Bitlifting

a directory of the bizarre, disturbing, and wonderful

Japan’s Kitty Obsession

The Japanese seem to have a long-running love affair with cats. The myth of the Maneki Neko (the “Beckoning Cat”) has been around for at least a few hundred years.

Maneki Neko -- Beckoning Cat

“The Maneki Neko (招き猫, literally “Beckoning Cat“; also known as Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat, Money cat or Fortune Cat) is a common Japanese sculpture, often made of porcelain or ceramic, which is believed to bring good luck to the owner. The sculpture depicts a cat (traditionally a Japanese Bobtail) beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed—many times at the entrance—in shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors, and other businesses. Some of the sculptures are electric or battery-powered and have a slow-moving paw beckoning. In the design of the sculptures, a raised right paw supposedly attracts money, while a raised left paw attracts customers.”

Then there’s the bakaneko, a fire-breathing ghost-cat that can reanimate corpses by jumping over them. Sounds pretty scary. Where do they come from, and how do I avoid them!? Well, a normal cat may become a bakaneko if its tail grows to a certain size — one possible explanation for why short-tailed cats are so common in Japan.

In a previous post, I talked about a Japanese photo contest for cats that sit like humans. The contest has concluded, and here is the winner:

Suko Zuwari photo contest winner

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SEGA Fireworks

Last night I went down to Crab Park to watch the Canada Day fireworks. There were so many colors and loud booms and all the people were being drunk at each other… it was great. After the finale, I suddenly thought why not have fireworks every day of the year? So I rushed home, put on my inventing hat, and rolled up an inspiration stick. Two hours later I had a working prototype. Only problem is, the godamn Japanese beat me to the punch. Just look at this!

Sega Toys makes indoor fireworks

Sega Toys Japan has heard your prayers and answered ’em in the form of the Uchiage Hanabi. This is essentially a projector that displays “fireworks” on the walls and ceilings, with realistic movement and sound. And if that weren’t enough, you can create your own fireworks and program your own shows. Now you can have Bastille Day, every day, in the privacy of your apartment! Out August 1, with a list price of $168.

Needless to say, I’m pissed off that SEGA jumped on this goldmine before I had the chance.  But I have a plan to steal market share: I’ll make a version with real fireworks that shoot out of a tiny canon, and while it’s shooting flaming objects around your house, The Final Countdown will blare from two little speakers on the side of it. The device will come with safety goggles (for the children) and pet armor (in case you own a cat):

Armor For Cats

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Hot Chip and littleBits

littleBits are Lego-like circuit components that fit together magnetically. The Japanese used them to build Optimus Prime. Here is a video demonstrating an intriguing use of the littleBits technology:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Note that the beverage produced by this ultra-futuristic coffee maker was invisible. Why is that? In the future, we will live so much inside our minds that it won’t matter whether the things we eat and drink actually exist. The guys at littleBits understand this. They recognize that existent food items are overrated: hot coffee can scald people, burnt toast causes cancer, eggs have salmonella. But if we eliminated the physical incarnation of these troublesome edibles, leaving only the idea of them — well, all our problems would be solved.

This video really does justice to the de-physicalization concept, and as a bonus it was set to the snazzy Hot Chip song “Ready For The Floor”.

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Suko Zuwari: A delightfully strange kitty obsession

Japanese love cats that sit like humans

Scottish Folding

suko-zuwari = the amusing human-like sitting style of some cats

Over at the pet section of Yahoo! Japan, a Suko-zuwari” photo contest is in progress. “Suko-zuwari” is a word created by Japanese cat lovers to describe the amusing human-like sitting style of some cats. The behavior is most commonly found in Scottish Folds, so the first part of “Scottish” [スコティッシュ] was combined with word for “sitting” [座り] to make “suko-zuwari“ [スコ座り].

Fuji TV’s “Mezamashi TV” morning show recently ran a segment about the online photo contest, visiting a cat cafe to observe some “suko-zuwari“:

They find a few cats sitting in just such a pose, and comments are made about how it resembles the sitting style of lazy middle-aged men.

A cat expert says that cats often make various poses while licking themselves clean, and it is possible that some cats discover through their cleaning routines that the “suko-zuwari” position is comfortable. Only male cats seem to sit that way, and it may have something to do with their own desire to smell themselves. [via Japan Probe]

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Peter, Bjorn, and John – Nothing To Worry About

Another addictive video from Peter, Bjorn and John — this time with more Japanese Rockabilly dancers:

For more videos and information on the dancers of Yoyogi park, check out Nihongo Notes. Δ

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