Archives: July 2006

Solid gold lobster

20 Jul 2006

Gold lobsterA golden lobster has been placed on display at the Ginza Tanaka jewelry store in Nagoya.

Crafted from 500 grams (1.1 lb.) of pure gold, the creature is a detailed life-sized reproduction of an Ise-ebi lobster (Japanese spiny lobster, or Panulirus japonicus). It measures 34 cm (13 in.) long and 19 cm (7 in.) tall. The asking price is 5 million yen (about US$40,000).

Ise-ebi lobsters are often bestowed as gifts on special occasions in Japan. According to a shop attendant, this golden crustacean can serve as both a celebratory offering and a good luck talisman.

Customers react in various ways when they see the realistic-looking golden lobster. Some of them say they expect it to start moving, while others say it looks delicious.

[Source: Asahi Shimbun]

Cantomoko, a well-traveled sex doll

19 Jul 2006

Cantomoko in SaipanCantomoko is a well-traveled sex doll. She travels mostly by car in Japan, though she is known to ride a bicycle at times. She enjoys the cherry blossoms in spring, lounges on the beach in summer, frolics in fields of cosmos in autumn, and goes snowboarding in winter. She sometimes attends parties with friends. She has been to the top of Mt. Fuji. She has traveled abroad, to Saipan. She has 38 galleries of travel photos to prove it.

There is no nudity (silicone or otherwise) on these pages, just your typical vacation photos -- of a sex doll. (Click the thumbnails to display larger images, and click the links on the left side of the page to display the different galleries.)

[Link: Cantomoko’s Room via Zaeega]

Japan incarcerates invading turtles

19 Jul 2006

Recently Japan has seen a dramatic increase in the number of news reports concerning foreign turtles on the loose. Hardly a day passes without a reported capture, leaving one with the impression the country is under full-scale invasion by an army of rogue turtles. The culprits are predominantly common snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) and alligator snapping turtles (Macroclemys temminckii), both of which find their way from the Americas to Japan as pets. Authorities are responding aggressively, incarcerating the miscreant terrapins and publishing their mugshots in the media. The photo below shows some of the most recent detainees.

Japan's war on turtles

Left (top to bottom): Common snapping turtle captured in Tsuyama (Okayama prefecture), alligator snapping turtle captured in Ueno Park (Tokyo), alligator snapping turtle captured in Tomigusuku (Okinawa)

Center (top to bottom): Common snapping turtle captured in Kameyama (Mie prefecture), common snapping turtle captured in a kindergarten swimming pool in Kobe, alligator snapping turtle captured 30 meters offshore at Nagasaki Seaside Park

Right (top to bottom): African spurred tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) captured in Nabari (Mie prefecture), common snapping turtle captured in Imizu (Toyama prefecture)

Image of Raijin (God of Thunder) appears in rice field

14 Jul 2006

Raijin (God of Thunder) appears in rice field A giant image of Raijin, the God of Thunder, has appeared in a rice field in the village of Inakadate in Aomori prefecture. The different colors consist of different varieties of rice -- the green areas are tsugaru-roman (the local variety), while the purple, yellow and red areas consist of so-called kodaimai, or ancient strains of rice. Mid-August is reportedly the best time to view the rice field.

Not shown in the photo is the image of Fujin, the God of Wind, presumably located in a nearby field. Fujin and Raijin usually appear together and are perhaps most well-known for their depiction in the Fujin-Rajin Folding Screen (Fujin-Raijin Zu Byobu), an Edo-period work by Tawaraya Soutatsu. The original screen is on display at Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto and has been officially designated a national treasure.

[Source: Yomiuri]

Face to face with high-tech medical devices

13 Jul 2006

The International Modern Hospital Show 2006 is being held from July 12 to 14 in Tokyo (Tokyo Big Sight), where nearly 400 companies have gathered to showcase the latest in healthcare-related technology. The theme of the show is "Reliable Health, Medical Treatment, and Care -- Aiming for High Quality Service," a theme whose success evidently depends on high technology. Below are photos (via Impress Watch) and explanations of a few of the devices appearing at the show. Despite appearances, these fellows are here to help.

The first photo shows a patient simulator developed by IMI Corporation and Paramount Bed Co., Ltd., a system consisting of a monitor connected to a sensor-laden mannequin whose physiology changes realistically according to the treatment it receives. Great for training future medical professionals. Great for your haunted house, too.

Patient sumulator developed by IMI and Paramount Bed

The next photo shows a transnasal endoscope developed by FUJIFILM Medical Co., Ltd. and Fujinon Toshiba ES Systems Co., Ltd. Surveys show that 90% of patients who have experienced endoscopy think it is more comfortable to enter through the nose (as opposed to through the mouth or anus). I hope the expression on this guy's face is no indication of his comfort level.

Nasal endoscope developed by FUJIFILM and Fujinon Toshiba ES Systems

The next photo shows Muu Socia 3.0 (left), a cute cyclopean teardrop-shaped "communication support" robot developed by ATR and Systec Akazawa. The robot is designed to serve as a social mediator that livens up the communication between care giver and care recipient. Muu Socia has voice recognition, voice synthesis, speech processing and face recognition capabilities. And it starts bouncing around when something obstructs its view (watch the 5-second video (WMV)).

Pictured on the right is a home appliance control robot developed by RayTron Co., Ltd. Voice recognition capabilities allow patients to operate their home appliances by remote control. It looks sort of like an owl.

Muu Socia 3.0 (left) and home appliance control robot (right)

You can see more photos and read about the other technology on display at the link below.

[Source: Impress Watch]

Nihonga meets fast food at Kyoto KFC

12 Jul 2006

Long ago, an event known as the Byobu Matsuri ("Folding Screen Festival") was held each year in conjunction with Kyoto's famed Gion Matsuri, during which the wealthier residents of Kyoto would open their homes to the public to show off their valuable art collections. Today, in what is being billed as a modern-day re-enactment of that custom, nine Kyoto-area establishments are displaying works of art as part of the Nihonga Byobu Matsuri Exhibit.

Col. Sanders/nihonga mashup

Among the participating hosts of the exhibit are two Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Kyoto's Chukyo district, which are displaying folding screens and hanging scrolls by painter Taro Yamamoto, known for incorporating Western fast food iconography into nihonga (Japanese-style painting).

KFC's Shijo-gawara restaurant is displaying two of Yamamoto's works, including a gilded folding screen depicting the face of Colonel Sanders and the Japanese flag floating above a classic pine tree (pictured above).

KFC & Coca-Cola/nihonga mashupsKFC's Shinkyogoku branch is displaying three of Yamamoto's works, including a gilded folding screen depicting Colonel Sanders holding an Ito Jakuchu-style chicken and a hanging scroll featuring a can of Coca-Cola.

The Nihonga Byobu Matsuri Exhibit is being held from July 7 to 17.

[Source: Asahi Shimbun]

Aurora on demand

11 Jul 2006

Aurora generatorResearchers have developed the next best thing for would-be aurora gazers unable to make the trip to a near-polar location -- an aurora generator. The device was developed by Professor Shigeyuki Minami from the Graduate School of Engineering at Osaka City University, who worked with real estate developer Iida Sangyo Co., Ltd.

Beginning August 1, Iida Sangyo plans to fire up the device as the main attraction at its Enoshima Island Spa ("Enospa"), affording visitors the extra luxury of gazing at the aurora while lounging poolside on the second floor.

The aurora is generated within the belly of the machine, where a near-vacuum state is maintained. Electrons collide with oxygen and nitrogen to create colorful light in the same way that naturally occurring auroral light is generated in the earth’s upper atmosphere. One side of the device is made of transparent acrylic resin, allowing viewers to admire the beauty of the artificial aurora contained within. The aurora generator measures 2.2 (H) x 2.8 (W) x 1.4 (D) meters (7 x 9 x 5 feet), though the company claims to have engineered prototypes as large as 3 x 3 meters.

Aurora simulators in the past have relied on techniques such as laser beams that create aurora-like effects, while devices that have relied on electrical discharge in a vacuum have been very small. In addition to being larger and more "real" than previous devices, Iida Sangyo's device does not simply light up -- it emits a shimmering curtain of dynamic multi-hued light consisting of as many as 11 colors.

The company has not revealed exactly what technology is at work in the device.

[Source: Tech-On! via /. Japan]

Gallery of fantastic creatures

06 Jul 2006

Fantastic specimens

Gensou Hyouhon Hakubutsukan ("Museum of Fantastic Specimens") is an online collection of creatures "curated" by Hajime Emoto. The three-story virtual museum consists of 9 rooms chock full of water- and land-dwelling monstrosities from all corners of the globe. (Navigating the virtual museum may be a bit difficult if you cannot read Japanese, so try the links below if you get lost.)

- 1st Floor: Room 1, Room 2, Room 3

- 2nd Floor: Room 4, Room 5, Room 6, Room 7

- 3rd Floor: Room 8, Room 9

- Basement: Shop, Cafeteria

Each specimen has a clickable thumbnail that links to additional photos and historical and background information (in Japanese). The basement contains a bookshop and a cafeteria serving dishes prepared with some of the beasts featured in the museum (such as umiushi sashimi, served fresh from the tank and wriggling on your plate, with a balsamic vinegar sauce).

All of the creatures showcased in the museum are sculpted from paper, modeling paste and bamboo and are completely imaginary, claims Emoto -- perhaps a disappointment for hunters of the legendary tsuchinoko (center photo above) in search of an actual specimen, but an amazing collection of critters nonetheless.

[Link: Museum of Fantastic Specimens]

Daily photos of Japanese intersections

03 Jul 2006

Osaka intersectionAs writer and photographer Chizon-san (from Slow Ahead) wanders the back streets of Japan, he does what most of us do when the sign (and the paint on the road) at an intersection says "stop" -- he stops. But before continuing on his way, he pauses long enough to snap photos capturing the subdued mystery and desolate squalor of Japan's back street intersections in all their mundane glory. He then posts the photos online.

The scenes and moods vary from shot to shot, but all of the photos share a similar foreground featuring the kanji character for "stop" (tomare) in paint on asphalt. With a new photo posted daily and many more stops to make before reaching his goal of 365, there is no telling what might turn up.