Very interesting. The connection between science and beauty of nature is a peculiarly Japanese one, isn't it?
Incidentally, this reminds me of a spooky experiment a friend of mine took part in. His female friend tried to demonstrate her "powers" (inherited from her grandmother in a village in Eastern Europe) and used some sort of spell or formula on a bottle of regular tap water. Then she put this bottle in a freezer in my friend's home. A week later a black solid spot appeared right in the middle of the bottle that later turned into a black fuzzy entity looking like something of a cross between a fungus and an animal...
Thought I'd drop this in as it is an odd mix of films that didn't fit in anywhere else:
Its a 4 DVD set (again like a lot of the Arts magic sets through Play.com the 4 come in around the price of one indiivdual film) and all are good in their own ways and all are suitably strange and spooky (IMDB links thrown into the quote):
Japanese Classics Of Horror And Fantasy Box Set
A box set containing some of the best horror and fantasy films ever produced in Japan!
Portrait Of Hell
Created by premier Japanese novelist Ryunosuke Akutagawa (creator of Roshomon), 'Portrait of Hell' is a mesmerising look into humans creating hell on earth in their own unique ways. Must be seen to be believed!
From Shiro Toyoda, director of the nightmarish 'Portrait Of Hell', comes a chilling story of love, betrayal and vengeance. Tatsuya Nakadai stars as the selfish samurai Iyemon, who after the loss of his lord, has been left impoverished. He become outraged that his father-in-law intends to sell his two daughter's into prostitution. It is not love, but respectability that Iyemon desires...
When Masakado was executed for crimes against humanity over a thousand years ago, his malevolent spirit refused to die with him, merely becoming dormant, and waiting for the chance to rise again. To disturb it is to awaken a terrible vengeance on the city of Tokyo. The demonic psychic, Kato, attempts to revive the slumbering evil and use its energy to plunge the city into a hell on Earth. It is up to a lone spiritual warrior, Keiko, a descendant of Masakado, to stop the maniacal Kato before the spirit is released and the ancient curse is unleashed upon the world.
Toshiro Mifune stars in this enchanting film, based on the traditional Japanese fairytale 'Kaguya', as the male half of a country couple who find a baby girl in the bamboo and raise her as their own until the truth is revealed when she is taken back...
Deep within the wind-swept marshes of war-torn medieval Japan, an impoverished mother and her daughter-in-law eke out a lonely, desperate existence. Forced to murder lost Samurai and sell their belongings for grain, they dump the corpses down a deep, dark hole and live off the meagre spoils.
When a bedraggled neighbour, the former friend of the woman's son, returns from the skirmishes, lust, jealousy, and rage threaten to destroy the trio's tenuous existence before an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask seals their horrifying fate...
Driven by primal emotions, dark eroticism, a frenzied score by Hikaru Hayashi and stunning images - both lyrical and macabre - Kanteo Shindo's chilling folk tale 'Onibaba' is a singular cinematic experience!
A companion piece to his 1964 classic 'Onibaba', this is another stylish ghostly folk tale from Kaneto Shindo, shot in dreamy black and white Tohoscope with another eerily menacing score from Hikaru Hayashi.
Delving beyond the superficial, Shindo once again examines class conflict as the arrogant Samurai elite rape and murder a woman and her daughter-in-law, only to find that as shape-shifting demons the wronged peasant women will exact a terrifying revenge...
Should you believe everything you read? Should you believe this?
The following episode, at least, is well documented: On Sept. 14, Eriko Kawaguchi, a 32-year-old rescue worker with the Metro Tokyo Fire Department, was arrested when she complained to police that the man she had paid to murder her lover's pregnant wife failed to carry out his end of the bargain. The man, a self-styled "detective" named Koji Tabe, was also arrested.
Kawaguchi allegedly met him in the course of an Internet search for a killer for hire. His "contract revenge" Web site seemed to promise what she was looking for. Sinking deeply into debt, she paid him 15 million yen for his services. When time passed and her lover's wife met no untimely end, Kawaguchi in her despair went to the police.
If that outlandish chain of events is possible, and apparently it is -- might not the rest of Shukan Jitsuwa's article be true too? Professional "avengers," it claims, are flourishing -- on the Net and off. Some even post ads on walls and utility poles. For a fee, they will do anything for you. Want your faithless partner rubbed out? Your boss taught a good sharp lesson? Your rapist or stalker or rival for somebody's affection infected with HIV? An avenger is the person to call.
One enterprise specializes in "chemical revenge." Its leader is a 35-year-old man Shukan Jitsuwa calls Mr. Tanaka.
"To most people this might sound like a joke," Tanaka says, apparently deadpan, "but yes, I guess you could say we have sprayed people with disease-causing bacteria -- hepatitis B, hepatitis C, cancer-causing chemical compounds . . ."
A surprising confession, muses Shukan Jitsuwa.
"In my business," Tanaka continues, "we can't be too squeamish about illegal requests. Some people hear from a private detective that their husbands or wives have been cheating, and go crazy: 'I want him dead!' 'Kill her!' "
Some are very specific about how they want the target to die.
"They'll say, 'Carve him up with a Japanese sword!' 'Shoot her full of AIDS!' Honestly, it's enough to disgust you with human nature."
As far as shooting someone full of "AIDS" is concerned Tanaka says: "We obtain tainted blood from doctors or students at university hospitals. Or we advertise for blood donations from AIDS victims." If the target is a man, "we might have a female staff member seduce the guy, take him out, slip something in his drink, and when he's sound asleep use a syringe to inject him with AIDS-tainted blood. There's no way to trace it back to us. How many times have we done this? Maybe 100. The fee? Usually 1 million yen."
How does the client know the target has been infected?
"We have our connections with the hospitals," says Tanaka. "We obtain the records, and pass them on to the clients. They get full, detailed reports."
He recalls one client in particular -- a high-school girl who had lost her virginity to a rapist. "AIDS" was the punishment she ordered. It was done. The fee in her case was 300,000 yen. How did she get the money?
"Prostitution," says Mr. Tanaka.
"Is this the end of the world?" wonders Shukan Jitsuwa.
Japan pupil in 'suicide warning'
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Tokyo
Japan's education ministry has received a letter from a school pupil warning that he will commit suicide on Saturday as no-one will stop him being bullied.
The package, which was addressed to the education minister, gives no details which might identify who the child is.
The ministry has asked education boards across the country to check whether any pupils in their district have problems similar to those described.
The letter's contents were published just hours after it arrived on Monday.
It is hard to tell whether this is a genuine cry for help or not but the ministry is taking no chances.
It called a middle of the night news conference to publicise the contents of the letter.
In it, the pupil - who is believed to be a boy - complains that he is been bullied and those responsible have not been punished.
He said he had tried reporting them to his teacher and that if the bullying did not stop by Wednesday, he would kill himself at school on Saturday.
'I am sorry'
In a note to the bullies the boy asks why they are picking on him. Another note addressed to a teacher asks why they will not help him.
Also in the package were other notes to officials, a school principal, and to the boy's own parents. To them he says simply: I am sorry.
None of these letters gives enough information to identify the pupil.
All the authorities have to go on is one character on the postmark, which could help to narrow down the search for him.
Education boards have been put on alert across the country in the hope they can prevent him carrying out his threat.
Bullying is a real problem here. Three bullied teenagers have taken their own lives in Japan since August.
The authorities have been trying to come up with ways to tackle the problem, but they are not finding it easy.
Very clever and sad, but clever. If it is a real warning, then the boy isn't just asking for help for himself but for others as well by keeping his details secret. If its not real it will still have the desired effect. It takes something shocking like this to get schools to listen and treat bullying more serious.
Do they do over there what our schools do over here? i.e. when a pupil goes to a major newspaper after nothing is done about their bullying, or worse the pupil's grieving parents do after their child takes their own life through bullying going unpunished, the school issues a statement saying "We have a good anti- bullying policy at XXXXX School. We do not tolerate bullying of any sort."
The implication being, of course, that the child and its family are great big fibbers and attention seekers, and the school did everything in its power to help. Which is usually utter bullshit.
I can see the follow-up headlines now: Japanese students in bullying shocker
Ministry caught completely off guard
Education boards continue to bury heads in sand
I worked in South Korean education for a few years. Let's just say that it'd be far more difficult for the 'ministry' to seek out any incidence of students who have not been harrassed by their peers and elders.
I'm not sure if this should go under the Human Condition. maybe theres an existing thread for such abuse?
Japan probes 'man kept in cage'
Officials in Japan are investigating reports that elderly residents of a Tokyo nursing home have been restrained and, in one case, kept in a cage.
A former employee of the nursing home told a Japanese daily that residents were regularly tied or handcuffed to their beds.
A physically and mentally disabled man, he said, had been shut in a metal pet cage for at least three months.
Local officials said they were looking into the reports.
The ex-employee told Japan's Mainichi newspaper that elderly residents, some of whom suffered from dementia, were tied to their beds at night.
He said a disabled man in his 30s had been confined to a pet cage in November 2006 with a portable toilet and a mattress. The man was still living in the cage when the worker left his job in January.
A member of staff told Japan's Kyodo news agency that a cage had been used for one resident, but said it was "like a fence for toddlers" and the resident "entered it willingly".
The nursing home, in Urayasu in eastern Tokyo, houses 26 residents. The Mainichi said that it had not been registered with local authorities.
Kunihito Yoshida, a Chiba prefectural official, said that if the allegations were proved, the facility could be punished.
"Although we are halfway through the investigation, our staff member who went to the facility said it was better than what we had heard," he said. "Yet we spotted one person handcuffed."
Japan has a rapidly aging population, with a greater proportion of older people than anywhere else in the world.
This is putting pressure on care facilities for the elderly and has sparked concern over poor quality homes.
The inner fruit of what experts believe is the world's oldest melon, dating back about 2,100 years, has been excavated from the Shimonogo ruins in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture, the Shimonogo Municipal Board of Education announced Thursday.
The fruit, measuring 10.5 centimeters, was discovered about one meter underground in the Shimonogo settlement, which was surrounded by moats during the Yayoi period (ca 300 B.C.-ca A.D. 300).
The surface of the melon is discolored dark brown. Buried in moisture-rich soil that acted as a vacuum seal, the melon segment was kept from contact with the atmosphere and was able to preserve its inner fruit.
The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto identified the age of the fruit based on radiocarbon dating.
The melon, native to Africa, came to Japan via the Middle East and India. The oldest melon fruit previously discovered was one in China that dated back to the fourth century.
I couldn't decide whether or not to include this in the strange crimes thread, so I hope it's okay. Here is a little ditty I picked up today on the most recent case of someone in Japan causing other people harm in a suicide attack:
Dozens sickened in Japan after suicideMay 22 07:01 AM US/Eastern
By MARI YAMAGUCHI
Associated Press Writer
TOKYO (AP) - A Japanese farmer who committed suicide by drinking pesticide vomited the poison at a hospital before he died, releasing toxic fumes that sickened more than 50 people, the hospital said Thursday.
Doctors were trying to pump the 34-year-old man's stomach when he threw up, spraying his rescuers with chloropicrin, causing 54 doctors, nurses and patients to develop breathing problems and eye sores.
Ten of them were hospitalized themselves, and 90 hospital personnel had to be called in to help with the emergency Wednesday night, said Tomoko Nagao, spokeswoman for the Red Cross Kumamoto Hospital in southern Japan.
The most severely injured was a 72-year-old pneumonia patient, whose condition worsened after exposure to the fumes, Nagao said. The hospital's emergency ward was closed and firefighters called in to decontaminate it.
The doctors were not wearing protective gear and were unprepared because the paramedics who brought the farmer to the hospital had not identified the pesticide, said a local police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of protocol.
The incident came amid a string of suicides in Japan by people mixing household chemicals to create lethal fumes. Many bystanders in recent months have been sickened by fumes that escaped into adjoining rooms, apartments or homes.
Seishi Takamura, a doctor who treated the farmer, said he could not stop coughing after inhaling the fumes, which smelled like chlorine, Kyodo News agency reported.
Chloropicrin is a highly volatile pesticide with a pungent odor that can cause breathing difficulties and sometimes death when inhaled in large amounts.
TOKYO (AP) — A man triggered panic in a northern Japanese city Thursday when he killed himself by mixing detergents in his house, releasing toxic fumes that drove 350 people from their homes — the latest in a series of such suicides.
The panic in Otaru came just hours after national police urged Internet providers to crack down on websites that have spurred a wave of detergent-related suicides. Some 50 people have reportedly killed themselves over the past month in Japan by mixing household chemicals to produce hydrogen sulfide.
The method, the latest in a series of suicide fads in Japan in recent years, is even being used as a weapon. A farmer in another part of northern Japan was arrested Thursday for allegedly trying to kill his 82-year-old mother with the gas, police said.
The farmer in Kori, Nobuya Matsuno, was mixing toilet cleaner with mothballs in a bucket Wednesday when his father caught him and called police, a Fukushima police spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with police policy.
In Otaru, on the northern island of Hokkaido, a 24-year-old man mixed the chemicals in his house after midnight. He died and the gas escaped his home. Neighbors were alerted by the smell, a Hokkaido police official, also on condition of anonymity.
The man's 58-year-old mother, apparently overcome by the fumes, was found unconscious nearby and was taken to a hospital, but police said she was recovering. About 350 people in the neighborhood fled to a nearby school playground where they waited for about two hours.
These cases came a week after at least 90 people were sickened by fumes in an apartment building in southwestern Japan when a teenage girl killed herself by mixing laundry detergent with cleanser in her bathroom.
On Wednesday, Japan's National Police Agency urged Internet providers to delete materials from websites showing readers how to mix the chemicals. Some sites reportedly provide "poison gas" warnings that viewers can print out and hang outside their doors when they kill themselves.
"Since April, the number of such websites has just jumped. They are rife on the Internet. Writing examples include 'you can die easily and beautifully,"' said Seiji Yoshikawa, deputy head of the Internet Hot Line, which reports suspect Internet sites to the police.
The police request was the first action taken by state authorities against detergent suicides. Japanese news media have counted more than 50 such suicides in April alone, though no official statistics have been released.
Hydrogen sulfide gas is colorless and characterized by an odor similar to that of rotten eggs. When inhaled, it can lead to suffocation or brain damage.
"What's making the problem so grave is that rescuers and neighbors could be seriously affected," the Asahi newspaper said in an editorial Thursday. "Considering the seriousness of the issue, we cannot waste any time in launching preventive measures."
With one of the highest suicide rates in the world, Japan has battled a series of suicide fads over the years. Many cases have involved victims who found each other on the Internet and committed suicide together.
Overwork-linked suicides in Japan have doubled over the past five years
TOKYO — A new government report says the number of Japanese who committed or attempted suicide due to overwork and stress has doubled in the past five years.
The Health Ministry report says 81 people killed themselves or attempted suicide in 2007 - compared with 40 in 2003 - due to work-related problems.
Last year also saw a record 268 people with officially recognized work stress-induced mental illness.
The report says employees in their 30s and 40s were most prone to stress because more companies have introduced a pay-per-performance system in recent years.
Many of the officially recognized work-related suicides were among people working overtime of between 80 and 100 hours per month.
About 10 per cent of them did more than 160 hours of overtime, or an average of five hours extra daily, including weekends.
Under Health Ministry guidelines, relatives of an employee who dies after filing a monthly overtime report of 80 hours or longer are entitled to receive compensation from an employer.
The 81 suicide cases in 2007 classified as work stress-related by the Health Ministry were only a fraction of Japan's total number of suicides.
According to the latest government statistics available, 32,155 people killed themselves in Japan 2006.
The government has launched a series of anti-suicide programs to help those with depression and other mental conditions.
I know that these news stories are citing job stress...but some of the cases I've seen recently are a teenaged girl and a farmer. Also the goverenment is calling for sites on the internet to prohibit these "do it yourself" recipes for killing yourself. However, if these receipes are on the internet...why not an increase in other technologically savvy cultures?
Perhaps there is something inherent with suicide in the Japanese culture. I'm thinking, kamakazis in WW2? And wouldn't samuri also be Japanese?
Didn't seem right to put this in corpse mishandling thread, and a cursory search for cannibalism didn't proffer much either, but if anyone knows better...
Perhaps one of our correspondents who are closer to the subject matter (geographically, at least) can shed some light on the veracity of this:
human meat eaten in japan
July 18th, 2009
by Milton Fricks
The country that introduced raw fish, ramen noodles and pocky to the world has a new taste sensation.
Cannibalism is the newest trend to sweep across Japan.
But they aren’t killing anyone to get the meat. They are getting it from hospitals.
Chef Hitoshi Ueda of the restaurant named Long Pig said, “We use human fat from liposuction clinics to make simple dishes, like fried rice. Then I might add a few small pieces of meat, like the kind that might come from a nose job or a finger amputation. That is served with vegetables. That costs about 100,000 yen.” He said. “If I can get a large piece, like a whole leg, I might cure it to make ham or grill it to make a steak. That might cost as much as much as a million yen.”
When asked about the taste he said, “It varies from person to person.”
A representative of the Japanese Ministry of Food Purity and Safety said, “The meat is closely regulated and inspected. No diseased meat is used. Inspectors also insure that all the pieces of meat come from medically necessary surgeries. No one is allowed to just cut off an arm or leg and sell it for profit. We also don’t allow imports or the use of meat from dead people. We must be certain that no tainted meat is served.”
If the past is any indication then this new delicacy will be showing up on the menus of fine restaurants in California and New York, soon.
I worked for a month in Japan a few years back and after a busy night I'd often return to my hotel and get a snack from the vending machine. They offered noodles, rice and other things as well as a burger that had the English translation as simply "Meat". Heck knows what it was, it was a reddish brown colour and did not taste like beef, pork or chicken. Never discovered what it was but it was good and I had a "Meat" burger most nights!
Sooooo, Grandad was right after all, they are a nation of baby-eaters? (Amongst other things, apparently. The loss of many of his mates in Jap POW camps led him to believe all the propaganda was correct)
Sounds like something an animal rights group would announce, that those evil Japs don't just eat whales (apparently killed for research, to get round the whaling ban), dolphins etc, as well as raping protected waters with their factory fishing fleets, they now eat people too, so we shouldn't trust them! (Whether they eat Long Pig or not, the Japanese Govt need a kicking for their utter disregard for the other creatures of this planet)
Or maybe it's the pre-publicity for a film?
Whatever, I simply don't believe it, it is just a taboo too far to be broken IMHO.
This is an old story, but I still like telling it. Japanese researcher Shun Akiba has apparently discovered "hundreds of kilometers of Tokyo tunnels whose purpose is unknown and whose very existence is denied."
So, I'm wondering, this guy, Shun, wrote a book available here, but there seem to be no English translations. Has anyone heard of this book before? Does anyone know if it's available in English anywhere?