Cost efficient robots will run a Japanese hotel

 

Courtesy of mnn.com and Huis Ten Bosch.

Audrey Magazine:

When I think of robots, the word “helpful” doesn’t exactly come to mind. Sure, they could be developed to take on simple tasks like vacuum your home, but that’s about as comfortable as I get with robots. Maybe Hollywood is to blame for my negative viewpoint, but I when I think of robots, I picture man-made machines that could possibly malfunction and cause problems rather than solve them. Lucky for me, other than simple household items or toys, I haven’t seen or experienced significant robotic interactions in the United States.

However, the same can’t be said for Japan where there is continuing development and use of robots. This summer, the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, will open its doors and guests will experience an ideally normal, pleasant hotel stay. The only difference? The hotel will be predominantly run by advanced robots.

Hui Bosch

According to mnn.com, guests will probably have no interaction with human hotel workers. These robots, or “actroids” will speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English. Although this high-tech and high end hotel will have 90% of its operations run by robots, there will still be humans present should malfunctions in the system occur.

So why use robots when people would have to stand by anyway? It is cost efficient. Unlike human workers, robots have no salary, no sick days, no need for health insurance, etc. Ultimately, no humans, no human concerns for the company.

Technology is constantly changing in our fast-paced world and yes, technology is an essential tool for us today. Economically, I understand the Henn-na’s decision to use robots. However, doesn’t that take away from the human experience of being warmly welcomed as a guest? Wouldn’t you want an actual pleasant greeting into the hotel and the front desk telling you their opinions on what restaurants to try or what recommended attractions are close by? Lastly, can we say we trust those people that are running and controlling these robots?

 

Singapore restaurant uses autonomous drone waiters

Nagasaki theme park to open futuristic hotel staffed by robots

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RocketNews 24:

Once you’ve tired yourself out playing with your rideable 4-metre tall robot from Amazon Japan and experienced the neon assault to the senses that is Shinjuku’s Robot Restaurant show, you’ll also be able to visit a hotel in Japan with robot staff once the new Hen-na Hotel opens this summer.

As well as robot receptionists, porters, cleaners and waitresses, the aptly-named Hen-na Hotel (literally meaning “strange hotel”) in the Huis Ten Bosch theme park, Nagasaki, will also feature a whole host of futuristic technology aimed at reducing energy consumption and human staffing levels, therefore keeping room prices down.

Huis Ten Bosch is a pretty unusual place already – a little slice of (theme-park) Netherlands that landed on Japan in the early nineties, it contains entire replica Dutch streets, a mock-up of its namesake royal palace in The Hague, and a replica of a Dutch ship that was cast ashore on Japan’s coast in the 17th century.

▼ Clearly, all it needs is a futuristic robot hotel! Welcome to Japan, folks.

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Upon entering the Hen-na Hotel, which opens this July, you’ll be greeted by robot staff at check in. Your bags will be carried to your room by a robot porter, and you can even be served coffee by another robot! Sadly, no press images of these myriad android staff members were yet available, so we’re just going to play it safe and assume they all look like Baymax.

▼ Artist’s impression of the hotel, which is scheduled to open in July this year.

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▼ Not pictured: robot receptionists, robot coffee-wallas. Pictured: apparently irrelevant robotic arm.

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Rooms in this self-styled “low cost” hotel will be rented on an auction system, starting from 7,000 yen (US$60) per room per night. With the cheapest rooms in the other three Huis Ten Bosch hotels starting at around twice that price, you could save some serious money at the park’s new “strange hotel”. Which should leave you with a bit of spare cash to spend on wooden tulips, postcards of windmills, and other authentic Japanese souvenirs.

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

Robert Kinoshita, creator of Hollywood robots, dies at 100

Angry Asian Man:

Robert Kinoshita, an artist, art director and production designer who was best known for designing some of the most iconic robots from Hollywood film and television, has died. He was 100.

Kinoshita served as production designer on a number of films and TV shows, and is responsible for creating Robby the Robot for the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet, as well as the robot Tobor from the 1954 film Tobor the Great and the 1957 television pilot Here Comes Tobor.

He was also the first-season art director for the TV show Lost in Space, for which he created one of the show’s most popular characters — the robot, best remembered for the line “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!

Before finding a career in the backstages of Hollywood, Kinoshita and his wife Lillian were among the thousands of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in camps during World War II.

Born in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 1914, Kinoshita grew up in the Boyle Heights area. He attended Maryknoll Japanese Catholic School, Roosevelt High School and USC’s School of Architecture, and became interested in the movies, receiving his first practical experience on the 1937 film 100 Men and a Girl.

He and his wife, Lillian, were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during World War II, but a sponsor allowed the couple to leave before war’s end and move to Wisconsin, where he became proficient in industrial design and fabricating products out of plastic.

Kinoshita came back to California in the early 1950s and returned to the movie industry just as MGM was gearing up for production of Forbidden Planet. In addition to Robby, Kinoshita designed several sets including the lab of Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon).

Also in the 1950s, he also created the robot Tobor from Here Comes Tobor (1957) and worked for ZIV Television on such series as Science Fiction Theater, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson and Men Into Space.

According to a family friend, Kinoshita died December 9 at an assisted living center in Torrance, California.

Rest in peace.

Kirin Beer promotes new alcohol by filming rural people in Japan with pigeon shaped drones… because they can.

 

RocketNews 24:

 

Japanese brewery Kirin unveiled a new campaign for their Off White brand of imitation beer products known as happoshu. To help promote their cheaper beer substitute, Kirin will be dispatching six drones painted like pigeons to fly around and record the people of Taketa City in Oita Prefecture.

We can’t promise you we’ll succeed but we’re sure as heck going to try and find a link between drones, a rural community, and an alcoholic beverage produced to take advantage of a tax loophole.

First here’s an overview of the Off White campaign. In the city of Taketa, Kirin constructed the Off White House, a quaint countryside home where the Po pigeon/drone family lives.

 

▼ Bro Po, Ma Po, Grandpa Po, Grandma Po, Pa Po, and Sis Po

 

Residents of Taketa are given a special smartphone app called POTLINE which they can use to contact the Po family. By calling up the pigeons people can arrange a time to meet when they will all fly out and find you with their attached cameras.

 

 

So, say Satoshi up the street is planning to deal with that pesky giant hornet’s nest out back once and for all. You can call up the Po’s and get them to come and record what’s sure to be a hell of a show. Then when it’s finished and Satoshi is discharged from the hospital, you can all head down to the Off White House and enjoy reliving the pain while knocking back some cold happoshu.

 

Why? That explanation may have left you with more questions than answers, so let’s start with why Taketa City was chosen out of all the places in Japan. Recently the town has enacted the Rural Regression Proclamation which is a project aimed at rebuilding its population which has dwindled as younger generations moved away to urban centers.

Someone at Kirin took note of this and decided to help the small community grow to its former glory. Using one of the city’s vacant homes they established the Off White House as both a community center and house for their robot pigeons. Not being completely altruistic, Kirin also sees this as a great cross promotion for the “clean living” image they want for their Off White beverage.

 

 

Speaking of imagery, the pigeon theme was chosen to ease people’s tensions around the flying robots. Drones tend to get a bad rap in the media, often appearing next to words like “attack,” “kill,” and “Amazon.”

 

▼ “What?! ‘Flying killbot?’ No no, I’m just a widdle pidgeon wooking thwoo yo window.”

 

I’m not sure how many people will make the move to Taketa City because of this campaign. Kirin opening up a brewery or bottling plant would have probably helped the community’s deep-rooted problem more. Still, having a small fleet of drone copters available at your beck and call is a pretty nice incentive. If that alone doesn’t float your boat, the city also is known for their brown rice ice cream, giant daruma figures, and tomatoes.

 

 

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Five Hollywood movies with a taste of anime/Japanimation

 

Homage Matrix DVD

RocketNews 24:

 

What do you think of when someone mentions Japan? Anime certainly may be one of the things that comes to mind with all the Japanese animations being seen around the world in recent years. In fact, those of us here in Japan are often amazed by how passionate and knowledgeable some foreign fans are about Japanese anime.

So, we guess it’s not a complete surprise if some Hollywood movies seem to have been influenced by Japanese anime. Movie creators would have watched anime too, and I think we all know to a certain extent how some anime or TV programs, especially ones that we saw as a child, can grab our imagination and never really completely go away.

Well, we happened to find a post on information-compilation site Naver Matome that listed some Hollywood blockbusters containing what seem to be subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) tributes and references to Japanese anime, which we thought would be fun to share with you. Let’s take a look below at the movies that were mentioned in the article.

 

1. Clash of the Titans 

Homage Titan DVD jacket

This visually stunning action adventure film is a remake of the 1981 classic based on the famous Greek myth of Perseus’s battle with the sea monster Kraken. In the 2010 remake directed by Louis Leterrier, the Olympian gods don’t wear traditional Greek robes but are instead clad in costumes that resemble medieval armor. Leterrier has said in an interview with the Japanese media that the armor-like costume was inspired by the anime Saint Seiya, which also borrows heavily from Greek legend and in which the characters battle with each other wearing special armor called “Cloths”. Leterrier says he is a huge of the anime which he saw in his native France and had thought the Cloths looked so cool that he wanted to pay homage to the anime in his movie. (Personally, this bit of information made me smile because it just so happens that I actually saw Saint Seiya on TV in France — although it was called by the fancier sounding French title Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque— when I home stayed in the country for about a month a long, long time ago when I was still in high school.)

 

▼Characters from Saint Seiya wearing their Cloths

Homage Titan Seiya

It’s hard to believe the popular anime, based on a manga of the same title, is now more than 20 years old! Back then, at least to me, the graphics seemed to be of very high quality by the standards of the time; okay, so the guys looked hot/cute/beautiful in their armor-style suits.

 

▼Zeus in his armor-like costume in Clash of the Titans — do you see a strong resemblance?

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2. The Matrix

Homage Matrix DVD

Many of you have probably seen this hit sci-fi movie, which caused a sensation in many parts of the world with its innovative story and stunning visual effects when it was released in 1999. It’s considered a classic cyberpunk movie, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the creators were inspired by anime of the same genre in making the film.

As those of you familiar with Japanese anime may expect, Akira and Ghost in the Shell are anime that are often cited as having influenced The Matrix.

 

▼Akira and Ghost in the Shell, both cyberpunk anime that likely had an influence on The Matrix

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Homage Ghost in the shell

The super-human powers exhibited by some of the characters in the Matrix are certainly evocative of parts of Akira, and Ghost in the Shell seems to have been even more of a strong influence, including the visual concept of a cable being connected into the neck, as well as the cinematography in some of the chase scenes. In fact, the directors of The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers, have said that they were so impressed with Ghost in the Shell that they wanted to make a live-action movie like it and even gave a video of the anime to the creative staff when making The Matrix as an example of the kind of world they wanted to create. Oh, and speaking of Japanese influence, did you know that the falling green digital code that appears in the movie contains mirror images of Japanese katakana letters?

Well, I certainly think the Wachowski Brothers succeeded here in making a film that leaves a strong and lasting impression. The Matrix is a movie that kind of gets to you, isn’t it,when you start to wonder about whether the world you live in is … well, really real?

 

3. Avatar

Homage Avatar DVD

This is another mega-blockbuster many of you will have seen. Although the plot, which involves greedy business and military oppressing and attacking an indigenous tribe for materialistic gain, is not particularly original, the movie does create a whole new world visually unlike any we had seen before. And that’s definitely something Hayao Miyazaki, anime producer and cofounder of Studio Ghibli, also excels at. James Cameron, who directed Avatar, admits that he is a big fan of Miyazaki’s films.

As such, it is no wonder if there seem to be parallels between Avatar and some of Miyazaki’s works, be it the industry/technology vs. nature theme, the uniquely vibrant colors or the amazing, speed-filled flight scenes. Movie fans have also been quick to point out that the presence of a strong, attractive female lead character is another element Avatar shares with many of Miyazaki’s works, particularly bringing to mind San in Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind — both young women who battle fiercely against armies possessing sophisticated technology to protect the precious natural environment around them.

 

▼Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, both films featuring young, strong heroines fighting to save the world they live in

Homage Princess Mononoke

Homage Nausicaa

There are also many visual details in Avatar that are reminiscent of images from Miyazaki’s anime, like the floating islands of rock that bear a noticeable resemblance to the floating castle Laputa in Castle in the Sky, or the supernaturally powerful tree with healing tendrils, which is a concept that also appears in Princess Mononoke. I’m sure it’s a testament to the creative genius of James Cameron and his team that they succeeded in making such a beautifully unique and thoroughly engaging movie while at the same time incorporating elements that we have seen before in some very well-known anime films.

 

4. Real Steel

Homage Real Steel

Perhaps befitting a movie set in a world where robots programmed to engage in boxing matches in place of human boxers, Real Steel is another film that contains images and references evocative of Japanese anime, which is after all, famous for its robot/mecha genre, among which some hugely popular anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion can be counted.

What could be more symbolic than the fact that the robot the main character comes into possession of is named Atom? Although the name may not necessarily ring a bell with those of you outside of Japan, Atom is actually the name by which Astro Boy , the iconic anime robot character, is known in Japan. I’m sure a lot of Japanese movie viewers smiled at that, since we all love Astro Boy here in Japan — in fact, I think most people over a certain age can sing the anime theme song completely by heart.

 

▼Astro Boy, or Atom as he is known in Japan

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Another anime that viewers of Real Steel may be reminded of is the classic Tetsujin 28-go, which was released in the United States as Gigantor. The design of some of the robots in Real Steel seem to bear a certain resemblance to those in the anime, and what’s more, the robot in Tetsujin 28-go is controlled by a young boy, which is also the case in Real Steel.

 

▼Tetsujin 28-go, the original Japanese version of Gigantor

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Of course, for those of us in Japan, it was also good fun to see some other references to Japan as well in the movie, albeit not necessarily anime-related, such as one of the robots being initially set to be controlled in Japanese, and the young boy managing to give some commands in Japanese, saying that he learned the words playing Japanese video games. Well, you have to admit it is kind of nice when your country receives a positive nod of recognition in a big Hollywood movie.

 

5. Transformers 

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I guess this sci-fi action film can be considered as receiving a kind of honorable mention here, as the movie is not exactly a work containing Japanese influences but rather based on a franchise that started as a line of transforming robot toys that was produced jointly by a Japanese and American toy company, so the series does have a good part of its origins in Japan.

 

▼Transformer toys from Takara Tomy

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Since then, it seems that the whole franchise, including the animated series, has been a combined effort between American and Japanese companies with South Korea involved as well in the animation.

 

▼One of the earlier animated versions

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Some fans also seem to think that the basic concept and some of the designs of the original Transformer toys were likely influenced by the anime series Macross.

 

▼The Macross anime series — the robotics certainly look sophisticated

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The Transformers anime was certainly a hit in Japan, but the question of whether it is technically an American or Japanese series still appears to be a subject up for debate even today. Well, either way, it’s certainly been a good source of entertainment for us, and we can’t complain about that.

 

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Five Hollywood movies with a taste of anime/Japanimation

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The singularity is coming: Eerily lifelike androids converge in Odaiba for exhibition

 

miraikan1

RocketNews 24:

 

What does it mean to be human? That’s the question being asked in a thought-provoking new exhibition of stunningly lifelike androids, which also suggests that maybe the singularity could be closer than we think.

On June 25, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, more commonly known as the Miraikan, will open an exhibition of humanoid robots entitled ‘Androids: What makes us human?

The exhibition is headed by Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, the director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, which is part of the Department of Systems Innovation in the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Osaka University. Ishiguro is a researcher at the cutting edge of robotics technology, and is famous for creating robots that look just like humans, including the Geminoid, an android modeled after himself.

 

▼ The real Ishiguro is on the left. Just kidding.

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Professor Ishiguro’s research is driven by the question of what it means to be human, and by studying human behaviour and reactions in order to create an android that mimics them perfectly, he believes we can learn much about the human condition and consciousness.

This newest exhibition, which will become a permanent installation, features three different androids that each seek to provoke a different set of responses and questions in visitors.

 

miraikan2

Kodomoroid

The Kodomoroid is a remote-controlled android in the form of a human child, and its name comes from ‘android’ and ‘kodomo‘, the Japanese word for child. It looks just like a little girl, but functions as an announcer, relaying information and news on the weather and situations on earth and in space. She is designed to make a statement about the lack of knowledge many of our children have about the world today, and make the listeners think more profoundly about our futures on this planet.

 

Otonaroid

This name comes from a portmanteau of ‘android’ and ‘otona‘, meaning adult. Visitors will be able to try conversing with and operating this android, which is the spitting image of a real, adult human woman. Her function is to give people the experience of socializing with a robot face-to-face.

 

Telenoid

The Telenoid is an interactive android built to answer the question: ‘What are the minimum characteristics necessary for something to be considered human?’

Its neutral shape and features do not resemble any particular person, so it can take on the characteristics of any partner the viewer chooses; male or female, old or young. It’s small, and the shape and texture are designed to make it pleasant to hold and even hug, but its makers seem to neglect to mention the fact that it’s also incredibly creepy to look at. However, since it’s clearly not going to be mistaken for an actual human being, the robot probably doesn’t make it into the ‘uncanny valley’.

 

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Another Japanese professor of robotics, Masahiro Mori, originally coined the term ‘uncanny valley’ to describe the response of revulsion among human observers when faced with something that looks almost, but somehow not quite, human. The theory goes that as a robot starts to look more human, actual humans will become more sympathetic towards it, until it reaches a certain point where it looks almost, but not exactly, like a human being, at which point real humans will reject it because of the feeling of the uncomfortable feeling it evokes.

 

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At the same time as Ishiguro’s robots are getting closer and closer to pulling out of the uncanny valley and becoming indistinguishable from real humans, research into artificial intelligence is also progressing rapidly, and before we know it we might find that today’s far-fetched sci-fi stories have become tomorrow’s reality. The technological singularity is a hypothetical moment when artificial intelligence surpasses that of human beings, and many experts predict that it will occur during our lifetime. So perhaps it’s time to get yourself down to Odaiba to start trying to gain an understanding of our potential future overlords. You might just discover something about yourself, too.

 

▼ Will the real Ishiguro please stand up?

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The singularity is coming: Eerily lifelike androids converge in Odaiba for exhibition

 

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10 things Japan does better than anywhere else, according to the international community

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

Advertising agency Dentsu recently released the results of its annual Japan Brand Survey, in which it asks people from around the world for their opinion on the country. This year’s study involved 3,600 men and women living in 17 different countries, whose responses were used to compile a list of 10 things they feel Japan does better than anywhere else in the world.

In carrying out the survey, Dentsu spoke with people living in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, the U.S., Brazil, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Russia. All participants were between the ages of 20 and 59, with middle or upper-class incomes.

Roughly 80 percent of those questioned said they had either plans or a desire to visit Japan, a jump of more than seven percent from last year’s survey. When asked what intrigued them about Japan, the most common response was the country’s cuisine. Its numerous travel destinations, both urban and rural, came in second, and Japanese fashion rounded out the top three.

Being an advertising firm, though, Dentsu’s primary concern is with the perception of Japanese goods and services. To get a better grip on how people abroad feel about things stamped “made in Japan,” researchers asked participants what they felt Japan does better than anywhere else, resulting in the list below.

10. Video games

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It’s a sign of the times that Japan’s video game makers, who created and for years dominated the modern industry, only barely managed to crack the top 10. Still, even as overseas companies continue to make strides in the arenas of smartphone and social gaming, for some fans there’s just no substitute for a Japanese-made game.

 

9. Transportation infrastructure

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It’s telling that the list was compiled from responses from people who live outside Japan, and not in it. Residents have a number of valid complaints about the country’s narrow roads, expensive expressways, and difficult to find parking. If you’re a traveler though, or anyone else using public transportation in Japan, there’s a lot to be thankful for, as it’s hard to imagine the train and subway network being much more efficient or punctual than it already is (quibbles about service ending shortly after midnight notwithstanding).

 

8. Environmental engineering

7. Food

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No arguments here. While sushi was the dish most respondents reported eating, wanting to try, or just simply knowing about, Japanese food has a wealth of delicious dishes, ranging from subtle delicacies like tofu and lotus root to heartier fare such as ramen and the cabbage-and-pork-filled crepes called okonomiyaki.

 

6. 3D technology

5. Precision engineering

4. Cars/motorcycles

JA 4

Japan still may not be able to match Germany’s cachet in the luxury segment, and it’s facing ever-increasing pressure in the economy class from American and Korean manufacturers. That said, Japanese marques are still the go-to choice for many looking for reliably-made transportation, eco-friendly hybrid and electric vehicles, or a lightweight rear-wheel drive sports car.

 

3. Robotics

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Build a dancing robot like Honda’s ASIMO, earn a rep for robotics. Simple as that.

 

2. Anime/manga

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This one might be a bit of a linguistic technicality here. While in Japanese, the words anime and manga refer to cartoons and comics respectively, regardless of country of origin, among the international community, the terms generally refer to works made in Japan. For a lot of people, saying that Japan makes the best anime and manga is like saying Alaska produces the best Alaskan king crab.

Also, some fans are looking for completely different things from Japanese and non-Japanese animation. This makes the question of whether Japan produces “better” cartoons a tricky one to answer, sort of like asking, “Which is superior, a bicycle or an ocean freighter?” Sure, they’re both vehicles, but designed with completely different things in mind, and one isn’t really a substitute for the other.

Setting all that aside, though, if you want to see robots fighting, giant-eyed characters slowly falling in love, or some combination of the two, odds are the Japanese anime industry’s got you covered.

 

1. Audio/video electronics

Once again, Japan doesn’t have the same iron grip on this segment that it used to. Even as manufacturers from other countries offer alternatives with lower prices and passable quality, though, Japan still has the image of making some of the best-performing consumer electronics money can buy.

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Source: Niconico News

 

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10 things Japan does better than anywhere else, according to the international community

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Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

It’s time once again for travel website Trip Advisor’s list of the best places in Japan, as chosen by overseas visitors to the country. One of the things that makes Japan such a fascinated place to travel is its extreme mix of historical and modern attractions, both of which are represented in the top 30 which includes shrines, sharks, and super-sized robots.

 

30. Shinsaibashi – Osaka

TA 1

Starting things off, Osaka’s Shinsaibashi shopping district has something for just about everyone (as you can see by this photo that shows what appears to be everyone in the city browsing along its covered pedestrian walkway).

 

29. Nishiki Market – Kyoto

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Also known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” you might not find much in the way of souvenirs here, but it’s a great place to pick up ingredients for dinner or soak up the local atmosphere.

 

28. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology – Aichi

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We suppose they could have just called it the “Toyota Museum,” but then people might think the focus is just on cars, and not the broader theme of technology and innovation in general.

 

27. Video Game Bar Space Station – Osaka

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There’s a certain simple, pure fun to hanging out with some friends, sitting on your couch, and knocking back a couple of cold ones as you play some old school games. Unless your couch is old and lumpy, you sold off your old consoles, or you’re out of beer. Thankfully, this Osaka bar is here to help.

 

26. Kaiyukan – Osaka

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Rather not kill time in Osaka by killing zombies? The local aquarium, the Kaiyukan, is an awesome way to spend an afternoon. Don’t miss feeding time for the facility’s massive yet tranquil whale shark.

 

25. Sensoji – Tokyo

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Tokyo’s most famous temple, located in the Asakusa neighborhood, remains one of the best ways to see Japan’s traditional side while staying in the capital.

 

24. Centar Gai – Tokyo

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Sensoji too sedate for you? The collection of shops and restaurants known as Center Gai, right across the street from the famous Shibuya Scramble intersection, is a chance to experience Tokyo’s cacophony at its most colorful.

 

23. Dotonbori – Osaka

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Osaka’s foremost entertainment district is at its most dazzling after dark, where the light from the towering walls of neon signage reflect off the canal and enwraps you in its glow from all angles.

 

22. Nara Park – Nara

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The spacious Nara Park is one of two places in Japan where visitors can mingle with freely roaming packs of deer (the other being Hiroshima Prefecture’s Miyajima Island).

 

21. Jigokudani Yean Park – Nagano

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It’s important to read things all the way through. For example, Jigokudani (Hell Valley) sounds like a terrible place to visit. Tack Yaen (wild monkey) on the end though, and you’ve got Trip Advisor’s 21st most popular destination.

 

20. Meiji Shrine – Tokyo

TA 11

The Shinto counterpart to Buddhist Sensoji, the structure itself may not be the most impressive shrine in Japan, but the gorgeous forest path that leads up to it will make you forget just how close you are to the heart of the busiest city in the world.

 

19. Mori Art Museum – Tokyo

TA 12

Even if you’re got only a passing interest in high art, the vires from the attached observation deck, high above the Roppongi Hills entertainment complex, is a great way to get a grasp of the massive scale of Tokyo.

 

18. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum – Nagasaki

TA 13

As the second city to be devastated by a nuclear bomb, Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Museum is a grim reminder of the horrors of war.

 

17. Nijo Castle – Kyoto

TA 14

Instead of for protection, this Kyoto landmark was created to show the wealth and power of the shogun, and as such has a lower structure and more expansive gardens than other castles in Japan.

 

16. Robot Restaurant – Tokyo

TA 15

Modern decadence, on the other hand, is perhaps best encapsulated at this Shinjuku eatery where food is delivered to your table by bikini-clad waitresses piloting bikini-clad giant robots.

 

15. Kenrokuen Garden – Ishikawa

TA 16

Decidedly more refined is Kenrokuen, long considered one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan.

 

14. Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama – Kyoto

TA 17

We’re not sure why Iwatayama ranked higher than Jigokudani Yaen, but we’re guessing it might have something to do with its closer proximity to the already attractive tourist destination of Japan’s previous capital. Whatever the reason, though, can you ever really have too many monkey parks?

 

13. Sanjusangendo Temple – Kyoto

TA 18

Too hyped up from the monkey park? This temple, with its one thousand statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, ought to calm you down.

 

12. Matsumoto Castle – Nagano

TA 19

One of Japan’s most impressive original wooden fortresses, Matsumoto Castle’s location in the middle of Matsumoto City makes it an easy visit for those also looking to hike in the mountains of nearby Kamikochi.

 

11. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium – Okinawa

TA 20

More whale sharks also means more votes for tropical Okinawa’s showcase of aquatic life.

 

10. Shinshoji Temple / Naritasan – Chiba

TA 21

We’re happy to see Naritsan make the list, since we’re big fans ourselves.

 

9. Hakone Open-Air Museum – Kanagawa

TA 22

This outdoor collection of sculpture also happens to be near some of Japan’s finest hot springs and most beautiful views of Mt. Fuji.

 

8. Shinjuku Gyoen Park – Tokyo

TA 23

One more reason why you shouldn’t believe people who tell you, “There’s no greenery in central Tokyo!”

 

7. Kiyomizu Temple – Kyoto

TA 24

Some people complain about this hillside temple being crowded. It is, but that’s only because of how incredibly beautiful and awesome it is.

 

6. Mt. Takao / Okunoin Temple – Tokyo

TA 25

With hiking courses, beautiful foliage, and tales of tengu raven spirits, Mt. Takao is worth a visit for anyone into fitness, nature, or folklore.

 

5. Todaiji Temple – Nara

TA 26

In contrast to the cute deer running around outside in Nara Park, Todaiji houses the solemn 15-meter (49-foot) Great Buddha.

 

4. Kinkakuji – Kyoto

TA 27

Kyoto’s famous Golden Pavilion continues to attract visitors year-round.

 

3. Miyajima Island / Itsukushima Shrine – Hiroshima

TA 28

Miyajima’s torii gate rising out of the sea is something you’ll only see in Japan, and is the reason why it’s been gracing the covers of travel guides for decades. Add in the appeal of the deer that wander around town, the hiking trails that lead to the top of the island’s Mt. Misen, and the amazing views one you get there, and you’ve got Trip Advisor’s number-three choice.

 

2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum / Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

TA 29

Less than an hour away from Miyajima, Peace Memorial Park includes the A-Bomb Dome, Children’s Peace Monument, and the Peace Flame.

 

1. Fushimi Inari Shrine – Kyoto

TA 30

The top spot went to Fushimi Inari Shrine, and the seemingly endless tunnels of torii gates that cover the hillside it’s built on. Long overlooked due to its distance from other Kyoto attractions it’s still just a short train ride away from Kyoto Station, and one of the most unique experiences travelers can have in Japan.

 

TA 31

 

Source: Trip AdvisorIT Media

 

Check out this link:

 Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors