In this video, you'll learn why you shouldn't rub chopsticks together to remove splinters, stick your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, pass morsels from one set of chopsticks to another, and two other dining taboos. Read the rest
The Intercept publishes a previously-unseen set of Snowden docs detailing more than $500,000,000 worth of secret payments by the Japanese government to the NSA, in exchange for access to the NSA's specialized surveillance capabilities, in likely contravention of Japanese privacy law (the secrecy of the program means that the legality was never debated, so no one is sure whether it broke the law). Read the rest
Japan-based food vloggers Simon and Martina try the only Frappuccino drink that comes with its own pie crust lid. Read the rest
The convenience stores in Japan are wonderful. They are clean, have seating, the prepared food is very tasty, and they are everywhere you look. The 7-Elevens are one of the few places (besides post offices) with ATMs that dispense cash for US travelers with debit cards. This video takes a look at Japanese convenience stores, called konbini (コンビニ).
Japan's Mt. Tateyama in the Hida Mountains is considered one of the snowiest spots on the planet. More than 125 feet of snow can fall on the region in a single year. Route 6 runs right through the Mt. Tateyama but just before you enter the tunnel, there's a 1/4 mile piece of highway called yuki-no-otani, or in English, Snow Canyon. The Toyama Prefectural Road Public Corporation is responsible for plowing the road after winter. It takes about a month. From Atlas Obscura:
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At the Snow Canyon, the non-human star of the show is the HTR608, a rotary snow blower made by the Nichijo company—the 608 refers to the 608-horsepower engine. The HTR608 can plow through snow up to six feet high. The rotating bar helps pull snow into the machine, and a powerful propeller ejects it out of an aerodynamic pipe that can spray the snow nearly 50 feet high and half a football field to the side. But before this monster can even begin its job on the Snow Canyon, a series of prior snow-clearing events must take place.
Mt. Tateyama receives too much snow and is too remote to receive continual snow plow treatment, thus for much of the winter snow is allowed to bury the pass. Sometime in early March, a bulldozer specially equipped with both a GPS and a mobile satellite phone is sent up the mountain and over the Snow Canyon. The GPS and sat phone work in tandem to provide the driver a detailed video screen image of the dozer’s location in relation to the center of the snow-buried highway.
Snow Brand Milk will celebrate its 55th birthday by releasing "spreadable coffee" intended to be eaten on toast; it's a followup to an earlier "Edible coffee" product that appears to be basically coffee pudding. Read the rest
NHK's children's show Pythagora Switch features fiendishly clever, astoundingly amusing interstitial segments with beautiful little Rube Goldberg machines, possessed of a Miyazakiesque whimsy and a Mujiesque minimalism. These are wonderful -- and at 30 seconds each, you can watch a whole ton of 'em. Read the rest
This is dekotora (デコトラ), the Japanese maker culture that started in the 1970s of tricking out large trucks with garish lights, Gundam-inspired chrome mods, and eyeball-spanking paint jobs.