It is now 72 years since the Pacific War ended yet issues related to the Japanese military’s vicious behaviour in Asia still persist. One of these issues is that of the so-called ‘comfort women’ a term referring to women who were forced to provide sexual service to Japanese soldiers at military brothels in Japan s occupied territories between 1932 and 1945.
The bonsai tree shown here is kept at the US National Arboretum in Washington, having been donated in 1976 as a gift to the United States by Bonsai master Masaru Yamaki. This particular tree is a white pine (pinus parvifolia). What makes this tree somewhat special is first its age:
A new company in Kyushu, southern Japan has used the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to fund a new product named Air Bonsai – bonsai trees are suspended in the air! The Air Bonsai system uses small magnets to suspend a charming fist-sized moss or lavastone covered bonsai plant two centimeters in the air above special ceramic dishes of fragments of lava rock. The missing ingredient for your home, right?
Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Games by promising that 28 of the 31 competition venues would be held within a five-mile radius of the Olympic village. Originally, only shooting, modern pentathlon and one football venue were to be outside it. But costs have already quadrupled since then. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is seeking to move some of the events to other cities that already have stadiums built.
Recently in Osaka, Japanese police closed down a restaurant serving fugu, known in English as blowfish. Also known as pufferfish, it gets its name from its ability to expand its body in order to deter predators. The chefs who prepare fugu are among the most highly trained in Japan because a single mistake in preparation could kill a customer. The ovaries in particular, but also the liver and intestines, are potentially lethal. In 1975 a famed kabuki actor died after he insisted on eating blowfish liver. Since 2000, over two dozen people have died, mainly fishermen who caught the fish and insisted on preparing it themselves.
The gingko tree can be seen planted by the side of roads all over Tokyo. Its fan-shaped leaf is the official symbol of the Tokyo Metropolitan area. The leaves change to a brilliant yellow before falling in late November/early December. Gingkoes can also be widely seen in Manhattan and in Seoul. As the tree originates in China, it thought that they were originally planted abroad by Korean and Chinese immigrants.
A Japanese company that began life as a renowned temple builder has gone bankrupt. Not so unusual, except that this company, commissioned by the Japanese royal family, when Buddhism was becoming popular in Japan, began building temples in 578 AD.
In November, a wooden ship with seven decomposed bodies in it was found floating off the coast of the Japan Sea. It was spotted by fishermen in the strait that separates Korea and Japan.
According to recent report by Kyodo News Agency, people aged 65 or over are committing more crimes than teenagers. In fact the elderly crime rate has doubled since 2003. This rise is due to bad economic conditions as well as welfare cuts. One quarter of the Japanese population is over 65.
The latest fad coming to Japan, combining cuteness and technology, is the Hugvie, a human-shaped pillow with a skin-like texture, with slot in its head for a mobile phone. The user then carries on a conversation with a friend while hugging the soft robot.