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Japan’s Shrinking Population and Local Innovation: Turning Empty Houses into Guesthouses

guest-houses-japan

In many cases, guesthouse operators actively promote interaction between guests and locals. It is hoped that the new guesthouses will aid the revitalization of regional communities, and attract people to relocate from urban areas.

Sachio Tanaka reports: Hachane in Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture, is one of such guesthouses. The word “hachane” is a local expression meaning, “See you again.”

“It is enjoyable to see people who come to stay in my guesthouse spending time with locals, and observe the relationships between them growing.”

— Sakiko Morioka, 30, who moved back from Tokyo to her home city last year

Hachane’s building formerly accommodated an izakaya restaurant and residence. After the izakaya closed, the building reopened as Hachane in April this year after undergoing renovation.

Yoshiki Koizumi, 45, who operates Hachane, formerly worked for a real estate company in Tokyo for about 20 years.

hostel

“According to Yukari Maeda, author of ‘Japan Hostel and Guesthouse Guide,’ published by Wani Books Co., which includes information on about 100 facilities, the number of guesthouses has rapidly increased in the past two years.”

After being attracted by the natural environment and climate of the town — which is also the hometown of the parents of his wife, Michiyo, 40 — Koizumi began the guesthouse business jointly with Yoshiko Iwai, a 36-year-old business consultant whom he has known since he was a company employee.

japan-travellers

“Guesthouses are used mainly by young people, who can bring new ideas and a sense of value to local communities. If it also solves the problem of empty houses, it can serve a dual purpose.”

The guesthouse is on the second floor of the building. Four guest rooms can accommodate up to seven people in total.

A 20-square-meter shared dining room is equipped with kitchen appliances, and guests often congregate there.

Guests also share a bathroom and shower room. The room charge is from about ¥3,000 per night.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan News]

The first floor of the building is now a pizzeria run by Chiho Takagi, 43, Michiyo’s elder sister, and the restaurant serves as a space for guests and locals to interact.

Koizumi also organizes agricultural events such as rice planting in cooperation with local farmers.

“I hope many people will come to appreciate Tokamachi’s homely atmosphere,” he said.
Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Tsunami Warning Issued After Quake Off Fukushima in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — An earthquake with preliminary magnitude of 7.3 struck Tuesday off the coast of Fukushima prefecture in Japan. A tsunami warning for waves of up to three meters (10 feet) was issued.

The Japan Meteorological Agency says the quake struck around 6 a.m at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). It warned people along the coast to move to higher ground.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the magnitude at 6.9. The earthquake shook buildings in Tokyo, 240 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of the epicenter.

Fukushima prefecture is home to the nuclear power plant that was destroyed by a huge tsunami following an offshore earthquake in 2011…(more)

Developing…


Executive Arrested in Japan Over Disappearance of $390 Million in Bitcoins

bitcoins

The global virtual currency community was shaken by the shuttering of MtGox, which froze withdrawals in February 2014 because of what the firm said was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoin that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

Japanese police on Saturday arrested Mark Karpeles, head of the collapsed MtGox Bitcoin exchange, over the disappearance of about $390 (£250 million) worth of the virtual currency, local media said.

France-born Karpeles, 30, is suspected of having accessed the exchange’s computer system and falsifying data on its outstanding balance, Kyodo News and public broadcaster NHK said.

“They say it’s under investigation. That’s all they say. They seem to refuse to make public more precise information about MtGox’s own (information) and how and when it was stolen, if it was really stolen.”

—  French investor, to AFP last year at a creditors’ meeting in Tokyo

The global virtual currency community was shaken by the shuttering of MtGox, which froze withdrawals in February 2014 because of what the firm said was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoin that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

Police did not immediately confirm Karpeles’ arrest but local television footage showed authorities taking him into custody.

The exchange – which once boasted of handling around 80 percent of global Bitcoin transactions – filed for bankruptcy protection soon after the cyber-money went missing, admitting it had lost 850,000 coins worth 48 billion yen ($387 million at today’s exchange rate).

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Ross Ulbricht Silk Road mastermind

“A cloud has been hanging over the Tokyo-based exchange and Karpeles as investors have demanded answers, and called on the firm to publicise its data so that hackers around the world can help analyse what happened at MtGox.”

Karpeles later said he had found some 200,000 of the lost Bitcoins in a “cold wallet” – a storage device such as a memory stick that is not connected to other computers.

Bitcoins are generated by complex chains of interactions among a huge network of computers around the planet and are not backed by any government or central bank.

A cloud has been hanging over the Tokyo-based exchange and Karpeles as investors have demanded answers, and called on the firm to publicise its data so that hackers around the world can help analyse what happened at MtGox. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Modern Take on Japanese Fan Dance Has Naked Men, International Appeal

Ah, the Japanese fan dance. In popular culture, its staid connections to Noh and Kabuki theater are put aside in favor of something more risque. Usually it’s a coy geisha slowly using her fans to seductively cover and reveal her face and body. But just as more business are capitalizing on male sex appeal these days, the modern Japanese fan dance has a hot, sweaty man version too.

This may have started with the Japanese musician and provocateur DJ Ozma, who famously earned a lifetime ban from national broadcaster NHK after his first appearance featured dancers in skin-colored leotards painted to look like naked bodies. His 2008 song DRINKIN’BOYS featured a group of naked male dancers using strategically placed fans….(read more)

RocketNews24


日本での不公平: Japanese 3D-Printed Gun Maker Is Sentenced To Two Years In Jail

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[Also see – Japan Makes First Arrest Over 3-D Printer Guns  – punditfromanotherplanet.com]

Yoshitomo Imura, an employee at the Shonan Institute of Technology in Japan, was arrested last may for printing and firing a 3D-printed gun called the ZigZag. He printed three guns in total and was arrested for running afoul of Japan’s strict gun laws.

[More – [VIDEO] How 3-D Printed Guns Evolved Into Serious Weapons in Just One Year  – punditfromanotherplanet.com]

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Volcano Erupts In Central Japan, Hiker Dead, Dozens Reported Stranded | 御嶽山 大噴火 山頂火口付近 衝撃の山小屋

Dozens of hikers were stranded Saturday on the slopes of an erupting Japanese volcano that has reportedly killed one person and left 30 more seriously injured.

A manager of Japan Meteorological Agency speaks at a press conference to explain the eruption of Mount Ontake, in Tokyo on September 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jiji Press)

A manager of Japan Meteorological Agency speaks at a press conference to explain the eruption of Mount Ontake, in Tokyo on September 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jiji Press)

Ash, rocks and steam continued to spew from Mount Ontake more than nine hours after it sprang violently to life as around 250 people were trying to scale its peak.

“The speed of the smoke was too fast. You can’t escape.”I’m worried that many more people are still on the mountain.”

— A climber, reported by NHK

Four people were buried by the ash, with one having been dug out, Kyodo News reported.

“I first thought it was thunder as I heard a bang and another bang, two or three times,” a trekker told public broadcaster NHK. “Then volcanic dust fell noisily.”

A picture taken by Nagano Prefectural Police on September 27, 2014 shows ash and smoke billowing from Mount Ontake (AFP Photo/)

A picture taken by Nagano Prefectural Police shows ash and smoke billowing from Mount Ontake (AFP Photo)

“Amateur cameraman Keiji Aoki told Jiji Press: “It was tremendous. I prepared for death when I got caught in the dust under a pine tree.”

— Amateur cameraman Keiji Aoki, to Jiji Press

A suffocating blanket of ash up to 20 centimetres (8 inches) deep covered a large area of the 3,067 metre (10,121-foot) volcano, trapping climbers and forcing up to 150 into mountaintop shelters at one point.

Around 230 people have now reached the bottom but a further 40 are trapped at the summit where they will spend the night in shelters, local media reported.

Aerial footage of Mt. Ontake showed several cabins smothered with the thick dust, some with windows that appear to have been shattered by the force of the eruption. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Makes First Arrest Over 3-D Printer Guns

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YOKOHAMA – A 27-year-old man who allegedly made handguns with a 3-D printer was arrested Thursday on suspicion of illegal weapons possession, the first time Japan’s firearms control law has been applied to the possession of guns made by this method.

“I can’t complain about the arrest if the police regard them as real guns.”

–Yoshitomo Imura

Yoshitomo Imura is taken into custody Thursday in Kawasaki on suspicion of illegal possession of guns made with a 3-D printer

Yoshitomo Imura is taken into custody Thursday in Kawasaki on suspicion of illegal possession of guns made with a 3-D printer

The suspect, Yoshitomo Imura, an employee of Shonan Institute of Technology in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, had the plastic guns at his home in Kawasaki in mid-April, the police said. No bullets for the guns have been found.

The police launched an investigation earlier this year after Imura posted video footage online of the guns, which he claimed to have produced himself, along with blueprints for them, according to investigative sources.

One of Imura’s postings carried a comment: “The right to bear firearms is part of basic human rights.”

Police searched Imura’s home last month and seized five guns, two which can fire real bullets, the sources said.

Imura, who purchased a 3-D printer for around ¥60,000 through the Internet, was quoted as telling investigators during the search, “I produced the guns, but I didn’t think it was illegal.” Read the rest of this entry »


Camelot 2.0: JFK’s daughter Caroline Travels to Japan’s Imperial Palace in a Carriage to Meet Emperor Akihito

New U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy smiles as she steps out from a horse-drawn imperial carriage upon her arrival at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Kennedy, who arrived in Tokyo Friday to replace her predecessor John V. Roos, presented credentials to Emperor Akihito in a formal court ceremony at the palace. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

New U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy smiles as she steps out from a horse-drawn imperial carriage upon her arrival at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Kennedy presented credentials to Emperor Akihito in a formal court ceremony at the palace. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO — New U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy travelled by horse-drawn carriage into the Imperial Palace to present her credentials to Japan’s emperor on Tuesday, giving the public a rare look at a diplomatic tradition.

Thousands of onlookers lined the avenues near the moat-ringed palace to snap pictures and wave as Kennedy, the 55-year-old daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, waved back from inside the carriage.

In an unusual move, national broadcaster NHK showed Kennedy’s arrival at the Imperial Palace live, following the entourage from the air once it entered the palace gates…

National Post


5.5 magnitude earthquake shakes Tokyo, halts trains

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November 16, 2013 – TOKYO, JAPAN – A 5.5 magnitude earthquake hit eastern Japan on Saturday. Tremors were felt from inside Tokyo skyscrapers, and the city’s high-speed train service was halted as a precaution. The earthquake struck at 8:44 p.m. local time (11:44 a.m. GMT) at a depth of 63 kilometers (39 miles) in the Chiba prefecture which neighbors Tokyo, the US Geological Survey reported.  The quake shook skyscrapers in the Japanese capital and temporarily halted the city’s high-speed train service, according to AFP. The trains soon resumed after a track inspection. Local broadcaster NHK assured that neither Tokyo’s Narita International Airport nor regional nuclear installations were affected by the earthquake. There were no reports of damage or casualties. It comes just one week after another 5.5 earthquake struck close to the capital, and three weeks after a major 7.3 magnitude quake sent small tsunamis to Japan’s northeast coast and prompted an evacuation at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The Extinction Protocol