When YouTube launched in 2005, no one really knew just how big of a platform it would become.
It went from hosting random videos that people filmed of themselves at home, to now becoming a top-tier streaming platform and being a place where people actually earn their entire livelihood.
YouTube is a mega-verse that you could spiral down for hours, nay, days, and never want to surface.
An interesting trend on YouTube that’s caught the attention of many people over the past few years is the rise of VTubers. You may have come across those animated videos before that have a surreal likeliness to actual people.
But for those uninitiated, who or what exactly are VTubers?
What is a VTuber?
VTuber is short for ‘Virtual YouTuber’, and it describes internet personalities that are performed by actual people, whereby they’re superimposed on the character using motion-capture technology and live 3D modeling.
Basically, they’re online entertainment characters who walk and walk like real humans.
The first VTuber in history was Kizuna AI, introduced to the world via YouTube in 2016.
Since then, the rise in demand and popularity of VTubers has risen exponentially, and some VTuber characters have, alone, elevated their companies to new heights!
VTubers essentially provide entertainment by playing games, chatting to viewers, and participating in live streams like a real person. Some boast millions of subscribers around the world, and even collaborate with other Vtubers – just like a regular YouTuber!
They were initially Japan-focused, but since interest has grown massively overseas, there are many English-speaking VTubers out there now.
The 10 Best Vtubers To Follow
Let’s have a look at the 10 most popular VTubers you should follow.
1. Kizuna AI
Kizuna AI is the most famous and popular VTuber in Japan, boasting a whopping 2 million subscribers to her channel.
She is …continue reading
Best Yakuza Movies – The Yakuza are essentially the Japanese Mafia, a hierarchical organisation characterised by underground crime, black market trading, extreme subservience and prideful violence.
Surprisingly, they’re also viewed as a business organization, complete with business cards, corporate offices, investments and trade, and even tabloid magazines!
Since gaining immense popularity and recognition during the post-war economic book in the 1960s, the Japanese mafia have dipped their fingers in many different pies. They’ve spawned rational fear amongst the public with their gang violence and territorial wars, aided in humanitarian efforts across Japan, and a certain syndicate has even developed a thorough written exam for aspiring gang members to sit.
Unsurprisingly, the Yakuza have since developed their own genre of movies and shows. Most will tell stories of gang members seeking vengeance and honor through violence, toppling authority through schemes, and the difficulty of finding love.
We’ve listed below some of the best Yakuza movies you should watch.
1. Outrage (2010)
Outrage is an amazing movie directed by Takeshi Kitano, one of the most popular Japanese movie directors. The film is about a territorial Yakuza syndicate looking to assert power and dominance by getting rid of a rival gang.
Sekiuchi is the gang leader of the Sanno-kai, a huge gang who control the entire Kanto region. He learns that one of his henchmen has become friendly with an alliance of the dis-associated drug-dealing Murase-gumi gang whilst in prison, and is not happy.
Said henchman, named Otomo, is then set the task of bringing the Murase-gumi gang in line.
What ensues is a bloodbath of violent gang fights, killings, and backstabbing. Of course, the law enforcement officers are too corrupt and afraid to step in.
2. Graveyard of Honor (2002)
This movie is Takeshi Miike’s version of the 1975 masterpiece of the same name.
It follows the story of …continue reading
Just like Christmas, Valentine’s Day is another Western holiday that made its way to Japan. In Japan, just like other countries, Valentine’s Day also takes place on February 14th, but there is a big difference in how it is celebrated. And then there is White Day, celebrated exactly a month later on March 14th. Both holidays have copious amounts of chocolate in common, but what exactly is White Day? And what’s its relation to Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day in Japan While the history of Valentine’s Day in the US and Europe goes back to a pagan festival that was celebrated almost 2000 years ago, the lover’s day is relatively new […] …continue reading
As his pseudonym 我流切紙人 garyūkirigaminin (literally, “self-styled paper-cutter”) indicates, Japanese paper artist Toshiaki Kawasaki 川﨑利昭 (@garyukirigami) takes a unique approach to the art of paper-cutting. Instead of making flat paper cutouts, many of his intricate paper artworks look more like sculptures, combining paper-cutting with origami to create three-dimensional, colorful, and realistic works inspired by the beautiful specimens of flora and fauna found in the Natural Kingdom and imbued with his own artistic sensibilities.
Another way in which the creations of this self-styled paper artist distinguish themselves from that of other paper artists is in their size. Although some of his works are true to scale, others are miniatures, reproducing creatures in astonishing detail at unbelievably tiny dimensions.
Kawasaki has been commissioned by aquariums and other institutions for his delicate and realistic paper creations. As an event producer and organizer, he has also planned various exhibitions and workshops.
Let’s take a look at some of his work:
In one of Kawasaki’s oft-employed techniques, he combines the colorful markings of the living creature while also revealing its skeletal structure, in an interesting miniature specimen-like hybrid fashioned in kiri-origami (a combination of paper-cutting and origami). Here is a gorgeous group of colorful and translucent goldfish created in this technique. It’s truly hard to imagine that they’re made of paper. You can admire more of them on his blog here.
These Signal crayfish are examples of his realistic works (in contrast to his works designed to look like displayed specimens). As you can see, the attention to detail is remarkable. Incidentally, Signal crayfish are his favorite crustaceans.
Yamabushi (literally one who prostrates himself on the mountain) are mountain monks whose life philosophy is based on their close relationship with nature. They can be found in the mountains of Dewa Sanzan, in Yamagata prefecture.
Let’s find out more about these mysterious mountain hermits!
History of Yamabushi and Shugendo
Shintoism had been the main religion in Japan until the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced in the country from the Korean peninsula. At that time, religion was a useful tool to maintain a strong central power and the advent of Buddhism had the potential to challenge that balance of power. The emperor of Japan was Shintoist and believed to be a direct descendant of the Shinto goddess Amaterasu.
Buddhism was finally allowed and the two spiritualities lived in harmony in Japan. In the 8th century, Shugendo was born from a fusion between Shinto and esoteric Buddhism. The main pillar of this life philosophy is the strong relationship between man and nature.
Shugendo practitioners are called Yamabushi. At the beginning, they practiced their religion in solitude but then they started to gather around mountainous areas, the most famous of which is Dewa Sanzan in Yamagata.
Dewa Sanzan – The 3 Sacred Mountains of Dewa
Dewa Sanzan means “the 3 mountains of Dewa”. It is a sacred place composed of 3 mountains:
It was Prince Hachiko, the son of Emperor Sushun, who first made the Dewa Sanzan mountains a religious site back in 593.
Over the years, these mountains have become a popular pilgrimage site and the …continue reading
Who doesn’t think of geisha when it comes to Japanese culture? These versatile artists who contribute significantly to the preservation of Japanese traditions and customs are usually associated with the city of Kyoto and the Gion district in particular where unique styles of traditional dance are taught.
But geisha can actually be found all over Japan. We’re meeting the geisha from Niigata today. They are usually referred to as geigi and can be quite different from the geisha you would meet in other Japanese regions.
Geigi culture has developed in the Furumachi district of Niigata and these outstanding artists have a fascinating history. Let’s take a look at some of its most interesting bits!
The History Behind Niigata’s Furumachi Geigi
The history of geigi is intimately linked to the economic development of Niigata. Located along the seacoast in the Tohoku region, such a strategic spot has established Niigata as an important port city on the Kitamaebune trade route.
During the Edo period, Niigata was just as vast and prosperous as other major Japanese cities such as Osaka and Tokyo. Many wealthy merchants were staying in Niigata for business and were searching for fancy and sophisticated experiences. This lead to some restaurants integrating geisha shows as part of their services, especially in the Furumachi district.
Niigata’s geigi have been around for more than 200 years and are now considered an integral part of the region’s cultural heritage.
Lunch at Ikinariya Ryotei
We decided to go to the Ikinariya Ryotei to meet Niigata’s geigi. Ryotei are traditional restaurants that usually accept new customers by referral …continue reading
Established in 1975 as a dyeing consignment processing business, Art-Uni アート・ユニ dyes textiles for apparel and interior using the traditional Kyoto Yuzen technique.
Their innovative hand-drawn designs have attracted designers from high fashion brand products and are often featured on runways around the world. The company’s originally developed Saiketsuzome 彩纈染め, in particular, is highly acclaimed in the fashion industry, including the big maisons.
Always seeking innovation, Art-Uni has taken on the challenge of bringing Kyoto’s traditional crafts to the world in a new way, announcing that it will begin selling carefully selected textiles from its thousands of past creations as well as new works on the NFT (non-fungible token) market. By March 2022, 1,000 NFT products will be listed on the NFT marketplace OpenSea.
Possibilities of dyeing technology in NFT
Normally, when dyeing fabrics, the bleeding that occurs after dyeing, called naki なき, is factored in before production. Digitally produced textiles have the potential to express the change in subtle colors that occur before the fabric dries.
Prospects for entering the NFT market
With an eye on the metaverse, Art-Uni will explore the possibilities of clothing, furniture, wallpaper, and other items in AR space. They also hope to convey the appeal of using actual dyeing in the process of creating digital works by holding exhibitions and sales events in the real world.
Moreover, since OpenSea sets royalties, even once an NFT product is no longer in the creator’s hands, a small percentage of the value will return to the creator each time it is distributed (resold) in the secondary market. Art-Uni hopes to use this system to train the next generation of Yuzen textile craftspeople.
How many Japan’s annual festivals can you name? While Japanese people celebrate worldwide events such as Christmas and New Year’s Day just like other countries, they also have some unique national holidays that can be experienced only in Japan. Hinamatsuri is one of these festivities. The girl’s day is celebrated nationwide every year on March 3rd. If you live in Japan, or have travelled in Japan during the time of festival some years before, it is probably not your first time to hear about the festival. Though for many people hinamatsuri is an unknown phenomenon. So, what is Hinamatsuri? How do Japanese people generally celebrate it and why? Here we […] …continue reading
“Vertical-scroll and full color manga are becoming the global standard,” according to Tokyo a publishing executive, while the merits of the different style of Japanese manga are not being conveyed to the world.
Rio Terada, for JAPAN Forward
More and more Japanese people are reading manga from South Korea.
Unlike monochrome Japanese comics, South Korean ones are full color, and readers can view the content easily by scrolling up and down on their smartphones.
Some experts believe that vertical-scroll manga will become the global standard. Certain Japanese publishers are also moving into this new market.
Will traditional Japanese manga – a proud part of the country’s culture – be left behind?
“We appeal not just to people who like manga, but also to those who enjoy viewing content on their smartphones. We have succeeded in creating a way of enjoying manga that can be habitual,” reveals a press officer at Piccoma, a manga subscription service.
Piccoma was developed and released by Kakao Japan, a subsidiary of the South Korean company Kakao.
Kakao’s vertical-scroll manga “Solo Leveling,” which was localized for the Japanese market, surpassed a monthly sales figure of ￥200 million JPY ($1.7 million USD) in May 2020 – gaining attention in the publishing world.
If you visit shrines or temples on New Year’s Day, you may see a lot of people lining up and receiving a small rectangle paper. People seem to read it carefully, and some people smile and others frown. What are they exactly doing there? They are reading a fortune slip called Omikuji, which is a popular thing to do all year round, but especially popular on New Year’s Day to test the new year’s luck. This article is going to feature the secret and attractions of Omikuji. What is Omikuji? Omikuji is a paper slip with the result of fortune-telling written on it. Many Japanese shrines and temples offer this […] …continue reading