Sake Archives 2006

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The Silicone Valley of the Dolls
Orient is in the business of serving society by supplying sexy stand-ins for those in need of filling a female void. And with technological advancements improving steadily, Nakamura says, his company can accommodate any want for a lifelike lady. To step into the Tokyo showroom, which is filled with Victorian furniture and the soothing sounds of chanteuse Enya, is to literally enter the silicone valley. Ami lies on a bed rimmed in lace, her body adorned in matching panties and bra. Rie (black evening dress) and Tomoko (red yukata) recline in chairs, both displaying sizable cleavage.

December 31, 2006

MAD3 Get Lost in Tokyo
The band quickly explodes into "Jack the Violence," the title track of their debut on label Time Bomb, and the assembled pork pie hats and leather jackets surge into a roiling swarm. The pace is that of locomotive; the trio seemingly never surfacing for air. MAD3 has polished its instrumental sound since that release eleven years ago to the point of being true technicians of the genre. While their new album "Lost Tokyo" showcases more of their trademark '50s-inspired fuzz and feedback, it is also an attempt to rip apart the superficiality that envelops the metropolis and blow it back to the Meiji Period (1868-1912).

December 30, 2006

Unwinding the Mystery of the Gyroball
Daisuke Matsuzaka is 26 and sports a crown of spiky hair. He stands at 182 centimeters, weighs 85 kilograms, and throws a gyroball. American newspapers, whose stories typically compare the pitch's elusiveness to that of a ghost or the Loch Ness Monster, have approximated the degree of the pitch's break, graphically showing it making a sweeping turn as it crosses the plate - a movement so large that it exceeds even that of a curveball. Is this beast for real? Conversations with the pitch's pioneers, two very different people working in two very different worlds, make reaching some kind of concurrence on the gyroball's characteristics and Matsuzaka's connection about as easy as trying to hit a Matsuzaka pitch - any one of them.

December 29, 2006

Deep Impact Captures the Japan Cup
In trademark fashion, Deep Impact, who was disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance following his third-place finish in Paris last month, lagged the field early on only to explode over the final furlong for a dazzling two-length victory over Dream Passport.

November 27, 2006

The Guns of Betio
American and Japanese forces tore through Betio, then included in the Gilbert Islands, turning the coral and sand landscape into a charred crisp that resembled something like a lunar surface. Today this half-square-mile rock is a part of the Republic of Kiribati, a collection of 33 atolls spread over 1,300 square miles of the Pacific. Though few people living today recall the mayhem of those dark days, many war relics still linger, crumbling on its white sands.

November 20, 2006

The Bomana War Cemetery
Bomana is the final resting place for many of those Australian soldiers who prevented the Japanese from marching over the treacherous ascents and through the mud and thick forests of the trail to Port Moresby. Quiet and tranquil, Bomana offers a pleasant respite from the dusty and noise-filled streets of nearby Port Moresby. But for returning veterans, the grounds can bring back bitter memories of brutality.

November 13, 2006

The Alotau Canoe Festival
As John Kaniku tells it, the appropriate beginning to canoe construction is simple enough: you have to choose a tree of quality timber. But procedure generally gets a little complicated after that initial selection. "Then you have to remove the fairies, the good ones and the bad ones," says the chairman of this month's 3rd annual Alotau Canoe Festival. "You will do this by singing to them, asking them to go from your tree to another."

November 1, 2006

Yamada Screens Final Samurai Flick at Tokyo Festival
Taken from a short story by author Shuhei Fujisawa, the picture, which is the final installment in a series that has included the Oscar-nominated "The Twilight Samurai" and "The Hidden Blade," is the story of a blind samurai who must uphold the virtues of the warrior code and simultaneously win the love of his wife.

October 20, 2006

Japan's Digital Video Frontier
Though many have focused on the clash for the future high-def home video format between Sony's Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD DVD, digital viewing on-the-go, as in One-Seg, is not to be ignored. One-Seg transmits video and audio data through one segment of the transmitting signal of standard terrestrial digital television broadcasts to deliver content to portable devices.

October 16, 2006

Japanese Film Commissions Go to Pusan
"After 'Lost in Translation,'" says Maezawa of the 2003 film that featured two foreigners drifting through the complexities of Tokyo's concrete sprawl, "I had great hopes for increasing the number of shoots in Japan by American movie companies. However, filming such things as car-chase scenes is difficult. For 'Tokyo Drift,' the Tokyo police turned a cold shoulder to shooting in the streets."

October 10, 2006

Rumbling above, Bubbling below: Tokyo's Only Private Highway
Negishi and Tokyo Kosoku have been balancing the effects of the moving traffic above with the tenants below - neither of whom is likely aware of the other - for forty years. During this time he has developed a few pointers for going private, a move the government has partially implemented for its national highway system.

September 20, 2006

Paradise TV Raises Funds for Aids Prevention
When adult satellite channel Paradise TV decides to broadcast a live charity event, they ensure there will be no imitations. Here stand a group of male subscribers, each ready to dine on a dish - an omelet or perhaps a bowl of pork kimchi - doused in a golden shower dispensed by one of a half-dozen topless AV (adult video) actresses.

September 3, 2006

Vanuatu Beef for the Organic Market
Quickly, workers in white smocks stained in bright red attach a chain to its leg. The animal is hoisted up and then along a steel rail. As one of the workers draws a thin, foot-long blade from his belt to slice the animal's throat, the next head arrives inside the walled enclosure. An echoing moo then begins rolling through the slaughterhouse.

August 25, 2006

From a Port Moresby Taxi
For Port Moresby cab-driver Paul Egan, the smashed and spiderwebbed upper-right section of his windshield is not a big deal. Probably, he surmises, caused by a stoning after an argument. Nor is the bullet hole just beneath the handle of the driver's side door. A car-jack attempt? He doesn't know. Sporting a collared plaid shirt and gray trousers, Egan, 46, from Papua New Guinea's mountainous Simbu Province, pulls his deep blue Mazda 323 cab from the International Terminal parking lot at Jackson Airport.

August 16, 2006

Vanuatu's Disappearing Coconut Crabs
But in recent years there has been a disappearance of one particular crab from the market's tables. Looking like a blue alien creature bound tightly in twine, the coconut crab was once as common as the grilled fish being fanned by ladies in flower dresses. The culprit: a dish of curry sauce, a couple spoonfuls of coconut milk, and a few slices of toast.

August 15, 2006

The AV Actress
The job of the actress is to bring ecstasy to the screen, to indeed sell it as authentic so as to eliminate any doubt. To do so, she plays with her mind - perhaps by even drifting off to another location (or even onto another guy) - to ensure that her audience is getting a performance they can deem satisfying.

July 9, 2006

The AV Director
The morning shoot, which will be followed by an afternoon of romping, sucking, and even a smattering of dialogue, is just a single element within a string of directorial duties necessary for providing provocative enough action to get guys off. Success requires keeping up with the latest fetishes and managing frazzled actors and actresses - tasks Tanaka has mastered during his more than two decades in the industry.

July 2, 2006

BoA Headlines Avex Showcase
BoA and six backup dancers kicked off her two-song set with "Nanairo no Ashita" (Tomorrow's Seven Colors), a poppy double-A side single released in April that reached as high as number three on the Oricon Weekly Sales chart. "BoA is a star," said Araki Takashi, CEO of Avex, of the winner of the winner of the Most Influential Artist in Asia award at 2004 MTV Asia Awards. "She has developed beyond her cute image into a mature and beautiful artist."

June 30, 2006

Holy Hostesses! A Publisher in the Shadows
Flipping through the Kanto monthly, which sells for 300 yen and could rival the New York Times Sunday edition for heft with its 600-page bulk, reveals ads showing working girls, from such legendary areas as Tokyo's Yoshiwara brothel quarter, in nearly every come-hither pose imaginable. No fetish is spared: grinning cosplay girls in nurse and maid costumes, obese ladies with clearly reported breast sizes, and blindfolded school girls in bondage represent but a few. Web pages and phone numbers make contact a snap.

June 21, 2006

Harpoons High, Consumption Low
"The Japanese public does not have a high interest in eating whale meat," she said, citing data to indicate that stockpiles of whale meat in Japan has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years, reaching 5,000 tons in 2005.

June 13, 2006

Phallus Fans Flock to Fertility Festival
The stand is one of many offering phallic fare at the Kanamara Matsuri, or metal penis festival, an annual event held in April - often colloquially referred to as the fertility festival - that is a relatively serious free-for-all to honor men's manhood.

April 3, 2006

John Swope: A Letter from Japan
With his Rolleiflex 75mm, Swope walked through rubble and burned-out structures and befriended Japanese both young and old alike during his three-week tour at the end of August 1945. The resulting collection of portraits and a letter written to his wife, both now on display at the UCLA Hammer Museum, not only express the physical and emotional difficulties experienced by the soldiers while in prison but also send the message that war has tremendous impacts on individuals on both sides of the fighting.

March 31, 2006

Toei Animation Looks Back after Fifty Years
After a half-century in the cartoon business, in which it produced such television classics as "Sailor Moon" and "Dragonball Z," Toei Animation is returning to its roots. "Our television animations are currently going all around the world," says Hiroyuki Kinoshita, director of the cartoon studio's corporate strategy. "Now we are thinking back to the origin of our company, which was focused on feature films."

March 27, 2006

It's a Gas: Las Vegas Preserves Neon
"We love to collect signs from vintage hotels," she says of the museum's intentions. "When we see construction going up around a property or hear something, we'll ask if they will donate the sign." By displaying such signs in its 3-acre "boneyard" and restoring others for public view, the museum is actively preserving a piece of the ever-changing Las Vegas cityscape: the glowing glass tubes and blinking bulbs that have been pulling in gamblers and tourists for over 60 years.

March 21, 2006

Yoshimitsu Banno: Behind Hedorah
The scene unfolds during the film's final battle sequence. Hedorah, an acid-spitting, layered shapeless mass brought to earth by a meteor and nourished on industrial pollution, morphs into a flying-saucer shape and takes flight to escape Godzilla's wrath. Godzilla then tilts his head slightly downward and emits his atomic breath, initially levitating the 330-foot beast and eventually propelling him in the direction of his retreating enemy.

January 15, 2006

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