Molecule in soy sauce may help HIV patients

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Japanese Culture:

You may know the soy sauce is very good for our health, but do you know that it is a potential effect on HIV for soy sauce?

An amazing research result was revealed by the study of the University of Missouri in their paper. According to their paper, the soy sauce used in Japanese food is likely to contain a strong molecule “EFdA” which can be 70 times more potent than Tenofovir (the major anti-HIV viral drug).

Stefan Sarafianos, one of the researchers at University of Missouri School of Medicine, said “EFdA, the molecule we are studying, is less likely to cause resistance in HIV patients because it is more readily activated and is less quickly broken down by the body as similar existing drugs.” Sarafianos and his team of researchers recreated the exact structure and configuration of the molecule, which is now being tested by the pharmaceutical company Merck.

I’m looking forward to further research reports as one of the drug developers and also that of Japanese who love soy sauce.

Eerie images inside Fukushima’s exclusion zone five years after the nuclear disaster

Malaysian-born Loong said: 'The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn't even pack or take anything valuable with them' 

Daily Mail UK:

More than five years after the devastating tsunami and the 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck north-eastern Japan, causing the explosion of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the Japanese town remains abandoned.

Since April 22, 2011, an area within 20km (12.4miles) radius of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant has been cordoned off from the public and listed as the red exclusion zone.

But now, Malaysian photographer Keow Wee Loong has entered into the exclusion zone to capture these eerie images.

Malaysian-born Loong said: ‘The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn’t even pack or take anything valuable with them

 Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima

Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima

There was also an empty DVD shop, full of discs dating back to 2011 - a reminder of the 150,000 people were forced to leave There was also an empty DVD shop, full of discs dating back to 2011 – a reminder of the 150,000 people were forced to leave.

Among the locations Loong explored during his time inside Fukushima, there was an empty supermarket full of merchandise dating back to 2011

The urban explorers wore masks as they entered abandoned houses, like this one in Futaba, that's untouched since the disaster in 2011
The urban explorers wore masks as they entered abandoned houses, like this one in Futaba, that’s untouched since the disaster in 2011

Clean laundry left half in washing machines show the panic that followed the disaster
 Clean laundry left half in washing machines show the panic that followed the disaster and there were plenty of valuables left untouched.
Loong explored various shops where valuables were left untouched

Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima – Tomioka, Okuma, Namie and Futaba – in June this year with friends Sherena Ng and Koji Hori.

They were evacuated after the disaster on March 11, 2011, when a 50ft wave swamped the sea wall at the nuclear power plant, sparking equipment failures and allowing radioactive materials to escape.

It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and the towns have been completely untouched by humanity since then.

Loong’s images give an eerie insight into the panic that followed the disaster and show a city stuck in time as calendars remain on the same date, families’ clean washing is partially-removed from dryers and newspapers forever remain unsold.

Malaysian-born Loong said: ‘The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn’t even pack or take anything valuable with them.

‘If you visit any boutique or shopping mall in these towns, you will see the merchandise exactly where it was since 2011, nothing has been changed or moved.’

For urban explorer Loong, the abandoned sites were most disturbing as traffic lights were still working but there were no cars on the roads
The city of Fukushima was evacuated suddenly after the east coast of Japan was devastated by a massive earthquake followed by a huge tsunami
The packaged goods left on the shelf

The urban explorers entered the so-called ‘red zone’ – the site of maximum radiation – in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by the police.

Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with shops full of merchandise, including newspapers and magazines, dating back to 2011

Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with shops full of merchandise, including newspapers and magazines, dating back to 2011

Loong added: ‘I even found money laying around the pachinko parlour, books dating back to 2011, gold and other valuables all still in place.

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air.

Loong explained: ‘The radiation level in the red zone could go as high as 4.8mSv – 6.5 mSv according to the reading on the electronic signboard on the road.

‘Upon arrival in the red zone, I could smell chemicals and felt a burning sensation in my eyes.’

The urban explorers entered the so-called ‘red zone’ – the site of maximum radiation – in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by the police.

He said: ‘Due to the high level of radiation, the town was filled with police so we had a limited amount of time to explore everything in all four towns. We entered the red exclusion zone in the dark around 1am, to avoid attention from the cops.’

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air 

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air.

Loong visited four towns - Tomioka, Okuma, Namie and Futaba - in June this year with friends Sherena Ng and Koji Hori 

Loong said: 'When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted'

Loong said: ‘When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted’

The urban explorers walked along an abandoned train station in Futaba, Fukushima, which was eerily devoid of life

The urban explorers walked along an abandoned train station in Futaba, Fukushima, which was eerily devoid of life. Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with outlets full of merchandise dating back to 2011 – a reminder of the 150,000 people that were forced to leave the area following the disaster.

He said: ‘When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted.

‘I always had a childhood dream of going into a mall alone when it is empty, so my dream came true, it was like deja vu, everything is exactly the way it is since 2011, the books marked with 2011, DVD movies of 2011.

‘This was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen, I have been to many places, but nothing like Fukushima, the traffic lights are still operating but there are no cars around.

‘It all reminded me of the movie I Am Legend, like stepping foot into a post-apocalyptic city.

Google’s homepage honors the legendary Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama on her 95th birthday.

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In honor of Yuri Kochiyama‘s 95th birthday on May 19th, the Google homepage dedicated a Google Doodle to the legendary late activist, educator and humanitarian, who died in 2014.

The doodle, by artist Alyssa Winans, features an iconic image of Kochiyama at the center of one of many protests and rallies, for numerous social and political movements, over a lifetime in the fight for justice.

It’s with great pleasure that Google celebrates Yuri Kochiyama, an Asian American activist who dedicated her life to the fight for human rights and against racism and injustice. Born in California, Kochiyama spent her early twenties in a Japanese American internment camp in Arkansas during WWII. She and her family would later move to Harlem, where she became deeply involved in African American, Latino, and Asian American liberation and empowerment movements. Today’s doodle by Alyssa Winans features Kochiyama taking a stand at one of her many protests and rallies.

Kochiyama left a legacy of advocacy: for peace, U.S. political prisoners, nuclear disarmament, and reparations for Japanese Americans interned during the war. She was known for her tireless intensity and compassion, and remained committed to speaking out, consciousness-raising, and taking action until her death in 2014.

 

Mini documentary discusses importance of Sailor Moon for 90s LGBTQ kids

Anime News Network:

Sailor Moon holds a unique place in the anime fandom as a common entry point for many 90s kids and introducing queer characters to children’s television.

Fan communities filled in the gaps for censored American version. Fans attracted to a show focusing on strong female friendship, romance, and super powers could turn to the internet and find what was missing, including the truth about the show’s characters.

In the latest episode of Vice’s American Obsession mini-documentary series, viewers can learn about some of the influence Sailor Moon had on LGBTQ+ kids growing up in the 90s. The documentary interviews cosplayers at last year’s Anime ExpoViz Media‘s Charlene Igram, and other fans of the anime series.

Chinese villagers are successfully selling bags of fresh air to people in the city

 

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Next Shark:

Business-minded locals in the mountainous part of Guandong province in China are making money off the region’s natural fresh air.

Lianshan Zhuang and Yao autonomous county residents, have set up stalls atop its mountain and began selling air in plastic bags to city dwellers escaping the smog.

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According to NetEase (via Shanghaiist), the price of the fresh air ranges from 10 yuan ($1.50) for a small bag and up to 30 yuan ($4.50) for a larger bag.

Lianshan county, reportedly the greenest area in northern Guandong, is a favorite getaway spot for city folk who want to escape from urban pollution.

Marketing a bag of air is not that difficult for these crafty entrepreneurs as many customers find the idea of taking home fresh mountain air quite reasonable.

Air pollution has become a major issue in China especially in its highly industrialized cities and continuously poses a threat to the public health of its people.

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Korean female bodybuilder Jhi Yeon-woo breaks hearts and beauty standards

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Korean female bodybuilder Jhi Yeon-woo is probably going to break the internet with her rock-hard muscles.

Yeon-woo has competed in female bodybuilding contests both in South Korea and internationally, winning several of them. She’s become a bit of a celebrity in her home country, where her atypically adorable appearance has earned her the nickname “King Kong Barbie.”

Yeon-woo, 31, boasts a healthy following of nearly 35,000 followers on her Instagram account. and 37,000 on her Facebook page.

She has competed in female bodybuilding contests at home and abroad, winning international competitions and in her home country of South Korea. Yeon-woo competed in her debut competition at the 2010 Korea YMCA and won.

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She is promoter of Advanced Performance Nutrition Supplements, a company “committed to introducing to the athletic community new, effective and ‘state-of-the-art’ performance enhancing products.”

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In 2013, Yeon-woo won the Arnold Classic Europe Women’s Physique competition.

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Yeon-woo has also been featured on the YouTube channel of Bodybuilding League, an online blog magazine covering lifestyle, diet and nutrition news for fitness fanatics.

And just in case there are any doubters, here’s a video of Yeon-woo posing and taking pictures with fans during the 2014 Olympia, “Meet the Olympians” event.

 

Futuristic “wearable chair” exoskeleton allows you to sit while standing

If you work a job where you’re standing all day, you’ll know how much strain you can put on your feet, hips, and joints. Depending on the line of work, you may have the opportunity to sit down and give your legs a break throughout the day, but if you’re, say, a medical surgeon, you don’t always get that option.

But what if you had a chair with you at all times? What if you could sit without actually sitting? It sounds absurd, but the archelis “wearable chair” allows for just that.

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Planned and produced by Japanese company Nitto under the supervision of Chiba University’s Frontier Medical Engineering Center, archelis simply straps onto your legs, allowing the “chair” to move along with you. By bending your knees and putting your weight on the upper sections of the unit, archelis supports your body in the same way as if you were sitting, taking the strain off your tired legs and feet.

▼ Pictured: not Portal 2‘s long-fall boots

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The device is ergonomically designed using a combination of tough metal and carbon to be both durable yet is light enough to allow for comfort and ease of movement. For surgeons who need to stay standing and focused for hours on end, this could be the welcomed relief they need.

Archelis is still in development and does not yet have a set price or release date, but any updates on production will be announced on the website. While the unit was designed with medical staff in mind, we can definitely see this being used in a number of different applications, such as allowing people who have difficulty walking or standing for long periods of time a little respite.

How school lunch plays a central role in education in Japan

Alternet (by Nevin Thompson):

As anyone who has ever attended or taught at a Japanese school can tell you, school lunch (kyuushoku) is the most important part of the day.

It provides not only nourishment, but also an opportunity to teachers and students to bond by eating together.

While the lunch is typically prepared by full-time staff in a large kitchen either in the school or at a central facility that serves the entire school district, it’s the students who are responsible for serving lunch for their classmates.

  • Nevin Thompson is the Japan Editor for Global Voices. He is a translator, writer, and journalist, and has been connected to Japan for more than twenty years.

A really good reason why Asians never wear shoes in the house

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Next Shark:

Individuals who have ever stepped foot inside an Asian household probably know that shoes are not allowed.

Shoes are typically removed before entering homes for hygienic reasons — the amount of dirt and bacteria found on them are shockingly disgusting.

Approximately 421,000 different types of bacteria can be found on shoes, according to a 2008 study by the University of Arizona. Of the shoes examined in the study, 96% of them were found to have coliforms, a bacterial indicator of the level of sanitation of foods and water that is also universally found in feces of humans and warm-blooded animals.

In addition, 27% of the shoes were found to have E. coli along with seven different kinds of bacterias. Among them are Klebsiella pneumoniae, a bacteria that causes urinary tract infections, and Serratia ficaria, a bacteria that causes respiratory infections.

Study author Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, explained:

“The common occurrence (96%) of coliform and E. coli bacteria on the outside of the shoes indicates frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal material outdoors. Our study also indicated that bacteria can be tracked by shoes over a long distance into your home or personal space after the shoes were contaminated with bacteria.”

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Bringing shoes into the house leads to a 90-99% chance of transfer of bacteria from dirty shoes to uncontaminated home floors.

If that doesn’t gross you out then this might: public restroom floors have an estimated 2 million bacteria per square inch. However, an average toilet seat has about 50 per square inch.

Kelly Reynolds, microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, said:

“We walk through things like bird droppings, dog waste and germs on public restroom floors, all of which are sources for E. coli.

“Think about rain water in the street. It can have gasoline in it and chemicals, and those get on your shoes and can be brought into your home.”

Though with toxins and chemicals, repeat exposure during a lifetime will lead to health related illness.

If that doesn’t convince people to take off their shoes before going inside their house then perhaps washing shoes regularly with detergent will help. The University of Arizona study found that cleaning shoes in the washing machine will kill the presence of bacteria by at least 90%. Floors and carpets should also be disinfected with carpet cleaners such as a steam cleaner.

The best way though, is to keep those shoes out of the house!

 

Japan Times: Japan’s rural temples target mass foreign and luxury tourism

Japan Times (by Junko Fujita):

Deep in a forest in Japan‘s Fukui Prefecture, a 13th century Buddhist temple where Steve Jobs once dreamed of becoming a Zen monk has teamed up with a Tokyo skyscraper builder to seek the commercial enlightenment of foreign tourist dollars.

As a weak yen fuels record tourism, Eiheiji Temple, local authorities and Mori Building Co. — the construction company behind some of Tokyo’s glitziest retail palaces — plan to redevelop the site, including placing a ¥1.3 billion hotel nearby. From there, a new path will be built leading visitors to the spartan site that intrigued the Apple Inc. guru.

Japan’s temples have long been business and tech-savvy, offering lucrative services like funerals while courting domestic tourists — a recent Eiheiji exhibition featured video from a drone operated by a monk. But compared to other parts of the world, religious sites outside centers like Kyoto have been slow to target mass foreign tourism.

What has changed is a shrinking population using temples less, crimping revenue just as annual overseas tourist numbers surge toward Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of 20 million well ahead of a target date of 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics. Japan’s farther-flung regions, long suffering a rural exodus, now want a piece of an influx led by visitors from China, South Korea and Taiwan that is bolstering big-city economies.

Eiheiji is a monastery that has been isolated from the rest of the world,” said the Rev. Shodo Kobayashi, a deputy administrator at the temple. “But we cannot be divorced from our community forever. We need to respond to the needs of local governments to increase tourists.”

Eiheiji needs money to support monks in the kind of intensive Zen retreat training that once appealed to Steve Jobs. But visitor numbers have skidded to less than half a million a year, nearly two-thirds below a late-1980s peak when group tours organized by Japanese companies and neighborhood associations were at the height of their popularity.

For the temple and local authorities, a new bullet train line that connects Tokyo with neighboring Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, offers a lifeline. The picturesque castle town just over 50 miles away is seeing a surge in foreign tourists whisked from Tokyo in just over 2½ hours.

The temple aims to spend ¥1.3 billion to build a two-story hotel offering modern comforts — including alcohol — to 80 guests in the adjacent town of Eiheiji, while the surrounding Fukui Prefecture’s authorities will redevelop the path leading to the temple in a project to be completed by 2020.

With a place to stay the night, tourists will spend more time and money,” said Shouji Kawakami, an Eiheiji town official. Local officials hope to double the number of visitors to the temple by 2025.

For Yasuo Sasaki, head of the promotions department at Fukui Prefecture, the stakes go beyond tourism itself. “We need to strengthen our brand power to attract more tourists,” Sasaki said, “then we could revive our economy and people in Fukui will regain pride and confidence.”

It is an ambition shared by many of Japan’s less-traveled cities and towns, largely left behind while the Tokyo metropolis continues to grow in economic power.

But while these places invest in new facilities, for Kosuke Motani, chief senior economist at Japan Research Institute, it will remain difficult for locations that have fallen out of favor with domestic tourists to see a return.

In order for them to attract foreign tourists, they need to have something very unique,” said Motani. “It is very challenging for places that were deserted by Japanese people to attract foreign tourists.”

Still, some say foreign tourists can, and will come.

At Chusonji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Iwate Prefecture that traces its roots back nearly 1,200 years, promotions aimed at attracting visitors from Taiwan and Thailand are paying off, and will be stepped up, said senior temple priest Kaisyun Chiba. A broad central government push to encourage visitors to Japan is also helping, he said.

We have been making efforts to attract tourists but we haven’t done enough,” said Chiba. “How hard we try to attract them would be a key for the future.”

Back at Eiheiji, shaven-headed monks in black robes will continue to go about centuries-old rituals. But those interested in joining their austere training regime may be discouraged by Steve Jobs’ conclusion after consulting his spiritual advisor, an Eiheiji-trained monk who also performed his marriage service.

He said there is nothing over there that isn’t here, and he was correct,” the former Apple leader told writer Walter Isaacson in his authorized biography. “I learned the truth of the Zen saying that if you are willing to travel around the world to meet a teacher, one will appear next door.”