technology

16 years after his death, new song by X Japan guitarist hide released with vocals by…hide?!

The Japanese music scene doesn’t have quite the lengthy list of young deaths that its Western counterpart does, but that doesn’t mean J-pop hasn’t lost some of its biggest stars while still in their prime. In 1998, 33-year-old hide, who rose to fame as guitarist for the band X Japan and had also established a successful solo career, was found dead in his apartment, hung by a towel attached to a doorknob.

Ruled a suicide, his death came as a shock to his legions of fans, and while he left behind a large body of work, it seemed they would never get to hear the song “Ko Gyaru,” which hide had been putting the finishing touches on before his passing. So it’s come as a surprise that a video for the song was recently released on YouTube, with vocals that sound as if they’re being provided by the deceased musician himself.

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3-D color printer used to bring Hokusai’s masterpiece to life for visually impaired

If you are a sighted person with an internet connection, chances are you have seen Katsushika Hokusai’s famous painting Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa at some point. Despite the clunky title, it is one of the most recognized pieces of Japanese art ever.

Now, thanks to 3-D printing, a company called K’s Design Lab, and Tsutaya’s bookstore-cum-lounge property T-Site, visually impaired art lovers too will soon be able to see this work by literally getting their hands on it.

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Apple opening first non-U.S. development center in Yokohama, Japan

To many visitors, both coming from elsewhere in Japan and abroad, Yokohama seems quaint and relaxed. Sure, it’s the second biggest city in the country, but Yokohama is best known for its bayside parks, giant Ferris wheel, and Chinatown (plus its occasional Pikachu outbreaks).

But Yokohama has also been the entry point to Japan for some of its largest cultural and technological influences. It was the site of Japan’s first gas lamps, photography studio, and even brewery as the country opened itself to outside visitors and innovations in the latter half of the 19th century. Viewed from that historical perspective, it’s fitting that technology giant Apple is setting up a new research and development center in Yokohama.

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New smartphone game turns car models into anime girls with model-worthy looks

For generations, automobile marketers have relied a tried and true method. Whether it’s an elegantly dressed woman stepping out of a luxury sedan in a TV commercial or a mini-skirted model draped over the hood of a sports coupe at an auto show, a quick way to make a car look appealing is by showing it next to an appealing-looking woman.

The company Autoc One is taking that concept one step further, though. What if, instead of showing a cute girl next to the car, you made the car itself a cute girl? You’d end up with something like Shanago Collection, Autoc One’s smartphone game starring anthropomorphized cars from Mazda, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, and more.

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Just in time for 2015! Hoverboard becomes reality, proves Back to the Future was legit

Remember that scene in the classic 80’s movie Back to the Future Part II, where Marty McFly escapes a group of bullies using a floating skateboard known as a hoverboard? If you do, you probably spent your childhood longing for one of those bad boys and wondering when technology would catch up to the 2015 depicted in the film. Well, it looks like we’ve managed to make it a reality, and just before the cut-off date, too! Join us after the jump for video evidence!

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Congratulations Nippon! Japan takes on the title of “Top Country Brand”

Every year a brand consultant agency called FutureBrand comes out with a report of the Country Brand Index (CBI). The “country brand” (think “Made in Japan”), is measured similarly to consumer or corporate brands (Nike, Toshiba, etc).

The index is a measure of the global perception of each country’s “brand,” not just for the quality and popularity of their export products and big name businesses, but also taking into account social aspects of the country. Having spent the last few years cozily in the top ten, Japan took the number one position in the 2014-2015 CBI report.

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Japan introduces a new kind of needleless injection, you won’t believe how it works!

Needle phobia all boils down to “Needles? No thank you!” This seemingly innocuous fear makes many things in life quite difficult. Drawing blood, injections…sewing…are just some of the things that become very problematic. Needle(ss) to say, science fiction has been ripe with alternative injection systems, the most famous is probably the hypospray from Star Trek. While needle-free injections have existed for a while now, a Japanese research team is ready to release their invention into the world, a new kind of needle-free injection that works on the magic of bubbles and is pain FREE!

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No time to cook? Here’s how to make fried shrimp in just three seconds (with the right equipment)

One of Japan’s most popular cooking shows is Three-Minute Cooking. Broadcast by Nippon TV and sponsored by condiment maker Kewpie, the program does exactly what it promises, teaching people to make quick, tasty meals that take just three minutes of cooking.

Three-Minute Cooking started in 1963, though. In the busy 21st century, who can afford the luxury of spending that much time in the kitchen? It’s time for a faster, more modern way to cook dinner, which is where this video comes in with its demonstration of how to cook fried shrimp in just three seconds.

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Adorable Japanese robot gobbles snow, poops ice blocks to keep streets clear【Video】

The Japanese sure do love their robots, don’t they? It seems like every couple of months there’s a new robo-creation being unveiled to the public, sprung from the minds of Japan’s master robotic engineers. Today, we’d like to introduce you to this cute little trundling yellow fella, Yuki Taro! As we all know, winter is coming (we should probably say “winter is here”, but that has less dramatic punch) and with it a flurry of snowstorms and bad weather that can seriously disrupt people’s lives. And who really has the time or energy to shovel snow all day?

Enter Yuki Taro. This snow-gobbling little guy is here to make all your problems melt away – as long as they’re snow-related, that is…

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Clean your SLR ASAP with this cool fan that blasts dust out of your camera in just 60 seconds

Aside from the higher quality photos they generally take, the great thing about SLR cameras is their modular nature. Being able to swap lenses in and out means that you can always be equipped with the best setup for the differing needs of properly photographing scenic mountainscapes, quietly nesting waterfowl, or provocatively posing swimsuit models (or provocatively posing waterfowl, because hey, it’s your camera to do with as you please).

The downside, though, is that the freedom to remove lenses comes with the risk of dust and other debris being introduced through the connectors and marring your photos. Now, though, there’s a quick and easy way to keep your pictures looking top-notch, in the form of a snap-on fan that’ll keep your camera’s interior bits as clean as the images you’re looking to capture with it.

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Google’s English translation for short Japanese phrase hints at huge, TV-series-length backstory

As handy as online Japanese-to-English dictionaries are for looking up individual vocabulary words, automated translation programs tend to spit out much spottier results. A big part of the problem is how much more Japanese relies on context for meaning, which in turn means speakers can, and often do, abbreviate and omit whole words and phrases which human listeners can easily understand implicitly.

Automated programs, though, lack this ability, which means their translations are often missing vital elements needed for the sentence to make sense in English. It’s a problem software engineers and linguists are trying to address, but adding such soft logic to machines is a difficult endeavor.

In at least one case, though, the Google Translate team seems to have been too effective, as trying to convert a Japanese phrase meaning, “Goodbye, my beloved” into English produces a result that seems to have roughly 38 hours of backstory behind it.

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Chinese E-cigarettes might be wreaking more havoc on your computer than on your lungs

If you’ve turned to E-cigarettes to reduce the damage of your smoking habit or help you quit, you may want to avoid Chinese brands unless you’re prepared to turn your computer into a smoking, sputtering paperweight as a sacrifice to your improved health.

That’s because there seems to be mounting evidence that some Chinese E-cigarettes can literally infect your computer with viruses and malware.

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Tokyo adding free Wi-Fi to 143 subway stations for foreign travelers

I honestly don’t remember the last time I used a taxi in central Tokyo. The extensive subway network is clean and efficient, and not only is it far cheaper than a cab, a lot of the time, it’s faster, too.

As if public transportation didn’t already have enough going for it, next month things are about to get even better, as over 100 Tokyo subway stations are about to start offering free Wi-Fi to foreign travelers.

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The newer, cheaper Kakureya II: The perfect secret fort/box for studying, drinking, or napping

With Japanese housing being as cramped as it is, designating a whole room as a man cave, reading nook, sewing room, or any other sort of area solely dedicated to your hobbies and passions is an unattainable luxury for many people. That’s why earlier this year, we took a look at the Kakureya, an enclosed capsule where you could have a little private me time as you watch movies, listen to music, or relax with some aroma therapy, among other suggestions from the manufacturer.

After all the attention the initial model received, it’s now time for a follow-up, with the Kakureya II, an improved version that offers even more creature comfort at a price about half that of the original.

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The giant iPhone 6 Plus is most popular in Asia

Asian consumers are in love with the iPhone 6 Plus, according to a report published Thursday by AppLovin, a mobile ad network.

AppLovin looked at data from the more than 25 ad requests it processes every day, and found that the global split between iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users is about 80/20 right now.

But in some Asian countries, the 6 Plus is much more popular.

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1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours

On March 15, 2013, the Shibuya Station Toyoko Line above-ground train quietly shut down for good, to be replaced with a new section of subway track connecting Shibuya Station and the nearby Daikanyama Station. Converting the line from above-ground to underground was a massive operation, requiring a grand total of 1,200 engineers and countless man-hours.

But, even if you’d been living in Tokyo at the time, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the construction, because it all occurred during the train line’s off-hours… over the course of one single night.

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Sharp’s new Japanese-inspired refrigerator is very cool (no pun intended)

Most people spend far more time looking into their refrigerator, hoping they somehow missed a plate of tasty snacks, than looking at their refrigerator. Even when the door is properly closed, we’re more likely to be reading the notes stuck there than admiring the design of the appliance itself.

But that’s just because most of us don’t have as eye-catching of a fridge as this tasteful Japanese beauty.

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Parody news announces “smart rice cooker” by KDDI, KDDI goes ahead and begins designing it

On 13 November, a tweet went out from Kyoko Shimbun which read “AAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Generally, such single-letter interjections don’t yield much of a response, but in this case they got over 400 retweets.

That’s because on this day, Kyoko Shimbun which translates to “Fabricated News” learnt that their fictional Infojar, a next-gen rice cooker with several smartphone capabilities, was in the research and development phase by the very company they were spoofing at the time, KDDI.

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Anime’s Tetsuwan Atom/Astro Boy shows up on a pedestrian walk signal in Japan

For many newcomers to anime and manga, it can be hard to tell characters drawn by the same artist apart. In general, Japanese designs use fewer lines, especially in the faces, than those of Western comic books, and even some artists themselves, such as Touch creator Mitsuru Adachi, have been known to get their own cast members mixed up.

That’s not a problem with Atom, though. Also known as Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka’s beloved mighty robot is instantly recognizable, whether in the pages of the manga where he debuted, onscreen in one of his many anime adaptations, or, in his most recent appearance, a pedestrian walk signal in Kanagawa Prefecture.

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Tinkerbell lives! Japanese company invents a way to draw in thin air with laser plasma technology

While the resurrection of Tupac and Michael Jackson were both pretty impressive, they weren’t exactly the sci-fi technology breakthroughs we’ve been waiting for since the Holodeck in Star Trek. But if you were left feeling disappointed by the beyond-the-grave spectacles, we have some hope for your technology-craving hearts!

Japanese technology company Burton Inc. recently wowed the Internet with a demonstration of a laser plasma device that enabled them to project 3-D images into the sky.

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