Raymond Chuang comments

Posted in: Should strong-smelling foods be banned from bullet trains? See in context

Let's see how long before various JR companies that run Shinkansen trains will require ekiben sellers to specifically label foods that are allowed on the Shinkansen. And the labeling has to be done in both Japanese and English.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Motorcyclist arrested for assaulting taxi driver See in context

I'm actually surprised incidents like this don't occur MORE often, given the narrow streets of many parts of Tokyo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Toyo Tire unveils airless tire See in context

Michelin over a decade ago showed something similar, but it appears durability is still an issue for such a radical tire design.

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Posted in: 40 passengers, driver escape bus fire in Aichi See in context

That must have been quite a engine fire to completely gut the bus like this. Kudos to the driver for getting everyone off the bus quickly, though.

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Posted in: Heat wave continues across Japan See in context

What makes summers in Japan so miserable is the 60-plus percent humidity that accompanies temperatures of over 30 degrees C. (86 degrees F.). Small wonder why window and split air conditioners are so common in central to western Japan. And it explains why many Japanese who can afford it have second homes in Hokkaido for the summer or vacation there.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Struggling Legoland Japan will shut down for two days a week starting in fall See in context

In the end, the location of Legoland in Nagoya may prove to be its undoing. Why? Because within the city of Nagoya itself, there are not that many tourist attractions that appeal to foreigners to start with besides the Noritake Garden and the SCMaglev railroad museum. Tokyo Disneyland/Disney Sea and Universal Studios Japan benefit from the huge number of foreign tourists in the Kanto Plain and Keihanshin region in addition to easy access from the #1 and #2 populated areas of Japan. (Indeed, every now and then Japanese news programs run stories about why Nagoya isn't attractive to tourists, even from within Japan.)

Now, if Legoland Japan had been built in Saitama Prefecture or somewhere just east of Osaka, I think it would have been far more successful, in my opinion.

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Posted in: Universities outside big cities struggling to survive See in context

I'm not surprised at this. In fact, I expect most major universities in Japan to be located around mostly Sapporo, Sendai, the entire Kanto Plain, the Keihanshin region (Kyoto/Nara/Osaka/Kobe), Okayama, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka within the next 15-20 years.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Koike, Piko Taro appear in video to promote LED bulbs See in context

There's a reason many of the light bulbs in my house are now LED. First, they use very little power for the amount of light--you get the equivalent of a 60 W incandescent light bulb with only circa 7 watts of power draw. Secondly, they don't generate anywhere near the heat of incandescent bulbs, so that saves on air conditioning in summer. Thirdly, they don't contain even small amounts of poisonous mercury like you have with compact fluorescent bulbs. Finally, LED bulbs are no longer expensive--I can get 60 W equivalent bulbs for around US$2 per bulb at a local retailer, and they last up to 50,000 hours.

By the way, LED lighting is now very popular for street lighting. They use a small fraction of the power consumption of gas-vapor lamps used for street lighting in the past, and the LED color temperature can be "tuned" to also reduce light pollution outside of urban areas, too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Brazil packed with travel riches, so why so few tourists? See in context

I think even with streamlined visa applications and lower airfare costs, the poor Brazilian economy and the public perception of a high crime rate are scaring potential foreign tourists away from the country.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: China's Xi says Silk Road plan boosts finance, security ties See in context

There is one major concern about this new Silk Road--it goes through some of the most politically unstable parts of the world and the sea route goes through areas with serious sea piracy problems. I'm actually surprised China didn't sign a major deal so its good travel through mostly Russia instead, for example paying for upgrades to the Trans-Siberian Railway to increase freight capacity.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo creates new logo, slogan to promote city overseas as prime tourist destination See in context

Here's the problem with this campaign: almost every building within central Tokyo post-date World War II. There are only a very small number of neighborhoods (most notably Yanesen, which is northwest of Ueno Park and reachable by a short walk west from JR East Nippori and Nishi-Nippori Stations) that survived the firebombing raids, and even these neighborhoods saw a lot of development post World War II. The slogan would be much more appropriate for Kyoto and Kanazawa, both of which have many historic buildings that are hundreds of years old.

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Posted in: 2 elderly women jump to their deaths on rail tracks See in context

THIS is why the passenger railroad companies plus both Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway are building platform barriers as fast as possible in the Tokyo region. Such barriers will be enough of a deterrent that station personnel will have enough time to stop these acts of suicide.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Posted in: McDonald’s adds wasabi and teriyaki sauces to their Chicken McNuggets in Japan See in context

I'm actually surprised McDonald's Japan didn't do this at least ten years ago....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan sees potential in solar power See in context

That's certainly the case on Honshu from Kyoto west and on all of Shikoku and Kyushu, where there are enough sunny days to justify such an investment (where's all the solar power installations on Shikoku and Kyushu?). But I'm not so sure on Honshu north of Sendai and on Hokkaido, where heavy snowstorms and long winters could make solar power a lot less effective (people forget that Hokkaido and much of the Sea of Japan side of Honshu get major snowstorms coming from Siberia in winter).

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Posted in: Aviation poised for 'third revolution': Airbus boss See in context

I think both Airbus and Boeing are already looking at replacements for the A320neo and 737 MAX that won't look anything like what we see now. The new airplanes that will be even quieter and burn far less fuel than before.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: New restaurant sightseeing bus offers gourmet meals on wheels See in context

I'm actually surprised that only now has Willer Express stepped forward to offer such an excursion tour--a tour that could go to the more remote scenic regions of Japan not reachable even by rail lines.

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Posted in: One woman's road to changing Japan’s image of British cuisine, one cake at a time. See in context

I think a lot of the issues with people looking down on British cuisine comes from the fact right across the English Channel is a country with one of the world's finest cuisines, that of France (we can thank Auguste Escoffier for that!).

If you look carefully, there are some important aspects of British cuisine that have become well-known--the breakfast of eggs, toast, some meats and potatoes comes from England, hence the name English breakfast. Indeed, crumpets and scones are a distinct English product that have become well-known worldwide (the so-called English muffin is kind of a crumpet derivative).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Pokemon Go fans glad Niantic addressing complaints See in context

There is one thing Niantic needs to do: get the servers for playing Pokemon Go running on a web hosting service deigned specifically for high-volume services, so the game runs reasonably smoothly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Would you support a complete ban on smoking in public places in Japan? See in context

Except for bars and izakaya restaurants, smoking should be banned at every public space in Japan. There's a reason why Starbucks took off in popularity in Japan: its strict smoking ban attracted a lot of customers, especially female--proof that a no-smoking food establishment does have a clear place in that country.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Posted in: Nintendo files suit against go-kart company MariCar See in context

I'm actually surprised Maricar didn't ask for Nintendo's permission in the first place. They could have set up operations in Kyoto (NIntendo's corporate headquarters are located there) and turned it into a major attraction for that city.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Apple 'spaceship' headquarters readies for boarding See in context

Apple built this new campus so they could centralize many of their employees there, primarily the divisions involved with iOS-based products (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and (as rumored) eventually a Siri-based assistant device). Apple will likely move many people involved in MacBook and iMac products to its current corporate headquarters also. In short, this will allow Apple to reduce the number of buildings needed to house its various divisions.

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Posted in: The good, bad and unknown about marijuana's health effects See in context

I think the days of smoking a joint may be coming to an end. There's good reason for this: smoking cannabis like you smoking a cigarette introduces a lot of really bad chemicals into your body--you're essentially inhaling smoke from a burning substance. The future will be the use of vaporizers, including the very small vaping devices.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Niigata governor tells TEPCO nuclear plant to stay shut See in context

I can understand why the Niigata government did this: in 1964, there was a major earthquake in Niigata that caused a lot more damage than anticipated because much of the land around Niigata city was highly vulnerable to a type of damage called liquefaction, where the ground shaking causes the building to literally collapse into the ground. They want to make sure the nuclear power plant literally does not sink into the ground in case of another major earthquake in the area.

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Posted in: Train driver says he can't remember overrunning platform by 220 meters See in context

This is why JR East has been testing in the Sendai area--and will soon implement throughout the the entire JR East system--a form of positive train control that will not only stop the train, but also control its speed between stations. That way, the train will automatically brake anyway as it approaches a scheduled station stop.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 5 things to do in Nagano City (that aren't winter sports) See in context

Until the then-Nagano Shinkansen opened in 1997, even relatively small numbers of Japanese visited that town for tourist reasons, mostly because it was a long train ride just to get there from Tokyo. But once the Shinkansen opened, the city became a bit of a tourist town--and now even more so with the full opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen all the way to Kanazawa.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Tokyo Metro employs megaphone translation tech at station near Harajuku See in context

I think an improved version of this special megaphone could be used at major train stations--particularly Tokyo, Kyoto, Sin-Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakata Stations, where large numbers of foreigners travel through.

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Posted in: 'Osechi ryori' - The meaning behind Japanese New Year food See in context

Making or buying osechi ryori used to be common but within the last 30 years, the rise of konbini and regular supermarkets that open just about all the way to December 31st has reduced its demand. The high price of a decent store-bought osechi box hasn't helped, things, either.

I wouldn't be more surprised nowadays that families during New Year's Day period in Japan are more likely to eat from a nabe pot or an oden pot instead at home, especially since you can get the ingredients almost right up to the last day of the year.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: KFC Japan's New Year box See in context

@Nippori Nick, while I understand you sentiment, the Japanese have taken to KFC in such a big way that they would take to something like this, especially given the eye-opening cost of a decent osechi-ryori box set nowadays.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Koike seeks to reduce crowding on trains during rush hour See in context

@GW, I couldn't agree more with your suggestion about "decentralizing" Tokyo corporate offices itself. They need to move corporate offices away from much of Tokyo inside the Yamonote Line loop or the Marunouchi district and put them in other Tokyo wards, southern Saitama Prefecture, western Chiba Prefecture and Kanagawa Prefecture.

I mean look at New York City. Many Wall Street firms are now putting up offices not on Manhattan, but on New Jersey side of the Hudson River, where there is a lot of space to grow.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Koike seeks to reduce crowding on trains during rush hour See in context

Particularly bad in terms of ridiculous overcrowding are the JR East Saikyo Line and the Tokyu Toyoko and Den-en-toshi Lines. They need to figure out a way to get the riders now using the Saikyo LIne to use more the "F-Liner" service via the Seibu Ikebukuro and Tobu Tojo Lines with runthrough on the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line and help Tokyu rebuild stations to run longer trains on the Den-en-toshi and Toyoko Lines.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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