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In Japan, the global leader in high-tech toilet design, the latest restroom marvel should come with a health warning for hypochondriacs -- it doubles as a medical lab that can really spoil your day. Japanese toilets have long and famously dominated the world of bathroom hygiene with their array of functions, from posterior shower jets to perfume bursts and noise-masking audio effects for the easily-embarrassed.


 
 
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Toyota's Prius hybrid is becoming a little less quiet with a new electronic humming device the automaker hopes answers complaints from pedestrians who can't hear the top-selling car approaching. The ¥12,600 speaker system, which will be installed under the hood of the third-generation Prius, sets off a whirring sound designed to be about the same noise level as a regular car engine so it isn't annoying, Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday.


 
 
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It wasn't too long ago that Owen Westman's customers at Rickhouse Bar didn't even know there were Japanese whiskies available, let alone ask for them by name. "They certainly do now," he says. Although best known for sake, Japan has a whisky tradition stretching back more than a century. It's not widely available in the U.S., but that's changing as companies like major producer Suntory work to boost overseas sales.


 
 
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Some hotels around the world try to lure you in with perks such as free Internet, free continental breakfast or free night stays for repeat customers. One hotel in Japan though, tries to appeal to unique customers by offering something you won't find in most hotel rooms anywhere. That is a model train.


 
 
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Over 100,000 new 3-seat bicycles, designed to carry an adult and two children, have been sold since a ban on their sale was lifted in July of last year, a result one bicycle maker described as "beyond expectations." There were doubts that the 3-seaters would win acceptance from consumers because of their hefty price tags -- with an electric motor, the bicycles run for over 100,000 yen, and even without one, they go for over 40,000 yen -- but they have won popularity with parents raising young children.


 
 
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Tokyo's Haneda airport unveiled a new passenger terminal Monday that will handle international flights once its fourth runway becomes operational Oct. 21. The new five-story terminal will open the same day. The airport currently handles a limited number of international flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong, but once the new facility and runway are up and running, flights farther afield, including to Hawaii, San Francisco, Paris, Bangkok and Singapore, will be added.


 
 
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The Japanese have long endured crowded cities and scarce living space, with homes so humble a scornful European official once branded them rabbit hutches. But in recent years, Japanese architects have turned necessity into virtue, vying to design unorthodox and visually stunning houses on remarkably narrow pieces of land. In the process, they are also redefining the rules of home design.


 
 
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More women are making their mark in a once male-dominated corporate workplace. Both single and married, Japanese women are earning more, analysts say, and they're not afraid to spend what they earn. After 25 years working as an accounting assistant in a leading construction company, Asako Nakano decided two summers ago that she needed to stabilize her retirement plans. So she took the plunge and bought a condominium.


 
 
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The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Corporate Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. plan to increase their workforces in Asia by a total of more than 500 employees by the end of March to handle growing business opportunities in the region, sources close to the matter said Monday.


 
 
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Similar to U.S. iPhone network provider AT&T, Softbank Corp., the wireless carrier for Apple Inc.’s iPhone in Japan, often faces criticism that its cellular network can’t keep up with the data-heavy smartphones. Softbank’s solution? Starting in May, the company offered free broadband connections and free 3G femtocell mini base stations, which look similar to wireless routers, to Softbank subscribers. Femtocells are small cellular base stations (in this case 3G) that use a high-speed Internet connection to route calls to the wireless cellular network.