Random Japan

Nice move

In response to an increase in the number of women returning to the workforce during the economic downturn, the government has granted approval for daycare centers to open in private homes.

The Gap clothing store said it would open a shop in a 12-story building in Ginza after Louis Vuitton pulled out, citing sluggish sales of luxury goods. The store, due to open in 2011, will be the largest Gap in Japan.

The Imperial Household Agency announced that the emperor and empress would like to invite 100 couples from around the country to help celebrate their golden wedding anniversary on April 10. The couples, who have also all been married for 50 years, would join an hour-long tea ceremony at the Imperial Palace.

In response to a government move to lower the price of expressway tolls on weekends, JR West slashed fares by 40 percent on its Sanyo shinkansen line.


1, 2

Rank of Tokyo and Osaka, respectively, among the most expensive cities in the world, according to The Economist


Rank of Karachi, Pakistan, the cheapest


Guns confiscated at Narita Airport last year-the first time since opening in 1978 that no firearms were seized

¥15 million

Cost of training two firearms-sniffing dogs to be deployed at Narita later this year

5 minutes, 12 seconds

Anticipated duration of a solar eclipse in July that will be streamed live over the internet from Iwo Jima

Models of sensitivity

Police in Tottori apologized to an 18-year-old high schooler whose skin condition forces him to wear a veil after an officer asked if he was a member of the Taliban.

The internal affairs ministry found that 40 percent of hotels and ryokan throughout Japan receiving tax breaks for being “international tourist destinations” have staff that speak only Japanese.

The nation’s largest association of internet café operators decided not to allow homeless people who sleep in their establishments to register the cafés as an official address. This means that the country’s so-called net-café refugees, which are believed to number in the thousands, will likely miss out on the government’s cash handouts.

Headline of the week: “‘Homeless’ Poet Chooses Asahi over Noodles” (via the Asahi Shimbun)

It was reported that 61 percent of Ibaraki residents wear masks to ward off pollen during hay fever season, the highest rate in Japan.

The government said it will pay the salary of 80,000 Afghani police officers for six months in anticipation of nationwide elections in August.

My Missile Is Bigger Than

Your missile

It’s Sing Sing For You


Funny Money And Dope


Trains, Games And

Punching? What the hell

More companies pressuring employees to buy their products

Early in this recession-blighted year, says Weekly Playboy (Apr 6), 10,000-odd executives of electronic appliance maker Panasonic received an official notice from headquarters asking them-or was it an order?-to purchase at least 100,000 yen worth of company products by July. (For top executives, the amount indicated was 200,000 yen.)

At Fujitsu, it was much the same story-an email from the president went out to 100,000 employees “appealing” to them to purchase company products. Ditto, more or less, for NEC. Neither specified target amounts, but at a Sanyo Group subsidiary the “request” was bureaucratically precise: department heads were asked to spend at least 300,000 yen, section heads at least 200,000 yen. Rank and file employees also received notices urging them to do their part, without figures being mentioned.

Such is the dismal state of Japan’s once-proud electronics giants. Battered by slumping exports and stagnant domestic demand, they feel compelled to panhandle from their own employees-with this difference: panhandlers generally, if not always graciously, take no for an answer. Your employer may not.

Seniors bowl for a healthier life

“My doctor had warned me previously about my high blood pressure,” the woman, now in her 80s, tells Shukan Post (April 3). “Now it’s back in the normal range and I’ve stopped catching colds.”

This remarkable recovery came about not through a regimen of popping pills or acupuncture needles, but by knocking down pins at her neighborhood bowling lanes several times a week.

Bowling, which went from boom to bust over the span of a several years back in the early 1970s, may now be on the verge of a resurgence, thanks to seniors taking it up as a means of staying physically robust and mentally alert.

Kiyoji Tanaka, a professor of sports medicine at the University of Tsukuba Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences and himself a bowler for more than 10 years, sees benefits in how bowling activates the brain.

“By tracking the motion of the ball down the alley and listening to the high-pitched ‘klunk!’ sound generated when the pins collide, the entire body feels a sense of tension, stimulating the brain,” Tanaka says, adding, “Thinking about ‘Where should I aim the ball to make a spare?’ or ‘How many pins will I need in the next frame to beat my best score so far?’ give the mind beneficial exercise.”

1 comment

    • RiaD on March 28, 2009 at 1:54 pm


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