Japan’s Desire To Preserve Youth Continues With Anti-Aging Beer

The desire to preserve one’s youth or to achieve one’s ideal of physical perfection is now in full swing more than ever. Although plastic surgery is more common in Asia, I can see our fair share in my own backyard. After all, this is Los Angeles. With the recent viral Kylie Jenner lip challenge, it makes me think how much more obsessed society is becoming to look like the celebrities they admire (even though many of them are anything but admirable).

Recently, we showed you Japan and Korea’s beauty trends to achieve a younger look. However, makeup and beauty products are simply not enough. It seems that Japan is quite adamant about maintaining a youthful appearance because now, you can find anti-aging properties in their beer.

Japanese brewery, Suntory, produced a new beer called “Precious.” It contains collagen, a protein that is believed to contain anti-aging properties. This protein is what gives skin elasticity and it decreases as we get older; this is why we get wrinkles and our skin isn’t as… perky (yikes). Japanese women believe that using and ingesting collagen products will make their wrinkles magically disappear. Quite a smart move there, Suntory brewery.

There has yet to be studies that prove this beer’s anti-aging claims are true, but it’s certainly a smart marketing gimmick to attract women. I’m not sure if I buy into Suntory’s claims, but since it’s beer, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.

Courtesy of fooddiggity.com.

Courtesy of fooddiggity.com.

 

Feature image courtesy of YouBeauty.com.

Japan’s Latest Beauty Trend May Have You Looking Sick

Admit it. We’ve all experienced our fair share of beauty and fashion trends that may have seemed attractive at the time, but looking back, you wonder what you were possibly thinking. For me, it was those odd leather belts with long fringes, colorful plaid shorts and teased hair that would probably make Snooki proud.

Japan is no stranger to quirky and bold fashion and beauty trends. For instance, their latest Harajuku make up trend has girls looking like adorable dolls … who seem to be running a high fever.

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This latest beauty trend is called “Me no shita chiiku” or “under eye blush.” The flushed feature creates a sickly appearance, which also consists of pale skin, puffy under eyes and a signature large doll or puppy dog eyes. However, the goal isn’t to look sick, but youthful, like the natural flush that appears after playing outside in the sun.

“Flushed cheeks are usually associated with young people.” RinRin Doll tells Yahoo Beauty. “The higher blush placement favored by Harajuku girls makes cheeks appear round and youthful.”

Japan is not the only country where youthfulness is ideal. In Korea, celebrities favor the illusion of under eye bags called “Aegyo Sal,” which gives the illusion that your eyes are constantly joyful and smiling.

These trends differ greatly from the current beauty trend in the United States where contouring and highlighting for slim, chiseled and smoldering features are in. What do you think about the youthful beauty trend? Do you prefer this over the contouring trend, which gives a more mature appearance?

 

All photos courtesy of RinRin Doll.

 

Netizens Claim Miss Universe Japan is Not Japanese Enough

Ariana Miyamoto was recently selected as the first mixed-race candidate to represent Japan in the Miss Universe pageant. Born and raised in Nagaski to a Japanese mother and an African American father, Miyamoto identifies as Japanese and has even studied Japanese calligraphy. But to some people in Japan, that is not enough.

As if she were already anticipating the backlash, Miyamoto said in an interview, “I thought ‘I wonder if a haafu like me would be okay’ and had insecurities. I think the world pageant will be a bit more vigorous, but I want to be myself and try my best.” And right on cue, headlines like “Haafu to Represent Japan in Miss Universe 2015″ have started popping up.

First off, “haafu” is a term that means half Japanese. Many haafus, such as fashion model Rola, tend to be popular as models and idols, but haafus still generally face discrimination. After all, Japan originated the saying “出る釘は打たれる” or “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. Therefore, it’s saddening but not unexpected that reactions to Miyamoto have been mixed.

Top-rated comments wishing for a “more Japanese” contestant have appeared on popular Japanese websites such as “GirlsChannel.” Other comments have been more blunt, like the one saying Miyamoto “has too much black blood in her to be Japanese.”

Thankfully, some more progressive-minded commenters are fighting back saying “having a different ethnicity in you doesn’t make you ANY LESS JAPANESE!” and calling the questions on her validity “pathetic” and “outdated.”

Nina Davaluri wins Miss America 2013

Nina Davuluri wins Miss America 2013.

This isn’t the first time pageants have been met with racist reactions. For instance, Nina Davuluri, the first woman of Indian descent to win Miss America, quickly became the focus of discriminatory and racist comments on various social media platforms. She was called “Miss 7-11,” “Miss Al-Qaeda,” and even referred to as a “terrorist.”

Needless to say, we here at Audrey Magazine wish Ariana Miyamoto, as well as every other beauty pageant contestant who faces discrimination, the best of luck against the naysayers. We support you.

 

 

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Japan’s “Cat Island” Is Purr-fect for Cat Lovers

 

If you’re still not satisfied with a Hello Kitty Cafe or a Cat Cafe, how about an island full of cats? As much fun as that sounds, I’ll stick to my Hello Kitty plushies considering I’m severely allergic to those purring fluff balls. But for (non-allergic) cat-lovers all over the globe, Japan’s Aoshima Island needs to be added to your list of bucket list destinations stat.

Aoshima Island, dubbed “Cat Island,” is a small fishing village located in Miyazaki, Japan where the population of cats outnumber the human population. Matter of fact, there’s only 22 people officially and more than 120 cats that reside on the island (hope you brought catnip). These cats were first introduced as a solution to the mice problem on the boats and since then, the felines have been multiplying. Everywhere you look, there will be cats roaming freely along the docks and taking shelter in abandoned houses.

On this secluded island there are no store nor hotels, and the only way outsiders can reach this island is by ferry that runs twice a day. So lineup early because only 34 visitors can go to Cat Island per day and the number of tourists is steadily increasing. If you can’t reach the island anytime soon, here’s some photos to give you a taste of what it’ll be like:

 

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All photos courtesy of Thomas Peter/ Reuters.

 

Cost Efficient Robots Will Run A Japanese Hotel

When I think of robots, the word “helpful” doesn’t exactly come to mind. Sure, they could be developed to take on simple tasks like vacuum your home, but that’s about as comfortable as I get with robots. Maybe Hollywood is to blame for my negative viewpoint, but I when I think of robots, I picture man-made machines that could possibly malfunction and cause problems rather than solve them. Lucky for me, other than simple household items or toys, I haven’t seen or experienced significant robotic interactions in the United States. However, the same can’t be said for Japan where there is continuing development and use of robots. This summer, the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, will open its doors and guests will experience an ideally normal, pleasant hotel stay. The only difference? The hotel will be predominantly run by advanced robots. Hui Bosch According to mnn.com, guests will probably have no interaction with human hotel workers. These robots, or “actroids” will speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English. Although this high-tech and high end hotel will have 90% of its operations run by robots, there will still be humans present should malfunctions in the system occur. So why use robots when people would have to stand by anyway? It is cost efficient. Unlike human workers, robots have no salary, no sick days, no need for health insurance, etc. Ultimately, no humans, no human concerns for the company. Technology is constantly changing in our fast-paced world and yes, technology is an essential tool for us today. Economically, I understand the Henn-na’s decision to use robots. However, doesn’t that take away from the human experience of being warmly welcomed as a guest? Wouldn’t you want an actual pleasant greeting into the hotel and the front desk telling you their opinions on what restaurants to try or what recommended attractions are close by? Lastly, can we say we trust those people that are running and controlling these robots? Call me old-fashioned but I would rather interact with people than robots. What are your thoughts?

 

All photos courtesy of Huis Ten Bosch.

 

 

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Jpop Group Momoiro Clover Z Continues Japan’s Trend of Blackface

Last week, popular Japanese idol group Momoiro Clover Z tweeted out the picture above to promote their upcoming collaboration performance on Music Fair with the doo-wop group Rats & Star. You can guess what happened next, right? The photo was deleted from twitter, Momoiro Clover Z’s management released an “I’m sorry you were offended” apology and Music Fair cancelled the blackface performance.

Unfortunately, none of these things happened.

The tweet is still up, no apology has been released as of this date and the blackface performance is still set to air on Music Fair on March 7th. Instead, the backlash Momoiro Clover Z has been facing has mostly been coming from the online, non-Japanese media. After the image was first posted, tweets from New York Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi and Wired writer Daniel Feit caught the attention of 2ch, a popular Japanese online messaging forum not known for it’s cultural sensitivity and tact. While the 2ch reactions were a mixed bag as usual, lots of commenters could see how this was unacceptable. “Even in the 21st century, it looks there’s a backwards group of people doing a minstrel show,” wrote one 2ch commenter.

Therefore, it’s not such a surprise that Momoiro Clover Z cancelled a screening and press conference of their movie The Curtain Rises with the  Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) scheduled for February 23rd. No mention of the blackface incident was made in the email, which raises suspicions. While it’s clear here that someone in Momoiro Clover Z’s management realizes that the blackface incident is not a good thing, we can’t help but be suspicious that this cancellation was a tactical move from their management to try to wait out the blacklash storm in hopes that it will go away. After all, Japanese entertainment has had a long history of blackface without any ruckus. Why should things be different this time?

Blackface has been a recurring thing in modern Japanese entertainment, particularly for comedic variety shows. And not once has there ever been any acknowledgement of wrongdoing. Essentially, Japanese entertainers have always been able to get away with blackface without any damage to their careers whatsoever. Let’s look back at some of these incidents, starting with Momoiro Clover Z’s blackface partner-in-crime, Rats & Stars.

Rats & Star is a Japanese doo-wop group that has been parading around as a blackface minstrel show since 1980. Their group name is a palindrome, reading the same forwards and backwards, and symbolizes “rats” raised in the less affluent parts of town that could, by singing doo-wop music, reverse their fortunes and collectively become a “star.” Ever since 1980, Rats & Star has been releasing album covers and making television appearances where they have dressed up in blackface.

This group has doing blackface for over thirty years and getting away with it. You’d think the younger generation would have learned that blackface, just like yellowface or brownface, is a dehumanizing, degrading and racist caricature of a group of people who have suffered because of racism and is therefore unacceptable.

Except, they haven’t. Here are five recent incidents of blackface in Japanese entertainment.

 


 

1. Popular boyband group ARASHI did this blackface impersonation on a variety show. Despite this blackface incident, they still remain one of the top Japanese boyband groups today.

 


 

2. Here’s Sayaka Akimoto, a former member of AKB48, doing a Michael Jackson impersonation. Akimoto “graduated” from AKB48 years later, out of her own volition and not because of this incident.

 


 

3. Japanese “urban” singer Jasmine made her debut with “Sad to Say” in 2009. On the back of the single cover was blackface. Her second album was released in 2013.

 


 

4. Chara, a popular 90’s singer who still releases music to this day, had this image on the back of her fourth album Happy Toy.

 


 

5. This variety show performance in 2010 had half black/half Japanese enka singer JERO performing with a comedian in blackface. Yes, some entertainers in Japan have the nerve to do blackface in front of a black person’s face.

 


 

So yes, there is a serious problem about blackface in Japan that is worth discussing. It’s 2015. Blackface with no repercussion is unacceptable.

While the Momoiro Clover Z and Rats & Star blackface performance is a terrible thing overall, we feel the slightest sliver of hope at the steadily growing blacklash. This is the first time that blackface has caused any sort of response from the perpetrator. We can only hope that the backlash will grow louder. After all, Momoiro Clover Z’s and Rats & Star’s blackface performance is still scheduled to air on March 7th in Music Fair. Isn’t it time to put a stop to this?

 

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Can Jpop Queen Namie Amuro Make It In America?

Last week, Business Journal reported that Namie Amuro has purchased a house in Los Angeles in anticipation of her American debut. While no official statements have been made, Amuro’s last two studio albums, FEEL and Uncontrolled, heavily featured many all-English tracks. If she were to debut in America, Amuro would join a long line of Jpop stars including Utada Hikaru, BoA (who is also a Kpop star), Jin Akanishi (of KAT-TUN) and Crystal Kay. All of these artists attempted to establish American careers, but unfortunately, they have not yet emerged as household names among the general American population. According to an anonymous music industry official, Amuro is trying a different approach.

“Namie is well aware of Utada’s experiences [in the US]. She has begun intense English-language lessons,” the source said. “Concerning her music, she is fully satisfied with the type of music she releases being on par with the status quo. She’s not in a ‘I want to break America and be successful at all costs’ mindset, but rather ‘I want to step up my game.’”

Before determining whether or not Amuro can make it in America, let’s look at what her “game” in Japan has been.

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Image courtesy to wesina

Amuro debuted in 1992 under the group Super Monkey’s, but went solo in 1995 with the single “TRY ME~Watashi wo Shinjite~.” She quickly became known as an “it girl” who inspired the ganguro trend.

Of course, all trends fade and this is especially the case in Japan. The early 2000’s was a period of decline for Amuro. Between her shotgun marriage, the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of her uncle, and her divorce after three years of marriage, Amuro’s popularity took a major hit in Japan and it was reflected in her sales numbers.

But just as the 90’s trend came back, so did Amuro. First, she adopted a more mature, hip-hop inspired image. She even titled her sixth album The Queen of Hip-Pop. Finally in 2008, her seventh album Play hit number one for the first time in over seven years. Since then, all of Amuro’s albums have hit number one and have landed somewhere comfortably in the Top 10 Best-Selling Album Charts of whatever year it was released in.

While Amuro has stopped making television show appearances since 2009, her face is everywhere on fashion magazines across Japan. Although she is 37-years-old (don’t let the pictures fool you), she is a fashion icon for Japanese women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. In a climate where idol groups reign and Japanese solo artists have declined, Namie Amuro is back on top.

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Image courtesy of avex

After successfully emerging from a 22-year-old career full of ups and downs, it makes sense why a move to America would step up Amuro’s game. But will she be able to succeed? We think so.

It’s true that Amuro is significantly older than other Jpop and even Kpop artists trying to break into the American market. However, her age and experience might actually give her an upper hand. Unlike Kpop girl groups such as the Wonder Girls, Amuro won’t be mistaken as an Asian Disney Channel-esque teenybopper. Amuro’s mature, confident image breaks the stereotypical image of Jpop as sugary, high-pitched, novelty act girl groups such as AKB48.

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As important as image is in the music industry, Amuro’s success will mainly rely on her music. Luckily, Amuro’s distinctive, low pitched voice will definitely help her there. It isn’t hard to imagine songs like “ALIVE” being played in any sort of club in America. Or even songs such as “BRIGHTER DAY,” which doesn’t sound like anything currently heard on Top 40 radio, shows potential to bring new sound to American ears.

If Amuro keeps to her image and music, it is more than possible that she will “make it” in America. After all, Amuro’s 22-year-comeback is unprecedented both in the Japanese and American music market. Who’s to say that America is an insurmountable obstacle for her?

I’d say it’s wise to not underestimate Namie Amuro.

 

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‘Attack on Titan’ Fever Continues with Universal Studios Japan Attraction

 

In Japan, most anime series and their fandoms are considered a niche, relegated to children and the otaku subculture. Attack on Titan (the English translation for Shingeki no Kyojin) has transcended that stereotype and is an undeniable pop culture phenomenon in Japan today. For those who are unfamiliar with this fandom, Attack on Titan is based on a manga series by Hajime Isaya in 2009, but it’s popularity took off with the 2013 anime adaptation. A dark medieval fantasy where the enemies are gigantic, scary, cannibalistic “titans” that visually represent the ugliness of humanity, Attack on Titan has taken on a life of its own with popular cameraphone apps, Pizza Hut campaigns and now its own attraction in Universal Studios Japan.

The Attack on Titan attraction is part of a limited time exhibit hosted by the Japanese tourist organization Universal Cool Japan. The attraction features lifelike titan and character statues from the series that guests can pose with to make them feel like they’ve stepped inside the Attack on Titan world. There is also a cafe where guests can relax and dine on Attack on Titan themed cuisine (we assume no humans were harmed in making) and purchase plenty of merchandise. Judging from early pictures posted on twitter and other social media platforms, it seems as if the guests are having loads of fun exploring and immersing themselves in the Attack on Titan world:

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Here are two videos for anyone who wants to experience the attraction, but can’t fly to Osaka, Japan (warning: no English subtitles).

This limited-time exhibit is only open until May 10th. If you can’t make it to Osaka in time, the Attack on Titan live action movie will be released sometime in the summer this year as well as a second season of the anime that is tentatively set for 2016.

The Titans are coming for you.

 

Feature image courtesy of DramaFever. 

Angelina Jolie’s WWII Film “Unbroken” Creates Outrage in Japan

The upcoming World War II film Unbroken has not been released internationally yet, but it has already outraged many Japanese nationalists who are attempting to ban the film in Japan. Some are so outraged that they are even extending the ban to the film’s director, Angelina Jolie.

Unbroken tells the shocking and inspiring tale of real-life WWII hero and former Olympic distance runner Louis Zamperini. Inspired by his 2010 biography written by Laura Hillenbrand, the film shows how Zamperini survived 47 days in the Pacific Ocean following a plane crash, only to spend the next two years enduring brutal treatment as a Japanese prisoner of war.

Sadly, Zamperini passed away at the age of 97 on July 2, 2014, but not before creating a strong bond with his neighbor Angelina Jolie.

“I imagine that for the last 10-something years, [Zamperini has] been sitting there having a coffee in the morning and wondering who’s going to make [his story into a] movie,” Jolie told Tom Brokaw on TODAY. “And I’ve been sitting in my room laying there thinking, ‘What am I supposed to be doing with my life? I wanna do something important … I need some help. I need some guidance. Where is it?’ And it was right outside my window.”

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Despite the film’s good intentions, Japan is enraged with the negative portrayal of Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. A particularly gruesome passage in Zamperini’s biography mentions the occurrence of cannibalism.

“There was absolutely no cannibalism,” argues Mutsuhiro Takeuchi, a nationalist-leaning educator. “That is not our custom.”

Although there are many, such as Mindy Kotler of the Washington research center Asia Policy Point, who point out that there is plenty of documentation on the torture and abuse inflicted on Japanese POWs, The Review Journal explains that this is not the first time Japanese nationalists disagree:

“The release of Unbroken comes at a time [where] some in Japan are downplaying the country’s colonization of its Asian neighbors and the aggressive acts carried out by the Imperial Army during World War II.

For example, some politicians dispute the role of Japanese soldiers in the Rape of Nanjing, which began in 1937, in which an estimated 300,000 Chinese were killed. They say that is a vast over count.

Similarly, they reject historical studies that show women from several Asian countries, especially Korea, were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military. Some oppose the term “sex slave,” which the U.N. uses, preferring the euphemistic “comfort women.””

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Despite the controversial reaction, Jolie is moving forward with her film. The world premiere was held in Sydney, Australia last month.

The audience seemed particularly impressed with actor Takamasa Ishihara (more commonly known as Miyavi) who plays “The Bird,” a Japanese prison guard who is especially cruel to Zamperini.

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Don’t be surprised if Miyavi looks familiar. He has been in the limelight as a popular J-pop star since 2002, but decided to put aside his lip rings and intricate hairstyles for this challenging role.

“As a musician, I questioned whether I should take a break from my craft to pursue this role,” Miyavi said in a statement last October. “After meeting Angie, it became clear to me that an underlying theme to this story is forgiveness. This resonated with me because that is exactly what I want express through my music.”

Unbroken will debut in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day. Check out the official trailer below.

 

Feature image courtesy of justjared.com

 

The Making of a Japanese Kokeshi Doll is Oddly Satisfying to Watch

 

There are a lot of benefits that come with new technology, but sometimes the “old school” methods have a charm to them. Take this video uploaded by tetotetote’s for example. The 4 minute video shows the making of a Japanese kokeshi doll from start to finish. And no, this isn’t your ordinary sort of doll making and it definitely isn’t factory machines cranking out plastic dolls.

Set against gorgeous piano music, the 400-year old Japanese craft turns a wooden doll into an art form. These figurines, often sold as keepsakes to hot spring visitors who pass through Northern Japan, range in different styles but maintain the trademark enlarged head and no arms or legs.

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Tetotetote’s aim is to highlight the arts in Sendai, Japan and it certainly accomplishes that mission as it shows maker Yasuo Okazaki creating a kokeshi doll. The head and body are made with few tools and spun in a natural movement. Okazaki’s “Naruko” style is a practice passed down from father to son for generations. The stripes are then formed with a stroke of brush, and red headdresses and bangs fluidly appear when he decorates freehand.

With gorgeous acoustics (the spinning block of wood) and calming aesthetic (the wood shavings are chaos but the setting is still and in focus), blocks of wood take life in these creations of dedication.