Small Print: August 27, 2015

Small Print: August 27, 2015

Moss mania, convenience-store couture, blabbing bots, and more ...


(Illustration by Rodger Sonomura)

“Other researchers don’t stand a chance now that I have so much.”
—Shinsuke Koike, an assistant professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, on his collection of 1,000 bear droppings


  • The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Koto Ward is running an exhibition that offers youngsters the chance to “discover the joys of science through Pokémon.”
  • A JAL employee in China got in hot water for tweeting a photo of a boarding pass used by Satoshi Ono of J-pop group Arashi.
  • Officials at Honda say their Asimo robot can now carry out simple conversations in Japanese, English, and Chinese.
  • Headline of the Week: “Jimmy Page Lays Flowers for Hiroshima A-Bomb Victims” (via Jiji)


  • It was reported that young Japanese women are flocking to tours of rural areas with the purpose of … looking at clumps of moss.
  • Organizers of tours to look at rural moss were quoted as saying, “Women are rich in emotions, so they are well-suited to moss viewing.”
  • The bible of the movement may well be Hisako Fujii’s Mosses, My Dear Friends.
  • An O.L. on a moss-viewing tour of Nagano was quoted as saying, “Seeing clusters of mosses living together, I can forget about our competitive society.”


  • Officials at the health ministry say the life expectancy for Japanese girls born in 2014 was 86.83 years—a record high.
  • It was the third consecutive year that Japanese females topped the global longevity list. Women in Hong Kong took the number two spot, at 86.75 years.
  • The life expectancy for Japanese men—80.50 years—was also a new high, good enough for third place in the world ranking alongside Singapore and Switzerland.
  • Topping the list of male life expectancy were Hong Kong (81.17) and Iceland (80.8).


  • For the second straight year, the U.S. magazine Travel and Leisure named Kyoto as the world’s top tourist city. Charleston, South Carolina, and Siem Reap, Cambodia, took the second and third spots.
  • The operators of Uniqlo and 7-Eleven are considering a tie-up that would allow customers to order clothing online and pick it up at their local convenience store.
  • Researchers from Yamagata University say they’ve discovered two dozen new geoglyphs on the surface of Peru’s famed Nazca Plateau.
  • Authorities at the transport ministry have launched a nationwide program to establish a national bicycling route on public roads.


  • The National Police Agency says more than three-quarters of fraud cases last year involved scammers targeting elderly people.
  • Sentence of the Week: “Tokyo police arrested a gangster and a homeless man Tuesday on suspicion of striking a deal for the purchase of one of the homeless man’s kidneys for ¥2 million, in violation of the organ transplant law.” (via The Japan News)
  • An NHK survey has found that six percent of people in Japan say they “rarely” or “never” watch television.
  • A research team led by a professor at Osaka City University has discovered that a species of African tropical fish “has high social cognition ability.”

Compiled from reports by AP, Japan Today, The Japan Times, Jiji, The Tokyo Reporter, The Mainichi, The Japan News, AFP, Reuters, and Kyodo.