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Instrument maker responds after people are pictured mimicking the car bosss method of escaping Japan

Yamaha Music Japan has cautioned against people mimicking Carlos Ghosn by cramming themselves into its large boxes for musical instruments and equipment, saying that copycat attempts could lead to unfortunate accidents.

The Japanese firms warning in a recent tweet was in response to social media posts on playing Ghosn an allusion to reports that the former auto tycoon fled Japan last month inside a large case intended for musical instruments.

We wont mention the reason, but there have been many tweets about climbing inside large musical instrument cases. A warning after any unfortunate accident would be too late, so we ask everyone not to try it, said Yamaha Wind Stream, the companys account for information on wind instruments.

In one photograph, a young woman is curled up inside a padded green harp case, while another post appeared to show somebody standing in a double bass gig bag.

Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 and later charged with financial misconduct and breach of trust while head of Nissan. He sent shockwaves around the world in late December when he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail.

While Ghosn declined to explain how he had escaped at a press conference last week, reports suggest he walked out of his residence in Tokyo before boarding a bullet train to Osaka. Helped by private security operatives, he is is believed to have evaded detection at Kansai international airport by hiding inside a speaker box that was too big to fit through the airports X-ray scanner.

Ghosn, 65, took a private jet to Istanbul and then on to Lebanon, where he spent part of his childhood. A large case for audio equipment was later found at the back of the jets cabin. The Wall Street Journal reported that holes had been drilled into the container to ensure the fugitive businessman could breathe.

Authorities in Japan, where Ghosn spent more than 120 days in detention before being released on bail, have vowed to pursue him and his wife, Carole. Lebanon, however, does not have an extradition agreement with Japan.

Yamaha, which makes instruments and equipment ranging from pianos and double basses to drums and heavy-duty speakers, thanked people for their response to its initial post, which has been retweeted more than 54,000 times and liked more than 86,000 times.

And it reminded them that their range of cases were not intended to hold humans.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jan/15/playing-ghosn-dont-get-into-our-music-cases-yamaha-warns

As stigma around the countrys health crisis starts to fade, some care facilities are at the forefront of devising ways to support a super-ageing society

For the millions of Japanese people living with dementia, diagnosis is often the beginning of a journey into a life of seclusion.

When dementia is covered by the media, it is in the form of news about experimental therapies, or reports on the latest police campaign to encourage older people to surrender their driving licences.

The voices of people living with the condition in ever rising numbers among an ageing population are often missing from the public debate.

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About 5 million Japanese people have Alzheimers or other forms of dementia

About 5 million Japanese people live with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia, and 7.3 million or one in five people aged 65 or over will be affected by 2025, according to government estimates. Most live at home, cared for by relatives, 40% of whom warned they could not continue as caregivers due to stress and the impact on household finances, according to a 2015 survey.

There are signs of change, however. The city of Matsudo, east of Tokyo, won recognition at home and abroad for its groundbreaking approach to dementia several years before the national government released its orange plan a 22.5bn yen (160m) programme to hire more specialists, improve early diagnosis and expand community-based care in 2015.

Matsudo made dementia a public health priority almost a decade ago, raising awareness of the condition among residents as well as businesses that regularly come into contact with older people. Several times a month, volunteer dementia supporters wearing bright orange bibs patrol neighbourhoods to distribute leaflets with information about dementia services and, occasionally, to help people in distress.

Clients
Activities at this care home include exercise sessions, games and music therapy

In the Sapporo and Eniwa areas of Hokkaido, Japans northernmost island, the Megumi-no-ie and Komorebi-no-ie group homes cater for a total of 36 people with dementia.

Here, food and general care are provided, but residents are also encouraged to take a leading role in their daily routines, whether it be gardening, preparing meals, food shopping or cleaning. Some sell vegetables they have grown to give them a sense of financial independence.

Fumiko Ito, 69, ran a restaurant-bar with her husband for three decades. Ito, a resident of the care home in Eniwa, recalls that her husband, who died seven years ago, was married when they met. I met him at my friends bar. I was drinking there and so was he He was sitting behind me and he pushed me from behind and said: Hi. It was love at first sight. I was 18 or 19. He was 10 years older than me.

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It is predicted that one in five people aged 65 or over will be affected by dementia by 2025

I often think about him and often dream about us together he died from cancer, Ito says. He had a really difficult time coping with that. I sometimes think about that.

Asked what makes her worry, she replies: My health. I hope to stay fit for a long time I hope to stay here with my friends and have a happy life here. And what makes her happy? I like food. Im happiest when Im sharing good food with friends.

Itos fellow resident, 89 year-old Masanori Nohara, says he can be forgetful, but claims he doesnt give a damn about the state of his health. I sometimes forget things, he says. I know about dementia, but I dont think I have it. He recalls the joy he felt when he qualified as a joiner in his early 20s. I became an apprentice when I was 18 and trained for four years. I was really happy when I qualified, he says.

Being able to use the skills he learned as a young man can be a source of comfort. I feel like Im getting old when Im tired but if Im still working I dont feel like that. I can still work and I still have my tools, so if possible I still want to work as a joiner.

I feel happy when Im sharpening knives, because thats what I used to do. When I sharpen other peoples knives they look very happy, because they cut better. And Im happy because I can make other people happy. It also reminds me of my work.

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Residents are encouraged to do tasks that help them to preserve a sense of individuality

As a boy, Koichiro Furuta dreamed of becoming a professional sumo wrestler, but abandoned the idea due to family pressure to take over his fathers rice paddies.

Now 84 and living at the Eniwa facility, Furuta describes living with dementia as bearable. Im getting old so its natural to forget things, but I am OK I dont really have a problem with my memory.

But he struggles to remember his age, and says he sometimes forgets the names of his family members, including his grandchildren. There arent that many things I enjoy now, he says. I often cut the weeds in the garden, and because I used to be a farmer I take an interest in the weather.

Furuta, who hasnt farmed for at least a decade, adds: I have no concerns right now, but I worry about being able to get enough water for my rice fields in the future.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/14/i-still-dream-of-my-husband-life-with-dementia-in-japan-photo-essay

Back in 2015, Google’s ATAP team demoed a new kind of wearable tech at Google I/O that used functional fabrics and conductive yarns to allow you to interact with your clothing and, by extension, the phone in your pocket. The company then released a jacket with Levi’s in 2017, but that was expensive, at $350, and never really quite caught on. Now, however, Jacquard is back. A few weeks ago, Saint Laurent launched a backpack with Jacquard support, but at $1,000, that was very much a luxury product. Today, however, Google and Levi’s are announcing their latest collaboration: Jacquard-enabled versions of Levi’s Trucker Jacket.

These jackets, which will come in different styles, including the Classic Trucker and the Sherpa Trucker, and in men’s and women’s versions, will retail for $198 for the Classic Trucker and $248 for the Sherpa Trucker. In addition to the U.S., it’ll be available in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K.

The idea here is simple and hasn’t changed since the original launch: a dongle in your jacket’s cuff connects to conductive yarns in your jacket. You can then swipe over your cuff, tap it or hold your hand over it to issue commands to your phone. You use the Jacquard phone app for iOS or Android to set up what each gesture does, with commands ranging from saving your location to bringing up the Google Assistant in your headphones, from skipping to the next song to controlling your camera for selfies or simply counting things during the day, like the coffees you drink on the go. If you have Bose noise-canceling headphones, the app also lets you set a gesture to turn your noise cancellation on or off. In total, there are currently 19 abilities available, and the dongle also includes a vibration motor for notifications.

2019

What’s maybe most important, though, is that this (re-)launch sets up Jacquard as a more modular technology that Google and its partners hope will take it from a bit of a gimmick to something you’ll see in more places over the next few months and years.

“Since we launched the first product with Levi’s at the end of 2017, we were focused on trying to understand and working really hard on how we can take the technology from a single product […] to create a real technology platform that can be used by multiple brands and by multiple collaborators,” Ivan Poupyrev, the head of Jacquard by Google told me. He noted that the idea behind projects like Jacquard is to take things we use every day, like backpacks, jackets and shoes, and make them better with technology. He argued that, for the most part, technology hasn’t really been added to these things that we use every day. He wants to work with companies like Levi’s to “give people the opportunity to create new digital touchpoints to their digital life through things they already have and own and use every day.”

What’s also important about Jacquard 2.0 is that you can take the dongle from garment to garment. For the original jacket, the dongle only worked with this one specific type of jacket; now, you’ll be able to take it with you and use it in other wearables as well. The dongle, too, is significantly smaller and more powerful. It also now has more memory to support multiple products. Yet, in my own testing, its battery still lasts for a few days of occasional use, with plenty of standby time.

jacquard

Poupyrev also noted that the team focused on reducing cost, “in order to bring the technology into a price range where it’s more attractive to consumers.” The team also made lots of changes to the software that runs on the device and, more importantly, in the cloud to allow it to configure itself for every product it’s being used in and to make it easier for the team to add new functionality over time (when was the last time your jacket got a software upgrade?).

He actually hopes that over time, people will forget that Google was involved in this. He wants the technology to fade into the background. Levi’s, on the other hand, obviously hopes that this technology will enable it to reach a new market. The 2017 version only included the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket. Now, the company is going broader with different styles.

“We had gone out with a really sharp focus on trying to adapt the technology to meet the needs of our commuter customer, which a collection of Levi’s focused on urban cyclists,” Paul Dillinger, the VP of Global Product Innovation at Levi’s, told me when I asked him about the company’s original efforts around Jacquard. But there was a lot of interest beyond that community, he said, yet the built-in features were very much meant to serve the needs of this specific audience and not necessarily relevant to the lifestyles of other users. The jackets, of course, were also pretty expensive. “There was an appetite for the technology to do more and be more accessible,” he said — and the results of that work are these new jackets.

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Dillinger also noted that this changes the relationship his company has with the consumer, because Levi’s can now upgrade the technology in your jacket after you bought it. “This is a really new experience,” he said. “And it’s a completely different approach to fashion. The normal fashion promise from other companies really is that we promise that in six months, we’re going to try to sell you something else. Levi’s prides itself on creating enduring, lasting value in style and we are able to actually improve the value of the garment that was already in the consumer’s closet.”

I spent about a week with the Sherpa jacket before today’s launch. It does exactly what it promises to do. Pairing my phone and jacket took less than a minute and the connection between the two has been perfectly stable. The gesture recognition worked very well — maybe better than I expected. What it can do, it does well, and I appreciate that the team kept the functionality pretty narrow.

Whether Jacquard is for you may depend on your lifestyle, though. I think the ideal user is somebody who is out and about a lot, wearing headphones, given that music controls are one of the main features here. But you don’t have to be wearing headphones to get value out of Jacquard. I almost never wear headphones in public, but I used it to quickly tag where I parked my car, for example, and when I used it with headphones, I found using my jacket’s cuffs easier to forward to the next song than doing the same on my headphones. Your mileage may vary, of course, and while I like the idea of using this kind of tech so you need to take out your phone less often, I wonder if that ship hasn’t sailed at this point — and whether the controls on your headphones can’t do most of the things Jacquard can. Google surely wants Jacquard to be more than a gimmick, but at this stage, it kind of still is.

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Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/30/google-brings-its-jacquard-wearables-tech-to-levis-trucker-jacket/

Paytm, India’s biggest mobile payments firm, now has 10 million customers in Japan, the company said as it pushes to expand its reach in international markets. Paytm entered Japan last October after forming a joint venture with SoftBank and Yahoo Japan called PayPay.

In addition to 10 million users, PayPay is now supported by 1 million merchant partners and local stores in Japan, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of Paytm said Thursday. The mobile payments app has clocked more than 100 million transactions to date in the nation, he claimed. In June, PayPay had 8 million users.

“Thank you India 🇮🇳 for your inspiration and giving us chance to build world class tech…,” he posted in a tweet.

Like in India, cash also dominates much of the daily transactions in Japan. Large medical clinics and supermarkets often refuse to accept plastic cards and instead ask for cash. This encouraged Paytm, which also has presence in Canada, to explore the Japanese market.

And it has the experience, capital and tech chops to achieve it. The mobile payments app has amassed more than 250 million registered users in India. Most of these customers signed up after the Indian government invalidated much of the cash in the nation in late 2016.

PayPay competes with a handful of local players in Japan. Its biggest competition is Line, an instant messaging app that has followed China’s WeChat model to aggressively expand its offerings in recent years.

Like PayPay, Line also has no shortage of money. Earlier this year, it announced a ¥30 billion ($282 million) reward campaign to boost usage of its payments service. Line has more than 80 million users in Japan, 32 million of whom used its payments service as of February this year. There are about 120 million internet users in Japan.

PayPay maintains a ¥10 billion ($94 million) marketing campaign of its own, as part of which customers who make a certain number of transactions and participate in referral programs earn some money. In a statement, PayPay said Thursday that moving forward it “will strive to create a society where people can buy anything through cashless payments in every corner of the country with a safe and secured service for our users.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/08/paypay-10m-users/

As Japans capital welcomes immigrants and prepares to host the Olympics, 2019 could be the year the worlds largest megalopolis goes truly global

On a warm May evening in the narrow alleys of Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane) next to the Kabukicho district of Tokyo, tourists perched on stools study English-language menus offering skewers of grilled meat and vegetables. Others crowd into the garish, glowing Robot Restaurant, a cavernous hall of flashing neon and dancing animatronic figures, or snap selfies in front of the giant replica head of the citys sci-fi nemesis, Godzilla. In neighbouring Shibuya they drive convoys of go-karts through the streets wearing costumes bearing a suspicious resemblance to Mario, Luigi and the other Mario Kart characters. (Last week Nintendo successfully sued the MariCar company for copyright infringement for the second time.)

After many decades as a famously impenetrable city to visitors, Japans capital is finally beginning to face outward. Tourism, particularly from China but also western countries, rose to record levels last year, and next summer the city will slide open its doors for the Olympics and Paralympics. The country has relaxed its restrictive immigration rules, a move that promises to transform Tokyo. The capital is already dotted with co-working spaces, artisanal coffee shops, international brand boutiques and the other accoutrements of a global city.

Q&A

What is Guardian Tokyo week?

As Japan’s capital enters a year in the spotlight, from the Rugby World up to the 2020 Olympics, Guardian Cities is spending a week reporting live from the largest megacity on Earth. Despite being the world’s riskiest place with 37 million people vulnerable to tsunami, flooding and due a potentially catastrophic earthquake it is also one of the most resilient, both in its hi-tech design and its pragmatic social structure. Using manga, photography, film and a group of salarimen rappers, we’ll hear from the locals how they feel about their famously impenetrable city finally embracing its global crown

By many sensible measures, it met that criteria long ago. It is the worlds largest megalopolis, by far, with 13 million people in the central wards and a greater metropolitan area home to 37 million (Delhi is second with 27 million). It boasts the worlds largest metro economy, with a GDP bigger than that of New York and London, and is home to more global company HQs than any other city. Its public transport network, cleanliness, low crime rate and cuisine are unrivalled.

Visitors
Visitors to the Roppongi Hills commercial complex take selfies and pictures of the Tokyo skyline. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

By other reckonings, however, Tokyo remains slightly out of step with its global cousins. Women remain rare in senior business and government positions, restaurants still fill with carcinogenic cigarette smoke and an alarming number of Tokyo citizens die from overwork.

The city has embraced international consumer culture, but Tokyo isnt diverse, at least not in the way London or New York are, says Christopher Harding, senior lecturer in Asian history at Edinburgh University and author of Japan Story: In Search of a Nation. All over Tokyo you have film, TV, music, shopping, gaming and so on that feels opened up and cosmopolitan, while underneath, attempts to open up in terms of diversifying the population and shifting the attitudes of local Japanese about who belongs and who doesnt havent really got anywhere.

This year, however, may be Tokyos great tipping point, with genuine transformation into a more open city taking on an air of inevitability, both for demographic and business reasons.

In Shinjuku, the Tokyo ward where Kabukicho is located, you could see this wave of change first-hand in January on Coming-of-Age Day, when people who turned 20 in the previous 12 months celebrate reaching adulthood. Around 45% of new adults were of foreign origin, and non-Japanese now make up just over 10% of the wards total population, according to the ward office. By contrast, foreign nationals make up just under 2% of Japans total population, according to a 2018 survey by the internal affairs and communications ministry.

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Mario Kart-style go-kart racers on the street in Tokyo. Photograph: Hendrik Nolle/Alamy

The changing face of the typical Tokyoite will continue. Last year, Shinzo Abes conservative government relaxed immigration laws to open the countrys doors to up to 345,000 workers over the next five years.

The decision was less a sea change in traditional resistance to immigration and more of an ad hoc response to the tightest labour shortage in decades, as the number of Japanese people of working age continues to shrink.

While immigrant workers are being dispatched to the regions to work in creaking industries such as agriculture and fisheries, Tokyos service sector is also snapping them up. The city now has 551,683 foreign residents, or 3.98% of the population, compared with 2.44% in 2000.

population growth

It has also taken the lead in promoting diversity. In 2015, Shibuya ward became the first place in Japan to issue certificates recognising same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage, allowing same-sex couples to rent apartments together and granting them hospital visitation rights. Even as the national government remains resistant to legalising same-sex marriages, 20 municipalities in Japan have followed Tokyos lead with partnership systems.

The Olympics, too, may have a profound effect, if the first time the city hosted the event is any indication.

In what has been described as the greatest urban transformation in history, the 1964 Games saw a period of mass investment in infrastructure, water and sewage systems. In the five years leading up to the torch relay, 10,000 new buildings appeared in the capital, as well as five 5-star hotels, two new subway lines and a monorail from Haneda airport to the city centre. The Olympics also marked the debut of Japans greatest contribution to high-speed travel: the Shinkansen bullet train.

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The Miyakezaka underground highway interchange in Tokyo under construction a few months before the 1964 Olympics. Photograph: Koichiro Morita/AP

This helped transform Tokyo from a diseased backwater where only 25% of houses had flush toilets into a global megalopolis, says Robert Whiting, author of Tokyo Underworld. Next years Games, he says, will help the world see what a global city Tokyo has become.

Peter Matanle, a senior lecturer at the School of East Asian Studies, Sheffield University, says: The 1964 Olympics was a huge boost in terms of opening up Tokyo to foreign visitors. One thing that it did was also to make Japan and Tokyo more accessible for other Asians in particular, as many had bad feelings towards Japan. The Olympics helped to build a new era for Japan as a peaceful country in Asia, as much as in the rest of the world.

The steep curve of development sparked by that sporting event may have levelled out, but the momentum of change extends to the sector for which Tokyo is perhaps best known: its restaurant scene.

Tokyo can now lay claim to being the most global restaurant city on Earth. It has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city. Some of its Italian and south Asian restaurants are as authentic as their more established Japanese, Korean and Chinese counterparts.

It wasnt that long ago that requests for vegetarian dishes would be met with puzzlement, occasionally bordering on disdain, but that is changing, says the chef and food writer Yukari Sakamoto. The Michelin guide helped put Tokyo on the international map, she says. Of course, Japan has always had a huge variety of excellent cuisine, but many travellers who had not considered coming to Japan are now coming because of the Michelin guide.

There are, of course, countless tales of customers making culinary gaffes with behaviour that is considered downright rude: making reservations only to not show up, pondering over a bowl of noodles when there are other people waiting to be seated. And spare a thought for the legendary sushi chef Jiro Ono, who looked on in horror as a group of tourists devoured delicate slices of raw fish but left the oblongs of vinegared rice on their plate. They were politely asked to leave.

Tourists
Tourists at the Edo-era Asakusa Kannon Temple. Photograph: Olaf Protze/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bafflingly, Tokyo has failed to keep up with advances in urban cycling made by other cities around the world, despite the huge number of residents who ride bikes on pavements for short trips.

Blue arrows to guide cyclists along Tokyos streets cant conceal faults in the citys cycling infrastructure, says Byron Kidd, who runs the Tokyo By Bike blog.

I had assumed, he says, after the uptick in cycling and awareness of cycling infrastructure generated by the London 2012 Olympics, that Tokyo would follow suit and develop a world-class cycling infrastructure, the supposed goal of all Olympic host cities. But cyclists are still viewed as an annoyance, as getting in the way of other road users.

By contrast, in a country where disability activism is in its infancy, wheelchair access is an achievement in which the local authorities can take some pride.

Japan has this image of being inaccessible, but in fact Tokyo is much better on access than a lot of people give it credit for its certainly at the better end of cities in Asia and North America, says Josh Grisdale, who runs the Accessible Japan website. People from Europe come here and say its much easier to get around than back home.

Grisdale, a web designer who has lived in Tokyo for more than a decade, says public transport compares favourably with his home city of Toronto. Station staff are ready with ramps to help wheelchair users on and off trains, and more than 95% of stations now comply with a law requiring them to have lifts from the street directly to the platform.

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A bullet train travels through central Tokyo. Photograph: Prisma Bildagentur AG/Alamy

Tokyos hotels and restaurants have work to do, though. Only 0.4% of hotel rooms are wheelchair-accessible. Grisdale, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, describes as inadequate a new requirement for new hotels with more than 50 rooms to make at least one of them barrier-free.

Eating out is a huge issue because laws on accessibility dont apply to smaller restaurants and there are lots of those in Tokyo, he adds. Ive been turned away numerous times, then spent ages looking for somewhere else. They could have portable ramps that could be opened up without too much inconvenience.

Many of the challenges facing Japan are not confined to the capital: the lack of women in senior positions in the public and private sector, the relatively new phenomenon of child poverty, the scourge of karoshi death through overwork and the threat posed by natural disasters.

As it prepares for the coming spotlight as a venue for the Rugby World Cup this autumn and as Olympic host next year, some of the more manageable anomalies are likely to be eradicated, with wider free wifi coverage, more international cashpoints and a concerted attempt to make a dent in the frustratingly resilient language barrier. There is also a growing desire for more green spaces, and for smoke-free restaurants a demand the government has gone some way to addressing, although the measures have not received universal support.

These embellishments will only add to Tokyos status as a global city, according to Mark Schreiber, an American writer who has lived here since 1966.

Tokyo is a lot more international than Seoul and Beijing, he says. Look at the multilingual signs and announcements at rail stations and aboard trains. Most of these services were already in place even before Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Games. You have to remember that from the Middle Ages, Tokyo was a place that absorbed outsiders, and most Tokyoites come from somewhere else. Its fairly inclusive as far as Asian cities go.

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People march in Tokyo as part of the Torikoe-jinja shrines annual June festival. Photograph: Sergi Reboredo/Alamy

Harding says: I can imagine Tokyo becoming quite a bit more diverse in the next few decades. Japans bureaucracy is backing it, and the story of Japans past 150 years is that its bureaucrats almost always get what they want in the end. I could see quality of life improving too. The result would be more like London than New York the latter was built on immigration from the beginning, whereas London wasnt, and Tokyo wont be. I could imagine Tokyo becoming a bilingual city, even.

Ultimately, as Japan grapples with a looming demographic crisis, the opening up of Tokyo may become inevitable as a matter of survival.

Theres a belief here that businesses will go under unless they attract foreign tourists, says Kei Ono, chief manager in the business planning section at Kabukichos Shinjuku Prince hotel, where as many as 40% of guests are from overseas.

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Fewer wrestlers, more fans: The crossroads facing Japan’s national sport video

Nearby, inside a basement bar through a door with a sign imploring English speakers to Dont warry, be happy! Shingo Shibamoto, a member of a Kabukicho business association and owner of an okonomiyaki restaurant, says outward-facing neighbourhoods such as Kabukicho which, though home to the citys red-light district, also attracts as many as a quarter of a million people every day to around 4,000 bars, restaurants, cafes, pachinko parlours and video arcades are the future of an open Tokyo.

This has always been a place for outsiders to come and live and work, he says. Traditionally it attracted Chinese and Korean people, but now theyve been joined by people from south-east Asia. I think our neighbourhood has a genuinely global appeal. And as older people who have been here for decades hand their businesses over to younger generations, the pace of change will only increase.

Guardian Cities is live in Tokyo for a special week of in-depth reporting. Share your experiences of the city in the comments below, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #GuardianTokyo, or via email to cities@theguardian.com

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jun/10/tokyo-big-year-is-the-impenetrable-city-finally-opening-up

Many people would agree that sashimi (a Japanese delicacy consisting of very fresh raw fish or meat nicely sliced into thin pieces) is one of the best ways to enjoy fish. Not only you can taste thinly sliced seafood at its very freshest but also this delicacy recently became famous as a form of art.

One culinary artist, going by the handle of mikyoui0, never had a job related to art or design, however, he has a son who he wanted to teach food preparation to and also instill a love for it. He decided to think out of the box and turn the learning process into a fun activity by making art out of food. During the summer of last year, he started working with fish, therefore, it was a perfect opportunity to start the learning process! The artist taught his son how to slice and prepare sashimi and the whole learning process became a fun activity where he was able to make amazing creatures and form excellent art pieces. The fun part is that by teaching his child, he ended up really getting into it himself.

More info: Instagram

#1 God Of Fire

He learned many difficult techniques from videos on YouTube and other places on the internet. He also followed a lot of famous professional chefs on Instagram and reproduced their dishes which he saw on their photos and videos at home. He started spending more time on creating more difficult creatures so his skills became better and better. Suddenly, a fun activity (or should we say a learning process) became his hobby and passion!

#2 White Crane

#3 Alraune

His secret to making perfect sashimi is to use various kinds of fish and other edible ingredients to form different sashimi creatures and make them more realistic. Also, to be patient, as the process requires a lot of time and focus on details. We must admit, making sashimi art is not for everyone! However, the artist pays a lot of attention to details, therefore, all his artwork looks excellently done.

#4 Swinging In The Wind

#5 Tangled

His artwork is very diverse – from various animated characters to mesmerizing cranes. However, most of them depict the scenes of life. He creates girls swinging in the wind, two lovers kissing on their wedding night, beautiful mermaids playing, princesses joyfully celebrating spring and much more. These scenes look like beautiful fairy tales told for children.

#6 Wedding Night

Currently he has 27.2K followers on his Instagram who are all fascinated by his artwork. Many of them might think that he is a world-famous chef and wouldn’t even believe that he is a self-taught artist who just wanted to instill his child a love for food making.

#7 Forest Spirit

#8 Snow Queen

If you’re a parent, you will probably agree that making food for your children everyday requires some superpowers. It surely is one of the hardest jobs of parenting. Many parents think that this will be easy and fun task for them, therefore, at first, they’re enthusiastic and optimistic about it. However, after numerous failures (mostly caused by children not wanting to eat prepared food) they realize that this task is quite overwhelming and difficult.

#9 Unicorn And His Owner

#10 Dove With Leaf

After some time, making food for children becomes a mission which most of the parents have to complete each day. If the mission is successful, it will be super rewarding and parents will feel at peace, but in case of a failure, they’ll find themselves defeated and insecure. If you are one of those parents, we suggest that you follow this artist’s example and turn the struggles of food making into a fun activity which will be entertaining not only for your child but also for you! Who knows, maybe one day you’ll become a sashimi artist?

#11 Elements Of Fire

#12 Captivating Angel

#13 Lady In The Garden

#14 White Dragon

#15 Samurai

#16 Playing With Mermaids

#17 Sword Dance

#18 Betta Fish

#19 Snowboarding

#20 Little Girl

#21 Lady In The Wind

#22 Beauty Of Pegasus

#23 Samurai

#24 Chinese Dragon

#25 Fallen Angel

#26 Shining Angel

#27 Rock Star

#28 Power Of Music

#29 Love Arrow

#30 Finally Spring

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/food-art-mikyoui/

Singer avoids last years bungled performance as revellers gather across the world to ring in 2018 with food, fireworks and prayers

Thousands of revellers packed cities across the UK to see in the new year with fireworks captivating crowds in London and Edinburgh. Crowds took to the streets to join lively celebrations amid preparations by emergency services to tackle one of the busiest nights of the year.

The firework display in London featured a soundtrack dominated by women to mark the centenary of women being granted the vote, while cities around the world also had similarly impressive displays.

More than 100,000 ticket-holders watched the fireworks explode over the Thames to a soundtrack by Aretha Franklin, Annie Lennox, Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and Florence Welch.

In Scotland the forecast of strong wind did not end up affecting Edinburghs Hogmanay celebrations as the gales of up to 80mph confined themselves to other parts of the country. Tens of thousands saw in 2018 against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

Underbelly, which was producing the event for the first time, promised the best party ever for the 75,000 people attending, with live music, DJs, street entertainment and the ultimate fireworks display.

Meanwhile in New York, throngs of revellers braved the second-coldest New Years Eve on record in New York to usher in 2018 as the glittering crystal ball dropped in Times Square.

The temperature was 10F (-12C), the chilliest celebration since 1917, when it was only 1F (-17C). Partygoers heeded warnings from authorities and wrapped up in extra layers, dancing and jogging in place to ward off the cold.

Mariah Carey successfully made it through her set on Dick Clarks New Years Rockin Eve with Ryan Seacrest after bungling it last year. Carey had technical difficulties during a live performance of her hit Emotions on the ABC show in 2016. She stopped singing, paced the stage and told the audience to finish the lyrics for her.

This year, she performed her 1990s hits Vision of Love and Hero and joked that it was a disaster when she could not get any hot tea.

Fireworks
Fireworks explode over Big Ben and the London Eye at midnight. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

In Paris, throngs of locals and tourists headed to the Champs-lyses to attend a fireworks show at the Arc de Triomphe. Frances New Years Eve celebrations were placed under high security, following a series of attacks by Islamic extremists in recent years, and 100,000 police officers and soldiers, along with 40,000 rescuers, were deployed across the country.

Fireworks
Fireworks and a laser show over the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Photograph: Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images

Germans also rang in the new year under tight security from police mindful of widespread sexual abuse of women in Cologne two years ago and of a terrorist attack on a Christmas market in 2016.

Police in Berlin put an extra 1,600 officers on duty and said that large bags and backpacks would not be allowed on the Party Mile leading from Brandenburg Gate, where thousands celebrated at midnight. Police in Frankfurt imposed similar restrictions in the celebration area along the river Main in the countrys financial capital.

In Indonesia, hundreds of couples celebrated by getting married in Jakarta in a free mass wedding. The communal event, attended by 437 couples, was staged by authorities to ease residents struggles with bureaucracy.

Many Jakartans cannot access public services because they have never legally been married, according to governor Anies Baswedan.

If they want to celebrate their wedding anniversaries, they will not only celebrate it with their families but the whole world will celebrate with them because it coincides with New Years, the governor said.

Fireworks
Fireworks over central Moscow. Photograph: Marina Lystseva/Tass

Celebrations in Russia were hampered by technical difficulties as Palace Square in St Petersburg was temporarily evacuated and a 25-metre (80ft) Christmas tree in the east of the country went up in flames.

In Moscow, the weather was less than festive. Usually blanketed with snow on New Years Eve, the Russian capital this year was suffering a long spell of intermittent rain and constant grey skies, but that did not stop the spectacular fireworks display from going ahead as planned above Red Square.

In Dubai the 828-metre Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest building, once again served as the focal point of the new year celebrations in the United Arab Emirates, though this year authorities decided against fireworks and chose a massive LED light show.

ABC News (@ABC)

HAPPY NEW YEAR: Dubai counts down the seconds to 2018 with a humongous building-sized display.

Follow all the celebrations live from around the world: https://t.co/fTMfaxjvF3 pic.twitter.com/Fpk0uACeT2

December 31, 2017

The display, running down the east side of the tower, displayed Arabic calligraphy, geometric designs and a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAEs first president.

But a display of neighbouring nations flags did not show Qatars flag due to the ongoing dispute over ties to Iran and the alleged funding of extremist groups.

Meanwhile, India welcomed in the new year with midnight celebrations at popular landmarks, temples, mosques, gurdwaras and churches.

In Delhi, the festivities in Connaught Place came with heightened security as police conducted breathalyser tests, while emphasis was placed on ensuring the safety of women.

People
People watch fireworks over Sydney harbour. Photograph: David Moir/AAP

In Amritsar, the Golden Temple was lit up to mark the arrival of 2018. Although the festivities in Mumbai were expected to be somewhat muted following a blaze in a restaurant that killed 14 earlier this week, millions took to the streets and revellers appeared to be in high spirits on Marine Drive.

As the clock struck midnight in India, WhatsApp went down, hitting the messaging services biggest market, with about 200 million of its billion-plus users. Many users expressed their frustration on social media although normal service resumed about an hour later.

Several hours earlier, fireworks lit up the sky above Sydney harbour for the citys new year celebrations, where an extravagant display included a rainbow waterfall cascade of lights and colour to celebrate the recent legislation legalising gay marriage in Australia.

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Fireworks in Auckland, New Zealand. Photograph: Dave Rowland/Getty Images

Security at the event was tight, but officials said there was no particular alert. It was estimated that almost half of those attending the celebrations were tourists.

In New Zealand, tens of thousands of people took to the streets and beaches, becoming among the first in the world to usher in 2018.

Fireworks boomed and crackled above city centres and harbours, and partygoers sang, hugged, danced and kissed. In Auckland, New Zealands biggest city, tens of thousands gathered around Sky Tower as five minutes of nonstop pyrotechnics exploded from the top of the 220-metre structure.

People
People shelter under umbrellas during Singapores fireworks display. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

But on nearby Waiheke Island, 20 miles away, authorities cancelled a planned fireworks display because of drought conditions and low water supplies for firefighters.

In Singapore, people huddled under umbrellas to watch fireworks light up Marina Bay. Planned outdoor dance workouts and yoga reportedly had to be cancelled, but some still braved the weather to see in the new year.

Many Japanese people were celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Dog by praying for peace and good fortune at Shinto shrines, and eating traditional new year food such as noodles, shrimp and sweet black beans.

Shinto
Shinto priests walk in a line to attend a ritual to usher in the new year in Tokyo. Photograph: Toru Hanai/Reuters

Barbecued beef and octopus dumpling stalls were set out at Tokyos Zojoji temple, where people take turns striking the giant bell 108 times at midnight, an annual practice repeated at other Buddhist temples throughout Japan.

In South Korea, thousands of people were expected to fill the streets near Seouls city hall for a traditional bell-tolling ceremony to usher in the new year.

The group of dignitaries picked to ring the old Bosingak bell at midnight included Soohorang and Bandabi the tiger and bear mascots for the Pyeongchang Winter Games and Paralympics in February and March.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/dec/31/fireworks-food-and-prayers-new-year-celebrated-around-the-world

The 27-year-old singer was one of the beautiful, well-drilled entertainers who make K-pop so thrilling and who are often treated miserably by their management companies

The death of Kim Jong-hyun of South Korean boyband Shinee marks, if not definitely the end, then a crushing blow to one of the countrys most enduring pop outfits. With their earnest, keeningly romantic songs, paired with immaculate choreography, Shinee marked the apotheosis of their countrys boyband craft.

While in the west there have only been a handful of successful boybands in recent years, in Korea and Japan where Shinee also had a huge following, leading to a string of Japanese-language albums the appetite for ultra-emotional ballads and energetic dance tracks, performed by impossibly beautiful and well-drilled young men, is apparently insatiable.

K-pop fandom is obsessive, and fans openly rank their favourite members; bands are sometimes created as the result of reality TV competitions, an example being new eight-piece IN2IT, freshly minted from a 27-strong boyband called Boys24 being whittled down. Shinee are part of a generation who have had this fandom weaponised by social media the most tweeted-about celebrities on Twitter worldwide in 2017 were not Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber, but Korean boyband BTS.

To western eyes, some of Shinees aesthetics may seem corny. Anglophone boybands from the Simon Cowell stable, such as One Direction and now Rak-Su and Pretty Much, are less given to synchronised dance moves and more to impetuous boisterousness. Not so Shinee, whose smooth, nimble-shouldered take on hip-hop dance is reminiscent of 1990s US giants such as Backstreet Boys and NSync. Their songs, meanwhile, cleave to pretty safe boyband production staples: predominantly light, fluffy disco-funk tracks, with occasional forays into gnarly pop-rock and gauzy alt-R&B.

But even if their choreography and songcraft has precedent, their fashion sense is absolutely contemporary. Often shaped by designer Ha Sang Beg, sharp-edged dance tracks are met with even sharper tailoring, while more relaxed songs prompt gloriously clashing streetwear.

The band formed in 2008, manufactured by Korean music industry behemoth SM Entertainment, the company behind successes such as girl band Girls Generation, solo singers Kangta and BoA, and, of course, numerous other boybands: TVXQ!, Super Junior, HOT and more.

Even accounting for a recent break, as member Taemin released a solo record, Shinee are a rare case of a band reaching a decade in the business; K- and J-pop can have a ruthless, disposable feel. The managers of Japanese girl band AKB48 whose members number up to 130 and are voted in and out by the public were criticised in 2013 after one member, Minami Minegishi, filmed herself shaving her head in penitence for spending a night with her boyfriend, contravening a no-dating rule for the groups members.

BTS
BTS perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in the US. Photograph: Randy Holmes/Getty Images

Artists in both territories are often signed up to draconian contracts in their early teens, keeping them tied to specific management companies, such as SM Entertainment. They train in a competitive environment alongside other potential stars, with only the best idols making it into the manufactured bands. As well as the aforementioned dating rules, band members diets are closely monitored. In 2012, girl group Nine Muses revealed their paper cup diet, where their meals had to fit inside a tiny paper cup.

After TVXQ! took their management company to court for keeping them in a 13-year contract, a 2008 ruling brought in more standardised contracts and a seven-year limit to their length. But there are arguments that the rules dont go far enough and can be circumvented one agency spokesperson told the Korea Times that only 40% of management agencies use the standardised contracts, leaving musicians open to exploitation.

Even under standard contracts, if a band member wants to leave early, they have to pay the company a fee based on projected profits for the remainder of the contract. Two Chinese members of SM-managed K-pop boy band EXO left the group in 2014, citing wage disputes and brutal work schedules; EXOs band members have been made to perform during illness and dance while recovering from injury. The threat of conscription to the army is another stress even one of the countrys biggest stars, G-Dragon, has been called up and will begin in 2018, knocking a two-year hole in his music career.

The lockstep perfection of Shinees dance routines is undeniably thrilling but there is something troubling about them too, knowing that only the absolute best will be tolerated. Kim Jong-hyuns death is currently being treated as a suicide, after he sent his sister a note via text message. The reasons for his death are not yet clear, but given his history in a Hunger Games-like musical culture where only the strongest survive, one line from it is chilling: Tell me I did well.

  • In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/dec/18/kim-jong-hyun-shinee-star-dies-amid-an-unforgiving-k-pop-industry

The US president was briefly outshone on his Tokyo visit by the creator of the smash hit Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen

It is a photograph of our time. One of the worlds most famous and most ostentatious men a lover of all things gold and shiny and over the top standing with Pikotaro, the performer of painful viral hit Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen.

The unlikely photograph of the US president and the Japanese singer, whose real name is Kazuhito Kosaka, was taken at a reception in Tokyo as part of Donald Trumps 11-day tour of Asia. Pikotaro was chosen to sing for the president at the lavish reception.

In the image, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe hovers nearby, while Trump grins at the camera and a beaming Pikotaro makes the Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen sign with his hands.

Pikotaro was obviously thrilled with the meeting, writing on Twitter that it was an honour and posting more than 15 images from the event.

The meeting was not mentioned on Trumps Twitter account.

(PIKOTARO)() (@pikotaro_ppap)

President Trump and Prime Minister Abe

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/07/pen-pineapple-apple-president-donald-trump-pikotaro

Tokyo says informal events chosen to reflect US presidents strong relationship with Shinzo Abe

Having already arranged a round of golf against one of the worlds best players, Donald Trumps Japanese hosts have hired the singer behind the online pop sensation of 2016 to entertain the president during his Asia tour.

Piko Taro, whose infuriatingly catchy Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen (PPAP) became a viral hit, will sing for Trump and the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, at a dinner in Tokyo on Monday next week, according to reports.

The song, which contains a handful of words and is just 45 seconds long, would appear to be a wise choice given Trumps famously short attention span.

Kyodo News quoted unnamed officials in Tokyo as saying the inclusion of informal events on his itinerary reflected the strong relationship he and Abe established when they played golf at Trumps Florida estate in February.

Abe, who reportedly had a businesslike relationship with Barack Obama, wants to keep the mood upbeat during Trumps visit, Kyodo said, despite regional tensions created by North Koreas missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

PPAP reached No 1 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart and became the shortest single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

It is already a hit with some members of Trumps family. A video showing Ivanka Trumps daughter, Arabella, singing along to PPAP went viral in November last year, coinciding with Abes meeting with the then president-elect in New York.

The invitation is another milestone in Piko Taros remarkable rise from relative obscurity in his other incarnation as comedian and DJ Daimaou Kosaka.

The official version of the song has attracted more than 126m views on YouTube. In the past I was accustomed to performing in front of audiences of between zero and one person, he said last year. And then this happens the internet is a wonderful thing.

The 44-year-old, who recently married Japanese model Hitomi Yasueda, was enlisted by the Japanese government to promote the countrys commitment to sustainable development goals at the UN in New York.

PPAP, which cost just 100,000 yen (670) to produce, spawned countless cover versions, and its catchy tune became lodged inside the heads of people around the world.

It made the singer, whose real name is Kazuhito Kosaka, the first Japanese artist to enter the Billboard Hot 100 since 1990. Well-known fans include Justin Bieber, who shared his admiration for the song with his tens of millions of Twitter followers.

Trump is due to play golf with the Japanese leader and Hideki Matsuyama, the world No 4, next Sunday at the venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics tournament. He will also meet the emperor and empress and the families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea during the cold war.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/30/japan-donald-trump-pen-pineapple-apple-pen-singer