93-year-old Japanese woman gifts ambulance worth 2.7 million yen to local fire station

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RocketNews 24:

When you’re ill or your life is in danger, it’s natural to feel gratitude towards those who aided your recovery or saved your life. But what do you do to show your gratitude?

One elderly woman from Nara Prefecture, Japan, felt so grateful to the ambulances who often help her, that she decided to donate a brand new ambulance to her local fire station. And it wasn’t just any ambulance – this was a top-of-the-line model worth 2.7 million yen (over US$22,000)!

93-year-old Fukuko Kitamuro donated the state-of-the-art ambulance to the Yoshino Town fire department as a way of saying thanks for helping her in times she was sick or injured.

What makes this ambulance special is that it has a 2,600cc engine, four-wheel-drive capabilities, a larger interior than normal ambulances, and is equipped with ventilators and other devices which would allow paramedics to perform life-saving procedures while en route to the hospital.

The local fire department already had four ambulances, but was able to replace one of its older models with the new one Ms. Kitamuro donated. The vice superintendent of the prefectural fire fighting association and the Yoshino Town mayor expressed their gratitude for the generous gift, and Japanese net users had lots of good things to say about her as well:

“Such a cool old woman!”

“I want to be like her.”

“That’s such a great way to put her assets to use.”

“What a nice old woman. I hope she lives a long life.”

Skills of the fastest mochi-pounding pros in all of Japan leave us dumbfounded

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RocketNews 24:

The making of mochi, traditional Japanese rice cakes, is a traditional activity for many Japanese families around the time of the New Year’s holiday. The term for this important ritual in Japanese is mochitsuki (餅つき), which quite simply means “mochi pounding.”

While there are dozens of mochi specialty shops scattered throughout Japan, one particular shop specializing in yomogimochi (mochi mixed with mugwort, giving it a distinctive green color) in Nara Prefecture boasts much more than delicious sweets–its second claim to fame is that it employs the fastest mochitsuki champions in all of the country!

The mochitsuki professionals at Nara’s Nakatanidou (中谷堂) shop make a great team. They’ve got the art of mochitsuki down to a tee, and it’s obvious that in the process they’ve also cultivated a mutual trust over the years. I mean, why else would they be so willing to stick their hands in the direct path of a mallet crashing down at full force?

The following video of the mochi masters at work is so impressive that it’s even garnered thousands of views outside of Japan. Remember, what you’re about to see is not sped-up or altered in any way–it’s the actual speed that the video was recorded at:

 

 

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”

Buddha vs Eva, Ultraman, Gundam and Lady Liberty: How the otherworldly measure up

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RocketNews 24:

If you’re a fan of mecha anime, you’ll know all about towering robots and the impressive displays of power they show during large-scale, epic battles. One of the titans of the mecha world, Gundam, is so revered in Japan he’s been recreated to scale and stands looking out over Tokyo Bay, wowing crowds with his strength and height.

Gundam might not be so happy, however, to learn that a picture doing the rounds on the internet is making him look tiny when compared with his peaceful brother from another otherworldly realm. To be fair though, not much can compete with Ushiku Daibutsu, the tallest Buddha statue in the world, who lives just a 90-minute train ride from Narita Station.

Located in Ushiki, Ibaraki Prefecture, Ushiki Daibutsu was completed in 1993 and stands a total of 120 metres (390 ft) tall. Like Lady Liberty, the statue houses an observation floor, where visitors can enjoy amazing views that stretch far off into the distance.

While the famous daibutsu (giant buddhas) of Nara and Kamakura are known for drawing crowds of visitors, the Ushiki Daibutsu makes up for its lack of centuries-old history with sheer height and impressive body parts.

  • Weight: 4,003 tonnes (8.825 million lb)
  • Length of left hand: 18 m (59.06 ft)
  • Length of face: 20 m (65.62 ft)
  • Length of eye: 2.55 m (8.4 ft)
  • Length of mouth: 4.5 m (15 ft)
  • Length of nose: 1.2 m (3.9 ft)
  • Length of Ear: 10 m (32.81 ft)
  • Length of the first finger: 7 m (22.97 ft)

 

To get a sense of the enormous scale of this statue, the head of this great Buddha could house the entire body of Nara’s daibutsu (seen on the far right of the image above). Thank goodness these are all peace-loving heroes or who knows what kind of mess we’d all be in!

Ushiku Daibutsu Details


Address: 2083 Kunocho, Ushiku, Ibaraki
Phone: 029-889-2931
Hours: Mar–Sep: 9:30 am–5:00 pm (until 5:30 pm Sat, Sun & holidays); Oct–Feb: 9:30 am–4:30 pm
Admission: 800 yen (US$6.80) for adults (Dec–Mar: 700 yen [$5.95]), 400 yen ($3.40) for children

Around Japan in 22 days…on a bus!

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RocketNews 24:

One of the hardest parts about visiting Japan is deciding where to go, especially if you have only a limited time. Obviously, everyone wants to hit up Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, but that often means missing out on places like Nara and Aomori. If only there were a way you could get on a bus and just let someone take to every prefecture in the country…

Well, if you have about US$5,000 and 22 days, pack your bags, because that’s exactly what Club Tourism is offering this year!

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Exactly 22 days on a bus might sound like hell–and as someone who’s taken Greyhound from LA to Atlanta and from Miami to Colorado, I can say that it most definitely has the potential to be just that–but it looks like Club Tourism might have a way to make this work.

To begin with, the bus looks quite a bit nicer than your average Greyhound bus–or even the regular night buses in Japan. For one thing, the bathroom even has flowers in it!

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For another thing, the package comes with the greatest amenity ever: Hotel rooms! While most folks traveling by bus usually also find themselves sleeping all night on the bus as well, it looks like Club Tourism will be setting everyone up with a clean bed–and laundry service! That makes the price tag, which is between 500,000 and 700,000 yen (between about US$4,300 and $6,020) depending on the plan, seem a lot more reasonable.

But what exactly does the trip entail? Well, for the first tour, the bus leaves from Kyoto on May 9, right after everyone pops over to Jonan Shrine to pray for a safe trip. From there, the bus travels towards the Sea of Japan and heads up to Hokkaido, and then back down towards Osaka. Touring through every prefecture in Japan, the bus will stop at famous sightseeing places with guides offering explanations along the way. Of course, that also means listening to historical explanations about every major sightseeing spot in Japan for 22 days straight, so you may have to seriously consider how much patience you have!

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Of course, there is one prefecture that you can only get to by plane–Okinawa–but after that, it’s back to the Kansai area, where the bus makes its final stop. On the last night, it looks like the tour finishes with a giant party and in the morning all the passengers get a certificate stating that they’ve been to every one of Japan’s prefectures. No word on whether or not they offer massages for sore butts though…

Club Tourism has posted a full itinerary covering every day of the trip, though it looks like the itinerary and tour are both Japanese only. But if you’re studying Japanese, this would certainly be a great way to get a history lesson and some really intense Japanese practice!

If you’re interested in learning more about the tour, be sure to check out Club Tourism’s website. And once you’ve finished seeing all of Japan, maybe you’ll also want to book a seat on their space tour as well!

Nara’s deer continue their summertime tradition of occupying one of the city’s streets

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RocketNews 24:

 

Although it’s often overshadowed by Kyoto, the city of Nara can also count itself among the pre-Tokyo capitals of Japan. As a matter of fact, Nara was to be the country’s first permanent capital, challenging the beliefs of the day that the death of an emperor contaminated the area and necessitated moving the base of power.

Nara no longer represents the same lofty political authority it once did, but the city is still the site of several important temples, as well as the impressive Nara Daibutsu, a bronze Buddha statue nearly 15 meters (49 feet) tall.

And yet, the first thing most people think of when they hear Nara is deer, since over 1,000 of the animals live inside Nara Park. But even with roughly 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of space to run around in, sometimes the deer like to stray outside the park’s boundaries, such as they do each July when they occupy this sidewalk and stretch of road.

Although they’re technically wild animals, Nara’s deer are remarkably calm. Held to be messengers of the gods under Shinto belief, the animals are neither caged nor penned, but instead allowed to roam free around the sprawling expanses of Nara Park. As the park is one of the largest tourist attractions in the city, travelers often stop to pose for pictures with them, as well as feed them special deer treats sold by vendors inside the park.

On July 22, though, Twitter user Mojizuri was startled to see a herd of deer occupying a sidewalk, as well as spilling out into the road itself.

 

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I’ve lived here for 10 years, and I’ve never seen them do this sort of thing before!” Mojizuri tweeted.

 

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Like most of the world, we’re not used to seeing deer chilling in the middle of the street, and had we been in Mojizuri’s shoes, we’d probably have reacted in the same way. However, it looks like it’s possible that even in his decade as a Nara resident, he just never happened to walk down this exact street at this particular time of year.

The uploader, who goes by the screen name Blue Bells 9999, says that this is a regular occurrence in late July, with the deer strolling out of the park to “enjoy the coolness of the street.” 

Given that the concrete sidewalk and asphalt road surface would ordinarily retain heat during the summertime, we’re guessing that the surrounding cityscape and topography creates either a cooling wind tunnel or an inviting patch of shade.

Whatever the reason, motorists seem to be used to the phenomena, as we don’t see a single car swerving or horn honking in the video. A sign cautions drivers about deer crossing, and most seem to have extended that courtesy to keeping an eye out for deer sitting as well.

 

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New “Attack on Titan” (anime) souvenir straps feature Colossal Titan at famous Japanese landmarks

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

Attack on Titan has such a worldwide following that many visitors to Japan can’t help but keep an eye out for possible sightings of the Colossal Titan as they travel around the country. Chance encounters with the steaming giant are now more real than ever, thanks to a new series of souvenir straps featuring the hungry beast at famous locations throughout Japan.

Now you can see him dressed up as a samurai, devouring Tokyo Tower or reincarnated in the form of a giant gold Buddha. If you want the whole collection, you’ll have to do some travelling as each souvenir is limited for sale only at the local tourist hotspot it features. From Tokyo to Osaka, check out the Colossal Titan posing like you’ve never seen him before!

Visitors to Kyoto can spot the giant dressed up in the traditional garb of the Shinsengumi, a special police force active in the 1860s, who were responsible for protecting Shogunate representatives in Kyoto. Pop culture reveres the members of the Shinsengumi as brave heroes while historians view them as a murder squad with no scruples. A perfect description of a Titan.

 

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Nara is famous for the Daibutsu, or giant Buddha. There’s only room for one giant in Nara and the Colossal Titan believes it should be him. He’ll have to practice the peaceful expression of a deity though.

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Osaka is all about takoyaki, those famous doughy balls of octopus the area is famous for. If there’s a giant tentacle, he’s got a giant set of jaws to devour it.

 

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If you’ve been to Osaka then you’ll know the enormous popularity of Kuidaore Taro, the beloved drum-playing, cymbal-crashing mechanical doll that’s come to represent the famous food district. If you think the doll itself is creepy, then this shouldn’t scare you at all.

 

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It makes sense that a steaming giant would emerge from behind Japan’s most famous volcano, Mt Fuji. This would be an awesome sight in real-life but at 60 metres tall, the Colossal Titan would actually be dwarfed by the 3,776-metre high Mt Fuji.

 

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Two of Tokyo’s famous landmarks meet the monster: Asakusa Shrine and Tokyo Tower.

 

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The famous Buddha at Kamakura is either getting a rub down or about to have his head torn off.

 

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Giants need a day out at the hot springs too. In true Japanese style, the Colossal Titan chugs a bottle of milk after a soak at the onsen.

 

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There are many more straps for many more areas throughout the country. Some locations even have characters like Mikasa and Levi.

 

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From Okinawa in the south to Hokkaido in the north, the Colossal Giant has his sights set on conquering the country. And with such adorable poses we might just let him do it!

 

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Check out this link:

 

New “Attack on Titan” (anime) souvenir straps feature Colossal Titan at famous Japanese landmarks