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Source of increasing contamination at Fukushima Nuclear Plant unknown


Via VOA: "A leakage detective unit (C) and its detection punch unit on an underground water storage tank are seen at TEPCO's tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Fukushima, in this undated photograph released by TEPCO on April 6, 2013."

Snip from a report by Voice of America's Steve Herman in Tokyo:

"Fresh revelations about radiation contamination from the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant and a government regulator are prompting new concerns in Japan. What is expected to be a decades-long battle to halt radiation leaks and to clean up contaminated soil and water at the Fukushima-1 nuclear plant is back in the public eye following the release of new information this week."

TEPCO, the plant's operator, says there's a steady increase in the levels of radioactive cesium in the groundwater, and in levels of strontium and tritium offshore.

Tokyo tattoo tights


Tokyo Fashion Diaries reports on "tattoo stockings" that are apparently hot items this summer. They make their wearers appear to have elaborate tattoos up and down their legs -- a lower-limb twist on the tattoo sleeve shirts.

TATTOO STOCKINGS ARE STILL BOOMING IN JAPAN. HERE ARE SOME OF THE COOLEST (AND WEIRDEST?) FOR THIS SUMMER (translation)

(via Crazy Abalone)

What it’s like to order a pizza online in Japan

[Video Link] Sharla is a Canadian college student living in Japan. Here's a video she took that goes through the process of ordering a pizza to be delivered. It turns out you get a free gift when you order a pizza! (Via Dooby Brain)

Hyperlapse video from the PoV of a Tokyo automated train

Here's time-lapse footage from the front of a Tokyo Yurikamome automated train, shot and post-processed by DarwinFish105. It's a properly Gibsonian bit of video:

Darwinfish105's video is shot from the front of the train, and is a time-lapse taken from a moving viewpoint - hence the term "hyperlapse". He's modified the footage somewhat, mirroring the video horizontally to give a surreal, kaleidoscopic effect.>

Hyperlapse video shows off Tokyo's Turikamome railway (Thanks, Rob!)

Safecast, crowdsourced radiation monitoring project, logs 10 million data points

The crowdsourced radiation monitoring project Safecast, which was launched in the weeks after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, has reached a big milestone: they have collected and published over 10,000,000 individual data points. Xeni

Tokyo's underground bike-storage robots

Culture Japan Network TV shows us the underground bicycle-parking robots of Shinagawa, Tokyo. These machines ingest RFID-tagged bicycles and whisk them into their bowels and set them lovingly into huge subterranean crypts, from which they are robotically disinterred when their owners are ready to ride. Each machine holds 200 bikes. The manufacturer's representative explains that storing bikes underground protects them from "pranks" and frees up surface area for better applications, but inexplicably the area around the robo-ingesters is a blank field of paving bricks of approximately the same area that the bikes would occupy on the surface.

Underground Bicycle Parking Systems in Japan (via Kadrey)

Prosthetics maker does a roaring trade in replacement pinkies for ex-yakuza


Shintaro Hayashi, a Tokyo prosthetics maker, spent most of this life making medical prostheses for people who'd lost breasts, limbs, etc, but now does a booming trade in fake pinkie fingers for ex-yakuza gangsters who don't want to broadcast their criminal past (yakuza members who screw up have their pinkies lopped off in retaliation).

The doctor molds silicone prosthetic pinkies, made to seamlessly mask the amputation, making for a smoother transition to the outside world. Priced at nearly $3,000 each, the fingers are carefully painted, to match the exact skin color of the client. Former yakuza members, who make up 5 percent of Hayashi's business, often keep several sets of fingers for different seasons – the light skinned version for winter, and a tanned look for summer.

Hayashi sums up his clientele in three categories: Those who are dragged into his office by girlfriends worried about their reputations, ex-members who are eager to move up the corporate ladder but worried about the repercussions of their past being exposed, longtime yakuza who have no intention of getting out, but need to cover up for a child's wedding or grandchild's sporting event.

"Many people keep a fist, to prevent detection," he said. "But there comes a point where you can't hide your fingers any longer. Some people have one joint severed, others have worse," he said.

Prosthetic Fingers Help Reform Japan's Feared Yakuza Gangsters [Akiko Fujita/ABC]

Eyeball face makeup


The Brazilian website "Arte do Medo" identifies this amazing eyeball face horror makeup as originating in Japan, though no other details are forthcoming.


Update: Thanks to BB commenters FakeNina and Daemonworks, this fellow has been identified as Hikaru Cho, whose Tumblr is here, and whose personal site is here.

ARTE DO MEDO #5 (via Super Punch)

Monster money!


Google Translate says that the caption on this image is Japanese for "Bill of surprised frontispiece monster world." I can't really hazard any guesses beyond that, but hey, monster money!

『びっくり口絵 怪物世界のお札』 (via Crazy Abalone)

3D latte foam art


Brian Ashcraft updates us on the astounding foam-art of Osaka barista Kazuki Yamamoto. Yamamoto has now mastered 3D foam, and is blowing my mind. Ashcraft has a series of posts documenting the journey of Yamamoto to undisputed novelty foam king of the Pacific Rim.

3D Coffee Art Reaches New, Dizzying Heights [Brian Ashcraft/Kotaku] (via Geekologie)

Sheet-metal Millennium Falcon model


The Millennium Falcon Metallic Nano Puzzle looks like a delight. It's one of those puzzle/models that you punch out of thin, laser-cut pieces of sheet metal and assemble with tweezers and pliers, and the finished model is quite a beauty. It's $15.30 plus shipping from Japan. It looks more complex than the models I've done to date (most took less than an hour to complete), so be prepared to spend some time on it.

Star Wars Metallic Nano Puzzle (Millennium Falcon) (via Geekologie)

Osaka's fascist mayor defends WWII policy of sexual enslavement: "a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that."

Toru Hashimoto is mayor of Osaka and co-founder of the Japanese Restoration Party. He's previously called for Japan to be run as a dictatorship; now he's made public comments defending the WWII Japanese military policy of enslaving women and giving them to soldiers to rape. He says that it was a necessary expedient to support hard-working soldiers.

He said last year that Japan needed "a dictatorship".

In his latest controversial comments, quoted by Japanese media, he said: "In the circumstances in which bullets are flying like rain and wind, the soldiers are running around at the risk of losing their lives,"

"If you want them to have a rest in such a situation, a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that."

He also claimed that Japan was not the only country to use the system, though it was responsible for its actions.

Japan WWII 'comfort women' were 'necessary' - Hashimoto (Thanks, Jack!)

(Image: Wikimedia Commons/aska27)

Cake-topped parfait


A chain of Osaka cafes sells a crazy parfait, topped with a ginormous piece of cake:

On a recent day out in Osaka, our reporter stopped by a café and ordered a truly hard-core parfait. It wasn’t that the parfait was so big, and no, it didn’t contain any shocking ingredients. What blew our minds about this parfait was its topping.

It was a slice of cake, and it was so big it wasn’t even trying to fit into the glass. Our reporter had this sweet-tasting tag-team at the Semba branch of Osaka-based café MIOR.

Who Needs a Cherry on Top? Osaka Café Crowns its Parfaits with Cake [Casey Baseel/RocketNews24]

(via Super Punch)

Portable watermelon fridge


Tama-chan is a portable watermelon refrigerator on wheels. The Japanese device retails for 19,950 yen (about $200) and can handle watermelons or similarly shaped comestibles, such as poultry, roasts, or severed heads. The device itself weighs 6.3kg, and charges from a car lighter socket.

ポータブル温冷庫/The Portable Watermelon Fridge — Could It Be The Perfect Gift For The Person Who Has It All?

(via Digg)

Japanese folk music glitch hop

Daniel Ryan describes his music as "a mix of Japanese folk music and glitch hop." This isn't normally my sort of thing -- I pretty much only listen to music with words -- but I played this one three times in a row this morning. There's a lot of clever stuff going on here that I lack the vocabulary to describe but possess the aesthetic apparatus to appreciate. According to one redditor, the folk song is this track off the Samurai Champloo soundtrack.

Nagasaki