Tag Archives: Japan

A Solid Gold Darth Vader for the Sith Who Has Everything

To celebrate 40 years of darkness, the galaxy’s favorite villain has taken on a much shinier disposition.

For less than the cost of a trip to Tatooine, one lucky Star Wars fan will soon be able to own a solid gold Darth Vader mask — perfect for bartering, though perhaps not so good for heavy breathing.

Continue reading A Solid Gold Darth Vader for the Sith Who Has Everything

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Surf Shacks is a Look into the Eclectic Homes of Iconic Surfers

Surfing is a freaking way of life. If you’ve ever met a hardcore surfer, odds are you wanted to swap lives with him, or at the very least become his BFF. That’s because these guys and gals live and breathe the lifestyle— from the way they style (or don’t style) their hair, to the beach “shacks” they call home.

And there’s an important lesson we can take from watching them live: All we really need to survive is a passion and a cozy shack to call home.

Surf-Shack Cover

That’s the reason we love Surf Shacks ($60), a new book put together by the surf-centric blog Indoek and publisher Gestalten that chronicles some of the most visually pleasing homes of legendary surfers.

Continue reading Surf Shacks is a Look into the Eclectic Homes of Iconic Surfers

World’s Largest Indoor Farm Switches On in Japan

Although modern agriculture is no doubt leaps and bounds ahead of anything seen a few centuries ago, there’s still one tiny problem with it. Weather remains out of our control. With all of our high-tech farming toys, all it takes is a bad drought, a freak storm, or an outbreak of particularly resilient vermin to destroy an entire harvest.

It’s happened before in our long history, and modern farming equipment – while it’s done a great deal to mitigate the problem – hasn’t removed it entirely. Now, one Japanese plant physiologist claims he’s found a solution to the weather problem – and possibly world hunger, as well. He’s opened the world’s largest indoor farm.

Continue reading World’s Largest Indoor Farm Switches On in Japan

Hitman: The Complete First Season is Like Playing Through a James Bond Film

A decade since the acclaimed Hitman: Blood Money and a few years since 2012’s much maligned Hitman: Absolution, fans of this cult sandbox franchise have been hungry for a return to form.

So, last year, developer IO rebooted everything. Revisiting early notions of what this iconic series should be, but incorporating refined gameplay systems and an entirely new release structure – six individual episodes over the course of a year – it aimed to reassert shiny-pated killing machine Agent 47 at the forefront of the sandbox stealth genre.

Continue reading Hitman: The Complete First Season is Like Playing Through a James Bond Film

Toyota Introduces Adorable Cupholder-Size Robot To Make You Less Lonely

Car rides are more fun with a companion, as is life in general, which is why Toyota has introduced a new palm-sized robot meant to spark parental feelings, stave off loneliness, and hang out with humans. The robot, Kirobo Mini, is based on an astronaut character, yet meant to give people the good feelings of caring for a baby without the massive workload.

Continue reading Toyota Introduces Adorable Cupholder-Size Robot To Make You Less Lonely

Here’s Why The Japanese Live So Long

japan men old ice water
Japanese men and other participants wearing loin cloths pray as they bathe in ice-cold water at the Teppozu Inari shrine in Tokyo.

The world’s oldest known man, Alexander Imich, born in 1903, died Sunday in New York. 

The torch will most likely be passed to 111-year-old Sakari Momori, who comes from a country full of elderly people: Japan. The Guinness Book of World Records is investigating.

That’s not really surprising. You’ve probably heard a similar story before: The Japanese have the highest life expectancy of any major country.

Women on average live to 87 and men to 80 (compared to 81 years for American women and 76 for American men). The Japanese can live 75 of those years disability free and fully healthy, according to the World Health Organization.

For decades in the US, the health mania over Japanese cuisine has taken on a life of its own, with books on the timeless “Okinawa diet” and a host of others purporting to have cracked the mystical, enlightened ways of the East.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but anybody who pushes the image of 90-year-old Zen monks taking refuge in a remote mountain monastery, feasting their life away on sushi and vegetables, is full of it.

So is anybody who proclaims the innate superiority of Japan’s food supply to the “Western diet” (How many wonderful, green healthful diets can you choose from in all of North America and Europe?).

And contemporary Japan can be a stressful place. Its hyper-urban people work long hours, at 1,745 hours per worker in 2012, suffer through a long and deadening commute, and can easily fret when a subway hold-up makes them just minutes late for meetings with their bosses.

The pressure to perform is high, and failure is frowned upon.

So how have the Japanese managed to live so long?

Cuisine could indeed play a role — although even that is up for debate. 

japan oldest woman Misao Okawa
Japanese Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest woman, eats her birthday cake as she celebrates her 116th birthday in Osaka, western Japan. 

“The Japanese diet is the iPod of food,” she jokes. “It concentrates the magnificent energy of food into a compact and pleasurable size.” 

And then, of course, there’s the fabled Okinawa diet — coming from an island that’s markedly different, in both food and customs, from mainland Japan.

Some physicians point to a trend of longevity thanks to a host of meals that carry a low long-term risk of stomach cancer or arteriosclerosis, like tofu, konbu seaweed, squid and octopus.

But food can’t possibly be the only answer, especially with the downsides to certain Japanese dishes that carry high salt content or that are undercooked. Sushi can put diners at risk of H. Pylori infections, an ailment that can lead to stomach cancer.

Others hint at the relative happiness and stress-free lives of Japan’s elderly, who can live to old age without hefty health bills thanks to the help of children. Senior citizens can enjoy their final years without withering away in hospitals that pour resources into extending their lives more than ensuring quality of life.

The tradition of an elderly couple leaning on their daughter-in-law, though, isn’t as big as it used to be, thanks to the entrance of more women in the workforce.

But Japan still trumps when it comes to old age.

A guide to the world’s biggest drug cartels

Mexico Drugs Cartels 2012

The Sinaloa cartel, Mexico

The biggest gang in Mexico right now is the Sinaloa, whose leader, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo” or “Shorty”, is considered the most powerful drug lord in the world, perhaps ever. The Sinaloas smuggle cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin by land or through tunnels into the US, often via Arizona.

Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan

The largest of Japan’s Yakuza groups, the Yamaguchi has its base and origins in Kobe, but works on a global scale. With a membership running into tens of thousands, they deal in drugs, weapons, gambling, extortion rackets and prostitution.

Solntsevskaya Bratva, Russia

The term “Russian Mafia” describes a range of criminal bratvas, or brotherhoods, the largest of which is from Solntsevo district on the southern outskirts of Moscow. The group is known to have links to Semion MogilevichEurope‘s and perhaps the world’s, most powerful criminal.

The ‘Ndrangheta, Italy

The ‘Ndrangheta from Calabria has now eclipsed the nearby Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Neapolitan Camorra syndicates to become one of the biggest drug gangs in the world. Its annual income from cocaine importation and other businesses is estimated in the tens of billions of dollars.

Abergil family, Israel

The imprisonment last year of brothers Itzhak and Meir Abergil has done little to curtail the activities of the huge organisation they led. IThe Abergils have been one of the world’s largest exporters of ecstasy, into the US and elsewhere, and prolific in gambling and embezzlement too.

via Guardian

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