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The Sky Tree phenomenon

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Feb 13K-pop takes on the world while J-pop stays home
Last week, the Fuji TV newsmagazine "Mr. Sunday" looked at Korean pop's success in Japan from two angles. Taking a street-level perspective, the show's host, Seiji Miyane, hung out in Tokyo's Okubo district, which has become "the new Harajuku" because young Japanese women flock there to rub up against Korean culture. Miyane interviewed a group called KINO (K-pop IN Okubo), made up of young Korean men who learned Japanese and then came to Japan on their own to become stars. They don't have a management deal yet, but given the enthusiasm of the female fans who pack their small-venue shows, it's only a matter of time. (Japan Times)
Feb 13Boy, 15, held for Shinjuku murder threat on Web
A 15-year-old boy was arrested Saturday after posting several threats on an Internet website that he would commit mass murder near Tokyo's Shinjuku Station on Friday night, police said. The junior high school student from Yokohama was arrested on suspicion of forcible obstruction of business. The messages said the murder spree would take place near the long-distance bus stop outside the station. (Japan Times)
Feb 13AKB48 popularity inspires Osaka all-boy 'idol' group
Inspired by the popularity of all-girl "idol" groups such as Akihabara's AKB48, business establishments in Osaka's Minami district are planning to form an all-boy version to draw more young women and boost the local economy. A major entertainment agency will handle the new group, which is expected to make its debut in June with a performance at a hall in Kintetsu's flagship department store in Abeno Ward, sources close to the project said. (Japan Times)
Feb 12Valentines in Japan: A woman's burden
It's Valentine's Day season, but love is hardly in the air in Japan. In the country of extreme etiquette and humble gratitude, it is the women - not men, as it is in the West - who dutifully wander through the scores of booths, peering into the glass cases that hold rows of exquisitely crafted chocolate. Hunched over the displays, they munch on nuggets of sample chocolates - bitter darks, milky squares, hazelnut crunches - to pick out the perfect bonbon for the men in her life. That means darlings and colleagues alike. (Wall Street Journal )
Feb 12Classical pianist's delicate digits deliver carnal delights
"I enrolled in piano lessons at the culture school by the rail station. The teacher is a guy in his 30s who's a real hunk, with beautiful long fingers. When I watched them gamboling over the black and white keys, I fantasized about how they'd appear touching me down there, and what it would be like to receive a similar strumming, so to speak." The December issue of women's soft porn mag Ai no Taiken Special Deluxe runs some real doozies, as Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 10) is delighted to demonstrate. (Tokyo Reporter)
Feb 12Man under arrest over Tokyo murder says he tried to mug in posh area
A 65-year-old man arrested for allegedly murdering a former company executive in Tokyo last month told police he intended to steal money by raiding a house in a posh residential area, investigative sources said Friday. "I aimed to rob in a posh residential area. I stabbed (the victim) because he tried to resist me," said Yoshiaki Kimura, according to the sources. Kimura, who is seen to be several million yen in debt and said he is unemployed, also said he was unacquainted with the victim and selected the house of robbery as it caught his eye by coincidence. (AP )
Feb 12Tokyo kyabukura clubs employing models target of crackdown following Ebizo incident
Certain high-end Tokyo kyabakura clubs employing models as hostesses are the target of a crackdown following last year's drunken brawl involving kabuki star Ichikawa Ebizo, reports site Zakzak (Feb. 9). The article says that certain VIP clubs - known as "limited lounges" - in the Tokyo's Nishi Azabu and Roppongi entertainment areas, often frequented by celebrities and athletes, are coming under watch by law enforcement authorities. United Lounge, located in Nishi Azabu, was busted on the evening of Feb. 4 for operating a kyabakura establishment (hostess club) without a proper license, a violation of the nationwide adult-entertainment law. (Tokyo Reporter)
Feb 12Fukuoka gang raided over shooting
Police raided the home of a yakuza boss and dozens of related locations Friday in Kitakyushu as part of an investigation into a suspected murder attempt involving a shooting at a local construction site two days earlier. About 90 police officers began searching the home of the boss of the Kudo-kai crime syndicate around 10 a.m., with about 20 riot squad members standing guard outside as about 80 others raided the head office. (Japan Times )
Feb 12Welcome to Planet Tokyo
The public transport map of greater Tokyo is an almost terrifying sight. I say map, but there are differing versions, each showing a sprawling network of interconnecting underground and overground lines that appears almost impossibly complex. The maps spell out the scale of the metropolis - by day the population of Tokyo reaches almost 15 million - and the scale of the challenge facing visitors. They are the start of the assault on the senses that is the experience of being in the capital city of Japan; a foretaste of the freneticism and sheer strangeness of what lies ahead. (telegraph.co.uk )
Feb 12Anti-monarchists hold demo in Japan
Japanese protestors have called for an end to the imperial system during holiday celebrations of the emperor system and the foundation of the nation. For the more genteel sections of the society, it is a day for parades and brass bands. They march through the streets showing off their many years of practice. But on this day, all they needed to brave was the fierce cold and the heaviest snowfall of the year in Tokyo, the Press TV correspondent in the Japanese capital reported. Across town, however, a more formidable scenario was unfolding, with protesters on the march to call for an end to Japan's imperial system. (presstv.ir)
Feb 112 incur broken bones as JAL plane shaken by possible air turbulence
One passenger and one crew member aboard a Japan Airlines jet bound for Honolulu suffered bone fractures Friday morning when the aircraft was strongly shaken by possible air turbulence about 300 kilometers west of Honolulu airport, the transport ministry said. After the incident occurred around 3:30 a.m., the Boeing 767 flight from Narita airport, east of Tokyo, carrying 250 passengers and crew members landed at Honolulu International Airport without damage or other injuries, it said. (AP )
Feb 1165-year-old man arrested over January murder in Tokyo
Police arrested a 65-year-old man Thursday on suspicion of murdering a former company executive in Tokyo last month in an attack that also injured the victim's wife. Tokyo police said they arrested Yoshiaki Kimura, a part-time worker in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, who had been at large since fatally stabbing Michio Ohara, 87, and injuring his 81-year-old wife, Ruriko, in Meguro Ward on Jan. 10. (AP )
Feb 10Memorial service held to mark 10th anniv. of Ehime Maru collision
About 200 representatives from Japan and the United States gathered Wednesday in a memorial service in Honolulu on the 10th anniversary of a 2001 maritime collision between a U.S. submarine and a Japanese fisheries school training boat in waters off Hawaii that claimed the lives of nine aboard. The attendants included bereaved family members of the victims, Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura, Uwajima Mayor Hirohisa Ishibashi from Japan, and representatives of the Pacific Fleet and Japanese-American groups from the United States. Kanji Nogami, principal of Uwajima Fisheries High School, also attended the service. (Mainichi )
Feb 10Sumo chairman dined at Michelin restaurant day scandal broke
On the night of February 3, the day the sumo bout-rigging scandal was revealed, the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association was photographed dining at a Michelin 1-star Japanese restaurant in Tokyo, reports Shukan Shincho (Feb. 17). JSA Chairman Hanaregoma was seen with an unidentified man at the white wood counter inside the restaurant, which goes unnamed but is reported to have received its award from the tire company in last year's edition of its popular guide. The tabloid adds that the course menu at the establishment, located in the Akasaka entertainment area, begins at 10,000 yen. (Tokyo Reporter)
Feb 10No. of bike gang group members falls below 10,000
The number of motorcycle gang members slipped below 10,000 last year for the first time since the National Police Agency started collecting the data in 1975, coming to 9,064, the agency said Thursday. Since peaking at 42,510 in 1982, the number has followed a declining path mainly because of unwillingness to submit to the hierarchies within bike gangs and their strict rules, the NPA said. (AP)
Feb 10Japanese police keep watch on Muslims
Reports reveal that Japanese police have been conducting a close surveillance of the Muslim community living in the East Asian country. Internal police documents leaked onto the Internet indicate that Japanese law enforcement has been collecting detailed personal information about Muslims living in Japan, a Press TV correspondent reported on Wednesday. The information has also been shared with the US government at the request of American authorities under the pretext of anti-terrorism cooperation. (presstv.ir )
Feb 10Foreign enrollment scam backfires
Police on Wednesday turned over to prosecutors their case against four managers of a Saitama designer school who are suspected of illegally issuing inflated class-attendance certificates to foreign students so they can remain in Japan to continue their nonpermitted work outside school. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the four, including the president of the school in Omiya, allegedly violated immigration laws by assisting students from China and Bangladesh, who never attended classes, to renew their student visas and continue their work at restaurants by issuing bogus certificates last year. (Japan Times)
Feb 10Japanese comedian tries to make 100 Dundonians laugh
A Japanese comedian who can't speak English is out to make 100 people laugh - in DUNDEE. Oriental TV legend Dandy Sakano chose the city because its name sounded similar to his. The oddball entertainer, who has an unhealthy love of polyester suits, arrived this week to present his quirky eco show. The show is being made for Teijin Ltd, Japan's leading eco-friendly, synthetic-fibre recycling company, and is based around the "recycling" of a TV star. Dandy is famous for his catch-phrase "Gets". (Daily Record)
Feb 10How to drink like a Japanese salaryman
The situation: You've landed in Tokyo for business and quickly discover that the deal you had planned to seal is far from complete. You can't go home empty-handed, so you need to charm your Japanese counterparts into an agreement. The answer is at the bottom of your glass. The backstory: Sake culture is part of Japan's national identity, as much as samurai warriors, cherry blossoms and futuristic gizmos. Drinking with coworkers and clients is often part of the job in a Japanese company, and most employees spend many weeknights downtown doing just that. (worldhum.com)
Feb 09Emperor to have heart reexamined on Friday
Emperor Akihito will undergo a coronary artery test Friday after showing symptoms of cardiac ischemia, a condition caused by insufficient blood flow to the heart, during a recent physical, the Imperial Household Agency said Wednesday. The symptoms emerged after the 77-year-old emperor engaged in exercise during a regular checkup at the University of Tokyo Hospital on Jan. 22, the agency added. (AP )
Feb 09Philippines deports Japanese wanted for arranging fake marriages
A Japanese national wanted in Aichi Prefecture for arranging fake marriages between Japanese men and Filipino women entertainers was deported from the Philippines on Wednesday afternoon. Yoshifumi Fujii, 49, took a Japan Airlines flight for Tokyo escorted by Japanese policemen after Philippine Immigration chief Ronaldo Ledesma signed his deportation order. (AP)
Feb 09Lawyers seek to avoid death penalty for man over 2008 Akihabara rampage
Defense lawyers asked the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday not to impose the death penalty on a 28-year-old former temporary worker over a stabbing rampage in Tokyo's Akihabara district in June 2008 that killed seven people and injured 10 others. Sentencing is scheduled for March 24 with the major focus on whether Kato was mentally competent to take criminal responsibility. His defense counsel has sought leniency, arguing Kato's mental competency was diminished at the time of the incident. (AP )
Feb 09Japan's top 10 'Valentine's men'
Tradition in Japan has it that Valentine's Day is not quite the romantic day dreamed of in the West, but something of a burden to women who must give giri-choco (obligation chocolates) to all the men in their lives, including work colleagues. The reward for such efforts? A return on March 14, White Day, when the men reply with (hopefully) even bigger gifts. From a poll of 500 women age 20-30, the top 10 included nine-year-old Seishiro Kato, sports stars Ryo Ishikawa and Ichiro Suzuki. But the list was topped by 42-year-old singer-songwriter Masaharu Fukuyama. (CNN)
Feb 09Japanese 'doll' is actually monkey waitress wearing creepy human mask
YouTube footage of what looks like a doll but is actually a waitress monkey in a human mask has been summed up as 'so wonderfully creepy' by one of thousands of open-mouthed internet users to view it recently. In the clip, the clothed creature - named Fukuchan - is seen scuttling around its place of employment, waiting tables and/or providing entertainment for punters. Towards the end of the video, our simian hero removes its mask and, in what we've chosen to interpret as an act of defiance against its human oppressors, lifts what looks like a sponge on a sink and chucks it on the floor. (metro.co.uk )
Feb 09Osaka's otaku oasis favoring fuzoku frolic
Maid-themed establishments have become so prevalent in Osaka's Nipponbashi district that the only means for a proprietor to make a buck is for the gals to offer increasingly intimate services, reports weekly tabloid Shukan Jitsuwa (Feb. 17). Nipponbashi is said to be Osaka's rough equivalent of Akihabara, the famed quarter frequented by aficionados (or otaku, in this case) in search of electronics, erotic anime DVDs, and a chance to be attended to by a gal attired in a frilly costume in a cafe setting. Yet in Nipponbashi the trend for the latter has reached saturation. "Struggling arcades and video game shops are converting into maid cafes because it is a simple job from an interior point of view," explains an Osaka-based reporter, "and this is the right time in the business cycle to make money." (Tokyo Reporter)
Feb 09Japan is right to be angry at QI atom bomb joke
Stephen Fry and the BBC seemed to have been caught off guard by a wave of outrage among Japanese people since it featured Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a survivor of both nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in panel show QI last December. In the programme, when debating whether Yamaguchi was the luckiest or the unluckiest man on the planet, one panellist said: "Is the glass of water half full or half empty? Either way, it is definitely radioactive ... don't drink it." The same joke about an Auschwitz survivor and Zyklon B would never have passed. (guardian.co.uk)
Feb 09Malaysia probing Japan condom disappearance
Malaysian police said Tuesday they were investigating the disappearance of more than 700,000 ultrathin condoms which went missing in transit between Malaysia and Japan. Sagami Rubber Industries, Japan's first condom maker, said last week that the shipment was loaded into a container at its factory in northern Malaysia, but that it was empty with the locks replaced when it arrived in Tokyo. (AFP)
Feb 09Failed monk finds niche in 'business hotel for dead'
LiSS Center Shin-Kiba attracted media attention soon after it opened in December in Koto Ward, Tokyo, because of its unique status as a "business hotel for the dead." The Shin-Kiba area where the facility stands is mostly occupied by factories, timber storage pools and lumber companies. The facility keeps bodies of the deceased until families decide on the funeral arrangements. One night's "stay" costs 7,350 yen. It has a refrigerated morgue, which can hold up to 37 "guests," and a tatami mat room where bereaved relatives can stay overnight to reminisce about the person they have lost. (Yomiuri)
Feb 08Japanese jobseekers hold Tokyo pep rally
With cheerleaders shouting encouragement, more than 1,000 young Japanese trying to break into the job market held a pep rally in Tokyo on Tuesday to underscore what officials say is the bleakest employment outlook Japan has faced in years. About 1,500 college students crowded into a park to offer each other moral support and appeal for jobs at the rally, which organizers hoped would put the national spotlight on the difficulties job seekers are dealing with in Japan's once-mighty economy. A record one-third of Japanese university students graduating this spring have not found jobs, according to a recent survey by the labor and education ministries. (AP )
Feb 08St. Valentine rolling in his grave over Japan's parthogenetic gift-giving
February 14 is right around the corner. But if you're a Japanese male, before you start daydreaming how many luscious tokens of affection you'll be getting from gals, you'd better think again. Nikkan Gendai (Feb. 8) reports when confectionery maker Ezaki Glico surveyed 400 single women last month, the results were enough to make old St. Valentine turn cartwheels in his coffin. When asking the respondents to whom they would be bestowing a gift of chocolate this year, in first place with 71.5 percent was "a female friend." This was followed (multiple replies were recorded) by "Father, elder brother or younger brother" with 54.5 percent and "Mother, elder sister or younger sister," with 37.5 percent. (Tokyo Reporter)
Feb 08Tokyo's Sky Tree 'blamed for spike in road deaths'
Japan's Sky Tree, which will stand at at 2,080ft upon completion, making it the tallest self-supporting tower in the world, has been attracting admiring glances from ground level, especially among motorists, who are apparently taking their eyes of the road and colliding with pedestrians. According to local authorities, the huge construction project is bringing thousands of new tourists to the Sumida district of the city. While the influx of business is welcome, more vehicles - including tourist buses - and the eye-catching broadcasting tower have conspired to drive driving fatalities higher. (telegraph.co.uk)
Feb 08Supernova caught in controversy due to remarks on Japanese variety show
The members of Supernova were recently swept up in a controversy for a few statements they made while guesting on Japan's TBS variety program, "Kuraberu Kurabera." The members were asked their thoughts on the cultural differences they found while promoting in both Korea and Japan, as well as the differences in the way Korean idols are trained. During the segment, Supernova mentioned, "Korean idols confidently confess that they've underwent plastic surgery. It's become a lot more popular lately, and has even become a form of PR. When idols confess about their plastic surgery to their fans, they earn a lot more popularity." (allkpop.com )
Feb 083-year-old boy's ankles and wrists bound with rope for 20 hours
A 3-year-old boy in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, was left at home bound at the ankles and wrists for almost a full day, police said Sunday. The boy's mother, 30-year-old Ruriko Nagai, and the man with whom she lived, Shinya Kaneko, 45, allegedly left the boy in a bedroom for around 20 hours bound by a rope which was attached to a 10-kg dumbbell. He was discovered at his home by Nagai's 28-year-old brother who had come to visit on Saturday. Nagai was at home at the time and reportedly told her brother she only untied him to change his diaper. (Japan Today )
Feb 07Annual snow festival begins in Sapporo
An annual snow festival began Monday in Sapporo, Hokkaido, featuring some 250 snow sculptures at three sites in the northern Japanese city. More than 2 million people are expected to visit those sites during the weeklong festival through Sunday, organizers said. The works include sculptures of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in the Temple of Heaven, a world heritage site in Beijing, the Great Wall of China, as well as highly touted pro baseball rookie Yuki Saito, who has joined the Sapporo-based Nippon Ham Fighters. (AP )
Feb 07Japanese delve deep in hole-digging competition
Over a thousand people gathered on the outskirts of Tokyo, shovels in hand, to dig it out for the top prize in the Japan All-National Hole Digging Competition and claim the coveted Golden Shovel award. The contest drew participants from all over the country to test their hole-digging prowess and claim awards not only for the deepest hole, but also for most creative hole and the most original costume worn during the digging. (Reuters )
Feb 07Legendary helmer Kaneto Shindo sends anti-war 'Postcard' for career capper
The last film for 98-year-old director Kaneto Shindo does not deviate from a theme often repeated over his six decades in the business: Under no circumstances is war justified. "Postcard," scheduled to be released domestically this summer, is a tale of love and death during World War II. "When a soldier dies, we won't realize that his wife becomes a widow and her life thereafter is ruined," said Shindo at a press luncheon at The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan last month. "In regular life, you do not kill another person. But in war, it is an honorable thing." (Tokyo Reporter)
Feb 07U.S. airman found dead in Okinawa apartment
A U.S. airman was found dead with a cut to his neck Sunday in his apartment in Chatan, Okinawa Prefecture, Japanese police said, prompting them to launch a murder investigation. Curtis Eccleston, a 30-year-old technical sergeant at the U.S. Kadena Air Base, was found bleeding near the entrance of his apartment around noon by an acquaintance from the U.S. military, according to the police. (AP )
Feb 07Condemned '70s radical Nagata dies
Death-row inmate Hiroko Nagata, who participated in the early 1970s mass murder of her comrades in the now-defunct United Red Army, died at the Tokyo Detention House at the age of 65 Saturday evening after a long battle with brain cancer, sources said Sunday. Nagata underwent surgery for a brain tumor in 1984. In 2006, she collapsed at the detention facility after suffering from brain atrophy and impaired consciousness, and was transferred to a medical prison in the city of Hachioji in western Tokyo. (Japan Times)
Feb 07The Sky Tree phenomenon
Sky Tree, the new tower going up in Tokyo, has become a fixture in Japan's mass media. Each week brings another spectacular photo in the photogravure section of a weekly magazine, and newspapers breathlessly report each new benchmark passed on the way to its final height of 634 meters in the spring of next year. The new landmark, a broadcast tower for digital television, has already brought tourism and increased development to the area, although this has proved to be something of a mixed blessing for local residents. (Japan Times)
Feb 07Car kills woman in wheelchair, spouse
A woman in a wheelchair and her 76-year-old husband were killed in an alleged hit-and-run incident Sunday in Takahagi, Ibaraki Prefecture, police said. The police said they are questioning a man in his 50s who turned himself in as the driver of the car involved in the 9:10 a.m. incident that killed Setsuko Kaminaga, 73, and her husband, Sanji, who was helping her cross a road. (Japan Times)
Feb 07Warm words amid bitter cold
Exhausted workers, going without sleep to clear snow from train tracks in Fukui Prefecture, got a much-needed boost recently when a little girl stranded in a train took the trouble to write them a thank-you note for their hard work. The little girl was inside the Thunderbird No. 40 express train, which was stranded by a snowstorm that struck the Hokuriku region late last month. The train left Toyama Station at 5:12 p.m. on Jan. 30 and was scheduled to reach its final destination of Osaka Station at 8:37 p.m. However, heavy snow forced the train to stop at Imajo Station in Fukui Prefecture at 9:11 p.m. (Yomiuri)
Feb 06Haruki Murakami's Japan: See the real - and surreal - land of the rising sun
At the Uniqlo UT store in Harajuku, Tokyo, printed T-shirts, packaged in canisters, are delivered to the customer automatically on vending-machine shelves. Some have manga designs, but discriminating shoppers also browse four styles of shirt bearing the words "Norwegian Wood", the coming-of-age book that made Haruki Murakami a literary star in 1987. The writer is due another big year in 2011. (Independent)

By JS on Feb 17, 2011

tag : Japanese Society



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