The creator, Nico Nico Douga user "shige-ruuu," says he made the video without using photo-editing software. The images were captured with a webcam, and the effects were achieved by changing the camera position and adjusting the focus, brightness, zoom, exposure and gain.
The original stills and music come from this video for the song "Bad Apple!!" (arranged by Masayoshi Minoshima, featuring vocals by nomico) from the Touhou Project game series.
In the coming Robot Age, assembly lines will be manned by tireless robot workers. Once the robots start building newer and better versions of themselves, the need for human factory workers will cease to exist.
Surgical micro-robots that navigate the human body will usher in a new era of medicine. Equipped with lasers and tiny hands, these miniature machines will be able to perform delicate operations inside the body (such as replacing damaged blood vessels with artificial ones), reducing the need for open surgery.
A vast subway system, extensive subterranean shopping arcades and miles of pedestrian tunnels make Tokyo's underground city a hotbed of human activity -- and a fertile source of mystery and intrigue. Here is a look at six of the most persistent rumors to emerge from beneath the city's streets.
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Rumor #1: Government officials have access to secret trains.
The Tokyo subway system is the most highly used rapid transit system in the world, with an estimated eight million daily passengers using 13 lines run by two major operators (Tokyo Metro and Toei). Of the roughly 300 stations that make up the 300-kilometer (200-mile) network, few are as shrouded in mystery as Kokkai-gijidōmae station, located next to the National Diet Building in central Tokyo.
Two subway lines -- the Marunouchi and Chiyoda lines -- stop at Kokkai-gijidōmae station. The Chiyoda line platform is situated about 38 meters (125 ft) underground, making it the deepest station in the Tokyo Metro network (though many stations on the Toei Ōedo Line are deeper underground). Rumors claim the underground facility existed as an air raid shelter before it was renovated into a subway station in the 1950s. The station's depth and its proximity to the Diet Building has led to speculation that it is designed to function as a nuclear fallout shelter.
Kokkai-gijidōmae station is also rumored to have a secret door that connects directly to the basement of the adjacent House of Representatives Annex Building #2.
In addition, old construction blueprints of the Chiyoda line platform reportedly show an extra level even deeper underground. This concealed floor ostensibly houses a platform for special trains that transport government officials out of the city in the event of a major disaster.
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Rumor #2: There is a nuclear shelter under the Diet Building.
Like Kokkai-gijidōmae station, the National Diet Building is suspected of hiding a few secrets. Rumors suggest the building has at least five underground levels (instead of just the one that the public knows about).
Is there a nuclear shelter beneath the National Diet Building?
These secret underground floors are believed to extend at least 38 meters (125 ft) underground and are rumored to include a bomb shelter and a tunnel leading to the secret subway platform beneath Kokkai-gijidōmae station.
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Rumor #3: Secret tunnels link key buildings in central Tokyo.
Other nearby government buildings are also believed to be sitting on top of secrets. The Prime Minister's residence, for example, is suspected of having five levels underground, as well as a tunnel linking it to the Diet Building.
There are also rumors of a network of tunnels linking important government buildings in central Tokyo. The oldest is an underground passageway connecting the old Tokyo Central Post Office building with Tokyo station. This tunnel, which was once used to transport mail back and forth between the buildings, was constructed in the early 20th century, well before the Ginza line (Tokyo's oldest subway) opened in 1927. Similar passageways are believed to exist between government ministry buildings in Nagatachō, Kasumigaseki, Ōtemachi and Marunouchi, as well as the Imperial Palace and Hie shrine.
This network of secret tunnels is also believed to include the National Diet Library, which houses about 12 million books and periodicals on eight underground floors. The floors are off limits to the public, and journalists have reportedly been denied access to the lower levels on multiple occasions, leading to suspicion that the library has something to hide.
Floor plan of National Diet Library Annex
According to the National Diet Library website, the stacks were built underground in order to preserve the surrounding landscape. In addition, underground stacks are seen as more thermally stable, energy-efficient and cost-effective, as well as less vulnerable to earthquakes.
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Rumor #4: The Ōedo line was built for military and relief purposes.
Another source of mystery is the Ōedo line, which runs in a 40-kilometer (25-mile) loop around Tokyo and intersects with every other subway line in the city.
The fact that the Ōedo line's 38 stations are situated as deep as 48 meters (157 ft) underground has led to speculation that they are designed to serve as nuclear fallout shelters.
Journalist Shun Akiba, who has written several books documenting the mysteries of the Tokyo underground, claims the Ōedo line tunnels existed long before the city decided to turn them into public subways. He believes the tunnels are part of a much larger subterranean complex built after World War II in preparation for a possible nuclear attack.
Whether or not this claim is true, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is known to maintain a number of emergency warehouses at Ōedo line stations. The warehouses are stocked with food and supplies to be used in the event of a major disaster.
Here is some video that takes a look inside a 1,480 square meter (16,000 sq ft) warehouse located 20 meters (65 ft) beneath a Tokyo sidewalk.
The warehouse locations are reportedly kept secret in order to prevent people from gathering at the sites after a disaster, though two are known to exist at Azabu-jūban and Kiyosumi-shirakawa stations.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has also conducted disaster drills on the subway line. In the year 2000, the government demonstrated, among other things, how Ground Self-Defense Force troops might use the Ōedo line in the event of a major emergency. As part of the exercise, dubbed "Big Rescue 2000," a special Ōedo line train transported troops from Nerima ward to a staging area in Shin-kiba (near Tokyo Bay). The exercise appears to have fueled suspicions that the line was built for military and disaster relief purposes.
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Rumor #5: The Yūrakuchō line was built for military use.
The Yūrakuchō line is also rumored to have been built for military purposes. This speculation arises from the fact that key military facilities are located at several stations on the line, including Ichigaya, which is home to the Ministry of Defense headquarters, as well as Nerima, Heiwadai and Wakō, which are near military bases. Furthermore, Inariyama-kōen station on the Seibu-Ikebukuro line (an extension of the Yūrakuchō line) is near Iruma Air Base.
Rumors claim that Yūrakuchō line trains are designed to transport military supplies and personnel between these sites, if necessary. In addition, the tunnels have high ceilings, leading to speculation that they can serve as emergency underground roads for trucks and armored vehicles.
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Rumor #6: There is a secret base under Shōwa Memorial Park.
Media reports have also speculated about the existence of a secret government base located beneath Shōwa Memorial Park in Tachikawa (western Tokyo). Although the government has offered no official comment on these reports, the claims are lent some credibility by the fact that the park is located near the Tachikawa Wide-Area Disaster Management Base, which is intended to function as a government backup site in an emergency. The US military's Yokota Air Base is also located in the vicinity.
[Note: This is the latest in a series of weekly posts on Japanese urban legends. Check back next week for another report.]
Whether it's genetically-modified mutant chickens or burgers made of eyeballs, tales of tainted fast food are favorite fodder for urban legends. In Japan, one juicy rumor claims that a popular gyūdon (beef on rice) restaurant chain secretly substitutes its beef with the meat of the ririkan, a type of giant rat from Australia.
Where's the beef?
Considering that the ririkan is a nonexistent animal and there are no high-profile rodent farming operations in Australia, it is safe to assume this claim is false -- but how did the rumor get started?
One contributing factor might be that fast-food gyūdon is so incredibly inexpensive in Japan. Low prices raise suspicions among consumers, leading some to conclude that cheap, low-grade alternatives are being substituted on the sly.
But why giant rats from Australia?
Perhaps it is simply a case of two separate facts becoming jumbled in the public's mind. First, Australia is seen as a cheap and plentiful source of meat. More than 70% of Japan's beef imports now come from Down Under, and the price is low. Second, the consumption of large rodents is not unprecedented in Japan. The nutria (Myocastor coypus) -- a large, rat-like rodent native to South America -- served as a source of food in Japan during the lean war years.
The short-lived love affair with the nutria began in 1939, when the Japanese military imported 150 of the animals from France. A large-scale breeding effort was launched with the aim of creating a cheap supply of meat and fur, and by 1944 the nation's nutria population had reached an estimated 40,000.
Wild nutria in Hyōgo prefecture. Itadakimasu!
After the war, however, the demand for nutria meat and fur evaporated. Nutria farms shut down, and many animals were released into the wild, where they thrived. Decades later, nutria populations have become established in various parts of Japan, with the largest numbers found in western Honshū (though sightings have been reported as far east as Chiba prefecture). Today, the nutria is regarded as an invasive species that spoils the landscape, interferes with rice and barley farming, and threatens the habitat of an endangered dragonfly (Libellula angelina). In Okayama prefecture, which boasts the largest nutria population, as many as 2,000 of the animals are captured and killed each year in organized culling operations.
Nutria meat is no longer eaten in Japan, but the fact that the animal looks like a giant rat and once appeared on dinner tables might add a touch of plausibility to rumors of rodent flesh being served up at fast-food gyūdon restaurants (though it does nothing to explain the origin of the word "ririkan").
Whatever the source of the ririkan rumors, scholars suggest that talk of tainted fast food is an inevitable by-product of our modern-day appetite for convenient (and less healthy) food over traditional home-cooked meals. In addition to demonstrating the importance of fast food in our consumer-driven culture, these stories also reveal a lingering mistrust of the large corporations that manufacture the stuff we eat.
[Note: This is the latest in a series of weekly posts on Japanese urban legends. Check back next week for another report.]
Researchers from the Machine Perception Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego have teamed up with Japanese robotics firm Kokoro Co., Ltd. to create a sophisticated humanoid robot modeled after a 1-year-old child.
The baby robot -- named "Diego-san" -- is designed to help researchers study how infants develop motor skills during the first year of life, according to a recent Kokoro newsletter (PDF). In addition to providing clues about how infants interact with the physical world, researchers will also use the robot to explore how babies acquire and refine the ability to use nonverbal communication such as gestures and facial expressions.
Diego-san's body has over 60 moving parts, making it Kokoro's most sophisticated robot to date. The robot weighs 30 kilograms (66 lbs) and is 1.3 meters (4 ft 3 in) tall, which is quite a bit larger than the average 1-year-old.
The baby humanoid also has a rather sizable head, thanks to 20 moving parts that allow it to make facial expressions, along with high-resolution cameras for eyes, an audio speaker in the mouth, and 6-axis accelerometers in the ears that allow it to detect orientation and movement.
Other features include 5-fingered hands capable of holding objects such as plastic bottles, sensors that detect the amount of pressure placed on different joints in its body, and the ability to stand up from a sitting position in a chair.
Apparently, Diego-san's face is still under development (the rubber face shown in the photos is just the first prototype). The researchers are still debating about whether the robot should have a realistic human-like face or one that looks more mechanical.
Can Doraemon save the debt-crippled Japan Airlines?
Their stocks are plunging and they are preparing to file for bankruptcy, but that's not stopping the struggling Japan Airlines (JAL) from offering travelers the opportunity to fly with Doraemon, the beloved cartoon robo-cat.
According to a press release on the company website, JAL will begin operating the "Doraemon Jet" -- a Boeing 777-300 decorated with large colorful images of Doraemon characters -- on domestic routes (mainly between Tokyo Haneda, Sapporo, Itami, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Okinawa) beginning in mid-February.
The anime-themed aircraft is the result of a joint effort between JAL and the creators of the Doraemon movies to promote this year's annual Doraemon film, Doraemon The Movie: Nobita's Great Battle of the Mermaid King (a.k.a. Doraemon The Legend), which will hit theaters on March 6. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Doraemon movie franchise.
In addition to operating the Doraemon Jet, JAL will be offering Doraemon-themed tours to Okinawa from February 15 through April 30 with daily departures from Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. The carrier will also provide a selection of Doraemon entertainment on domestic and international flights, as well as a Doraemon kids' corner at airports and limited-edition Doraemon goods through their in-flight catalog.
Call it the rumor that wouldn't die. For decades, people in Japan have alleged that Sony installs a secret timer in its products that causes them to fail after a specific period of time.
Speculation about the existence of this so-called "Sony timer" emerged in the 1980s and 1990s as consumers grew increasingly suspicious of Sony devices that stopped working just after the warranty expired. According to the theory, Sony's time-activated kill switches are designed to boost sales by driving consumers to purchase replacement parts, repairs, or new models (often the cheapest option) after a scheduled period.
Today, decades after the rumors began, people still talk about the Sony timer. In 2006, after a string of laptop explosions prompted a global recall of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries manufactured by Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Japanese Internet forums were flooded with sarcastic comments raving about how effective the latest generation of Sony timers had become.
Clearly, much of the speculation about hidden Sony timers is tongue-in-cheek, but some people appear to take the claims seriously, pointing to the suspiciously precise timing of product failures as evidence of foul play. Regardless of whether or not Sony timers actually exist, the company has been dogged by the perception that its products break down just outside warranty.
Although "Sony timer" has long been a household phrase in Japan, company officials have only rarely acknowledged the rumors in public. In June 2006, an executive who oversaw the establishment of the VAIO customer service center attracted attention when he mentioned the Sony timer in a speech at G-Force Japan, a large annual conference for the Japanese call center industry. "It's absurd to think that Sony would install timers that cause products to fail just 13 months after purchase," he told the audience. "But for some reason, people continue to have this perception. Our marketing, customer service and product development departments are making a deliberate and concerted effort to improve Sony's image," he said.
At a shareholders' meeting in June 2007, in a speech outlining new measures to ensure product quality and improve the Sony brand image, former company president (current vice-chairman) Ryoji Chubachi admitted he knew the phrase "Sony timer."
Despite the decades of rumors and speculation, nobody has ever proven the existence of the Sony timer. Skeptics argue that if such timers actually existed, a rival company would likely have found one and made it public. With this in mind, the Sony timer is widely considered an urban legend.
[Note: This is the second installment in a series of weekly posts about urban legends from Japan. Check back next week for another report.]
In a salute to luxury brand Chanel, artist Tetsuya Noguchi has created some concept samurai armor suits designed to appeal to the fashion-conscious warrior. Made from resin, cashew lacquer, cloth and glass, the exquisitely crafted protective suits sport the iconic double-C logo, allowing the wearer to flaunt his superior social status while crushing the enemy on the battlefield.