February 9th, 2013

TV drama captures public angst at 'Made in Japan' decline


A Japanese electronics firm near bankruptcy, a ruthless Chinese rival and a laid-off engineer feature in a popular TV drama that is hitting a public nerve in a nation fretting over the decline of a once-admired manufacturing model.

A weaker yen due to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s expansionary economic policies has lightened some of the gloom for exporters, but NHK public TV’s “Made in Japan” serial reflects a deep angst about an ailing manufacturing sector that was once key to Japan’s success and a source of national pride.

The 3-part drama, which ends on Saturday, covers a secret “restructuring” team’s race against a 3-month deadline to come up with a survival plan for “Takumi Electric” - the name means “artisan” in Japanese - before the bank pulls the plug.

Standing in their way are a Japanese engineer who goes to work in China after being laid off when his lithium-ion battery project was frozen - possibly taking proprietary technology with him - a clueless corporate president given his job by his founder father and a reporter desperate for a scoop.

All of which resonates for many Japanese as they watch once iconic electronics firms - Sony, Panasonic and Sharp come to mind - lose global share to South Korean and Chinese rivals, and wonder what will replace lost manufacturing jobs and drive future economic growth.

“During the period of rapid economic growth after World War II and even after the bursting of the (1980s) asset bubble, manufacturing ... was a source of economic strength,” said Hisao Inoue, a freelance journalist who advised NHK on its script.

“‘Monozukuri’ (‘the making of things’) was a source of pride for Japan,” he told Reuters. “But that has changed and Japan has lost self-confidence.”

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Kamiki Ryunosuke & Narumi Riko to co-star in a new drama on NHK BS Premium


On February 8th, it was announced that Miyabe Miyuki’s best seller novel “Kogure Shashinkan” would be getting a live-action drama adaptation on NHK BS Premium starring Kamiki Ryonosuke. Narumi Riko has been cast as the heroine.

Kamiki and Narumi have co-starred with each other before in “Ruri no Shima SPECIAL 2007” (NTV) and “Wedding Planner SWEET Delivery” (Fuji TV).

In the drama, Kamiki is playing “Hanabishi Eiichi,” who is in the second year of high school. Eiichi’s family moved into a house that used to be a photo studio. One day, mysterious photos, which can be described as photographs of spirits, are brought in to him one after another. Eiichi sets out to investigate the riddles behind the photos, and the feelings of several people hidden in the photos start getting revealed. It also lets Eiichi and people around him grow up.

Narumi plays the role of the real estate agent who arranged the buying and selling of the photo studio. She is a curt, but also insightful, and she gives advice to the protagonist about the solution of the riddles. They say it’s a ‘no comment’ regarding the romance between she and Eiichi.

Other cast members are Ishiguro Ken (as Eiichi’s father), Matsushita Yuki (as Eiichi’s mother), Sasano Takashi, and Horii Arata.

“Kogure Shashinkan” will start airing on March 31st with a total of 4 episodes. (The first episode will start at 9:00 pm, and the rest will start at 10:00pm.)

sources: tokyohive | oricon | nhk
This sounds interesting! I'm excited!!!

Food Porn: The Famous Foods Of Every Japanese Prefecture [North, East, Central]

Since we’re getting ready to pop over to Japan to do some filming, I wanted to do some research on all the famous foods of every area in Japan. Japan’s really into the whole “famous things in each area” thing, and food is no exception. Each prefecture has its own famous food(s) that they’re known for. Might as well know what they are to eat them, right? The hard part is figuring out what all the famous foods are, since there are many and it’s unclear as to what is the most famous food in certain situations.

So, I’ve been doing my research. Because there are so many prefectures and so many famous foods, I’m going to be breaking this article up into two parts. One for North, East, and Central  prefectures of Japan, and one for West and South prefectures of Japan. At the end of the second part, we’ll also include a printout that has a map with numbers on all the prefectures corresponding to a list down below it. That way you can print this out, take it with you, and go on a rompy food excursion in Japan.

Each prefecture will be given 3 famous foods with the exception of a few (like Hokkaido, which is really, really big and tasty). While there are many other famous foods in every single prefecture, these are the ones that seemed to be the most famous. Of course, if you feel the need to add anything, please do so in the comments.

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source: Koichi @ TOFUGU

Kumamon: Mascots bear cash for local authorities

In September 2007, after Shinzo Abe had abruptly quit his first stint as prime minister, sales of Shin-chan Manju, a bean-paste-filled bun named after Abe, spiked. The maker of the buns had tried to promote the product over the course of Abe’s year as the Liberal Democratic Party leader, changing its name in line with the prime minister’s evolving vision of a “beautiful Japan,” but the buns never sold very well — that is until he resigned. The sudden interest in the confection was simply a register of its commemorative value. It made a nice “keepsake,” as one buyer told Kyodo News at the time.

Popularity was attached to the “event,” not the “character.” Something similar can be said about the success of Kumamon, the official mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, who also overcame an initial lack of interest. One of thousands of mascots created during the initial yurukyara (soft character) boom of several years ago, the smiling black bear (kuma) is credited with bringing the prefecture ¥11.8 billion in revenues in the first six months of 2012 alone, after drumming up only ¥2.56 billion in all of 2011. Kumamon promotes thousands of Kumamoto products, the vast majority food-related, and he has 120,000 Twitter followers. In a prefectural survey of local companies, 90 percent said they believe Kumamon significantly boosted their business.

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Praise Kumamon. Trying to make him happen because he's just too presh.

Matsuda Ryuhei stars in his first foreign movie


Matsuda Ryuhei made his debut on the international film scene with his first role in an Indonesian movie "The Raid 2 Berandal" which is due to be shown next year. The movie is a sequel to the same-titled action film shown last year and features a newbie police officer who fights against his corrupt colleagues, the Indonesian mafia and the Japanese yakuza with his silat skills. Matsuda plays Keiichi, the son of the yakuza chief played by Endo Kenichi while Kitamura Kazuki plays his rival in the film. Filming began last month and is due to last till June this year for the Japanese cast members.


Yamashita Tomohisa & Ito Hideaki to star in FujiTV drama SP "Kindaichi Kosuke vs. Akechi Kogoro"


Yamashita Tomohisa and Ito Hideaki will be starring in the FujiTV drama SP "Kindaichi Kosuke vs. Akechi Kogoro" which is due to be shown within this year. Yamashita will play the role of Kindaichi while Ito will play Akechi in this SP for which filming has begun. This is the second time that the two are working together since 2009 summer drama "Buzzer Beat" thus they commented that their chemistry will help them achieve great results this time.

Story: The family which operates a medicine wholesale business undergoes an upheaval which leads to the splitting into two factions Ganso and Honke. One day, Kiichirou, the eldest son of the Honke faction, poisons the Ganso household head Nagahiko and goes missing. Two years later, Kiichirou's younger sister Hatsue asks Kindaichi (Yamashita) to look for her brother. At the same time, Akechi (Ito) who takes an interest to Kindaichi after reading about his exploits in the newspapers, hides his identity and poses as a reporter in order to get closer to Kindaichi.


Who Are Japan's Favourite 20-Year-Old Female Celebrities?

1993 hotties
Recently, Japan celebrated the coming of adulthood at the Coming Of Age Ceremony for people born in 1992 (and early 1993).
As for the upcoming batch of people born in 1993, there are many females among them who are famous talents, entertainers or celebrities. Indeed, those female celebrities who turn 20 this year are not lacking in quantity or quality.

Even in idol groups, notable members who turn 20 this year are AKB48's Miyazaki Miho and Sato Sumire, NMB48's Yamamoto Sayaka and Watanabe Miyuki, Idoling's Okawa Ai , Momoiro Clover Z's Takagi Reni, Passpo's Okunaka Makoto and many more.

Other notable celebrities are such as the actresses Nishiuchi Mariya, Shida Mirai and Takei Emi as well as the recent female pop sensation Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Therefore, to welcome these 20-year-old female celebrities this year, a survey was done with 200 males and 200 females from the same generation on who their favourite 20-year-old female celebrity was. Each person was allowed to vote for a maximum of 3 of these female celebrities. The results are as follows:

Arama, go ahead and see if any of your favourites made it!

Source: http://zasshi.news.yahoo.co.jp/article?a=20130202-00000006-rnijugo-ent
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