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new-shibuya-station-2019
Tokyu has finally unveiled the design of the newly planned Shibuya skyscraper part of the huge Shibuya Station renovation project currently underway.

If all goes as planned (and it usually does in Japan) the new development will open in 2019, a year ahead of the anticipated Tokyo Olympics. According to the press release (PDF) the 49-story building will be a mixed-use facility with retail, cultural spaces, offices and, of course, the 3000 square-meter sky deck.

The project is being jointly designed by a group of renowned Japanese architectural offices: Kengo Kuma, SANAA and Nikken.

It really looks quite pretty. The site linked above has a number of additional images from different perspectives, and it seems the designers did a wonderful job. Hopefully reality will be the same.

This is fairly optimistic goal and would be wonderful if it can be realized. Currently Shibuya Station is a mess, both from the angle of trying to navigate the station itself, and also due to all the construction. If they can finish this in a mere four year that would be amazing and likely well received.

I am always fascinated by intriguing Japanese history like this where a secret Japanese Navy bunker in Yokohama gives a glimpse of the finals days of WWII.

Construction of the underground tunnels began in July 1944, mobilizing troops and Korean forced laborers. A room for the chief commander, Adm. Soemu Toyota, and key departments were up and running in a few months.

Only in the chief commander’s room, cement on the walls was smoothed out, the floor was covered with tatami mats and there was a door. He climbed up and down 126 stairs between the two command centers — above and below ground. His room was slightly elevated so that the floor remained dry, and there was even a flush toilet.

The tunnel command center also had ventilation ducts, a battery room, food storage with ample stock of sake, in addition to deciphering and cable and communications departments. Marks on the ceiling remain from where overhead lights hung. The tunnels housing the command center and its facilities under the campus are 30 meters underground and stretch about 2.6 km in length.

The conditions for those leading the war contrasted with those of ordinary people, who hid in small mud shelters as firebombs rained down from the sky, Akuzawa said.

Hisanao Oshima, who was there from February to May 1945 as a communications crew monitoring Morse code, still cannot forget the moments when he lost signals from kamikaze fighters. “The sound stops, and that means he crashed. I just cannot get that out of my head,” he said in an interview with NHK.

It is really neat for this to exist so close to where I live. If a chance to take a tour of these tunnels ever came up I would surely jump on it in a heartbeat.

I know there is an entire network of underground military tunnels running all over the Kanagawa-to-Tokyo area. Tunnels can be entered in Yokosuka Naval Base and drives all the way up to multiple locations in Yokohama and other Kanagawa bases as well, such as Camp Zama, Atsugi, Yokohama North Dock, and more. While I am sure they are insect and rat infested to disturbing levels, it would be a fascinating underground – literally – look at some Japanese history we rarely read or hear about.

An obviously clueless Japanese Judge orders Google to delete links to a man’s previous under-age sexual solicitation arrests from the search engine in an attempt to hide his embarrassing past from the world:

In 2012, the man was arrested for paying a girl under the age of 18 for sexual favors. He was charged with violating child prostitution laws and fined 500,000 yen. However, his name and news reports regarding the arrest still come up in Google searches.

Claiming that this was an infringement upon his personal rights, the man petitioned to have the information deleted from the search engine. His lawyer told the court his client had been rehabilitated and that it was difficult to get on with his life as long as his arrest record remains online.

In handing down the ruling, the presiding judge said such relatively minor crimes do not hold any particular significance to the public and therefore continuing to display such information three years after the incident does not have much merit for society at large.

Someone needs to learn how Google and the internets work. Deleting links from Google’s search engine will not make the stories go away nor will it make them more difficult to find. In fact, this ruling will likely shed more light on his asshattery.

As an aside, I find it quite interesting how the presiding judge considers underage sexual solicitation to have been a “relatively minor crime” considering how damaging it likely will be to her for the rest of her life. Unbelievably out of touch.

Welcome to the Streisand Effect.

The 71yo Japanese man who self-immolated on an Osaka-bound shinkansen last week was apparently so poor he claims he could not live on his government funded pension, according to his neighbor:

The neighbor said Hayashizaki had repeatedly complained that he only received a pension of ¥240,000 ($1,960) every two months, despite having made payments for 35 years.

He said he had almost nothing left after paying taxes and utility costs, and that he was unable to live on the pension after quitting the cleaning company.

A woman in her 50s who lives near the apartment said Hayashizaki was a long-term resident. She said he was already living there when she moved to the neighborhood 20 years ago.

“He seemed to stay in his apartment during the daytime. I could hear the sound of a television there,” she said. “He barely interacted with his neighbors. . . . I have never seen him with someone else.”

Nothing will ever excuse his dastardly suicidal deed. There was no need to take additional innocent lives.

Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, Japan.

I was walking close to Tokyo Tower both before and after a meeting in Kamiyacho late this afternoon. Because of how close the tower is to where I was, I though I would take a slight detour and snap a few pictures of probably my favorite Tokyo structure. Tokyo Tower has charisma, appeal, and character no other building in Tokyo has, not even the fabled Sky Tree.

Wired on how space particles are helping map the inside of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant:

The detector works like this: Durham and his co-investigators sandwich the pipe in question between two four-by-four-foot aluminum slabs. When an errant muon passes through one of the slabs, it sends a message to a computer, which logs the particle’s trajectory. The muon continues through the pipe, then passes through the slab on the other side—which again measures the particle’s angle. By calculating the difference between angles, researchers can get an idea of the path the muon took through the pipe’s molecules. And with enough muons, they can draw a pretty good picture of what’s going on inside the pipe.

Or inside anything, really. Muon detectors were invented after the 9/11 attacks, as a way of looking for smuggled nukes. It’s no problem to sneak a bomb past an X-ray detector. But muons can see through cars, can see through boats, can see through shipping containers. “At Freeport, in the Bahamas, they have a detector big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through,” says Durham. The detector can find a lump of uranium in about a minute. “A lot of stuff goes through the Bahamas on its way to the East coast,” says Durham.

But finding a glowing hunk of uranium is a lot easier than detecting the structure of a faulty pipe—hence the Los Alamos breakthrough. Compared to the Bahaman detector, the Los Alamos model moves pretty slow. This is because muons are rare. “We only get one muon per square centimeter per minute,” says Durham, so it can take about 4 to 6 hours to survey a single section of pipe. Increase the area of the detector, and you can get a faster picture.

This sounds quite bad ass!

Fox Sports reports Japan beat England and will once again face the United States in the World Cup finals:

Japan advanced to the Women’s World Cup final with a 2-1 win over England on Wednesday thanks to an own-goal in stoppage time to set up an historic rematch. The reigning champions now will face off in Vancouver against the team they beat in 2011, the United States (live, FOX, FOX Sports Go, Sunday, 7 p.m. ET).

England’s Laura Bassett inexplicably poked the ball back into her own net in stoppage time, ricocheting it off the crossbar and giving keeper Karen Bardsley no chance on it. It was a cruel end to the Lionesses’ campaign as in truth they had been the better side by far, but they cracked late.

I love watching Japan play the United States because I am happy no matter which team wins. It literally is a win-win situation for me.

The Guardian has some additional information about yesterday’s nutso who set himself on fire while aboard an Osaka-bound shinkansen. Apparently the Japanese woman who died during his suicide attempt was on the way to a major shrine to give thanks for her peaceful life:

A woman killed when a man deliberately set himself on fire aboard a moving bullet train in Japan was on her way to a shrine to give thanks for her “peaceful life”, it emerged on Wednesday.

Yoshiko Kuwahara died after 71-year-old Haruo Hayashizaki doused himself in fuel and sparked the fire on the busy train.

“Today I’m visiting Ise shrine to give thanks for my calm, peaceful life,” 52-year-old Kuwahara wrote on her Facebook page on Tuesday morning as she boarded the super-fast Nozomi bullet train at Yokohama.

Ise shrine is one of the most sacred spots in Japan’s native Shintoism, and a major tourist attraction.

How sad is that?

Irish Times on Japan considering moving elderly families from Tokyo to relieve the congestion overpopulation in the city has created:

Over the next decade, the population of over-75s in greater Tokyo will grow by 1.75 million, warns the council. Looking after 5.7 million very elderly people will overwhelm already stretched services; for one thing, it predicts, more than 130,000 could be left without beds in care homes.

Diffusing Japan’s demographic time-bomb has become something of a political obsession.

By 2060, Japan’s population is projected to fall from 127 million to about 87 million, of which almost 40 per cent will be 65 or older. Last year the government pledged to somehow stem the fall at 100 million.

That is some way to thank older Tokyo residents who dedicated their life to the city – shove them in the backwoods to die alone. What is wrong with people?

The Japan Times on two dead after suspected self-immolation on Osaka-bound Shinkansen:

According to NHK, JR Tokai has reported a man poured an oil-like liquid on his head and attempted self-immolation around 11:30 a.m. on Tokaido Shinkansen.

He, and a female passenger, are believed to have died aboard the bullet train south of Tokyo on Tuesday, reported the fire department in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Two other passengers were reported to be severely injured.

These selfish individuals need to stop inconveniencing and harming other Japanese citizens with their self-masturbatory suicide plans.

Japan Today on a 14-year-old girl jumping to death at Tama Plaza Station on the Den-en-Toshi Line in Kanagawa, just outside of Toyko:

According to police, the incident occurred at around 6:30 a.m. on the Tokyu Denentoshi line. Sankei Shimbun reported that the girl, who attended a private junior high school, was in her uniform. Witnesses and station surveillance camera footage showed her leaving her bag on the platform, then run a few steps and jump onto the tracks as the train came in.

Police said no passengers on the train were injured, but services were delayed for about 90 minutes, affecting an estimated 17,000 commuters, Tokyu Corp said.

So sad that someone so young believed this was their own recourse.

As an aside, I was one of the 17k+ commuters affected by the train delay. It was unbelievable how crazy the trains were that morning. It is unfortunate it was due to suicide-by-train, something that is all too common in Japan.

The barriers preventing this very type of behavior cant be built fast enough.

Huffington Post on a hunky gorilla at a Nagoya zoo that has Japanese female fans flocking and falling in love:

Shabani is reportedly a devoted father to his two children. He was born in the Netherlands and raised in Australia before settling with two female mates in Japan.

CNN reports that Shabani’s enclosure at the zoo is surrounded by fans, who shout “Look at me, Shabani!” and “This way, Shabani!” when he comes out.

They reportedly post pictures of the sexy primate, calling him “too handsome” or “ikemen,” a word that normally describes an attractive young man.

When the Daily Mail asked zookeeper Allan Schmidt if Shabani’s popularity surprised him, he replied: “No, because the Japanese are crazy … The Japanese love their fads.”

This story is both a bit creepy while at the same time quite believable. Japan most definitely loves its fads, however I would not go so far as to call Japanese people crazy.

The Japanese are no crazier than their American counterparts when it comes to fads. After all, is was America who turned Honey Boo Boo into a television sensation, among other peculiar trends.

saturday-sunset-201506

The sunset today was absolutely captivating, with the red, orange, and purple tones and the lovely cloud formations. It sucks I was unable to get to a location with a clear view of the sky, instead having to deal with power lines, a house, and other annoying obstacles. In the end I am quite pleased with how the photo turned out and that I was able to capture the stunning sunset.

Camera: iPhone 6 with minor post-processing in Camera+

PC World on an almost completed Google-backed project for a 60Tbps undersea cable between Oregon and Japan exponentially increasing networking capacity between the two countries:

The 9,000-kilometer FASTER cable will have a peak capacity of 60 terabytes per second (Tbps) when it enters operation next year, joining Japan with Oregon on the West Coast of the U.S.

Apart from Google, the project is backed by telecom carriers KDDI of Japan, SingTel of Singapore, Global Transit of Malaysia, China Mobile International and China Telecom Global.

At the landing site in Shima, Mie Prefecture, east of Osaka, a machine pulled the cable onto the beach from an offshore cable-laying ship while stacks of armored pipes, which shield the link from anchors near the shore, were piled nearby.

A Shinto ritual was held to pray for the success of the project, which will cost roughly US$300 million. The cable was routed into a landing station building that houses optical equipment.

The FASTER cable will also be connected to existing infrastructure offshore at Chikura, Chiba Prefecture, southeast of Tokyo, next month. With six fiber pairs and 100 wavelengths, it will have a peak capacity 300 million times greater than the TAT-1 transatlantic cable of 1956, which could handle 36 telephone calls, or roughly 200kbps, Google said.

KDDI said it was 3000 times faster than the 20Gbps TPC-5 cable system, which began service in 1995.

Consumers on either side of the Pacific, however, won’t have the option of choosing which of the several undersea cables their data goes through.

It will be interesting to see how this affects internet speeds for the average home and mobile user.

The Japan Times on Japan executing a convict for murdering a woman in Nagoya:

The ministry says Kanda kidnapped his victim from a Nagoya street with the intention of mugging her. After confining her in his vehicle, he robbed her of a cash card and “coiled layers of adhesive tape around her head” before bludgeoning and fatally strangling her.

He then drove her body to neighboring Gifu Prefecture and dumped it in a forest to conceal his crime, the Justice Ministry said.

In March 2009, Kanda was sentenced by the Nagoya District Court to hang. The ruling was finalized a month later when he dropped an appeal. Both of his accomplices have been sentenced to life in prison, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Japan and the United States are the only members of the Group of Seven industrialized countries that carry out executions.

I will never understand how people can do things like this and still live with themselves afterward.