Japanese News and Culture Blog Roundup: 10/15/09-10/21/09

Tokyo Times

takurazuka 10/21/09: Takarazuka in Tokyo
The Takarazuka Revue is an all-female musical theater group in Japan that puts on popular adaptations of shows like Guys and Dolls and The Sound of Music. It has appeared in the press again lately since the current first lady of Japan, Miyuku Hatoyama, was once a performing member in the 1960s. I personally heard about it lately since my host mom in Japan saw a performance last week. All male roles are also played by females, often done up like David Bowie-esque makeup. Pictured here is one of their “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” shows. Yes, Phoenix Wright has come to stage! My host mom said the show she saw was extremely over-the-top, but still fun. For more information on this group, check out this link.

Pink Tentacle

saya_in_takashimaya 10/21/09: Video: Sick robot exhibits symptoms of H1N1
A robot that shows symptoms of H1N1 was recently displayed at an expo in Tokyo as a training aid for emergency workers. Without treatment, the patient will eventually “die” and stop breathing. Also featured this week was a female humanoid robot named Saya who worked reception at a Takashimaya department store in Tokyo. Pictures of her are slightly creepy (uncanny valley, anyone?), though she was apparently a hit with shoppers and tourists. At least her appearance isn’t as upsetting as this little guy from two years ago. CB2 will haunt my dreams forever, though all these advances in robotics are still certainly impressive!

Japan Probe

antler_ceremony_nara 10/16/09: Nara’s deer lose their antlers
I guess I should have realized this earlier, but it was still a little shocking to think of the famous deer of Nara having their antlers sawed off on a yearly basis. However, the deer have no feeling in their antlers by the time of the ceremony, and they are usually naturally shed each year after mating season anyway. The 300-year-old ceremony is performed for the safety of both the deer and the tourists who flock to Nara to feed them “shika sembei” biscuits.

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