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Topic: Japan Discussion

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RR529

681. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! This week's theme was calculators!

First, they visited one of the fastest calculator typers in Japan. She can type 9 keys per second, all without looking. She's so proficient at her job, that in addition to doing her own work, she checks the work of her peers as well. Her (and two of her friends) won a calculator competition, that tests typing speed & accuracy (there were over 200 competitors).

There are "Calculator Clubs" in schools, where students can hone their calculating skills (sometimes class runs from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.). There is a method to their madness, as the thumb is always assigned to the 0 key, index finger assigned to the first two rows, middle finger to middle row, ring finger to last two rows, and small finger to = key. They work tirelessly until they can memorize it without looking.

The abacus was first introduced to Japan from China around 400 years ago, and was used as the primary calculating tool in the country until fairly recently. In 1955, to meet the demands of the booming Japanese economy, hand cranked mechanical calculators were first introduced from the west (they were slower than an abacus, but were more user friendly). In 1964, the same year the world's fare was held in Tokyo, Casio brought the world's first electronic calculator to the world (although it was too expensive for commercial use). After some refining, it was ready for sale to businesses (although still too expensive for the household). In 1972, they finally were able to introduce a compact calculator for the home, which cost a little under ¥13,000 (the business models ran around ¥55,000, which was slightly more than the average family's annual income). Sharp soon gave them stiff competition, as a year later they introduced the first calculator with a LCD display (being cheaper, and only half as thick). They weren't content with stopping there, as they than removed the use for batteries, by integrating solar panels, making an even thinner model. This led to a war between Casio & Sharp in the 70's & 80's, culminating with Casio's release of a credit card sized calculator in 1983, that achieved it's small size by forgoing screws to be held together by a super strong adhesive.

As it stands, many of the technologies we use today, such as LCD TVs, and Solar Panels used for energy, were spearheaded by the Japanese calculator industry of way back when. Japan is still a world leader in calculators, with over 30 countries still using primarily Japanese calculators.

They than visited someone who collects unique calculators, such as one that looks like a chocolate bar, one made out of bamboo, a squishy one, one that looks like a typewriter, and many more (she has over 80 in her collection).

Graphing calculators have been a sensitive subject in the Japanese education system, with some claiming kids need to use them in school due to their real world use, while others claim they hamper students' ability to truly master arithmetic, since they'll rely on the tool. They did showcase a classroom, where students are learning to use them in a fun way.

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RR529

682. Posted:

I saw a news story recently, where in Japan, there has been an alarming surge in Pink Eye cases, and for the longest time health officials & authorities have been clueless about what's going on.

As it turns out, there is a new trend going around Japanese middle schools, where students are making out by licking each other's eyes (found out by a teacher unfortunate enough to walk in on two students), revealed to be the culprit of the outbreak...

Teenagers, dumb worldwide, lol.

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RR529

683. Posted:

J-Melo was on tonight! It's part one of a two part Turkey special, where they're located in Istanbul.

They travelled around talking with Turkish people who fans of Japanese pop-culture (especially music). They also showed brief music video clips from requests.

Also, their Turkish fans even sung some of their favorite Japanese songs.

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684. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight! It was a repeat episode, where they covered Phantasy Star Online 2 (an episode I covered in depth in comment 670).

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685. Posted:

Journeys in Japan was on today! They visited the areas around Mt. Fuji.

They first visited Fuji Milk Land, one of the many dairy farms around the foot of the mountain. Feel free to pet & feed the livestock.

They also gave a brief mention to Spa Fuji Yurari, which is known for it's hot spring with a spectacular view of the mountain.

They also hiked through a forest at the foot of the mountain, that has grown on top of an old volcanic flow. In order to protect the environment, you must stick to the paths & you can't do as much as take a single pebble or leaf (also, compass' are useless here, as the magnetite in the soil messes with them). There is also a cave on the grounds, and it never gets above 6ºC inside, even in the summer. Magnificent ice stalagmites grow on the inside, but be careful, as the cave is slippery.

There is lots of underground water, as the porous volcanic rock allows it to soak in. Lots of spring water pops up in the winter, thanks to the pressure added by snow. There are lots of waterfalls in the area thanks to this.

They then went to an old shrine built 1,200 years ago, built for what they used to believe was the god of the mountain. In ancient times, people would bathe in the spring water here, before making a pilgrimage up the mountain. To this day, visitors are allowed to partake in this spring water.

They then went to a park built around Kakitagawa River, which is made up of Mt. Fuji spring water, created after an eruption 8,000 years ago.

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micronean

686. Posted:

I've lived and worked here in Japan for a few years now, and there's plenty out there for the video game fan--especially nintendo. But the customs, etiquette, paperwork, and red tape, leave a lot to be desired. Also, it can get cold in winter.

micronean

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RR529

687. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered the cycling manga Yowamushi Pedal. Serialized in Shonen Champion, it first appeared in 2008, has moved 4.3 million copies, and has been collected into 28 volumes (20 dedicated to a single race) . It has been adapted into a stage play, and is getting an anime adaptation this year. The series follows Sakamichi Onoda, your stereotypical high school "otaku", who upon arrival to his first day at school, notices the anime club has been disbanded. A fellow freshman (and member of the cycling team) notices that Onoda rides his bike extremely fast, and even outpaces him on his racing bike. As it turns out, Onoda has unwittingly trained himself for intense bike riding, by biking to Akihabara nearly every day since grade school. He soon finds himself a member of the school's cycling team, hoping to earn the top ranking. The series was inspired by it's creators' own cycling hobby.

Side Theme: They quickly mentioned the upcoming platforming game Sayonara Umihara Kawasi (3DS), and upcoming RPG Toukiden (Vita).

Creator's Interview: They interviewed Yutaro Sawada. He is most known for his stop motion animation, such as Encounters with That Kind. He has had an interest in figures since he was a kid, and used to collect Gundam toys.

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RR529

688. Posted:

Tokyo Eye was on today! It was a repeat (the episode where they covered areas of interest around the Chuo Line).

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689. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! They talked about the role of television in Japanese life.

About half of the programs on Japanese TV are variety programs, while the average Japanese person watches 3.5 hours of TV a day, and 17.5 hours a week (while the US comes in second, at 15.8 hours a week).

While American television is dominated by private providers (Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC, etc.), and Europe television is dominated by public providers (BBC, etc), Japanese television combines both, with the public NHK, and private companies like TV Tokyo & Asahi TV.

They covered the TV watching habits of 3 families in Japan. A two parent household with one child (10 hours a day), an elderly couple (9 hours a day), and a single mother with two children (7.5 hours a day. Not sure if they included time while children were playing Wii).

To talk about TV's history in Japan, they first started talking about the man who invented the CRT TV. While most other researchers at the time were working on mechanical devices which rapidly switched photos, he made an electronic TV, producing the first CRT image in 1926. Throughout the years he perfected his project, and rudimentary products were going to hit the scene in 1940 (to cover the Tokyo Olympics), but due to WWII, the event was cancelled, and he was put to work developing radar. He resumed work after the end of the war, and in 1953, the nation's first television broadcast occured.

That first broadcast reached only 900 homes in & around Tokyo, and TV adoption rates were slow, as they cost around ¥170,000 (eclipsing the average family's income of ¥80,000 a year). This led to broadcasters putting TVs in store windows, where people closely gathered to watch live baseball, sumo, & kabuki. Throughout the decade, as living conditions improved, and as technology got cheaper, the TV became a staple in the Japanese home, alongside the electric washer & refrigerator. Tokyo Tower was constructed in 1958, and in 1959 the crown prince's wedding parade made TV sales jump, resulting in 15 million people watching it (84% share of viewers). Color TVs were introduced to Japan in 1960, and sales went through the roof in 1964, as the Olympics were finally held in the nation.

They then went to an electronics store, to talk about modern products, such as a water proof TV that's meant to be put in the bathroom (so people can continue to watch sporting events as they bathe, and can keep children entertained in the tub). They also showed off 4K displays, which have 4X as many pixels as current HD sets (so 8,000,000 instead of the current 2,000,000).

They then went to where new TV tech is developed, such as new "glasses' free" 3D sets that don't require a "sweet spot" (You'll be able to view the effect from any angle, and it'll "pop" differently, based on the angle you're viewing it from, like real life). They also showed off a "High Vision" (HV) set, which will have 16X as many pixels as current HD, and is set to be publicly available by 2020.

They finished off by visiting the NHK Museum of Broadcasting, which showed various TVs & TV cameras throughout history.

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690. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: The anime Dogs & Scissors, which instead of a manga, is based on a 6 volume light novel. The story follows Kazuhito, a teenage bookworm who is shot during a robbery at his favorite café, but as he is dying, he regrets the fact that he would no longer be able to read books by his favorite author. Then a book appears before him, but before he can grab it, it turns into a dog, and he fades into the light. He soon wakes up however, in the body of a Miniature Dachshund. He's then adopted by a woman, who is a crazy novelist who will do anything for a story (and is his favorite author to boot). For some unknown reason, she can talk to him, and likes to punish him with a pair of scissors. They then decide to track down the criminal who killed Kazuhito. They then went behind the scenes of the creation of the anime.

Side Theme: They briefly covered the second movie of Gintama (a popular anime & manga series), which will end the current arc of the anime, and will release July 6th. They also covered Yokai Watch, an upcoming JRPG coming exclusively to 3DS, that's based on the manga of the same name.

Creator's Interview: They interviewed Junya Nishioka, who is known for the unique art styles he employs in the music videos, commercials, and children's books he makes.

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691. Posted:

Journeys In Japan was on today! This week, they decided to take a look at Osaka's art scene.

First, they visited an Ukiyoe wood block print museum. This is a uniquely Japanese art, and the most famous works are from the Tokyo area, but Osaka wood prints are unique in that they often portray theatre actors, as Osaka was a big Kabuki town in old times (in fact, this very museum is located where the theatres used to be located). The host then demonstrated how these art works are made (as he is a local Ukiyoe artist).

They then visited a couple of antique shops. One featured more modern items from around 75-100 years ago, the other featured some truly ancient pieces (even ones up to 1000 years old), such as an ancient Noh mask (which would probably be behind glass, if it were in a museum). They also mentioned that there are lots of second hand kimono shops in this neighborhood.

They then took a walk down a river walk, that is lined with abstract sculptures.

Finally, the host got together with a local up & coming artist, who makes art out of garbage that washes up on shore (from the many rivers that flow through the city). As garbage is dead, he likes to make it "come alive", by crafting it into living creatures, like an armadillo made out of a crushed volleyball & computer keys. The host & artist gathered some garbage at the river bank, then crafted it to look like the host.

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692. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered the 13 episode television anime Eccentric Family, which is based on a 2007 novel. The novel was written by the man who also authored Tatami Galaxy (which has also been adapted into an anime). The anime adaptation was illustrated by the artist who makes the Goodbye Mr. Despair manga. It premiered at the famed Minami-Za theatre in Kyoto. It follows the exploits of a family of Tanuki (Japanese raccoons), as they live amongst humans (as in folklore, they can disguise themselves into human form), and interact with a couple of local Tengu (another creature from Japanese folklore). It takes place in modern Kyoto, and many real world locations are featured in the series, in great detail (they then went behind the scenes, to see how it was made). They hope to see it expand to overseas markets.

Side Theme: They briefly covered the upcoming RTS game Pikmin 3 (Wii U), and the upcoming anime film Short Peace (an anime compilation similar to the Guild series of video games, where five famed anime directors each contributed a short film to the package).

Creator's Interview: They interviewed Nodoka Shinomaru, a newly introduced shojo manga artist. Her current serialization centers around Udon noodles & Tanuki.

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693. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! This week's theme was Expressways.

Started in the 1960's, Japan's expressway system has become an important part of the country's infrastructure, and are run by private companies.

Japan's expressways are toll based, and have some of the most expensive toll prices in the world (due in part to the private parties needing profit, the cost of land is at a premium in the small nation, and special architecture needs to be in place to work around Japan's mountainous nature).

There are positives to the toll system, however, such as build quality that can't be matched by the red tape & bureaucracy of government run highway systems, and the many "Service Centers" built along the expressways. Service Centers often have a concierge desk (pointing you to local sightseeing spots), large food court, and elaborate rest lobbys & restrooms that are built with a hotel quality. Certain centers have attractions unique to their location, such as a miniature amusement park, aquarium, dog park, beach, performing seal show, barbecue, and a foot soaking café found at different locations. The costs of these attractions are able to be offered at bargain prices, due to the profit made from the toll itself.

There is evidence showing that Japan's first road system was built in the 7th century (similar to the famous roads of ancient Rome), but they wouldn't get roads for vehicles until the 1900's. However, these roads were narrow, and not paved, so rain would make them a muddy mess. After WWII, it was decided that the nation needed an expressway system, so work got underway in 1958, with the first expressway opening up in 1965. At the time, Japanese made vehicles weren't very reliable, but due to the new expressways, safety & quality were soon improved, and they started to export vehicles to the world stage (the rest is history).

They then covered traffic congestion. It's commonly caused by road repairs or accidents, but can be caused by high traffic due to a holiday, or even traffic going uphill. The best way to avoid congestion is to consult "congestion forecasts", which can be found at every Service Center.

They then showcased some vehicles used in repairing the expressway. The newest being a truck that has sixteen cameras on it's body, that take 30 high quality pictures per second, and an infrared laser scanner. These are particularly helpful when renovating & fixing tunnels, as it can cut down inspection time from a month to a week (meaning impeding traffic less). The cameras can spot cracks as thin as 0.2 mm thick, and the infrared scanner can sense pressure (which can't be seen by the cameras). The info is turned into a 3D image, where workers can find out what needs repairing more quickly. They played an important role in assessing tunnels after the 2011 earthquake disaster.

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694. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: the Shojo anime series Fanasista Doll. Despite being a family friendly show, it will air at midnight, as they are allowed more freedom with their content at that time slot, and they're expecting just as many adults to watch it as children. It follows a middle school student who obtains mysterious cards, which she can use to summon various "dolls" into battle, against strange opponents, who have similar abilities. The producer formally worked on anime such as Gun Sword and Code Geass. A manga spin-off and a smartphone app have been released prior to the debut of the anime, in order to build hype. They hope to bring it overseas.

Side Theme: They mentioned the 2D action RPG Dragon's Crown (PS3/Vita), from Atlus, and Xblaze Code: Embryo (PS3/Vita), a spin-off of the Blazblue fighting series, from Arc System Works.

Creator's Interview: They interviewed Hanayo Hanatsu, creator of the hit manga, Call me CA, a story about a flight attendant.

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INFERCLAW

695. Posted:

My mom s cousin live and got married in japan last summer when they came to lebanon they braught me 15 limited edition pokemon figures!!!!!!!

I HAVE A LOT OF SHINY ( KALOS BORN ( some of them ~35 are 5/6 ivs )AND NOT KALOS BORN) I'L TRADE THEM ONLY FOR SHINY KALOS BORN 5/6 ivs POKES I DON'T HAVE

3DS Friend Code: 4871-4094-0555 | Nintendo Network ID: polpolch

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scrubbyscum999

696. Posted:

I love Japan and I want to visit there at least once in my life, but I don't think I could live there. Im sure it would be weird for them to see a African American foreigner EVERYDAY plus Im not one for following the crowd or trying to suppress strong opinions that aren't popular.

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RaReRuX

697. Posted:

Got my Japanese version of よつばと!(Yotsubato) volume 1 and ニノ国 (Ni No Kuni) DS in the mail today! I've finished よつばと!, and I plan on starting NNK later today.
Also, Ni No Kuni's case is huge. I expected it to be large so that it could fit the book in, but I didn't expect it to be this big.

~

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RR529

698. Posted:

On a topical note, it appears the current controlling party of the Japanese government wants to make some big amendments to the country's constitution.

Firstly, they want to make it easier to amend the constitution. Right now it requires a 2/3 vote of the Diet to approve an amendment, but they want the requirement to be less strict, so are proposing a change to a simple majority rule.

Secondly, they want do away with the amendment that states the nation can't have a military, with the goal of transforming the JSDF (Japan Self Defense Force) into a fully fledged military unit.

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699. Posted:

Journeys in Japan was on today! This week, they went to Kobe.

During the late 1800's, when Japan first opened to the west, Kobe was on the leading edge, with many western businesses setting up shop in the city. Many of these old buildings are still up, and are open to tourists.

Because of the city's western influence, it's no surprise that Jazz was first introduced to Japan through Kobe, and that the nation's first homegrown professional Jazz band was formed here in the late 1920's.

The host visited Kobe Jazz Street, a historic location, where there are still 10 Jazz clubs operating today. While there, the host visited Club Sone, and listened to a live performance.

He then visited Mokuba's Tavern Café, a "Jazz Kissa". Jazz's popularity boomed in the 60's in Japan, but there weren't many opprotunities to listen to live music in the nation, so the "Jazz Kissa" was invented, where customers could listen to records while they ate. This particular establishment has over 10,000 records, and the owner & host listened to a few tracks over a cup of coffee.

The then took a nighttime tour of the city, in a London Jazz Cab. It's a popular business in the city, where you're driven around the city in a classic London style taxi, while listening to soothing Jazz.

They then talked about the major earthquake that hit the city back in 1995. 6,400 lives, and 250,000 buildings were lost in the disaster, but Jazz helped the city to heal. The host travelled to a Jazz club that had been destroyed by the quake, and when it reopened, many local & international Jazz artists offered to perform a benefit concert. The owner of the club believes that Kobe can stand up to any troubles, as long as it's people have Jazz to encourage & comfort them.

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micronean

700. Posted:

Kobe is a real beautiful city. It's neighbour to Osaka, but it's also very different with many parks and trees. Osaka is an awesome place, but it's really an urban jungle.

micronean