All posts by Diadem Pambid

August is Ghost Month! The Scariest Places to Visit in Japan

In Eastern countries such as China and Japan, the month of August is one to celebrate. The “Hungry Ghost Festival” is known all around the world which is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. In celebration of ghosts, here are the most haunted places to visit in Japan.

1. Amidaji (Temple of Amida)

Located in Dan-no-ura in the Shimonoseki Strait, Amidaji is a legendary haunted place. A dead samurai is known to haunt the area. The story is quite famous and it has been adapted into a movie, Masaki Kobayashi’s film “Kwaidan.”

Amidaji

2. Aokigahara

Aokigahara is best known in Japan as the “Suicide Forest.” Located at the bottom of Mt Fuji, the area is frequently visited as a spot for suicide. This has caused a widespread belief that the place is haunted. In 2010, a record of 54 people were said to have committed suicide at Aokigahara.

Aokigahara-el-bosque-maldito

3. Hashima Island

Also known as Gunkanjima which translates to “Battleship Island”, Hashima is a 60,000 square meter cluster of concrete ruins off the coast of Nagasaki. It has been abandoned since 1974 when the coal mines on the island were shut down. The island was closed to visits until Hashima was re-opened to the public in 2009.

nagasaki-hashima

4. Himuro Mansion

The famous game “Fatal Frame” was allegedly based on the true events that conspired at the Himuro Mansion. According to legend, the mansion was a site of a brutal family murder and sacrifice. Onlookers claim to have seen bloody hand prints on the well, a wandering girl in a kimono and sprays of blood appearing out of nowhere.

himuro

5. Akasaka Mansion

Located in Tokyo, Akasaka is a well-known tourist spot. Tourists sleeping at the mansion claim to have been stroked on the face. Some have even been violently ripped from their beds.

akasaka-mansion

Project Phoenix Kickstarter: A Japanese Role Playing Game Set to Change the Future of Gaming

Project Phoenix announced earlier this week of their plans to set up a Kickstarter, a Japanese role-playing game (JRPG). The big difference with this project is that it’ll be combined with Real Time Strategy (RTS). The future of gaming is set to be changed with the founder of Creative Intelligence Arts, Hiroaki Yura in the head of the game development.

Uniting top game developers from the West and the East, Project Phoenix takes on the JRPG genre with art direction from Kiyoshi Arai, best known for Final Fantasy XII and XIV. Music is set to be headed by Nobou Uematsu, the legendary composer of the Final Fantasy series. This is the first independent game project Uematsu will be commited to.

“For 25 years, I’ve been working on a lot of video game music like the Final Fantasy series. This is the first time I’ve worked on an independent game,” says Uematsu, Project Phoenix’s lead composer, adding, “Although it’s fun to create a game within a large company, I’ve always been interested in being able to work in a small, passionate independent games team. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The team members in charge of development have quite the impressive credits of which include Halo 4, Final Fantasy series, World of Warcraft, Star Craft II, Diablo III, L.A. Noire, Soulcalibur V, Steins Gate and the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya.

A few other members are yet to be announced of which includes a secret designer from one of Japanese leading anime mecha title who had changed pop culture influence in the world. Project Phoenix Kickstarter seelks $100,000 in funding for programming and artistic development of the game. Check out Project Phoenix for more information on the game set to change the history of Japanese role playing game.

Hotaru-bi no Chakai: A Tea Gathering in the Fire of Fireflies

For anyone set to visit Kyoto this weekend, there’s one event Japanese haven’t failed to celebrate at the Shimogamo Shrine. Wondering what this is? Here’s all you need to know about the Hotaru-bi no Chakai.

Shimogamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan which is located north of Kamo and Takase Rivers of north-central Kyoto. The shrine dates back to the prehistoric periods and the first reference of the Shimogamo was of a fence repair dating back to 2BC.

The shrine has served as a central religious aspect for Kyotoites. It has said that the shrine played a significant role in the Heian period when prayers for the capital where held in that area. In countless tales, of which includes “Tale of Genji”, Shimogamo Shrine has been featured.

Today, this Kyoto shrine has been registered under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Shimogamo contains 52 building all of which are recognized as iconic Cultural Properties. A number of events take place at the Shimogamo Shrine of which include the Hotaru-bi no Chakai

About Hotaru-bi no Chakai:

Hotaru-bi no Chakai is the event held at the beginning of June which is a special tea gathering done amidst the glow of live fireflies. “Hotaru” translates to firefly while “bi” refers to fire. “Chakai” on the other hand means tea gathering. This event shows the true essence of Japanese tradition where one of its aims is the preservation of Tadasu no Mori, “The Forest of Justice,” which surrounds the Shimogamo Shrine.

Hotarubi no Chakai

For the event, around 600 fireflies are released over the stream called Mitarashigawa which serve as invites to the grandiose tea gathering. Usually, a reservation is required for one to attend the ceremony but there are other programs of the Hotaru-bi no Chakai open to the general public.

If you are ever in the area, make sure to check the Shimogamo Shrine. Other than the Hotaru-bi no Chakai, the ancient “Juni-hitoe” where 12 layers of the kimono will be shown and various dance performances are set for the night. Twenty long established stands also sell around the area at 1pm where the popular Kyoto souvenir, yatsuhashi and the common rice dumpling, mitarashi dango is being sold.

Jackie Chan the Japanese Drunken Master with Kirin Beer

The beloved master of Kung Fu and action-packed films, Jackie Chan is known for insanely crazy stunts and the strange kid cartoon. However, Japanese beermaker Kirin has made Jackie Chan look hilarious for a 7 minute short film involving beer and Tokyo. It’s Drunken Master all over again!

Here’s something not all Jackie Chan fans see every day. Japanese beer maker, Kirin instils the help of martial artist Jackie Chan and Shoko Nakagawa for a short film. Interestingly enough, all this was to promote and advertise Kirn’s Nogodoshi Draft Beer.

Probably the best part of the short film is the typical one liner from the guy holding a fan. Of course, Jackie Chan comes in to save the day in his iconic Drunken Master style with a staff causing the villain to explode after being launched in the air.

The short film might not be enough to bring on the urge to drink Kirin’s special Nogodoshi Draft Beer but the direction and choreography definitely did the short justice. Fans of Chan will certainly remember him as the Drunken Master and commemorate it with a Kirin beer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aecV7oQGx8w

Fans of Chan might as well thank Kirin’s ordinary 34-year old office worker, Kazuo Ishida, for the idea. The seven minute video was done all thanks to a 39-item checklist by Ishida in hopes for his dream to come true. The original checklist is as follows.

  • Dream 1: I want to be a kung fu action star…
  • Dream 2: …and work with Jackie Chan.
  • Dream 3: The leading lady should be Shoko Nakagawa (Shokotan)…
  • Dream 4: …the main villain: my buddy from university.
  • Dream 5: I want a scene where Jackie, Shokotan, and I are eating together.
  • Dream 6: Jackie is drinking tea.
  • Dream 7: I want to use like a chair or something in a fight.
  • Dream 8: And I’ll hit a bunch of guys with it like bam, bam, bam!
  • Dream 9: Then I want break that chair.
  • Dream 10: I want Jackie Chan to do something cool in the end scene. Ummmm….
  • Dream 11: I want the bad guys to come to kidnap Shokotan.
  • Dream 12: I throw narutomaki at someone.
  • Dream 13: Hmm, I definitely want to use a chair to fight.
  • Dream 14: And I want to break a table.
  • Dream 15: A bad guy should say “I’ll remember this!” as he runs away.
  • Dream 16: Of course, they come back to get revenge.
  • Dream 17: I want that same bad guy to say “Boss! It’s him!”
  • Dream 18: Then we go outside and there’s like 100 enemies.
  • Dream 19: Before fighting I flick my button off like a badass.
  • Dream 20: I don’t want to be good with nunchaku… for comedy. Annnnnnd….
  • Dream 21: Something should fall all over one of the bad guys.
  • Dream 22: I do some cool kicks.
  • Dream 23: Then I knock one guy into a huge group of enemies.
  • Dream 24: A guy comes out with, like, knives for hands.
  • Dream 25: I fight him with vegetables, you know, for comedy.
  • Dream 26: I do some team work with Jackie.
  • Dream 27: Shotokan makes a cute face.
  • Dream 28: Oh, and I definitely want to do something with wires.
  • Dream 29: I’d like to throw a guy off a roof.
  • Dream 30: I want to do a real stunt. Let’s see….
  • Dream 31: A bunch of old-timey pots should break.
  • Dream 32: Then I give a “thumbs-up.”
  • Dream 33: Then I want to do that pose, you know, the one from that movie [Drunken Master].
  • Dream 34: I want to train on one of those wooden men things.
  • Dream 35: And do sword practice in front of a sunset.
  • Dream 36: But get this! Then I lose…
  • Dream 37: and say “Duì bù qǐ” to Jackie.
  • Dream 38: In the end Jackie finishes off the head bad guy.
  • Dream 39: Then there’s and explosion and… That should do it.

Japanese Film Festival at San Francisco: From ‘Helter Skelter’ to ‘Lesson of the Evil’

Japanese films don’t only air in Japan alone. In fact, Japanese and fans of J- films are in for a treat at the first ever upcoming Japanese Film Festival held in San Francisco. So what should fans look forward to at the nine day J-Fest in Bay Area?

The J-Film fest is the first of its kind to happen in Bay Area of the greater north of California. This is slated to be part of the J-POP Summit Festival that showcases J-music and culture.  Fans of J-cinema are sure to enjoy nine days of full-length features at the inaugural JFFSF or Japan Film Festival of San Francisco.

Curtains will go up at the San Francisco New People Cinema for the screening on July 27. Both live action and anime flicks will be shown every day until August 4. The hit sword swinging, “Rurouni Kenshin” is included in the J-cinema spectrum.

Other notable titles set for screening at the event include Mika Ninagawa’s thriller, “Helter Skelter” featuring the sexy and talented, Erika Sawajiri. Psycho-thriller, “Lesson of the Evil” starring Hideaki Ito is also included in the J-fest films.

Lesson of the Evil

As for anime otakus, better get those tickets early for the US premiere of “Naruto Shippuden: The Lost Tower”, “Hunter X Hunter: Phantom Rouge”, “Summer Wars”, “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” and “Wolf Children.”

Naruto Shippuden: The Lost Tower

If you are a J-film lover or Japanese in San Francisco, better be in the Bay Area in celebration of Japanese cinema.

Japan’s Most Famous Rollercoasters

Spring is officially over in Japan with the first Monday of June settling into a start. This would mean the complicated weather of sunny and rainy days are about to commence. Before this confusing rollercoaster ride of sun and rain begins, here are a few actual rollercoasters in Japan worth taking a ride.

While its summer elsewhere, the rainy season is about to begin in the bigger parts of Asia of which include the country of Japan. June is relatively the start of heavy downpours which would be a big sign for travellers to opt other months for travel.

Yet, with June still settling in plus the sweet scent of Spring still fresh in the air, it’s a big risk to get out in the open. In an effort to enjoy the last days of Spring, heading out to the open is the best activity so far. When it comes to the open, nothing beats spending time at an amusement or theme park. Of course, in Japan the best parts of their theme parks are their crazy and not to mention awesome rollercoasters.

Here are rollercoaster rides that you should try out in Japan.

The Eejanaika

First up is the Eejanaika located at Fuji-Q Highland in Yamanashi, Japan. This rollercoaster was featured in Complex magazine’s best rollercoasters back in 2011. The Eejenaika has a height of 249 feet with a top speed of 78.3 mph. The ride starts off by pulling the cart backwards before the sudden 90 degrees drop vertically. Then, the ride throws around like a pendulum with a reverse, a flip, a corkscrew and a cracked out see-saw. This ride is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

The Dodonpa

Next up is Dodonpa also located at Fuji-Q Highland. The Dodonpa has a height of 52 meters with a top speed of 172 km/h. Like Eejanaika, the ride pulls you backwards before a vertical drop of 90 degrees. It’s not as exciting as the Eejanaika though.

The Fujiyama

Third is Fujiyama has been named “The King of Rollercoasters” with 4 Guinness World Records dating back to 1997. Fujiyama has a max speed of 130 km/h with a height of 79 meters.

The Takabisha

Last but not the least is Takabisha which has been named the “steepest drop in the world at 121 degrees.” This spine-tingling drop has been produced using the linear launch system with a vertical ascent and linear acceleration. It has a total speed of 100km/h.

Take advantage of the Spring weather before the rain showers start to pour and get a thrill of excitement from Japan’s most awesome rollercoasters.

Akihabara: The One Stop Japan Spot for Otakus

Japan is notable for its many splendour tourist spots such as Shibuya, Okina and Kyoto. However, if there is one spot Otaku’s from all over the world wish to visit and this would be none other than Akihabara. Akihabara has been considered Japan’s one-stop-shop for all anime lovers and enthusiasts.

Where in Japan:

Located in Sotokanda, Tokyo Prefectur, Akihabara (秋葉原) is two stations north of Tokyo Station. Locals call the area Akiba after the local shrine. This area has gained quite the recognition from all over the world due to its diehard otaku culture. Major developments have already occurred thanks to the Akihabara Crossfield complex that promotes Akihabara as the centre for global electronics technology and trade.

How to Get There:

It’s easy to head to Akihabra thanks to Japans’ complex train systems plus their trains give meaning to “faster than a speeding bullet.” There are two options of which are as follows:

  1. From Tokyo Station: Akihabara is located two stations north of Tokyo Station by Keihin-Tohoku or JR Yamanote Line. The trip costs 130 yen and will only take three minutes. However, during the weekdays, Keihin-Tohoku line skips one station between Akihabara and Tokyo which will cut off a few seconds off travel time.
  2. From Shinjuku Station: Travellers should take the JR Chuo Line (colour orange) from Shinjuku to Ochanomizu Station of which takes approximately ten minutes. After, take a quick transfer to JR Sobu line (colour yellow) for one more station headed to Akihabara. This trip takes two minutes max. Alternate options also include taking the yellow train without transfer from Shinjuku to Akihabara for seventeen minutes trip. The fare costs 160 yen for either case.

What to See:

As mentioned, Akihabara is the centre for Otaku enthusiasts and lovers. From maid cafes to Tokyo anime centres selling merchandise and games, everything can be found here. It’s best to load up the wallet because the merchandise scattered around can easily lure Otakus in.

  1. Maid Cafes: Cosplay themed restaurants abound where food is served basically by waitresses in frilly and colourful attires. These “maids” also engage in fun activities with the guests.
  2. drinks

  3. Tokyo Anime Center: This is found on the UDX building of Akihabara Crossfield where anime related exhibitions are held.
  4. akihabara-2

  5. Gundam Café is extremely popular where food is served in gundam themes. A gift shop is also connected where visitors may purchase souvenirs and goods.

gundam-cafe

Why Visit Akihabara:

While Akihabara is heaven on earth for Otakus, some visit the area for real steals when it comes to the latest gadgets and electronics. Various centres offer whopping deals that are definitely a real steal as compared to any other place in Japan or overseas.

When to Visit:

Akihabara is open all year round! Take a trip to one of Japan’s busiest and most Otaku-friendly place on earth.

Important Reminders:

Japanese don’t like tourists taking photos inside stores. Unless you’re a famous celebrity or you’ve got special permission, keep the trigger happy camera’s to yourself or outside the store.

Shoujo-filled Anime Week in Review: From Nisekoi to Infinite Stratos

Fans of the manga, Nisekoi (ニセコイ, False Love), will be delighted to hear that an anime adaptation is slated for the works. Written by Naoshi Komi (古味 直志), Nisekoi is the usual shoujo manga with the harem plot. The story revolves around the high school boy, Raku Ichijou, who is set to become the heir of Yakuza group. In come Chitoge Kirisaki, daughter of rival gang and a confusing yet hilarious love triangle involved.

Around 6 volumes with over 75 chapters have already been released among various manga platforms. There have been no other details regarding the debut of the anime.

Next up is Infinite Stratos slated for a second season this Fall. In the announcement on the official website, second season of TV Anime Infinite Stratos will start airing on October 2013. The broadcast of a second season was made just last month and new heroines have already been mentioned. The latest new heroine has already been aired on the website namely Tatenashi Sarashiki (更識 楯無). It’s another harem in the works but still worth the watch with cute girls plus Charlotte back on track.

A quick synopsis of Infinite Stratos is as follows: “Japan engineered an armed powered exoskeleton “Infinite Stratos” (IS) and it became the mainstream of weapons. Orimura Ichika is a 15 year old boy and accidentally touches an IS placed in the IS pilot training school. He is found to be the only man who can operate IS and forced to enter the training school. Ichika’s busy school life surrounded by girls has begun.”

stratos

Last but not the least is Henneko: The “Hentai” Prince and the Stony Cat. With twelve episodes slated, episode five has already been released. Staying true to classic manga perverse humour, the story is that of a typical high school student who wishes away his tendency to lie. The hilarity begins when the mysterious cat statue instead forces him to say everything on his mind in pure honesty. Of course, a girl comes along to heighten the fun.

It’s the usual harem/ service filled-moe plus comedy that Japan anime never runs short of.

ku

Shishido Kavka: Meet Japan’s Famous Drummer, Singer and Model

Little drummer girl she is not, Shishido Kavka proves that she’s more than just the average J-rocker. Don’t let the name fool you though, Shishido Kavka is 100% Japanese and she’s already made a name for herself in Japan. For one, this girl can rock the runway and the stage.

Despite being born in Mexico, Kavka was raised in Argentina and Japan. At the young age of 14, Kavka tried her skills on the drums before going pro at the mere age of 18. All thanks to Kenji Ohshima of The High Lows and producer Satoru Horade, Kavka is now one of the prominent Japanese drummers in the business. Having played in more than a handful of Jrock bands, Kavka has settled for a solo career with her debut release of “Aisuru Kakugo” in 2012.

Shishido Kavka isn’t only popular for her drum playing abilities. Thanks to Kavka’s svelte and tall figure, the 27-year old has already walked for large-scale shows such as Tokyo Runway and Kobe Collection.

Model, Drummer, Singer
Model, Drummer, Singer

Being a well-known drummer and model, what more could Kavka ask for? Well, Kavka’s skills don’t just end there. This beauty also has the powerful vocals to boot. Shishido’s single, “Kiken na Futari” was used for the drama series “Doubles~Futari no Keiji” which catapulted her even more into the limelight.

Fans will be seeing more of this J-rocker and her music in the years to come.

Two Weeks Countdown to One Piece’s Oda Eiichiro’s Return

Fans of the high profile manga, One Pirece, are quite used to the hiatus but this time around it’ll be a longer wait. Oda Eiichiro, the renowned creator of One Piece, has taken a break due to his health. Earlier this year, Oda had been hospitalized due to peritonsillar abscess, a complication of tonsillitis.

The series is set to resume by June 10th and counting down the days on the calendar, it’ll be a two week wait more. The official announcement was made on Shonen Jump’s website. As for One Piece, Shonen Jump issues will continue to ship by May 27 to June 3 without any action scenes from Monkey D Luffy.

While Japanese fans have June 10th to wait for, western shores will have a taste of Oda Eiichiro’s animation with the debut of One Piece on Cartoon Network. Monkey D Luffy and his gang are set to hit Toonami’s line-up. The show had already garnered a whopping 995,000 views. Hopefully, One Piece on Toonami is set to bring in more anime to the small-screen.