Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Batman Ninja

Batman Ninja

Batman Ninja is a DC Comics animation project that featured the character designs of Japanese artists.Video previews of the animated film appeared back in December of 2017. Japanese manga based on the character designs of the film have appeared in DC collab works for Japanese Manga from March 2019.
The film follows an isekai plot, a transported to a different world story which has been popular in the recent crop of anime offerings coming from Japan (Gate, Overlord, The Devil is a Part-Timer, Re:Zero, Sword Art Online, Inuyasha...).

Batman in samurai armor.

The Joker's lair seems to be deisnged as Oda Nobunaga's gilded tea ceremony room.

The mecha castle resembles Azuchi Castle.

Another view of the Azuchi inspired castle.

Mt. Fuji in the background.

Bane as a sumo wrestler.

Cat Woman in the type of veiled hat that was typical of the Kumano-Kodo pilgrimage route, part of the tsubo costume.

The design of Death Stroke easily lends itself to a likeness of Date Masamune; the one-eyed daimyo.

Two-face flipping a coin based on Japan's oldest coin design, the Man'nen Tsuho (which also resembles the modern 5 yen piece).

The Joker wielding a battle fan.
The emblem is clearly based on the Roku Mon Sen crest of Oda Nobunaga, with the center altered to show a card Joker.

The joker using some type of toxic flower.
The flower design is clearly based on the spider-lily, a flower which is the symbol of the village of Asuka, an ancient capital of Japan.

The villain daimyo combine to form a Voltron-tyoe mech monster.
Batman performing a sword catch manuever; a chanbara classic.

The fittings on Batman's sword have a bat-theme.

The Batman clan ninja ships are based on the turtle ships that opposed Oda Nobunaga during Japan's attempted invasion of Korea.

A scene introducing the character designs of the Batman villains uses a Nebuta lantern style illustration.


  1. https://soranews24.com/2017/12/05/batman-ninja-animes-awesome-preview-video-is-every-bit-as-crazy-cool-as-the-concept-sounds%E3%80%90vid%E3%80%91/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=44&v=8mVTKEc-mu8
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF031DwMffQ
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCi0d9JJIm4

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Stroboscopic Effect; Photography and Illusions

The Stroboscopic Effect 

The Stroboscopic Effect, or the "Wagon Wheel Effect," is something that most people are familiar with from observing objects that are moving quickly and rhythmically; such as a wagon wheel or flowing water. Watching a wheel moving along it may seem that the wheel changes the direction of rotation as the vehicle changes speed and rolls forward.

This concept help to explain a recent video which has been circulating on social media recently, with a cat that is transfixed by an illusion devise which uses strobe lights to make a stream of flowing water look like drops of water that are suspended in midair with from manipulating the appearance of moving object with strobes or photography.

That video uses a smooth stream of water (probably a laminar flow) along with strobe lights which give renders the water into more distinct "frames."

The video in the tweet above shows a springing plastic ruler behaving predictably in indoor light but as the ruler moves into bright sunlight the per-frame exposure of the video camera causes the motion to seem out of sync.

Videos of helicopters that take off and hover while their blades seems to remain motionless are an example of frame rates syncing to a common denominator of the rotor speed: where most cameras have a frame rate of about 24-30 fps while helicopter rotor spin at a rate that often puts them in sync with the camera (250-600 rpm).

Devices similar to the stroboscopic water fountain seen in the cat video sell on Amazon.com for about $250.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFXIhrDc6Rw
  2. https://www.amazon.com/Levitating-Waters-Gravity-Defying-Water/product-reviews/B00OBSMOLA
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFbINinFsxk
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr3ngmRuGUc
  5. https://twitter.com/MichaelGalanin/status/1120017260981125120
  6. https://twitter.com/ThingsWork/status/1119302631686434816
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagon-wheel_effect
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LI2nYhGhYM

Experience Yamato - Tourism Service in Nara

Experience Yamato - Tourism Service in Nara

With Japan's recent tourism boom there has been a proliferation of businesses which cater to social media conscious tourists looking for a distinctly Japanese experiences. These types of services include kimono rentals, cosplay photo studios, sword test-cutting, ninja star (shuriken) throwing, tea ceremonies and souvenir shops along with increasingly niche experiences for foreigners (like knife forging, Mario Kart tours, a ninja maze, zen meditation or armored LARP battles). 
These sorts of things are spreading quickly and competing with each other in tourist hot spots like Kyoto and Nara.
This photo journal takes a look at one shop near Kintetsu Nara station called "Experience Yamato." This shop is in a third floor studio along the main shopping arcade.
The studio is geared to photo-op experiences with a large, well lit stage area that has carefully arranged background props.
The most popular service of the studio seems to be the reasonably priced shuriken dojo (ninja star throwing range) which costs 700 yen, or the sword wielding experience in which a replica sword is used to cut through a daikon radish for 2700 yen and a complimentary chance to pose for photos on the stage.
Some of the pricier options are a test cutting experience with a real blade against a tameshigiri target which costs 10000 yen, or a photo sessions while donning the high quality replica armor (which is designed after the armor of Date Masamune) for 12,000 yen.
The studio also offers a basic tea ceremony for 1600 yen (the 2000 yen advanced course involves making some tea yourself), calligraphy writing lesson for 1000 yen figure painting shop for 1800 (where you work with traditional crafts like maneki neko dolls, daruma dolls or Fushimi-Inari fox masks) and a cosplay photo studio for 3800 yen (shrine maidens, ninja) to 4800 yen (anime characters, jonin ninja or higher quality women's kimono).

Tameshigiri, armor photos, armory photo, koi pond, souvenirs, shuriken dojo.

Sign outside of the shop in the shopping arcade.
This sign is presented mostly English, but the shop owner reports that the studio mainly attracts groups of Chinese tourist these days.
The website has information in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, French, German and Spanish.

A poster inside of the elevator with some more information.

Some tourists posing on the main stage. Visitors need o take off their shoes to walk on the wooden floor here.
In the background you can see a koto, two sets of yoroi armor (both modeled after Date Masamune, "ninja" calligraphy a sword and some spears.

A customer trying out the shuriken dojo.
Note the shelf of prizes on the left side with A, B, C, D prizes.
Sticking a shuriken in the center tatami mat gets you 3 points, the top or bottom tatami is good for 1 point.
9 points will get you an A-rank prize. Most everyone will walk away with some sort of prize, like a keychain...

The shop manager explaining the ideal technique for throwing a shuriken; he always seems to be spot on with his own throws when giving this demonstration.

He has a special tool for retrieving the errant throws

A hello kitty keychain as one of the prizes from the shuriken dojo.

Google maps also has a 360 degree panorama shot of the shop intererior

  1. http://exp-yamato.com/
  2. https://www.instagram.com/exp.yamato/?ref=%27badge

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Goma Stick Burning Ceremony


Bentenshu Temple Goma Stick Burning in Gojo City

Yamabushi ritual of shooting arrows in four directions to commence the goma stick burning ceremony.
Note the video crews recording the ceremony; which is transmitted live to closed circuit screens around the area.
Also note the bellflower crest, kikyoumon 桔梗紋, which is the somon (crest) of the Bentenshu religious group.

Goma stick burning ceremonies are something that can be seen throughout the year at various places. The goma sticks are small pieces of cedar with the names and/or prayers written on them. People pay temples (more often) and shrines (less common) for the sticks collected over an extended period of time and burned during special ceremonies; examples of Goma stick ceremonies have been seen in previous posts about Daigoji (Godairiki), Shigisan, Ohatsu Tenjin (Setsubun) and Fushimi Inari.
The Bentenshu religious organization coordinates a number of temples for one of the largest goma stick burning events (goma kigan ) in Kansai.
During the ceremony large numbers of followers of the Bentenshu relgion gather from all around the country (world?) for the ceremony. A group of yamabushi start the ceremony by cutting the rope into the sacred area, marked by rope bamboo poles on the corners and connected by rope, where the bonfire fuel has been prepared. The yamabushi lead a group of priests (in formal robes) and devotees (dressed in light blue hakama, and wearing the typical neckband of temple members). The yamabushi ritualistically shoot arrows in the four directions (here they lightly shoot them onto the ground near their feet, unlike the Ohatsu Tenjin event where the arrow goes over the crowd). Initial prayers are made and the bonfire is lit. As the green branches start to catch fire, thick smoke fills the air (firefighters are standing by). As the greenery burns off, the cleaner burning dry wood of the fuel produces much less smoke and the devotees/pilgrims throw the goma sticks into the fire.

While this takes place, plain clothes visitors can observe from outside the rope (or on closed circuit video monitors around the temple area) while visiting the temple and passing through the main temple hall.

The temple has a number of temporary structures, tents and permanent facilities where visitors can buy refreshments and get out of the sun. The number and quality of accommodations were really impressive, so it is clear that the event organizers are working with quite a large budge; there were free buses from Gojo station, temporary bus shelters, bouncy castles for kids, volunteers working at kids entertainment stalls (activities like, ring toss, human ring toss/life preserver stacking...), blood donation vans, food services and someone serving coffee and water (you need to pay for your own food and you should give a donation for coffee), temporary shelters for people waiting in line to enter the temple, tents for people watching the goma stick ceremony, tents for the firefighters, closed circuit televisions that either show the main event area with commentators or provide video instructions on the temple's special visitation ritual. It was an impressive demonstration of logistics and organization.

The event actually involves much of the town, with a number of temples in the area, but the main event is held at the Nyoi Temple. The nearest station is JR Gojo, which is near Koyasan (a very famous temple town) and Yoshino (which is popular for cherry blossom tourism in this season).

The following photo journal is from Sunday, 4/21/2019:

Temple visitors carrying some of the symbolic ritual arrows.
Tables stacked with goma sticks.

A yamabushi (a monk-like religious devotee) shooting arrows in four directions while being attended by an assistant holding the arrows.
Note the large bronze lantern in the background.

Religious pilgrims in the background.
You can see a barrel of water which is ritualistic and practical for sprinkling over the fire and for controlling the fire.

An older social media post from the temple showing one of the goma stick events. Here you can see the thick smoke that comes from the initial lighting of the fire.

As wet green branches burn off the fire burns much cleaner.

Bentenshu Temple Area

Bentenshu is considered one of the New Religion Movement (Shinshukyo) organizations which have been flourishing in Japan in the post-WWII era (others include Tenri-kyo and PL Kyodan). Like many of the other New Religion groups, Bentenshu started in the 20th century and is branching off from mainline Buddhist traditions, such as Zen and Shingon. Another interesting point of aspect that Bentenshu shares with outher New Religions is that it was founded by a charismatic woman. Her name was Omori Chiben (1909-1967) and you can see statues of her at Bentenshu areas, this temple in Gojo has her handprint in monument which people line up to touch, a nearby school is named after her (Chiben Gakuen, this school is quite famous for baseball and often appears in the Koshien national championships). Chiben's son (Omori Jishou ?) is the current head of the religious organization.
Bentenshu also has a close association with healing and medicine. The group has connection to pharmaceutical divisions, acupuncture centers and traditional Chinese medicines (kampo 漢方).
This connection to medicine and the production of medicines led to an early controversy for the religion when one of the founders was charged with violation of the Doctors Act and the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act in 1939 for making headache remedies from poppies and distributing it to parishioners. Later, in 1957 the Bentenshu started a pharmaceutical company with a parishioner who was a professional pharmacist; it is still around, and called Chiben Pharmaceutical (Chiben Seiyaku). The company carries the name of the religion founder (Chiben Omori) and sells products such as cold remedies, ointments and bath salts (though it reportedly only has 12 employees).

The Nyoi Temple is interesting in that there is a special purification ritual which is meant to treat the entire body with special rituals that involves spreading a powder over your head, ears, shoulders and body (only symbolically, as it is a tiny amount of powder), holding a clove in your mouth for a time then putting the clove into a piece of paper (without touching the clove with your hands) and praying at the back of the main temple where there is a an outdoor altar surrounded by a little koi pond.

A visitor washing his hands.
This is the largest dragon figure I have ever seen on a fountain.

This smaller temple and graveyard area is on a hilltop which offers a good view of the surrounding mountains.

A nice view of the mountain in the distance.

Banners hanging from the dragon heads on these poles.

A nice garden with stone lanterns.

A kaen-houju atop the temple with the grounding wire for a lightning rod.

A more primitive shape to this stone lantern. With some sort of white flowering tree?

Blossoms against a nice blue sky.

Cherry trees and a nice wall, mixing stone foundation and clean white plaster.

A heavily painted lantern with electric, LED lights inside.
Using a circular polarization lens to control the glare off the painted surfaces.

A jizou statue among cherry trees.
Judging by the website photos, this area is very nice during peak cherry blossom season (this visit was a bit late though).


A stone to cicle 100 times while praying.

The guide pamphlets for the temple area include QR codes to these videos of local landmarks.
But it seems the video has only been viewed about 25 times so far, and the account channel has no visible listings; it seems you need to have that paper with the QR codes. 

Koinobori along the Yoshino River

Starting in April the city of Gojo hangs large carp streamers (koinobori) from poles in a park along the Yoshino River. This is an impressive, and relatively early display of koinobori; similar to what can be seen in Takatsuki city.

Koinobori right up against a bridge.

A view of the mountains in the background.

A long path of poles with koinobori.


  1. http://www.bentenshu.or.jp/cms/news/%E5%AE%97%E7%A5%96%E9%9C%8A%E9%A1%9585%E5%B9%B4%E7%A5%AD%E3%83%BB%E7%AC%AC%E4%B8%89%E4%B8%96%E7%AE%A1%E9%95%B7%E5%A4%A7%E6%A3%AE%E5%85%89%E7%A5%A5%E7%8C%8A%E4%B8%8B%E6%99%8B%E5%B1%B1%E5%BC%8F/
  2. https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%BE%AF%E5%A4%A9%E5%AE%97
  3. http://www.bentenshu.or.jp/
  4. https://www.facebook.com/bentenshu/
  5. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnGNRWwDxjR-PkhssxZG-0Q/featured
  6. https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=MYw6r8gUkIcC&pg=PA392&lpg=PA392&dq=omori+chiben&source=bl&ots=KxDjbB0uIK&sig=ACfU3U01gmfLHznYcxnHdeL7KIfLks3c6g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiIudbbkOrhAhUP77wKHet6AGAQ6AEwAnoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=omori%20chiben&f=false
  7. https://www.academia.edu/24456604/New_Religious_Movements_of_Japan_An_Overview_of_New_Paradigm
  8. https://www.chiben.ac.jp/gojo/
  9. https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%81%E3%83%99%E3%83%B3%E8%A3%BD%E8%96%AC
  10. http://chiben-seiyaku.co.jp/

ATC sunset photos

A Spring Sunset at ATC

from 4/20/2019

The sun setting behind some tulips.
Some ships out to sea near the dock. The start to disappear in the haze of the atmosphere at thing long range.

Dolphin statues in a garden fountain.

A shot using a yellow center-hole filter.
Note how the yellow filter makes the greens look more vibrant.

A shot using a yellow center-hole filter.

A shot using a yellow center-hole filter.

A shot using a yellow center-hole filter.

A shot using a center-hole filter.
Note how the center is unblurred while the edges are blurred out behind a layer of thick, hazey glass.

Setting sun shot through a circular-polarization lens.

Setting sun and tulips

Setting sun, palm trees and tulips

Setting sun and tulips

Setting sun, palm trees and tulips

Setting sun and tulips

Setting sun and tulips

Setting sun and tulips.
Note the nets of LED lights that cover the trunks of the palm trees.

Setting sun and tulips

Art covering an amphitheater at ATC.

Colorful flowers in the garden.

The ATC building in the background.