Volcanic eruptions drape Kagoshima in ash Repeated eruptions from the Sakurajima volcano have produced large amounts of ash draping the city center Sept. 15, the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Agency said. Eruptions from the volcano overlooking the city of Kagoshima began on Wednesday morning, dumping 217 grams of ash per square meter (7 ounces per 10 square feet), the third-highest level of ash to fall since records began in 1994. Volcanic ash covered much of Kagoshima's Tenmmonkan entertainment and business district on Thursday morning, visibly forming clouds as cars drove through it and many pedestrians covering their faces with towels or surgical masks to avoid breathing it in.
15 Sep Shimoda, a small seaside city in Shizuoka prefecture, was home to as many as 200 geisha working its tea-houses as recently as 30 years ago. However, the number of geisha currently based in Shimoda has now declined to just five, prompting the rare intervention of government officials to keep their presence alive. As part of the plan, three prospective geisha will receive wages from central government employment subsidies for a six-month period, during which they will be trained fully in traditional singing, dancing and instrument playing. The geisha training proposal aims to reverse the city's dramatic decline of its geisha population - a problem replicated across much of modern-day Japan. (telegraph.co.uk)
15 Sep The Kyoto Prefectural Government has drafted an ordinance to make it the first prefecture in Japan to outlaw possession of pornographic images or video featuring children under 18. Under Japan's Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Protecting Children, the manufacturing and trafficking of pornography featuring children under 18 is prohibited, but possession of child porn is not illegal. If Kyoto passes the draft and forms an ordinance outlawing possession of child pornography, it will seek to issue governor's orders to destroy the material and levy fines of up to 300,000 yen ($3,913) on offenders. (majirox news)
15 Sep Following her arrest last month for hemp possession, DJ and model Ayumi Takahashi has been arrested again - this time for stimulant use, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Sept. 14). Takahashi, 26, residing in Tokyo's Itabashi Ward, was cited today by officers of the the Tanishi station of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police for violating the stimulants control law. "I received it from my boyfriend's older brother," she is quoted as telling police. (Tokyo Reporter)
14 Sep Japan's Supreme Court said Tuesday it has turned down an appeal from a former Japanese Red Army member who was sentenced to life imprisonment by lower courts for his involvement in the 1977 hijacking of a Japan Airlines plane and the 1974 seizure of the French Embassy in The Hague. The defendant, Jun Nishikawa, 61, can still file an objection with the top court against the decision but it is limited to technicalities such as errors in wording. Tuesday's decision is expected to become final and binding as the court rarely accepts such objections. Lower court rulings show that Nishikawa conspired with other Japanese Red Army members to seize the French Embassy in The Hague in September 1974, held hostages for up to about 100 hours, and fired at policemen, wounding two of them. (Mainichi)
14 Sep "My boyfriend was so busy, he repeatedly cancelled our dates, and we finally wound up on a 'date' at his house, watching DVDs together. We were slouching on the sofa and he had his hands around my waist. It felt so good! Having gone so long without any lovin', my expectations were soaring." Thus begins an inspired amateur account of lusty romance from the June edition of ladies' magazine Renai Tengoku, as introduced in Shukan Bunshun (Sept. 8). "Then suddenly - you're never gonna believe this - his cell phone rang and he got summoned to an urgent job. He dashed into the other room to change his clothes, and there I sat, wallowing in shock and disappointment." (Tokyo Reporter)