|Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival) in Fujieda, Shizuoka|
Living in Japan
Time to put away the winter clothes, because Cool Biz is starting early this year! (Japan Times)
Who you buy a home from can make a big difference in price (Japan Times)
Can an expat in Japan ever fit in? Long-term Japan resident @Hikosaemon talks about it on Tokyo Podcast.
Those who've had their hair done in Japan know how nice it can be to have their hair washed and at some salons, get a massage. But what if a robot takes over the hair washing role? Panasonic’s shampoo robot begins public testing [near Osaka] (The Japan Daily Press)
Apparently local rivers might be dangerous for more than one reason... Kanagawa river yields three piranhas (Japan Times)
Children in Limbo: In Japan, what happens to children after their parents divorce? (Japan Subculture Research Center)
Law on new flu outbreaks enacted (Japan Times) - According to the article: "If a new type of flu breaks out in Japan or abroad, the central and local governments will set up task forces, quarantine people attempting to enter Japan, and order doctors to examine those suspected of being infected, according to the new law."
Foreigners to start getting notices for new registry system (Japan Times) - In case you haven't already heard, the current alien registration system will be abolished and a new system, in which foreigners will be registered in the same registry as Japanese citizens, will begin July 9. This also means no more reentry permits for trips outside of Japan if you return within a year.
Rainy season kicks off in Okinawa (Japan Times), and guess what? It's EARLY. So who else is looking forward to an early rainy season this year?
As a result of numerous accidents involving children in school zones and children's walking routes between school and home, the government and National Police Agency are looking to make some changes to make Japan's roads safer for kids. One proposal? Lower speed limits to 40km/hr on roads less than 6m wide. I don't know about you, but that still seems fast for a narrow road... (Japan Today)
Ruling party ends up back where it started with assistance for families (Yen for Living) - It makes the child assistance for families seem pointless.
Retail drug sales on Internet legal (Japan Times) - Hooray! Kenko.com can still sell their OTC drugs!
Just for Fun
I had no idea so much went into titanium glasses frames, and though it might sound kind of boring, I was utterly fascinated reading this and its relation to the birthplace of the frames, Sabae, Fukui. (Nippon.com)
Ever wonder why it sounds like Japanese people speak so fast? Apparently Japanese and English (and other languages) have different information rates. Some are more information dense, meaning less needs to be said comparatively to other languages. Worth a read. (Tofugu)
Ever wonder what the Google Japan offices look like and what food they serve? Check them out here. (tokyo eats)
Travel and Recreation
122 of 136 drivers have been drowsy or fell asleep while on duty, driving? Doesn't make me want to ride a long-distance bus in Japan. (Japan Times)
JAL renews homepage to reflect customer feedback and improve usability (Japan Today) - Much better. English website update coming soon.
Ever heard of a Gigapixel image? No? They're created by combining at least 50 images (sometimes up to a 1,000), so there are over one billion pixels per image. You can check out these fancy images for yourself of the rustic World Heritage Site, Shirakawa-gō, and some 360° panoramas as well. Really cool.
ANA to launch Narita-Seattle route from July 25 (Japan Today) - Well, I'm from Seattle so maybe this most exciting to me, not that I plan to fly ANA unless they're cheaper than everyone else and I get miles for flying...
More neat panoramas, but this time of Miyajima. (Nippon.com)
Tokyo to be treated to rare annular eclipse, Venus transit (Japan Times) - Do you have special glasses to watch the eclipse? Make sure you're prepared.
If you've ever wanted an onigiri (rice ball) to have more than one flavor, you might be interested in "The Super Rice Ball," which has four flavors in one (larger) onigiri. (RocketNews24)
Japanese Soba and the Broth of Life (NY Times)
Vegetarians, you might like trying some "veggie sushi." Not what you might expect. (RocketNews24)
Ever wonder how those plastic food replicas, the ones you see in glass cases outside restaurants, are made? Check out these videos. (RocketNews24)
If you're in the greater Tokyo area, or even visiting at some point, I highly recommend the "bills" restaurant! Get the ricotta hotcakes. Get. Them.
Fukushima Nuclear Crisis/Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami
Apparently some wholesalers think they can get away with relabeling Fukushima cucumbers to sell in Tokyo. (Japan Today)
Cesium exceeding new limit detected in 51 food items in nine prefectures (Japan Times) - Mushrooms and some seafood seem to be the main culprits.
Utilities may not meet August power demand (Japan Times)
[Fukushima] Plant used bad breaker for decades (Japan Times) - At this point, this hardly comes as a surprise.
Fukushima air to stay radioactive in 2022 (Japan Times)