Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

In our last two reports we covered the scene of a ranch where abandoned cattle had been left to starve and the efforts of a special team dispatched to rescue pets.

For our third report we’d like to share what we saw as we made our way through the city of Minamisōma, which suffered heavy damage from the earthquake and tsunami. As much of the city lies within the 20 km government-mandated evacuation zone, most residents have been forced to leave and remain unable to begin the reconstruction of their town.

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Everyone has an unforgettable quote or two from conversations with loved ones. Such quotes can range in feeling from an overwhelming sense of joy, to being still too traumatizing to speak of. Recently, the website Naver asked Japanese readers for such quotes from past girlfriends. Here are some interesting examples of the responses they received:

You don’t have any balls.
I shouldn’t have dated you. Read More

Fukushima: We Follow Special Team Dispatched to Rescue Abandoned Pets (Part 1)

Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Following our last report of abandoned cattle being left to starve, this is the second in a series of articles where we report our findings from our time on the ground in Fukushima.

This time our reporters followed a rescue team formed by several animal protection groups working in the town of Namie, Fukushima who had been requested by residents to save pets left behind by their masters.

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Laughing your way to a happier and healthier life

The Japanese have a saying, “Good fortune and happiness will come to the home of those who smile”. The saying follows on the connection between smiling and laughter and an overall happy life. In our stressful modern society, those who laugh a lot tend to be good at handling that stress. Read More

Sony’s Patapon 3 Trial Replaces Patapon With Half-Naked Japanese Man

Patapon 3, the long-awaited third installment in the PSP’s rhythmic tribal god simulator, is set to be released on April 12, 2011 in North America and April 28, 2011 in Japan.

To commemorate the release of the game, Sony has released a browser-based trial version of the game. However instead of the Patapon warriors, this version stars the eccentric Japanese comedian 江頭2:50 (Egashira niji gojuppun), often refered to as Ega-chan by fans.

Your goal? Send Ega-chan into FEVER! Read More

Fukushima: Cattle on Abandoned Ranch Starve to Death, No Sign of Owner’s Return

For the latest information on the situation, please check here (April 25th) and here (May 5th)

Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. This is the first in a series of articles where we will report our findings from our time on the ground in Fukushima.

The location for our first story is a ranch in Namie, a town located 10 kilometers from the nuclear plant. Here, instead of the lively sounds of farmers going about their daily work, the air is filled with the desperate cries of abandoned cattle. Going to the barn to investigate, we found that over half the cattle in every pen were dead, and the rest were letting out heartbreaking cries for help as they stood among the corpses.

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Jilin Province, China—Last year, Mr. Zhang’s beloved pet dog Hu Zhi (Tiger) suddenly stopped eating and died for reasons unknown. As Mr. Zhang was burying his companion, he noticed a hard lump protruding from the dog’s stomach.

When Mr. Zheng took the dog in for an autopsy to find out the cause of the protrusion, a gallstone about the size of a chicken egg inside was found in his stomach. Mr. Zhang decided to keep the stone as a memento. However, Mr. Zhang was soon informed of a shocking fact: the stone removed from his dog’s stomach has a value of nearly 500,000 Yuan (US$76,487).

Why is this stone worth so much?

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Nearly one month after the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated Northeast Japan, most people in the country have returned to their normal daily routines. Yet the reality is much different for those living in the disaster-stricken areas, and millions of people continue to suffer.

On Hatelabo, a website where users can post and comment on journal entries anonymously, one post is causing commotion for shedding some light on just how different that reality may be.

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“I love you & I need you Fukushima”: Famous Japanese Musicians and Actors Create Music Video, Beautiful Tribute To Japan’s Solidarity

The band Inawashirokos, formed after last month’s earthquake by a group of four Fukushima-born musicians from well-known bands, have released their first single, I love you & I need you Fukushima.

The song sends a message of support from all of Japan to the Fukushima prefecture, which was one of the areas hardest hit during the earthquake and continues to grapple with the unfolding nuclear crisis.

The band has also released an emotionally stirring music video on YouTube that shows the solidarity and support of people from all across Japan. The video has been gaining attention among uses, many adding their own words of encouragement and commenting that, when watching the video, “the tears didn’t stop.”

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The United States National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NOAA) has released satellite images of nighttime Japan taken immediately before and after the earthquake that struck on March 11th.

Though Japan is normally conspicuously brighter than surrounding countries when seen at night, the photos show a much darker country, and give a unique view of how the entire country was affected by the power outages cause by the earthquake and tsunami.

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According to police reports, there are still more than 16 million people living in refugee shelters after last month’s earthquake as of April 4th.

The shelters, though a step up from complete homelessness, are far from bastions of comfort. Hundreds of people are living under the same roof, their privacy guarded only by makeshift cardboard partitions. Thanks to relief efforts some basic necessities are made available, but people continue to struggle in the absence of everyday goods.

While those displaced by the earthquake have nothing to do but wait for a return to a normal lifestyle, a website designer known as NOSIGNER has created a wiki called OLIVE for users share practical ideas to help with life in the shelters.

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Café Latino sits in the quiet residential area of Asakusa, and seems to be your average urban curry restaurant with cozy, modern decor. Certainly, one wouldn’t expect to find something like ‘Strawberry Curry’ on the menu.

Part of Café Latino’s spring-only menu, Strawberry Curry is available from late December to mid-March and requires a reservation for customers who wish to order it. We put in ours, and made our way to the restaurant to see how this unlikely combination holds up.

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Koreans Upset with Tshirt Meant for Charity

American apparel brand, J. Crew, sold t-shirts meant to benefit those people affected by the recent disaster in Japan, however they ended up generating controversy over the design. The design consisted of a map of Japan that included a reference to the “Sea of Japan”. The reference angered Korean customers, who argue that the geographic feature should be renamed the “East Sea”, and they then complained vociferously on the internet. In response, J. Crew removed the t-shirt from shelves.

J.Crew announced that they stopped the sales of the shirt and had made plans to change the design. The product page cannot be found anymore on their website. In response to the changes, Korean internet users posted declarations such as, “They should have acted faster”, and “We should keep an eye on their new design too”.

In March the Japanese Ministry of Health announced that it had detected radiation levels exceeding safety standards in vegetables from Fukushima and the neighboring prefecture of Ibaraki. Despite government efforts to assure the public that no contaminated products had been shipped to supermarkets, consumers across Japan have been spooked from buying produce from the affected areas. As a result, farmers in Fukushima and Ibaraki—even those whose crops remain uncontaminated—are struggling to cope with financial insecurity as they face a sudden drop in demand.

In response, a farmer’s market-like event titled “Blow Away Restrained Buying! Support Fukushima and Ibaraki Farmers!” has been launched to calm public radiation fears by inviting farmers from these regions to Tokyo to sell their produce directly, and have customers test for radiation themselves.

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SOFTBANK CEO Donates $120 Million Plus Entire Salary Until Retirement to Earthquake Relief

Japanese telecommunications and media conglomerate Softbank Group announced on its website that its CEO Son Masayoshi will personally donate US$120 million, as well as his entire salary until retirement, to assist the victims of last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

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A young mother’s blog containing entries of her inability to love her four-year-old daughter is creating controversy in Japan.

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The neighborhood of Ximending is located in the Northeastern part of Taipei, and is the Taiwanese hub of fashion and Japanese culture. Often referred to as the “the Harajuku of Taipei,” many fascinating sights can be seen just by walking up and down the streets, looking around at the numerous shops, and observing the customers that fill them.

Your reporters in Taipei recently stumbled across a food vendor that sells a corn dog-like concoction made by baking a sausage, coated in hotcake batter, in a special iron grill shaped like a penis.

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The 2001 comedy film “Shaolin Soccer” caused a sensation at Hong Kong box offices, becoming the highest grossing film in Hong Kong cinema history at the time. The film tells the story of a group of six Shaolin monks who draw on their acrobatic and martial arts skills to play soccer and spread the word of Shaolin kung fu to the masses.

While the superhuman ability of the monks in the movie is something confined to the realm of fantasy, the real warrior monks of the famous Shaolin Monastery are currently training to make ‘Shaolin soccer’ a reality.

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With a death toll exceeding 2000, the coastal town of Ishinomaki, Miyagi was one of the hardest hit during the Tohoku Earthquake and resulting tsunami. Here, in the aftermath of the disaster, 15-year-old Shuuya Kikuchi spent hours wading through ice-cold water and rescuing elderly people trapped in their cars.

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Following the Texas Burger 2, the next in McDonald’s Big America 2 series was the Idaho Burger, offered from January 28th to February 11th. With the Idaho Burger, McDonald’s Japan aimed to create a flavor that represents the “meeting of beef hamburger and the blessings of American soil.”

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