Category Archives: Only in Japan

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The Aomori Nebuta Festival kicks off this weekend

One of Japan’s biggest summer festivals has kicked off in the northeastern city of Aomori.

The Aomori Nebuta Festival is known for its spectacular floats that parade through the city.

The floats, called “Nebuta”, carry huge illuminated paper lanterns shaped like legendary heroes and ancient warriors.

The parade started on Saturday night with 15 floats, each about 5 meters high and 10 meters wide. They were accompanied by dancers known as “Haneto” wearing matching traditional summer kimonos.

Man Jumps from Plane at Narita Airport

A 33-year-old man was arrested after he opened the emergency door and jumped from a Philippine Airlines plane as it was approaching the terminal at Narita airport on Saturday.

According to police, the suspect, identified as Hirokatsu Tachihara, got out of his seat and opened the emergency exit door as Flight 434 was approaching the terminal at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Fuji TV reported.

Police said he jumped about 4 meters to the tarmac and ran for about 150 meters before he was apprehended by security guards.

AKB48 team members assaulted with saw

Two members of all-girl pop group AKB48 and a male staff member were wounded Sunday afternoon when a man wielding a saw assaulted them at an event in Iwate Prefecture, police said, adding they had arrested a 24-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder.

The group members were identified by the police and a local fire department as Rina Kawaei, 19, and Anna Iriyama, 18. They sustained cuts on their heads and right hands, while the male staffer sustained cuts on his left hand, the police said.

The arrested man, Satoru Umeta, is unemployed and from Towada in the neighboring prefecture of Aomori, the police said. He allegedly assaulted the victims with a saw, prompting an emergency call to the police that a man with a blade had been acting violently in an event hall.

Umeta has admitted to the allegations and was quoted as telling investigators, “I did it.”The victims were later transported to hospital.

Japan travel agent forgets school trip booking, so forges student suicide note

A Japanese travel agent who forgot to book a fleet of buses for a school trip tried to cover his tracks by forging a student’s suicide note in a failed bid to get the excursion cancelled. Regulators from the Japan Tourism Agency raided the offices of JTB Corp, the country’s biggest travel agency, after a 30-year-old employee failed to order 11 buses for a high school in central Japan for its trip scheduled for April 25. The man noticed his mistake on the day before the students were due to depart, but instead of owning up to his error, he hatched a wild-eyed plan to get himself off the hook.

The man, who has not been identified, drafted a note in the style of a student threatening to commit suicide unless the trip was cancelled. He then handed the note to the school’s principal, saying he had found it nearby.

Read the rest of the story: Japan travel agent forgets booking, forges suicide note.

Nippon Professional Baseball’s Ball Maker, Mizuno, Apologizes for Ball Defect

mizuno-ball-defect

Japan’s professional baseball league was facing another ball scandal Tuesday as sports equipment giant Mizuno apologized for a defect that turned the nation’s top sport into a slugfest.

The firm blamed a manufacturing defect, after league officials said they detected a problem with game balls following the season opener last month.

“This happened because of Mizuno’s failure to control our operations,” company president Akito Mizuno told a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Last year, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioner Ryozo Kato was forced to quit after it was discovered that the league and Mizuno conspired to tweak the balls to make the game more exciting.

After months of repeated denials and a huge surge in home runs, the league admitted that it had changed specifications of the balls to give them greater bounce off the bat.

The league also admitted that it had demanded its manufacturer keep quiet about the switch.

Public Toilet Shows All for All to see

A “smoke toilet” was recently put in the Japanese city of Oita. The idea being that the transparent window goes opaque, or smokes when someone enters.

Yet, the toilet seems to be exposing those inside for all to see!

The sensor is triggered upon entering and makes the window opaque, hence creating privacy, but in Japan and according to the Oita Press, the opaque window can accidentally go transparent.

But, why? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

The sensor will actually switch the window back to transparent, if there is no movement in the toilet for 35 seconds. The sensor thinks the toilet is empty and the private smokey window shade goes away. And then, “Hello World!”

Currently, the company has no plans to lengthen the duration…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DxdfNvsV_pU

Japan Finance Minister does not know what bitcoins are

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso on Friday expressed eagerness to hold discussions with other ministers and government agencies about what is behind the recent trouble in the “bitcoin” virtual currency market.

“We do not clearly know what bitcoins are, so we have to start studying it,” Aso said at a press conference, referring to the sudden shutdown earlier this week of all transactions on Mt. Gox, a major bitcoin exchange based in Tokyo.

Aso added there is a group in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that is studying the bitcoin market.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PpXdJFu0nig

Robocop Patrolling Trains in Japan

Japanese police collaborated with West Japan Railway Company and developed the Robocop — a man posing as a cyborg crime-fighter.

In an unusual move, the Japanese police have recruited a ‘Robocop’ on public trains to protect women commuters from perverts.

The Osaka Police Department has enlisted a robot to stop the perverts threatening women.

“Robocop is a hammer of justice to molesters threatening women,” the police said on its official site.

Japanese police collaborated with West Japan Railway Company and developed the Robocop — a man posing as a cyborg crime-fighter.

Interestingly, the Robocop has the right to arrest citizens who are found breaking the laws.

The robot is also assigned the duty of warning travellers not to leave their belongings and luggage in the train carriages, the Mirror reported.

In addition, it will caution drivers not to leave possessions on view in cars.

Read the rest of the story: Japan police recruit Robocop on trains.

Mt. Gox chief says he is “still in Japan” after sudden operational shutdown of the exchange

The chief executive of troubled bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has denied speculation that he fled Japan in the wake of its sudden operational shutdown and said work is under way to solve various issues.

“As there is a lot of speculation regarding Mt. Gox and its future, I would like to use this opportunity to reassure everyone that I am still in Japan and working very hard with the support of different parties to find a solution to our recent issues,” Mark Karpeles said in a statement posted online and dated Wednesday.

His statement came after the market for the virtual currency released a brief statement that it will “close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our customers.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC948CvN7zw

Read the rest of the story: Mt. Gox chief says he is “still in Japan” to solve issues.

Giant Squid Caught Alive

A giant squid has been captured alive by a fisherman in western Japan.

Tetsuo Okamoto was harvesting turban shells at a depth of 8 meters when he saw the squid moving overhead about 300 meters off Shin-onsen Town in Hyogo Prefecture.
Okamoto tied it to his boat and took it to a port.

The mollusk is 4.13 meters long and estimated to weigh 200 kilograms. It had lost both of its longest tentacles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xEvgfqk2_HE