Representatives from 91 nations attend ceremony on 71st anniversary of atomic bombing of Hiroshima

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Japan Times:

Hiroshima on Saturday marked the 71st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing, with Mayor Kazumi Matsui calling on world leaders to do more to abolish nuclear weapons and to follow U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit to the city in May with trips of their own.

At a memorial ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe echoed Matsui’s call and also urged young people to visit to observe the harrowing reality of the atomic bombing. Abe also reiterated Japan’s role in combating nuclear proliferation as the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.

In the Peace Declaration read at the city’s annual memorial ceremony, Matsui urged the leaders of all nations to visit Hiroshima, which was devastated by an atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki, which was obliterated by another atomic strike three days later by the United States, in order to “etch the reality of the atomic bombings in each (leader’s) heart.

Matsui then called on the world to “unify and manifest our passion in action” to proceed toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

 

A moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima at an altitude of about 600 meters, killing an estimated 140,000 people by the end of 1945. A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9 that year, and Japan surrendered six days later, effectively ending the war.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized the importance of maintaining and enhancing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that binds its signatories not to pursue atomic weapons programs.

Abe also said he will maintain his efforts to create a world free of nuclear weapons by asking both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states for cooperation, and by showing world leaders and young people the painful reality of radiation exposure.

During the ceremony, a message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also read out by a representative.

Today, the world needs the hibakusha spirit more than ever,” at a time when “global tensions are rising” and progress on nuclear disarmament is “hard to find,” the message said, adding that nuclear powers “have special responsibility to prevent another Hiroshima,”

Ban urged all nations to “find common ground through inclusive dialogue.”

The ceremony was attended by representatives from 91 nations, including recognized nuclear weapons states such as Britain, France, the United States and Russia. The European Union was also represented.

The number of hibakusha stood at 174,080 as of March, and their average age was just over 80 years old.

12 beautiful Japanese train stations by the sea

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RocketNews 24 (by Preston Phro):

Being an island nation, there is no shortages of beaches in Japan–though if you live in Tokyo, there are times when the only thing resembling the ocean to be seen is a sea of people. After a weekday morning commute spent sloshing around in a packed train car, it’s easy to find yourself wishing for a more relaxed environment like the beach. And with summer in full swing, there are plenty of beaches we’d rather be lounging on than just about anything.

But it’s a busy world and who has time to sit on the beach and just relax? Well, we sure don’t! But for those of us always on the go, there are a few train stations that at least will give you a view of the ocean on your way to whatever business you may have. Think of it like a vacation that lasts as long as the train stops!

Here are 12 of Japan’s stations on the sea–beautiful, serene, and just outside your train window!

Kitahama Station

Located on the Sea of Okhotsk in north-east Hokkaido, this is perhaps one of the coldest train stations Japan, though you couldn’t tell it from the first two photos below. However, it turns out that a train ride to Kitahama Station will provide you not only with a beautiful view of the ocean, but also of drift ice! In fact, Kitahama Station is apparently the only train station in Japan that regularly offers a glimpse of that fantastic frozen, floating phenomenon.

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北浜駅(雪)

Todoroki Station

Heading to the mainland, this station in Aomori Prefecture is close to the Sea of Japan–extremely close! During stormy weather, waves actually wash over the track and up to the station. While we’re not sure if that’s the most practical location, it does make for beautiful photo opportunities. In fact, the station was featured in JR advertising in 2002, driving train- and station-loving fans out to Aomori. We can’t blame them–a dip in the sea sounds great right now!

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驫木駅 (2)

Nebukawa Station

Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, this is the only station on the Tokaido Main Line between Tokyo and Kobe that is unmanned, though it is apparently a popular destination during New Years. It also provides a stunning view of open waters.

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根府川

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Shimonada Station

Another unmanned stop, Shimonada Station is located in Ehime Prefecture on the Shikoku Yosan Line. Having been featured in numerous posters and other JR advertisements, the station has become popular among train lovers and photographers across the country as a location for breathtaking landscape photos. It even has its own Facebook page!

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下灘駅 (3)

下灘駅 (2)

Baishinji Station

Another station in Ehime PrefectureBaishinji Station is not famous just for its location–though it certainly is beautiful. The station captured the popular imagination in 1991 thanks to the TV drama Tokyo Love Story, about three Ehime friends who eventually reunite in Tokyo. As you may have guessed from the photo below, Rika, one of the main characters of the show, ties a “bye-bye handkerchief” to the railing in a climactic scene. Fans of the show and travelers have kept up the tradition for over two decades!

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梅津寺駅

Yoroi Station

This Hyogo Prefecture station isn’t much to look at itself–it could easily be mistaken for a run-down bathroom in an interstate rest area–but the view from the platform certainly makes up for it. Not only is the station unmanned, there aren’t even any automated ticket machines! Despite its desolate appearance, the station has become a bit of an attraction for train lovers following its appearance in some TV shows. It has also appeared in JR advertisements, where it was written that “you can feel the sea breeze blowing off the ocean right under your eyes just standing on the platform.”

▼The station itself

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▼The view from the platform.

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Oobatake Station

One of the more rural areas of Japan, Yamaguchi Prefecture is also home to Oobatake Station, which sits right along the sea. An hour train ride from the Shinkansen station in Hiroshima, this station is an excellent sightseeing destination–though that’s about all you’ll have time for! In this part of the country, you can usually find only local trains.

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Oumikawa Station

Apparently this Niigata Prefecture station is the closest to actual open waters in Japan, though judging from other entries on this list, the competition for that honor is fierce. In fact, the train line runs right along the coast for several miles, making not just this station but the entire route a beautiful destination for sight-seers. And, like many other stops on this list, the station is unmanned. We’re starting to wonder how JR gets people to pay for tickets…

Yukawa Station

Located in Wakayama Prefecture, Yukawa Station provides a magnificent view not only of the sea but also of the prefecture’s mountains. And if you’re a fan of the beach, the station is just a stone’s throw away from the Yukawa Kaisui Yokujo (Yukawa Swimming Area). Best of all, this station is also unmanned, so there won’t be any attendants to scold you for tracking sand and water all over the platform!

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湯川駅 (2)

Umashibaura Station

Situated on Tokyo Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture, this station is probably not where you’d want to wait out a storm with large waves. It is, however, an excellent destination for sight-seeing. In addition to the view of the bay, rail riders are afforded an excellent view of the Yokohama Bay Bridge, Tsurumi Tsubasa Bridge, and fireworks launched from Yamashita Park in the summer.

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海芝浦駅 (2)

Kamakurakoko Mae Station

As you may have guessed from the name of this station, it’s located in Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture near Kamakura High School. Kamakura City, in addition to its beautiful temples, shrines, and German sausages, is a popular destination for its gorgeous beaches. The station offers a beautiful view of the ocean and as well as Enoshima, Miura Peninsula, and even Mt. Fuji on clear days. That said, we’re sure it’s a horrible way to start the school day–imaging having a gorgeous beach dangled in front of you only for it to be ripped away and replaced with an hour spent conjugating English verbs!

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鎌倉高校前駅 (2)

Tagi Station

This beach-front train stop is located in Shimane Prefecture, the second least populated prefecture in Japan. Despite the lack of people around to use it, Tagi Station and the area between it and its neighbor down the line Oda Station are famous as sight-seeing destinations and have appeared in numerous magazines. Apparently there is also a sakura (cherry) tree next to the platform, providing a unique photo opportunity when the tree blossoms in the spring.

Tagi Station

J-pop unit Perfume’s innovative projection mapping at SXSW performance creates worldwide buzz

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RocketNews 24:

Perfume, the three-member electro-pop group from Hiroshima, Japan, took to the stage for a special performance at the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. The annual event, held this year from March 13-22, always includes a unique lineup of musical artists, independent films, conference panels, and technological exhibitions, all carefully selected to showcase the highest levels of creativity in the current industry.

Even in that environment, Perfume’s musical and dance performance seems to have blown away the crowd with its ground-breaking use of projected visuals. Is their performance really happening in the physical world? Folks from around the world who’ve seen the video online say it’s enough to give them goosebumps!

The lovely ladies of Perfume, Kashiyuka, A~chan, and Nocchi, are no strangers to the world circuit, having embarked on sold-out concert tours in not just Asia, but in Europe and North America as well. As a result of all of this international exposure, the group was invited to perform at SXSW in the U.S., where they’ve already built up a considerable fanbase. And if those lucky fans have any say in it, this particular concert is likely to go down as legendary in the history of Perfume’s live performances.

  ▼ The trio as seen on their official website.11

The group performed at SXSW on Tuesday, March 17, taking the stage for 50 minutes beginning at the late (early?) hour of 1 a.m. As part of the set list, Perfume performed a new song called “STORY (SXSW-MIX) for the first time ever which involved the use of adjustable, semi-transparent screens onto which a variety of images were projected. The girls danced in front of, behind, and around the screens while being hit with a deluge of constantly shifting patterns and lights.

If you weren’t lucky enough to catch the trio in person, you can see the video of the performance right here:

Many of Japan’s 16 UNESCO World Heritage sites fly under the radar

RocketNews 24:

Did you know that Japan has 16 locations on the list of UNESCO World Heritages? Could you name them all with any sum of money on the line?

Survey Research Center, Co. Ltd. conducted a survey that showed that most people could not. When asked whether they were interested in Japan’s world heritages, 67.8% of those surveyed responded affirmatively. However, only 4% of respondents knew all 16 Japanese sites.

See how many you can name before looking at the list below:

1. Yakushima [Kagoshima Prefecture]

2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) [Hiroshima Prefecture]

3. Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Ryukyu Islands [Okinawa Prefecture]

4. Itsukushima Shinto Shrine [Hiroshima Prefecture]

5. Shiretoko [Hokkaido Prefecture]

6. Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land [Iwate Prefecture]

7. Ogasawara Islands [Tokyo Metropolis]

8. Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama [Gifu Prefecture]

9. Himeji-jo [Hyogo Prefecture]

10. Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape [Shimane Prefecture]

11. Shirakami-Sanchi [Akita and Aomori Prefectures]

12. Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area [Nara Prefecture]

13. Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) [Kyoto Prefecture]

14. Shrines and Temples of Nikko [Tochigi Prefecture]

15. Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara [Nara Prefecture]

16. Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range [Nara, Wakayama and Mie Prefectures]

How did you do? You might have noticed that both natural locations and manmade structures can qualify as world heritages.

The survey also showed that over half of Japanese tourists add the option of visiting a world heritage site when they take a tour on vacation.

Find out more about world heritage sites by watching “The World Heritage” on TBS at 6 a.m. on Sunday, November 27. The first program will focus on natural heritages, and the program that airs on Sunday, December 4 will deal with cultural assets.

Watching these shows and learning more about world heritages will surely enrich your mind and deepen your appreciation of Japanese history, and they may even give you some ideas for your next trip within Japan.

Source: TBS “The World Heritage”

Five minutes with Chef Masaharu Morimoto

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The Iron Chef America star talks dining rules, Disney World and his new South Beach location

Soho House:

The perfectly-trimmed goatee may be his visual trademark, but Iron Chef America star Masaharu Morimoto is definitely best-known known for is his signature Japanese fusion cuisine. Hailing from Hiroshima, Morimoto earned his raw fish slicing stripes from top sushi and kaiseki masters back home before moving stateside where he eventually became Nobu’s executive chef. Opening his first eponymous restaurant in Philadelphia in 2001, he now owns a dozen across the globe from New York to New Delhi and Tokyo. We caught up with the chef to hear about his first Miami venture, and his plans to bring his famed tuna pizza to Disney.

Q: What are you most petrified of finding in your ingredients basket on Iron Chef?

A: Hot chili peppers. Being Japanese, I wasn’t used to them at first – when I tried to taste one during a battle, I hurt my tongue biting it!

Q: Are you different on TV and in real life?

A: Maybe. People are familiar with me cooking ferociously and intensely in Iron Chef battles. They don’t know that I have a sense of humor!

Q: You sold your first restaurant in Japan to travel to the US. Why?

A: One morning, I just felt like doing it. I always planned to return to Japan, but due to the Plaza Accord, the value of the dollar dropped and I couldn’t afford to. So I stayed!

Q: What is the biggest misconception about Japanese cuisine?

A: That eating raw fish is terrifying – I actually created one of my signature dishes, Tuna Pizza, to cater to people who were afraid. The name, plus such as aioli sauce, tomatoes, olives, anchovies and tortilla makes it less scary.

Q: You’ve just opened in Miami. Will there be any unique dishes?

A: Yes, Morimoto Ceviche, which will be packed with fresh seafood – a colorful and sexy looking dish, so perfect for South Beach. I’ve also crafted desserts to be visually entertaining, including a chocolate dome that is lit at the guest’s table and melts in front of their eyes.

Q: After decades in the USA, do Americans still surprise you with their food choices?

A: I used to see customers here ask for a bowl of rice covered in soy sauce while perusing the menu – the Japanese traditionally only eat rice with main dishes. But then, if I’d stuck to a traditional Japanese menu, people in this country wouldn’t have accepted my food!

Q: Your next concept is a Pan-Asian, for Disney. Tell us about this?

A: Pan-Asian food is very versatile and entertaining, so is a perfect for fit Disney. When I was a kid, Disney TV, movies and toys were not available in Hiroshima, so I’m really excited to be involved now.

Q: What’s left on your foodie bucket list?

A: I want to host a TV show featuring food travel in Japan. I’d also really like to go on a vacation with my wife without my iPhone!

— Written by Carla Torres

Oko-Wine: New wine to accompany Japan’s Okonomiyaki pancakes

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RocketNews 24:

 

Fans of all things delicious, rejoice! Japan has been blessed with a bottle of wine to pair with delectable rounds of grilled whatever-you-want goodness. We’re of course talking about okonomiyaki, the Osaka/Hiroshima specialty that consists of batter mixed with a variety of seafood and savory mix-ins. And although the dish traditionally goes down best with an icy cold beer, we’re already getting really excited for this new combination.

Oko-Wine, as the new blend is being called, is a red wine made from grapes sourced in Spain. Made specifically to pair with okonomiyaki, the medium-body wine is fruity and spicy with notes of plum and black currant.

One bottle retails for 1,100 yen (US$10) and was released on September 1, so you’ll have a good chance of finding it at your nearest retailer in Japan. Although the bottle specifically states that this is Okonomiyaki Wine, even going as far as putting the image of an okonomiyaki spatula on the front, if you can’t quite bring yourself to make the dish at home, you can always just drink the wine.

Link

Hello Kitty’s workload about to get even heavier with the introduction of Battleship Kitty

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

Hello Kitty’s lengthy list of endorsement contracts must be a source of constant pressure for her. The success of products as diverse as contact lenses, melons, and even fire extinguishers riding on her marketing appeal must be an enormous weight on the shoulder’s of Japan’s favorite feline.

Now, Kitty-chan’s about to add an enormous weight to her head, as part of a new tie-up with the city of Kure in Hiroshima Prefecture.

Along with its curry restaurants, Kure’s major claim to fame is its long history as a shipbuilding center. While it produces commercial vessels today, Kure was also the birthplace of Japan’s most storied battleship, the Yamato.

 

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Launched in 1940 and sunk five years later, the 263-meter (862-foot) Yamato stands as one of the two largest battleships ever built, along with its identically-sized sister ship the Musashi. The Yamato has since become a symbol of Kure, along with the subject of a museum located in the town.

 

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Like many other regions and cities in Japan, Kure has entered into a cross-promotional deal with Hello Kitty. A line of limited edition merchandise goes on sale late this month, combining the most recognizable icons of Sanrio and Kure in the most straightforward way possible.

Fans of all things cute or naval history can pick up Kure Hello Kitty cell phone straps, socks, pens, and memo pads, at prices ranging from 400 to 500 yen (US $3.90 to $4.90).

 

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Officially, that’s a “battleship-shaped hat” on top of Kitty-chan’s head, and not an actual ocean-going vessel with a displacement of 65,000 tons. It still looks plenty heavy, though, especially in light of Hello Kitty’s profile that lists her as only weighing as much as three apples. She’s got to be exhausted after a full shift wearing it, but hopefully she’ll still have enough energy to hop on over to Hiroshima City and treat herself to one of those cream puff cones as a reward for a hard day’s work.

Source: At Press

 

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Hello Kitty’s workload about to get even heavier with the introduction of Battleship Kitty