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Browsing Categories

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Browsing Category: > Current Affairs

Aid for Japan - London - 15th May 2011

Date: 2011 April 29th Friday [13:56] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Events

We've been sent details about Aid for Japan an up coming charity event in London on Sunday 15th May 2011. It's to raise funds for the victims of the recent earthquake.

It'll be at -
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London
WC1R 4RL

Nearest Tube station is Holborn.

They'll be holding a selection of workshops focusing on Japanese culture, including the Tea Ceremony, performances a Kimono Fashion show, a cosplay show, along with with a Shibuya and Harajuku fashion show. There'll be a manga drawing workshop too.

Japanese food and drink will also be available for attendees to buy on the day.

Source: Aid for Japan

NFC Mobile phones in Japan

Date: 2011 April 29th Friday [10:28] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Technology

BBC News have an interesting story about Near Field Communication embedded in mobile phones (Keitai) used in Japan. This allows the user to have a card payment system built into their phone, check into hotels and even access their hotel room using the mobile phone as an entry card. Combined with the QR code users can read details from the environment around them. Augmented Reality also gets a mention too.

This technology is emerging in the English speaking world, but is firmly established in Japan.

Source: BBC News

Heart Japan Charity Event - 20th April 2011

Date: 2011 April 9th Saturday [18:10] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Events

London based fans of Japan looking to have fun and raise money for charity should keep Wednesday 20th April 2011 free for Heart Japan. The event is set to run from 6:30pm until 11pm at Vibe Bar on Brick Lane.

It's to raise money for the Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Fund.

There'll be live bands, DJs playing the best Japanese music, plus a chance to win some original artwork by Bryan Lee O'Malley the creator of Scott Pilgrim in their charity auction.

Read More... | Source: Heart Japan

Japan tsunami dog rescued after 3 weeks out at sea

Date: 2011 April 4th Monday [16:09] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

After the tragic events in Japan, it's nice to hear a heart warming story now and again. BBC News ran a story about a dog rescued by the coast guard after 3 weeks out at sea. Ban the dog survived by staying on top of the roof of a house as it was washed out to sea, she was rescued by the coast guard's helicopter.

The 2 year old dog was later reunited with her owner after seeing a TV news report.

"Ban immediately jumped up and wagged her tail when her owner appeared, local media reported."

Source: BBC News

Wagamama sold to private equity firm

Date: 2011 March 26th Saturday [13:30] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

Japanese style noodle bar chain Wagamama has been bought by private equity firm Duke Street from Lion Capital for £215 million.

London's City AM reports that Lion capital have owned the chain since 2005 and more than doubled it's UK presence. The sale was planned since August last year. Lion were hoping to get £250 million for the sale.

Impressively the London branches of Wagamama have been known to turn over 12 sittings a day.

Source: City AM

We Love Japan - Tohoku Earthquake Relief Concert

Date: 2011 March 25th Friday [18:29] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Events

Saturday 2nd April 2011 is when you should head to London for the We Love Japan Tohoku Earthquake Relief Concert. It'll be held at The Relentless Garage from 7pm. They'll have a wide selection of live music, comedy and karaoke, plus some of the most promising London-based Japanese musicians.

Tickets are £10 if booked in advance on-line or £12 on the door.

All proceeds from the evening will go to the Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund.

Read More... | Source: We Love Japan

March 2011 - Earthquake and Tsunami devastate Japan

Date: 2011 March 13th Sunday [15:20] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

On Friday 11th March 2011 an Earthquake hit the east coast of Japan.

Originally it was declared a magnitude 8.8, it has since been revised to 9.0, making it one of the biggest ever recorded in the world, according to the Daily Yomiuri.

BBC News states - "Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said Japan is experiencing its greatest hardships since World War II as it tackles the aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami and a growing nuclear crisis."

NHK reports that confirmed deaths top 1,500. They also state - "Miyagi prefectural police say the death toll in their prefecture alone is almost certain to exceed 10,000."

You can help by donating to the British Red Cross or donating to the American Red Cross.

Streaming site Crunchyroll will also match any money you donate up to $5,000 USD.

People in town and city centres around the world are also collecting money for the earthquake fund.

Source: NHK World

Momo the Chihuahua joins the police

Date: 2011 February 21st Monday [16:43] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

Following on from our earlier coverage on Momo the police Chihuahua we're pleased to report that the little dog has now joined the police the Japanese Police.

The Daily Yomiuri reports that special police jacket has been made for the doggy. The jacket reads "Shokutaku Keisatsuken" (Part-time police dog).

We're thinking this sounds like a great idea for a kids anime show. Momo the Mini Search and Rescue Dog!

Source: Daily Yomiuri

BBC apologises for Japanese atomic bomb jokes on QI

Date: 2011 January 23rd Sunday [13:06] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News are covering a story about jokes made on popular panel quiz QI not going down well with Japanese viewers.

"Panellists made light of the experience of Tsutomu Yamaguchi who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb in World War II and the Nagasaki one three days later."

Japanese viewers complained to the Japanese Embassy in London.

"The BBC said it was sorry for any offence caused and would be replying shortly to a letter received from the Japanese embassy in London."

This story has also been covered internationally, receiving a lot of attention in Japan too.

Source: BBC News

Momo the Chihuahua set to join the Japanese Police

Date: 2010 November 21st Sunday [15:53] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News are reporting an amusing story about the Japanese police force who have recruited a chihuahua named Momo. The tiny dog has been selected to become part of a search and rescue team which are used for disasters such as earthquakes. It's small size will allow it to squeeze into places too small for regular rescue dogs to reach.

Source: BBC News

Exposing the world of Japan's yakuza

Date: 2010 October 5th Tuesday [16:25] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News have an interesting article on Jake Adelstein a journalist who reports on the Japanese mafia. It forms an interesting insight into the seeder criminal side of Japan.

"Compared with his home country, the crime scene here was very different - in Japan, organised crime has not been driven underground.

'There is an idea within Japan that the yakuza are a necessary evil, that by having them around they keep street crime down,' Adelstein explained."
The article also mentions the threats Adelstein faced -

"Erase the story... or we'll erase you. And maybe your family. But we'll do them first so you learn your lesson before you die."

Source: BBC News

Manga and comics what's the difference in a name?

Date: 2010 September 6th Monday [15:56] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Manga

Last moth the results of the Morning International Comic Competition were announced.

Curiously enough they've discovered what the difference a name makes. The previous 3 competitions were called the Morning International Manga Competition. They discovered an issue with calling their competition a manga competition.

Read More... | Source: Morning International Comic Competition

Low-tech Japan

Date: 2010 July 13th Tuesday [8:24] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News have an interesting article about the often unnoticed low-tech side of Japan. The article highlights some interesting points such as ATMs that close when the bank does and how lots of processes are still paper based.

Source: BBC News

News in manga format

Date: 2010 June 11th Friday [8:58] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

Wired have an interesting article about news in manga format. The website newsmanga.com has current affairs explained in manga. The site employs more than 100 manga artists to cover breaking stories, updating 10 or 15 times a day. The site is in Japanese, but the Wired article has some translated and mirrored examples when you wave the mouse over the image.

Source: Wired

Multi-National Manga Anti-Piracy Coalition Formed

Date: 2010 June 8th Tuesday [16:47] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Manga

Multi-National Manga Anti-Piracy Coalition Formed

We've received some very interesting details from VIZ Media about the formation of a Multi-National Manga Anti-Piracy Coalition.It seems that the industry has grown tired of Scanlations - manga scanned into a digital format and distributed without the copyright holders consent. The coalition include the 36 members of Japan's Digital Comic Association, Square Enix, VIZ Media, TOKYOPOP and Yen Press.

Originally scanlations were manga translated by fans into their native language from Japanese. This can be seen as the manga equivalent of anime fansubs. Some scanlation sites branched out to scans of manga that was already official translated and licensed outside of Japan.

This has cost the manga publishing industry significant amounts of money, not just in lost book sales, but lost opportunities in the relatively new market of eBooks and mobile devices.

The coalition intend to target scanlation sites and aggregators of scanlation sites. They've drawn up a list of 30 sites to targeted for action. First they will ask the sites to cease distributing scanlations. If the sites fail to cease distributing further action will be taken depending on the jurisdiction of each site. Actions include legal injunctions against the sites, reporting the sites to governmental anti-piracy units of law enforcement, including the US Justice Department, local law enforcement agencies and the FBI.

Fans curious about piracy in the anime and manga industry should read the Pirate Anime FAQ.

This is not the first time the anime and manga industry has attempted to stop piracy in the industry, but this is the biggest and most coordinated international effort so far. With many companies in the industry forced to make cut backs, closing down offices, laying off staff, we wonder if this is the start of a new approach? Will more companies pursue legal options? Are fansubbers next?

Read More... | Source: VIZ Media

Tokyo's First Robot Wedding

Date: 2010 May 16th Sunday [10:47] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Technology > Robotics

BBC News have a fascinating article about a wedding with a difference in Tokyo. It was the worlds first wedding to be conducted by a robot. Appropriately both bride and groom are connected to Japan's robotics industry. The robot is called the I-Fairy, has flashing eyes and a flowery headdress, it speaks in Japanese and can be seen on the BBC video instructing the groom to to lift the brides veil for the traditional first kiss. The article does not state if the robot has any legal power to marry anyone.

Source: BBC News

Japanese PM's dress sense proves unpopular

Date: 2010 May 15th Saturday [5:41] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News have an interesting article about Japanese PM Yukio Hatoyama's fashion sense, or rather lack of it. A checked multi-coloured BBQ shirt he recently wore draw a lot of criticism. Apart from raising lots of eyebrows with bad dress sense the Prime Minster has seen his ratings tumble for not fulfilling a key campaign promise of moving the American Military base in Okinawa.

Source: BBC News

Original Laughing Man Creator Dies

Date: 2010 January 28th Thursday [17:14] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Culture

Author JD Salinger dies, aged 91. Anime fans who have seen Ghost in the Shell : Stand Alone Complex, will be aware of the Laughing Man. The Japanese producers of the series created the antagonist after being inspired by a short story by JD Salinger, which was called The Laughing Man.

The logo used in Ghost In the Shell : Stand Alone Complex also references Catcher in the Rye, his best known work.

Source: BBC News

Jonathan Ross to leave the BBC

Date: 2010 January 7th Thursday [21:57] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

Jonathan Ross has announced he's going to leave the BBC. It's all over the entertainment section of the news, celebrity gossip news so why is it on Otaku News too? Well we're curious as to what he's going to do next.

Caitlin Moran TV Critic for The Times has made an interesting speculation -
"What most people don't seem to realise is that the documentaries he did on Japanese films, anime and cultish subjects were absolutely fantastic and I imagine he might want to go and do more of that."

Read More... | Source: BBC News

History Girls

Date: 2009 December 29th Tuesday [10:04] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Fandom

BBC News have an interesting video about History Girls in Japan. The video shows girls who like to cosplay has historical Japanese characters including shinsengumi the samurai police with distinctive blue and white uniforms. The girls with an interest in history are known as rekijo, or History Girls. Making it one of the buzz words for 2009

The article mentions it's more about fantasy than historical accuracy and highlights that many girls get into the historical side of things through games like Dynasty Warriors. They point out that historical men were more rugged than today's modern wimpy men too.

Source: BBC News

Seven Bank to Discontinue ATM Services for Overseas-issued MasterCard Brand Cards

Date: 2009 December 8th Tuesday [16:40] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

A keen eyed Otaku News reader has sent us details about ATM services in Japan that will impact MasterCard users visiting the country.

Carrying cash is often very useful in Japan. Getting money out from an ATM can be difficult as not all banks accept western credit cards for cash withdrawal. The best place to withdraw money is often 7-Eleven using their Seven Bank ATM machines.

Due to changes in the terms and conditions from MasterCard, Seven Bank will no longer accept overseas-issued MasterCard brand cards as of December 14th. The bank is still accepting Visa, American Express, JCB, China UnionPay, Discover and Diners Club.

Read More... | Source: Seven Bank

The rise of Japan's girlie man generation

Date: 2009 November 6th Friday [11:48] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Culture

The Times has a fascinating article about the rise of Japan's 'girlie man' generation. Known as the herbivore generation these fashionable men turn away from the traditional life of the corporate salaryman. Not keen on drinking or expensive cars.

The article highlights that rather than grinding away at the work place they'd rather have a much more fulfilling life.

"They are thrifty and abhor consumerism."

"In every Japanese convenience store are special sections devoted to men's cosmetics, eyebrow shapers, packets of disposable wipes for dealing with sweat and body odor, skin whitener. The herbivores may not buy beer and cars but they spend on keeping themselves odourless, hairless and pale. Their clothes come from cheap, fashionable chains such as Uniqlo. This week, Shinya Yamaguchi, 23, a fashion designer, launches his latest collection of skirts and lacy tops - all aimed at men. Many of Japan's younger male celebrities, bands such as Arashi and actors like Eita, Teppei Koike and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, project an effeminate, herbivorous look."

So is the herbivore the next stage of evolution for the bishie?

Source: The Times

London Gets Shibuya Style Crossing

Date: 2009 November 2nd Monday [5:33] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News have an interesting article about a new crossing on Oxford Street in London.

The London shopping district now has a crossing inspired by the X style walk way. The most famous of which can be seen at Shibuya in Tokyo and is frequently filmed in documentaries that feature Japan.

The opening ceremony sounds like a lot of fun -
"In homage to its Far Eastern inspiration, the mayor will strike a two-metre high cymbal as Japanese musicians play taiko drums."

They even got cosplayers involved too -

"A giant X, in the form of 60m (196ft) of red ribbon will then be unfurled by devotees of cult Japanese Manga characters dressed in colourful costumes."

The London Mayor said the crossing was "a triumph for British engineering, Japanese innovation and good old fashioned common sense".

Oxford Street is frequently very busy with more than 200 million visitors a year and ideas like this help ease congestion at the bottle neck area of the tube station.

The BBC News Website has photos of the event you can even see a few cosplayers there too. ^_^

Update We've been sent some great photos of the opening ceremony.

Read More... | Source: BBC News

Japan wins top country at Wanderlust awards

Date: 2009 March 23rd Monday [16:43] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Culture

Travel Magazine Wanderlust have just announced their annual travel awards. Japan won top country.

Wanderlust readers were:
"... mesmerised by its man-made attractions: Tokyo's 'fluorescent skyscapes', its indoor rollercoasters, hi-tech loos and hotels boasting 'unbelievable levels of service and comfort'."

Readers also were moved by the "countryís ancient culture and underlying serenity".

The article reads like everything an otaku already knows about Japan. ^_^

Source: Wanderlust

Capcom Bond Blunder

Date: 2009 February 25th Wednesday [17:44] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

The state of the world economy is all over the news at the moment, with pictures of stressed out stock brokers, being a common image. This week a mistake was made on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. One trader at the Japanese branch of Swiss Bank UBS made a colossal error, trying to buy 3 trillion yen (about $31bn USD, or £21bn GBP) in bonds for Capcom. Luckily as the order was placed out of hours they were able to cancel it.

Apparently the trader was intending to buy 30 million bonds instead. UBS deny it's a case of fat finger error with the user pressing the same key too many times, but another computer error of some sort.

We're guessing that with all the hype in Street Fighter IV, the trader was keen to pull off their own Ultra Combo with bonds!

Source: BBC News

Hetalia Anime causes a storm in South Korea

Date: 2009 January 26th Monday [17:16] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Anime

The Daily Yomiuri are currently running an article about Hetalia causing an uproar among South Koreans.

The show was set to be broadcast on Japanese satellite channel Kids Station on January 24th 2009. However on January 16th the station cancelled their plans to run the show.

Read More... | Source: Daily Yomiuri

Cat Cafes in Tokyo

Date: 2009 January 14th Wednesday [8:58] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Culture

BBC News have an amusing story about the current trend in Akihabara - Cat Cafes. The article mentions Ja La La Cafe, where clients pay by the hour for the company of cats petting and photographing them. We've heard of these pet rental places before. Most Japanese apartments don't allow pets, and for many jet setting business people pet ownership isn't practical, so the pet cafes have sprung up as a result.

Read More... | Source: BBC News

Mixi Nengajou New Years Cards

Date: 2008 December 31st Wednesday [11:45] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Culture

A keen eyed Otaku News reader has sent us details a clever idea used by Mixi, the Japanese Social Networking Site. The Mixi Nengajou site allows you to send Japanese New Year Cards to other Mixi users, even if you don't know their postal address. The site is a spin off from Mixi and uses the receivers registered address to send the real world post card. If the user does not have a registered address, it will ask them to do so in order to received a card.

With over 400 designs to chose from (including anime and manga designs), the idea seems like a sure fire winner. It'll be interesting to see if any other similar Social Network Sites in the west pick up similar ideas.

Source: Asiajin

Japan Cat Network

Date: 2008 November 26th Wednesday [17:36] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

We've received some interesting details from an Otaku News reader about a Japanese organisation, the Japan Cat Network, who have been featured in the Japan Times, twice (here and here).

Started in 2000 by David Wybenga and his wife Susan Roberts, who teach English in Japan. Their aim is simple, they reduce stray and feral cat populations by using Trap Neuter and Return. We don't normally mention this sort of thing on Otaku News, but as it's run by Gaijin in Japan we thought some readers would be interested. Help is always welcome too. So if you want to help out, visit their site and see what you can do!

Source: Japan Cat Network

Could Manga Inspire A Murder?

Date: 2008 October 24th Friday [18:46] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Anime

Sky News are running an article about the possibility that manga could inspire murder, and how it frustrates anime fans. It cites the current case of Meredith Kercher, a 21 year old student who was stabbed to death in Italy in a house she shared with other students. It mentions that the prosecution of the case are highlighting that Raffaele Sollecito (one of the accused) was acting out a "dark fantasy", inspired by his manga collection. BBC News have more coverage of the same story.

Read More... | Source: Sky News

CBLDF to take on manga obscenity case

Date: 2008 October 17th Friday [15:20] | Posted By: Azure
Category: > Current Affairs

The comic book legal defence fund has agreed to take on the case of Christopher Handley. Handley has a collection of over 1,200 manga a handful of which the US government claims is obscene and contain images of minors involved in sex acts.

Read More... | Source: Comic Book Legal Defence fund

London Anime Club to Close Doors

Date: 2008 October 10th Friday [15:57] | Posted By: Spike
Category: > Current Affairs

No, unfortunately not a cruel April Fools joke, David "Dragon" Cotterill has announced that there will be no further regular meetings of the London Anime Club. Although rumours of quarterly or possible anniversary meeting abound, nothing concrete has been set and there are no entries in the event schedule after the meeting on December 7th, which can probably be considered the last one.

Read More... | Source: Otaku News

Totoro Forest Project

Date: 2008 August 12th Tuesday [17:26] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Events

Fans of Studio Ghibli and those concerned with conservation will be interested to hear about the project to save Sayama Forest, which is also known as Totoro Forest. The project aims to auction off original artwork and sell a book with the collected art, in order to raise money to protect Sayama Forest.

"A fund-raising exhibition / auction to benefit the Totoro No Furusato National Fund, the Japanese non-profit foundation established by Oscar-winning filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, which is leading efforts to preserve and protect the Sayama Forest. The auction will feature original art created by internationally-acclaimed artists in the fields of animation, comic books, and illustration."

Fans will have to travel to Pixar Animation Studio in Emeryville, California.

Source: Totoro Forest Project

The Pirate Anime FAQ Returns

Date: 2008 August 3rd Sunday [16:31] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Anime

8 years ago, I wrote an FAQ about piracy in anime, and how to avoid buying pirate goods. It started off as a simple guide as part of a site called Anime Digital, but evolved and improved over the years. It's generally regarded as the most comprehensive guide to pirate goods in anime fandom. A mini version has been printed at many anime conventions and distributed among convention staff to quickly spot pirate goods. The anime industry also use it to make anime fans aware of bootleg goods.

For the last 8 years the Pirate Anime FAQ was hosted on the London Anime Club's web server. Unfortunately it's been unavailable since April because of server problems so we have decided to host the guide on Otaku News instead. We'd like to thank the London Anime Club for hosting the Pirate Anime FAQ for the last 8 years.

The Pirate Anime FAQ has been translated into French and German, thanks to the kind help of anime fans. I'll put the French and German translations up soon. However I've made a few small changes to the FAQ to make sure it will fit with the formatting of Otaku News. As a result the translations will need to be updated too.

The old content from Anime Digital is not lost and we're currently deciding if we should integrate the articles into Otaku News, or archive them as a separate site.

So please update your bookmarks, the new URL for the Pirate Anime FAQ is http://www.otakunews.com/piratefaq.php.

Source: The Pirate Anime FAQ

British Theme for Fuji Rock Festival 2008

Date: 2008 July 27th Sunday [16:53] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Culture

BBC News have an interesting article about this years Fuji Rock Festival, which has a British theme, to celebrate 150 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and Japan.

With Union Flags flying everywhere, the article states that many are wearing British themed outfits.
"British acts including The Courteeners, Hard-Fi, Primal Scream and headliners Underworld shared the main stage with Japanese performers on Saturday."

The article also highlights that the Fuji Rock Festival was inspired by Glastonbury.
"We call it the Fuji experience. It is like Glastonbury, but has been perfected in that Japanese way," says the festival's international organiser, Johnnie Fingers (also known as the founding member of The Boomtown Rats).

Source: BBC News

Celebrity Japanese bloggers

Date: 2008 July 7th Monday [3:31] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Websites

Wired are currently running an interesting story about celebrity Japanese bloggers. The article states "They're good-looking, they're geeky and they love to blog". It then has a profile of each blogger along with a photo.

Source: Wired

Tokyo knifeman blogged killing spree on mobile phone

Date: 2008 June 9th Monday [3:36] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

On an update on the fatal knife attack in Akihabara, The Times are reporting that the knifeman Tomohiro Kato had apparently been blogging the preparations to the attack on his mobile phone.

Source: The Times

Yakuza Man Kills Seven in Akihabara

Date: 2008 June 8th Sunday [11:39] | Posted By: Spike
Category: > Current Affairs

Seven people are dead and another eleven have been injured in Akihabara today as a Yakuza man said to be "tired of life" has gone on a stabbing rampage in the district.

Read More... | Source: BBC News

Bandai Visual USA to be liquidated

Date: 2008 June 4th Wednesday [19:44] | Posted By: Eeeper
Category: > Current Affairs

Bandai Namco Holdings has announced the liquidation of the American division of their Bandai Visual releasing arm effective July 1st 2008.

Read More... | Source: Anime News Network

New Non Photographic Law is a bit vague

Date: 2008 May 29th Thursday [18:12] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

Some anime and manga fans in the UK might have heard about the new proposals which would ban obscene images of children. The proposals mainly cover drawings and computer-generated images, however due to certain parts of the proposals being a bit vague, it's not exactly certain what images are classed as obscene. The mainstream press are keen to wrongly cite manga as one such example.

Read More... | Source: BBC News

Station Manager Cat saves company

Date: 2008 May 28th Wednesday [8:49] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News are running a delightful story about a stray cat who saved the day for a loss making Japanese railway. Tama was a stray cat and adopted as the mascot for Kishi station in western Japan. Two years ago the staff had to be axed, but she stayed and was promoted to station manager, and given her own office (which was previously a ticket booth).

The article states that she was born and raised at the station, in the city of Kinokawa, Wakayama prefecture. The feline apparently has the perfect temperament for a mascot and it happy to let people pet her.

Tama has spawned her own range of popular merchandise, including a picture book "Diary of Tama, the Station Master", and has been credited with returning the railway company to profit.

Phew, I managed to write this article without a single Lolcat reference.

Source: BBC News

Japanese parrot talks his way home

Date: 2008 May 22nd Thursday [15:54] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

BBC News have an amusing story about a stray parrot in Japan, who was reunited with his owner after repeating his name and address. The red-tailed African Grey parrot called Yosuke was taken in by the police and then taken to the local veterinary clinic.

Yosuke greeted people, sung popular children's songs and started to repeat his name and address. Police were then able to match these details to the parrots owner, who had taught the parrot how to recite its name and address.

Source: BBC News

Free Anime Released to Raise Awareness of Abduction

Date: 2008 April 16th Wednesday [15:25] | Posted By: Voxie
Category: > Anime

The Japanese government have produced and have released an anime to raise awareness of Japanese citizens being abduction by North Koreans.

"Story: In 1977, Ms. Megumi Yokota, a 13-year-old girl, disappeared on her way home from school. It was revealed later on that she was abducted by North Korea. This film features the anguish of Megumiís family and their desperate effort to bring her back home."

An English version is available! Check it out at:

Source: Japan Probe

Dating Classes for Geeks

Date: 2008 February 18th Monday [14:46] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

Wired are running an interesting story about a Japanese Pick Up school for geeks, they don't use the word otaku, but we all know who they're talking about.

Satoshi Fujita's Pickup School for Men Who Can't get Any helps geeky males to get ladies. It sounds like a set up for a quirky sitcom, but the date doctor has all sorts of tricks and techniques up his sleeves after a decade of careful research.

The Tokyo evening classes seem popular with more than a hundred students a month being taught in his classes with interesting subjects such as How to Use Magic to Gain Popularity and How to Seduce Women.

Source: Wired

Akira gets bad press

Date: 2008 January 21st Monday [22:06] | Posted By: Voxie
Category: > Current Affairs

A Sun article on the case regarding Meredith Kercher's death last November points out that suspect Raffaele Sollecito has the words "AKIRAFUGA" as his computer's password.

"The court was told the password for his computer is AKIRAFUGA. Akira is a character in violent sado-masochistic Manga comics.

Fuga is Italian for flee. One Akira story relates how the 'hero' ran after trying to rape students.

Sollecito was remanded in custody. "

I think some further analagy is needed on the term "akira" here...

Read More... | Source: The Sun Online

Japanese priests have day jobs to keep shrines going

Date: 2008 January 20th Sunday [16:35] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

The Mainichi Daily News is reporting that a growing number of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines have started to run profitable side businesses to keep things afloat. It's common for religions in Japan to run businesses with socially redeeming characters, such as schools, but now it seems that the clergy are keen to tap into the "elderly and woman markets".

The article states:
"Bald bonzes are now plugging Buddhist-style beauty in Kyoto, while a Shinto Shrine in Saitama Prefecture is making a killing operating a hot spring resort where everybody strips off and bathes together."

It seems that it's been hard to keep many temples and shrines afloat, with many shrines inherited from parents, the new owners have developed a sense of crisis about the future of the family business. It seems unless you're running a venue in a popular tourist area many temples and shrines have had trouble getting donations.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

Fake is Japanese word of the year for 2007

Date: 2008 January 6th Sunday [16:25] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

The Japan Times, has an interesting article about the word fake (nisei) being named kanji of the year for 2007 by the Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation. It seems that political and commercial fakery has gone too far in Japan in 2007. The article highlights several instances in Japan where the food industry has been less than perfect, including the bacterial contamination of Fujiya cakes, Shiroi Koibito falsifying sell-by dates by up to two months on its cookies, Meat hope selling a meet blend claiming to be 100% beef as a cost cutting measure, and the trend for up market restaurant chain Senba Kitcho selling normal supermarket grade chicken as an exclusive poultry delicacy.

Source: The Japan Times

Japanese Government believe in UFOs

Date: 2007 December 18th Tuesday [13:16] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News have published a rather bizarre story about the Japanese governments stance of UFOs. A member of the opposition asked the Japanese government what its policy was to deal with UFOs, however under Japanese rules they could not ignore the question and issued a statement. Apparently if a flying saucer is spotted in Japanese airspace a fighter would be scrambled to get visual confirmation.

It also stated that most alerts turned out to be birds or other objects. The article highlights that Japan has not yet planned what to do if aliens do arrive (we're pondering if the Japanese government are waiting for confirmation about what kind of aliens would arrive, if they're like the Angels from Evangelion that's one thing, but if they're like Digi Charat that's another).

Japan's chief government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura, confirmed he believed that they were "definitely" real, while Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda when asked about alien spaceships said he had "not yet confirmed" whether they existed. This of course is not a straight yes or no, and the Otaku News crew wonder if the Japanese government know something the general public don't. ^_-

Source: BBC News

Virtual Idol Proves to be big in Japan

Date: 2007 December 11th Tuesday [16:27] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Gaming

The Mainichi Daily News have published an interesting story about some new software that allows users to create their own songs and have them performed by a virtual idol singer. This sounds a bit like a real world example of Sharon Apple to us!

The software Vocaloid 2 Hatsune Miku uses computer-generated vocals mixed with an actual human voice (supplied by voice actress Saki Fujita). It can be configured to perform any song and has proved to be a big hit with people wanting to create their own virtual idol generated songs.

The article states that the software is especially popular with the middle aged, even though it's priced at 16,000 yen (145 USD / 72 GBP) to appeal to the teen market.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

Hikonyan in copyright dispute

Date: 2007 December 1st Saturday [14:40] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

Following on from earlier reports. The Mainichi Daily News are currently running a story about the copyright dispute around Hikonyan the cat. The iconic cat was designed as a mascot for Hikone Castle, however he was so cute he became a national hit across Japan.

The cat was made an honorary citizen of Hikone and has created an entire industry of merchandise, this partly because the Hikone Municipal Government's decision to make the licensing rights to Hikonyan free of charge. Apparently the unknown designer of the cat is fuming. The original designer did receive 1 million yen prize money for his winning design. Copyright experts don't think the creator has much chance of getting any control over Hikonyan as there were no detailed discussions in advance for what the character could be used for.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

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