Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on June 2014

Illustration by Anne-Marie Pappas

BIG IN JAPAN

  • The Disney animated film Frozen became the first movie since 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to gross ¥20 billion at the Japanese box office.
  • The only other films to reach the ¥20 billion milestone are Titanic (1997; ¥26.2 billion) and Spirited Away (2001; ¥30.4 billion).
  • Bret Mayer, the 32-year-old New Jersey native who passed the highest level of the 12-level Japan Kanji Aptitude Test, has become the host of a popular radio program in Shizuoka.
  • A book of vegetarian recipes written by the chief cook at Eiheiji temple in Fukui has sold out its initial print run of 2,000 copies.

NATURAL WONDERS

  • Authorities at the Meteorological Agency say the El Nino phenomenon may trigger a cooler-than-usual summer in Japan.
  • That announcement prompted the killjoys at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute to predict that the low temperatures would “depress consumer spending on summer clothes, air conditioners, beer and other drinks.”
  • The health ministry says it will organize health retreats for people who suffer from metabolic syndrome.
  • Officials in Shizuoka are planning an “aerial spraying campaign” to combat a weevil infestation in a pine forest at the Mt. Fuji World Heritage site.

AND NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS

  • Wildlife officials say a “chubby black chick” spotted on an island in the Ogasawara chain may be a short-tailed albatross, which is classified as an endangered species.
  • According to the welfare ministry, the number of children on waiting lists for day care centers has fallen for three straight years.
  • Residents of Setagaya-ku held their first-ever food drive to benefit social welfare organizations.
  • The LDP has set a goal of increasing the proportion of homes that can withstand major earthquakes to 95 percent by the year 2020. The current figure is 80 percent.

FINDINGS

  • Researchers at the National Museum of Nature and Science have discovered a new variety of anemone in a garden at the Imperial Palace.
  • According to officials at the forestry agency, only 27.9 percent of the wood sold in Japan in 2012 was domestically produced. In 1955, the figure was 94.5 percent.
  • A study led by researchers from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases has found that up to 70 percent of dental clinics don’t properly sterilize instruments used for drilling teeth.
  • It was reported that professional wrestlers from Japan and the U.S. will participate in an exhibition in Pyongyang.

THE WAGES OF SIN

  • Justices on the Supreme Court finalized the five-year prison term for Olympic gold medal wrestler Masato Uchishiba, who was convicted of raping a woman in 2011.
  • An 18-year-old American man who once worked as a lifeguard at a military base in Okinawa was arrested for raping a woman and filming the assault on his cellphone.
  • Government officials announced that Japan will treat bitcoins the same way it does credit cards—not as traditional currency but as “a value-added electronic record.”
  • Sentence of the Week: “Elderly residents in provincial areas are increasingly falling prey to a new type of telephone scam involving perpetrators posing as their children or grandchildren who call and ask them to come to the capital using lines such as ‘Help me! I’m having a problem. Please come to Shinjuku with money.’” (via The Japan News)

Compiled from reports by AP, Japan TodayThe Japan TimesJijiThe Tokyo ReporterThe MainichiThe Japan News, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo