Japanese win Ig Nobel for wasabi smoke alarm A group of Japanese researchers won the spoof Ig Nobel chemistry prize Thursday for developing a smoke detector that sprays a wasabi scent to warn of possible fires. "We invented the wasabi fire alarm to wake up people with hearing disabilities in case of emergency," Makoto Imai, assistant professor at Shiga University of Medical Science, said before the ceremony at Harvard University, adding that the device is a "life-saver." The 21st annual event for the prizes, which the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research gives in 10 categories as a parody of the Nobel Prizes, was held at Harvard University's historic Sanders Theatre. It was the fifth straight year that an Ig Nobel prize has been won by Japanese.
1 Oct The language is unmistakably Japanese, the lyrics delivered in familiar high-pitched tones over a backdrop of electronica. But the wave of pop music sweeping Japan is not the sugar-coated homegrown variety that has long clogged the airwaves. Japanese teens and twentysomethings who once had ears only for J-pop are now transfixed by K-pop, a phenomenon from South Korea that is taking the world's second-biggest music market by storm. Korean pop culture's first foray into Japan was led almost a decade ago by Bae Yong-joon, a TV and film actor whose legions of mainly middle-aged, female devotees nicknamed him Yon-sama, or the Honourable Yon. (guardian.co.uk)
1 Oct With schoolchildren playing in front of her house every day, a tsunami survivor who identifies herself only as "Mrs. Sugawara," says she often thinks about suicide. Her daughter and two sons survived the March 11 disaster, but her husband and three grandchildren did not. "They were my future, and now they are gone and not coming back," says Mrs. Sugawara, 69. "The tsunami took my sense of hope away with them." Her lonely struggle mirrors that of thousands of tsunami survivors, especially seniors now isolated in temporary houses after spending months in crowded but more sociable gymnasiums. Since her children have gone to work elsewhere, Mrs. Sugawara lives alone, in a prefab unit in the parking lot of a junior high school overlooking the obliterated northeastern city of Rikuzen-Takata. (Washington Times)
1 Oct Local ordinances prohibiting companies from trading with organized crime syndicates will be put into force Saturday in Tokyo and Okinawa with the expectation of stopping their cash flow funds and eventually putting the mob out of business. Some legal experts welcome the moves by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Okinawa Prefectural Government, but they also urge local police to properly disclose to the general public detailed information about gangs so they can avoid trading with them and provide concrete examples of cases being banned by the new ordinances. (Japan Times)
30 Sep Tokyo Metropolitan Police earlier this week arrested the principals involved in the sale and copying of large quantities of uncensored adult video DVDs in Ikebukuro, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Sept. 30). Yoshitaka Iwaki, 45, verbally touted the sale of uncensored discs copied electromagnetically from a store he operated in Ikebukuro, located in Tokyo's Toshima Ward. A signboard with photos allowed customers to select discs they wished to purchase. Eiji Imai, 40, presided over an apartment, also in Toshima Ward, where the discs were stored. During a search of the premises on Wednesday, officers seized approximately 50,000 discs and copying equipment. (Tokyo Reporter)
30 Sep Investigators continue to search for a man who held up a suburban Tokyo bookstore by threatening the manager with a lit firework, the Metropolitan Police Department said Sept. 29. The man described as being about 160 centimeters tall and wearing a gray hoodie and white surgical mask made off with 5,000 yen (around $65) in cash after threatening the bookstore manager in Nishitokyo on Thursday night. (majirox news)