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February 27 2014

February 20 2014

February 17 2014

February 12 2014

Winter Olympics Photo of the Day: Twists and Turns

It may be the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, but temperatures at the 2014 Sochi Olympics are on the milder side. The effect of these warm temperatures can be seen in Wednesday's Photo of the Day, which features Eric Frenzel of Germany (right) and Akito Watabe of Japan (left) competing in the Nordic combined individual normal hill event.

The shadowed shot was taken by Al Bello, Getty Images' award-winning chief sports photographer. Bello, who captured the image at the RusSki Gorki Nordic Combined Skiing Stadium, is covering his tenth Olympics in Sochi. It showcases the snow's slushy conditions as well as the tight turns competitors must maneuver. Read more...

More about Japan, Olympics, Germany, Winter Olympics, and Skiing

February 11 2014

The Age of Wedding Robots Is Upon Us

When Laura Cressman married her husband in 2012, she added an unconventional guest to her wedding party: the Dragon Runner, a small, unmanned military robot designed for urban combat. As "Mr. Roboto" played in the background, the Dragon Runner rolled down the aisle, controlled sight unseen by one of Cressman's friends

"The reaction was amazing," Cressman told Mashable in an email. "My favorite comment of the night was from my best friend Jeff: 'It really hit me how bad a dancer I was when the bomb disposal robot kept better rhythm on the dance floor than I did.'"

More about Gadgets, Wedding, Japan, Features, and Tech

January 30 2014

Google Street View Says Japan Is Top Virtual Tourism Spot in Asia

The intimate looks at locations around the globe made possible by Google Street View has changed the way many of us look at the world. But according to a new piece of information revealed by Google, it turns out that our virtual tourism habits aren’t necessarily aligned with some of our real-world pursuits.

According to Street View program manager Ulf Spitzer, the top virtual tourism destination in Asia using Google Street View is Japan, with Mount Fuji at the head of the list. In fact, Japan occupies the top six most visited Street View location slots, followed by Taiwan and Singapore Read more...

More about Google, Google Maps, Street View, Japan, and Asia

January 21 2014

Japan's Dolphin Killings Continue Despite International Outrage

Japan's annual bottlenose dolphin hunt came to a close on Tuesday as fisherman killed at least 30 in the Taiji cove area where 200 dolphins were reportedly held

The fisherman used a tarpaulin to shield the slaughter from reporters, TV cameras and activists. However, blood seeped out from under the cover for all to see

The Japanese tradition gained attention in the West after the Oscar-nominated 2009 film, The Cove, brought to light the grisly practice that happens every year in Taiji, which is located in the western Wakayama prefecture

However, despite strong criticism, the fisherman pressed on with this year's hunt as Japanese officials defended the event, calling it "a tradition." The Japanese government this year allowed for the hunting of 2,026 small porpoises and dolphins Read more...

More about Japan, Animal Rights, Us World, and World

January 16 2014

Japanese Scientists to Clean Up Orbiting Space Junk

Japanese scientists are trying to take out the trash — in space

There are approximately 100 million bits of man-made junk floating in space, the majority of which is only 700 to 1,000 kilometers above the Earth's surface, according to Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post. And it's not just sitting pretty — all of this debris poses a threat.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has partnered with a fishing-equipment company to design a net that can catch space debris, much like how a fisherman would catch trout

JAXA will send a rocket and satellite into orbit, where the latter will unreel a wire net approximately 300 meters long. The net will then generate a magnetic field, and if all goes well, catch some of the debris. Tests will begin in late February. Read more...

More about Space, United States, Japan, Field, and Trash

December 29 2013

This Japanese Pickled Turnip Might Be a Cure for the Flu

Japanese scientists have discovered that a strain of bacteria found in “suguki,” a horrifying-looking pickled turnip being lauded by people as a “superfood,” could actually stop you from getting the flu. It’s sort of a toss-up here between whether you’d rather get influenza or drink the guts of a pickled turnip.

Published in Letters in Applied Microbiology, the study found that, when fed to mice, the Lactobacillus brevis bacteria in the suguki actually prevent the mice from contracting influenza. Although the bacteria hasn’t been tested on humans yet, researchers are currently working on a probiotic drink made from suguki, which will hopefully yield similar results. Read more...

More about Japan, Flu Season, Us World, World, and Health Fitness

December 06 2013

Slippery Clay at Fault in 2011 Japan Earthquake

Slippery clay that looks like scaly black dragon skin is the crucial clue needed to explain the 2011 Japan earthquake's surprising impact, according to three studies published Thursday in the journal Science.

Scientists now have four lines of evidence (including a February 2013 study also published in Science) that help explain why Japan's earthquake-generating fault acted so weirdly during the 2011 temblor.

"It seems that frictional resistance at this location is getting close to zero, and we never really thought it could go so low," said Patrick Fulton, a geophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz and lead author of one of the studies. "This is definitely providing new ideas and challenging our understanding of earthquakes and fault ruptures." Read more...

More about Earthquake, Japan, Science, Japan Earthquake, and Natural Disaster

November 26 2013

Japan Govt Predicts Internet Fasting Camps Will Cure Addicted Teens

A group of teenagers plays basketball outside. Kids participate in various team-building games. Young adults of all ages sit around a table for a meal, talking and laughing. But notice anything missing? None has a cellphone or web-connected device

That's what the Japanese government hopes its Internet fasting camps will look like in 2014.

The Japanese Ministry of Education is devising ways to fight Internet addiction in adolescents. The ministry plans to open Internet fasting camps in the coming fiscal year to help students learn to live away from their laptops and cellphones.

"We estimate this affects around 518,000 children at middle and high schools across Japan, but that figure is rising and there could be far more cases, because we don't know about them all," Akifumi Sekine, a representative of the ministry, told The Daily Telegraph in August. Read more...

More about Health, Japan, Features, Mobile, and Us World

November 21 2013

Volcanic Eruption Forms New Island South of Tokyo

An undersea volcanic eruption has created a new island some 620 miles south of Tokyo, the Associated Press reports, citing Japanese coast guard and the Japan Meteorological Agency

The island, which is about 660 feet in diameter, is located near the uninhabited Nishinoshima island, a part of a chain of approximately 30 islands called the Bonin islands.

The coast guard issued an advisory Wednesday, warning about the cloud of heavy black smoke from the eruption

"This has happened before and in some cases the islands disappeared," said Japan's chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga Read more...

More about Japan, Volcano, Us World, World, and Island

October 22 2013

Twitter's Top 5 Accounts Are All in Japan — Here's Why

During an Aug. 3 airing of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece Castle in the Sky, thousands of anime fans watching the broadcast in Japan tweeted in unison to coincide with an exciting scene during the film's climax

The resulting spike in Twitter activity didn't simply surpass the previous "tweets per second" mark. It blew it out of the water. In one moment, the site experienced a whopping 143,199 tweets, more than four times the previous record. The influx of tweets was surprising. The party responsible was not

Japanese Twitter users have set this record many times, most recently on New Years Eve 2013 when the clock struck midnight in Japan and Korea. A separate Japanese broadcasting of Castle in the Sky resulted in the tweets per second record back in 2011 and, during the 2010 World Cup, a Japanese goal during a match against Cameroon resulted in 2,940 tweets per second, a record at the time. Read more...

More about Twitter, China, Social Media, Japan, and Line

October 02 2013

September 10 2013

Japanese Taxi Alerts Passengers in Danger of Losing a Phone or Wallet

Japan’s service sector is famous for its extreme detail when it comes to serving customers, and the country itself is so safe that it’s not uncommon to hear of a person losing their wallet and having it returned days later with all the cash intact

Nevertheless, lost items left behind by careless passengers have become so common in Tokyo that one taxi company has decided to address the problem with a technological solution.

Kokusai Motorcars has teamed up with local tech consultancy Ideacross to develop a system that alerts the driver when a passenger has left an item behind. According to a report in Japan’s Nikkei, the system consists of four cameras; one under the driver’s seat, one under the front passenger seat, one on the ceiling and one in the car’s trunk. Read more...

More about Security, Japan, Vehicles, Tech, and Apps Software

September 09 2013

Is Nintendo Getting Pushed Out of the 12-and-Under Market?

While the rest of Japan was still celebrating Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics victory, it was a grim day at the Kyoto headquarters of Nintendo. Investors had hoped the maker of video game consoles would win membership in Japan’s benchmark stock index, following the merger of the Osaka exchange — where Nintendo had been traded — with the larger Tokyo exchange. Nikkei Inc., keeper of the Nikkei 225, dashed those hopes Friday by announcing that Nintendo hadn’t made the cut. “This expectation has come to nothing,” wrote Takao Suzuki, an analyst at BNP Paribas. “This appears to be the right time to sell.”

Investors agreed. Within 90 minutes of Monday’s opening bell, Nintendo was down more than 7%. As the day wore on, things got worse. By the end of trading, Nintendo shares had lost 8.4% of their value. Read more...

More about Japan, Wii, Nintendo, Video Games, and Wii U

August 14 2013

Lightning Strike Electrifies Train in Japan

During a thunderstorm rumbling over Tokyo on Monday, a flash of lightning struck a commuter train

Video footage captured the precise moment the lightning illuminated the entire urban skyline before crashing into a train carriage full of passengers. You can hear the shocked cameraman reacting to the massive burst of light.

According to reports, passengers on an Odakyu Electric Railway train remained unharmed

BONUS: 20 Gripping Photos of Extreme Weather

Image: lumenetic

More about Viral Videos, Japan, Weather, World, and Watercooler

July 05 2013

The Ultimate Compilation of Wacky Japanese Commercials

Excuse the slight exaggeration, but everything cool comes from Japan. That's hardly a hyperbole — it's just true. Sushi. Hello Kitty. Karaoke. And now, this video

This compilation of bizarre Japanese commercials is going viral, and it's easy to see why. A commercial for breakfast cereal features disembodied heads on a playground, while an ad for bug spray stars dancers who make Prancerise look totally normal by comparison

If only American ads were this entertaining. (Just a heads up: the thumbnail may be racy, but the rest of the video is safe for work.) Read more...

More about Video, Youtube, Ads, Japan, and Commercials
10 Weird Japanese Products That Are Actually Kind of Useful

Japan has a reputation for producing some downright weird stuff

In fact, the word "chindogu" even refers to inventions that are technically practical, but utterly eccentric in their execution. These products are so bizarre, they're not actually meant to be produced

But many questionably useful Japanese products actually exist in circulation, and we're defending some of the "strange" ones. Sure, they may be a bit excessive — but useless? Not quite

1. Banana Keeper

banana holder case daiso

Image courtesy of Daiso

Have you ever experienced a squished banana at the bottom of your bag? Not fun. Not fun at all. Read more...

More about Lists, Japan, Humor, Weird, and Weird Stuff

July 02 2013

13 Penny-Pinching Cats in Japanese Supermarkets

We knew this would happen eventually — cats not only rule the Internet, they're also invading places once thought to be strictly feline free.

In Japan, Twitter users are snapping photos of cats spotted in and around convenience stores. It's more common than you'd think. And surprisingly, these kitties are mostly left to their own devices

The takeaway? There's just something about ... convenience stores. Or maybe Japanese cats are lurking around, trying to snag a good deal.

近所のコンビニの猫が成長してた。 http://t.co/9ZnmOdaqtt :以前UPした画像 http://t.co/1zHrkeoXVW P_namekujiuo

— にんきったー (@ninkittar_bot) June 23, 2013

More about Twitter, Japan, Humor, Cats, and Watercooler
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