technology

Honda readying a Fuel Cell Vehicle for buyers next year, just in time to challenge Toyota

Toyota recently announced it plans to begin consumer sales of a Fuel Cell Vehicle sometime around the beginning of 2015, which has the potential to be a huge step towards a more environmentally-friendly system of personal transportation. Rival carmaker Honda isn’t about to let Japan’s largest auto manufacturer have this new field all to itself, though, as it looks to be moving ahead with plans to start selling an FCV of its own within the country that aims to be the class leader in both performance and price.

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Japanese tradition and technology combine to beat the heat with USB uchiwa

One of the essential items for getting through Japan’s hot and humid summer is an uchiwa, or paper fan. With its large surface area and long handle, you can work up more of a breeze with an uchiwa than a dainty folding fan.

Unfortunately, you might work up a bit of a sweat as you furiously fan yourself, which kind of negates the whole purpose of using a fan to begin with. Thankfully, there’s now a way to get around all that manual labor with a USB-powered uchiwa.

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NASA’s new leek-like supersonic jet design would be perfect for Hatsune Miku’s personal plane

I always feel a little sad whenever I stop and think that NASA’s Space Shuttles are no longer in service. For decades, they served as symbols not only for the pioneering spirit of their mission crews, but for NASA itself, an organization that serves as a gathering point for some of the brightest and boldest scientific minds on the planet.

NASA hasn’t completely gotten out of the high-tech transportation field, though, as it’s moving ahead with a project to develop a supersonic passenger jet. As impressive as its specs are, though, it looks like something quite a bit more down to earth: a root vegetable.

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We test our iPhone’s new protective sheet against the legendary sword Excalibur

The touchscreen is both the greatest and most annoying part of a smartphone. On the plus side, you’ve got clear images, vibrant colors, and the simplicity that comes from bypassing a bunch of buttons and menus. At the same time, though, you’ve also got to deal with unsightly scratches and cracks.

We recently heard about a new protective sheet that’s supposed to be able to withstand almost any kid of abuse, so we put it to the test against a variety of damaging instruments including what one shopkeeper told us was the legendary sword Excalibur.

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Emergency services get prank phone call–but was it the wind…or ghosts?

Summer’s here, and that means it’s time to gather your friends and head to a haunted house to scare the heat out of yourself. But maybe you’re a really tough guy or girl, and nothing like a few kids dressed up as zombies is going to give you a fright. You need a real ghost to help cool you down.

Too bad ghosts aren’t real, right? Well, after reading this story, you might not be so sure…

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Got a cell phone? Soon, you might get a tax bill from the Japanese government too

It’s only been a few months since Japan’s consumption tax jumped from five to eight percent, making everything consumers buy instantly at least three percent more expensive. Some sneaky retailers even took advantage of the opportunity by tacking an extra three percent onto their displayed, pre-tax prices.

Now comes a rumor of an entirely new revenue stream the Japanese government might be moving to secure: a tax on cell phones.

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Cheaters beware – 30 percent of Japanese women have checked their boyfriend’s cell phone

What are the requirements of a happy romantic relationship? A set of shared values is important if you’re looking for anything more substantial than a fun fling. On the other end of the scale, common interests are good to have too, for those lighter dates when you and your partner want to do something other than discuss your life philosophies.

Many people would say the most critical element, though, is trust. After all, no matter how attracted you might be to a person, without the ability to trust one another, your collective jealousy and insecurity will eventually poison any potential you have to be happy together. Of course, building that trust can be a long, difficult, and sometimes scary process, but it’s something you eventually have to do, right?

Not if you’re one of the roughly 30 percent of Japanese women who’ve secretly checked the messages on their boyfriends’ cell phones.

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Samsung’s new Smart Bike features lane-marking laser pointers, a rear camera and more

Cycling in the city can be a genuinely unpleasant experience at times. As well as having to breathe in exhaust fumes for the duration of your journey, our car-centric cities often leave scant room to dedicated bike lanes, meaning cyclists have to share the road with vehicles big and small, often resulting in accidents and near misses.

Thankfully, Samsung thinks it may have a solution to city cyclists’ woes: its new Smart Bike, which incorporates a bevy of technological wizardry and is being built in conjunction with one of the best bicycle designers in the world.

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Nagoya woman beaten and robbed in own home, LINE “friend” chief suspect

Police in Mizuho Ward, Nagoya are searching for two men in connection with a robbery/assault that took place on 16 June. The victim, a woman in her 30s, allowed the robbers into her home because she had been expecting a visit from a man she meet on the popular text messaging service LINE.

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Genius Korean method for unclogging toilets is probably more trouble than it’s worth

So, you’re at a party and having a great time. The girl/guy you’ve had a crush on since you walked in seems to be really into you, the drinks are flowing, and the host is cool. But then you realise you have to poop. Like, really bad.

You excuse yourself, get to the bathroom and do your business only to find that the party’s all-you-can-eat Indian curry and Taco Bell buffet was a little more than your body could handle. Now you’ve got 11 inches of stagnant water staring you down and the romantic interest you were hitting on is knocking on the door saying she’s next in line to pee.

Do you: A) reach for the nearby plunger, B) exit the bathroom complaining loudly about the mess that “someone” left, C) escape through the nearest window, or D) use one of these patented South Korean toilet seals to clean up the whole mess?

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Chinese college student’s bizarre “Thong Condom” invention wins the support of financial backers

Everybody, it’s time to talk about junk.

Even to the discerning eye of the straight woman and the gay male, I’m willing to bet the visual appeal of even the best-kept male genital area ranks somewhere between the ugliest dog in the world and a Lobstrosity from Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga. Plus, despite the meme that there are more germs in your mouth than on your genitals – the swamp-like environment created from all those dangly bits contracted together by boxer briefs for hours at a time can’t be sanitary.

So it goes that enterprising young Chinese college student Kong Yongxiang apparently took one look at a standard condom and thought, “This is way too revealing.” She then went on to invent what is creatively called the “Eros Protector” – literally a condom attached to a thong, with a special pouch that goes over the testicles, ensuring that your male partner’s gross peen and balls stay both safely sheathed in latex and thankfully out of sight.

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10 things Japan does better than anywhere else, according to the international community

Advertising agency Dentsu recently released the results of its annual Japan Brand Survey, in which it asks people from around the world for their opinion on the country. This year’s study involved 3,600 men and women living in 17 different countries, whose responses were used to compile a list of 10 things they feel Japan does better than anywhere else in the world.

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Drone-delivered pizza in Mumbai sparks excitement, angers authorities

In theory it makes perfect sense: when you need to get something from A to B in a hurry and the roads are packed with cars, bikes and people, you fly over it. No traffic lights, no congestion, no fuss.

That’s precisely what Franceso’s Pizzeria, a restaurant in the Indian city of Mumbai, recently did. By strapping their pizza pie to a four-rotored drone about the size of a small coffee table, they were able to remotely pilot the food over the heads of pedestrians and traffic jams and get it to its destination 1.5 km away while still piping hot.

The authorities, however, were not quite as pleased about the stunt as netizens.

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Newsflash: Microsoft announces Xbox One release date, price for Japan

Despite underwhelming sales of its previous games consoles in Japan, Microsoft Corporation has remained true to its promise of bringing Xbox One to the Land of the Rising Sun, and has today announced an official release date and price point.

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Tokyo University and NHK on the verge of touch-o-vision: Television you can truly feel a part of

On 23 May, NHK announced that it has been working with Tokyo University to create a way to not only transmit images over long distances but to also send the sense of touch. Using this, viewers would also become able to actually feel whatever appeared on screen with their own hands.

This system makes use of Tokyo University’s newly developed device which can measure the dimensions and hardness of an object in three dimensions simultaneously. On the other end, NHK has been hard at work on a Touch/Force Display which would allow viewers to get tactile feedback from the images presented on screen.

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West Japan’s new sleeper train looks more luxurious than most hotels

While the typical itinerary for visitors to Japan is Tokyo, Kyoto, and then home, western Japan has a lot to offer. As a matter of fact, as I type this, I’m just about to leave for a few days of enjoying the beautiful sights and delicious food of Hiroshima Prefecture.

In order to maximize my time there, I’m hopping on an overnight bus. But while that’ll get me there bright and early, it’s not nearly as stylish as the new sleeper train that was just announced by Japan Railways.

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Why are smartphones making people chew less gum?

Part of the reason smartphones have become so popular is the way in which they combine the functions of so many other devices people used to lug around instead. With the ability to browse the Internet, listen to music, play games, and take high-quality photos, it’s becoming increasingly harder to convince people they need to shell out the cash for a dedicated camera, handheld video game system, or music player.

But why is it that as more people buy smartphones, fewer of them are buying chewing gum?

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Automatic tie tier ties ties for tie tying-impaired

Ties are serious business in Japan. Since all but the most informal businesses require all men to wear one during working hours (unless, of course, it’s “Cool Biz” time), it’s pretty much a necessity for every guy to own a few and if you know more than two or three ways to tie one, all the better.

But, surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for Japanese guys to have no clue whatsoever how to tie a tie. The stereotype goes that these mostly young sartorially-challenged individuals rely on their girlfriends or even dads and moms to knot their tie for them, and in a pinch they’ll just stash an already-knotted tie somewhere in their closet, tighten it on and dash out the door.

One such less-dexterous individual apparently took it upon himself to solve his problem by building an automatic tie tying machine, presumably so that he could finally stop relying on his dad for his wardrobe and move out of his parents’ basement:

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Free at last? Japanese government mulling over doing away with cell phone SIM locks

When my brother and his family moved back to America, leaving my wife and I as the last Baseels in Japan, he graciously offered me his practically new iPhone. Sadly, despite the tempting opportunity of upgrading from my old-school flip phone, I had to turn down his generous offer.

Being happily married, this wasn’t because I needed the boost in attractiveness that comes from an outdated cell, but simply because my brother and I had different providers, and his iPhone was SIM locked, like all mobile phones in Japan have always been.

However, that might be changing soon.

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Transform!!! Toshiba unveils new laptop that can fold itself into every conceivable position

What with desktops, laptops, all-in-ones and tablets, we now have an enormous amount of choice when it comes to buying a new computer. While many of us enjoy the raw power that giant desktops have to offer, others prefer the simplicity and convenience of tablets with their slim designs and fingerprint-absorbing touchscreens.

With the Kira L93, Japanese electronics giant Toshiba is clearly hoping to cover all of its bases and please even the most indecisive computer buyer. With a 13.3-inch touchscreen that can be rotated 360 degrees, stand, detachable keyboard and stylus, the latest entry in the Dynabook series can be used up to seven different ways, making it one of the most versatile machines on the market.

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