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Air Bonsai

Levitating Bonsai Trees

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?

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Tokyo Olympic Stadium

Cost Overshoot for 2020 Olympics

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.

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Loyalty and the 47 Ronin

47 Ronin Tokyo Standing
47 Ronin Tokyo Closeup
47 Ronin Tokyo Warriors Through Gate
47 Ronin Tokyo Head On Pole
47 Ronin Tokyo Banner
47 Ronin Tokyo Single File
47 Ronin Tokyo Graves
47 Ronin Tokyo Graves 2
47 Ronin Tokyo Asano Grave
47 Ronin Tokyo Asano Grave Name
47 Ronin Tokyo Oishi Nameplate
47 Ronin Tokyo Sengakuji Poster

The true story of the 47 Ronin (masterless samurai) is one of the most famous in Japan. It is a tale adapted into countless kabuki plays, bunraku puppet shows, woodblock prints, and later films and television shows. Fictionalized versions of the story are known as Chushingura, and continue to be very popular to this day. It is based on an incident that happened during Japan’s feudal era.

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Blowfish Japan

Fugu – The Fish More Deadly than Cyanide

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.

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Ginko Leaf Japan

The Ginkgo Tree: A Link to the Dinosaurs

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.

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All photos and text copyright © Tony Smyth