Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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Ancient footage of Tokyo restored

I’ve been following Denis Shiryaev on YouTube for a while now. His restorations of degraded old movie camera footage are always amazing to see. His latest video is produced from old footage from Tokyo between 1913 and 1915. It’s surprising how little things seem to have changed at Sensō-ji, but I have no idea what other locations are depicted in here.

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Shakuhachi music notation

Here’s a YouTube video about the notation used for Shakuhachi music. I’d always assumed that the Western notation system was used everywhere, but apparently not. Shakuhachi music is written in traditional tategaki style (i.e., top-to-bottom and right-to-left), and uses the katakana characters ロ, ツ, レ, チ and リ to represent the notes, plus メ to indicate where notes are to be flattened. Very interesting.

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Ōyama Sutematsu

Someone recently uploaded the story of a Japanese education pioneer called Ōyama Sutematsu (大山 捨松). It’s quite an interesting read: The first Japanese woman to go to college didn't have a choice.

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Japanese kennels

I never realised competitive carpentry was a thing in Japan. Here are two teams competing to create dog houses in the style of traditional Japanese architecture. The results are pretty amazing.

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A Youtube channel called Great Big Story has made a lot of videos about Japan. I particularly liked this one about the decorated trucks, or deco tora (デコトラ) for short. Every one is unique, and the amount of money people spend on these things is astonishing.

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70 years ago

Here’s a propaganda leaflet that was dropped over Japanese cities following the destruction of Hiroshima on August 6th 1945. The original text and a translation are shown below. Let’s hope this sort of thing never happens again. 日本國民に告ぐ!! 〝卽刻都市より退避せよ〟 このビラに書いてあることは最も大切なことでありますから良く注意して読んで下さい。 日本國民諸君は今や重大なる秋に直面してしまつたのである。 軍部首脳部の連中が三國共同宣言の十三ヶ條よりなる寛大なる條項を以て此の無益な戦争を止めるべく機會を與へられたのであるが軍部は是を無視した。 そのためにソ聯は日本に對して宣戦を布告したのである。 亦米國は今や何人もなし得なかつた恐しい原子爆弾を發明し之を使用するに至つた。之原子爆弾はたゞ一箇だけであの巨大なB-29二千機が一囬に投下する爆弾に匹敵する。この恐るべき事實は諸君が廣島に唯一箇だけ投下された際、如何なる状態を惹起したかはそれを見れば判るはずである。 此の無益な戦争を長引かせてゐる軍事上の凡てをこの恐るべき原子爆弾を以て破壊する。米國はこの原子爆弾が多く使用されないうち諸君が此の戦争を止めるよう天皇陛下に請願される事を望むものである。米國大統領は曩に諸君に對して述べた十三ヶ條よりなる寛大なる條項を速やかに承諾し、より良い平和を愛好する新日本の建設をなすよう米國は慫慂するものである。 随つて日本國民諸君は直ちに武力抵抗を中止すべきである。 然らざれば米國は断乎この原子爆弾並に、其他凡ゆる優秀なる武器を使用しこの戦争を迅速且強制的に終結せしむるであらう。 〝即ソツ刻コク都ト市シより退タイ避ヒせよ〟 Attention People Of Japan!! — Evacuate your cities immediately — The content of this leaflet is of the utmost importance, so please read it carefully. The Japanese people are facing a grave situation. Your military leaders were given the opportunity to stop this futile war by accepting the thirteen conditions of the Potsdam Declaration, but have ignored it. As a result, the Soviet Union has declared war on Japan. Furthermore, the United States has invented a formidable atomic bomb, which has already been used. Just one atomic bomb carries the destructive force of 2,000 B‑29 Superfortress bombers, as you can see for yourselves by witnessing the destruction caused by a single bomb dropped on Hiroshima. All military forces involved in prolonging this futile war will be destroyed by these atomic bombs. The [More…]

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Domain registration scam

Back in March I mentioned a domain registration scam originating from a Chinese domain called It looks like the scammers have now relocated to, which was re-registered just a few weeks ago. If you receive any emails that look like the following, then please ignore them. Their claims are completely bogus. Don’t visit their website either; their emails may simply be an enticement to visit their site so they can install malware on your computer. (Please forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent. Thanks)We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in Shanghai, China. On July 22, 2013, we received an application from Taisheng Limited requested “japanesetranslator” as their internet keyword and China (CN) domain names. But after checking it, we find this name conflict with your company name or trademark. In order to deal with this matter better, it’s necessary to send email to you and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China? Kind regards Kenny Cheng ********************************************* Kenny Cheng General Manager YGITECH (Headquarters) B06, [More…]

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Manhole covers of Japan

This photo collection of 423 manhole covers in Japan is nowhere near as dull as it sounds. No, really. I’m being serious!

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Domain registration scam

I just received an email from someone called Winni Du at regarding the registration of “japanesetranslator” as a brand name. This seemed a bit strange — why should it be any of my business if someone else wants to translate Japanese for a living? And what is this “Asian Domain Registration Service in China”? Isn’t that the responsibility of CNNIC? A quick search for confirmed  my suspicion that this is a scam of some sort. Presumably they want me to cough up “processing fees” to protect this web domain from some imaginary threat. Or perhaps they just want me to visit their website and get my computer infected with the latest virus. If you receive any similar emails, you can delete them straight away. And don’t visit their website, just in case. Sorry Winni, but you’re going into the spam filter. Here’s the message in full:

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2013: Year of the Snake

As you may know, 2013 is the Year of the Snake (hebi-doshi; 巳年). The Chinese new year isn’t until February, but the Japanese always celebrate the new year on January 1st. This year is also year 25 of the Heisei era (平成25年) in the older calendar system (still used today) where years are numbered from the accession of the current emperor Someone has uploaded a video to YouTube showing how to draw a snake with a single brush stroke. It’s really quite impressive. Take a look at this: And here’s a great video from last year where the same technique is used to draw a dragon’s tail:

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Header image: Maple leaves and bamboo stems in autumn at Tenryū-ji garden (天龍寺庭園) in Kyoto. Photo: Frank Gualtieri.

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