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Hisae's top 10 blog picks - click opera — LiveJournal
February 2010
Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 05:08 am
Hisae's top 10 blog picks

A couple of years ago we had a little feature here on Click Opera which listed Hisae's Top 5 blog picks. Today -- nudged by rumblings in the gaijin blogosphere about how boring, uncreative and compromised Japanese-language blogs are, based on and perhaps justified by the mainstream most-hit pages listed at the Japan Alpha Blogger Awards -- I thought I'd ask Hisae again for a list of her most-visited, most-appreciated Japanese blogs. She gave me a list of ten, and we were soon scrolling through them in Safari 4's groovy new cover flow mode.

1. Emeraldclitorix
Hisae: This is a guy based in Kansai who posts images, links and information about stuff happening around him, usually in the form of a single line. He has a good circle, some interesting friends. This is one of the blogs I look at every day.
Nick: "Emerald Clitoris" is a funky name for a blog. His visuals are pretty good too, and I can see a hiking theme emerging.

2. Penifikko
Hisae: Penifikko is friends with the Emerald Clitorix people. He publishes a little magazine called Meris. I like this very much, it's one of the blogs I check each time it updates. I like this very strange visual style they have. If I had to make blog, I'd want it to look like this.
Nick: That really is a great look they have! It reminds me a bit of Joe and Emma's style. Hiking again seems to be in vogue here -- there are drawings of hikers, and the Meris magazine is referred to as Meris-Hike. I can't find any images of it online, though. I imagine it as a handmade, incredibly trendy neo-hiking mag. The February 2009 edition seems to be out now.

3. Fukuhen
Hisae: This is a blog by the co-editor of Brutus magazine. It's nice to know what he's doing apart from publishing Brutus.

4. Native Heart
Hisae: This blog gives information about medicines and healing. It's focused on Native Americans. I like this kind of blog, it sounds superstitious, but does tell you a lot about Native American values.
Nick: I've noticed that when Japan looks to America, it often finds a lot to identify with in the indigenous Native American culture. And black American culture, too. White American culture, not so much these days.

5. Heimin Shinbun
Hisae: This one shows one part of contemporary Japan -- young people who are very poor, temp workers, the so-called "Lost Generation", but I don't want to use that term. It shows real life, not just eating cakes in cafes. I find it very interesting and moving.
Nick: I see cats, food, painful pictures of painful things.

6. Metabolism
Hisae: It's difficult to find Japanese blogs that talk about design unselfconsciously, but this one does. It's by a designer with a company called Glyph, Yanagimoto Koichi.

7. Kuroteru
Hisae: Teruo Kurosaki runs a design school in Sangenjaya, it's called Schooling Pad. He writes kindly and simply, maybe because he's a teacher.
Nick: I like that, "kindly and simply"!

8. Tatsuru Uchida
Hisae: This is one of the most widely-read blogs in Japan. Uchida writes books, teaches at university. He used to be into French literature, now he's more of essayist, writing about society, the world. I like to see people's thinking. Also he picks up interesting topics.

9. Blog of Seino
Hisae: This guy lives in Akabane in Tokyo, he's a mangaka. There are so many interesting people in that district, a bit to the north of Shinjuku. He often picks up and befriends eccentrics. I want to live in Akabane when I next live in Tokyo!
Nick: Wow, these pictures where he mosaics out old people's faces look spooky!

10. Zozo People: Eri
Hisae: Eri is a designer for a clothes line called Mother. She was the model for that famous photo by Hellen Van Meene, she posed with hair spilling out of her sleeves. In her blog she talks about her work and her clothes. Recently she put up lots of photobooth snaps, but she usually takes nice pics. I check this blog every day, I like her models.
Nick: Ah, yes, I mentioned Hellen Van Meene's Japan Series a couple of years ago. Thank you, Hisae, I think you just saved Japan!


Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)

It seems blogs are shit all over the world. Could they look any more dull? Bring back peoples websites I say. When did you last update your website?

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 11:33 am (UTC)

i like these

by the same owner/artist

if i could i would have a similar blog to the first one, but i dont speak or read the language. i get lost

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 11:40 am (UTC)
The Return of Interesting Hisae

I too was shocked yesterday about the supposed dullness of the japanese blogosphere and appreciate your act of qualitative research here very much.

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 12:04 pm (UTC)

The woman in the pic at the bottom of the post really needs to shave her oxters ;-)

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)

Kuroteru blog's Teruo Kurosaki ponders the same issue I did yesterday, the plight of Gaza, though in typically gentle Japanese style.


(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)

Hisae slightly disagrees with you about the Emerald-Penifikko krew -- they're "very local people" from Kansai, she says, although obviously they've been influenced by some Western memes (like Ed Banger and Nu Rave graphics) too.

I don't think we need to insist on "purity" here. For instance, take one of Seino's discoveries, Peiti, a bag lady from Akabane. Seino set up a MySpace page for her, with recordings of her singing Christmas carols and When The Saints Come Marching In.

Now, When The Saints Come Marching In is just as Western as Ed Banger, but I don't think anyone would say Peiti is someone inauthentic and compromised as a result.

Also, although you're right that poverty has been somewhat hidden in Japan, things are changing. Not only are there documentaries like Soda's Mental, or the Public Blue film about Osaka homeless, the lead news story today in many Japanese papers is about how members of the "Lost Generation" are now posting exact records of their temp earnings on 2ch, revealing how little they earn on a public forum (anonymously).

Edited at 2009-02-26 04:31 pm (UTC)

ReplyThread Parent

(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)

"Eh, what a task!" says Hisae.

She says her family is middle class. "Of course there is a class system, but it's not the same as the British one. In old days there was the agricultural class, salesman class, and so on. It's called shinokosho system."

A quick google brings up the following explanation: "During the middle ages (Kamakura Muromachi periods), many farmers were part time warriors and it was a serious threat for established seigniors. Toyotomi Hideyoshi organized a separation among 4 categories of people (warrior farmer artisan and merchant) by confiscating sabers from farmers (Katanagari) and Edo shugunate completed it. But due to the development of a money base economy, daimyo became so poor that many wealthy farmers and merchants could buy warrior position (Shibun)."

Hisae adds: "People don't look at class by occupation much these days, but there's still some kind of discrimination if you're a butcher or a funeral organiser. Some people -- not everyone -- still think about them in that way."

"Below the middle class, there are people who get money from the government because of their too-low income, and there are many working poor, too. I think their numbers will increase soon."

Edited at 2009-02-26 05:32 pm (UTC)

ReplyThread Parent

Fri, Feb. 27th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)

Last time I checked OECD stats, Japan's relative poverty rate was only 0.1% different from the United States.


ReplyThread Parent

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
Hisae blog

It's high time you started getting Hisae to write her own guest posts to Click Opera, she always seems to have interesting and refreshing things to say. Or does she have her own blog already?

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Hisae blog

Well, this was basically a Hisae guest post!

If she starts a blog, I'll link it from here.

ReplyThread Parent

Fri, Feb. 27th, 2009 12:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Hisae blog

yeah well, I meant a guest post without you looking over her shoulder, editorially that is!

ReplyThread Parent

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)

Hey Nick.

Is it too much to ask for you to play the older schtuff like "Murderers.." "Voyager" and "The Guitar Lesson" ever again mate?

Joemus is a classic in its own right, but the older stuff brings back memories and would be a nice treat for some of your older fans from the days!

Thanks Momus, never stop writing!

~From a frequent reader

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)

I still do play those songs at live shows, Frequent Reader! Depends which show and where, of course. Tomorrow I'm performing at Mu Eindhoven, and plan to sing a rather particular set:

Scottish Lips
The Artist Overwhelmed
Widow Twanky
The Vaudevillian

But it's a tour punctuated by songs, rather than a concert per se.

Glad you're liking the new album!

ReplyThread Parent
Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)

I'm glad to see this is becoming a regular feature. We still read the Oji-san Oba-san cooking blog (http://sesenta.exblog.jp) regularly. Especially now that we are attempting to make our own miso. If Hisae can recommend any good knitting sites, Yoko would greatly appreciate it.

Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)

Hisae says she still looks at Oji-san / Oba-san from time to time, but there are two drawbacks:

1. Looking at the pictures makes her too hungry.

2. They're getting on, so she's a bit afraid of seeing the site wreathed in black with death announcements some day.

Hisae gets most of her recipes from Cookpad these days. As for knitting, she looks at YouTube. The only site she can recommend is one dedicated to pom-poms, Pom Pom International.

ReplyThread Parent
Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)

Thank you for the recommendations. All this reminds me that I had better call my Nona.

ReplyThread Parent