Little Japan: A Wonderful Tiny Tokyo

Little Japan: A Wonderful Tiny Tokyo

Little Japan is a wonderful tilt-shift three-minute short film created by Fershad Irani, with music by Jack Johnson. The film was shot during early February 2011, in and around Kyoto and Tokyo. Irami began working on the film while watching news coverage of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, and sends his message, “To everyone in Japan, stay strong, thoughts are with you.”

Little Japan: A Wonderful Tiny Tokyo

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Photos of the Day: The Taxi Lights of Tokyo

Photos of the Day: The Taxi Lights of Tokyo

Photography by: Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

The Taxi Lights of Tokyo is a wonderful collection of color photographs by New York City street photographer Joseph O. Holmes. It’s an incredible series of images, which captures the spirit of a city that glitters and shines much like Times Square. The photographs reflect a nighttime urban mood that seems always the same, with scenes that are enhanced by the colorful out-of-focus background of other lighted signs.

In light of the devastation unleashed by the recent massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, readers might wish to consider making a donation to the Japan Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund, or to Doctors Without Borders.

Tokyo Taxis: The Colorful Taxis of the City

Taxi Stand: Taxi Lights in Tokyo

Japan: The Devastation of the Massive Earthquake and Tsunami

Slide Show: The Taxi Lights of Tokyo

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Japan: The Devastation of the Massive Earthquake and Tsunami

Japan: The Devastation of the Massive Earthquake and Tsunami

A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami that damaged much of the country’s coastline. The quake set off a huge oil-refinery fire north of Tokyo, where high-rise buildings designed to withstand major earthquakes swayed for several minutes. More than 30 aftershocks were reported, the largest measuring 7.1.

The tsunami waves that followed reached upwards of 30 feet high and devastated Japan’s northeastern shoreline. Waves pushed over ships, carried smaller vessels inland, knocked buildings off their foundation, tossed cars about like toys, and reversed the direction of a river. The tsunami was so devastating because the quake happened near a deep trench in the sea floor that marks the boundary between two plates of the earth’s crust.

In addition, the quake resulted in a nuclear crisis unfolding at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, unlike any seen in history: multiple failures, fires and radiation leaks from at least four separate reactors. While damage from the earthquake and tsunami was instantly visible, the nuclear impact has taken days to unfold and could affect far larger swaths of Japan and neighboring countries.

What the sea so violently ripped away, it has now begun to return. On Monday, various reports from police officials and news agencies said that as many as 2,000 bodies had now washed ashore along the coastline, overwhelming the capacity of local officials. About 350,000 people have reportedly been left homeless and are staying in shelters, awaiting news of friends and relatives among the many thousands who remain unaccounted for. The national police said early Tuesday that more than 15,000 were missing, though just 2,475 deaths had been confirmed since the quake.

Japan: The Devastation of the Massive Earthquake and Tsunami

Slide Show: Japan/The Devastation of the Massive Earthquake and Tsunami

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Frank DanCoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer

Frank DanCoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer

Frank DanCoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer is a  sparkly futuristic, wild and wacky eight-minute short film by writer/director/producer Andrew Jones, winner of the Best Short Award at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival and the much coveted Brown Jenkin Award at the 2010 Hp Lovecraft Film Festival.

The time: The Future.  The place: Neo-Ultra-Mega-Tokyo.  Or maybe the time and place are really somewhere in a dark and dangerous back alley.  In this shimmering, shiny-yet-grimy world we discover Holly Malone, a reporter with ten times the daring and audacious spunk of the old Lois Lane, along with a powerful uterus for the news.  Her reporter instincts plus a very peculiar sense of taste has set her on the trail of the city’s legendary drug lord, Frank DanCoolo.  He’s the source of paranormal drugs which are ravaging society, that is if he really exists.  Molly is sure he does, and her journey to find DanCoolo leads her to unknown realities, terrifying secrets, flying katanas and some really righteous dope.

Frank DanCoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer

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A Beautiful Mind: Stephen Wiltshire Draws New York City from Memory

A Beautiful Mind: Stephen Wiltshire Draws New York City from Memory

Steven Wiltshire (born 1974) is an accomplished architectural artist who has been diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder.  Wiltshire’s work has been the subject of many television documentaries; neurologist Oliver Sacks praised his artistic work in the chapter Prodigies in his book An Anthropologist on Mars.  Stephen Wiltshire’s many published art books have included Cities (1989), Floating Cities (1991) and Stephen Wiltshire’s American Dream (1993).

Wiltshire is presently working to complete his last drawing in a series of city panoramas, this time of his spiritual home, New York City.  Wiltshire’s collection of  already completed works depicting some of the world’s most iconic cities already includes London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Rome, Madrid, Frankfurt, Dubai, and Jerusalem.  A 20-minute fly-over Manhattan this past weekend provided the memory for a 20-foot panorama of the city that he’s drawing throughout this week at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute.  Viewers can watch his progress on a live web cam or visit the Institute while he works from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday, Oct. 26 to Friday, Oct. 30, 2009.

A Beautiful Mind: Stephen Wiltshire Draws New York City from Memory

Slide Show: A Beautiful Mind/Stephen Wiltshire Draws New York City from Memory

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Viewers can watch his progress on a live web cam while he works from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday, Oct. 26 to Friday, Oct. 30, here.

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Bioscleave House: Built to Defeat Mortality

Bioscleave House: Built to Defeat Mortality

Bioscleave House (Lifespan Extending Villa) was designed by Arakawa, a 71 year old artist, with his wife, Madeline Gins, 66. Ms. Gins, 66, extolls the health benefits of the house, claiming that its architecture makes people use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium, which stimulates their immune systems. The concrete floor of the house rises and falls like the surface of a vast, bumpy chocolate chip cookie, an undulating floor that tends to throw people off balance.

In addition to the floor, which threatens to send the un-sure-footed hurtling into the sunken kitchen at the center of the house, the design features walls painted, somewhat disorientingly, in about 40 different colors; multiple levels meant to create the sensation of being in two spaces at once; windows at varying heights; oddly angled light switches and outlets; and an open flow of traffic, unhindered by interior doors or their adjunct, privacy.

Like the undulating floor, Arakawa and Gins, as they are known professionally, tend to throw people off balance. In 45 years of working together as artists, poets and architects, they have developed a cryptic philosophy of life and art, a theory they call reversible destiny. Essentially, they have made it their mission, in paintings, books and now architectural projects like this one, to outlaw aging and its consequences, to reverse the downhill course of human life. “It’s immoral that people have to die,” Ms. Gins explained.

The house in East Hampton cost more than $2 million to build. It’s their first completed architectural work in the United States and, as they see it, a turning point in their campaign to defeat mortality. The house, which is still unoccupied, was commissioned in the late 1990s by a friend who sold the property to an anonymous group of investors after the project dragged on and costs mounted. But it is ready, Arakawa and Ms. Gins say, to begin rejuvenating whoever moves in now.

The Destiny Houses, Japan

In 1998 they won a competition, sponsored by the city of Tokyo, to build a vast housing project on 75 acres of landfill. The project was never realized, but a group of supporters in Tokyo arranged to build nine loft-style units, in Mitaka, Japan, which in many ways resemble the house in East Hampton.

Audio Slide Show: The Lifespan Expanding Villa/Built to Defeat Mortality

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Interested readers will find more about The Lifespan Expanding Villa in The New York Times here.

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Heavenly Shades of Pink: It’s Cherry Blossom Time

Heavenly Shades of Pink: It’s Washington’s National Cherry Blossom Festival

Each year, Washington, D.C., embraces the arrival of spring with the two-week National Cherry Blossom Festival, a tradition that showcases the beautiful 3,000 cherry trees that the city of Tokyo gave to our nation’s capital back in 1912. The blossoming cherry trees symbolize the arrival of spring and brighten the entire area surrounding the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin with their vibrant pale pink and white flowers. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which began on Saturday and lasts for two weeks, has become Washington’s premiere tourist event, drawing more than a million visitors annually.

A Day Among the Cherry Blossoms

A Video Slideshow: The National Cherry Blossom Festival

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