As first in the world, Japanese researchers have produced a new alloy similar to the rare metal palladium, a breakthrough that could help alleviate the nation's dependence on other countries for this resource. The alloy was produced with nanotechnology and has properties similar to those of palladium, a rare metal located between rhodium and silver on the periodic table of the elements. Led by Prof. Hiroshi Kitagawa of Kyoto University, the research team also produced alternatives to other kinds of rare metals.
A Buddhist temple in Kyoto is displaying its historic sculptures in 3D on iPads in a bid to provide 21st century appreciation of the artefacts. The project has been launched at Byodoin, one of the nation's oldest temples dating back nearly 1,000 years and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.Five iPads have been installed alongside a series of historic Buddhist sculptures in the temple, located in the Kyoto region, displaying images of the artworks in three-dimensional form.
The main problem with Japan's English-language education lies in its sterile approach to words, as if a grasp of their exact meaning is sufficient preparation for understanding and speaking the language. It isn't. You can't look at a box of paint tubes and visualize a Rembrandt. Words have no meaning outside the context of culture, history and the personalities of native speakers.
To continue or not continue? That seems to be the question facing a good 10 percent of the Japanese population. These are people grappling with the horns of an ornery dilemma. An estimated 1 in 10 Japanese of school age and above are said to be immersing themselves in the study of the English language.
The country that brought us vending machines for hamburgers and adult videos, as well as ones that use facial-recognition technology, now introduces a solar-powered variety. Though Japan's population is declining, its numbers are holding steady when it comes to vending machines. Over five million are plugged into the grid, about one for every 23 citizens -- the most anywhere.
The increase in the tax on cigarettes in October has reignited sales of loose tobacco in Japan, which is designed to be smoked in old-fashioned pipes known as "kiseru." The Japanese government raised the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products as much as 40 percent on October 1, with retailers reporting "panic buying" in the weeks leading up to that date.
Japanese retailer Ryohin Keikaku Co. has published a book detailing the history of its popular Muji consumer product brand to mark its 30th anniversary. The 256-page book, which is available in Japanese, English and Chinese, is filled with photographs of Muji products and retail spaces around the world. It is the "most natural and realistic depiction of Muji," Kenya Hara, a designer and Muji advisory board member, said recently in New York.
The iPhone's popularity in Japan is cracking open an industry long thought inaccessible to outsiders. For years, the typical Japanese cell phone - built to operate on a network hardly used anywhere else in the world - as been stuffed with quirky games and other applications that cater to finicky local tastes. That helps explain why Japan's mobile phone industry earned the nickname "Galapagos" - rawing parallels to the exotic animals that evolved on the isolated islands off South America.
Pizza delivery, European suits and foreign beach condos: Thanks to a stronger yen, Japanese consumers are snapping them up at big discounts. The yen's recent surge—the dollar closed Monday in Tokyo at 84.04 yen, stronger than its 15-year low of 79.75 yen—has lowered prices on imported items from avocados to Audis. To the delight of many consumers here, the yen's gain also makes it easier for Japanese to travel abroad and invest in foreign assets, including real estate and mutual funds that target emerging-market stocks or U.S. high-yield bonds.