December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010

2010 Roundup


Originally published on on December 2010


Bored in space
It was reported that Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi celebrated New Year on the International Space Station with hanetsuki (hitting a shuttlecock with a battledore) and kakizome (writing the first calligraphy of the year).

It depends on your definition of “disaster”
After kicking up a national storm by claiming that “[a]dvanced medical care allows those to live who would once have been weeded out by natural selection,” the mayor of Akune, Kagoshima Prefecture, lashed out at his critics via the city’s community PA system, which was set up for use during disasters.

That works out to ¥.00000000003/hr
The Diet is set to consider a bill that would provide compensation ranging from ¥250,000 to ¥1.5 million to former detainees of labor camps in Mongolia and Siberia. Some 600,000 Japanese, mostly servicemen, were thought to have been imprisoned by the Soviet Union after World War II, and approximately 100,000 are still alive.

This just in: asbestos is bad for you, too
For the first time ever, a Japanese court acknowledged that smoking causes health problems.

You hachi-go, Chad!
Attention-craving wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (né Chad Johnson) of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, who wears jersey No. 85, is considering changing his name again next season, this time going with the Japanese version: Chad Hachi Go.


Because nothing says “security” like around-the-clock surveillance
A neighborhood association coughed up ¥2.85 million to install 16 security cameras in an effort to advertise Akihabara as “a safe place that people can visit with a sense of security.”

A boost for the ladies
A Kyoto-based underwear manufacturer has begun renting high-end bras to fashion-conscious but cash-strapped women for ¥727 a month.

Apparently, the other 30 percent enjoy holding a burning mass of tobacco close to their face
A survey revealed that 70 percent of Japanese smokers in their 20s are addicted to nicotine.

Transcendental mediation
It was reported that the tech-savvy monks at Jodo-Shinshu Honganji, Japan’s largest Buddhist sect, have set up a suicide prevention hotline.


Oh, right, “spices”…
A 31-year-old Iranian man who owns a spice trading company was busted in Osaka for being involved in a drug trafficking ring.

“Give me your tired, your geeky, your huddled masses…”
In a bid to lure international fans of Japanese subculture, the city of Kitakyushu is planning to build an “otaku complex” that will include a manga museum.

For example, you would never pet a stick
In awarding damages against a transportation company whose truck killed a seeing-eye dog, a court in Nagoya said, “Guide dogs are not just walking aids for the visually impaired and are distinctly different from walking sticks.”

Apparently, parts I and II were lighthearted romps
A new book called The Great Tokyo Air Raid: Records of Korean Victims, Part III was described as the “first comprehensive study of the damage done to Korean residents in wartime Tokyo.”

“Sorry, we can’t cure stupidity”
The newly established Consumer Affairs Agency is mulling whether to cancel an information hotline that was intended to combat a rise in food mislabeling scandals. Instead, the agency said that “two-thirds of the about 500 cases reported each week were general consultations or complaints, such as being tricked into buying an expensive item.”


“Kodokan” means “we automatically win”
The All Japan Judo Federation said it would do away with its homegrown “Kodokan” rules and instead adopt the standards of the International Judo Federation.

Dude, chill out
After losing to an unheralded rival in the prestigious Koshien baseball tournament, the coach of a high school team in Shimane said his squad’s performance “was a humiliation that will carry over for generations. I can’t get over it… I want to die.”

Warning: irony alert
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is organizing an 8,000km boat cruise for relatives of servicemen who were killed at sea during World War II.

Hey, hang on a minute…
The Japan Mint is selling newly pressed ¥1,000 coins featuring the likeness of 19th-century samurai Ryoma Sakamoto for ¥6,000.

The wrestler and the rye
The mother of Estonian sumo wrestler Baruto, who was promoted to the second-highest rank of ozeki, said that after first arriving in Japan, her son “was unaccustomed to Japanese food” and “missed rye bread.”


What a difference 70 years makes
A survey by the BBC and the Yomiuri Shimbun revealed that Germany and Japan are, for the second year in a row, the two most “favorably viewed” nations in the world.

Way to reinforce the stereotype, hun
Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki donned a pink kimono and served handmade sushi rolls to her colleagues aboard the International Space Station.

C’mon, what’s 3.6 million among friends?
A citizens group has hit former Yokohama mayor Hiroshi Nakada with a ¥7.8 billion lawsuit over losses related to last year’s Expo Y150. The festival, which celebrated the 150th anniversary of the opening of Yokohama Port, drew 1.4 million of the expected 5 million visitors.

On the plus side, sales of self-surgery kits are booming
A survey of 573 workers in Tokyo and Osaka found that the economic situation is so bad that 20 percent had cut back on food and 17 percent couldn’t afford to see a doctor.


Spreading the love
Police in Nagoya investigated an incident in which a 49-year-old local man crashed his car into a highway median, got out of the vehicle, and started scattering banknotes onto the roadway.

Whatever floats your boat
It was reported that a group of rice farmers in Gifu who have revived a 1,000-year-old technique of planting crops in a circular pattern are wont to chant, “The rice fields here are round, not square.”

The definition of chutzpah
Police say that a Tokyo-based internet advertising company released a virus onto users’ computers, then demanded money from victims who asked the company to delete the info.

How they could tell, we have no idea
A team of researchers at Osaka University have discovered that “something in red wine helps rats have erections.”


You’re welcome. Now get the f**k out
The US House of Representatives passed a resolution offering thanks to the people of Okinawa for their “broad support and understanding” in hosting American military installations on the islands.

But even they don’t like Glenn Beck
Researchers at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute found that monkeys enjoy watching TV.

Let them eat sushi
It was reported that the average summer bonus of government workers this year is a whopping ¥577,500, up ¥4,000 from last year.

Yeah, but you should see our government workers
According to the esteemed science journal Nature, Japan “has the world’s saddest scientists.”

That’s k-a-r-m-a
“Legendary” Toyota test driver Hiromu Naruse, 67, was killed while piloting a luxury Lexus sports car around a public road in Germany. No word on whether unintended acceleration was to blame.

And mistakes were made
A group of five junior high school students in Gifu tied a fellow student to a chair, stripped her naked, then shot video, which they emailed to a bunch of friends. The principal acknowledged, “There was bullying.”


Soup to nuts
Staff at a ramen shop in Osaka were stunned when a customer paid his bill and then forked over an extra ¥1 million, “saying he wanted the restaurant to offer children free meals.”

Spittle guards ¥2,500 extra
Among the features of Fujitsu’s new Raku-Raku (“easy-easy”) computer, intended for elderly users, are “a troubleshooter key [that] allows them to jump to a special website” and mouse “made with textured plastic to make it easier to press.”

That was thoughtful of him
Cops were able to arrest a 35-year-old municipal worker in Osaka for molesting a woman because he left behind his jacket and ID card at the scene.


Understatement of the year
A 40-year-old Tokyo man who swam the 25km Fehmarn Belt Strait between Germany and Denmark said, “It was really cold.”

Free glow-in-the-dark Totoro with every purchase!
Bowing to criticism, Studio Ghibli announced that it would close a souvenir shop that it operated inside the PR facility of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

The hangman calleth
It was revealed that officials at the Tokyo Detention Center are only made aware of impending executions when the center phones them and asks, “Are you free tomorrow?”

I resemble that remark
At a political seminar in Tokyo, DPJ honcho Ichiro Ozawa was quoted as saying, “I don’t think Americans are smart… I like Americans, but they are somewhat monocellular.”


Next from Apple: the iNinja
Steve Jobs has apparently vowed never to return to Japan after officials at Kansai International Airport confiscated the shuriken that the Apple chief was carrying on his way to his private jet.

There goes the neighborhood
It was reported that the increase of shops selling sex toys in Akihabara is turning the electronics district into a “colorful bazaar of merchandise catering to carnality.”

Too sweet for its own good
Confectionery company Ishida Roho was ordered to pay ¥2.8 million in damages to 17 people who lived near its factory in Kyoto’s Minami Ward. The residents said they suffered health problems due to the smell from the manufacturing plant.

Using their noggin
Researchers at Keio University have developed a way of helping stroke victims move their paralyzed limbs by scanning their brainwaves using a method called brain-machine interface, or BMI.


Slow news week
The Asahi Shimbun apologized to Kyodo News for plagiarizing one of the wire service’s stories. The article in question had to do with “a Kyoto University professor and other researchers confirm[ing] that a painting believed to depict Manichaean cosmology exists in Japan.”

To protect and swerve
A cop in Kyoto was given a ticket for illegally parking his patrol car on the sidewalk in front of a koban.

Which prompts the question: what’s a landline?
It was reported that, for the first time, more phone calls are being made with cellphones than landlines in Japan.

Lube job
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has unveiled a container ship that cuts Co2 emissions by 35 percent thanks to an air lubrication system that reduces the “frictional resistance between the hull and seawater by running air bubbles along the bottom.”


Click Eat Love
It was reported that NTT Communications and a consortium of other companies is developing a system in which users can get calorie counts of the food they’re about to eat by taking a picture of the dish with their keitai.

Pooper scooter
Seibu Railway sponsored an event in which 120 dogs and their owners were shuttled from Shinjuku station to Seibu Amusement Park, about an hour away. The carriages were provided with special “dirt-proof sheeting” for the trip.

Giving the finger(s)
A 26-year-old worker at the Tokyo Dome amusement park lost three fingers on her right hand while inspecting a motor on one of the rides.