Random Japan



Toto’s warm water-spraying Washlet toilet seats celebrated 30 years of keeping things clean down under, living up to their slogan, “Buttocks, too, want to be washed.”

Locals in Miyazaki rolled out the welcome wagon for the Yomiuri Giants as they opened “spring” camp, lavishing 20 kilos of kumquat, 20kg of mikan, 10 boxes of strawberries and 100 broiled eels on the Central League powerhouse.

But the Giants gave as good as they got, donating some ¥3 million to support local relief efforts as Miyazaki battles bird flu and a spewing volcano.

Meanwhile, the Softbank Hawks also got a welcome gift at their camp when 10kg of tuna and 10kg of shrimp were dropped off by the Miyazaki Fish Federation.

16-year-old ballet dancers Shizuru Kato and Yuko Horisawa finished fifth and seventh, respectively, at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition, each earning year-long scholarships to some of the top dance schools in the world.


4 Marriages per 1,000 people in Akita Prefecture in 2009, the lowest rate in Japan for the 10th straight year

65Years since the last sumo tournament was canceled, due to damage from WWII

31,282 Number of suicides in Japan in 2010, a 4.5 percent drop from 2009, according to the Cabinet Office

297 Number of children in Tokyo who became victims of internet-based sex crimes in


Students at Okayama Sanyo High School in Asakuchi are trying to get their custom-made electric car certified by Guinness World Records for lowest vehicle height. Their car sits just 45 centimeters off the ground, which is some 2.5cm lower than the current record.

A nasty blizzard in Hokkaido caused a 25-car pileup that left 12 people injured.

Ueno Zoo held a “Kaba Matsuri” to mark the 100th anniversary of receiving its first hippo, which arrived from Germany in 1911.

Ueno Zoo has been home to 29 hippopotamuses since 1911. In an unsavory little sidenote to the story, “some visitors reportedly complained that they could not see the [first] animal when the pool became cloudy with its dung.”

That Slush Fund In The Safe?  

It Doesn’t Exist  


It’s Good For The Bank Account  

Not A Hit  

At Starbucks  

For many Japanese, laid-back overseas vacations a one-way ticket to nowhere



“While traveling in India, a Japanese backpacker gave me a joint, and I got a great high,” 27-year-old Masahiko Tanaka (a pseudonym, as are the other names in this article) tells Spa! (March 1-8). “Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on the stuff.”

Back in Japan and unable to quit, Tanaka sought out fellow potheads for group sessions. “It’s dangerous to do it in Japan, so I keep thinking of going abroad again for wild ganja parties.”

Six months after his return to Japan, Tanaka was caught up in a police sweep and arrested. As he only had a small amount in his possession, the sentence was fairly lenient: eight months imprisonment suspended for three years.

Are schools ready for English?

Worried teachers fear they lack sufficient training, confidence


Staff writer

Come April, English classed will become mandatory for fifth- and sixth-graders, but a 29-year-old elementary school teacher in Tokyo has heard the concerns of her overwhelmed colleagues, especially the older ones, who have neither taught the language nor studied it since their university years decades ago.

Preparing for the English classes is a new burden for teachers. Some believe they must teach detailed rules of grammar and demonstrate proper pronunciation, even though this isn’t required.


    • RiaD on February 26, 2011 at 18:04

    imo all schools (worldwide) should teach foreign languages from kindergarten on. the sooner you start a child on foreign languages the better.

    i started mine on german spanish & english.

    i didn’t know much spanish & less german but we learned together. i think this small exposure helped them later, in high school taking latin & spanish & also my son started picking up other languages- swedish, japanese, french.

    hes not really thoroughly fluent in most of them, but he does very very well in japanese & spanish.

    that poor guy at starbucks has it bad!

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