凡天劇画会

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Japanese Robot Makes Sushi in Seconds 

Kawasaki's sushi-making robot. Kazumichi Moriyama/YouTube

Kawasaki’s sushi-making robot. Kazumichi Moriyama/YouTube

The Japanese robotics manufacturer Kawasaki has created a bot that can prepare nigiri sushi in under a minute.

As robots get more advanced, they will likely take over many jobs in the future — including those of sushi chefs.

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For a sneak peak at this impending automation, look no further than a new creation from robotics manufacturer Kawasaki. The robot can make sushi in under a minute.

First spotted by Gizmodo, the video shows a miraculous bot that assembles nigiri, the traditional type of sushi in which a piece of raw fish sits on a little ball of rice.

giphy (77) Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Toy: ‘My Beetle is Huge, and It Walks As If It’s Real’, Japan, 1970

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Emperor Akihito of Japan Raises Possibility of Leaving Throne

Emperor Akihito, 82, spoke publicly for the first time about retiring, saying he feared it would become ‘more difficult’ to fulfill his duties.

Jonathan Noble reports: It has been something of an open secret in Japan that Emperor Akihito would like a privilege most people take for granted: At 82, he wants to retire. The question is whether the Japanese and their elected leaders will let him.

In an extraordinary televised address on Monday, the popular emperor spoke publicly about the issue for the first time. Though his words were characteristically vague — he discussed his age, his rigorous daily schedule and what he called his increasing physical limitations — the message was unmistakable.

“I am concerned that it will become more and more difficult for me to fulfill my duties as a symbolic emperor,” he said in a prerecorded address that lasted about 10 minutes and was broadcast on multiple Japanese television networks.

If Akihito steps down, the move could redefine Japan’s royal family, the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy. While the emperor now has only symbolic power, an abdication could also resurrect a contentious issue in Japan: the debate over allowing a woman to occupy the throne.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

First reported in banner headlines by the Japanese news media in July, Akihito, who has been treated for cancer and heart problems, was said to want to retire and pass the title to his son Crown Prince Naruhito, 56. Prince Naruhito appears to share his father’s quiet temperament and wish to keep the monarchy apolitical.

But abdication is complicated because of Japanese law, which says an emperor serves until death. Parliament would have to change the law for Akihito to step down. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Japan’s Emperor Akihito to Make Rare Public Address

Japan’s Emperor Akihito is set to deliver his second ever televised address to the nation, after reports he wants to step down in coming years.

Japan’s Emperor Akihito is set to deliver his second ever televised address to the public.

Last month, Japanese media reported that the emperor wanted to step down in coming years, which would be unprecedented in modern Japan.

He is not expected to use the word “abdicate” because he is barred from political involvement.

The palace said on Friday he would be speaking about his “feelings regarding his duties as a symbol of the nation”.

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Five things about Japan’s emperor

People in Tokyo sum up Japan’s Emperor in one word

  • Has adopted a more modern style, making efforts to draw the imperial family closer to the people.
  • He married a commoner in 1959 – their love story captured the nation and was dubbed the “tennis court romance” as they met over the nets. Together he and Empress Michiko have three children.
  • Has sought to heal the scars of World War Two, saying last year: “Looking back at the past, together with deep remorse over the war, I pray that this tragedy of war will not be repeated and together with the people express my deep condolences for those who fell in battle and in the ravages of war.”
  • Acknowledged his Korean ancestry in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup, which Japan and South Korea jointly hosted. This surprised many in Japan given the country’s bitter colonial legacy on the Korean peninsula.
  • His passion is marine biology and he is an expert on the goby fish.

[Emperor Akihito’s reign in pictures]

There is no legal provision for abdication in Japanese law, which would mean a law change would be required.

[Read the full story here, at BBC News]

Under the constitution the emperor is not allowed to have political powers so a wish to abdicate could be seen as him interfering in politics.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to issue a statement after the emperor’s speech.

A pre-recorded message from the 82-year-old emperor, who is revered in Japan, will be made public at 15:00 local time (06:00 GMT).

Public broadcaster NHK reported the emperor, who has had heart surgery and was treated for prostate cancer, would ask Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife to take over many of his public duties. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: 19 Dead, Dozens Injured in Stabbing Attack in Japan

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TOKYO, Japan (WCMH) — At least 19 people are dead and 20 others injured following a stabbing rampage at a facility for handicapped people outside of Tokyo, Japan.

Japanese media NHK reports the attack happened in the city of Sagamihara which is west of Tokyo.

Police say the knife-wielding man entered the facility and began attacking just after 2:30am Tokyo time. Read the rest of this entry »


話を聞いてくれる男性をレンタル: Japanese ‘Rent Men’ Who Are Paid Just to Listen

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Japan has struggled with problems of social isolation, most notably the phenomenon of ‘hikikomori’ where people, often teens and young adults, refuse to leave the house or engage socially, instead opting to play video games or remain in their rooms.

Tokyo (AFP) – From lonely pensioners to Japanese schoolgirls with shattered dreams, Takanobu Nishimoto and his crew of middle-aged men will lend an ear to clients who would never dream of spilling their guts to a therapist or worse, their families.

Anyone in need of company can sign up to his online service to rent an “ossan” — a man aged between 45 and 55 — for 1,000 yen ($10) an hour.

“For me, the service is a hobby more than anything,” says Nishimoto, who first came up with the concept four years ago and who now has a growing network of some 60 men across Japan.

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“The people who rent me are just asking me to keep them company for an hour or two, mainly to listen to them.” 

“The initial idea was to improve the image of guys my age, people who might not be spring chickens anymore and not taken so seriously.”

And while the 48-year-old professional fashion coordinator is used to renting himself out, he insists conversation is all he offers to between 30 and 40 clients a month, roughly 70 percent of whom are women.

“The people who rent me are just asking me to keep them company for an hour or two, mainly to listen to them,” he tells AFP between sessions, giving the example of a woman in her 80s who would book him every week for a walk around the local park.

“I almost became like her son,” he says.

Other clients include a fisherman who was sick of waiting in solitary silence for a catch, a college student with ambitions to get into show business but who lacked family support, and an awkward young employee who did not know how to behave around his direct supervisor.

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“I never know exactly what they’re going to ask for when they rent me, and of course that’s a bit scary, but it’s also why it’s so interesting. Honestly, I’ve never had problems with any weird clients… I’ve had plenty of emotional experiences.”

Japan has struggled with problems of social isolation, most notably the phenomenon of “hikikomori” where people, often teens and young adults, refuse to leave the house or engage socially, instead opting to play video games or remain in their rooms.

But the people who come to Nishimoto do not suffer from detachment from society or challenges adjusting to it. Read the rest of this entry »


Japanese Supreme Court Upholds Special Surveillance to Keep Tabs on Muslims

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Japan has actually done remarkably well in averting terror attacks and has never been the victim of lethal jihadist violence. Some have praised Japan’s effectiveness in forestalling Islamic violence, proposing it as a model for other nations.

The Japanese Supreme Court has affirmed the practice of extensive surveillance of Muslims, rejecting an appeal by 17 plaintiffs who challenged the policy on the grounds that it violated Muslims’ constitutional rights to privacy, equal treatment, and religious freedom.

 “The most interesting thing in Japan’s approach to Islam is the fact that the Japanese do not feel the need to apologize to Muslims for the negative way in which they relate to Islam.”

In 2010, over a hundred Japanese police files were leaked to the public, which revealed widespread monitoring of Muslims across Japan. The files reportedly showed that the Japanese government was keeping tabs on some 72,000 Japanese residents who hailed from member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Tokyo police had also been monitoring places of worship, halal restaurants, and “Islam-related” organizations, according to the documents.

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“Along with surveillance, Japanese authorities also apply tight immigration standards. Muslims seeking a working visa or immigration permit, for instance, are subject to detailed scrutiny, which is credited with preventing the sort of terrorist activity that has plagued Europe. “

Soon after, 17 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit saying that their privacy had been violated, and challenging the extensive monitoring of followers of Islam in Japan.

[Read the full story here, at Breitbart]

After two appeals, the case made it to Japan’s Supreme Court, which on May 31 concurred with a lower court that awarded the plaintiffs a total of ¥90 million ($880,000) in compensation because the leak violated their privacy.

Nonetheless, the high court dismissed the more general charges of police profiling and invasive surveillance practices, which a lower court had upheld as “necessary and inevitable” to guard against the threat of Islamic terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Shoji Terayama In Front of Tenjō Sajiki (天井桟敷), 1967

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Shoji Terayama In Front of Tenjō Sajiki (天井桟敷), his Public Underground Theatre, 1967

Source: 


Comics: ‘Human Insect Diary’

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Alienation Is Killing Americans and Japanese 

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Amos Zeeburg writes: The stories have become all too familiar in Japan, though people often do their best to ignore them. An elderly or middle-aged person, usually a man, is found dead, at home in his apartment, frequently right in his bed. It has been days, weeks, or even months since he has had contact with another human being. Often the discovery is made by a landlord frustrated at not receiving a rent payment or a neighbor who notices an unpleasant smell. The deceased has almost no connections with the world around him: no job, no relationships with neighbors, no spouse or children who care to be in contact. He has little desire to take care of his home, his relationships, his health. “The majority of lonely deaths are people who are kind of messy,” Taichi Yoshida, who runs a moving company that often cleans out apartments where people are discovered long after they die, told Time magazine. “It’s the person who, when they take something out, they don’t put it back; when something breaks, they don’t fix it; when a relationship falls apart, they don’t repair it.”

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The death rate for U.S. whites (USW), U.S. Hispanics (USH), and six comparison countries (France, Germany, UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden) since 1990.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

These lonely deaths are called kodokushi. Each one passes without much notice, but the phenomenon is frequent enough to be widely known. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reported there were 3,700 “unaccompanied deaths” in Japan in 2013, but some researchers estimate that because of significant under-counting, the true figure is closer to 30,000. In any case, the frequency of kodokushi has been on the rise since they emerged in the 1980s.

[Read the full story here, at Nautilus]

The increase seems to be associated with deep social changes in the country, particularly the breakdown of the traditional multigenerational Japanese family. In 1960, about 80 percent of elderly Japanese lived with a child; since then that number has split in half. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Cherry Blossoms Flood the Inokashira Park Lake in Tokyo

Christopher Jobson reports: Every spring, photographer Danilo Dungo spends time at Inokashira Park in Tokyo, famous for its abundance of blooming cherry trees. The photographer has become a master at capturing the event from all angles, especially with aerial shots that show the pink flowers covering the nearby lake…(read more)

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Source: Colossal


John Bolton: Obama’s Shameful Apology Tour Lands in Hiroshima 

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Narcissist-in-Chief Honors Himself in Hiroshima, Japan

boltonJohn Bolton writes: An American president’s highest moral, constitutional and political duty is protecting his fellow citizens from foreign threats. Presidents should adhere to our values and the Constitution, and not treat America’s enemies as morally equivalent to us.

If they do, they need not apologize to anyone.

The White House says that President Obama won’t apologize as he visits Hiroshima Friday. But who believes his press flacks?

“Obama’s narcissism, his zeal for photo opportunities with him at the center, whether in Havana or Hiroshima, too often overcomes lesser concerns — like the best interests of the country.”

His penchant for apologizing is central to his legacy. He may not often say “I apologize” explicitly, but his meaning is always clear, especially since he often bends his knee overseas, where he knows the foreign audiences will get his meaning. It is, in fact, Obama’s subtlety that makes his effort to reduce America’s influence in the world so dangerous.

He started in Cairo in 2009, referring to the “fear and anger” that the 9/11 attacks provoked in Americans, saying that, “in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.” He later said, “Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions . . . based on fear rather than foresight” — a characterization Americans overwhelmingly reject.

[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]

In Europe, saved three times by America in the last century, Obama apologized because “there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” And in this hemisphere, Obama said, “We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms,” culminating in his recent fawning visits with the Castros in Cuba.

The list goes on and on.

President Barack Obama walks with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.Photo: Getty Images

Then there’s his penchant for bowing to foreign leaders. He has bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia. He bowed to the emperor of Japan on a previous visit. He has bowed to China’s leader, Xi Jinping. And these are not casual nods of the head, but unmistakable gestures of obeisance. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Succeeds in Test Flight of First Stealth Fighter Jet

Development of the stealth fighter comes as Japan faces new security challenges in the form of China’s expanding force posture.

Japan’s first stealth fighter jet successfully took to the skies on Friday as the country joins a select group of world military powers wielding the radar-dodging technology.

Technological super power Japan, despite strict constitutional constraints on the use of military force imposed after World War II, has one of the world’s most advanced defence forces and the development of the stealth fighter comes as it faces new security challenges in the form of China’s expanding force posture.

“The first flight has a very significant meaning that can secure technologies needed for future fighter development. We also expect it can be applied to other fields and technological innovation in the entire aviation industry.”

— Defense Minister Gen Nakatani

The domestically developed X-2 jet took off from Nagoya airport in central Japan on its maiden test flight as dozens of aviation enthusiasts watching the event erupted in applause as it lifted off into the clear morning sky.

In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 photo, a crew member of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy monitors on the deck of the China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailing on the East China Sea for sea trials. The Liaoning departed for its first-ever sea trials in the South China Sea, a mission likely to draw scrutiny amid Beijing's drive to assert its claims to those waters and their island groups. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

A crew member of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy monitors on the deck of the China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailing on the East China Sea for sea trials. The Liaoning departed for its first-ever sea trials in the South China Sea, a mission likely to draw scrutiny amid Beijing’s drive to assert its claims to those waters and their island groups. (AP Photo)

Television footage showed the red-and-white aircraft roaring into the air, escorted by two Japanese military fighters that were collecting flight data.

The single-pilot prototype safely landed at Gifu air base, north of Nagoya airport, after a 25-minute flight with “no particular problems,” said an official at the defence ministry’s acquisition agency.

It was an “extremely stable” flight, the pilot was quoted as saying by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the main contractor.

“The control of the aircraft went exactly as in our simulated training sessions,” the pilot added. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan to Print Additional ¥10,000 Bills as More People Hoard Cash at Home 

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The Finance Ministry plans to increase the number of ¥10,000 bills in circulation, amid signs that more people are hoarding cash.non-stop-panic-4

It will print 1.23 billion such notes in fiscal 2016, 180 million more than a year earlier. The number of ¥10,000 bills issued annually leveled off at around 1.05 billion in the fiscal years from 2011 to 2015.

Some financial market sources believe it is because more people are keeping their money at home rather than in banks, because interest rates on deposits have fallen to almost zero after the Bank of Japan introduced a negative interest rate in February.

The total amount of cash stashed at home is estimated to have surged by nearly ¥5 trillion to some ¥40 trillion in the past year, Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Japan’s Latest Celebrity Heartthrob: Shabani the Gorilla

A silverback gorilla named Shabani has become a celebrity in Japan. His admirers are attracted to his powerful physique and rugged good looks. Photo: Miho Inada/The Wall Street Journal


[VIDEO] Mount Sakurajima Erupts! 

The Japanese archipelago sits atop the Pacific ‘Ring of fire’ and has more than 100 volcanoes. The 2014 eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan killed 57 people.

Mount Sakurajima, a volcano that overlooks the city of Kagoshima, erupted Friday with a fiery blast that sent lava rolling down its slope.

The Meteorological Agency said Sakurajima, which is about 50 km from Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, erupted at 6:56 p.m.

“I jumped out of my house after I heard the news but I didn’t see anything or hear anything.”

— Yoko Noguchi, 75, who lives in the northwestern part of the Sakurajima island

Local television showed an orange burst out of the side of the volcano, near the summit, accompanied by lightning-like flashes. Dark gray smoke billowed into the sky.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The Meteorological Agency banned entry to the area, expanding an existing no-go zone around the crater to a 2-kilometer radius.

Given the eruption, the weather agency upgraded the volcanic alert from level 2 to level 3, which prohibits people from entering the mountain. The agency warned areas near residential districts on the mountain’s foot could be gravely affected.

“I’m not scared because I’m used to it.”

— Toru Sakamoto, 56, who heard the blast at his home

Kazuhiro Ishihara, professor emeritus at Kyoto University and an volcano expert, was quoted by NHK as saying that the eruption was unlikely to have an immediate serious impact on nearby residential areas because the live video images appeared to show rocks flying only 2 km from the mountain’s top. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan, Inc.: World’s First Robot-Run Farm will Harvest 30,000 Heads of Lettuce Daily

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Spread’s new automation technology will not only produce more lettuce, it will also reduce labor costs by 50%, cut energy use by 30%, and recycle 98% of water needed to grow the crops.

 reports: The Japanese lettuce production company Spread believes the farmers of the future will be robots.

So much so that Spread is creating the world’s first farm manned entirely by robots. Instead of relying on human farmers, the indoor Vegetable Factory will employ robots that can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce every day.

“The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history. With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops.”

— J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread

Don’t expect a bunch of humanoid robots to roam the halls, however; the robots look more like conveyor belts with arms. They’ll plant seeds, water plants, and trim lettuce heads after harvest in the Kyoto, Japan farm.

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Spread: A worker at the Kameoka Plant. Not a robot.

“The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history,” J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread, tells Tech Insider. “With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops.”

[Read the full story here, at Tech Insider]

The Vegetable Factory follows the growing agricultural trend of vertical farming, where farmers grow crops indoors without natural sunlight. Instead, they rely on LED light and grow crops on racks that stack on top of each other.

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In addition to increasing production and reducing waste, indoor vertical farming also eliminates runoff from pesticides and herbicides — chemicals used in traditional outdoor farming that can be harmful to the environment. Read the rest of this entry »


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