Archives: August 2007

Scarecrow Road 280

31 Aug 2007

Asashoryu scarecrow plays soccer -- While frightening the birds away, about 60 scarecrows along a stretch of the Route 280 Bypass in Aomori are attracting the attention of passing motorists.

The scarecrow display, which includes one modeled after sumo wrestler Asashoryu scandalously playing soccer (pictured right), is part of Kakashi Road 280 (kakashi means "scarecrow"), a recently established annual September event designed to stimulate the local economy and welcome the 2010 opening of Tohoku Shinkansen Shin-Aomori station.

Organizers hope to eventually create 150 scarecrows to watch over the 15-kilometer stretch of road.

Scarecrows are also known to populate the roadsides in other parts of Japan. The photos below are from Machida (a Tokyo suburb) and Nara.

Scarecrow --

Scarecrow --

Scarecrow --

Scarecrow --

Scarecrow --

Scarecrow --

More photos of Machida scarecrows: 1, 2, 3

[Via: Mainichi]

Canned Final Fantasy VII Potion

31 Aug 2007

Final Fantasy VII Potion character cans --

To help commemorate the 10th anniversary of the release of Final Fantasy VII, Suntory has announced plans to begin selling its vitamin-packed Final Fantasy VII Potion carbonated drink in special aluminum cans featuring depictions of Cloud, Sephiroth and other characters from the game. Sixteen different character cans will be available at a price of 191 yen each when the limited-edition 4.8-million can shipment hits shelves on October 23.

[Source: Mantan Web]

Space fireworks

30 Aug 2007

Space fireworks -- People in Japan this Saturday Sunday evening will be treated to a "space fireworks" show consisting of three balls of red light in the sky, each glowing as bright as the moon.

These luminous orbs will be the result of three clouds of lithium vapor released into the ionosphere by a rocket launched in an experiment to study the atmosphere. The red glow will be caused by sunlight striking the lithium vapor clouds as they disperse. "In the first few seconds after each lithium release, the light should become as large and bright as the moon," says team member Masayuki Yamamoto, a professor at Kochi University of Technology.

Currently scheduled for Saturday (Sep 1, 2007) at 7:29 PM Sunday (Sep 2, 2007) at 7:26 PM, the one and a half minute long space fireworks show will be most visible in western Japan at about 20 degrees above the southern horizon, but people in the Tokyo area may be able to see the light at about 10 degrees above the southwestern horizon.

The researchers, who come from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Hokkaido University and Kochi University of Technology, say the purpose of the experiment is to study atmospheric flow in the ionosphere at an altitude of between 100 to 300 km. This area of the atmosphere is difficult to study because satellites typically must remain at altitudes higher than 250 km, while weather balloons generally cannot exceed altitudes of 50 km.

At 7:23 PM Saturday 7:20 PM Sunday night, the 8.5-meter tall S-520 rocket will be launched from the JAXA Uchinoura Space Center in southern Kyushu. As it makes an arc across the sky and begins its descent, the rocket will begin releasing the lithium. The rocket will make its first lithium release at 7:29 7:26 PM (at 250 km), followed by a second release 40 seconds later (at 200 km) and another one 40 seconds after that (at 150 km). The rocket will then fall into the Pacific about 500 km south of the tip of Wakayama prefecture.

The scientists will observe the lithium glows from the ground at four separate locations. If the weather is not fine at at least three of the four locations, the launch will be postponed. The latest schedule information is available here.

[Source: Asahi via Slashdot Japan]

UPDATE: It's been postponed until Sunday night (7:26 PM).

UPDATE 2: These photos, found via 2-channeru, show a faint red blob. The photos appear to have been taken from somewhere in Fukui prefecture, which is pretty far away from the action. Cloud cover here in Tokyo obscured the view.

Space fireworks --

Space fireworks --

UPDATE 3: These photos from the Tokushima-Kainan Observatory, located at Dairi-Matsubara beach in the town of Kaiyo (Tokushima prefecture, Shikoku), show a much brighter glow. More high-resolution photos here.

Space fireworks --

Space fireworks --

Space fireworks --

Soy sauce for ice cream

29 Aug 2007

Ice cream soy sauce -- Since early this year, Yamakawa Jozo, a soy sauce brewery based in Gifu prefecture, has been selling a type of Tamari soy sauce specially designed for use on ice cream. With the sauce's rising popularity and a growing number of restaurants using it on their dessert menus, the company sold 5,000 bottles (70 ml for 350 yen/$3) in the second half of August.

A small amount of the rich, dark brew is said to give vanilla ice cream a caramel-like flavor, while a more liberal dose apparently makes vanilla ice cream taste more like mitarashi-dango (skewered rice dumplings covered in sweet sauce).

According to the president of Yamakawa Jozo, the company developed the soy sauce specifically for use with vanilla ice cream, but consumers have come forward with a number of unexpected recipes. In addition to claims that it goes well with other ice cream flavors like strawberry and chocolate, fans of the special sauce say it tastes great on kaki-gori (shaved ice) and on toast, and that it makes a great mixer for shochu (distilled liquor).

[Link: Asahi]

Afterthought: This special soy sauce would undoubtedly make a great topping for a number of these mouth-watering ice cream flavors: 1, 2, 3

Video: Three bioluminescent sea creatures

29 Aug 2007

Bioluminescent marine life ---

This video clip from Japanese TV program "Best House 123" shows the top three glow-in-the-dark sea creatures selected by Hokkaido University professor Yoshihiro Omiya, a specialist in the study of bioluminescent organisms.

3. Firefly squid: This blue-glowing squid, Japan's most famous bioluminescent creature, measures 5 to 7 centimeters long and is often found at depths greater than 200 meters. In spring, when firefly squid rise to the surface to spawn en masse, they become Toyama's great tourist attraction and end up on dinner plates nationwide. One reason the firefly squid glows is to hide itself from predatory fish swimming below. When the squid lights up its bottom surface, fish looking up have a hard time seeing it because it blends with the sky above.

2. Bioluminescent plankton: Measuring 0.1 centimeter long and found in oceans around the world, this type of dinoflagellate glows blue when disturbed. Professor Omiya keeps a flask of the light-emitting plankton in his fridge, because just looking at the cool blue glow helps him relax when he's feeling stressed. While bioluminescent creatures are generally believed to emit light in order to intimidate their enemies, attract mates or defend themselves from predators, it is not entirely clear why this plankton glows.

1. Bioluminescent comb jelly: This 10 to 15 centimeter long gelatinous deep-sea creature, found at dark ocean depths of more than 200 meters, glows seven different colors in an otherworldly display of light. Many questions remain unanswered about why this comb jelly glows, making it a fantastic rainbow-colored mystery.

Garbage Bag Art Work

28 Aug 2007

Garbage Bag Art Work --

Garbage Bag Art Work trash bags aim to transform Japan's unsightly neighborhood garbage collection points into instant works of disposable art. Produced by design agency MAQ, the bags come in three patterns -- trees, fish and flowers -- and they are colored to match Japan's official color codes for various types of waste, each of which are collected on different days. Green is for recyclable trash, blue is for non-burnable and red is for burnable, so while livening up the appearance of trash heaps, the bags also remind neighbors about what trash day it is. Packs of ten 45-liter bags sell for 380 yen (about $3) at a select few Tokyu Hands and Loft outlets in Tokyo, or they can be purchased online here (Japanese).

SHiBA brand trash bags --

In a related project, MAQ has also teamed up with author/illustrator Lily Franky's SHiBA brand to plaster the unique dog logo on their trash bags. Now if they could come up with a design that would keep people from generating so much trash, they might have a masterpiece.

[Link: Garbage Bag Art Work]

Curry-flavored mock terror drill

27 Aug 2007

Curry rice flavored mock terror drill --

Curry rice flavored mock terror drill --

Curry rice flavored mock terror drill --

In these video stills from a Japanese TV news report, law enforcement officers engage in hand-to-hand combat with a mock terrorist armed with a curry-rice banner -- the kind commonly placed on sidewalks in front of restaurants. The training exercise was designed to test the response to an invasion by foreign terrorists coming ashore at Tokyo Bay. It is unclear whether curry restaurants are considered a likely terror target, but the fact that the enemy obtained his deadly weapon in a part of town where restaurants are scarce shows a remarkable level of sophistication. We can all take comfort in knowing that law enforcement agencies recognize the potential threat and are training appropriately. Either that, or these images are fake.

[Link: Netamichelin via Korokoro Zaeega]

Ten Tokyo time-lapse trips

24 Aug 2007

Here are ten time-lapse videos shot in Tokyo...

1. 35 years of Shinjuku construction: 1969 to 2004 in 10 seconds.

2. Roppongi Hills construction: April 2001 to July 2003 in 35 seconds. (Watch the slower version here.)

3. Yamanote Tour: Circle the Yamanote Line in under 4 minutes. (Watch the slower version here.)

4. Lightning Tokyo: Electrical storm strikes Higashiyama, Tokyo.

5. Tokyo En Lapse: Quirky moonwalking, Yamanote Line footage, and a great sunset.

6. Stop Go Tokyo: The granddaddy of Tokyo time-lapse videos on YouTube. Awesome.

7. Tokyo Skyline: Cool time-lapse footage for the first minute.

8. Timelapse Video From Around The World: The Tokyo scenes begin at 1:47.

9. Tokyo 24-Hour Timelapse: 24 hours of webcam footage shot from a high-rise apartment near the Sumida River.

10. Turbulence -- Stop Motion Series (via Grow-a-Brain): Tons of stop-motion photo animations that explore the body language of Tokyo train passengers.

Otaku-style fuel tank doors

23 Aug 2007

Nothing says "fill 'er up" quite like these custom fuel doors on itasha seen in the parking lot at Comiket last weekend.

Otaku-style gas tank art --
Got high-octane?

Otaku-style gas tank art --
This is the gas tank!

Otaku-style gas tank art --
Please insert gently

Otaku-style gas tank art --
Regular fuel prohibited

Otaku-style gas tank art --
The gas tank is on the other side

Otaku-style gas tank art --
Suiseiseki's face is a little... heehee heehee... high-octane

Otaku-style gas tank art --

Otaku-style gas tank art --
Creamy, thick high-octane vehicle

Otaku-style gas tank art --

Otaku-style gas tank art --

Lots more photos from the parking lot: 1, 2, 3

[Via: New Akiba]