Green power blooms as Japan unveils ‘hydrangea solar cell’Technology Aug. 23, 2014 - 06:06AM JSTTOKYO —A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good.In a country badly scarred by the tsunami-sparked nuclear disaster at Fukushima three years ago, the hydrangea-inspired solar offering is small beer alongside one of the world’s biggest offshore wind power farms now floating off the country’s east coast.But Hiroshi Segawa, a professor at University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, is hoping his dye-sensitised solar cell, which meshes floral beauty with cutting-edge technology, will brighten the scene.Segawa’s Annabelle, named after a type of white hydrangea, is made up of flowery stained glass-like solar cells built into a latticed wood box modelled on traditional Japanese doors.While the 20-centimeter-wide box might make a pretty addition to a sunroom, it can also store enough energy to charge your smartphone twice.The leaves generate electricity, which is stored in the flower. As the device charges up the petals turn increasingly blue. But as Annabelle discharges, those blue petals turn white, just like the real-life hydrangea.“People do not have a very good image about things related to energy, such as nuclear power,” Segawa told AFP.“Thermal power generation conjures up images of blistering hot dirty coal while solar panels take up a lot of space.“Even wind power generation has problems with bird strikes and noise, but (Annabelle) doesn’t harm the environment.”While Segawa is not expecting to topple the dominant silicon-based solar panels, he is hoping the fast-growing sector has room for “enjoyable energy” that adds a splash of color to an otherwise drab industry.Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan has been pushing to boost the use of alternative energy.The country’s solar power generation is rapidly growing, but it still only represents a small share of the overall power mix.In Japan, the share of power generated from renewable sources, excluding hydropower, lags other developed economies at 4.7% of the total, far less than 10.4% in Britain or 20.1% in Germany, according to data from the International Energy Agency.All of Japan’s nuclear plants were shuttered after the 2011 atomic accident—yanking away a power source that once supplied more than one quarter of the nation’s energy.Despite Tokyo’s efforts to develop the solar sector, the weather—- particularly a lack of reliable sunlight—is among the factors holding back wider use.But Segawa says Annabelle works even in weak indoor light.It also has a myriad of design possibilities. Segawa has already experimented with a cell that looks like French President Francois Hollande and one of the computer-generated Japanese pop star Hatsune Miku.“You can make solar cells out of animated characters, portraits of real people and lots of other stuff,” he said. Read article HERE

Green power blooms as Japan unveils ‘hydrangea solar cell’
Technology Aug. 23, 2014 - 06:06AM JST

TOKYO —

A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good.

In a country badly scarred by the tsunami-sparked nuclear disaster at Fukushima three years ago, the hydrangea-inspired solar offering is small beer alongside one of the world’s biggest offshore wind power farms now floating off the country’s east coast.

But Hiroshi Segawa, a professor at University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, is hoping his dye-sensitised solar cell, which meshes floral beauty with cutting-edge technology, will brighten the scene.

Segawa’s Annabelle, named after a type of white hydrangea, is made up of flowery stained glass-like solar cells built into a latticed wood box modelled on traditional Japanese doors.

While the 20-centimeter-wide box might make a pretty addition to a sunroom, it can also store enough energy to charge your smartphone twice.

The leaves generate electricity, which is stored in the flower. As the device charges up the petals turn increasingly blue. But as Annabelle discharges, those blue petals turn white, just like the real-life hydrangea.

“People do not have a very good image about things related to energy, such as nuclear power,” Segawa told AFP.

“Thermal power generation conjures up images of blistering hot dirty coal while solar panels take up a lot of space.

“Even wind power generation has problems with bird strikes and noise, but (Annabelle) doesn’t harm the environment.”

While Segawa is not expecting to topple the dominant silicon-based solar panels, he is hoping the fast-growing sector has room for “enjoyable energy” that adds a splash of color to an otherwise drab industry.

Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan has been pushing to boost the use of alternative energy.

The country’s solar power generation is rapidly growing, but it still only represents a small share of the overall power mix.

In Japan, the share of power generated from renewable sources, excluding hydropower, lags other developed economies at 4.7% of the total, far less than 10.4% in Britain or 20.1% in Germany, according to data from the International Energy Agency.

All of Japan’s nuclear plants were shuttered after the 2011 atomic accident—yanking away a power source that once supplied more than one quarter of the nation’s energy.

Despite Tokyo’s efforts to develop the solar sector, the weather—- particularly a lack of reliable sunlight—is among the factors holding back wider use.

But Segawa says Annabelle works even in weak indoor light.

It also has a myriad of design possibilities. Segawa has already experimented with a cell that looks like French President Francois Hollande and one of the computer-generated Japanese pop star Hatsune Miku.

“You can make solar cells out of animated characters, portraits of real people and lots of other stuff,” he said.

Read article HERE

What the Heck Is a Rice Burger?

Alex Van Buren

Food Features Editor

Aug 19, 2014

This is the the era of the weird burger. You’ve got your grilled cheese burger. Your ramen burger. Your donut burger. 

But it was the newest applicant for residence in Burgerville, USA, that gave us pause: the Rice Burger. 

The folks behind New York City’s Sobaya and Otafuku are trying to tap into the burger craze with their new shop, Yonekichi, where they’re serving up savory things between rice patty “buns.”

According to Yonekichi operations manager Sakura Yagi, “rice burgers” are big at fast food restaurants in Japan. She’s contracted an outside company to create an “exclusive,” additive-free, compressed rice patty for the United States shop, and while she won’t say much more than that, one employee told us it holds together simply because “Japanese rice is sticky.” The patties are totally salt-free “to keep it simple and preserve the taste of the rice,” said Yagi.

So, what does Yonekichi put between two rice patties?

The sky’s the limit, apparently. Rice! Eel! Salmon! Beef! Pork! Chicken! 

This writer tried four: chicken, salmon, beef, and “onion-kale-carrot mixed tempura.” First thought? “It’s weird to have sushi on your burger.”

As opposed to sushi rice that’s typically seasoned with vinegar, unseasoned white rice that’s been pressed and crisped on a hot griddle didn’t seem like an intuitive match for these other ingredients.Each patty’s texture was disjointedly crisp on one side and gummy on the other. (Since this is only a soft opening and she’s gathering customer feedback, Yagi said, she’s open to revisiting the recipe.) 

Of the four patties, the beef “burger” was the best. Ample amounts of soy, sugar, and sake were in the mix with thinly sliced beef, which was layered with lettuce and caramelized onions. 

It felt—and looked—like a late-night compromise between two people on a date, with one tipsily declaring, “I want a burger!” and the other demanding sushi. 

But one might root for Yonekichi: If that recipe pulls together, this sushi burger could actually work. 

Read article HERE

Japan’s youth Olympians told to keep low profile in China
SPORTS AUG. 12, 2014 - 06:49AM JST

TOKYO —
Japanese athletes at this month’s Youth Olympics in the Chinese city of Nanjing have been warned not to wear their official tracksuits around town due to safety fears, local media have reported.

Delegation chief Yosuke Fujiwara has told Japan’s 78 athletes to wear regular clothes outside the Games venues during the Aug 16-28 event to avoid any attack, with Tokyo-Beijing relations at their lowest level in years.

The teenage athletes will also be encouraged to don face masks to protect themselves from China’s notoriously bad air pollution.

“When they are outside, we want them to be aware that it might not be totally safe,” Fujiwara told Kyodo news agency.

“In the athletes’ village, we want them to wear the official Japan tracksuit, but in the city normal clothes are fine.”

In an apparent attempt to avoid upsetting the Chinese before the second edition of the Youth Games, Fujiwara added: “You can get random attacks on the street in Japan too.”

Anti-Japanese resentment runs particularly high in Nanjing, where China says 300,000 people—some estimates are lower—were killed in 1937 as Japanese troops rampaged through the city during their invasion of the mainland. It became known as the Nanjing Massacre.

The massacre was the Japanese military’s worst atrocity and remains a bitter stain on the two countries’ relationship.

Fujiwara’s comments came at a time of heightened political tension between Japan and China, which are at odds over claims to islands in the East China Sea and historical grievances tied to Japan’s wartime aggression.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent decision to relax strict rules governing the country’s military has further antagonised Beijing, prompting Fujiwara to issue the warning.

But he insisted that the contestants would still be free to explore the city.

“We think it’s better for the athletes to feel the atmosphere in the city from their own perspective,” Fujiwara said.

Japanese sports teams and the country’s national anthem are frequently booed in China, most notably at the 2004 Asian Cup football final between China and Japan in Beijing which ended in a full-scale riot after Japan’s controversial win.

Japan’s delegation arrives in Nanjing on Wednesday. It features girls’ badminton junior world champion Akane Yamaguchi and Yuto Muramatsu, who won bronze in the men’s singles at the Japan Open table tennis earlier this year.

The event is open to athletes aged between 14 and 18. The first Youth Games were held in Singapore four years ago.

Read article HERE

Japan’s youth Olympians told to keep low profile in China

SPORTS AUG. 12, 2014 - 06:49AM JST

TOKYO —

Japanese athletes at this month’s Youth Olympics in the Chinese city of Nanjing have been warned not to wear their official tracksuits around town due to safety fears, local media have reported.

Delegation chief Yosuke Fujiwara has told Japan’s 78 athletes to wear regular clothes outside the Games venues during the Aug 16-28 event to avoid any attack, with Tokyo-Beijing relations at their lowest level in years.

The teenage athletes will also be encouraged to don face masks to protect themselves from China’s notoriously bad air pollution.

“When they are outside, we want them to be aware that it might not be totally safe,” Fujiwara told Kyodo news agency.

“In the athletes’ village, we want them to wear the official Japan tracksuit, but in the city normal clothes are fine.”

In an apparent attempt to avoid upsetting the Chinese before the second edition of the Youth Games, Fujiwara added: “You can get random attacks on the street in Japan too.”

Anti-Japanese resentment runs particularly high in Nanjing, where China says 300,000 people—some estimates are lower—were killed in 1937 as Japanese troops rampaged through the city during their invasion of the mainland. It became known as the Nanjing Massacre.

The massacre was the Japanese military’s worst atrocity and remains a bitter stain on the two countries’ relationship.

Fujiwara’s comments came at a time of heightened political tension between Japan and China, which are at odds over claims to islands in the East China Sea and historical grievances tied to Japan’s wartime aggression.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent decision to relax strict rules governing the country’s military has further antagonised Beijing, prompting Fujiwara to issue the warning.

But he insisted that the contestants would still be free to explore the city.

“We think it’s better for the athletes to feel the atmosphere in the city from their own perspective,” Fujiwara said.

Japanese sports teams and the country’s national anthem are frequently booed in China, most notably at the 2004 Asian Cup football final between China and Japan in Beijing which ended in a full-scale riot after Japan’s controversial win.

Japan’s delegation arrives in Nanjing on Wednesday. It features girls’ badminton junior world champion Akane Yamaguchi and Yuto Muramatsu, who won bronze in the men’s singles at the Japan Open table tennis earlier this year.

The event is open to athletes aged between 14 and 18. The first Youth Games were held in Singapore four years ago.

Read article HERE

Sony PS4 sales surge past record 10 million mark
TECHNOLOGY AUG. 14, 2014 - 01:55PM JST 

TOKYO —
Sony said Wednesday that global sales of its newest PlayStation have surged past the 10 million mark in less than a year, a record for the Japanese electronics giant.

The PlayStation 4 console, released in November, has been a bright spot for the struggling firm, which launched a sweeping restructuring in a bid to claw its way back to profitability.

The release of the PS4 in the United States and other markets has helped to improve Sony’s fortunes after a disappointing response to the console’s predecessor, the PS3.

Nintendo’s Wii U, launched in late 2012, took more than a year to sell just under six million units.

“The responses we have received for the PS4 system’s unique gameplay experiences… along with its vast game portfolio, has been phenomenal,” Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, said in a statement.

The PS4 is locked in a battle for dominance of the digital home entertainment market with Microsoft’s Xbox One and the Wii U at a time when consoles are under intense pressure to prove their worth in a world where many now play downloadable games on smartphones and tablets.

Sony launched the console in Japan in February, about four months after it debuted in the United States and well behind many other markets.

The company said it had wanted to give developers more time to exploit the potential of the console in the Japanese gaming market, where top-selling titles are often markedly different from popular offerings in the U.S. and Europe.

Software sales for the console have also been strong, with more than 30 million copies sold in retail stores globally and through digital downloads as of this week, the company said.

It added that there were plans to release a slate of major titles, including “Final Fantasy XV” and “Bloodborne,” while it was also adding new system features to expand players’ gaming experience.

Among the new functions was “Share Play”, which would allow users to play games with their friends as if they are in the same room, such as letting a player remotely take over another person’s controls to help them through tricky sections of a game.

Last month, Sony posted a quarterly profit that it attributed largely to strong demand for the PS4 and a sharp decline in the value of the yen.

Sony’s gaming division has emerged as a potential savior for the company, which is struggling to reinvent itself in the digital age, having been left in the dust by nimbler rivals including South Korea’s Samsung.

Read Article HERE

Sony PS4 sales surge past record 10 million mark

TECHNOLOGY AUG. 14, 2014 - 01:55PM JST 

TOKYO —

Sony said Wednesday that global sales of its newest PlayStation have surged past the 10 million mark in less than a year, a record for the Japanese electronics giant.

The PlayStation 4 console, released in November, has been a bright spot for the struggling firm, which launched a sweeping restructuring in a bid to claw its way back to profitability.

The release of the PS4 in the United States and other markets has helped to improve Sony’s fortunes after a disappointing response to the console’s predecessor, the PS3.

Nintendo’s Wii U, launched in late 2012, took more than a year to sell just under six million units.

“The responses we have received for the PS4 system’s unique gameplay experiences… along with its vast game portfolio, has been phenomenal,” Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, said in a statement.

The PS4 is locked in a battle for dominance of the digital home entertainment market with Microsoft’s Xbox One and the Wii U at a time when consoles are under intense pressure to prove their worth in a world where many now play downloadable games on smartphones and tablets.

Sony launched the console in Japan in February, about four months after it debuted in the United States and well behind many other markets.

The company said it had wanted to give developers more time to exploit the potential of the console in the Japanese gaming market, where top-selling titles are often markedly different from popular offerings in the U.S. and Europe.

Software sales for the console have also been strong, with more than 30 million copies sold in retail stores globally and through digital downloads as of this week, the company said.

It added that there were plans to release a slate of major titles, including “Final Fantasy XV” and “Bloodborne,” while it was also adding new system features to expand players’ gaming experience.

Among the new functions was “Share Play”, which would allow users to play games with their friends as if they are in the same room, such as letting a player remotely take over another person’s controls to help them through tricky sections of a game.

Last month, Sony posted a quarterly profit that it attributed largely to strong demand for the PS4 and a sharp decline in the value of the yen.

Sony’s gaming division has emerged as a potential savior for the company, which is struggling to reinvent itself in the digital age, having been left in the dust by nimbler rivals including South Korea’s Samsung.

Read Article HERE

Abe pledges Japan’s commitment to world peace
POLITICS AUG. 15, 2014 - 06:00PM JST

TOKYO —
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday pledged Japan’s commitment to world peace. Abe made the pledge at a ceremony at the Budokan attended by Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and about 4,700 relatives of the war dead, to mark the 69th anniversary of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II.

“Here, before the souls of those who fell on the battlefields thinking of their homeland and concerned about their families as well as the souls of those who perished amidst the destruction of the war and those who lost their lives in remote foreign countries during the aftermath of the war, I offer my heartfelt prayers for the repose of their souls,” Abe said.

“The peace and prosperity that we now enjoy have been built upon the precious sacrifices of the war dead. We will never forget this, even for a moment. We will also never forget the remains of the war dead that still have not been recovered back to their hometowns even now. The other day in Papua New Guinea I joined my hands in prayer thinking of the more than 120 thousand people who lost their lives in the jungle or were scattered at sea there.

“Today is a day on which we renew that pledge toward peace. We will carve out the future of this country for the sake of the generation that is alive at this moment and for the generations of tomorrow, facing history with humility and engraving its lessons deeply into our hearts. We will make contributions to lasting world peace to the greatest possible extent and spare no effort in working to bring about a world in which all people are able to live enriched lives.”

Emperor Akihito, whose father surrendered at the end of World War II, also offered prayers at the ceremony on a stage covered with chrysanthemums, flanked by his wife Michiko.

On Aug 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender on the radio, the first time the general public had ever heard his voice as he had been considered to be almost divine.

Read article HERE

Abe pledges Japan’s commitment to world peace

POLITICS AUG. 15, 2014 - 06:00PM JST

TOKYO —

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday pledged Japan’s commitment to world peace. Abe made the pledge at a ceremony at the Budokan attended by Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and about 4,700 relatives of the war dead, to mark the 69th anniversary of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II.

“Here, before the souls of those who fell on the battlefields thinking of their homeland and concerned about their families as well as the souls of those who perished amidst the destruction of the war and those who lost their lives in remote foreign countries during the aftermath of the war, I offer my heartfelt prayers for the repose of their souls,” Abe said.

“The peace and prosperity that we now enjoy have been built upon the precious sacrifices of the war dead. We will never forget this, even for a moment. We will also never forget the remains of the war dead that still have not been recovered back to their hometowns even now. The other day in Papua New Guinea I joined my hands in prayer thinking of the more than 120 thousand people who lost their lives in the jungle or were scattered at sea there.

“Today is a day on which we renew that pledge toward peace. We will carve out the future of this country for the sake of the generation that is alive at this moment and for the generations of tomorrow, facing history with humility and engraving its lessons deeply into our hearts. We will make contributions to lasting world peace to the greatest possible extent and spare no effort in working to bring about a world in which all people are able to live enriched lives.”

Emperor Akihito, whose father surrendered at the end of World War II, also offered prayers at the ceremony on a stage covered with chrysanthemums, flanked by his wife Michiko.

On Aug 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender on the radio, the first time the general public had ever heard his voice as he had been considered to be almost divine.

Read article HERE

'Attack on Titan’s' Levi getting his own two-part anime DVD series
By Casey Baseel
ENTERTAINMENT AUG. 11, 2014 - 06:34AM JST
TOKYO —
There are a lot of things people love about runaway anime and manga hit “Attack on Titan.” Aside from the iconic and unsettling Titans themselves, the series has a unique setting, unpredictable plot, and bouts of intensely visceral action.
Just about the only thing fans don’t gush over is, oddly enough, the main character. Sure, protagonist Eren may have the tragic back story, pure heart, and burning sense of justice that are required of male action anime leads, but in terms of popularity, he ranks far, far behind the coolly efficient Levi.

Whereas “Attack on Titan’s” narrative often slows down as Eren struggles under the weight of his role as protector of humanity, pretty much every second Levi appears on screen is dedicated to showing what a badass he is. Levi is so awesome, you wonder why he isn’t the star of his own anime. Well, soon enough, he will be.

In addition to creator Hajime Isayama’s original manga, a number of spinoff comics began serialization after the “Attack on Titan” anime turned the franchise into a full-fledged pop cultural phenomena. Some of these, like “Attack on Titan: Junior High” are silly gag series that obviously don’t exist within the same universe as the main story. One manga that is meant to be taken seriously, though, is “Attack on Titan: No Regrets.”

Taking place years before the start of the normal “Attack on Titan” manga, “No Regrets” focuses on Levi’s past. As it opens, he’s not an elite member of the Titan-fighting Survey Corps, but instead the leader of a pack of thieves. As the story unfolds, the reader sees Levi meet the Survey Corps’ commander, Erwin, and take the first steps toward becoming the giant slayer he is when he and Eren meet.

The spinoff has proven popular enough that for the upcoming 15th and 16th collected volumes of the regular “Attack on Titan” manga, publisher has recently announced that it will be releasing limited editions that come bundled with animated DVDs based on “No Regrets.”

Unlike “Attack on Titan” manga, “No Regrets” is serialized in Aria, a monthly comic anthology targeting female readers (which serves as testament to Levi’s gigantic fangirl fanbase). Neither the art nor story is by Isayama, but the two-part anime version brings back the key staff from the “Attack on Titan” TV anime, including director Testuro Araki, character designer Kyoji Asano, and the animators at Wit Studio.

Both limited-edition bundles are priced at 2,840 yen. Volume 15 is set to be released on December 9, with preorders being taken until September 19, while Volume 16 comes out April 9 of 2015, and can be ordered until January 23. There’s no word as to how long each DVD will be, but one thing we can say for sure, regardless of running time, is that at some point Levi will do something cold as ice, and look completely awesome while doing it.

Read article HERE

'Attack on Titan’s' Levi getting his own two-part anime DVD series

By Casey Baseel

ENTERTAINMENT AUG. 11, 2014 - 06:34AM JST

TOKYO —

There are a lot of things people love about runaway anime and manga hit “Attack on Titan.” Aside from the iconic and unsettling Titans themselves, the series has a unique setting, unpredictable plot, and bouts of intensely visceral action.

Just about the only thing fans don’t gush over is, oddly enough, the main character. Sure, protagonist Eren may have the tragic back story, pure heart, and burning sense of justice that are required of male action anime leads, but in terms of popularity, he ranks far, far behind the coolly efficient Levi.

Whereas “Attack on Titan’s” narrative often slows down as Eren struggles under the weight of his role as protector of humanity, pretty much every second Levi appears on screen is dedicated to showing what a badass he is. Levi is so awesome, you wonder why he isn’t the star of his own anime. Well, soon enough, he will be.

In addition to creator Hajime Isayama’s original manga, a number of spinoff comics began serialization after the “Attack on Titan” anime turned the franchise into a full-fledged pop cultural phenomena. Some of these, like “Attack on Titan: Junior High” are silly gag series that obviously don’t exist within the same universe as the main story. One manga that is meant to be taken seriously, though, is “Attack on Titan: No Regrets.”

Taking place years before the start of the normal “Attack on Titan” manga, “No Regrets” focuses on Levi’s past. As it opens, he’s not an elite member of the Titan-fighting Survey Corps, but instead the leader of a pack of thieves. As the story unfolds, the reader sees Levi meet the Survey Corps’ commander, Erwin, and take the first steps toward becoming the giant slayer he is when he and Eren meet.

The spinoff has proven popular enough that for the upcoming 15th and 16th collected volumes of the regular “Attack on Titan” manga, publisher has recently announced that it will be releasing limited editions that come bundled with animated DVDs based on “No Regrets.”

Unlike “Attack on Titan” manga, “No Regrets” is serialized in Aria, a monthly comic anthology targeting female readers (which serves as testament to Levi’s gigantic fangirl fanbase). Neither the art nor story is by Isayama, but the two-part anime version brings back the key staff from the “Attack on Titan” TV anime, including director Testuro Araki, character designer Kyoji Asano, and the animators at Wit Studio.

Both limited-edition bundles are priced at 2,840 yen. Volume 15 is set to be released on December 9, with preorders being taken until September 19, while Volume 16 comes out April 9 of 2015, and can be ordered until January 23. There’s no word as to how long each DVD will be, but one thing we can say for sure, regardless of running time, is that at some point Levi will do something cold as ice, and look completely awesome while doing it.

Read article HERE

Gah i’m bad at updating (o.O) Also haven’t been adding cosplay stuff and other things, sorry! But i’m nearly finished with .hack//sign. It’s a bit confusing at first but you put pieces together as the story continues.

Gah i’m bad at updating (o.O) Also haven’t been adding cosplay stuff and other things, sorry! But i’m nearly finished with .hack//sign. It’s a bit confusing at first but you put pieces together as the story continues.