New super-cute Sony commercial featuring over 200 screens

I love this TV commercial made by the Tokyo-based creative agency PARTY for Sony’s make.believe campaign. It was shot with over 70 performers using 200 Sony devices, and it was all taken in one continuous shot.

“SCREEN STORY” is a new TV commercial film for Sony “make.believe.” The film was created with over 70 performers using more than 200 devices, taken in one continuous shot.than 890,000 people watched it live, and over 7 million pushes were recorded during the show.

So great!

New We Are All Radioactive episode features Joi Ito and a humble government official

We Are All Radioactive – Chapter 5: Measurements from Lisa Katayama on Vimeo.

In Chapter 5, a team of hackers in Tokyo and Boston take radiation monitoring into their own hands, mapping the measurement levels across the entire country of Japan. Greenpeace and a blogging organic farmer join them in this civilian effort, and a government official admits that they need help.

Vintage 70s Yamamotoyama seaweed commercial

At the fantabulous wedding of a childhood friend last night, the topic at one point turned to a vintage Japanese commercial about a 300+ year old seaweed + tea manufacturer called Yamamotoyama. Do any of you remember this commercial?

It’s from the 70s. Below, an updated one from the 90s.

The catchy phrase that you hear in both is their tag line, which translates as: read it from the top and it’s Yamamotoyama. Read it from the bottom and it’s Yamamotoyama.

It’s a palindrome!

Video: Fukushima residents address government official about radiation

I’m deeply disturbed and saddened by this video, which shows a room full of Fukushima residents asking a government representative some fundamental questions that remain unanswered four months after the earthquake + subsequent radiation leak: Do Fukushima residents have the same right to safety from nuclear threat as the rest of humanity? Will you please do as you said earlier and test our children’s urine for radiation levels?

The official’s response–blatant and apathetic dismissal of the people’s concerns–is simultaneously abhorrent and not surprising. But most of all, it made me really sad that things have gotten to this point.


Times Square video requests a moment of stillness for Japan

Four months after the earthquake, on July 11, this video was broadcast in Times Square once every hour. Apparently it was made by Dentsu pro bono in collaboration with some US design students. Pretty neat! I wonder if it worked though–did people really take a moment out of their lives to stop and watch the video and experience a moment of stillness for Japan? Probably not most people. But maybe one or two did, every hour, and maybe that has some impact on the universe, somehow.

(Thanks, Catherine!)

Inspirational post-earthquake bullet train commercial goes viral

Joi tweeted about this yesterday: an inspirational bullet train commercial has been going viral.

It’s a 3-minute spot featuring a shinkansen making its debut trip across the southern island of Kyushu on March 12, just one day after the earthquake. The commercial was pulled from TV stations in the immediate aftermath, along with all other advertisements–the stations feared inundating people with commercialism after a tragedy would be inappropriate–and just appeared on air a couple of weeks ago. In it, you see school kids in uniforms, farmers, Power Rangers, cheerleaders, and costumed mascots all cheering the train on as it makes its way across the country.

I love this because it’s really representative of Japanese solidarity. It’s really unselfish, non-aggressive, and community-oriented. One of the YouTube comments points out that the conductor and the cameraperson were crying the whole time as people ran alongside the train.

Sushi and Harajuku girls in Portland, Oregon

I just got back from Portland, Oregon. If you’ve never been there, this will give you an idea of what it’s like. It’s a song from the hilarious new TV show Portlandia:

I spent the day with my college friend Naomi, who used to be a sushi chef and is now temporarily retired. As we walked into a bookstore a guy asked us to sign a petition to ban plastic bags, and then Naomi got in trouble with the bookstore owner because she had a Kindle. That night we went to a local Japanese-ish restaurant with really good burgers called Yakuza and then dropped by at a bar full of people who looked like they were straight out of the 90s.

My friend Jason Wishnow sent me this clip–also from Portlandia–featuring two shrinking Harajuku Girls obsessed with coffee and a dog named Hichiro. It’s amazing, watch!

Mameshiba commercial reveals why eels are brown

In this funny commercial for the Dentsu ad agency character Mameshiba, a fava bean pops out of its shell to tell these ganguro Shibuya girls that the reason eels are brown is because they tan too much. My sister-in-law was part of the team that created this popular character, which appears not only in cute bean-themed ads but as pillows, bedside lamps, and toy keychains for people with OCD.

Ken Shimura’s Thriller parody (updated)

Need a crash course in Japanese humor? Just study some old Ken Shimura videos. It’s important to know this guy if you want to understand what makes the stereotypically stoic Japanese burst out in uncontrollable laughter. Shimura started off as part of a five-man comedy team called the Drifters; later, two Drifters branched off to become Kato-chan and Ken-chan, an iconic comedy duo from the 80s.

Ken Shimura was always the pack leader. Deceptively good looking but outrageously silly and politically incorrect, he mass marketed shimoneta (below-the-belt jokes) and inappropriate slapping with his unique blend of traditional and contemporary Japanese and Western influences. He also spearheaded some of the most famous Japanese TV memes ever, like "Daijobu da" and "Henna ojisan."

Above, an amazing short skit that shows all facets of this genius comedian: it features a handsome womanizer who turns into a creepy old man who performs a delightful, Japanified version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The skit ends with Shimura’s signature “henna ojisan” dance.

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Hilarious video of children fighting a zombie in their house

In this amazing video, a TV crew plays a prank on three children who believe they must fight off a zombie who’s coming into their home. It’s hilarious on so many levels. I love that Japanese people are not afraid to play pranks on little kids that empower them to be stronger and more imaginative. Also, it’s funny that the zombie writes them a letter to tell them he’s coming over, and then takes off his shoes before entering the house. Very polite. My favorite part is when the older boy starts crying and then tells the reporter off for not doing anything to help them. The weapons they use are great too: Tabasco, plastic wrap, a toy dinosaur…

(Thanks, Joe!)