Small Print: March 19, 2015

Small Print: March 19, 2015

Gaming withdrawals, fitness robots, competitive cruises, and more ...


“Geiko” is a term for “geisha,” usually from the western part of Japan. (Photo: 123RF)

“I feel greater joy at the prospect of being a geiko … than for anything else.”
—Mikako Kodama, a student at a women’s college in Kyoto, on plans to become a traditional Gion entertainer


  • Authorities at the TMG are debating whether the shouts of high school students during sports activities should be subject to municipal noise-reduction protocols.
  • Officials also say they want to offer river cruises every bit as appealing as “those of the Seine in Paris and the Thames in London” in time for the 2020 Olympics.
  • Transportation workers have come up with a novel way of overcoming the tendency of drivers on the Metropolitan Expressway to slow down on uphill slopes: They’ve installed LEDs that give motorists the illusion they’re “being passed by a wave of green light.”
  • Sentence of the Week: “A board of education’s encouragement of children to observe ‘no-electronic-game days’ has drawn criticism from those arguing that such games are not to blame for society’s ills.” (via Mainichi Japan)


  • Authorities from JR East traveled to Taiwan for a ceremony marking a tie-up between Tokyo Station and Hsinchu Station, which is about 70 kilometers outside of Taipei.
  • Meanwhile, Tokyo University of the Arts entered into a joint-degree partnership with prominent art schools in London, Paris, and Chicago.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, spoke on the phone and agreed to enhance bilateral ties.
  • And Thongsing Thammavong, the prime minister of Laos, stopped by Tokyo to say he endorses Abe’s stance of “proactive pacifism.”


  • Percentage of smartphone and tablet users in Japan who admit to having posted “malicious” comments online


  • Number of evacuees from the March 2011 disaster who died alone in temporary housing units in 2014


  • Nobel laureates who gathered in Tokyo in early March for a symposium on “The Genetic Revolution and Its Future Impact”


  • Researchers in Okinawa say they’ve discovered a fossilized tooth that belonged to a mysterious five-meter-long beast known as a megamouth shark. The sea creature prowled local waters about 2.5 million years ago.
  • A company based in Kitakyūshū has developed a robot that “measures the fitness levels of elderly people based on how they move their feet.”
  • It was reported that municipal authorities around the nation are dealing with a rising number of unattended graves. They blame the situation on Japan’s aging population and declining birthrate.
  • Authorities in Palau have agreed to open up a cave so Japanese research teams can recover the remains of some of the 2,500 troops killed on the island in World War II.


  • The good news: A food importer in Osaka voluntarily recalled 70,000 packages of strawberry ice cream.
  • The bad news: Executives failed to mention that the recall was prompted by the discovery of mold in the products.
  • Toho Studios marked its 83rd anniversary with an exhibit in Setagaya featuring memorabilia from the Godzilla films and Seven Samurai.
  • Staff at a literary museum in Hokkaido say they’ve come upon letters that describe the “brutal death” of celebrated novelist Takiji Kobayashi (1903-1933) following his arrest and torture by the Tokkō police.


  • Authorities at the land ministry are considering a plan to use Twitter to help warn people of impending mudslides.
  • An advocacy group in the Philippines is urging the Japanese government to apologize for atrocities committed by Imperial Army troops during the Battle of Manila in 1945.
  • Japanese expats living in Thailand took part in an earthquake evacuation drill conducted by personnel from the Self-Defense Forces.
  • Bottom Story of the Week: “Kids Playing Outside Learn From Nature, Each Other” (via The Japan News)

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