Designer Yusuke Seki constructs a walkable platform made from 25,000 ceramic pots, bowls, and cups

Yusuke Seki - Ceramics

Beautiful Decay (by Hayley Evans):

Tokyo-based designer Yusuke Seki has constructed a stunning, walkable platform made from 25,000 pieces of scrapped pottery and porcelain. The structure is part of the Maruhiro Ceramics gallery, located in Hasami, Nagasaki prefecture, a region known for its production and distribution of tableware dating back to the 17th century. Each fragment was collected from local factories that had disposed the ceramics prior to the glazing process, deeming them defective. After restoring the pieces and assembling them like bricks mixed with poured concrete, Seki infuses them with a renewed creative purpose. A statement from Seki’s website further explains the history and the design approach that drives the platform:

“A renovation of the pre-existing flagship shop, Yusuke Seki’s design marries an architectural knowledge to the artisanal know-how of the region, and in so doing, creates an entirely location- and situation-specific experience. Seki’s vision is to posit the designer as interpreter. His methods seek to amplify Hasami’s heritage by drawing out and translating the potential of the complete local environment, unifying its people. A minimal design interference, a modification in the level of the floor, not only utilizes the pre-existing space to alter the perspective and experiences held by the users until the present, but also gives birth to an entirely new sense of flow within.”

In a fascinating exploration of space, Seki has designed the stacked ceramics so that they enhance the customer’s interaction with the displayed tableware. Low shelves placed on the surface allow visitors to peruse from below, and if they so wish, they can climb up the stairs to the top of the platform for a closer look. The very act of walking on the ceramics creates an embodied experience of tradition and history; delicate materials, once discarded, are made strong, creative, and participatory, signifying the endurance of and respect for a time-honored cultural art form.

Visit Seki’s website to view more of his works.

Yusuke Seki - Ceramics

Yusuke Seki - Ceramics

Yusuke Seki - Ceramics

Half-Japanese/half African-American beauty chosen to represent Japan at Miss Universe 2015

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RocketNews 24:

Whoever said that Niigata Prefecture is home the most beautiful women in Japan may need to think again. For the second year in the row, the Japanese representative for the Miss Universe competition hails from Nagasaki, with last year’s crown holder being Keiko Tsuji. As cool as that is, the real story of the year is that the 2015 representative, Ariana Miyamoto, is half Japanese.

It’s no surprise that Western features are considered beautiful in Japan. Heck, some women are actively seeking a foreign partner in order to produce absolutely adorable “haafu” (half-Japanese) babies. Sometimes, due to their alluring features, haafu are not always treated the same, or even as Japanese, as their native peers. Miss Nagasaki faced her fair share of race-related challenges too and although some people are against her acting as a representative for Japan due to her mixed heritage, she is also receiving a lot of support.

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The final of the 18th Miss Universe Japan contest was held in Tokyo on March 8. As you’d expect, Miss Nagasaki faced some tough competition of equally beautiful and graceful young ladies, but it’d be a stretch to say that she didn’t stick out. However, it really was only her looks that set her apart, being born and raised in Japan, she is not only a Japanese citizen, but she identifies with Japanese culture and considers herself Japanese.

Twenty-year-old Ariana was born to a Japanese mother and an African-American father in Sasebo, Nagasaki, the location of a major American naval base. After junior high graduation in Sasebo, she spent her high school years studying in the US. Upon returning to Japan as a young adult she set her sights on becoming a model.

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Working part-time as a bartender, Ariana hesitantly entered the pageant scene, feeling that with her “foreigner look,” she would never make it far. How wrong she was!

But she’s not just a 173cm (5’6″) bombshell; Ariana is described as a saishoku kenbi, “a woman blessed with both intelligence and beauty.” Growing up in Japan, she is no stranger to Japanese culture and even has a 5th degree mastery of Japanese calligraphy. She lists her hobbies as cooking and “touring,” having obtained her motorcycle license, a rare thing for a young woman in Japan.

▼ “Watashi ha watashi” (lit. “I am myself.”)

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In an interview she revealed that the most influential person in her life is American pop-star Mariah Carey.

“She went through a lot of difficulties before becoming a popular singing sensation… She faced some racial hurdles, similar to myself, but she overcame them and became a top star, so she’s been a big influence on me.”

It’s wonderful that she has such a strong woman she can look up to, as well as a lot of very supportive friends, fellow contestants and fans. But unfortunately, not all Japanese people are excited about a half-Japanese girl representing their country. Being a very homogenous society, some people still have a time considering haafu as truly Japanese.

Although this should be a joyous occasion for the young beauty, Ariana is facing challenges that no other Japanese Miss Universe contestant to date has had to face, with those opposing Ariana voicing their dissent online with statements such as “She has too much black blood in her to be Japanese.”

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As sad as it is, luckily, Ariana also has a very supportive fan base who are making an even bigger impact on social media with praise and congratulations.

“Don’t lose to discrimination and with a strong heart do your best to go win the Miss Universe prize.”
“Having a different ethnicity in you doesn’t make you ANY LESS JAPANESE!”

Ariana appreciates the support that helped her get to this point and promised, “The world competition is going to be tough, but I’ll believe in myself and continue doing me best!” 

She has a long road ahead of her before the Miss Universe pageant in January of next year. She will be trained in walking, talking, make up, style and even physical training. We would love for her to win the world competition, because who better to represent the world (and universe) than a woman with a racially diverse background? Good luck Ariana, you have our vote!

▼ Here’s an interview with Ariana (Japanese).

Cost efficient robots will run a Japanese hotel

 

Courtesy of mnn.com and Huis Ten Bosch.

Audrey Magazine:

When I think of robots, the word “helpful” doesn’t exactly come to mind. Sure, they could be developed to take on simple tasks like vacuum your home, but that’s about as comfortable as I get with robots. Maybe Hollywood is to blame for my negative viewpoint, but I when I think of robots, I picture man-made machines that could possibly malfunction and cause problems rather than solve them. Lucky for me, other than simple household items or toys, I haven’t seen or experienced significant robotic interactions in the United States.

However, the same can’t be said for Japan where there is continuing development and use of robots. This summer, the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, will open its doors and guests will experience an ideally normal, pleasant hotel stay. The only difference? The hotel will be predominantly run by advanced robots.

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According to mnn.com, guests will probably have no interaction with human hotel workers. These robots, or “actroids” will speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English. Although this high-tech and high end hotel will have 90% of its operations run by robots, there will still be humans present should malfunctions in the system occur.

So why use robots when people would have to stand by anyway? It is cost efficient. Unlike human workers, robots have no salary, no sick days, no need for health insurance, etc. Ultimately, no humans, no human concerns for the company.

Technology is constantly changing in our fast-paced world and yes, technology is an essential tool for us today. Economically, I understand the Henn-na’s decision to use robots. However, doesn’t that take away from the human experience of being warmly welcomed as a guest? Wouldn’t you want an actual pleasant greeting into the hotel and the front desk telling you their opinions on what restaurants to try or what recommended attractions are close by? Lastly, can we say we trust those people that are running and controlling these robots?

 

Nagasaki theme park to open futuristic hotel staffed by robots

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RocketNews 24:

Once you’ve tired yourself out playing with your rideable 4-metre tall robot from Amazon Japan and experienced the neon assault to the senses that is Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant show, you’ll also be able to visit a hotel in Japan with robot staff once the new Hen-na Hotel opens this summer.

As well as robot receptionists, porters, cleaners and waitresses, the aptly-named Hen-na Hotel (literally meaning “strange hotel”) in the Huis Ten Bosch theme park, Nagasaki, will also feature a whole host of futuristic technology aimed at reducing energy consumption and human staffing levels, therefore keeping room prices down.

Huis Ten Bosch is a pretty unusual place already – a little slice of (theme-park) Netherlands that landed on Japan in the early nineties, it contains entire replica Dutch streets, a mock-up of its namesake royal palace in The Hague, and a replica of a Dutch ship that was cast ashore on Japan’s coast in the 17th century.

▼ Clearly, all it needs is a futuristic robot hotel! Welcome to Japan, folks.

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Upon entering the Hen-na Hotel, which opens this July, you’ll be greeted by robot staff at check in. Your bags will be carried to your room by a robot porter, and you can even be served coffee by another robot! Sadly, no press images of these myriad android staff members were yet available, so we’re just going to play it safe and assume they all look like Baymax.

▼ Artist’s impression of the hotel, which is scheduled to open in July this year.

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▼ Not pictured: robot receptionists, robot coffee-wallas. Pictured: apparently irrelevant robotic arm.

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Rooms in this self-styled “low cost” hotel will be rented on an auction system, starting from 7,000 yen (US$60) per room per night. With the cheapest rooms in the other three Huis Ten Bosch hotels starting at around twice that price, you could save some serious money at the park’s new “strange hotel”. Which should leave you with a bit of spare cash to spend on wooden tulips, postcards of windmills, and other authentic Japanese souvenirs.

Get to know actress, writer and filmmaker Ayako Fujitani

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 Audrey Magazine:

When her latest film Man From Reno won the top prize at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival this summer, Ayako Fujitani was initially confused. “Dave [Boyle, the director,] told me, ‘We won!’ and I said, ‘For what?’” she remembers. She laughs. “I had forgotten it was a competition! The project had come such a long way from the [initial] Kickstarter [fundraising campaign]. We had such a tough time even finishing the movie, and we were super happy to even get in the L.A. Film Festival. So when we won, we were super shocked and surprised, in a good way.”

This is the second time the hapa actress (born to Japanese aikido master Miyako Fujitani and American action star Steven Seagal) has worked with Boyle, the first experience being in his 2012 black- and-white indie romance Daylight Savings, in which she had a supporting role as Goh Nakamura’s ex- girlfriend. After that wrapped, Boyle was working on a crime film that started out as a pair of simultaneous mystery stories with vastly different protagonists, a Japanese writer and an elderly sheriff. The sheriff character, who’d eventually be played by Pepe Serna, came from an unproduced screenplay Boyle had written previously, but the Japanese writer Aki was a new addition and written with Fujitani in mind.

I think she has a unique cerebral soulfulness about her that was perfect for the part of Aki,” says Boyle. “While the sheriff’s storyline is more of a traditional police procedural, Aki’s is a bit more emotional and character driven. She is the classic amateur sleuth, but she has secrets of her own that make her darker than your average heroine.”

Aki is a very successful Japanese mystery novel writer who’s not happy about her success for some reason,” explains Fujitani of her bilingual character. “She runs away from her book tour to San Francisco — and runs into a real mystery.”

During post-screening Q&As during the film’s festival run, Fujitani remembers Boyle joking that after she got involved, the Aki character suddenly became super dark. “Before, the character didn’t feel too much regret or sadness,” says Fujitani. “But if she was happy, no one would really care about what she goes through.”

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[Once] we realized how game Ayako would be to push the character further and further into the darkness, she made all three of us [Boyle and co-writers Joel Clark and Michael Lerman] braver as writers to make the character rougher around the edges. Her fearlessness gave us confidence,” says Boyle.

Though Fujitani wouldn’t describe herself as the type of actress who practices method acting, it was difficult for her to get Aki out of her head. Part of the reason was because they shot many of the film’s foreboding scenes in a hotel room in San Francisco, which was right next door to the actual hotel room where Fujitani stayed during the weeks they were filming in the city. “When you’re basically on the set in the same hotel room the whole time, it’s almost impossible to forget the character,” she says. “It helped my acting a lot, to get into the maze of this world, but I felt like I had no way out.” She laughs.

So after I finished the movie, it was like, I need to go to Hawaii or something!”

A relaxing vacation wasn’t in the cards, however, because Fujitani, also a filmmaker herself, has been working on numerous projects that take her back and forth between the U.S., Japan and Korea. Her short film The Doors, shot entirely on an iPhone 5 without any special lenses, recently played at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas. (It was originally made for the Olleh International Smartphone Film Festival in South Korea.) She also co-wrote a four-episode short film series, A Rose Reborn, a collaboration between acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-wook and the Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, which stars Daniel Wu and Jack Huston. She is currently developing another Korean short film, a dark comedy that follows a nervous, picky, routine-driven businessman.

She’s very confident and has a great eye and ear for unusual characters and interesting dialogue,” says Boyle of Fujitani’s work as a writer and director. In fact, he often relied on Fujitani’s instincts when it came to the Japanese-language scenes in Man from Reno, which also stars actors Kazuki Kitamura, Yasuyo Shiba, Hiroshi Watanabe and Tetsuo Kuramochi. “We worked with a lot of great translators during the scriptwriting process to make sure the Japanese version would be up to snuff, but a couple of days before we started shooting, Ayako and I did a last brush up that did amazing things for the movie,” says Boyle. “Having her ear at our disposal was huge.”

Man from Reno, which has also won awards at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and Wichita’s Tallgrass International Film Festival, has a theatrical release planned for next spring. Next up, Fujitani is off to shoot a film with Japanese director Takashi Miike, known for bloody cult films such as Ichi the Killer, Audition and 13 Assassins. “After I had been in Korea for a while, I visited Japan, and as soon as I arrived and turned on my Japanese cell phone — which is never on when I’m in another country — I get a call from Miike’s producer,” says Fujitani of the role she seemed fated to get. A fan of Miike’s work, Fujitani said yes before she even read the script. She plays a nurse in a medical drama about doctors from Nagasaki, Japan, going to Kenya. “This is a departure for him,” she says. “It is definitely not one of the horror, crazy-in-a-good-way films that Miike is known for.”

 

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Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

It’s time once again for travel website Trip Advisor’s list of the best places in Japan, as chosen by overseas visitors to the country. One of the things that makes Japan such a fascinated place to travel is its extreme mix of historical and modern attractions, both of which are represented in the top 30 which includes shrines, sharks, and super-sized robots.

 

30. Shinsaibashi – Osaka

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Starting things off, Osaka’s Shinsaibashi shopping district has something for just about everyone (as you can see by this photo that shows what appears to be everyone in the city browsing along its covered pedestrian walkway).

 

29. Nishiki Market – Kyoto

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Also known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” you might not find much in the way of souvenirs here, but it’s a great place to pick up ingredients for dinner or soak up the local atmosphere.

 

28. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology – Aichi

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We suppose they could have just called it the “Toyota Museum,” but then people might think the focus is just on cars, and not the broader theme of technology and innovation in general.

 

27. Video Game Bar Space Station – Osaka

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There’s a certain simple, pure fun to hanging out with some friends, sitting on your couch, and knocking back a couple of cold ones as you play some old school games. Unless your couch is old and lumpy, you sold off your old consoles, or you’re out of beer. Thankfully, this Osaka bar is here to help.

 

26. Kaiyukan – Osaka

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Rather not kill time in Osaka by killing zombies? The local aquarium, the Kaiyukan, is an awesome way to spend an afternoon. Don’t miss feeding time for the facility’s massive yet tranquil whale shark.

 

25. Sensoji – Tokyo

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Tokyo’s most famous temple, located in the Asakusa neighborhood, remains one of the best ways to see Japan’s traditional side while staying in the capital.

 

24. Centar Gai – Tokyo

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Sensoji too sedate for you? The collection of shops and restaurants known as Center Gai, right across the street from the famous Shibuya Scramble intersection, is a chance to experience Tokyo’s cacophony at its most colorful.

 

23. Dotonbori – Osaka

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Osaka’s foremost entertainment district is at its most dazzling after dark, where the light from the towering walls of neon signage reflect off the canal and enwraps you in its glow from all angles.

 

22. Nara Park – Nara

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The spacious Nara Park is one of two places in Japan where visitors can mingle with freely roaming packs of deer (the other being Hiroshima Prefecture’s Miyajima Island).

 

21. Jigokudani Yean Park – Nagano

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It’s important to read things all the way through. For example, Jigokudani (Hell Valley) sounds like a terrible place to visit. Tack Yaen (wild monkey) on the end though, and you’ve got Trip Advisor’s 21st most popular destination.

 

20. Meiji Shrine – Tokyo

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The Shinto counterpart to Buddhist Sensoji, the structure itself may not be the most impressive shrine in Japan, but the gorgeous forest path that leads up to it will make you forget just how close you are to the heart of the busiest city in the world.

 

19. Mori Art Museum – Tokyo

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Even if you’re got only a passing interest in high art, the vires from the attached observation deck, high above the Roppongi Hills entertainment complex, is a great way to get a grasp of the massive scale of Tokyo.

 

18. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum – Nagasaki

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As the second city to be devastated by a nuclear bomb, Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Museum is a grim reminder of the horrors of war.

 

17. Nijo Castle – Kyoto

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Instead of for protection, this Kyoto landmark was created to show the wealth and power of the shogun, and as such has a lower structure and more expansive gardens than other castles in Japan.

 

16. Robot Restaurant – Tokyo

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Modern decadence, on the other hand, is perhaps best encapsulated at this Shinjuku eatery where food is delivered to your table by bikini-clad waitresses piloting bikini-clad giant robots.

 

15. Kenrokuen Garden – Ishikawa

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Decidedly more refined is Kenrokuen, long considered one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan.

 

14. Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama – Kyoto

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We’re not sure why Iwatayama ranked higher than Jigokudani Yaen, but we’re guessing it might have something to do with its closer proximity to the already attractive tourist destination of Japan’s previous capital. Whatever the reason, though, can you ever really have too many monkey parks?

 

13. Sanjusangendo Temple – Kyoto

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Too hyped up from the monkey park? This temple, with its one thousand statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, ought to calm you down.

 

12. Matsumoto Castle – Nagano

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One of Japan’s most impressive original wooden fortresses, Matsumoto Castle’s location in the middle of Matsumoto City makes it an easy visit for those also looking to hike in the mountains of nearby Kamikochi.

 

11. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium – Okinawa

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More whale sharks also means more votes for tropical Okinawa’s showcase of aquatic life.

 

10. Shinshoji Temple / Naritasan – Chiba

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We’re happy to see Naritsan make the list, since we’re big fans ourselves.

 

9. Hakone Open-Air Museum – Kanagawa

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This outdoor collection of sculpture also happens to be near some of Japan’s finest hot springs and most beautiful views of Mt. Fuji.

 

8. Shinjuku Gyoen Park – Tokyo

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One more reason why you shouldn’t believe people who tell you, “There’s no greenery in central Tokyo!”

 

7. Kiyomizu Temple – Kyoto

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Some people complain about this hillside temple being crowded. It is, but that’s only because of how incredibly beautiful and awesome it is.

 

6. Mt. Takao / Okunoin Temple – Tokyo

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With hiking courses, beautiful foliage, and tales of tengu raven spirits, Mt. Takao is worth a visit for anyone into fitness, nature, or folklore.

 

5. Todaiji Temple – Nara

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In contrast to the cute deer running around outside in Nara Park, Todaiji houses the solemn 15-meter (49-foot) Great Buddha.

 

4. Kinkakuji – Kyoto

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Kyoto’s famous Golden Pavilion continues to attract visitors year-round.

 

3. Miyajima Island / Itsukushima Shrine – Hiroshima

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Miyajima’s torii gate rising out of the sea is something you’ll only see in Japan, and is the reason why it’s been gracing the covers of travel guides for decades. Add in the appeal of the deer that wander around town, the hiking trails that lead to the top of the island’s Mt. Misen, and the amazing views one you get there, and you’ve got Trip Advisor’s number-three choice.

 

2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum / Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

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Less than an hour away from Miyajima, Peace Memorial Park includes the A-Bomb Dome, Children’s Peace Monument, and the Peace Flame.

 

1. Fushimi Inari Shrine – Kyoto

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The top spot went to Fushimi Inari Shrine, and the seemingly endless tunnels of torii gates that cover the hillside it’s built on. Long overlooked due to its distance from other Kyoto attractions it’s still just a short train ride away from Kyoto Station, and one of the most unique experiences travelers can have in Japan.

 

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Source: Trip AdvisorIT Media

 

Check out this link:

 Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

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Live-action Attack on Titan film casts lead role, sets filming location and start date

 

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Despite being filled with man-eating giants and heartless bureaucrats, people around the world can’t get enough of smash hit anime and manga Attack on Titan. But while fans wait patiently for the rumored continuation of the animated TV series, production is moving ahead on the franchise’s live-action theatrical feature, which now has a filming location and an actor chosen to play Titan-hating protagonist Eren Yeager.

 

Tapped to play the leading role is singer-turned-actor Haruma Miura. Although the 23-year-old Miura is several years older than the teenaged Eren, the actor does have aproven track record in live-action versions of anime and manga, having previously appeared in adaptations such as high school gang story Crows Zero II, high school yakuza story Gokusen, high school romance Kimi ni Todoke, high school hacker thriller Bloody Monday.

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RocketNews 24:

 

Thankfully, Attack on Titan fans probably don’t need to worry about Miura’s list of previous roles convincing producers to move the upcoming film’s setting from a walled city in a fantasy world to a posh boarding school in suburban Tokyo. The film lists Hajime Isayama, creator of Attack on Titan and the author of its original manga, as a supervisor for the project.

 

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Producers have also decided on a filming location, with the crew headed to Hashima Island in Nagasaki Prefecture.

 

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More commonly known as Gunkanjima, the island was originally the site of a coal mine and company town. When the mine was suddenly closed in the 1970s, families relocated to mainland Japan with such haste that the island’s dwellings became a ghost town almost instantaneously.

 

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Gunkanjima has even been getting international attention these days. Aside from being used as the lair of the villain in the James Bond film Skyfall, Gunkanjima has been at the top of was opened to the public in 2009, shooting to the top of desired destinations for many adventurers and urban ruin explorers (although if your schedule precludes taking a plane to Japan and a boat to the island, you can also tour it by Google Street View).

 

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Producers say the live-action Attack on Titan is on track for a 2015 release, consistent with comments made when director Shinji Higuchi’s involvement was announced. Shooting is scheduled to start on Gunkanjima early this summer, and while we know it’s just a movie, we’ll still sleep better knowing there’s an ocean between us and the Titans.

 

Check out this link:

Live-action Attack on Titan film casts lead role, sets filming location and start date

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21 themed Japanese hotel rooms that you won’t believe

RocketNews 24:

 

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When choosing a place to stay while traveling, most people look for very specific things in hotels: location, price, continental breakfasts that are open until ten so that lazy people like us can still get some food.

But others want a little bit more out of the their hotel, like intricately detailed themed rooms!

Here are some of the best themed hotel rooms Japan has to offer! (Note: links to Japanese-language websites.)

Room G – Hotel Grand Pacific Le Daiba meets Gundam

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Gundam, of course, is one of Japan’s most beloved anime, and it provided the inspiration and decoration for these lavish rooms. The rooms feature murals of Gundam battles, various Gundam flags and character models.

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The Hotel Grand Pacific Le Daiba in Tokyo boasts a variety of Gundam rooms, with the simplest only featuring framed wall posters, pillows and sheets matching the faction of the room. Guests can choose from Jaburo, E.F.S.F., and the Principality of Zeon. The more lavish rooms, of which there are only three, feature massive murals, potted plants, a special morning call service, and figures from the show. There’s even a cockpit photo spot!

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The “standard” rooms start at 15,900 yen (about US$159) per person per night, while the large, more extravagant rooms start at 27,000 yen (around $270). That doesn’t include breakfast, but it does include some special Gundam amenities, like embroidered bath towels!

Dokidoki Precure – Ikenotaira Hotel

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If you’re looking for something a bit cuter, then it’s time to head to the Ikenotaira Hotel at the Shirakaba Resort in Nagano Prefecture. There, you’ll find two Dokidoki PreCure rooms available: the Lovely room and the Premium room.

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In addition to every inch being covered with Dokidoki PreCure imagery, customers get some special good to take home with them! For example, the hotel offers a Precure handkerchief, a special cup and toothbrush, a letter set, and a shitajiki, or plastic sheet to put under paper when writing, all emblazoned with Dokidoki PreCure characters. There are even costumes for children to dress up in!

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The rooms are for two to three people, and pricing starts at 12,000 yen (about US$120) per night, though you can expect to pay significantly more during busy periods.

Kamen Rider Wizard – Ikenotaira Hotel

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If you’re looking for something a bit more action oriented, the Ikenotaira Hotel also offers a Kamen Rider Wizard room. Again, guests receive special goods to take home with them like a toothbrush, mask and juice cup.

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The Kamen Rider Wizard room is priced similarly to the Dokidoki PreCure rooms and is decorated with special bedspreads, wall murals, and an intimidating cut-out “guarding” the room. We wonder how many kids have woken up in the middle of the night to see Kamen Rider’s bug-like face and screamed so loud they woke the whole floor.

Hello Kitty/Cinnamoroll – Royal Hotel (various locations)

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Well, you had to know that this was coming! The Hello Kitty hotel room was bound to be on this list somewhere, and, holy cow, does it ever live up to its name.

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The Royal Hotel actually offers a few different rooms to choose from: the Grand Kitty room, the Cinnamoroll Room, and the Hello Kitty room. The Grand Kitty room is only available at the Beppu Royal Hotel in Oita Prefecture, though the others are available at multiple locations around Japan in addition to Beppu. The rooms start at 11,100 yen per night for adults, 7,700 yen for elementary school students, and 6,400 yen for anyone younger. The Hello Kitty dinner for children is, of course, extra—though it’s also extra cute!

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Like others on this list, guests get some goods to take home with them including stuffed toys.

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One Piece – Hotel Amsterdam

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If you do end up in Beppu, you might as well do some sightseeing around Kyushuu, which means a visit to Nagasaki. And if you’re going to go all the way to Nagasaki, you might as well stay in a One Piece-themed hotel room!

▼Let the characters of One Piece gang watch as you shower!

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A fan favorite, we imagine that the room gets booked quickly, especially with the One Piece rides and attractions right next door to Hotel Amsterdam! Starting at 20,000 yen a night per person, the room is covered in One Piece images and comes with breakfast and special goods.

Miffy – Hotel Amsterdam

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If rubber-limbed pirates don’t captured your heart, maybe you’d rather stay in Hotel Amsterdam‘s Miffy room!

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Miffy, the adorable Dutch rabbit with a crossed mouth, has her own room, complete with a Miffy doormat, sheets, pajamas, and take-home goods. The room starts at 19,500 yen per person per night and can accommodate up to four.

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The hotel also features an enormous Miffy store with more stuffed animals than anyone could possibly hug in a week. Though that won’t stop us from trying!

Gegege no Kitaro – Kaike Saichoraku

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If cute or action-packed isn’t quite your groove, how about something a bit…scarier.

Decorated with images and props from the yokai (Japanese ghosts and monsters) anime/manga Gegege no Kitaro, these four rooms don’t exactly seem like the best place to get some shut-eye! Though we imagine fans of the show are probably used to ghosts staring at them.

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The rooms are bit more moderately priced than some others on the list, starting at 9,800 yen (about $98) for adults—and that comes with two meals per day! Located in Tottori Prefecture, the Kaike Saichoraku hotel is a bit out-of-the-way, but it does feature two hot springs nearby!

Evangelion: Room – Highland Resort

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It should come as no surprise that this list features a room based on Evangelion, simply one of the most famous and well-known anime in recent history. And the life-size statue of Rei is one of the most ambitious interior decorations we’ve seen yet!

The Highland Resort in Yamanashi Prefecture is located near both Mt. Fuji and one of Japan’s most famous amusement parks, Fuji-Q, which features a 79-meter-tall roller coaster. But you’re not here for the sightseeing, are you?

You’re here to sleep in THIS:

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The Evangelion room features a capsule-like bed in addition to pictures of the show’s characters on the wall. There’s also a special “morning call” phone and DVDs available for the die-hard fan who can’t go a night without watching the show. There are even blacklight graphics and quotes on the walls! We guess no one ever told them about the unfortunate results of looking at hotel bedsheets under a blacklight…

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The hotel also provides, as you may have guessed, special Evangelion amenities, in addition to an Evangelion ID card.

No word on whether or not there’s an angst requirement for guests, though the room starts at 37,000 yen (about $370) a night for one or two people on weekdays and goes up, up, up from there. The special dinner will only set you back 8,000 yen ($80). On the other hand, you can get into Fuji-Q for free, if you feel like leaving the room.

Gaspard and Lisa – Highland Resort

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Not wanting to rest on their giant mechs, Highland Resort has two special rooms for the more child-like among us. Based on the British cartoon Gaspard and Lisa, there’s a Lisa room and a Gaspard room—leaving it to you to choose which you love more! You’ll want to pick the Gaspard room though–it has glow-in-the-dark paintings on the ceiling!

▼Lisa’s room

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▼Gaspard’s room

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Before you check out, be sure to stop by the Gaspard and Lisa-inspired restaurant. Staying in the rooms will also get you a free pass to Gaspard and Lisa Town, which features a replica Eiffel Tower among other attractions.

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The Lisa room starts at 48,000 yen (about $480) while the Gaspard room starts at 58,000 yen (about $580), and both prices are for one to three people.

Thomas the Tank Engine – Highland Resort

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We’re not sure if the Highland Resort is crazy, genius, or both, but here they are making another appearance on our list! This family-oriented room features three beds with detailed murals of Thomas and his friends, in addition to a Percy sofa!

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Of course, the room comes with special amenities and a unique “Thomas Party Set” meal. It costs 10,500 yen (about $105), but comes with enough food for two adults and a child.

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The room also sports a map of Sodor, the fictional island on which Thomas lives and works, and an absolutely magnificent view of Mt. Fuji.

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Honestly, that view alone might very well be worth it. Well, unless this happens…

Pokemon Room – Various ANA hotels

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After flying on ANA’s Pokemon airplane, wouldn’t it be great if you could crash into a Pokemon hotel room, snuggle up with a Pikachu stuffed-animal, wrap yourself in Poke-sheets and fall blissfully asleep, trying to catch them all in your dreams?

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Well, surprise! You totally can! And not just at one hotel either: there are Pokemon rooms at over 20 hotels throughout Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Okinawa.

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In addition to the bed sheets and abundance of super-powered stuffed animals, there are also Pokemon curtains and meals packed into plastic Pikachu heads at some locations. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there are any wall murals.

Kumamon – Hotel Verde

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If you’re in Kumamoto Prefecture, you might as well stay in a Kumamon room, right?

Kumamon, in case you’re not familiar with the rosy-cheeked bear, is the mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, created originally for the Kumamoto Surprise campaign. We’re not sure about using a bear in a “surprise” campaign, but it certainly worked—Kumamon is now famous right across the country!

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The Hotel Verde room features Kumamon wall paintings, bedsheets, pillows, stuffed animals, and lamp shades.

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The hotel features various “staying methods,” with plans geared towards families, (quiet) lovers, friends, and events, which all affect pricing differently.

Ultraman – Hotel Verde

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Hotel Verde also has an Ultraman room…though we have a feeling it probably doesn’t get much use for those visiting on the “lovers” plan.

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The room is covered with posters, murals, and features multiple life-sized statues of Ultraman, one of Japan’s most well-known masked heroes.

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The hotel claims that this is the only place in Japan to stay in an Ultraman room, so if you’re a fan of the character, it’s time to head to Kyushuu!

Woody Woodpecker – Hotel Kintetsu Universal City

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For those of you taking a trip to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, you might as well go the whole nine yards and stay in a Woody Woodpecker room!

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In addition to Woody Woodpecker paintings, lights, and sheets, guests also get Woody Woodpecker stuffed toys as presents! As the rooms accommodate up to four people, the hotel recommends these rooms to families, rounding out the amenities with games to keep your little tykes entertained while you soak your feet after a day running around USJ!

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The rooms start around 53,000 yen (about $530) for two people, but that includes two one-day tickets to the park for each person and some goods to take home with you.

Suica Penguin – JR East Japan Hotels

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Perhaps the most random (but cool nevertheless) room on our list today is the room based on Japan Rail’s adorable Suika Penguin. We have to say this mascot may very well be the cutest thing ever to sell train tickets, so we can’t say that we blame anyone for wanting to relax in a Suica Penguin hotel room after a long day on the bullet train. And check out this bed!!!

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In addition to the soothing penguin smile watching over you as you sleep, the room comes with more take-home presents than a Christmas party! Slippers, a USB thumb drive, and a toothbrush set are just some of the goods you’ll get—all of them featuring the happy bird!

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Premium rooms—which is what you’ll need to book to get all the goodies—start around 16,000 yen (about $160) a night per person, coming to 32,000 yen ($320) for two. If you’re planning on going by yourself, it’ll start at 23,000 yen (around $230) per night.

Mickey Mouse – Disney Ambassador Hotel

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When they’re not going up in flames, Disney theme parks are quite the hit in Japan, and no one loves Mickey Mouse quite the same way as Japanese Disney fans. So it’s hardly a surprise to find Mickey Mouse-themed rooms at Disney hotels in Japan!

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The rooms come with complimentary welcome drinks, a treat for parents already exhausted by their kids, as well as a special check-in lobby. Once you get to the room, you’ll find Mickey Mouse bed sheets, wallpaper, and amenities, in addition to old-style Mickey Mouse posters. Mickey’s even painted on the bathroom door, in case you’re scared to shower alone!

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The rooms start between 26,667 (about $266) and 40,000 yen (around $400) a night, depending on room size and number of guests.

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Ryujin Mabuyer – Solare Hotels and Resorts

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If you’re heading to Okinawa to cool off on the beach this summer, you have a number of options for action-packed hotel rooms thanks to a collaboration between Ryujin Mabuyer, a show similar to the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, and Solare Hotels.

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Starting at 4,550 yen ($45.50) per person, rooms are furnished with giant posters, stand-up cut outs, Ryujin Mabuyer body pillows, special printed bed sheets, plush toys, and Mabuyer DVDs to watch after a long day on the beach. Guests also get some themed presents like Mabuyer papercraft, a puzzle, and a notebook.

Koala’s March – Lotte City Hotel Kinshicho

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Yes, this really is a room themed on cookies. For those with a sweet tooth and love of cuddly koalas, here’s the perfect room for your Tokyo travels!

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Taking the chocolate treat Koala’s March as its inspiration, this hotel room is furnished with koala stuffed animals, koala pillows, koala wallpaper, and koala amenities in your bathroom. Lotte City Hotel also promises special souvenirs for guests and says that you just might be able to meet some of the cute critters in your dreams if you stay here. With rooms starting at 23,300 yen (around $233) a night for one person, we sure hope you’ll see some adorable faces in your sleep!

Pandas – Mitsui Garden Hotel Ueno

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If koalas aren’t quite cute enough for you, then you’ll just have to stay in the Panda Room at the Mitsui Garden Hotel, located in Ueno where you can also find real pandas at the Ueno Zoo!

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In addition to panda bedspreads, panda pillows, panda shower curtains, and panda teacups, you’ll also find…panda toilet paper? That just seems…uhh…

Anyway, the room holds up to two people and starts at the surprisingly reasonable 7,500 yen (about $75) per person.

Wicked – Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel

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A major Broadway hit, Wicked has gained quite the following in Japan as well. And if you happen to be a fan of the show, you’ll definitely want to book this room at the Associa Hotel next time you’re passing through Nagoya.

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With an interior design based on the musical, flying monkey plushies, and a signed wall poster, this room is sure to bring you the wickedest of sweet dreams. The room also has its own special breakfast, called “Wicked Morning,” and a chance to enter a drawing to win goods signed by the musical cast. The room starts at 29,000 yen (around $290) for one person per night.

Model Trains – Akihabara Washington Hotel

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Well, if you’re going to stay in Akihabara, you might as well go crazy, right?

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This room doesn’t feature any unique decorations—instead it sports an impressive, working model train diorama and a view of the downtown train tracks!

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For those of you who don’t quite have a high enough geek level to get into the tecchan house, this might be your best chance to live with trains. However, while the diorama is functional, you’ll need to bring your own N-gauge train cars, though the hotel will let you rent theirs for 1,000 yen (about $10).

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If you’re interested in staying in the Washington Hotel‘s model train room, you’ll have to book it through the web though, as they won’t accept reservations over the phone. Only one room exists, and it can only accommodate up to two people—though it looks pretty cramped! Pricing varies on a daily basis, but it seems to start around 15,000 yen (around $150).

Sources: Naver Matome

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21 themed Japanese hotel rooms that you won’t believe

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U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy lays wreath at Nagasaki memorial for 70,000 Japanese killed by American atom bomb

Associated Press: 

U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy has visited the Japanese city of Nagasaki, where 70,000 Japanese were killed by an American atomic bomb attack in 1945.

Kennedy laid a wreath at the park commemorating the attack, which shocked the world and helped prompt Japan’s surrender in World War II.

The daughter of U.S. President John F. Kennedy toured Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Museum on Tuesday and met with some atomic bomb survivors.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy offers a flower wreath at the Peace Park in Nagasaki, western Japan. The park commemorates the 73,000 people who died in the U.S. atomic bomb attack on the city

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy offers a flower wreath at the Peace Park in Nagasaki, western Japan. The park commemorates the 73,000 people who died in the U.S. atomic bomb attack on the city

Kennedy was greeted warmly by residents of the western port city. Nagasaki has become a hub for international trade in the country

Kennedy was greeted warmly by residents of the western port city. Nagasaki has become a hub for international trade in the country

At the city’s Peace Park she was to help plant an American dogwood tree, one of 3,000 offered as a gift of friendship to Japan.

In 1978, Caroline Kennedy visited Hiroshima, site of the first U.S. bomb attack, on Aug. 6, 1945, with her uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy – long before President Barack Obama tapped her to become U.S. ambassador in Tokyo. The Hiroshima attack killed 140,000 people.

Kennedy is wrapping up a busy first month on the job that also took her to an American military base and northeastern cities devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Kennedy, seen speaking at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, has been Ambassador to Japan since November

Kennedy, seen speaking at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, has been Ambassador to Japan since November

The residents of Nagasaki built the Peace Park as a way to remember the victims of the bombing and heal the wounds that the attack caused

The residents of Nagasaki built the Peace Park as a way to remember the victims of the bombing and heal the wounds that the attack caused

The atomic bomb Fat Man wiped out the entire north of Nagasaki – the second U.S. nuclear bombing of Japan. An estimated 73,000 people died – more than a quarter of the city’s 263,000 inhabitants at the time. Some 75,000 people were injured and hundreds of thousands were sickened by radiation, according to statistics at the Peace Park.

Today, Nagasaki is a port city of 450,000 people with an economy that is heavily based on international trade and fishing.

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U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy lays wreath at Nagasaki memorial for 70,000 Japanese killed by American atom bomb

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Artist Profile: Kenji Hirata

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Kenji Hirata constructs an entire universe in his work, built of playful forms and bold colors. Icons and symbols are combined and recombined in a neverending conversation with the viewer. He imagines his work speaks to the childlike part of all of us, encouraging us to look at our world with open minds.

Born in Nagasaki, Japan but based in Brooklyn, he has held solo exhibitions from Hamburg to New York City. Kenji is also an original member of the Barnstormers artist collective, for which he created large-scale public murals in New York, Miami, Tokyo, and the rural town of Cameron, NC.

Check out this link:

Artist Profile: Kenji Hirata

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