Liam Wong – After Dark

Liam Wong's After Dark book

We’ve featured Liam Wong previously and now he’s back with a new book called “After Dark”.

After Dark is a one-of-a-kind publication documenting Wong’s nocturnal journeys through the world’s most captivating cities. Following his début monograph, TO:KY:OO, which captured Tokyo’s beauty at night, Wong widens his lens from the city that became his spiritual and photographic muse to Osaka to Kyoto, London to Seoul, Paris and Rome. But he goes still further, seeking the rich tapestries of night-life in the foggy historical streets of his hometown Edinburgh, penetrating the backstreets of the megacity Chongqing, seizing the verticality of Hong Kong from its rooftops.

In classic Liam Wong style, the book has been crafted with a meticulous eye for detail. I particularly like the cinematic feel of the shots and the custom typeface, designed by Toshi Omagari exclusively for the book. 

If you love photography or cinematography, you’ll love After Dark. A crowdfunding project was set up by Volume and met its goal within 48 hours. You can still pledge for a copy here.

Toy Galaxy on Samurai Pizza Cats

The Many Controversies of Samurai Pizza Cats: Racism, Gag Dubs & Disney Trying to Kill It!

They’re cats who are also samurai and they like pizza. What’s not to love? Unfortunately, racism and a bunch of other issues stopped Samurai Pizza Cats from being greater than the premise was and Dan Larson tells the story of its history.

If you want to see what all the fuss was about, you can stream it for free on Peacock or Amazon Prime.

Photos of the Bookshelf Theater in the Kadokawa Culture Museum by Ryosuke Kosuge

Japanese photographer Ryosuke Kosuge captured the majesty of The Kadokawa Culture Museum’s Bookshelf Theater – a library with 8m tall bookshelves, containing over 50,000 titles. It’s like a film set or a modern, dizzying interpretation of the Library of Alexandria.

Related: The Instagram account capturing Japanese facades, the captivating neon photography of Liam Wong and the night photography of Junya Watanabe

Fumi Ishino's 'Index of Fillers' chronicles Japanese culture in the 80s and 90s

someone making stir fry in a wok

Index of Fillers is the artist’s second monograph following his acclaimed publication rowing a tetrapod (MACK, 2017) and is the first artist book published by Assembly. Composed of found images of Japanese culture from the late 1980s and 1990s along with Ishino’s own photographs, Index of Fillers is a recreation of the artist’s elusive memory of growing up during this era in Japan.

I like the Japanese comic strip panelling he uses for his images. There’s nothing dramatised or embellished about the subject matter; it’s literally an index of cultural fillers and while that may seem mundane to some, it’ll be refreshing to others.

Buy it on the Assembly Art website.

A Japanese study classified fish-shaped soy sauce containers into species

The fish-shaped soy sauce container

A Japanese entomologist has ventured from his area of expertise to delve into the taxonomy of these plastic fish and he has actually sorted them into distinct families and genera. You may wonder, why? Perhaps it is an ode to the humble soy sauce container, perhaps another outlet for a taxonomist to channel OCD, or perhaps just because.

The author of the book, Yoshihisa Sawada, is an expert in Japanese insect taxonomy and has worked at the Museum of Nature and Human Activities in Hyogo, having published several scientific papers in this field. He took his taxonomic expertise and applied it to an unlikely subject, seemingly below his expertise: plastic fish-shaped soy sauce bottles. He applies his same methodology and treats his subject with all the reverence and seriousness of an actual taxonomic study on living animals. The book was published in 2012 and, alas, is only available in Japanese. The rough translation of the title into English is “Soy sauce sea bream”. “Bream” refers to freshwater and marine fish from a variety of genera that are typically narrow and deep-bodied.

More on fish: Europe’s only fish tannery, did Danny DeVito eat a real fish in Batman Returns, and the vantafish that absorbs nearly all light.

(via ZME Science, h/t Alex Cassidy on Twitter)

Chiso is a 466-year old Japanese kimono house

Truly great gowns, beautiful gowns from Chiso, a traditional Japanese textile producer in Kyoto, Japan.

When Yozaemon Chikiriya established his garment business, Chiso, in Kyoto, his primary customers were monks who required fine clerical vestments. That was 1555. More than four centuries later, the company’s intricately cut robes are coveted as luxury garments, and Chiso—having persevered through shrinking economies, shifting trends, wars, and more—has found itself among the last of Japan’s bespoke kimono houses.

Emerald marine chocolate mint tart

Emerald marine chocolate mint tart

With all the continued controversy over recipe blog posts, their length, apps that stole content, and the reasons for seemingly irrelevant life stories attached to them, I’ve wondered if it’s worth blogging about recipes anymore.

Then I remembered the time I went to my grandparents house in 2004 in Jamaica. It was the first time I’d been back since I was a baby…

That was a joke btw; no tangents here!

Back to the matter at hand. Here’s how to make an emerald marine chocolate mint tart. It looks gorgeous and I can only assume it tastes it too.

As not to be a hypocrite, I won’t copy and paste the recipe so you’ll have to go to the YouTube page to find all the ingredients you’ll need. It’s “in the description below.”

チョコミントタルト〜エメラルドマリンとサンゴ礁〜 Chocolate mint tart

Tam Tam: the cutest baby pygmy hippo in Japan

Tam Tam, the pygmy hippo looking at the camera

Tam Tam is a pygmy hippo from Osaka, Japan. He was born in February 2019.

As pygmy hippos are classed as Endangered, it’s remarkable to see newborns anywhere, let alone Far East Asia where they aren’t native. But the World Conservation Union estimates that fewer than 3,000 pygmy hippos are left in the wild so captivity is unfortunately the safest place for them.

The video below shows Tam Tam at swimming in the pool showing his growing teeth and nursing underwater. But above all else, it shows him being the cutest baby pygmy hippo in Japan.

Stream it below and consider a donation to the Pygmy Hippo Foundation.

ミニカバの赤ちゃん 手乗りサイズだったけど大きくなりました! / Adorable baby pygmy hippo at Japanese aquarium

Hippo related: Pablo Escobar’s hippos and 10 hippos from cartoons, literature, and other media.

Places I want to go when it's safe

A plane wing above clouds in the sky

COVID-19 has ruined a lot of things and while people are still travelling for their own reasons, holidays shouldn’t be one of them. And so I’m staying home until it’s safe to travel for that reason.

But when I can, I hope to visit these 5 cities at some point.

Lisbon, Portugal

I visited Lisbon for the first time in 2017 for my birthday and it was a revelation. I’ve never felt so comfortable in a new city in my life. The food was awesome, the architecture was breathtaking, and it cleansed my soul. I returned in 2018 but I’ve not been back since (I went to Nice to spend time with my parents for my 30th birthday).

It’s my mission to go back as soon as it’s safe and legal to fly.

Nice, France

It helps that my parents live there now but before that, I’d visited with my parents on holiday a few times, and my then-partner in 2015. Another Mediterranean city, it’s gorgeous in the summer, lovely food again, and more great architecture as well as a cool modern art museum featuring works by the likes of Yves Klein.

Leeds, UK

I was born in Bradford but never really spent time in Leeds besides the carnival as a kid. In my adult years, I’ve been a few times and it’s a really nice city. My last visit was last year for a solo Valentine’s vacay and my hotel was kind enough to do this:

Shout out Clayton Hotel. I will be back soon!

Chicago, USA

Last visit: July 2012. I went to see friends and, prior to Lisbon, it was my favourite city in the world. It still holds a place in my heart and I hope once it’s safe in all aspects of the word, I would like to go back and see my friends.

Tokyo, Japan

This is the only city on the list I’ve never visited but it’s on the proverbial bucket list. Besides experiencing the culture, trying the food, and taking lots of photos, I want all the Pokémon things and all the Game Boy things. And some vinyl. I’ll probably need £1000–£2000 spending money and an extra suitcase and I’m not joking.

Related: Photography by Liam Wong in Tokyo and Japan travel tips for first timers

A samurai made out of a single piece of paper

A samurai made out of a single piece of paper

A Finnish origami artist named Juho Könkkölä made an incredible samurai in plated armour with nothing but a single sheet of 95x95cm paper:

Juho Könkkölä spent upwards of 50 hours scoring and folding just one sheet of Wenzhou rice paper to create this painstakingly detailed samurai complete with plated armor, traditional helmet, and sword. Beginning with a 95 x 95-centimeter page, the 23-year-old Finnish artist used a combination of wet and dry origami techniques to shape the 28-centimeter-tall warrior of his own design.

Juho has over 15 years of experience in origami modelling and takes inspiration from “history, folk tales, mythologies, books, movies, video games, and real-life observations”.

  • Tired: trying to fold a piece of paper more than 8 times
  • Wired: trying to fold a piece of paper into a crane
  • Inspired: trying to fold a piece of paper into a samurai

Related: Indo apples, samurai, and Japanese farmers and Yasuke, an African samurai in Japan

The folding process of origami Samurai Warrior

(via Twister Sifter)

Shoji Morimoto: a Tokyo "rent-a-person"

Sometimes you just need someone to be there for you, especially during times like this. Not to say or do anything—just be there. Shoji Morimoto, a 37-year-old Tokyo man, can offer that service for ¥10,000 per request (about £71 or $96).

Shoji Morimoto has been advertising himself as a person who can “eat and drink, and give simple feedback, but do nothing more,” since June 2018, and has received over 3,000 requests.

His work has garnered high praise from his clients and people on Twitter:

“I’m glad I was able to take a walk with someone while keeping a comfortable distance, where we didn’t have to talk but could if we wanted to.”

“I had been slack about visiting the hospital, but I went because he came with me.”

“He listened to me without shaming me about going to the adult entertainment shop. It felt like a support to just have him by my side without forcing his opinions on me.”

Semi-related: The insular world of hikikomori and the internet cafe refugees of Japan

(via The Mainichi)

The history of Toonami according to Toy Galaxy

The history of Toonami according to Toy Galaxy

Last September, Toy Galaxy discussed the history of Toonami and how a block of cartoons became an evening staple for children and adults alike to enjoy anime.

Toonami—a portmanteau of the words “cartoon” and “tsunami”—started in 1997 as a weekday afternoon cartoon block hosted by Space Ghost villain Moltar. From there, it took on many iterations, eras, new hosts, cancellations, revivals, and programming changes.

It also helped to popularise shows such as Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing, and Samurai Jack, and influenced a slew of artists and gamers.

Today, in its current form, it lives as a late-night block on Adult Swim, airing mostly mature Japanese animation.

Stream the episode below.

The Packed Story of Toonami & How It Helped Make Anime Mainstream

Los Angeles’s Hidden Japanese Village

Hidden in a 5,000 sq-ft warehouse in Los Angeles lives the Japanese Cultural Village. Fashion designer Peter Lai is the owner of the space and it holds a tremendous collection of Japanese art, antiques, and design.

Lai was born in Hong Kong and initially went into the family business as a costume designer. But in a bold move, he decided to leave China and move to Los Angeles to pursue fashion, an endeavor in which he was extremely successful. His eccentric and flamboyant designs, inspired by traditional Japanese and Chinese styles, were highly acclaimed and have been worn by Hollywood celebrities.

Not sure on the protocol for visits but regular visits and guided private tours were $15 and $30 respectively and available by appointment only, according to Lai’s Facebook page.

The Secret World of Los Angeles’s Hidden Japanese Village

(via Atlas Obscura)

Manga Entertainment brings us Akira in 4K

akira

Akira is an iconic piece of Japanese film and now we can see it in 4K. Manga Entertainment has announced the anime classic will be returning to around 300 UK and Irish cinemas in remastered 4K for the first time.

Darcy Giles, PR & Social Media Manager at Manga Entertainment had the following to say:

“Akira is the film that made Manga Entertainment – and so we’re honoured to be able to bring it back to UK screens in this gorgeous new version remastered in stunning 4K. Quite simply, it’s going to blow your mind.”

Now, we understand that given the current situation with COVID-19, people may not want to visit cinemas at this time (I’ll be honest and say I’m one of those people, as well as a few film publications in the US, even though their situation is much more serious). We also recommend you consider your health and safety and those close to you before going.

After that, if it’s something you can feasibly do, we hope you enjoy the experience of one of the greatest anime movies of all time, and head to the official Akira 4K site for more info and ticket alerts.