Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on July 2011

GOTTA BOUNCE

  • After winning 10 straight national trampoline championships, 27-year-old Haruka Hirota decided to retire from the sport due to a rule change regarding how much time the athletes spend in the air.
  • Former Livedoor boss Takafumi Horie decided to go out in style, sporting a Mohawk haircut and wearing a T-shirt bearing the phrase “Go To Jail” as he began his prison sentence for fraud.
  • Forty-year-old tennis queen Kimiko Date Krumm gave Venus Williams a run for her money at Wimbledon, before finally bowing out 6-7 (6), 6-3, 8-6 in nearly three hours in the second round.
  • In Sapporo, four “Super Grandmas” aged between 75 and 88 set a world record in the 400-meter medley for swimmers with a combined age between 320 and 359 years. Their combined age was 322 years and they shaved a full 40 seconds off the record.
  • Doara, the popular mascot of the Chunichi Dragons baseball club, was sent down to the minor leagues to work on his flips after a few mishaps.
  • Yoshie Soma, a 69-year-old special adviser to the president of Kobe University, was named one of the “most distinguished women in chemistry and chemical engineering in the world” by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. She discovered a copper carbonyl catalyst in the 1960s that has been used in paint for cars and the bottom of ships.

NO REST FOR THE WEARY

  • Just three days after his wife died, Sadakazu Tanigaki, president of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, was back at work trying to get PM Naoto Kan booted from office.
  • Kenji Saito, a music man who decontaminates vehicles being used at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant by day, spends his nights singing the “radiation blues” at live houses and on the streets of Iwaki.
  • A spokesperson for the NPO Tenohashi, which supports homeless people, said donations for the homeless in Tokyo have nosedived with more people supporting victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
  • “In the same sense, on a personal safety level, it is recognized as the most devastating nuclear disaster in the history of our world.” Those were the words of Yakult Swallows American infielder Josh Whitesell, expressing concern prior to his team’s games against the Yomiuri Giants less than 60 km from the Fukushima nuclear reactors.

KIDS TODAY

  • A 3-year-old girl in Osaka got behind the wheel of her mom’s Porsche SUV and drove into a supermarket, slightly injuring a woman.
  • The 17-year-old son of Yomiuri Giants slugger Alex Ramirez is pitching in a Kansai independent league this season. Young Alexander Ramirez says his goal is to strike out his old man one day.
  • Nineteen-year-old golf sensation Ryo Ishikawa had a few problems recently with his driving… in a car, that is. It was discovered that Ryo had been driving on an invalid international permit. He “humbly apologized,” bowed several times, and all was forgiven.
  • Certificates allowing free use of some highways in northern Japan were being advertised on the Yahoo Japan Auction website. The certificates were apparently issued by the mayor of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and were intended for disaster victims.
  • France decided to destroy green tea leaves imported from Shizuoka “after detecting radioactive cesium at more than double the European Union’s limit.”
  • Headline of the Week: “Japan research team shows black hole at center of galaxy built of many black holes” (courtesy of the Mainichi Daily News).
  • Nippon Ham Fighters ace Yu Darvish uncorked a wild pitch as his scoreless innings streak came to an end in a 2-1 loss to the Hanshin Tigers. Darvish had tossed 46 innings without giving up a run.
  • Meanwhile, Chunichi Dragons reliever Hitoki Iwase set a new NPB saves record when he closed out the 287th game of his long and illustrious career.
  • The, “Atsui, nes?” were flying on June 22, the summer solstice, as the temperature hit 35 C or higher in 13 locations throughout Japan.

A LIKELY STORY

  • A 55-year-old Tokyo doctor and four others were arrested when the doc paid a yakuza gang member ¥10 million to get him a kidney for an organ transplant he needed.
  • Sad but true … black-market moneylenders—otherwise known as loan sharks—have been targeting tsunami victims, with some charging 40 percent interest on the shady loans.
  • Greco-Roman national wrestling champion Katsuya Kitamura was banned for two years after testing positive for steroids. As a result, he will miss the 2012 London Olympics.
  • Hiroshima decided not to throw its proverbial hat into the ring to host the 2020 Olympic Games, with the city’s mayor telling the Japanese Olympic Committee that they were still paying off the Asian Games they put on way back in 1994.
  • The Tokyo Apache of basketball’s bj-league threw in the towel, with the team’s American ownership deciding to pack it in. That sucks!
  • In other news from the hardwood, Japanese cheerleader Natsuki Kaito, a 29-year-old Ibaraki native, cheered her Dallas Mavericks on to an NBA championship.
  • Lie, a 26-year-old fashion model better known as “Ugyaru” (fish girl), donated a boat to the hard-luck fishermen of Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture, whose fleet had been wiped out by the March 11 tsunami.
  • A restaurant in Tokyo’s Kyodo neighborhood called Sabanoyu is serving cans of fish pulled out of the tsunami debris up north, some “lacking labels, dented, some scribbled with question marks.” Sounds delicious!

ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT …

  • A 62-year-old college professor from Japan rowed a dugout canoe 4,000 km from Indonesia to Okinawa “to prove that ancestors of the Japanese people could have originally come from Southeast Asia.”
  • Under-fire Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family apparently had assets worth about $4.4 billion (roughly¥350 billion) in Japan, according to the Finance Ministry, who froze those assets on March 24.
  • A health ministry survey revealed that about half the restaurants in Japan that serve raw meat failed to meet the government’s sanitation standards.
  • A cattle farmer in Fukushima Prefecture hanged himself, leaving a note that said, “I wish there wasn’t a nuclear plant (in this area).” The man had to kill some of his cows and close his dairy business after the nuclear power plant was damaged.