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In Mashiko, anyone could be a potter
Mashiko (益子町 ) , a town located in Tochigi Prefecture., is known for its pottery, called mashikoyaki (益子焼).

Although pottery pieces have been found in Mashiko that date back to the Jomon Period (14,000-600 B.C.), modern Mashiko pottery, known as mashikoyaki, begins in the early 1850s when a potter from nearby Kasama named Keizaburo Otsuka noted the quality of the clay and decided to set up a kiln.

There are two different types of pottery available for purchase in Mashiko. All around the center of town you will find shops selling tableware like plates, bowls and cups. There are also more specialized stores that offer artistic pieces, often, one of a kind.

Traditionally in Japan, craftspeople were born into their professions, but Mashiko has long had a reputation as an open and educational community where experts and complete novices alike are welcome.
In Mashiko, anyone could be a potter.

View Mashiko Town in a larger map
 2011/11/30 09:41  この記事のURL  / 
Kumamoto Mascot "Kuma-mon" Won First Prize
Kumamoto Prefecture's "Kuma-mon" received a congratulatory hug from Gov. Ikuo Kabashima when the black bear mascot of the southwestern Japanese prefecture visited the prefectural government office to report he had won a popularity contest among about 350 local mascots the previous day.

A total of 3.33 million votes were cast between September and Saturday in the online contest, with Kuma-mon collecting 287,315 votes. He was followed by "Barii-san," a bird character from the Ehime Prefecture city of Imabari with 245,238 votes, and "Nishiko-kun," an unofficial mascot of an area surrounding JR Nishikokubunji Station in Tokyo, with 174,079 votes.

"Well done," the governor told kuma-mon when he arrived at the office. Since he is unable to speak, an attendant responded, saying, "It's owing to everybody's support."

These characters, created by local governments and businesses to attract tourists and invigorate their communities, are known as "yuru-kyara," literally meaning "loose characters" to signify their rather unrefined and laid-back image.

Popularity contest between local "Yurukawa" mascots under way

 2011/11/29 07:43  この記事のURL  / 
Chiaki Kuriyama shows her pole-dancer form
Actress-singer Chiaki Kuriyama (栗山千明), 27, is showing a new side to herself for her new song.

She is best known in the West for her roles in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Volume 1 (2003) and the Japanese film Battle Royale (2001).
Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Volume 1 (2003)

Kuriyama can be seen as a pole dancer on the CD jacket and also adorns the side of a big van that has been driving around Tokyo, promoting her song, “Portrait of moonlight night.

Appearing at Laqua Garden Stage in Tokyo Dome City, Kuriyama declined to give a pole dancing exhibition for the media. “I might end up showing something which I shouldn’t,” she said.
But she did sing three songs for the 300 fans and media in attendance.

Tsukiyo no Shouzou / Portrait of a Moonlit Night
Tsukiyo no Shouzou2011.11.23
Chiaki Kuriyama

1. Tsukiyo no Shouzou / Portrait of a Moonlit Night
2. Seishun no Matataki / The Twinkling of Youth

Ringo Shiina (椎名林檎)wrote the music and lyrics to and acted as producer for this single, with Tokyo Jihen (東京事変)in charge of the performance.

 2011/11/28 07:38  この記事のURL  / 
First Muji Store Reborn as “Found Muji Aoyama”
Muji Aoyama has been re-opened as “Found Muji”on November 11, 2011.
Found Muji Aoyama in 2011

Muji was established as a private brand of a supermarket chain store Seiyu in 1980, and its first directly managed store "Muji Aoyama" was open in 1983.
First Muji Store in 1983

Muji is distinguished by its design minimalism, emphasis on recycling, avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and no-logo or "no-brand" policy.
Inside of Found Muji store

It's no-brand strategy means that little money is spent on advertisement or classical marketing.

Muji's no-brand strategy also means its products are attractive to customers who prefer unbranded products for purely aesthetic reasons.

While Muji is more of a lifestyle brand than a fashion brand, the company’s clean and simple “no-brand brand” clothing has plenty of fans.

View Found Muji Aoyama in a larger map
 2011/11/27 10:27  この記事のURL  / 
Evangelion Store opens in Harajuku
An official store selling merchandise from the popular anime series "Neon Genesis Evangelion(新世紀エヴァンゲリオン)" has opened in Tokyo's Harajuku district, known more for its ties to fashion than comics and animation.

The Evangelion Store Tokyo-01, which opened November 23, carries about 2,300 items associated with the anime, including accessories and clothes.

Evangelion Store Tokyo-01

At an opening ceremony, actress Natsuki Kato (加藤夏希), dressed as Evangelion character Misato Katsuragi(葛城ミサト), spoke of her enthusiasm for the series, which has been a huge hit both in Japan and overseas.
Natsuki Kato cosplays as Misato Katsuragi from Evangelion

Kato called on people to work toward making Harajuku "the third 'Otaku' metropolis" after the Akihabara and Nakano districts, both in the Japanese capital.

View Evangelion Store Tokyo-01 in a larger map

Evangelion Store Tokyo-01
1-8-23 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10:00 to 19:00
 2011/11/26 10:02  この記事のURL  / 
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