Archive for the 'Health' Category

Cremation ash urns use rack retrieval storage and ID card access

Private viewing booth at indoor tomb at Dentouin Akasaka Jouen in TokyoBuddhist temples in Japan that have run out of graveyard space for tombs are turning to high-tech storage solutions for ashes of the deceased.

In Japan, cremation is the norm and remains of the dead are kept in urns stored in a stone tomb on a family plot in a graveyard. The outdoor tombs have limited space for expansion. Rather than using the traditional method where each urn is displayed in a permanent spot, the new columbariums store the ashes out of site on multilevel racks, and then use a mechanical system to bring the urns out when loved ones come to visit. These storage racks have been installed in existing buildings on temple grounds, or specially designed facilities located on the grounds, or in temple-run buildings located off-site.


Unryuin temple in Kyoto is one location that offers computer-controlled movable storage of ash urns. Similar to an ATM, a contactless ID card and touchscreen control the functions of the indoor altar. Glass partitions create booth-like private spaces for privacy. The price of the perpetual memorial starts at JPY 893,000 which includes management fees, temple fees, biannual prayer service and a steady supply of flowers and incense.


Contactless ID card opens indoor tomb door at Dentouin Akasaka Jouen in Tokyo Row of partitions dividing cremated remains storage areas at cemetery Dentouin Akasaka Jouen in Tokyo, Japan Private viewing booth at indoor tomb at Dentouin Akasaka Jouen in Tokyo


Some of these high tech vaults add to the ambiance by displaying a photo of the loved one accompanied by music when transporting the urn out of storage.


Computer Controlled Automatic Cremation Urn Transfer System Toyota Industries Corp Computer Controlled Automatic Cremation Urn Transfer System Komyoji temple rein in Japan

Ryogoku-Ryouen mausoleum in Tokyo

The Computer Controlled Automatic Cremation Urn Transfer System was developed and manufactured by Toyota Industries Corporation. Storage of 7000 urns is possible in a structure on a 50 square meter site. (more…)

Beauty face pack masks looks like Kabuki facial expressions

Face cream facial mask looks like kabuki actor makeup Japan Beauty face packs that look like the facial contortions of Kabuki performers are being sold by a company that specializes in Kabuki-related products.

The face pack patterns mimic the bright striped makeup worn by the actors in the bold aragoto style of Kabuki.


Moisturizing facial mask with kabuki actor print in Japan Moisturizing nightime face mask  kabuki makeup printed in Japan

The mask sheets contain natural moisturizers and also have a whitening effect. Usage instructions are in Japanese and English. The Kabuki 2-sheet facial packs are for sale at the Kabuki-za theater in Tokyo, Haneda Airport in Tokyo, and Tokyo Midtown Galleria. The price is JPY 880. photos: Sankei MSN

Top 10 at-work pranks that get employees fired in Japan

Summer wave of "part-timer terror"

Part-time workers at convenience stores and fast-food outlets in Japan have been pulling stunts at work and posting photos of their pranks on twitter, Facebook and blogs. Embarrassed companies are issuing apologies and closing shops to clean up equipment and restock shelves tainted by the so called  "baito tero" – "part-timer terrorists."

Most of the prank pics have ended up on twitter which is being referred to by some as the "idiot detector".

The pictures of pranks that occurred in August prompted web searches for previous posts of employee’s at-work pranks. The earliest post – found so far – occurred in March.

The outbreak of stupid acts seems to have coincided with the high school vacations, when students are able to work more hours. Spring break is at the end of March, and the summer break began at the end of July and ended September 1.

Part timer puts cabbage leaf on face at ramen restaurant in Japan March 26

A male and a female part-time employee at a branch of the Shirokiya pub chain posted pictures of themselves playing with cabbage in the kitchen of one of the restaurants. One photo shows them with cabbage on their heads. In another picture, the male perp wears a face mask cabbage leaf, with eye holes and mouth cutouts, and he’s smoking. The photos surfaced September 2.


Part-time employee at convenience store in Japan sleeps in ice cream case July 15

The son of a Lawson convenience store franchisee – and part-time employee at dad’s store – climbed into the store’s ice cream case, lay down, closed the glass doors, took some selfies, and posted the photos on Facebook. Lawson headquarters learned of the photos the same day, immediately cancelled the Kochi City outlet’s franchise agreement, and shuttered the shop.

The part-timer said he was too hot – Japan is experiencing record high temperatures – and he would just cool off in the fridge. Lawson posted an apology on its website.


Part-time employee at convenience store in Japan scans crotch with bar code reader at cash register July 19

A male employee at an outlet of the Ministop convenience store chain had a photo taken of him perched on the cash register counter facing customers, leaning back, legs spread, holding the bar code reader on his crotch, and posted the image on twitter.

Ministop discharged the employee and cleaned and disinfected the register, counter, and bar code reader. Ministop explained it’s actions in an apology on it’s website.


Part-time employee at a Burger King in Japan sleeps on buns in kitchen August 2

Burger King, which returned to Japan in 2007 after withdrawing from a previous effort in Japan in 2001, fired a part-timer who took photos of himself lying on a pile of packaged hamburger buns in the outlet’s kitchen. The part-timer had posted the pictures on twitter on June 24. Burger King Japan apologized on its website, and said all the buns in the outlet were thrown out.


Part-time employee at a fast-food take out restaurant in Japan poses inside refrigerator August 3

The fridge was the target of another part-time employee, this one at an outlet of the lunch box take out chain Hotto Motto. The employee of an Aichi Prefecture outlet posed for pictures while scrunched on a shelf in the outlet’s refrigerator. The photos were put on twitter, headquarters found out, and an apology was posted on the company website. The employee was immediately fired for "performing an unsuitable act in the store." The refrigerator was disinfected on the same day.



Yellow Card G-men patrol puts penalty cards on dog poop

Patrol looks for dog droppings in Japan Three days a week Izumisano city in Osaka Prefecture sends “Yellow Card G-men” out in city-owned vehicles on missions to put yellow cards on dog droppings.

The “Dog feces government men” patrol will keep an eye on the yellow cards and if the droppings are still there 4 weeks later, they’ll clean up the mess.

Dog owners usually walk their pets along the same route. The city is hoping the dog owners will spot their pet’s previous poop, feel guilty about having left it there, and then finally clean it up, so the patrol won’t have to.

The Yellow Card G-men force is staffed by folks from the city’s Retired Persons Human Resource Center. The average age of the retirees is 75.


Citizen patrol puts yellow card next to dog droppings in Japan


Citizens were not heeding the Izumisano ordinance requiring dog owners to clean up their pet’s droppings. City parks were becoming especially messy. Izumisano is also across Osaka Bay from Kansai International Airport and the town’s mayor doesn’t want dog droppings to be the first thing tourists see.

The Yellow Card G-men are also on the lookout for excrement-in-progress. A dog’s owner caught not cleaning up the dog’s droppings will be fined JPY 1000. The fine will be raised to JPY 5000 in October 2013.

The patrols hunt poop perpetrators in the morning and evening.

Neighboring cities are also cracking down on unscooped dog droppings. Izumisano has also received a call from officials from Eniwa city, a Sapporo suburb, which also has feces pickup problems.

How to make a yellow card warning for dog droppings in Japan In June the city of Takasago in Hyogo Prefecture began giving free dog dropping collection bags, plastic gloves and waterproof “yellow card” tent cards to citizens upon request.

[ Download instructions for making your own Takasago yellow cards: How to make doggy doo-doo yellow card.doc ]


Yellow card warning for placement next to dog feces in Japan park Retirees put yellow card warning sign next to dogshit in Japan park


Yellow cards for dog feces collection in Japan Yellow card for dog poop Japanese


Yellow card dog droppings picked up in Japan

Top 50 radiation-contaminated foods in Japan 2011

Measuring radiation in Japan Japan’s national provisional safety limit for levels of radioactive cesium in food is 500 becquerels per kilogram. Let’s Japan reviewed food-test data issued by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare covering the period from March 1, 2011 – Dec. 21, 2011.


Highest becquerels per kilogram levels

    Cesium-134 Cesium-137
1. Spinach 20,000 20,000
2. Hatsutake ♦ 8000 11,000
3. Sand lance ◊ 7100 7300
4. Broccoli 7000 6900
5. Shiitake ♦ (dried) 6940 6940
6. Shiitake ♦ (outdoor) 6400 6600
7. Beef 4350 4350
8. Shiitake ♦ (log-grown) 3600 3600
9. Unrefined tea leaf 3000 3000
10. Ayu ◊ 2100 2300
11. Parsley 2100 2110
12. Turnip 2000 2100
13. Komatsuna † 1700 1700
14. Japanese mitten crab 1600 1700
15. Bamboo shoot 1500 1600
16. Maitake ♦ 1300 1500
17. Cabbage 1300 1400
18. Yuzu ‡ 1100 1300
19. Refined tea leaf 959 1170
20. Chestnuts 940 1100
21. Pacific cod 800 800
22. Sea urchin 640 640
23. Wakame seaweed 590 610
24. Hijiki seaweed 510 590
25. Goya † 440 580
26. Kakina † 555 555
27. Stone flounder 480 550
28. Cherry salmon 480 510
29. Mizuna† 450 460
30. Japanese smelt 410 460
31. Hatake-shimeji ♦ 380 440
32. Greenling fish 380 400
33. Ume ‡ 360 400
34. Japanese seabass 300 370
35. Blue mussel 310 340
36. Wheat 310 320
37. Pomegranate 250 310
38. Righteye flounder 240 290
39. Sea cucumber 260 270
40. Naratake ♦ 128 155
41. Nameko ♦ (log-grown) 171 134
42. Oyster 88 120
43. Fugu ◊ 77 95
44. Rice 79 84
45. Buckwheat 71 78
46. Pacific cod 65 77
47. Kiwfruit 48 69
48. Conger 44 63
49. Sweet potato 39 41
50. Horse mackerel 29 38
key ◊ fish    
  ‡ fruit    
  † vegetable    
  ♦ mushroom Japanese mushrooms

Farmers protest radioactive cabbage JapanCheckpoint at Minamisoma-Fukushima near Fukushima Japan March 2011


Fukushima relief effort-fundraiser JapanTsunami destruction March 2011 Japan


photosradiation measurement; cabbage protesters; checkpoint Minamisoma Fukushima; Fukushima relief effort fundraiser; tsunami destruction; produce-stand
Vegetables on display at produce stand green grocer in Japan

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Real life in Tokyo following Fukushima and the earthquake

Pedestrians in Tokyo, Japan March 25, 2011Shoppers in Tokyo, March 25, 2011


We’ve been having some troubles here in Japan.  Maybe you’ve heard. I’ve written some articles about the earthquake and the coverage of the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear reactors. You can read my reports here:

March 25, 2011
Op-Ed: Tokyo OK, foreign media’s sensational coverage shameful

March 16, 2011
US govt recommends 80 Km Fukushima evac zone; currently 30km

March 15, 2011
US agrees with reactor response ambassador in Tokyo says

March 15, 2011
Higher than normal radiation detected along Japan Pacific coast

March 14, 2011
Shielding possibly damaged by explosion at Fukushima No.2 Tuesday

March 14, 2011
Op-Ed: The earthquake aftermath in Tokyo

March 13, 2011
Rolling Blackouts Begin Monday in Tokyo

March 12, 2011
How I survived the Japanese earthquake

Meisters Eat Drink Drive Relax

Japanese women relax naked in onsen spa meister approved. Rice meister master Japan

In addition to the experts you can expect expect to find in Japan – such as  "rice meisters" – enterprises in many other fields are offering original in-house qualification courses. Employees attend courses in order to obtain "meister" certification. Local governments, business and trade associations, organizations, private extended learning and continuing education schools are also offering meister courses in various fields.

  Curry meister study book Japan How to be eco driver in Japan

Curry Meister – Learn the history of curry, spice characteristics and curry communication. Junior and Senior certificates.

Eco Drive Meister – Become expert in environmentally friendly fuel-efficient driving. Best for businesses with more than 50 vehicles. How to Kyoto.

Eco Meister – Courses and certifications offered by individual prefectural and city governments. Learn about the environment, garbage-related problems, recycling, global warming. Akita ecomeister.

Seasoning and food diploma Japanese meister Many Japanese spices and sauces.Japanese Food Meister – How to treat only the ingredient of harmony, how to cut only the dish of harmony, how to boil the fire, and how to apply it and how to dish up the taste. Also known as Washoku.

Japanese Seasoning Meister – Become well-versed in seasonal seasonings and talk about charm of seasoning happily and plainly.

Delicious kelp seaweed konbu served in Japan. Okonomiyaki  pancake-like dish served in Japan

Konbu MeisterKelp is filled with the spirit of ecology, and is the ultimate eco-food, according to the Konbu Meister. Learn how to get the most out of your seaweed.

Awamori Okinawa sake liquor alcohol Japan

Girls and women nude in onsen spa Japan Okinawa Liquor Meister – Official Okinawa Prefecture Awamori distilled rice liquor expert certification.

Okonomiyaki Meister – The qualification levels: Instructor, Coordinator and Meister. What is Okonomiyaki?

Onsen Meister – Learn hot spring hygiene management, the benefits of hot springs, effective bathing methods, and thermal physiology. Japanese spa is called onsen.

Smoking Rules on the Beaches

People  peace sign finger no cigarette Japan Designated smoking area stand hut Zushi beach Japan


A popular beach near Yokohama implemented a smoking policy at the start of this year’s swimming season in June. Zushi beach in Kanagawa Prefecture has banned smoking except at designated areas on its 600-meters of sand. Five smoking huts have been installed on the beach. Four standing ashtrays have also been placed in the span of sand. There is no penalty for violating the smoking rules.
Zushi beach Japan Mayor smoking ban beach signs

city in Wakayama Prefecture implemented smoking rules on its beach in 2008. Banners and a standing signboard notify visitors of the locations of smoking areas. There are several standing ashtrays in the sand. 
Ougigahama beach Tanabe City Japan smoking rules
A smoking policy went into effect on the July 2 season opening of the 300-meter-long Ougigahama beach in Tanabe City, Wakayama. No-smoking signs are posted in three places, and there is a smoking area near the official beach facilities office.

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Boso Peninisula Japan designated smoking area on beach


Atami City in Shizuoka prefecture commenced smoking regulations at its beach in 2005. Kanagawa is the only prefecture of Japan’s 47 prefectures to have a smoking policy in effect for a beach.


beach clean up fesyival volunteers Okinawa Japan

Princesses and Anxiety at Home and School

Crown Princess Aiko Japanese Princess Aiko, 8, attended elementary school again March 8, the first time since she stopped going to school March 2 after complaining of being bullied by some boys at school. Princess Aiko is in the second grade at Gakushuin Primary School in Tokyo. Princess Aiko is the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako.

Princess Aiko has complained of an upset stomach and has showed deep anxiety since March 2.

The Imperial Household Agency said that Princess Aiko and several other students had been "treated harshly" by boys in another class. A school official said the incident may have been a misunderstanding.

Crown Princess Aiko attends Gakushuin Primary School Crown Princess Aiko with parents

 "She had decided to leave school, and just as she had returned from changing into her normal shoes from her school shoes, I hear it was two boys that approached very suddenly and nearly collided with her, which scared her," school director Motomasa Higashisono told reporters.

Crown Princess Masako accompanied Princess Aiko to the school to attend the fourth period of morning classes. They then left the school together.

Japan's Princess Masako, January 2010

The outing was a rare public appearance for Crown Princess Masako, 46, who was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder in July 2004. Her condition is attributed to the difficulties of adjusting to palace life and the pressure to bear a son. Crown Princess Masako hasn’t attended most official duties for several years.

Doctors monitoring the health of Crown Princess Masako said March 5 her condition has vastly improved but she needs more time to reach a level that will allow her to expand the scope of her official duties.

Princess Masako "has gotten better and is now in a state incomparable to" five and a half years ago when she started to receive treatment, the doctors said in a statement issued through the IHA.

"However, considering her long battle with the illness and the stress she has been under, it will take more time for her to expand the scope of her activities," the statement said, noting that she "has made surprisingly great efforts" to overcome the illness.

Japan's Princess Masako and husband Crown Prince Naruhito, January 2010

In the statement, the doctors noted that the support of people close to her, especially members of her family, has played a key role in helping her to recover. "Watching Princess Aiko growing up and her increasing exchanges with her friends is a joy as well as a remedy for the crown princess," it said.

The doctors mentioned the crown princess’ presence last year at events commemorating the 20th anniversary of Emperor Akihito’s ascension to the throne as well as at a ceremony last month to mark the 15th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake.

The visit to Kobe for the quake memorial ceremony was her first official trip outside Tokyo involving an overnight stay since January 2008.

The statement warned, however, that high expectations for more public appearances could hamper her recovery.

"Although expectations for her to perform more official duties are expected to grow as her recovery progresses, it is necessary to consider the workload that she would shoulder so that it would not impose a heavy burden," the doctors said.

Japan's Princess Masako, Crown Prince Naruhito, Aiko, and pet dog, official photo

Some medical experts outside of the imperial family are skeptical about the prospects for a full recovery being achieved quickly.

"Although the cause of her stress is not clearly shown in the report, I assume there may be a gap between the feelings of Crown Princess Masako, who is longing to live the way she wants to, and the Imperial Household Agency, which tends to put things in a mold," said Masaaki Noda, a professor at Kwansei Gakuin University. "It looks like her illness could last longer judging from the doctors’ opinions," he said.

(Above compiled from news reports)

Princess Masako’s condition could have an influence on her daughter. 

The reports about Princess Aiko’s experience at school seem to indicate nothing more than normal, temporary fears.

However, studies suggest that children or adolescents are more likely to have an anxiety disorder if they have a parent with anxiety disorder.

Government Fears March Suicide Madness

Japanese government suicide prevention campaign poster Japanese government suicide prevention TV commercial


Suicides increase in March in Japan so the government has begun an emergency 3-month suicide prevention campaign. National Police Agency statistics indicate the number of people who commit suicide is highest in March. The fiscal year ends on March 31 and it’s believed poor financial situations at companies cause managers to commit suicide. The NPA data also shows the number of annual suicides was over 30,000 for the past 12 years. There were 32,753 suicides in Japan in 2009.

Japanese government suicide prevention TV adJapanese government suicide prevention TV adJapanese government official hands out suicide prevention tissue packs attrain  station in Tokyo


The government suicide prevention website also attributes the high suicide rate to long working hours, severe unemployment, bankruptcies, and being liable for multiple consumer loans. As part of the stepped-up suicide prevention effort, consultation counters have been opened at all Hello Work public job-finding centers throughout Japan

Government-sponsored public service TV advertisements show a daughter expressing concern to her sleepy father. The ad advises people who have difficulty sleeping for two weeks or more to consult a doctor.