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by nagaura

Random Japan

10:26 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

JR Kyushu shows off new luxury train
Kyushu Railway Co. on Friday unveiled the ¥3 billion Seven Star luxury sleeper train ahead of its inaugural run on Oct. 15.

The event, held at a rolling stock factory in Kitakyushu, followed the signing a day earlier of a charter service contract with a Hong Kong travel company, the first overseas client for the new train, which boasts stylized interior pieces and furnishings.

JR Kyushu allowed the media to see the first three of the seven cars of what it calls the nation’s first cruise train. It will depart from, and terminate at, Hakata Station in Fukuoka, taking passengers through scenic spots in Kyushu as part of a one-night, two-day package, or a three-night, four-day package.

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Cops in Tokyo arrested five teenagers for throwing dozens of fireworks at a homeless man in Edogawa-ku. One of the boys said he and his friends “wanted to get a thrill from making a homeless person angry and making him chase us.”

Officials at the International Astronomical Union have formally recognized an asteroid discovered by a trio of female Japanese middle school students in 2009.

The transport ministry says at least 18 people fell off train platforms last year because they were too absorbed in their cellphones to notice their surroundings.

The situation has led officials to try and come up with ways to deal with the scourge of aruki sumaho—smartphone walking.

Meet the dry cleaner they call “god”

Master Blaster
There’s so much talk over the level of customer service in Japan that you’d expect the locals to become desensitized to it before long. But every once in a while, a business raises the bar so much that even Japanese people can’t believe it.

One such business can be found in the posh Azabu-Juban area of Tokyo: a dry cleaner called Rejouir that is the one place that will take a paint-stained Hermes coat when no one else would dare try. One after another, customers including boutiques and other cleaners walk away satisfied. To those people, Rejouir’s president Takeshi Furuta is often referred to as “Kami” (god).

Yes, You Bet

Now Meet Burning Tire

Is That A Bridge In Your Pocket

Romanized Japanese on signs to be replaced with English

September 12, 2013

The government announced new guidelines Sept. 11 that call for replacing Romanized Japanese text written on traffic signs across the nation with English to make them easier for foreigners to understand.

According to the transport ministry’s new guidelines issued to regional development bureaus, proper names such as place names must be written using the Roman alphabet, while common nouns such as “school” and “station” must be written in the English language.

For example, “Kanda Eki Nishiguchi” (West exit of Kanda station) will be replaced by “Kanda Sta. West”.

by nagaura

Random Japan

6:16 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

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Move over latte art, it’s all about toast art now!
The newest food decorating trend to come out of Japan since latte art is, surprisingly, toast art. But this isn’t just any plain old toast with butter and maybe a swirl of jam that vaguely resembles a smiley face (but I still appreciate all those years of happy toast, mom!). No, the toast decorations created by Twitter user ginkei_18 are embellished with popular anime characters from Free!, Uta no Prince-sama, Gin Tama and Attack on Titan. Even if you don’t recognize any of the characters, ginkei_18′s ability to skillfully draw directly onto a piece of bread is amazing.

First up, characters from Free!, an anime television series that follows the members of a high school swimming club:


Price of a can of volcanic ash being sold in Tarumizu City in Kagoshima, the site of the Sakurajima volcano

Number of shops targeting “fashion-conscious young women and elderly shoppers” to be opened over the next two years by retailing giant Istean Mitsukoshi

1 million
Preorders for Sony’s PlayStation 4 console, which will be released on November 29


A Renoir oil painting that had been stolen from a home in Setagaya in 2000 was sold at an auction in London for £1.05 million. Officials at Sotheby’s say they had no idea the painting was hot and vowed to look into the matter.

A 42-year-old Detroit native has become the first foreign firefighter in the history of Ibaraki.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosted dignitaries from about 40 Muslim nations for an iftar dinner—the traditional meal that breaks the sunrise-to-sunset fast during Ramadan.

South Korean officials expressed displeasure with the results of a Cabinet Office survey that found 60.7 percent of Japanese view the Takeshima islets as Japan’s territory.

Just Mind The Radiation

No, Not That One

Ghost House?

Miyazaki says career creating anime films finally over

September 06, 2013

Internationally acclaimed anime director Hayao Miyazaki formally announced his retirement at a jam-packed Sept. 6 news conference in Tokyo–and this time he said he was serious.

“My time for creating feature-length animation movies has come to an end,” said the 72-year-old Miyazaki at a news conference attended by about 600 reporters representing domestic and foreign media organizations, some coming from as far away as Italy and France.

by nagaura

Random Japan: Jojo Train

5:31 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

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Photos of the JoJo train are finally here and it’s not just the outside that looks cool
Earlier this week, we told you about the Yamanote Line train that will be decked out with the characters from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle (coming to PS3 on August 29). At the time, we could only provide you with a few artist renditions of what the train might look like. But now, may we proudly present to you 31 photos of the actual JoJo train, inside and out!

On August 26 at 5:57am, the first Yamanote Line train of the day pulled out of Osaki Station. This wasn’t the ordinary lime green-striped train that thousands of commuters have come to know, this one was special. The exterior, interior, monitors, and even the advertisements hanging from the carriage ceiling were covered in JoJo. On each side of the doors, the very same characters from the manga were proudly displayed for all to see.

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Number of foreign professionals that the government hoped to attract via a new “points-based preferential immigration system” introduced last May

Number of foreigners who have taken advantage of the program

1.13 million
Lightning strikes in Japan last year, according to private weather company Franklin Japan


A Cabinet Office survey has revealed that 71 percent of Japanese people are “satisfied or somewhat satisfied” with their lives—the first time since 1995 that the figure has topped 70 percent.

Toshie Tanaka, 47, became Japan’s first female prefectural police chief when she assumed the top cop job in Iwate.

A high school baseball player in Aomori taking part in the Koshien summer tournament “tackled and overpowered” a knife-wielding man who was attacking a woman in the stadium parking lot.

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan sued current PM Shinzo Abe for defamation over a claim made by Abe that Kan lied about making “the courageous decision to pump seawater” into a nuclear reactor during the crisis at Fukushima in 2011.

And Unaware

What’s In The Closet?


Ainu struggle to find solution for hundreds of unidentified skeletons
August 31, 2013
By KENJI IZUMI/ Staff Writer
SAPPORO--Wearing robes displaying intricate designs, an indigenous Ainu group offered flowers and prayers for the souls of more than 1,000 ancestors during a memorial ritual called Icarpa.

“We want to inherit our ancestors’ thoughts without forgetting the history of hardships and humiliation the Ainu people have suffered,” Tadashi Kato, executive director of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, said in his speech at the Icarpa on Aug. 2.

The Ainu say the humiliation continues to this day concerning those same ancestors. Their skeletons had been dug up from graves for research purposes and were handled in a slipshod manner.

by nagaura

Random Japan

10:46 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

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  • A research team led by a professor at Keio University has found mice can tell the difference between paintings by Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian.

  • In response to wild deer causing damage to local plant species in the Oze marshlands, Fukushima officials say they’ll start “shooting the animals with high-pressure water guns.”
  • Japanese scientists have determined a class of insecticides aka neonicotinoids may be responsible for colony-collapse disorder, which is threatening the global honeybee population.
  • Police in western Tokyo arrested a man who ran a health clinic despite having no medical license. None of the man’s 8,000 “patients” reported any ill effects from the treatment.


  • 70Percent of Japanese who support the idea of “preparing a document in advance specifying their wishes on medical treatments,” according to the health ministry
  • 3Percent of Japanese who have prepared such documents
  • 38.2Percent of Japanese workers who are considered “non-regular” employees—a record—according to the internal affairs ministry

Channeling His Inner 


Living In Praise 

Of War


My Name Is

A Japanese perspective on traveling in the U.S.

By Preston Phro

TRAVEL AUG. 03, 2013 – 09:23AM JST 

Today, we bring you a Japanese perspective on visiting the United States of America. While many Japanese people enjoy visiting the United States, there are some things that can end up being a bit… disappointing.

For most Japanese people, “America” means steak, pizza, cheeseburgers and other delicious foods. And considering how big of a deal food is in Japanese culture, this isn’t a bad thing at all. On the other hand, there are a few things that the average Japanese traveler abroad might wish were different. One of our Japanese friends recently took a trip to the U.S., and, though he generally had a great time, there were a few things that could have been better.

by nagaura

Random Japan

11:07 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

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Sayonara Keikoku (“The Ravine of Goodbye”), the latest effort from director Tatsushi Omori, won a jury prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. The movie depicts the romantic relationship that develops between a rapist and his victim.

Researchers at the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace say “territorial disputes” are the main reason that Japan fell from fifth to sixth in their annual Global Peace Index. (Iceland topped the list and Syria came in last.)

It was reported that an elderly couple living in Kodaira, western Tokyo, has climbed Mt Fuji for 14 straight years.

Officials at the Meteorological Agency say they will, for the first time ever, allow private companies to issue tsunami forecasts. The agency retains the sole right to issue advisories and warnings, though.


Number of 24-hour conbini at Narita Airport, after a 7-Eleven opened in Terminal 2 on July 10

Pairs of shoes worn out by Masahito Yoshida of Tottori during his 4,000km walking trek around the world, which ended in Shanghai last month

Number of corporate bankruptcies in Japan in the first six months of 2013—the fewest in 22 years, according to Tokyo Shoko Research

KFC Japan serving One Piece ice cream makers with two pieces of Original and Extra Crispy
by Master Blaster
Laozi is often credited with saying, “Rather than give a man a fish, teach him to fish.” These wise words would appear to have spurred on KFC Japan’s newest promotion in conjunction with the One Piece series. Rather than give you an ice cream, KFC and the Straw Hat Pirates are going to teach you how to make ice cream and give you a maker to do it.

Starting 25 July KFC will be selling One Piece-style ice cream makers with the purchase of certain combo meals. There are three types to available featuring Luffy, The Straw Hat Pirates, and crowd favorite Chopper.

And Its Blood

Is Under Water


Asia fans to feel The xx factor

With their sparse guitar lines, hushed vocals and enigmatic stage presence, The xx are a band who have come to personify cool understatement. As for their fans? Sometimes less so.

“Couples have come up to us after the show and told us how they got together with our music,” said Romy Madley Croft, singer and guitarist with the British band whose 2009 self-titled debut was hailed as a minimalist masterpiece and won the Mercury Prize a year later.

“Some people tell you that they’ve cried their whole way through the show, and you don’t really know what to say.”

by nagaura

Random Japan

8:42 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

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An NPO in Tokyo has released a DVD for job seekers that details the sleaziness of so-called black corporations—“companies that disregard labor laws, harass employees and overwork them while paying low wages.”

A major pachinko manufacturer was forced to recall about 12,000 pachislot machines because of a “defect that makes it difficult for players to win the jackpot.”

Officials in Shizuoka have released a guidebook that lists “more than 300 Mt Fuji lookalikes across Japan.”

According to a survey by the land ministry, 79.8 percent of Japanese people say they want to own their own home. It’s the first time in 12 years that the figure has dipped under 80 percent.


420,000 kiloliters
Volume of soy sauce sold worldwide by Kikkoman Corp. each year

¥37 billion
Value of a contract awarded to Hitachi for construction of an urban rail system in Ho Chi Minh City

Percent of Fukushima residents who believe “radiation could be passed on to their children,” despite scientific evidence to the contrary, according to a survey by prefectural officials

Chochikukyo: Japan’s original eco-friendly house
by Preston Phro
Although just last week we took you on a guided tour of traditional Japanese homes that had been given new life, today’s quintessentially Japanese abode is a little different. This is Chochikukyo, an 80-year-old house located in Kyoto designed by the renowned early 20th century Japanese architect Kouji Fujii. It is so popular and well-loved that even the Japanese emperor made a special visit earlier this month!

But what makes it so special?


Damn You

Cemented In Place

Wind chime peddler sees changes for the worse in Tokyo over 35 years

By SEI IWANAMI/ Staff Writer
As many drunkards stagger along a street in the bustling Roppongi district in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, the soothing sounds of 120 “furin” wind chimes can be heard in the night breeze.

“Summer has come,” a favorite customer tells wind chime peddler Akira Nakayama.

Nakayama carries a rack of wind chimes on a pole to sell the colorful decorations on the street.

The 68-year-old Nakayama has been in business for 36 years. In his working garb, he is decked out in a “happi” coat, embroidered with kanji characters of furin, and wearing “setta” leather-soled sandals. There are 30 locations in Roppongi’s small, narrow streets where he passes through each night.

by nagaura

Random Japan

8:40 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

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Japanese researchers have discovered that people with diabetes are 1.2 times more likely to develop cancer than non-diabetics.

The internal affairs ministry says the number of workers aged 60 or over has hit a record high for the sixth straight year. The figure stands at 11.92 million.

A museum in Meguro-ku has put on display 10 notebooks containing the schoolboy scribblings of acclaimed writer Osamu Dazai (1909-1948).

Meanwhile, a trove of nine unpublished drawings by famed manga-ka Osamu Tezuka was discovered by Space Battleship Yamato illustrator Leiji Matsumoto.


Number of volcanoes in Japan, according to the Meteorological Agency

Number of these volcanoes likely to erupt in the next 100 years

Percent of major Japanese companies that believe “the economy is on a recovery track,” according to a newspaper poll

Ultra-detailed Laputa figurine will make your friends fly into jealous nerdrage
by Mike
After teasing a release of “something” for a month on their website, Bandai unveiled this painstakingly detailed figure of the iconic robot from Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky, to the delighted squeals of Ghibli geeks everywhere.

In the animated film, the robot is the sole working model of an army of defensive machines that once protected the now-extinct inhabitants of a legendary floating island.

And We’re Here To Help

Proves He’s An A-hole


We’re Liars

City employee sold decommissioned public vehicles for personal profit

A city employee here sold decommissioned city vehicles for personal profit over at least the last three years, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

The employee, a man in his 50s, belongs to the city hall management department of the Kitakyushu Municipal Government, and had say over which old vehicles should be decommissioned and turned over to vendors.

According to the employee and used-vehicle vendors, the employee would buy back decommissioned vehicles that had been sold to used-vehicle vendors but were still in relatively good condition, then sell them on Internet auction sites, reaping a profit of 50,000 to 60,000 yen per car.

by nagaura

Random Japan

8:32 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

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The Consumer Affairs Agency upbraided Coca-Cola Japan for using the word tokuhou (“news flash”) in ads for a new fiber drink. The agency said consumers might confuse the term with tokuho, a word used to describe healthy food.

The MPD received 14,104 entries in a contest to name a new type of bank scam where fraudsters pretend to be the victim’s son over the phone. The official name is now “Kaasan, tasukete sagi,” or “Mom, help me scam.”

The newest hire at the justice ministry’s clerical department is… a juvenile delinquent on probation. Officials hope to foster understanding about criminal rehabilitation.

The MPD has asked NTT Docomo to be more careful with cellphone-rental companies, some of which are apparently fronts for crime groups.


Estimated number of abandoned homes in Tokyo, according to the internal affairs ministry

Pregnant women who have taken a prenatal test for genetic disorders since the exam was introduced in April, according to the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology

People with disabilities who found work through public job-placement offices in fiscal 2012—a record—according to the labor ministry

Showa Era newspaper’s drawings of future Tokyo scarily accurate, hilariously off base
by Mike

These photos, which surfaced recently on a Vipper forum, show a Showa Era newspaper’s predictions of what Tokyo would look like in their future. If Mark Twain can foresee the Internet nearly a hundred years in advance, surely a Showa Era newspaper can get a few predictions right? Let’s take a look:


His Missing Gun

Gets Arrested

Interrogation footage broadcast poses ‘no problem’: NHK president

The president of NHK has justified the public broadcaster’s use of footage showing interrogation in a fatal injury case during a TV program, ruling out any legal violations.

NHK President Masayuki Matsumoto presented the view at a regular news conference on June 6. The move comes after the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office demanded that the Osaka Bar Association discipline a lawyer for providing a DVD containing the footage to NHK, saying his actions violated the Code of Criminal Procedure that prohibits the use of evidence for purposes other than its original intent. The footage, which matched footage submitted to the court as evidence, was aired on April 5.

by nagaura

Random Japan

9:01 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

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he SDF installed a Patriot anti-missile battery at its headquarters in downtown Tokyo, aka the most densely populated place on Earth.

A customs officer at Fukuoka Airport busted a pair of Japanese men for attempting to smuggle 8kg of gold from Thailand.

A “natural history study group” made up of citizens dedicated to the Izu islands say that the endangered black-footed albatross is making a comeback on an uninhabited island near Hachijojima.

Meanwhile, a strong earthquake ruined a popular rock-climbing cliff on Miyakejima that was hailed as sparking interest in free-climbing on the island.

Sony Computer Science Labs developing Legos with artificial intelligence
by Master Blaster
With kids wanting to get their hands on tablets and smartphones rather than tops and jack-in-the-boxes, traditional toy makers are beginning to feel the heat. Although, it’s hard to imagine a perennial favorite like Lego go under, they aren’t taking any chances as indicated by a display at Sony Computer Science Labs in Tokyo during a recent open house.

The building block maker is partnering with the tech giant to implant some video game magic such as AI and DualShock control into their timeless colored cubes. But that’s not all. Sony Computer Science Labs are cooking up some wild stuff for the young and young at heart.



Raise Prices In Japan

Female Nobel laureates slam Hashimoto’s justification of the wartime sex slaves

Five female Nobel Peace Prize laureates issued a statement Thursday in Northern Ireland slamming Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto over his remarks seeming to justify Japan’s wartime system of military brothels.

The five, who gathered at a three-day conference of the Nobel Women’s Initiative in Belfast on the impact of war on women, said they “condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent deplorable remarks” by Hashimoto.

by nagaura

Random Japan

9:06 am in Uncategorized by nagaura

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Who says crime doesn’t pay? Officials at the NPA estimate that about 70 percent of websites providing “illegal or harmful content” are also receiving advertising revenue.

A Saitama man was handed a suspended sentence for defrauding 15 people out of ¥11 million, which he said would be used for “developing and selling items to be used in a virtual city on the internet.”

Officials in Kamakura are combining three local beaches—including the popular Yuigahama—into a single entity and selling the naming rights for a cool million yen.

Meanwhile, authorities in Akita are looking for someone to “assume control” of a hot-spring hotel complex in the resort town of Yuzawa—for free.


79 percent
Support rate for the resumption of a six-day week for public school students, according to a newspaper poll

26.3 percent
Increase in the number of overseas visitors to Japan in March compared to a year earlier, thanks largely to the stronger yen, according to the JNTO

¥5.4 trillion
Estimated cost to repair expressway bridges and tunnels nationwide over the next 100 years, according to industry groups

Welcome to the future: Control your computer with a wave of your hand
3 hours ago by Rachel Tackett
In recent months researchers at Japan’s largest IT service provider, Fujitsu, have collaborated with their Chinese research and development branch to engineer a new type of 3-D motion detection software that could revolutionize the way we use computers. It might not be long before the computer mouse is obsolete, as users will need only to flick their wrists and tap the air to navigate through links and menus.

Up until now, motion sensors of this kind only worked in two dimensions, up-down and left-right. 3-D motion detection was only possible with multiple cameras or special light emissions to measure depth. However, thanks to Fujitsu’s stellar engineering, computers can register the relative depth of an object using only a single lens camera.

Ghost Busters

Are Just A Number

Made Them Do It

Leading scholars launch group against revising Constitution’s Article 96

The Mainichi
A group of 36 professors of constitutional law and other prominent scholars have launched an organization advocating against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s move to amend Article 96 of the Constitution.

The group, called “96-jo no kai” (Article 96 Association), has both supporters and opponents of constitutional amendments among its members. The group is specifically opposed to amending Article 96 to make it easier for the Diet to initiate constitutional revisions.