Japan

“We’ll make this a better town than before”: Series of Posters Show Resolution of Japanese

Japan’s Sanriku Coast is a 600 km stretch of coastline on the northern Pacific side of the island well-known for being an area of significant seismic activity. The irregular shape of the coast line is said to amplify the severity of tsunami, and the 15+ meter waves that hit Sanriku after last month’s earthquake were no exception. There are many regions along the coastline where entire villages were washed away, and recovery seems to be nowhere in sight.

Despite this devestation the people of these regions are doing what they can to rebuild their towns. A photographer from Morioka City in Iwate Prefecture, which lies along the middle of the Sanriku Coast, has created a series of posters that capture the unrelenting spirit and determination of these people who have sworn, “We’ll make this a better town than before.” Read More

Rilakkuma is a bear who likes to relax. He is also currently one of the most popular ‘cute’ characters in Japan and can be found lounging on anything from stationary to condoms. 

Indeed, Rilakkuma is so darn cute you just want to fill a dozen of his absentminded little faces with rice and devour them, and I’d like to show you how you can do just that. Read More

Oh, it’s you again, friend.

Let me tell you, you’re not the first to return here after hearing my tale of the Great Mountain of Curry and Rice. Come now, you must be tired from your long journey. Please, have a seat.

Well then, I think today I shall tell you of the time I stood beneath the shadow of the Five-Storied Pagoda of Hamburger.

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Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

In part 1 of this story we reported on the efforts of several animal protection groups to rescue dogs left behind by their owners. In this next part we would like to shift the focus to the cats left in the same situation. Read More

Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

We traveled with an animal protection group as they visited the town of Namie and the Otaka district of Minamisoma city, both of which fall within the designated 20 km evacuation zone.

While we were there the workers were able to rescue around 20-30 cats and dogs. They were transported to a safer area and placed under the care of volunteers until they could be adopted, or their real owners found.

Yet, despite their best efforts, there are few other groups willing to put their health on the line to rescue these animals, and the shelters are limited in resources and capacity. The grim truth is that some animals will be left behind.

Luckily, there are some people who, unable to forsake these abandoned animals, are staying behind as well. On major Internet forum 2channel, hype is surrounding the post of one such user who continues to live in Namie and look after abandoned pets. Read More

Japan’s Most Historical…Starbucks?

Starbucks Coffee is known worldwide for having stylish stores with a comfortable atmosphere. But in Kobe there is one store that is secretly rumored to perhaps be the most stylish of all. Being the Starbucks regular that I am, I made my way to Kobe to check it out. Read More

A little over a month since the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Northeast Japan, the disaster-stricken areas continue to receive support in a variety of forms from across the country. Even so, the full extent of the damage remains unclear. There are still over 15,000 people unaccounted for, and heavily crippled infrastructure has caused a scarcity of supplies, slowing down reconstruction efforts. It seems there is still a long away to go before the disaster victims will see a return to normalcy in their lives.

Staying true to their “mission as a convenience store,” major chain Lawson has announced that they will begin mobile retail operation to deliver their products to areas suffering from supply shortages.

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Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

In our last two reports we covered the scene of a ranch where abandoned cattle had been left to starve and the efforts of a special team dispatched to rescue pets.

For our third report we’d like to share what we saw as we made our way through the city of Minamisōma, which suffered heavy damage from the earthquake and tsunami. As much of the city lies within the 20 km government-mandated evacuation zone, most residents have been forced to leave and remain unable to begin the reconstruction of their town.

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Everyone has an unforgettable quote or two from conversations with loved ones. Such quotes can range in feeling from an overwhelming sense of joy, to being still too traumatizing to speak of. Recently, the website Naver asked Japanese readers for such quotes from past girlfriends. Here are some interesting examples of the responses they received:

You don’t have any balls.
I shouldn’t have dated you. Read More

Fukushima: We Follow Special Team Dispatched to Rescue Abandoned Pets (Part 1)

Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Following our last report of abandoned cattle being left to starve, this is the second in a series of articles where we report our findings from our time on the ground in Fukushima.

This time our reporters followed a rescue team formed by several animal protection groups working in the town of Namie, Fukushima who had been requested by residents to save pets left behind by their masters.

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Sony’s Patapon 3 Trial Replaces Patapon With Half-Naked Japanese Man

Patapon 3, the long-awaited third installment in the PSP’s rhythmic tribal god simulator, is set to be released on April 12, 2011 in North America and April 28, 2011 in Japan.

To commemorate the release of the game, Sony has released a browser-based trial version of the game. However instead of the Patapon warriors, this version stars the eccentric Japanese comedian 江頭2:50 (Egashira niji gojuppun), often refered to as Ega-chan by fans.

Your goal? Send Ega-chan into FEVER! Read More

Fukushima: Cattle on Abandoned Ranch Starve to Death, No Sign of Owner’s Return

For the latest information on the situation, please check here (April 25th) and here (May 5th)

Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. This is the first in a series of articles where we will report our findings from our time on the ground in Fukushima.

The location for our first story is a ranch in Namie, a town located 10 kilometers from the nuclear plant. Here, instead of the lively sounds of farmers going about their daily work, the air is filled with the desperate cries of abandoned cattle. Going to the barn to investigate, we found that over half the cattle in every pen were dead, and the rest were letting out heartbreaking cries for help as they stood among the corpses.

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Nearly one month after the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated Northeast Japan, most people in the country have returned to their normal daily routines. Yet the reality is much different for those living in the disaster-stricken areas, and millions of people continue to suffer.

On Hatelabo, a website where users can post and comment on journal entries anonymously, one post is causing commotion for shedding some light on just how different that reality may be.

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“I love you & I need you Fukushima”: Famous Japanese Musicians and Actors Create Music Video, Beautiful Tribute To Japan’s Solidarity

The band Inawashirokos, formed after last month’s earthquake by a group of four Fukushima-born musicians from well-known bands, have released their first single, I love you & I need you Fukushima.

The song sends a message of support from all of Japan to the Fukushima prefecture, which was one of the areas hardest hit during the earthquake and continues to grapple with the unfolding nuclear crisis.

The band has also released an emotionally stirring music video on YouTube that shows the solidarity and support of people from all across Japan. The video has been gaining attention among uses, many adding their own words of encouragement and commenting that, when watching the video, “the tears didn’t stop.”

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The United States National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NOAA) has released satellite images of nighttime Japan taken immediately before and after the earthquake that struck on March 11th.

Though Japan is normally conspicuously brighter than surrounding countries when seen at night, the photos show a much darker country, and give a unique view of how the entire country was affected by the power outages cause by the earthquake and tsunami.

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According to police reports, there are still more than 16 million people living in refugee shelters after last month’s earthquake as of April 4th.

The shelters, though a step up from complete homelessness, are far from bastions of comfort. Hundreds of people are living under the same roof, their privacy guarded only by makeshift cardboard partitions. Thanks to relief efforts some basic necessities are made available, but people continue to struggle in the absence of everyday goods.

While those displaced by the earthquake have nothing to do but wait for a return to a normal lifestyle, a website designer known as NOSIGNER has created a wiki called OLIVE for users share practical ideas to help with life in the shelters.

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Café Latino sits in the quiet residential area of Asakusa, and seems to be your average urban curry restaurant with cozy, modern decor. Certainly, one wouldn’t expect to find something like ‘Strawberry Curry’ on the menu.

Part of Café Latino’s spring-only menu, Strawberry Curry is available from late December to mid-March and requires a reservation for customers who wish to order it. We put in ours, and made our way to the restaurant to see how this unlikely combination holds up.

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Koreans Upset with Tshirt Meant for Charity

American apparel brand, J. Crew, sold t-shirts meant to benefit those people affected by the recent disaster in Japan, however they ended up generating controversy over the design. The design consisted of a map of Japan that included a reference to the “Sea of Japan”. The reference angered Korean customers, who argue that the geographic feature should be renamed the “East Sea”, and they then complained vociferously on the internet. In response, J. Crew removed the t-shirt from shelves.

J.Crew announced that they stopped the sales of the shirt and had made plans to change the design. The product page cannot be found anymore on their website. In response to the changes, Korean internet users posted declarations such as, “They should have acted faster”, and “We should keep an eye on their new design too”.

In March the Japanese Ministry of Health announced that it had detected radiation levels exceeding safety standards in vegetables from Fukushima and the neighboring prefecture of Ibaraki. Despite government efforts to assure the public that no contaminated products had been shipped to supermarkets, consumers across Japan have been spooked from buying produce from the affected areas. As a result, farmers in Fukushima and Ibaraki—even those whose crops remain uncontaminated—are struggling to cope with financial insecurity as they face a sudden drop in demand.

In response, a farmer’s market-like event titled “Blow Away Restrained Buying! Support Fukushima and Ibaraki Farmers!” has been launched to calm public radiation fears by inviting farmers from these regions to Tokyo to sell their produce directly, and have customers test for radiation themselves.

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SOFTBANK CEO Donates $120 Million Plus Entire Salary Until Retirement to Earthquake Relief

Japanese telecommunications and media conglomerate Softbank Group announced on its website that its CEO Son Masayoshi will personally donate US$120 million, as well as his entire salary until retirement, to assist the victims of last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

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