Archive for the 'Tokyo' Category

Swastika symbol removed from maps for foreigners

Comparison of nazi swastika to Japanese manji symbol for temples on maps

A traditional symbol that resembles a swastika which is used to indicate Buddhist temples on maps for foreign tourists in Japan will be replaced. The Japanese map symbol is called "manji" and originates from an ancient Sanskrit symbol that has been associated with Japanese Buddhism for centuries. The manji symbol looks very similar to the Nazi swastika symbol that was used by Adolf Hitler to represent the Nazis in Germany from 1920, through WWII and the early 1940s.

 

Swastika symbols used for temples on maps in Japan

 

Swastika icon indicates temple on local map in Japan Swastika symbols is similar to Japanese Manji ideogram denoting temples on pedestrian maps and other maps in Japan

 

Japanese Manji character resembles swastika symbol on maps in Japan

Map icon looks like swastika - indicates temples in Japan

 

In order to avoid confusion about the meaning of the map swastikas, the symbols will be replaced with a three-storied pagoda icon on maps for tourists. The manji icon on Japanese maps will not be changed.

New symbols for Japanese tourist maps replace swastika for olympics 2020

Results of an international study by Japan’s Geospatial Information Authority prompted the agency to revise some symbols on tourist maps in Japan.

news source: Examiner (pdf) photos: Iwate; Koenji; Yokohama; Miyagi

Japan Geospatial Information Authority (Japanese)  (English translation)

Weather girls go watch guerilla thunderstorms

The Worlds Largest Weather Geek Community A TV weather channel in Japan has added staff "Guerilla Thunderstorm Girls" to its volunteer force of citizens who report weather conditions around the country.

A "guerilla storm" refers to a severe thunderstorm which occurs with little warning – and is hard for forecasters to predict – and which has the potential for heavy downpours, high winds and tornadoes.

Weathernews has utilized volunteers nationwide to monitor the weather and developing thunderstorms since 2008. The 50,000 "Guerilla Thunderstorm Guards" use the "Guerilla Thunderstorm Defender" smartphone app to report conditions and send images and video of cloud formations and rainfall to Weathernews, which displays the reports online and in broadcasts. Viewers can also register to receive special weather alert emails on their phones.

Weathernews is able to direct volunteers to storm areas up to 30-minutes in advance of possible guerilla downpours.

The channel has now introduced a special team of Guerilla Thunderstorm Girls – some of the weather report anchors – who are sent out to observe the clouds where there is a possibility of a guerrilla thunderstorm.

The team is outfitted with ponchos imprinted with the slogan "The World [sic] Largest Weather Geek Community."

 

Weathernews channel Guerilla Thunderstorm Gals have nice ponchos Weathernews channel Guerilla Thunderstorm Gals party

 

Bicycle helmet hat combo appeals to elderly bike riders

Caphor brand bicycle helmet with removable hat for elderly bike riders in Japan Bicycle helmets with removable, stylish hats have been created to entice elderly Japanese to wear a helmet when riding a bike. The hats are designed so they can also be worn without the helmet.

Bicycle helmets are rarely worn by the elderly in Japan. Seniors say they’d like to wear safety helmets, but the helmets are uncomfortable. Elderly cyclists also say they are embarrassed about wearing traditional bike helmets.

A national law requires only bicyclists under the age of 13 to wear a helmet, whether alone or when riding as passengers with a parent on a bicycle. Some municipalities have enacted local laws that require all bicyclists to wear a helmet. In 2013, Ehime Prefecture, with its numerous scenic bike paths, enacted a law requiring cyclists of all ages to wear a helmet.

 

The Japanese government advises adults to wear a helmet when cycling, but it is uncommon to see adult cyclists wearing helmets as they run errands by bicycle on city streets. Although when the activity is recreational riding, along a riverside path for example, bike riders wearing helmets can be seen.

 

Bicycle helmets with detachable hat for elderly cyclists in Japan The Tokyo Foundation for Employment Services, which provides employment opportunities to the elderly, asked Nippon Parade, a manufacturer of caps and costumes for marching bands, to develop a bicycle helmet that would be attractive to the elderly. Nippon Parade, which was looking for new business opportunities, developed a hat-helmet concept. The company had the skills and design equipment which allowed it to create a lightweight helmet and a selection of fashionable hats that are easy to remove from the helmet.

 

 

Bicycle helmet and removable hat for Japanese senior citizen bicycle riders The hat covers the helmet, and a quick-release system frees the hat from the helmet. The hat can be worn by itself.

According to Manabu Ito, president of Nippon Parade, more than 6% of deaths aged 65 and older in in the metropolitan area are caused by bike accidents, and head injury accounts for nearly 7% of the bike accident deaths. Nippon Parade makes helmets that meet strict strict international safety standards, and offers 10 types of fashionable detachable hats.

The helmets, start at JPY 7,580, and are sold by Nippon Parade online, cycling shops, and major electronics retailers.

 

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.

 

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Food truck kitchen cars get special places to park and sell

Food trucks in Japan kitchen cars Food trucks in Japan used to be found mostly at sporting events or other large events, and often the trucks were operated by brand name food manufacturers. Now updated versions of food trucks, dubbed "Neo Kitchen Cars", are offering take-away food at locations in cities.

Public open space cannot be used for kitchen cars in Japan, so kitchen cars often must rent space for their vehicles. One website specializes in matching kitchen cars with landlords who have a driveway or storefront parking available for rent.

 

Tokyo International Forum Neo Stall Village.

Japanese food truck cafe Barbecue BBQ Japanese food truck in Japan

 

Another company seeks to have kitchen cars use large open spaces owned by and adjacent to office building properties. Workstore Tokyo Do a provider of food vendors for events, matches building owners with the kitchen car operators and coordinates kitchen car schedules and locations. Tables are setup in the open space and the kitchen cars rent space there. The firm manages 33 locations in the Tokyo area. Almost 450 kitchen car operators are registered with the company and 200 of those operators have been assigned locations.

 

Kitchen car locations can be tracked online. Idouhanbai Navi is one website that lists locations of kitchen cars throughout Japan. The site also describes the foods offered by each mobile food neo stall.

Japanese food truck neo kitchen car in Japan Fried chicken Japan food truck Brazilian food sold by mobile food truck in Japan

 

Tacos Mexican food from food truck in Japan Italian food sold from food truck in Japan Food truck in Tokyo

 

photos : Barbeque (Tokyo) Bulldog BBQ; Brazillian Rodeio Grill; Crepes (Tokyo) Allo Cafe; Fried chicken and seafood (Tokyo) Wakayama; Kebabs (Tokyo) Subarkai House; Panini (Nagoya) Buono; Pork-wrapped-rice (Fifteen food trucks in Japan) Honke Niku maki; Pork-wrapped-vegetables & variations (Three food trucks in Japan) Ganko; Tacos (Okinawa)Taco Smile; Tofu burger (Tokyo) Tofu Tofu Cafe

Train stations: Don’t look at mobile phone while walking

Poster in train station Tokyo do not walk and look at your smartphonePeople are being asked to not use mobile phones while walking in train stations in Tokyo. The transport ministry and railway companies began the effort after a 5th grade elementary school boy who was walking and looking at his smartphone accidentally stepped off the platform and onto the train tracks at Tokyo’s Yotsuya Station on May 27.

The boy fell 1.1 meters onto the tracks at the same time that a train was pulling into the station. The train came to a stop before reaching the boy, who had dived into the open space under the platform. The boy suffered minor injuries from the fall.

East Japan Railway Company (JR) officials say collisions between people walking while looking at their mobile phones has increased steadily the past three years.

On June 10, JR placed "Don’t use your phones or look at game devices while walking" posters in 520 stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Station announcements also ask people not to use mobile phones or handheld game players while walking. The mobile phone safety awareness campaign will run until July 31.

 

 

People walking while looking at their smartphone in Shinjuku station in Tokyo People walk and looking at their mobile phones in Shibuya station in Tokyo

 

photos: Shinjuku station, Tokyo Shibuya station, Tokyo

Surveillance cameras in Japan watch your private places

Security cameras for a safe Japan

madarao kogen hot springs Japan changing room security camera Surveillance camera on top of soft drink vending machine in Japan Surveillance camera on a Saitama bus in Tokyo, Japan
above (left) Security camera in hot springs changing room at a hotel at Madarao Kogen hot springs, Nagano Prefecture Japan. (center) On a vending machine. (right) Surveillance camera in a bus.
 

No surveillance camera in kokugikan sumo hall September 2009 Surveillance camera in kokugikan sumo hall September 2009
above (left) 2009 - No surveillance camera in Kokugikan sumo hall. (right) 2012 - Surveillance camera in Kokugikan sumo hall.

Security cameras at the sumo hall

The Japan Sumo Association setup ‘‘mob-cams” surveillance cameras in the Aichi-ken Taiikukan arena in Nagoya for the July 2010 sumo tournament. The effort is to prevent gangsters (yakuza) from attending sumo matches.

Organized crime links to sumo were exposed in late 2009 and again in early 2010.

Gangsters were reportedly extorting money from the sumo wrestler Kotomitsuki, the highest ranked Japanese wrestler at the time.

 

Tickets usually given to corporate sponsors had been obtained by the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate and gang members were seen seated ringside at tournaments. The gangsters wanted to be visible on TV broadcasts to raise the spirits of their colleagues watching sumo tournaments from prison cells.

Surveillance cameras were also installed at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo hall before the 2010 Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament. The JSA is cooperating with the police in the use of the security cameras.

Bus cameras in Kyoto

Surveillance camera on city bus in Kyoto Japan Surveillance camera on city bus in Kyoto Japan watches for illegally parked carsabove Surveillance camera on city bus in Kyoto, Japan

Surveillance cameras are installed on 20 city buses in Kyoto. The bus cameras record video at the bus stops. Later, the video is checked for cars illegally parked at the bus stops. Officials are especially concerned about illegal parking at bus stops around Kyoto station. Repeat offenders are reported to the police.

Three cameras are attached to the outside of the buses and two are installed inside the buses. The camera system is explained in a sticker on the bus exteriors.

Some buses in Saitama, Tokyo, and Fukuoka Prefecture also have cameras installed to record video of bus stops.

 

Police have a cam-van

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police have a vehicle equipped with security cameras. Three of the cameras are mounted on an extendable arm that can capture video in 360 degrees from a maximum height of 6.7 meters. Those cameras can recognized people’s faces up to 150 meters away. The 2-ton police cam-truck also carries 9 portable security cameras.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police mobile surveillance camera vehicle Police mobile surveillance cameras truck in Tokyo Japan

Video can be transfered to each police station and police headquarters by a satellite communication link on the truck. Video footage is saved for 7 days and then erased The surveillance truck is used in high-crime areas in Tokyo.

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Pet shops can’t display dogs, cats after 8 p.m. Cat cafés ok until 10:00.

Cat café neko cafe in Mito JapanA new law in Japan prohibits pet shops from displaying cats and dogs after 8 p.m. The Environment Ministry Law for Animal Welfare and Management ordinance also bans pet shops from selling any animal after 8 p.m. Prior to the June 1 implementation of the law, many pet shops stayed open after midnight.

Some pet shops in the entertainment districts in big cities in Japan had stayed open until 3 a.m., displaying puppies and kittens to the businessmen and hostesses leaving nearby clubs.

 

Pet shop open after midnight before June 2012 Japan law

According to the new law cats and dogs can be on display at pet shops from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. only.

The ordinance is partly in response to claims by animal rights’ groups that animals kept in tiny cages and under bright lighting at night are under stress and those conditions can affect the growth hormone and the health of the animals.

Cat cafés, where customers pay to mingle with cats in coffee-shop-like settings were granted a waiver from the ordinance. Cat cafés can have cats on display until 10 p.m. if the animals are over a year old and are not caged.

Violators of the law face fines of up to ¥300,000. More public hearings will be held before renewal of the ordinance in 2014.

 
Dog on display in cage in pet shop in Shibuya Tokyo JapanDog in pet shop Baby Doll, Shibuya, Tokyo
Cats in cages in pet shop in Roppongi, Tokyo JapanCats displayed in a pet store in Roppongi, Tokyo
Sign in front of cat cafe neko café in Tokyo, JapanSign in front of cat café in Tokyo
 

 

photos: cat café; open late; Baby Doll; cats Roppongi; sign in front.

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

Appliance store sells electric car

Electric car sold inYamada Denki retail stores inTokyo

 

Appliance and electronics retail chain Yamada Denki has begun selling an electric car at some of its retail stores. Yamada has partnered with Mitsubishi Motors to sell the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle. Yamada is the first household appliances store in Japan to sell an electric car.

The i-MiEV electric vehicle is on sale at 17 Yamada Denki stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The car is on display inside each of the 17 stores and there is a full-time car salesman on hand at each outlet. These Yamada stores also sell and install the vehicle-charging equipment and offer complete “Smart House” solar photovoltaic solutions.

Owners of Mitsubishi electric car imiex in Japan

 

The i-MiEV has been on the market since July 2009, and about 3,000 of the vehicles have been sold in Japan.

 

Yamada Denki Online shopping

 

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Electric car charging point in JapanElectric vehicle charging station in Japan

 

Yamada Denki electic and electronics appliance store in Japan Elderly owner of Mitsubishi Japanese electric car imiev in Japan

 

photos:  Charge point (R)Charge point (L)