Crif Dogs Classic: Takeru Kobayashi devours 68½ hot dogs in 10 minutes, setting new record

Japanese eating champ Takeru Kobayashi has a hunger for food and his only kick is that he must eat it fast and set some new records along with it. He has been banned from Nathan’s Hot Dogs on Coney Island because of some labor dispute with Major League Eating, who organizes the event. This has not stopped him from participating in the inaugural Crif Dogs Classic eating championship where he downed 68.5 dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

This takes him 0.5 more than rival Joey “Jaws” Chestnut who competed at Nathan’s the same day. The event was a 4th of July special and was held at Crif Dogs in Brooklyn. The six-time Nathan’s champ demolished his competitors with a clean margin. He beat Tom Gilbert and 12 other by downing 31 more hot dogs than Tom, rendering him to the second position.

Thirty-four year old Kobayashi claimed that the hot dog buns at Crif were stiffer than Nathan’s but it did not stop him from giving it his best. After his ban, ‘the Tsunami’ Kobayashi held an unofficial event on a rooftop, establishing his eating prowess to the world. But this year he decided to take it to Crif Dogs and impressed all with his gifted eating capabilities!

Lawson Stores Thrive in Japan’s Dismal Economy

Japan’s biggest convenience stores including Lawson Inc. and the 7-Eleven chain are benefiting from the deflation, aging population and March 11 earthquake weighing on the nation’s manufacturers and economy.

“Changing demographics and the willingness to spend more for quality at convenience stores are major growth factors,” Takeshi Niinami, president of Lawson, the country’s second- biggest chain, said in an interview. “With the earthquake, the trends are even more obvious.”

Lawson expects record operating profit this year as Niinami’s strategy of focusing on the elderly and housewives adds new customers. The retailer and rivals including Seven & I Holdings Co.’s 7-Eleven chain and Familymart Co. have taken advantage of Japan’s third year of deflation to lower costs while maintaining or raising prices.

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Japan’s Asahi to buy New Zealand’s Independent Liquor

Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings has decided to buy Independent Liquor of New Zealand for about 100 billion yen ($1.3 billion) as the beverage giant expands in Asia and Oceania, a report said Sunday.

Asahi, known for its popular "Super Dry" beer, will soon announce the deal, which will be its biggest acquisition, the Nikkei business daily said.

Japanese firms have sought to expand in foreign markets as domestic sales suffer from chronically slow consumption by the country’s shrinking and ageing population.

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Sake fights fallout of Japan’s triple disaster

After surviving the double disaster of the magnitude 9 earthquake and towering tsunami that damaged more than 100 sake breweries in northeastern Japan on March 11, sake producers in Tohoku thought that the situation could hardly get worse. But when the media reported that the stricken reactors at Fukushima’s No. 1 nuclear power plant had begun to leak radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, they realized that some of the biggest difficulties were yet to come.

Takaaki Yamauchi, president and master brewer at Fuchu Homare Shuzo in Ibaraki Prefecture, was still cleaning up the shards of sake bottles that had been smashed by the earthquake when he heard that radiation levels had risen in the area.

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Nuclear plant leaks spawn tainted seafood fears in Japan

Fears about contaminated seafood spread Wednesday despite reassurances that radiation in the waters off Japan’s troubled atomic plant pose no health risk, as the country’s respected emperor consoled evacuees from the tsunami and nuclear emergency zone.

While experts say radioactive particles are unlikely to build up significantly in fish, the seafood concerns in the country that gave the world sushi are yet another blemish for Brand Japan. It has already been hit by contamination of milk, vegetables and water, plus shortages of auto and tech parts after a massive quake and tsunami disabled a coastal nuclear power plant.

Setbacks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex mounted Wednesday, as the plant’s operator, Tokyo Power Electric Co., announced that its president was hospitalized. Masataka Shimizu has not been seen since a news conference two days after the March 11 quake that spawned the destructive wave. His absence fueled speculation that he had suffered a breakdown.

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Concern about food, fuel in wake of Japan disasters

Long lines at grocery stores and gas stations along with continued aftershocks and power outages greeted many in Japan on Sunday morning, nearly two days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that left hundreds dead and missing.

Supplies of food and gas were running out in Sendai, the northern coastal city close to the epicenter of Friday’s quake. Those who survived the earthquake and chose to remain in the city were enduring two-hour waits at the supermarket, according to a CNN iReporter in Sendai with the username joeyjenkins.

"They have waited for I don’t even know how long to get gas, as the gas station manually pumps the gas since there is no electricity," joeyjenkins wrote, adding they were without power until early Sunday.

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Wendys to Try Luck in Japan Again

Wendy’s/Arby’s International Inc., a subsidiary of Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc. WEN recently announced that it has entered into a development agreement with Higa Industries Co. Ltd. to expand in Japan. Per the deal, Higa Industries will develop and operate Wendy’s restaurants throughout the country in the coming years. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The first location is expected to open in Tokyo later this year.The latest deal with Higa Industries will mark Wendy’s return to the Japanese market after it called off its franchise agreement in that country back in 2009. Wendy’s had decided against renewing its contract, citing its franchiser’s tardy development. This resulted in the closure of 71 restaurants in that country.Higa Industries, led by Ernest Higa, boasts of local market knowledge and has a proven track record of venturing into industries as diverse as lumber, medical and the restaurant, within the Japanese market. It had owned and operated 180 stores of Domino’s Pizza Inc. NYSE: DPZ – News in Japan before selling this business in February 2010.

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Japan: A Nation of Iron Chefs

Sushi, Tempura, Ramen, Yakisoba … You probably know these dishes. But what about Ishikari-nabe, Hiyajiru, Funazushi, Fukagawa-meshi? Unless you decide to live in Japan for the rest of your life (and even then it may not happen), you’re never going to experience, or even hear of every dish the Japanese have invented. After all, this is the land that (according to my Japanese father) encourages the consumption of 30 different types of food a day, so they have built up quite a culinary repertoire.

The best way to experience Japanese cuisine is to go to Japan. Forget Paris and New York. Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants then the two gastronomic powerhouses combined. And if ‘haute cuisine’ isn’t your thing, there are curry houses, soba and udon stalls and tempura joints ready to feed your appetite for 800 yen (around ten bucks) or less. The myth that Japan is an expensive place to visit doesn’t hold much water when it comes to eating.

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Farm ministry to hike wheat price by 18%

The Japanese government will raise prices of five major brands of imported wheat for its resale to flour milling companies by an average 18 percent starting in April on rising wheat prices on the international market, it said Wednesday.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said the planned action will bring the average price to 56,710 yen per ton, which could translate into higher retail prices of bread and other wheat products.The move in the next biannual wheat price adjustment will mark the second consecutive hike after an increase of an average 1 percent last October.

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Japan’s Sushi Chains in Price War

Japan’s largest sushi chain restaurants have started a price war that is making dining out on the nation’s most famous delicacy more reasonable than ever before.

With the economic downturn continuing to bite and fewer people opting to eat out, operators of "kaiten-zushi" restaurants – where small plates of sushi roll past diners’ tables on conveyer belts that are constantly replenished by the chefs – are looking to appeal to a new consumer base by cutting prices.

The three largest restaurant chains in Japan – Kappa Sushi, Akindo Sushiro and Kura Sushi – have reduced the cost of most platters to Y100 (€0.90) in a bid to attract families to replace the high-spending businessmen of the past.

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