Japan Today

mojibake comments

Posted in: A cut above the rest: Japan's legendary Kobe beef See in context

Seen at the Bellagio (Las Vegas) buffet: KOBE BEEF SIRLOIN CARVING STATION

It's a real shame that Kobe beef producers didn't trademark the product internationally.

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Posted in: Google opens smartphone wallets See in context

And everyone in the States is still busy asking, "Why would I ever want a wallet in my phone?"

It will take a while for them to come around, but they will.

Hope Google can roll it out for Japan soon.

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Posted in: Japan to build floating wind farm near Fukushima nuclear plant See in context

Sorry, my mistake. The proposal is for 6 x 2 MW turbines = 12 MW capacity.

So that's still 4684 MW less than Fukushima Daiichi would have produced. Not to mention the 4400 MW capacity of Fukushima Daini.

Ideas like this are great toy projects and positive steps, but the problem is that they distract from the real problem of generating capacity.

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Posted in: Japan to build floating wind farm near Fukushima nuclear plant See in context

That's 2 MW out of the 4696 MW capacity of Fukushima Daiichi. Great. Now just 4694 MW left to go...

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Posted in: Noda warns against yen's rise See in context

I have a dumb question: Many of you are saying that the gov't shouldn't pre-announce its interventions, as it gives the currency speculators information and means the gov't is giving money away when it intervenes.

But here's my dumb question: isn't it the other way around? The more they drop hints that they'll sell yen, the less incentive the speculators have to buy yen, since the value will be expected to drop soon. Thus, simply threatening to sell should help the gov't bring down the value of the yen, right?

So, then why shouldn't they give up as much information as possible about their interventions?

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Posted in: Yoko Ono says Japan should look to geothermal energy See in context

Yet another writer/artist pompously claiming to solve an engineering problem. Let's do some simple mythbusting math:

Total electrical demand: Iceland: 9,925 GWh Japan: 1,031,000 GWh

Area of Japan: 377,923 km^2 Area of Iceland: 100,329 km^2

Iceland generates 80% of its electricity from geothermal (7940 GWh). If Japan used geothermal just as intensively as Iceland, with 3.7x the land area, Japan could generate roughly 30,000 GWh -- a modest 30% of energy demand.

But that's assuming Japan is as geologically active throughout its entire land area as Iceland, and that those resources are just as exploitable as sparsely-populated Iceland. Neither is true, so the actual possible contribution of geothermal is probably much lower.

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Posted in: Toyota's pre-crash technology takes control of steering See in context

It also showed how parts of the rays from high-beam headlights could be blocked so that drivers could still see clearly what was ahead while headlights would appear to be on low beam to the driver in a car coming from the other direction.

THIS is the best technology of them yet. Would be interesting to know more. Could a car detect oncoming traffic in a video image and then block the parts of the headlight beam so as not to blind the other driver? That would really improve night-time safety and driver comfort...

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Posted in: Hotels test snore absorption room See in context

If you're sleeping like a baby, how do you know those people are up at 5am?

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Posted in: Panasonic develops tubes for geothermal electricity generation, waste heat recovery See in context

Why? Because this, like many products in Japan, are qualitatively promising but quantitatively impractical. Thermocouples have been around for a long time, but they generate only small amounts of power. This 10cm tube generates only 1.3 WATTS. You'd need 10 of them to power a single high-efficiency light bulb. And what's the environmental and monetary cost of manufacturing these?

Japan needs large-scale solutions that work, rather than 細かい details that suck human productivity for small gains. This type of tech is useful in niche field applications (powering a pump by geothermal heat, for instance), but it is not a solution for general use.

If Panasonic started making better insulated homes it would probably have more impact on long-term electrical consumption than making thermocouples.

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Posted in: Dictionary brainpower See in context

shirokuma, what was the name of that app?

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Posted in: Canned chardonnay See in context

It's not chardonnay as in wine, it's chu-hi made with 5% chardonnay grape juice. It says on the can that it's grape-flavoured, not wine-flavoured, so set your expectations accordingly! Personally, I think it tastes grapeity great.

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Posted in: How should airlines handle obese passengers? See in context

Airfares based on the total weight of passenger + luggage.

That would align the interests of the passenger with the airline's actual fuel costs and the environment. Then we can get rid of the byzantine array of baggage surcharges -- just put everything on the scale, pay the fare, and call it done.

Ah, for the day when roundtrip airfares would be quoted in a simple cost per kilogram...

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Posted in: The butterfly in the subway See in context

Ok, so you've discovered that America's public infrastructure has been stagnating and crumbling for the past few decades, while the rest of the world has moved on. Not just Japan, but Canada and Europe look at America's oddball phobia of anything remotely "socialist" and shake their heads in amazement.

It wasn't always this way, but thanks to the Tea Party's turnout in the elections, get ready for at least another two years of stagnation Stateside. They're Really Angry -- but at what? Precisely the progressive society you talk about in your article.

So I think the article is a nice description of the shock most Americans feel when they discover that not only Japan, but the rest of the world has moved on, but I bet many readers are going, "um, yeah."

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Posted in: Grounding the JETs See in context

"Many of us weren’t ALLOWED to do much more than read out of a textbook"

"Why not ALLOW JETs to work in museums, hospitals, shops, theaters and other places..."

Hogwash. JETs are ALLOWED to do pretty much whatever they please under the guise of "grassroots internationalization". Only a few ALTs are qualified, trained, and motivated enough to propose innovative lessons. But when they do, most supervisors -- and every placement has at least one keen licensed teacher -- are happy to work with the ALT on the lesson.

Rural JETs today fill a role that didn't exist in the eighties: providing hope and modernization to rural communities struggling with population decline.

The decision is up to the Japanese public, not us. Until that decision is made, individual JETs should focus on their jobs, not the peanut gallery debate.

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Posted in: In Japan, the wheels of progress turn slowly, especially on roads See in context

One interesting consequence of lower speed limits in Japan is that cars have lighter bumpers and less side impact protection than the same models abroad. This saves 30-100+ kg off the weight of the vehicle, improving fuel economy, resource use, and handling -- but it's a trade-off against high speed crash protection.

Personally, I don't think cars should be built like tanks. Raising the speed limits, as wonderful as that would be, would probably come with heavier cars.

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Posted in: Things Japanese girls do that make guys go, 'Huh?' See in context

Most of this applies to all women, not just Japanese women. Except #6.

They spend 1/4 of their lives doing laundry and treat underwear as if it were plans to blow up the UN.

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Posted in: Generations See in context

"mojibake, I don't think Apaman is related to APA group. If you don't have direct evidence showing otherwise, then tell us why you though so."

It's listed here: http://www.apa.co.jp/outline/outline01.html

The latest essay is "If you want peace, then prepare for war." http://www.apa.co.jp/appletown/bigtalk/index.html

The thing is, Apa Group operates more above-the-board than most of the other right-wing supporters, even taking the trouble to post stuff in English for our "benefit". The businesses we should really be worried about are the ones who quietly funnel cash to the guys in the photo. Fortunately, we have stuff like JT to help us share the info...

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Posted in: Generations See in context

Actually, they do have real lives and jobs, and importantly, connections to sources of funding that enable them to operate.

You might even be unknowingly contributing to their operating funds. Remember this story?


If you've ever stayed at an Apa Hotel or used the Apaman real estate agency, you've probably indirectly supported them. One of the nationwide ramen chains is also a big contributor.

Stay informed about the companies with which you do business...

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Posted in: Maiko Itai looks to the universe See in context

Interesting comment, borscht. I got the same impression but you articulated it with citations. :)

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Posted in: Sign of the times See in context

Relax, it's just a back rub with scented oils.

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Posted in: Cop arrested for breaking into female cop’s apartment in Chiba See in context

Just another story about those keystone J-cops...

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Posted in: Japan commits $25 million to international rice research See in context

hollywood1: huh? There is no shortage of rice in Japan. The self-sufficiency rate is over 90%, and demand continues to drop. Instead of being recklessly paved over as you say, Japan's mini-mini mom and pop rice paddies enjoy subsidies and protection unheard of in the rest of the world. Nevermind that they are an incredibly inefficient way to use farmland and human resources, and produce enough greenhouse gas (methane) to easily offset any gains from Japan's obsessive-compulsive carbon dioxide reduction culture.

The article attributes Japan's "70% higher" rice yield (probably per unit area) to R&D and public investment. But the elephant in the room is that better things might have been achieved with that land, money, and human resource.

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Posted in: Sanya: A travel guide to Tokyo’s coolest ghetto See in context

Why are you all hating on this article? I found it pretty interesting and a refreshing change from the regurgitated press releases that usually haunt this section.

It's original, interesting, and reasonably balanced for what it's worth.

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Posted in: Skyliner train to make Tokyo-Narita run in 36 minutes See in context

This is great if you live near Ueno, but the rest of us can look forward to doubling that travel time schlepping through the depths of Tokyo.

Narita sucks, it always has and it always will. Looking forward to the expansion of Haneda.

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Posted in: Japan urged to sign accord against parental abductions See in context

The risk of losing custody of a child to the other parent: think of it as punishment to the crime of producing a child in a relationship that couldn't support one. Return or no return, by the time the situation has deteriorated thusly, it's a zero-sum game.

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Posted in: U.S. airman spots aircraft fuel leak at 35,000 feet on Narita-bound flight See in context

"After alerting the pilots and aircrew, the ranking pilot made the decision to divert the flight to San Francisco." <-- my 6th grade grammar teacher is shaking her finger, I just know it.

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Posted in: How to enjoy Kyoto for free See in context

Way to make yourself out to be a gaijin loser. Pilfering food samples with no intent to buy? Turning a geisha's work into some kind of cheap carnival photo-op? Have some class, people.

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Posted in: Fiat is out to create automotive powerhouse See in context

Yes, because the Italians build reliable cars, the British make excellent food, the French sure work hard, and the Japanese ... well, just look at the other comments on JT to learn what the Japanese are good at.

Remember the Yugo? That was the brilliant combination of Fiat engineering and Soviet-era manufacturing. With that history in mind, a Fiat/GM/Chrysler marriage sounds oddly brilliant.

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Posted in: How would you rate Narita airport when compared to other major airports around the world? See in context

Isn't there a curse on Narita airport from the Chiba farmers who vigorously defended the merits of a few households growing rice over that of a couple million air travellers?

I wonder how close the new JR alignment comes to the dynamited Narita Shikansen's original route...

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Posted in: Single mothers, squeezed by recession, turning to prostitution as last resort See in context

You people are discussing this article as if it was some scholarly comment on Japanese society. It's not, it's the kuchikomi section. You know, those same weekly rags that publish those "101 ways OLs secretly wish they were sexually harassed by the boss" lists.

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