Tourist in Japan snaps a photo of the sea, his daughter, and maybe a ghost

RocketNews 24/Yahoo News:

Kanagawa Prefecture has some of the most popular beaches in Japan, especially along the section of the coast known as Shonan. A magnet for both locals and day trippers from Tokyo, when the sun is shining you’ll find a cross section of Japanese society in and around the water, including surfers, partying college students, couples, and families,

This photo of a four-year-old girl on a beach in Zushi, Japan, seems innocent until you look closely behind her legs and back. A closer look appears to reveal a mysterious pair of boots and part of a blue shirt peeking out from behind her.

The photo, which was uploaded to Reddit by a friend of the girl’s father, is making the rounds on Internet. Many are speculating the photo shows a Samurai ghost because the beach the girl and her dad were on was across a samurai graveyard.

I took a few pictures, and when I was looking through them at night, I noticed what appeared to be a pair of boots behind her in one of the photos,” he said. “I took several of her in the same spot, but only one had the boots.“”My daughter thinks the whole thing is just so funny,” Martin Springall, who took the photo, told ABC News today. “She thinks it’s a ghost, but not a scary ghost — a nice one.”

Springall said the photo was taken on July 6, 2014 during a weekend trip to the beach. He added his family now lives in Toronto, Canada, but had been living in Tokyo at the time.

Springall said he freaked out, and he later showed the photo to his friend Brian Publicover during a camping trip in Japan in August.

Publicover put it up on Reddit’s “Ghosts” subreddit, and theories poured in.

Some thought it could be the ghost of a World War II sailor,” Springall said.

He added the photo is “completely legitimate” and not retouched in any way.

My daughter is really shy, and she wouldn’t have taken a picture if there was someone standing behind her, which I would have definitely noticed,” Springall said.

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Of course, we’d like to point to the fact that these mysterious leg-free photos are all also taken at a different angle, something that’s pretty easy to see by comparing the direction of the line in the sand that can be seen in the background.

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Not only is the “ghost photo” taken at a different angle, it’s also a different distance from the irregularly shaped outcropping that’s directly behind the girl in the picture that’s getting all the attention, so it’s possible that those “legs” are really just “rocks.”

Still, the rumors of supernatural activity persist, in part thanks to Obiaruf’s claim that “I know there are very old samurai tombs nearby,” although he hasn’t offered any specifics as to just whose tomb he’s talking about. For that matter, at the risk of flaunting our first-hand knowledge of the country, Japan doesn’t really do stand-alone tombs. Gravestones, sure, but those are usually inside temples, not stand-alone monuments by the sea. Whole structures to house the dead, meanwhile, are very few and far between, and not really something you’ll find in the part of Japan where Zushi is located.

Japanese tourist injured in Tunisian terrorist attack, also “attacked” by Japanese media in hospital

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RocketNews 24:

On March 18, three terrorists attacked and took hostage patrons at the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia, killing 21 people and injuring about 50 others. Among those injured was Noriko Yuki, a Japanese tourist visiting Tunisia with her mother.

Ms. Yuki sustained a gunshot wound in the attack and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. There, shortly after her surgery, she was immediately bombarded by Japanese media looking to interview her, with some members of the press apparently going so far as to tell the Japanese ambassador watching over her that he did not have the authority to stop us from interviewing her.”

Noriko Yuki (age 35), a major in the Japanese Self Defense Forces, was taken to the Charles Nicolle Hospital in the Tunisian capital shortly after the attacks on March 18. The very next day, reporters from Japan’s Asahi Shimbun arrived at the hospital and asked the doctors if Ms. Yuki was well enough to be interviewed. They were told she only had minor wounds remaining after the surgery and so permitted them to talk to her.

Security lead them all the way to Noriko’s room, but before they entered, the Japanese ambassador who had spent the past several days with Ms Yuki and knew that she was in no state to do an interview told them they could not enter. The reporters told him: “If you were Noriko herself or her family then you could stop us interviewing her, but you do not have the authority to stop us from interviewing her.”

But stop them he did. The reporters left a little while after, never getting that interview with the barely-conscious Noriko, who gave a statement a few days later on March 20. Here is the translation:

She goes into detail on her trip and the attack itself:

“I’m sorry for troubling everyone, and I want to apologize for causing any inconvenience. I also want to thank everyone too, since I’ve been unable to get any information about the terrorist attack or the aftermath. Even though I was caught up in it, I know almost nothing about it, and everyone has been so kind in informing me. Since I’m in no condition to appear in public, I’d like to express my gratitude through writing.

My mother and I left Japan on March 14, and we arrived in Italy on the 15. From there we took a cruise to Tunisia and joined a tour group. Our guide spoke English and French, so I didn’t understand a lot of what they were saying.

We arrived at the museum at 11:30, and when we were looking around on the 2nd floor, a member of our group said ‘there’s someone holding a gun outside the window.’ Our tour guide was very casual about it and said ‘that’s something that you see quite often in Tunisia.’ Shortly after, we heard gunfire and everyone, myself included, started running. I saw people bleeding and falling to the ground around me. I slammed into somebody, fell down, and then heard a gunshot and felt pain in my ear. When I looked back to the entrance to the room, there was a man holding a gun. I couldn’t see his face. I covered my head with my hands and stayed lying down. The guns kept going off for quite a while. I hurt all over and thought I was going to die, I couldn’t believe something like this was actually happening.

After a while the man left, and when I stood up there were about ten people on the ground around me. Some were unharmed, some weren’t moving.

I was bleeding from my left hand, left ear, and neck, but other than that I was fine. My mom was on the ground next to me. Blood was coming out of her neck; there was a pool of it underneath her head. When I called to her she said ‘my neck hurts’ and moved around a bit, so I was relieved that she was alive, but she couldn’t move by herself. I kept hearing gunfire and worried that the gunmen would come back. Making everything even worse was the thought that I was the one who had invited my mother to come on this trip, so it was my fault this happened to her.

Policemen then came to help us and I was so happy I cried. I asked them to help my mother, but they said that people who could walk would be taken first, so I was put in an ambulance and separated from her.

When I arrived at the hospital, the bag that had my passport was taken away, as well as my cellphone. After my examination and treatment, I was told I would need to be put to sleep for surgery, so I was again loaded into an ambulance and taken to another hospital. The whole time, inside and outside the hospital, lots of people were taking pictures and video of me which made me feel very uncomfortable.

At the new hospital I was given medicine for the pain, and shortly after a large group of people came into my room: the Tunisian Prime Minister, government officials, and others. I told them all to please find my mom. NHK and New York Times reporters also came in and asked me questions. I thought I had no choice, and I was out of it that honestly I have no memory of anything I told them.

The Japanese Ambassador also came, asking for my contacts in Japan to call. Since I didn’t have my cellphone and could only remember my parents’ landline number, we didn’t get through to anyone.

That evening I learned that my mom was in another hospital and had had surgery and was doing fine. I was relieved, but I was told I would need surgery too. They put me to sleep, and when I woke up it was over, but the pain was far worse than before, so I asked for some medication. But that just made me worry: my mom didn’t know any English. What would she do if she couldn’t communicate? What if she was in pain too?”

The interview:

“When I was brought back to my room, the Japanese Ambassador and local Japanese coordinator were there. Since I’d been crying all day my eyes were inflamed and I couldn’t open them, so I couldn’t see their faces. The ambassador called my mother for me, and I was relieved to hear her voice. The coordinator called Nippon Television and asked me to do an interview with them over the phone. I did as I was asked and answered the questions. At the end they asked me if they could show the interview on TV, and since I was embarrassed at the horrible state I was in I said no. They then told me that my my name, face, and interview with NHK had already been broadcast, so it didn’t really make a difference. That was the first time I’d heard anything about that, so I was shocked.

The next day I got my bag and passport back and was able to talk to family back home. My mother was moved to the same hospital as me and then into the same room as well.

After she was moved, I heard someone yelling at the Japanese Ambassador outside the room: ‘Let us do the interview. You do not have the authority to stop us from interviewing her.’ The ambassador told me: ‘Asahi Shimbun wants you to let them interview you, but you don’t have to do it. You’re in bad shape, and we don’t know how the interview will be used, so you can refuse if you’d like.’ Since I’d been doing all these interviews up to now thinking I had no choice, I was so happy I cried.

Yesterday I was asked to do an interview with Fuji Television. I thought about refusing again, but I wanted to tell everyone what happened, and how I feel. So instead of refusing I decided to give my statement through writing instead. My mother is getting surgery again, and then depending on how that goes we might be able to go back to Japan. Both of us are fine, but we’re in bad shape, and we want to go back home as soon as possible. We’re very thankful to everyone in Tunisia who helped us, and to the Japanese Ambassador and everyone else. Now we just ask that you please let us rest for a while. Thank you.”

Asahi Shimbun has since released a response, apologizing for demanding an interview:

The reporter should not have shouted at the ambassador. We have read Ms. Yuki’s statement, and we apologize to her.”

Noriko Yuki, her mother, and everyone else involved in this horrible incident has been through a terrible ordeal. After being through a terrorist attack, they shouldn’t have to worry about attacks from their home country’s media. Let’s hope that everyone who was hurt in this crime gets the treatment they need, all the while avoiding intrusive interviews from pushy reporters.

Japanese tourist gets lost in Windsor Castle, wanders into Queen’s private rooms

RocketNews 24:

Recently, all of Japan was very excited because Prince William made his first-ever visit. But back home in ol’ Blighty, the Royals had to deal with the aftermath of an embarrassing little security snafu at  that happened on February 12.

It seems that a Japanese tourist inadvertently wandered into some off-limits areas during a visit to the castle – namely, the Queen’s own private rooms. Her Majesty wasn’t home at the time of the intrusion, but the incident still prompted a wave of panic over the sightseeing interloper.

Armed police swooped in on the unarmed (except for possibly a camera and some sensible walking shoes) Japanese tourist when he accidentally went through an alarmed door to a restricted area. Reports state that the Japanese tourist entered an area used by servants and staff that connects directly to private apartments maintained for the use of the Queen when she is staying at the castle. Following investigation into the incident, it is believed that the door was left unlocked by accident.

The unfortunate tourist was then subjected to a full search and an interrogation before being released a short while later after security staff deemed him “not a threat”. Since the official terror alert level for the UK is currently set at severe (meaning an attack is considered ‘highly likely’), the incident left those involved with red faces and led to extra pat-downs of other tourists to compensate for the blunder.

▼ “Whoops!”

This isn’t the first time a commoner has gained access to the Queen’s Royal chambers – in 2011, a lorry driver managed to scale the castle walls and was apprehended by security less than 20 metres from the Queen’s apartments. And who could forget the Michael Fagan incident of 1982, when a man broke into the castle in the dead of night and actually woke up Her Majesty while she was sleeping.

Japanese netizens were quick to weigh in on the embarrassing incident, with many blaming their own countryman:

“Japan’s tourists, too, are idiots it seems.”

“Don’t go all the way to England just to make a fool of yourself.”

“I’m glad it was just a Japanese idiot and not a terrorist.”

“We Japanese are the country of ninja, so there’s not a castle built we can’t sneak into.”

“This is why Japanese people need tour guides when they leave their homeland.”

“I learned two things… 1), Japanese people are bumbling idiots, and 2) UK security isn’t as good as you might think…”

“Please forgive him, it was his ninja ancestry!”

“It’s unforgivable to sneak into a lady’s chambers.”

“At least lock the door, sheesh!”

“How do we know it wasn’t a Japanese spy?”

“When I was there they had Japanese on all the tourist signs and warnings. I guess he ignored them.”

“This guy shouldn’t be allowed to travel abroad!”

 

Temple in Thailand plans separate toilets due to lack of bathroom etiquette by Chinese tourists

Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple, is one of Chiang Rai’s most famous tourist attractions

Bangkok Post: 

One of northern Thailand‘s most famous temples plans to build separate toilets for Thais and other non-Chinese tourists, officials confirmed on Saturday.

Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple, in Chiang Rai will add the new toilets as a solution to complaints about the lack of bathroom etiquette by Chinese tourists, temple officials told DPA.

Previously, the temple had banned Chinese tourists altogether after Chinese tour groups had left the toilets in a state of disrepair.

They had defecated on the floor, urinated on the walls outside and left sanitary pads on the wall of the bathrooms,” said an official who requested anonymity.

The temple’s designer, Chalermchai Kositpipat, said in a television interview that it was “impossible” for other tourists to use the bathrooms after the Chinese tours, so he would build new ones.

Reports of misbehaviour by Chinese tourists have become an increasing source of concern as their numbers swell. Last year, 4.62 million Chinese visited Thailand, accounting for 18.7% of all international arrivals, more than any other nationality.

In another recent incident, a tourist identified as a Chinese national kicked a bell at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. A video posted anonymously online drew widespread condemnation.

In the short film, the man first posed for a photo with a row of bells before kicking one of them while laughing as he left the sacred grounds. Reports of tourists in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai relieving themselves in public have prompted further complaints.

In response, officials have come up with an etiquette manual in Chinese on how tourists should behave in Thailand.

Tourist cleans Thailand streets out of love

Your city need a good scrub? Here's the man to call.

CNN: 

There are many reasons to visit Thailand. Some want to swim at Ko Phi Phi, where Leonardo DiCaprio found beauty (though not quite bliss) in “The Beach.”

Some want to see if the pad thai in the Chang Mai night market tastes better than it does at their favorite Thai restaurant back home. (It does.)

According to Thai public broadcasting service MCOT (Thai only), however, a German tourist has been coming to the country annually for the last six years for an entirely different reason: To clean up the mess.

Peter Rudi Festerling, a 55-year-old professional janitor from Berlin, spends most of his vacation time in Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand doing what he does at home. Spiffing up the joint.

Festerling was recently caught in action washing phone booths in front of the Charoen Hotel, where he often stays. The pictures ended up on Udon Thani’s community Facebook page.

Most Thai Facebook commenters on the Udon Thani community page have applauded the fastidious Samaritan, saying he sets a good example for society.

Nice job: Peter Rudi Festerling.

Facebook user Sinalii Nizza Pirane commented that the governor of Udon Thani Province should present Festerling with a certificate recognizing his contributions to the province’s capital city.

So cute,” commented another. “I want to meet him and give him some water and a cold towel.”

Yearly clean-up vacation

According to an MCOT report, at some point during a visit to Udon Thani the German vacationer “felt uneasy with the untidy scene so he started to clean up.”

Asked why spends parts of his vacations picking up garbage and scrubbing dirty public areas, Festerling says it’s because “he loves Thailand.”

He reports that locals are often kind to him, offering him water and taking his photo. Festerling has been spotted rigged out in full gardener’s gear mowing weeds on sidewalks, in industrial coveralls sweeping garbage and even directing traffic, according to MCOT.

The traveling janitor is now back in Germany but says he’ll continue his yearly visits to Thailand — scrub brush in hand.

Narita Airport shuttle buses – Cheaper than the train, but which bus is best?

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RocketNews 24:

Most tourists to Japan will come in and out through Tokyo’s Narita Airport. But like many international airports, Narita is not exactly on the doorstep of a major destination city, and travellers headed for Tokyo will usually make the 60-kilometer (36-mile) journey to the metropolis via the Narita Express, a high-speed rail service with a single-trip fare of 3020 yen (US $25.34).

What’s perhaps less well-known is there are two budget bus services that take you from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station for as little as 900 yen. Tokyo Shuttle and The Access Narita seem to offer similar airport shuttle services, but which is the better option?  And can they match the Narita Express in comfort and convenience? We sent one of our Japanese reporters to test out both services and find out!

First things first, let’s have a look at the vital statistics for each service.

1) Fares and times

Tokyo Shuttle: Reserved seats for all services cost 900 yen ($7.55) and can be booked online in English. The walk-up fare is 1,000 yen, or 2,000 yen on early morning services (before 5 a.m.).

The Access Narita: Tickets cost a flat rate of 1,000 yen ($8.38); you can also book online, but the website is in Japanese only.

Both services run approximately every 15-20 minutes (except services before 5 a.m. which are less frequent), with journey times of 60 to 80 minutes. By comparison, the Narita Express leaves every 30 minutes, with a journey time of just 53 minutes, although it doesn’t run as early in the morning as these buses.

2) Routes

Tokyo Shuttle operates between Narita Airport and locations in Tokyo: Ginza Station, Tokyo Station, Shinonome Shako, and the Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba.

▼ That’s right, you can get a shuttle bus direct from the airport to the retro wonderland that is arguably Tokyo’s coolest hot spring!

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The Access Narita, meanwhile, runs between the airport, Ginza, and Tokyo Station, and also runs a service between Tokyo and the major hotels at Narita airport. So if you’re staying near Narita Airport before flying home, The Access Narita is a good bet.

▼ They also get a bonus point for that unnecessary “The” in their name, although we immediately docked that point again because “The Access Narita” isn’t actually written on their buses anywhere.

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3) Location of Tokyo bus stops

When heading to the airport on your way home, you’ll need to be able to find the bus stop. Tokyo Shuttle’s stand was a little way away from Tokyo Station, and our reporter had a hard time finding it. The Access Narita, however, was close to the station exit and easy to find. He felt this gave it the edge in terms of convenience.

Tokyo Shuttle buses, operated by Keisei, are easily identifiable, unlike The Access Narita which is operated by different bus companies depending on the time of day.

▼ What bus company is this? We’re sure you’ll figure it out.

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 4) Onboard facilities

With tickets purchased and bus stops located, it was time to ride to Narita Airport! Next up, our reporter wanted to check out the facilities available on each service.

Tokyo Shuttle’s buses have electrical sockets and Wi-Fi which could be very handy if you’ve just arrived in the country (don’t forget your adapter!). The Access Narita, on the other hand, has more leg-room and an onboard toilet.

▼ Tokyo Shuttle gets a bonus point this time though, for those lacy seat covers.

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▼ Although there are still some Tokyo Shuttle services that don’t have Wi-Fi and electrical outlets yet, ours did, as marked on the exterior of the bus.

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▼ The Access Narita looks pretty similar, but boasts “wide seats” for extra comfort.

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 ▼ A choice between charging your electrical devices, and having access to a bathroom? It’s the ultimate 21st-century dilemma…

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We think this contest is almost a tie, to be honest, but our Japanese reporter felt that the extra leg-room and onboard restroom made The Access Narita the winner in his book. He offered the following words of advice for new riders:

  • When you ride the bus from Tokyo to the airport, an official comes onboard and checks tickets and ID. So keep your ticket and passport accessible, not buried in the bottom of your bag under all those souvenirs.
  • If you don’t make a reservation, it’s possible the bus might be full and you might have to wait for the next one. So we recommend either booking in advance online, or leaving a little extra time to get to the airport on your return journey.

With these points in mind, you should be able to enjoy a cheap and easy trip from Narita to Tokyo!

Keanu Reeves tries to be a tourist in Akihabara, gets mobbed by fans instead

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RocketNews 24:

You might think that after Keanu Reeves’ 2013 movie 47 Ronin – very loosely based on the Japanese story Chūshingura – became the second biggest box office bomb ever, Japanese people’s opinion on the actor would go down a little bit.

Well, you’d be wrong! On February 11, Keanu Reeves was spotted just walking down the street in Akihabara like any other tourist, and he was instantly mobbed by fangirls and fanboys alike, each one clamoring for the best Keanu selfies that they could get.

The most probable reason given for Keanu Reeves’s visit to Akihabara is location scouting for his upcoming miniseries Rain, where he will play a Japanese-American war-veteran-turned-assassin. Why the studios thought it would be a good idea to cast him in another role where he plays someone half-Japanese after the abysmal failure of 47 Ronin is anyone’s guess.

But hey! Who cares? Oh my god look! It’s Keanu Reeves!

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“Maybe he came to Japan to avoid the paparazzi. How ironic.”
“He plays the role of an average guy in the street so well.”
“I think he’s just giving some fanservice.”
“His sneaking-skills have really deteriorated for him to be caught this easily.”
“Yeah, I’d definitely do a couple of double-takes if I saw him in the street.”
“Why is he playing all these half-Japanese roles? Do foreigners think he looks Asian?”
“Oh man, now I want to watch The Matrix again!”

If you’re in Tokyo and happen to get a “Keanu selfie” of your own, consider yourself lucky.