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Nara marks its long history, but not without a few snags

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May 08DPJ lawmaker Renho named one of five 'Best Mother' award winners (Mainichi)
House of Councillors member Renho has been named a winner in the Best Mother Awards 2010 along with four other celebrity moms. The award ceremony was held in Tokyo on Thursday, with Renho, known as a leading member of the Government Revitalization Unit, and the four other winners -- sports commentator Mikako Kotani, freelance announcer Junko Kubo, actress Makiko Esumi and singer Chisato Moritaka -- taking part.
May 07Boy falls from ride at Tokyo's Toshimaen park(AP)
A 15-year-old boy fell from a ride at Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo's Nerima Ward on Friday but appeared to be uninjured, police said. The boy, a first-year student at a senior high school for disabled children in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, got on the park's 40-seat "Flying Carpet" ride which goes up to a height of 12 meters before plunging sharply. He stood up on the ride just after it began moving and fell from it at a height of several meters above the ground.
May 07Japan's cherry blossom season offers unusual attractions (Channel NewsAsia)
The cherry blossom season in Japan is almost over. Some can still be spotted in the north, because of this year's unusually cold winter but in Tokyo, they're all gone, except for some very special blooms that will stay on till early May. These cherry blossoms are unusual, even for Japan. They have multi-layered petals and are collectively known as Goshiki Zakura, or five-coloured cherry blossoms. 37 varieties grow in this public park run by Adachi City in Tokyo and produce buds at different times, within a one-month period.
May 06The tale of Peter Rabbit and a £5 'tax' on his Japanese friends (Times Online)
Peter Rabbit, who has appeared on everything from tea towels to crockery, has now inspired a tax. A party of Japanese tourists posing for photographs yesterday at the Cumbrian cottage made famous by Beatrix Potter's stories became the first to be asked to make a £5 donation for the preservation of the local landscape. The group was following a trail from Bowness to Hawkshead taken by 80,000 of their countrymen each summer. They come to see Hill Top, the cottage where Peter Rabbit, a character as central to a Japanese child's upbringing as Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse, was invented. Now Japanese visitors will be invited by tour operators to contribute £5, a charge already nicknamed the "Peter Rabbit tax".
May 06Paint poured on gravestone of Hatoyama's grandfather (AP)
A passerby found early Thursday morning that yellow paint had been poured on the gravestone of former Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama, grandfather of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, in a Tokyo cemetery, police said. The Metropolitan Police Department said it is investigating the incident, which occurred at Yanaka Reien cemetery in Taito Ward.
May 06Becoming fluent in shochu, Japan's answer to vodka (Washington Post)
Learning to taste and appreciate a new spirit is like trying to speak a new language. Sure, you can jump in with a few basic words and expressions and manage for a while. To reach true understanding, however, you're going to have to learn the grammar. Shochu, quite simply, is a flavorful, aromatic, usually clear distilled spirit with a rather low alcohol content: around 25 percent by volume, or 50 proof.
May 064 men served with new arrest warrants over murder-robbery(Japan Times)
Police served fresh arrest warrants Wednesday on four suspected of killing and robbing three family members from the city of Nagano, whose bodies were found at a storage site in Nishio, Aichi Prefecture, in March. They are now suspected of killing Fumio Kin, the 62-year-old owner of a construction company, his 30-year-old son Yoshiaki and his common-law wife Yukiko Kusumi, 26, on March 24, robbing them of \4.1 million in cash and other belongings and burying them at the storage site in Nishio.
May 06Girl, 4, dies after fall from 6th story hotel window(Mainichi)
A 4-year-old girl has died after she fell from the window of a hotel room here while she was bouncing on the bed, police said. At around 6:40 p.m. on Monday, Yuna Nagao fell from an open window on the sixth-floor of the Floral Inn Himeji hotel in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, suffering severe head injuries. She pronounced dead about two hours after being taken to hospital.
May 05Koji Wakamatsu challenges merits of war with 'Caterpillar'(Tokyo Reporter)
From his start in soft pornography in the 1960s to "United Red Army," the 2007 film that recounts Japan's leftist student movements from four decades ago, director Koji Wakamatsu has never shied away from provocation. For his new war drama "Caterpillar," he attacks the hypocrisy inherent in nationalism and the suffering of innocent civilians. "More than anything, we must not be duped by figures of authority," said the director following a screening of the film last month at The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. The 74-year-old Wakamatsu grew up in a small farming village about 5 kilometers from Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture. He has childhood memories of the World War II air raids upon the metropolis and seeing it burning red.
May 05Man held after confining woman in car for 4-1/2 hrs (Yomiuri)
A 32-year-old man has been arrested after allegedly climbing into a young woman's car and forcing her to drive around for 4-1/2 hours, police said. The woman, 22, managed to escape when they stopped at a convenience store in Fukuroi, Shizuoka Prefecture, but the man then fled in her car and was captured after a 30-kilometer chase, the police said. At about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, the woman, of Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, alerted police that a stranger was forcing her to drive to Toyohashi, also in Aichi Prefecture.
May 05Police welcome plan to block child porn (Yomiuri)
Police and other groups are welcoming a central government plan to tighten controls on Web sites containing child pornography as a long-awaited step forward. The plan, which includes asking Internet providers to block access to such Web sites, was unveiled Sunday by Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi during a visit to Washington. Until recently, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has maintained that such measures could infringe on the privacy of communication.
May 04Fukuoka yakuza groups tackle police pressure in all-out war (Tokyo Reporter)
Recent incidents of violence in Fukuoka Prefecture, located on the island of Kyushu, have caused law enforcement authorities to take action against yakuza organized crime groups operating in the region, reports weekly Friday (May 14). On April 13, the commissioner general of the National Police Agency, Takaharu Ando, announced inside an eighth-floor meeting room of Fukuoka's Kokura Kita Police Station that society must rid itself of gangster activities. "Success or failure will be vital to the Kita-Kyushu area," said the 60-year-old. "The elimination will be a war of mountain-sized proportions."
May 04Japan's child population drops to record low for 29th year in row (AP)
The number of children under the age of 15 in Japan is estimated to have dropped 190,000 from a year earlier to 16.94 million as of April 1, marking a record low for the 29th straight year, according to a government report released Tuesday. The report by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, released a day ahead of the Children's Day national holiday in Japan, showed that children comprised 13.3 percent of the population, declining for the 36th consecutive year and remaining at the lowest level worldwide.
May 04Japan's oldest person dies at 114 (AP)
A woman in Okinawa, the oldest person in Japan, died Sunday aged 114, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Monday. Her name, address, birth date and other details were not disclosed at the request of her family. The Associated Press reported in March that the woman was the world's oldest person.
May 04Constitution Day marked with rallies and protests(Japan Times)
On the occasion of the 63rd Constitution Day, and with the national referendum law to take effect May 18, a group of conservative intellectuals on Monday stressed the need to kick-start debate on the Constitution, which they argued has been on the back burner for too long. Many conservatives argue that Japan needs to create a Constitution drafted by Japanese people and change the war-renouncing Article 9 to enhance the country's military capacity and give Tokyo more diplomatic leverage. Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered in Tokyo's Hibiya Park to mark the 63rd anniversary of the Constitution and display their opposition to any revision.
May 04Nara marks its long history, but not without a few snags (Japan Times)
Over the past few months, you may have noticed a cartoon character - a boy Buddha wearing deer antlers - appear on signs in stores, arcades and train stations. This is not a new attraction at Disneyland or an advertisement for some other theme park but Sento-kun, the official mascot of the Nara Heijo-kyo Capital 1,300th anniversary celebration, which kicked off April 24. Over the next six months, a variety of events are planned to mark the occasion. Officials hope the celebration will raise the region's profile as a major historical tourism destination. But the events have already drawn criticism from residents over economic and logistical issues, and there has been some controversy over the Sento-kun mascot.
May 03Murderer of Japanese woman in Bali jailed for 20 years (AP)
A court on the Indonesian resort island of Bali sentenced an Indonesian man Monday to 20 years in jail for murdering a Japanese female tourist last year. The Denpasar District Court found David Goltar Wicaksono, 26, guilty of murdering Rika Sano, 33, after sexually abusing her in the touristy Kuta beach area last September. Prosecutors had earlier called for him to be given a life sentence. Police found Sano's half-naked body in bushes on an unattended plot of land near the famous beach last year.
May 03Teacher found murdered in front of home had been repeatedly hit with blunt object(Mainichi)
Police suspect a connection between the murder of a high school teacher here and an attack on the same man in March after determining he had been struck repeatedly in the head with a blunt weapon. Hideo Matsumoto, 56, a teacher at a private high school in Sendai who was found dead in front of his home Friday night, suffered a skull fracture in an apparent attack after a post-graduation ceremony party on March 1. According to sources, Matsumoto arrived to school the following day with a bleeding head injury, and told colleagues only that he was injured after he fell down on a concrete stairway. He later told police he could not remember the incident clearly.
May 03Mexican police arrest Japanese man carrying nearly $200,000 (tmcnet.com)
A 62-year-old Japanese national who was carrying $174,645 in cash and $2,500 in travelers checks was arrested by Federal Police officers in southeastern Mexico, the Public Safety Secretariat said. Ito Noboru was stopped for a routine inspection while driving on the stretch of highway between Campeche and Uman. The man made some contradictory statements to officers, who searched his vehicle and found the cash.
May 0335,000 gather for 13th memorial of former X Japan member Hide(examiner.com)
Approximately 35,000 fans formed a line stretching well over a mile in Tokyo on May 2nd for a chance to pay their respects at the 13th memorial of popular 1990s Japanese rock guitarist Hide of X Japan, who had died suddenly at the age of 33 in 1998. Around 500 people with close relationships to Hide, whose real name was Hideto Matsumoto, gathered at the Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple in Tokyo for a morning Buddhist memorial service, NHK News stated. The 13th memorial, or 12 year anniversary, was scheduled to run through the time the rock star was officially pronounced dead on May 2, 1998 - 8:52am.
May 03Japanese city buys 'haunted' hospital ruins (examiner.com)
A city outside of Tokyo announced on April 30th that they would be easing concerned residents by agreeing buy the remains of a local abandoned hospital which had become reputed in recent years as being haunted. The eight-floor reinforced concrete hospital was built in 1979, but had run into financial difficulties over the following two decades. It had not only switched names and owners in 1987, but in 1995 as well, before finally closing forever in 1997, the city stated.
May 02No Hinomaru flag at Japan Pavilion(Yomiuri)
Japan decided not to display its Hinomaru national flag Saturday, the first day of the Shanghai World Expo, apparently concerned about anti-Japanese feelings harbored by many Chinese. "There've been past exhibitions where we also didn't put up the national flag," a staffer at the Japan Pavilion said. Another staff member, at the Japan Industrial Pavilion, said, "We've been careful to ensure our exhibits are not tied to political issues." In China, the Hinomaru flag is often seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism. Television programs featuring the 1937-1945 second Sino-Japanese War are regularly aired in that country.
May 02The Zen nothingness of Zamami (Japan Times)
Japan on \1,000 a day? It's certainly possible by cycling and camping on this Okinawan isle Thinking that Japan is too expensive for them, many budget travelers eschew this archipelago for Southeast Asia. But with a mountain bike and a tent, it's quite possible to travel in Okinawa on \1,000 a day - and enjoy it - especially on Zamami Island. To pull off this 21st-century pleasure coup, I simply rolled up with my bike at Haneda Airport in central Tokyo and paid Skymark Airlines an extra \1,000 to transport my bagged-up vehicle to Naha along with myself. Then, while others were waiting for trains and taxis at the airport there, I simply reassembled the bike and pedaled off across town to the Tomari ferry terminal.

By J.S. on May 13, 2010
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上記広告は1ヶ月以上更新のないブログに表示されています。新しい記事を書くことで広告を消せます。