Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on May 2013

HOLY CRAP

Tara Nangia

  • A team of Japanese researchers has used an MRI to “successfully decode dreams by measuring brain activity during sleep.” It’s the first time scientists anywhere have been able to “read dreams.”
  • A cinema in Nagoya is planning to go “4-D” by allowing moviegoers to “experience wind, sprays of water, scents, light, fog and even soap bubbles.” We’re particularly excited about the bubbles.
  • After objections from the municipal labor union, officials in Nara ditched a plan to keep tabs on city workers via an ID authentication system “based on blood vein configuration.”
  • A letter carrier in Chiba who was arrested for stealing 2,100 pieces of mail said she did it because of “stress over her work.”

PAYBACK TIME

  • A former inmate of Tokyo Detention House will receive ¥2.3 million in compensation for being repeatedly abused by a prison guard.
  • The family of a Nigerian man who died in a fire at his home in Osaka in 2009 was awarded ¥92 million by a district court judge, who ruled that the blaze was started by a defective futon heater.
  • Residents of Ono, Hyogo Prefecture, are being asked to snitch on local welfare recipients who “blow their money on entertainment such as pachinko, as well as horse racing, bicycle racing and other forms of gambling.”
  • In the first survey of its kind since 1999, authorities in Hiroshima have added about 15,000 people to the list of official A-bomb victims. The new casualty figure stands at 557,478.

IT’S ABOUT TIME

  • Two female graduates of the National Defense Academy of Japan have become the first women to serve as commanders aboard Maritime Self-Defense Force ships.
  • Meanwhile, the all-female musical troupe Takarazuka Revue embarked on its first-ever tour of Taiwan.
  • Officials at the health ministry say all 397 cancer hospitals around the country will be staffed with “antismoking counselors” by next April.
  • The infrastructure ministry has developed new guidelines for disaster-relief donations made by individuals. In the aftermath of 3/11, authorities in Miyagi were so besieged by the outpouring of goods that “it was impossible to look through them all.”

THAT SINKING FEELING

  • 2012 was the third straight year that fishermen around the world caught less than 10 tons of Japanese eels. At one point in the 1960s, the annual haul was more than 200 tons.
  • Officials at the health ministry say that every single prefecture in Japan will suffer a population decrease by the year 2040.
  • Someone stole the bronze medal won by bantamweight Satoshi Shimizu at last year’s London Olympics—which really sucks, as it was the first medal won by a Japanese boxer in 44 years.
  • Headline of the Week: “Businessman Suspected of Slashing up to 1,000 Tires in Effort to Meet Women” (via Japan Today)

AND FINALLY…

  • Authorities in Yokohama discovered “a stash of 106 deserted case files” at a local police station. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations had expired for each one.
  • A pair of thieves made off with ¥20 million in a heist at a pachinko parlor in Kitakyushu. About 400 customers were inside the shop at the time.
  • A survey by a group called Central Research Services has found that 72.5 percent of Japanese people in their 20s use smartphones.
  • An Osaka-based NPO with the catchy name Josei Shokuno Shudan WARP-LEENET is suspected of actually being a KEPCO-backed “nuclear power propaganda tool.”

Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, Japan Probe, The Mainichi, Daily Yomiuri, AFP, Reuters and Kyodo