May 19th, the Google homepage dedicated a Google Doodle to the legendary late activist, educator and humanitarian, who died in 2014.

The doodle, by artist Alyssa Winans, features an iconic image of Kochiyama at the center of one of many protests and rallies, for numerous social and political movements, over a lifetime in the fight for justice.

It’s with great pleasure that Google celebrates Yuri Kochiyama, an Asian American activist who dedicated her life to the fight for human rights and against racism and injustice. Born in California, Kochiyama spent her early twenties in a Japanese American internment camp in Arkansas during WWII. She and her family would later move to Harlem, where she became deeply involved in African American, Latino, and Asian American liberation and empowerment movements. Today’s doodle by Alyssa Winans features Kochiyama taking a stand at one of her many protests and rallies.

Kochiyama left a legacy of advocacy: for peace, U.S. political prisoners, nuclear disarmament, and reparations for Japanese Americans interned during the war. She was known for her tireless intensity and compassion, and remained committed to speaking out, consciousness-raising, and taking action until her death in 2014.

 

Toshio Suzuki’s “The Red Turtle” receives standing ovation at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

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RocketNews 24 (by Meg Murphy):

The Red Turtle may have no dialogue, but if that hasn’t stopped viewers from saying wonderful things about it.

Produced by Toshio Suzuki, a long-time colleague of famous Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki, and directed by London-based Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit, the film The Red Turtle (in French La Tortue Rouge and in Japanese Reddo Taatoru: Aru Shima no Monogatari) premiered at the 69th Cannes Film Festival on May 18, to much excitement from the crowd. Reports state that the excitement could be felt from viewers as soon as Studio Ghibli’s well-known Totoro logo appeared on the screen, and that the film received a huge standing ovation at its end.

I’m so happy,” said Suzuki, “Of course, I would be quite sad if there was no one left at the end of the film (laughs).”

Director Dudok de Wit commented, “There were about a thousand people in this huge theatre, and they were all so focused on the film. I don’t think I’ve felt anything so amazing before.”

The film has no dialogue, and is Studio Ghibli’s first European co-production, with German film distributor Wild Bunch. It “follows the major life stages of a castaway on a deserted tropical island populated by turtles, crabs and birds,” according to IMDb.

If you haven’t already caught it, here’s the official trailer for the film:

 

New gaming chair aims to be the ultimate in comfort for Japanese players

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RocketNews 24 (by Cara Clegg):

Japanese company Bauhutte has recently launched a new range of gaming chairs specifically aimed at gamers who are typically in front of their computers for long periods of time. Available in three colors and designed in the image of a car seat or cockpit to bring more realism to your gaming experience, the stable frame will support your posture for long hours at your terminal or in front of your giant TV.

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It features reclining and rocking functions and easy and convenient adjustment of angle and height. With the simple pull of lever you can set it to your desired angle or even recline it all the way back for a comfortable sleeping position that reportedly feels just like being in a hammock, perfect for taking breaks between games.

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Simple but impactful color coordination and solid and unique stitch lines aim to evoke a “near-future” design.

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Made with 100 percent polyester fabric, the seat offers comfortable support for your shoulders and back, and arm rests can be easily moved to facilitate gaming with either a keyboard and mouse or controller.

The chair went on sale in Japan this month for 34,000 yen (US$308) plus tax.

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Source & images: Bauhutte

New book reworks classic paintings in modern Japanese illustration styles

Ever wondered what Munch’s The Scream or Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring might look like if done in modern day Japan? If so, then this book is for you!

Eshi de Irodoru Sekai no Meiga by publisher Side Ranch is a new coffee table book that fuses the artistic sensibilities of centuries-old painters with those of modern illustrators from the manga, anime, and video game worlds of Japan.

In total, 43 masterpieces from the likes of Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh have been re-imagined by 43 different Japanese commercial artists, including smartphone game illustrator Kina Haruka and character designer for Medabots (Medarot in Japan) Rin Horuma. Classic Japanese artists like Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Tawaraya Sotatsu are also given an updated look in this book.

Each full page illustration is accompanied by a look at the original work and a commentary by the illustrator.

Eshi de Irodoru Sekai no Meiga will hit bookstores in Japan on 26 May for 2,200 yen (US$20). The first customers to buy over-the-counter may also receive a postcard depicting an interpretation of Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.

It’s always fun to see pop culture and high culture collide in colorful ways like this book. So why not pick up a copy and brush up on both art history and current illustrators in Japan. We’ll leave you with a partial list of some of the works covered.

■ Girl with a Pearl Earring – Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
■ The Gleaners – Jean-Francois Millet, 1857
■ Sunflowers – Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
■ The Scream – Edvard Munch, 1893
■ Les Demoiselles d’Avignon – Pablo Picasso, 1907
■ 
The Snake Charmer – Henri Rousseau, 1907
■ The Milkmaid – Johannes Vermeer, c. 1657
■ The Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli, c. 1485
■ Primavera – Sandro Botticelli, c. 1482
■ Ophelia – John Everett Millais, 1852
■ Tahitian Women on the Beach – Paul Gauguin, 1891
■ The Night Watch – Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642
■ Fujin Raijin-zu – Tawaraya Sōtatsu, c. 1650
■ 
Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre – Utagawa Kuniyoshi, c. 1844
■ 
The Kiss – Gustav Klimt, 1908
■ Le Divan Japonais – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892
■ Woman with a Parasol: Madame Monet and Her Son – Claude Monet, 1875

Source: Dream News

“THE NINJA” exhibit coming to Tokyo in July!

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RocketNews 24 (by Kay):

Who hasn’t been fascinated by the ninja and their legendary skills? Well, this special ninja exhibit should certainly help you learn more about their mysterious world!

We all love ninjas, don’t we? But how much do we really know about them? Although much about these “secret agents” of the feudal era remain a mystery, the academic world has been busy trying to uncover as much fact as possible about them. Happily for ninja fans, the public will get to share in some of the insights that researchers have gained into the world of the shinobi (literally “stealth”), as ninja are sometimes called.

The exhibit is based on scientific research on the ninja led by Mie University, and the exhibit hall has three distinct areas, each representing the elements of “mind, skill and body” (shin, gi, tai), in which the ninja were highly trained.

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As you move through the exhibit, you’ll have the opportunity to practice throwing shuriken stars, improve your jumping power and learn secret operative skills, such as memory enhancement techniques and special breathing techniques as well as ways to send secret messages. You’ll also be able to see ancient ninjutsu manuscripts and ninja weapons on display. Now, that certainly sounds like a whole lot of secret agent fun!

THE NINJA exhibit will run from July 2 (Sat) to October 10 (Mon) at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo’s Odaiba area. If you’re going to be in Tokyo during that time, it could be an excellent opportunity for you to get a glimpse into what the true world of the ninja may have been like. We hope you enjoy testing your stealth skills!

Exhibit Details:
The Ninja
July 2 (Sat) to October 10 (Mon)
Venue: National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)
Tokyo-to, Koto-ku, Aomi 2-3-6 (Access information)
東京都江東区青海2-3-6
Admission: 1,600 yen (about US$14.50) for adults, 1,000 yen (900 yen on Saturdays) for children of grade-school age to 18, and 500 yen for preschoolers  years old  (*Free admission for children 2 years old and under)

Source: THE NINJA exhibit website

25 ways Japanese politeness can get on the nerves of Japanese people

RocketNews 24:

There is such a thing as being too courteous, and an online survey ranked the 25 most common examples of just that in Japan.

Japan is legendary for its adherence to etiquette, formality and customer service. However, sometimes these acts of kindness can go too far beyond what people need from friends, family, and businesses.

Whether by making people feeling uncomfortable, burdened to reciprocate, or just plain embarrassed, these are 25 things that Japanese people could use less of, according to a ranking by survey-meisters over at the website Goo Ranking.

25 Yakigakari: The person sentenced to grill

Much like in the west, at Japanese barbeques or yakiniku joints, there may be one person in the group who takes the tongs and never, ever lets go. While constantly providing the rest of the group with grilled meat and veggies, they have almost no time to enjoy the food themselves.

This can make the rest of the group feel uncomfortable as they wonder why the yakigakari won’t give it a rest. This can also irk people who want their food cooked in a particular way, but can’t get past the yakigakari’s monopoly of the grill.

24 Surprise Birthdays

Surprise!!! At least, you better act surprised – and thrilled for that matter – because you have suddenly become the star of an event you were not prepared for. Not only that, you have become the crux of the mood for the entire evening’s festivities and will let everyone down if you’re not feeling particularly into being asked, “We’re you surprised?” a few dozen times and whatever else we have planned for you.

23 Sharing Homegrown Vegetables

This doesn’t seem like such a bad thing at all, and actually isn’t. The homegrown foods often surpass store-bought in terms of freshness and nutrition. However, they can sometimes come in quantities that’ll make your head spin.

22 The Nabe Judge

Known in Japanese as a “nabe bugyo” or “nabe judge,” they are the person at a group dinner who dictates what should and shouldn’t go into the mixed hot-pot known as nabe. Although, they’re acting in the interest of everyone having the best possible meal, their authoritarian ways of controlling what should be a casual meal can be annoying to others.

21 Constant Omiyage

Contrary to western countries who buy souvenirs for mainly themselves, Japanese travelers will often stock up on omiyage or presents for their friends and families back home out of a sense of obligation. They can range from snacks or liquor to clothing or distinct national items like Swedish surströmming.

20 Mid-Year and End-of-Year Gifts

In Japan giving gifts for birthdays or Christmas isn’t quite as prevalent as some other places. However, there is the annual traditions of giving presents half-way through and at the end of the year. And with it come the same anxieties and work that go into present shopping as people everywhere feel.

19 Predictive Text on Mobile Phones

Even machines are capable of being intrusively helpful. Personally I’ve never had a problem with it. In fact, I’m typing out this entire article on a mobile phone and ham tonne had probation Yeti.

18 People Serving You Food You Don’t Want

Most restaurants in Japan have shared eating where everyone picks from the same plate. This style is fraught with potential acts of rudeness unintentional and otherwise, one of which is a person handing you a plate of squid meat soaked in its own fermented viscera (shiokara) under the assumption that you want it.

In such an instance you would be the jerk for refusing the cephalopod guts, leaving you with no alternative but to dig in.

17 Friends and Family Playing Cupid

This one’s probably pretty universal. You might think there isn’t anything worse that being thrust into a potential relationship with some stranger at the whim of a third party, but we haven’t gotten to number 13 yet.

16 Handmade Candy and Presents

I have to think this one really hinges on how well the giver can make candy and presents, so it’s best to perhaps consider this a wild-card in the rankings.

15 Send-off at the Beauty Salon

I wouldn’t know this first-hand since I never go to beauty salons. I’m a manly man who gets his hair cut by fighting a bear and letting it win just enough so that it begins biting off my excess locks.

However, I have seen the pomp and circumstance that goes on after someone at a salon in Japan has just completed their cut, dye or whatever else. A group of staff crowd around the customer waving goodbye and offering their heartfelt thanks in enthusiastic voices on the streets for all to see and hear.

While it’s nice to be congratulated on our achievements in life, getting our hair done probably doesn’t warrant such acclaim.

14 Housework Done by a Husband who Sucks at Doing Housework

Luckily my wife doesn’t have this problem. In fact, just the other day I was doing the dishes but ran out of soap. Thinking quickly I grabbed a bar from the shower and finished the job on time.

You should have seen the look on her face when I told her, too. She was so amazed she had a husband as cunning and resourceful as I, that she went into the bedroom and locked the door, giving me the entire house to myself for the evening!

13 Getting Set up with Someone Else’s Ex

This one really shouldn’t need an explanation, but since it’s on the list perhaps one is in order for some people.

It’s exactly as if I came up to you and offered you my toothbrush. I tried it out a few times but it didn’t work quite right or just wore out over time.

Of course, your response would probably be to kick me in the shin and walk away, and would have every right to do so. So if you try to set someone up with an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, you ought to be prepared for the same kind of reaction.

12 Convenience Stores Asking about Point Cards

Not a day goes by that I don’t get queried by my convenience store clerk as to whether I have a T-point-super-member card or whatever. In fact, it’s gotten to the point that just getting one would be less of a hassle than constantly being asked for one. Also, consideration of how often I’m apparently going to a convenience store to be annoyed by this logically indicates that I should take advantage of a point card.

Still…I refuse to give them the satisfaction.

11 Exchanging Birthday Gifts with People you Don’t Care About

I was going to comment on the custom of obligatory gifts to certain co-workers and other people you’re not all that close with. However, I was contacted by high-ranking members of the gift certificate industry who informed me that I “had better shut up” about this tradition if I “knew what’s good” for me.

10 Neighbors Receiving Packages on Your Behalf

I’m actually surprised this is even legal, but apparently it goes on in Japan. If a courier comes to your home when you’re not around they may go to your neighbor’s and ask them to hold it sometimes under the pretense of mistaking the address. Often, if your neighbor is like mine who refuses to have anything to do with you, they’ll just politely decline and the delivery staff will have to write out one of those little papers.

However, if you have one of those nosey types next door, prepared to have your Gackt hug pillow from Amazon in the hands of another.

9 Getting a New Year Card from Someone You Haven’t Heard from Since Forever

In Japan, exchanging New Year Cards is an annual custom wherein people give out small postcards to pretty much every conceivable acquaintance from their high school friends to the guy who refills their water cooler.

With such a wide range of people it’s only natural to have or be an unrequited recipient of a New Year Card. While most people simply shrug it off, there still is a pang when you get that card from an old middle school friend whom you haven’t seen or heard from in 20 years. Upon realizing you haven’t sent them one, you have automatically become a jerk. Happy holidays!

8 Kids’ Clothes Bought by Your Mother-in-Law

Always a sticky situation: naturally when your mother-in-law presents you a with sweater using slightly outdated wording like “Mommy made a very gay baby!” you have no choice but to bring it out during family gatherings which hopefully aren’t public.

7 People Bring You Food From a Buffet

Aside from the increased exposure to disease vectors, part of the fun of going to a buffet is being able to customize your own dish to your liking. However, if someone takes the liberty of getting your food for you, you might find yourself filling up on pizza slices before being able to partake in any squid soaked in fermented viscera.

6 Public Toilet Paper Folded into a Triangle

I actually rather like “fire fold” in which the cleaning staff will fold up the end of a toilet paper roll into a neat little triangle. After all, it’s a sign that this toilet had been freshly cleaned just before you arrived.

However, from a glass-half-empty perspective I can also see issues. The cleaner had just finished scrubbing away at toilet soiled by lord-knows-how-many people and then immediately without washing their hands folds up the toilet paper to finish the job. This could mean you are potentially wiping with the particles of fecal matter of an untold number of people.

5 People Worrying about Your Future Marriage and Children

This one will probably be in the top five of any such list around the world. The much loathed “When are you going to settle down and have kids?” question comes from a place of caring but is as annoying as it is futile.

I mean really, has anyone who has ever felt the need to ask that question actually gotten a reply with a definite timeline?

4 Hairdresser Chats

Again, I have no personal experiences with this. Even when I can’t find a bear to fight, I usually frequent the dankest barber shop in town, where my “stylist” clearly has given up on life and would rather end it than engage in conversation with me – just the way I like it.

3 Rescheduling after Refusing an Invitation to Go Drinking

Most people’s response when asked to join a group of people they loathe for drinks would be to suck air through their teeth and say, “Sorry, I have plans.” And just when you think you’re in the clear, the entire group decides to change the date just for you. This becomes doubly damning if the new date is when you actually have something planned and are forced to either cancel that engagement or begin to let the others on to the fact you don’t like them.

The foolproof method would be “sick relative that requires constant care” excuse. Of course in doing so, you run the risk of stirring up some bad mojo.

2 Clerk Arbitrarily Determines your Receipt is Unnecessary

This incident often occurs in the fast-paced retail world of convenience stores. I can perfectly understand where the clerks there are coming from as it’s highly unlikely someone needs a proof of purchase for a pack of Pocky.

So rather than force a useless slip of paper into your valuable pocket real-estate, they considerately just keep the receipt for themselves. However, when you work here and a pack of Pocky is a legitimate business expense, you have to go through the whole rigmarole of asking for the receipt yourself.

A lot of convenience stores work around this issue by providing a receipt bin at the counter for customers to toss it in if they don’t need it, but the problem still seems to persist for it to make number two on this ranking.

1 Being Escorted out of a Clothing Store After Purchasing Something

Although not as boisterous as the beauty salon farewell, clothing store staff will sometimes walk their customers to the exit as if the shop were some Byzantine labyrinth requiring a guide. Aside from being an unnecessary courtesy it seems a little bad from a sales standpoint since it bars the customer from making any subsequent impulse buys on their way out.