Category Archives: Culture

Japan’s Suntory Celebrates Rolling Stones’ 50th

Japan’s Suntory beverage behemoth (best known beyond Japan for Bill Murray’s “Suntory Time” commercial in Lost in Translation) has made 2012 the year of the Rolling Stones, with a Stones Bar series celebrating the anniversary and stirring up such boozy tributes to the band as Rolling Hop beer, Rolling Gold “bottled cocktail,” and a Citrus Highball. 

Now Suntory (which develops customized drinks for Japanese tastebuds such as wacky-flavored Pepsi varieties) is outdoing itself with the ultimate Stones-themed alcoholic beverage: a limited-edition whisky. How limited? Only 150 bottles were released on Oct. 30.

The “whisky is a blend of carefully selected malts distilled and casked in milestone years throughout the band’s 50 year history, including a malt from the year the band formed that has been long-aged in mizunara (Japanese oak) casks.” It comes in a crystal bottle (even though crystal is for the 15th anniversary) that has the lips and tongue logo cut in relief on the front of the bottle as well as a diamond-shaped decorative stopper.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s Suntory Celebrates Rolling Stones’ 50th With Limited Edition Whisky.

Shizue Yamaguchi Dies

One of Japan’s first-generation female lawmakers Shizue Yamaguchi has died. She was 94 years old.

A company at which Yamaguchi served as president said on Wednesday that the former politician died on April 3rd of kidney failure.

The firm says, according to her wishes, the public announcement of the death was put off until October 31st, which would have been Yamaguchi’s 95th birthday.

Yamaguchi was born in Tokyo in 1917. She was elected to the Lower House of the Diet as a member of the now defunct Socialist Party in Japan’s first general election with women candidates in 1946.

Yamaguchi joined the Liberal Democratic Party in 1967. She served 13 terms as a Diet lawmaker and in key government posts including parliamentary vice minister.

She was awarded the U.N. Peace Medal in 1980 and the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1987.

Japanese man pays $780K for virginity of 20-year-old Brazil woman, who’ll use money for charity

A man from Japan called Natsu fended off strong competition to secure a date with 20-year-old Brazilian student Catarina Migliorini, who is set to sell her virginity for a $780,000 after she put it up for auction online in the name of charity.

Read the rest of the story: Japanese man pays $780K for virginity of 20-year-old Brazil woman, who’ll use money for charity housing project.

One Piece to Open Osaka Exhibition in November

Earlier this year Eiichiro Oda celebrated his success of manga illustration over the span of 15 years by, showcasing his original illustrations at the "One Piece Exhibition." Due to popularity of the event hosted in Tokyo, organisers are adding another event in Osaka.

Below are two commercials promoting the event. Attendees will be able to catch full previews of Oda sketching his famous manga characters step-by-step.

(November 24 – February 17)

Greenpeace States Radiation Monitoring in Japan Unreliable

Government radiation monitoring in areas near Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is unreliable, Greenpeace charged on Tuesday, with heavily populated areas exposed to 13 times the legal limit.

The environmental group said authorities were wasting time cleaning up evacuated areas and should prioritise decontamination efforts in places where people live, work and play.

Greenpeace found that in some parks and school facilities in Fukushima city, home to 285,000 people, radiation levels were above three microsieverts per hour. Japan’s recommended radiation limit is 0.23 microsieverts per hour.

“We also found that official monitoring posts placed by the government systematically underestimate the radiation levels,” said Rianne Teule, Greenpeace’s radiation expert, adding that some machines are shielded from radiation by surrounding metal and concrete structures.

Read the rest of the story: Japans radiation monitoring unreliable: Greenpeace.

Ikumi Yoshimatsu Wins Miss International Title

A Japanese woman won the title of Miss International Sunday in this year’s contest in Naha, capital of the southern Japan prefecture of Okinawa.

Ikumi Yoshimatsu, a 25-year-old model from Tosu, Saga Prefecture, said, “I wasn’t sure whether I was dreaming or it really happened…I think women will become opinion leaders in the future, and I said in my speech during the contest how I want to work from now on.”

Yoshimatsu is the first Japanese winner of the title since the contest, one of the three major beauty pageants in the world, started in 1960.

Japan Coast Guard Saves 64 Chinese Seamen

Japan’s Coast Guard saved all 64 Chinese seamen from their burning cargo ship, as the two nations remain locked in an acrimonious dispute over contested islands.

The coast guard was alerted by Taiwan authorities late Saturday about a fire on the 12,703-ton Ming Yang and sent patrol vessels and aircraft to the scene, around 150 kilometers (94 miles) southeast of Okinawa.

By 2:30 am Sunday a Japanese coast guard ship had saved 21 people who escaped on a life raft, while 43 others remained on the deck of the burning freighter, registered in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Read the rest of the story: Japan saves 64 Chinese seamen from burning freighter.

Man Stabs Five at Japan Railway Station

Japanese police Saturday arrested a man who allegedly stabbed five people at a railway station in southwest Japan, Kyodo news agency reported.

The five victims – all men – were taken to hospital but their injuries did not seem to be life-threatening, the agency said, quoting firefighters.

A passerby alerted the fire department to the early morning attack at Hakata railway station in Fukuoka city.

Police said they had arrested a man believed to be the attacker, who was quoted as saying he “wanted to stab people”, Kyodo reported.

Japan, which has a low violent crime rate, was shocked in 2008 at a massacre in Tokyo by a knife-wielding assailant which left seven dead.

Tomohiro Kato, 29, was sentenced to death for the lunchtime attack in the bustling Akihabara district in which he ploughed a truck into a crowd of shoppers before stabbing passers-by in a rampage.

Legendary Japanese Director Wakamatsu Koji Dies

Legendary Japanese director Wakamatsu Koji has died, it is being reported, after succumbing to injuries sustained last Friday, when he was hit by a taxi in Tokyo. The 76-year-old filmmaker, oft-compared to French New Wave pioneer Jean Luc Godard, had over 100 films to his credit, with his latest, The Millennial Rapture, having just premiered at the Venice International Film Festival last month, and 11.25: The Day Mishima Chose His Fate set to play the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival in November.

Wakamatsu made a name for himself in the 1960s and 70s, as a driving force of the pinku-eiga softcore porn industry. Titles such as Go Go Second Time Virgin (1969) and Ecstasy of the Angels (1972) are widely revered as classics of the genre. In later years, Wakamatsu’s films turned more political, but he also achieved more widespread critical acclaim.Recent works such as 2007’s United Red Army and 2010’s Caterpillar were both received extremely well. As recently as this month, he was named Asian Filmmaker of the Year by the Busan International Film Festival. 

Read the rest of the story: Japanese Director Wakamatsu Koji Dies After Collision With Taxi.

Japan Electronics Emulates Detroit Autos Before Bankruptcy

In 2004, Kameyama, a town of 50,000 people in central Japan, boomed when Sharp started making liquid-crystal-display panels there.

Sharp dominated the industry with a 22 percent market share in LCD TVs and poured $6.6 billion into Kameyama, creating two state-of-the-art factories and 3,000 jobs. Farmland was turned into housing as workers in their 20s moved in from as far away as Brazil. Taxes from Sharp paid for the renovation of the train station and a new school with features like a castle.

Then Samsung Electronics began driving down prices, forcing Sharp to keep pace. Prices for 40-inch LCD panels fell from about $2,700 in the beginning of 2004 to $1,300 in 2005 and kept dropping until they reached $250 at the start of this year. Samsung steadily gained market share, moving to 29 percent in 2012 from 10 percent in 2004.

Read the rest of the story: Japan electronics emulates Detroit autos before bankruptcy.