Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on January 2013

Miwa Kaneoya

GOING TO EXTREMES

  • Twitter announced that New Year’s revelers in Japan and South Korea set a record for tweeting—33,388 per second—in the moments after midnight on January 1.
  • A 19-year-old Kobe man who stole a baseball bat autographed by Ichiro Suzuki from a local sports complex told police—quite sensibly, we’d say—that he wanted the item for his memorabilia collection.
  • The widow of a Japanese man shot to death in the northern Philippines was arrested for paying a thug $2,500 to carry out the crime.
  • An eight-year-old girl survived a freezing night on a mountain in Hyogo by huddling against the body of her grandfather, who had died in a fall while hiking.

THAT’LL SHOW ’EM

  • The National Police Agency and the Japan Securities Dealers Association announced new measures intended to keep yakuza groups from… stock trading.
  • Leading online game operator Gree blamed a software glitch for overcharging the accounts of 733 minors—including 30 kids who were stuck with bills of more than ¥100,000 each.
  • Education officials in Saitama have developed a system that enables students to report bullying incidents via mobile phone.
  • It was reported that the Japanese are trying to save electricity this winter by “warmth sharing”—that is, “the communal use of warm and toasty places.”

FINDINGS

  • Scholars are applauding the discovery in Japan of a “precise copy” of the writing of Chinese calligrapher Wang Xizhi (303-361). No original works by Wang survive.
  • Meanwhile, researchers believe a stash of recently unearthed tanka poems by renowned author Akiko Yosano (1878-1942) include 16 previously unpublished works.
  • A photograph taken about 30 minutes after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was discovered at a local elementary school. The photo shows the mushroom cloud splitting in two.
  • Headline of the Week: “20 Percent of ‘Worker’ Ants Don’t Work: Study” (via Mainichi Japan)

BY THE NUMBERS

  • For the seventh year in a row, Japanese travelers selected Hakone as the onsen resort they’d most like to visit more than once. Yufuin (in Oita Prefecture), Kusatsu (Gunma), Noboribetsu (Hokkaido) and Beppu (Oita) rounded out the top five.
  • The NPA said that 2012 was the 12th consecutive year in which the number of traffic fatalities declined.
  • It was also the first time since 1951 that fewer than 4,500 people were killed on the nation’s roadways.
  • A submersible craft that can dive to a depth of 6,500 meters left Yokosuka Port on a year-long voyage that aims to “figure out the limits and origin of life by learning how creatures live in various extreme environments.”

FOOL ME ONCE…

  • LDP leaders decided that not only would they forgive ¥500 billion worth of debt for Myanmar, but that they’d extend the country ¥50 billion in fresh loans.
  • Officials also said they’d increase Japan’s defense budget for the first time in 11 years.
  • Well, at least there’s something that politicians in Japan, Taiwan and China can agree on: the three countries are teaming up to prevent the overfishing of Japanese eels.
  • It was reported that scissors manufactured by the Niigata-based Shigeru Industrial Co. have become a hit in Los Angeles, where they’re “endorsed by celebrity hairstylists whose clients include top actresses and other well-known personalities.”