Monday, November 27, 2006

Postcard Delight: part 3

Japanese postcardThis week's card was made in commemoration of the training journey of two Japanese warships (the Sōya and the Misaki) through Oceania and along the coasts of South-East Asia (練習艦隊遠洋航海記念).

The trip, which was led by a certain rear-admiral S. Katō, took around 4 months; stops included Guam, Fiji, Auckland, Sidney, Townsville, Batavia, Singapore, Manila, Olongapo and Wu Song and ended in Yokosuka. Details of the journey can be found on the back side of the card, but alas, the exact year is not mentioned. I've posted a composite picture of the map on the front (練習艦隊航路圖) and the schedule on the back, so you get a better idea of when and where they stopped.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Google Book SearchTesting the new Google Book Search interface, I was surprised by the number of results you get for Japan related queries. It's now also possible to download public domain books in PDF format, which is a fantastic feature (just wished the PDFs were searchable). Have a look at these (mostly forgotten) first-person accounts of trips to pre-Meiji Japan, for instance. Intriguing.

NB: One of those books actually contains an small surprise: if you go to page 8 of "The Japan Expedition", you can see a spooky picture of the scanner's hand.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Postcard Delight: part 2

Japanese postcard This week's card was probably sold together with the one of last week. Featured are the base of the "4th Infantry Brigade" (近衛歩兵第四聨隊) and its officer in charge, Brigadier (?) IIDA Taisa (?) (聨隊長飯田大佐). A quick Google search brings up some pages about a certain captain Iida Taisa, but I'm not sure it's the same person.

Bigger sizes, as well as a close-up of the flower pattern, can be found on Flickr. A scan of the back side is available too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Night cityscapes

Seto screenshotThe Night Views of Seto is a small site featuring panorama night shots of major cities around Japan's Inland Sea. For Tokyo nightscapes you're probably better off with NIGHT Windows ~東京の夜景. For starters, check out the view from Roppongi Hills' skydeck, or this fascinating Osaka panorama.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Postcard Delight: part 1

I love Japanese postcards, especially old ones. So, great was my delight when I found a nice set of Meiji/Taishō era cards in a garage sale close to where I live. In the next weeks I plan to post high quality scans of the few cards I've collected so far. Comments are absolutely welcome, as I don't have much background info...

Japanese postcardThe first couple of cards are all military ones, combining photographic insets with colored, embossed frames. The text on this one reads 近衛歩兵第四聨隊軍旗 (printed from right to left), which can be translated as "Banner of the 4th Infantry Brigade". Probably from late Meiji, early Taishō. Bigger versions on Flickr. I also uploaded a picture of the back side.

NB1: for the fans, a pointer to an amazing book/catalog about this topic: Art of the Japanese Postcard: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

NB2: shout-outs to Mari for the scanning help :-)

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Bullying, or ijime in Japanese, has always been a major problem in Japan's rigid hierarchic society. Two weeks ago, the nation was shocked by the suicide of a junior high school boy, who allegedly ended his life because his teacher couldn't stop bullying him (See this video on YouTube "He was easy to make fun of"). Most Japanese videos on YouTube are copied from a number of major television shows in the country, the previous video being an excellent example. In that sense, YouTube has become a thermometer for the interest level towards Japanese media. For the past few days, however, YouTube itself proved to be a source of interest for news topics. With over 200000 views in two days, these two videos depicting high school bullies in action, have now been picked up by Japanese news media. I'm sure anyone would agree that this gives the term "consumer generated content" a rather harsh connotation. Update: YouTube has officially removed both videos. They can still be seen here and here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tag Clouds of Prime Minister Speeches

tag cloud screenshotI absolutely love this: tag clouds distilled from the speeches of Japan's prime ministers since 1993. Notice for instance the sudden appearance of the テロ ("tero" = terror) word in the second half of 2001; tracking the occurrence of terms like 協力 ("kyōryoku" = cooperation) or 改革 ("kaikaku" = reform) throughout the last decade is also interesting...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tokyo 3D buildings in Google Earth

New Tokyo Tower The last couple of Google Earth builds have been a lot of fun. Besides the gorgeous photography, 3D buildings, road info and annotation tools, you can now also import and view texturized Google Sketchup models. And yes, Tokyo is well represented. Below, a rundown of models you definitely shouldn't miss.