technology

Cook rice inside your car with the new Takeru-kun

Cook rice inside your car with the new Takeru-kun

In the never-ending debate about which country makes the best cars, it’s common to derogatorily refer to a Japanese automobile as a “rice rocket,” “rice burner,” or “rice runner.” Really anything with rice.

But with a new product from Saitama-based company JPN, you can own that insult, and turn it into a positive.

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Conference survey gives us a peek at the lives and backgrounds of Japan’s game developers

Conference survey gives us a peek at the lives and backgrounds of Japan’s game developers

Right now at the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center, Japan’s largest video game developer conference, the CEDEC (Computer Entertainment Developer’s Conference) is in full swing. In order to gain a clear understanding of the type of people who make the industry what it is, the event’s organizers also conducted a survey that covers just about everything from marital status to time spent tied to a desk each day. The results give us a sneaky peek at the demographics and professional lives of the people who bring us the games we love, so we couldn’t help but share.

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Real-life Nausiccä’s Möwe glider makes first powered flight

Real-life Nausiccä’s Möwe glider makes first powered flight

A decade after the OpenSky project began, Kazuhiko Hachiya and his team of engineers and artists can finally give themselves a well deserved pat on the back. Their dream of creating a working version of the glider seen in Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (named Möwe) has come to fruition.

On 31 July, Hachiya uploaded the video titled “OpenSky3.0 trailer,” which shows the jet engine equipped M-02J taxi and take to the sky by its own power.

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Japanese company develops new lithium-ion battery that promises amazing capacities

Japanese company develops new lithium-ion battery that promises amazing capacities

I’m sure I’m not alone in loving my smartphone but always wishing the battery would last a little longer. For many of us, not knowing whether our mobile phone’s battery will make it through the day can be a real problem. While mobile technology has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years, improvements in the batteries that power them have been rather more sluggish.

Thankfully, all this could be about to change. Japan’s Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd recently announced that it has developed a new material for use in lithium-ion batteries that boasts capacities roughly 10 times the current standard, and is about to shake up the entire industry.

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Capcom PlayStation 4 graphics technology more lifelike than a rich otaku’s robot girlfriend

Capcom PlayStation 4 graphics technology more lifelike than a rich otaku’s robot girlfriend

We already know Sony’s PlayStation 4 is going to be great. We’ve already reserved a space for it under our TV and earmarked a couple of our old consoles for sale in order to pay for it. But this new footage from Capcom’s PS4 game engine has us eying our firstborns, wondering if it’s really worth hanging onto them when we could sacrifice them to Dark Lord Taro Aso to have him spirit us a brand new PS4 ahead of launch.

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City of Yokohama offering 14 days of free Wi-Fi to overseas tourists

City of Yokohama offering 14 days of free Wi-Fi to overseas tourists

Yokohama, being Japan’s second-largest city, has a little something for everyone. Its romantic harbor is lined with parks and backed by a breathtaking skyline. History buffs can see numerous centuries-old structures inside Sankeien Garden. The Ramen Museum and Chinatown are great foodie destinations, and the Noge and Kannai districts are filled with enough cocktail bars and brewpubs give your liver a serious workout.

Unfortunately, many overseas travelers are unaware of all Yokohama has to offer, and skip right by the city on their way between Tokyo and Kyoto. In an effort to help get the word out on Yokohama’s numerous attractions, the city has teamed up with telecommunications giant NTT to provide free Internet access to foreign tourists.

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53-year-old man who found it difficult to keep up with modern day technogy commits suicide

53-year-old man who found it difficult to keep up with modern day technogy commits suicide

According to reports from Taiwanese media, a 53-year-old man who lived in the city of Changua committed suicide in his pick-up truck earlier this week after pulling over to the side of the road.

While any suicide is a tragic enough event, what brings this particular incident into the media spotlight today is the note the man allegedly left before taking his own life, which contained the lines: “I’m useless at just about everything these days, whether it be computers or cellular phones … Going on living in this way is scarier than dying. 

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Honda recreates legendary F1 lap with light and sound in awesome video

Honda recreates legendary F1 lap with light and sound in awesome video

Some of our readers may be too young to remember, but in his heyday, Ayrton Senna was the biggest thing in racing. The Brazilian racer took home the F1 driver’s championship in 1988, 1990, and 1991 before his life was cut short when his car collided with a retaining wall at over 230 kilometers (143) miles per hour during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Japanese motorsport fans have a particular fondness for Senna. Aside from having some of his most memorable races at Japan’s Suzuka Circuit, Senna won all three of his championships in cars powered by Honda engines, and was also involved in the production of the company’s flagship NSX sports car.

Using telemetric data Honda has recreated Senna’s record-breaking 1989 lap of Suzuka in light and sound as part of an incredible video posted on the company’s website.

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Feeling parched? How about a nice bottle of fish stock from this vending machine?

Feeling parched? How about a nice bottle of fish stock from this vending machine?

Any well-stocked Japanese kitchen needs a bottle of dashi, a salty cooking stock usually made with dried bonito. Dashi is sometimes combined with soy sauce, and the resulting mixture, called dashi-joyu, is commonly used to prepare soups and season a number of ingredients.

As such a ubiquitous part of Japanese cooking, you can buy dashi-joyu at any supermarket. And if you happen to be at a certain few parking lots in Hiroshima or Okayama Prefectures, now you can get it from a vending machine, too.

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Google Street View captures view from top of Mt. Fuji, negates only reason to climb it

Google Street View captures view from top of Mt. Fuji, negates only reason to climb it

There’s a saying in Japan about Mt. Fuji that goes to the tune of, “You ought to climb it once, but only a fool would climb it twice.”

That’s because, as yours truly learned just last weekend, climbing Mt. Fuji is  a lot like spending up to eight hours repeatedly swinging a mallet into your knees as hard as you can. It’s also – at least this year, after having been declared a World Heritage Site – so crowded you’re guaranteed to be spending the climb with your face in dangerous proximity to someone else’s ass at all times.

Lucky for those that haven’t climbed it yet, Google Street View strapped some poor sucker with 100 pounds of weird Google robot gear, maybe gave him a bottle of water and some peanuts, and told him to walk right on up and take some pictures from the top. “It’ll be cool,” they probably said. “We promise.”

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Tales of lust, betrayal, and murder – all in your Japanese-English dictionary!

Tales of lust, betrayal, and murder – all in your Japanese-English dictionary!

Vocabulary is trickier than it seems. At first glance “baby” and “infant” seem pretty interchangeable. But if your girlfriend catches you in bed with another woman, explaining “Infant, you’ve got it all wrong. I only slept with her because I was lonely for you. You’re the only one for me, infant,” is just going to confuse her. Of course, using the more appropriate “baby,” even doing your best Barry White impersonation won’t change how this story ends, but at least your girlfriend will be able to understand your half-baked excuse before she dumps you.

When it comes to learning new words in a language other than your first, understanding the context is especially important. But as we’ve just seen, establishing a clear, unmistakable background story often necessitates a certain amount of dramatic flair. Japanese studiers of English have been taking to Twitter to share their favorite shocking example sentences from their electronic dictionaries.

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Domino’s Pizza Japan offers dinner and a show with new toppings and a Hatsune Miku mini-concert

Domino’s Pizza Japan offers dinner and a show with new toppings and a Hatsune Miku mini-concert

With the majority of its pizzas costing over 2,000 yen (US$20), even in medium size, Domino’s Pizza is positioned a bit more upmarket in Japan than its native U.S. Sure, the convenience of home delivery is worth paying a slight premium for, but with prices stretching beyond what you’d pay in a reasonable Italian restaurant in Tokyo with full table service, Domino’s Japan has to offer something more than just a slab of cheese and sauce.

The pizza giant recently convinced us to open our wallets, though, with a three-pronged attack that’s two parts delicious pork and one part high-tech entertainment.

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Japan’s Buddhist Temples keeping up with the times using DJs, apps, video games, booze and more

Japan’s Buddhist Temples keeping up with the times using DJs, apps, video games, booze and more

While religions of all stripes have something to offer in terms of support and advice, they also share a common detriment: they’re all really, really old. While age brings with it wisdom and experience, if religion can’t relate to modern society it runs the risk of getting left behind.

To help prevent this, several monks across Japan have been adopting new technology and trends or have tried simply reaching out to people differently, in less orthodox and more human ways.

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Sony coughs up US$375,000 to British authorities for security breach

Sony coughs up US$375,000 to British authorities for security breach

Withdrawing its previous objection, Sony Corporation has agreed to pay a civil fine of 37.5 million yen (about US$375,000) to British authorities after the 2011 security breach of its online gaming network resulted in the leakage of millions of users’ personal information.

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Hello, School Nurse! Japanese website lets you exchange emails with licensed youth caretaker

Hello, School Nurse! Japanese website lets you exchange emails with licensed youth caretaker

There are certain trappings to the ideal vision of high school in Japan. A schoolhouse with surprisingly lenient rooftop access policies is one. A bevy of beautiful, earnest coed equipment managers cheering you on in the big game is another. And no set of rose-colored school days is complete without a kind, patient, nurturing school nurse.

If you’re past your teens, most of these are now out of reach. Contrary to what anime and TV dramas have shown us, Japanese educational institutes don’t even let their own students eat lunch on the roof, much less some random guy trying to turn back the clock. Putting your grown-man strength to use in youth athletics is similarly out of the question.

Thanks to a new website that launched this month, though, it’s not too late to have another chat with that school nurse.

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No need to fear dark and stormy nights with this light-up umbrella

No need to fear dark and stormy nights with this light-up umbrella

A common image of the Japanese city is a concrete jungle of towering skyscrapers, tinting the night sky with the vibrant light from countless neon signs. But while you definitely can find those urban landscapes in downtown districts like Tokyo’s Shinjuku and Osaka’s Namba, take a short train ride into the suburbs and things can be very different.

My own apartment is in the most populous ward of Japan’s second biggest city, but one block away from the shopping arcade there are no sidewalks to be found, and street lights are few and far between. Add in a storm that cuts down visibility even more, and a walk home from the station can be a little unnerving.

Thankfully, PC and cell phone peripheral manufacturer Century has a solution for both problems with their light-up umbrella.

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US$125,000 power suit lets you battle Kaiju, snack without getting Cheeto fingers

US$125,000 power suit lets you battle Kaiju, snack without getting Cheeto fingers

Meet the Powere Jacket MK3, an elaborate power suit clearly inspired by anime and hitting the market just in time to ride the wave of excitement over Guillermo Del Toro’s Kaiju Vs. Robots monster movie, Pacific Rim.

Though the power suit is far less impressive than the towering robots of the film, according to the below video, it lets you achieve all kinds of superhuman feats, including running at faster speeds, lifting heavy objects, and eating Cheetos without getting orange powder all over your fingers.

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Twitter user finds novel use for CD tray

Twitter user finds novel use for CD tray

With the move to flash drives and cloud storage, CD trays may become a thing of the past, but don’t write yours off as a waste of space just yet. One Japanese Twitter user has found an excellent new use for his.

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Unfortunate Google employee forced to wander alone on eerie abandoned island for Street View photos

Unfortunate Google employee forced to wander alone on eerie abandoned island for Street View photos

Google Street View seems to have its priorities all out of whack. While only just getting around to snapping the more remote areas of mainland Japan and having yet to cover the majority of Canada, Google sent out one intrepid employee to explore the completely abandoned Japanese island of Gunkanjima.

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Say what? Animal figures live in your fridge, speak in adorable Japanese regional dialects

Say what? Animal figures live in your fridge, speak in adorable Japanese regional dialects

Regional dialects can be a powerful thing. Call out “partner” or “boyo” and I might not even realize you’re talking to me, but just say the word “dude” and you’ve got my complete attention.

Despite its small land mass, Japan’s language is filled with dialects, largely the result of mountains, not to mention centuries of civil war and travel restrictions, making it hard for people different from different areas to mix for much of the country’s history. Occasionally these unique speech patterns pop up in unexpected places, like when a coworker from Osaka stubs his toe in the office, or a drinking buddy from Akita’s accent starts showing after the fifth round of beers.

And now, you can hear Japanese dialects in your refrigerator.

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