Format Archives: Link

The Story of a Yen

A brief look at the story of the yen.

There were originally 100 sen to the yen and 10 rin to the sen but by 1953, given hyperinflation, a rather large war, and the impact of the gold standard, the sen and the rin were abolished and the yen, no longer 1:1, was fixed at 360 to the dollar.

He writes that the coin is called yen in English instead of the actual pronunciation en because of a spelling error. Not necessarily true. It was labeled yen due to the Japanese spelling ゑん, the first character historically being pronounced ye. The pronunciation of ゑ shifted to e around the middle of the 18th century[1], but the old spelling was retained for some time.

At any rate, the rest of the post is a good read.

Japanese USB-Powered Heated Office Gloves

As strange as USB-​​powered heated gloves sounds, they actually almost make sense in Japan.

While they’ll surely find fans anywhere on the planet (beyond certain latitudes and/​or elevations, that is), heated office gloves are particularly welcome here in Japan. Even in large corporate buildings, central heating is at best a 5050 likelihood, and virtually nonexistent in smaller companies.

My house, like many places in Japan, has no central heating. Even with a few space heaters and the room air-​​condition unit turned to warm, it can get pretty cold, and using the computer with cold fingers is such a bad experience that it makes me not want to use it at all. I’m not saying I’ll buy these gloves, but I can definitely see a demand for them in Japan.

Could Emoji Fashion Be The Next “Kawaii” Trend?

Rocketnews takes a look at the latest trend of emoji showing up in fashion, on clothes and so on.

Emoji are very colorful and flashy, but also fun! Brand and shops including Kitson, Nordstrom, and Urban Outfitters have embraced this fashion trend, and now sell a range of emoji pants, shirts, bathing suits, and accessories.

A little strange, but I suppose no stranger than any fashion. The article also gives a bit of historic detail on emoji and its predecessor kaomoji.

Rude Tourists In Kyoto Receive Politeness Lessons

In general, most tourists are respectful and nice. But there is always a percentage of them that are not and seem to think the world exists only for them. An unfortunately not uncommon tourist bad behavior in Kyoto is to treat Maiko as amusement park characters.

The rude tourists tugging the kimono sleeves of beautifully dressed and made-​​up maiko and asking them to pose like Disney World characters for a photo is something we would like to forget.

Seems like Kyoto is hoping to curb this and other bad behavior by making a new brochure aimed at educating tourists.

The infographic-​​style brochure also describes 17 other akimahen (“do not”) for tourists to be mindful of. They range from the mildly annoying (giving a tip to a server) to the criminally egregious (riding a bike while drunk, which is punishable by up to five years in prison).

It’s a nice looking brochure. Hopefully it has some effect.

Lest We Forget

At exactly 8:15 a.m. on August 6th, “Little Boy” was dropped by the United States B – 29 Enola Gay. It detonated directly over a hospital, about 2000 feet up. Around 70,000 – 80,000 people were killed instantly — only 20,000 of whom were soldiers (including 12 America POWs) — or about 30% of the Hiroshima population. Another 70,000 were injured to varying degrees. The bomb was considered very inefficient, with only 1.7% of its nuclear core fissioning. Even so, it was enough to destroy 70% of the city and damage most of the buildings spared — many of which were destroyed anyway by the resulting fires. Over 90% of the doctors and nurses in the city were killed so there was little initial help for the survivors. In the years since the bomb, over 290,000 have died from effects of the radiation they were exposed to in that instant.

Adorable 8-Bit Gifs Depicting Daily Life In Japan

Tumblr user 1041uuu creates really cool 8-​​bit scenes of daily life in Japan. Even if you aren’t a fan of the recent 8-​​bit trend[1], you may like these pieces of art. They are all really well done.

  1. Basically pixel art, or in other words, art that looks like it could come from an NES game.  ↩

Japanese Twitter Users’ Creative Anti-Theft Measures

But there are still minor cases of theft that bug the local residents, especially when the rainy season comes showering by. Instead of expensive items such as wallets and cars, what’s getting taken are things such as umbrellas, which are inexpensive but highly valuable when it is raining cats and dogs. To fight such petty crime, the citizens of Japan have come up with their own unique ways of fending off such petty thieves

My solution to combat Japan’s high umbrella-​​theft rate has been to buy a handful at a time at the ¥100 store and just use them until they are gone, then repeat. Yes, they are kind of crappy umbrellas, but they disappear so fast it doesn’t matter. I may try this Japanese Twitter idea instead going forward!

Adobe Creative Cloud 2015

Adobe announced a major update to its Creative Cloud subscription service today, bringing a large number of improvements to the entire Adobe family of 15 CC desktop apps. Here’s a look at what’s new for photographers in Creative Cloud 2015.

Calling it a major update seems a stretch, but it is another solid update. Be sure to watch the video to get a nice overview.

Tilting The Streets Of San Francisco

A cool video by Ross Ching & Karen X. Cheng using some clever tricks to pull off a neat illusion.

The hardest part was coming up with ideas that made the gravity illusion look good — we tried lots of stuff that we thought would look good but didn’t work for various reasons (balloons got blown away, pouring water wasn’t visible enough on camera, moonwalking looked weird at an angle). Our favorite effect is the pendulum!

From The Archives: Orange Sky Over Busy Street

Back when I first posted this photo, I wondered if the orange sky was caused by more water in the air than normal. Since that time, I have received a few emails suggesting that the true cause might be air pollution. Oh… swell.

Vending Machines

Vending machines seem to be everywhere in Japan, where they account for more than ¥5 trillion of sales each year. Because they are rarely vandalized or broken into, they are seen by some as a symbol of the country’s safety.

If you are interested by the vending machines that are everywhere in Japan, this is a good overview.

Japan's 1,300 Year Old Business

Houshi Ryokan was founded around 1,300 years ago and it has always been managed by the same family since then. 
It is the oldest still running family business in the world.

This ryokan (a traditional japanese style hotel) was built over a natural hot spring in Awazu in central Japan in the year 718. Until 2011, it held the record for being the oldest hotel in the world. 
 Houshi Ryokan has been visited by the Japanese Imperial Family and countless great artists over the centuries. Its buildings were destroyed by natural disasters many times, but the family has always rebuilt. The garden as well as some parts of the hotel are over 400 years old.

Houshi (法師) means buddhist priest. It is the name of the family as well as of the hotel.

A business that’s been around 1300 years… boggles the mind.

From The Archives: Mount Fuji

This was from a distance, obviously. What is not so obvious is that it was taken from inside the Shinkansen[1]. Taking the Shinkansen from Nagoya to Tokyo, the mountain is usually easy to see, but often it is half hidden in clouds. Luck was with me on this particular trip and the mountain was completely clear. Just to be different from the many many photos of Mt Fuji on the internet, I decided on the texture. Looking back on this old photo, I still think that was the right move.

  1. That is, the bullet train.  ↩