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      Bonsai trees and a royal birthday: Japan’s imperial family dips a careful toe in world of Instagram / TheGuardian · Monday, 1 April - 06:02

    Meme-worthy content appears in short supply, at least initially, as world’s oldest royal family embarks on its social media journey

    The rarefied world of Japan ’s imperial family has entered the age of social media, but fans expecting selfies, emojis and casual shots of the emperor and empress, or princes and princesses away from the limelight may be disappointed.

    Far from photographs of sunrises, sunsets or moments of mindfulness that form the stock in trade of many Instagram profiles, the initial images released followed a steady course favoured by other royal families around the world. They featured a dignified attendance at a medical awards ceremony, a bonsai exhibition and a meeting with the president and first lady of Kenya. Another post features them with the crown prince and princess of Brunei.

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      ‘There wasn’t enough about the horror’: Oppenheimer finally opens in Japan to mixed reviews / TheGuardian · Friday, 29 March - 11:00

    People in Hiroshima react to first screening of the film, which was delayed after outrage at ‘Barbenheimer’ memes

    It is hard to think of a more emotionally charged venue than Hatchoza for the first screening in Japan of the Academy Award-winning film Oppenheimer. The cinema in Hiroshima is located less than a kilometre from the hypocentre of the first atomic bombing in history – the devastating culmination of the American physicist’s work.

    The film finally premiered in Japan on Friday, more than eight months after it opened in the US, to reviews that ranged from praise for its portrayal of J Robert Oppenheimer – the “father of the atomic bomb” – to criticism that it omitted to show the human misery it caused in Hiroshima and, days later, Nagasaki, in the final days of the Pacific war.

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      Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus review – a stark, emotional finale from master musician / TheGuardian · Thursday, 28 March - 07:00 · 1 minute

    In his last weeks of life, the Oscar-winning composer is filmed at the piano by his son. It is an almost wordless paean to a remarkable career

    Short of presenting nothing more than music and a blank screen, this documentary about the late Japanese composer-performer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s last appearances is as stark and minimal as a concert film can get. And yet it’s a work suffused with emotional tones and shades, surprisingly not all of them sad even though the subject knew at the time of filming he had mere weeks left before he’d die of cancer.

    There are moments when director Neo Sora, Sakamoto’s son, turns up the lighting for the more upbeat songs and we can see the master smile, pleased with his own performance, or the composition, or … we know not what, as there is almost no dialogue, no nattering about the life. We had all that in an earlier documentary, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda . In Opus it is the music, played by the man himself, that is completely sufficient to the moment and all that remains, with the occasional very human stumbles and missed notes. When he says he needs a break for a while, exhausted by a performance, the strain is painfully visible, audible, practically palpable.

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      The Oxford English Dictionary’s latest update adds 23 Japanese words / TheGuardian · Wednesday, 27 March - 16:22

    More than half of the borrowed words relate to cooking, while Kintsugi, the increasingly popular art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer is also included

    Katsu, donburi and onigiri are among 23 Japanese words added to the Oxford English Dictionary in its latest update.

    More than half of the borrowed words relate to food or cooking. Santoku, a knife with a short, flat blade that curves down at the tip, and okonomiyaki, a type of savoury pancake, were both added. Okonomiyaki is derived from okonomi, meaning “what you like”, combined with yaki, meaning “to fry, to sear”.

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      Ohtani representatives refuse to give evidence they reported alleged theft / TheGuardian · Wednesday, 27 March - 12:15

    • Interpreter accused of stealing millions from MLB star
    • Player’s camp have not provided evidence of criminal report

    Unanswered questions remain over allegations Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter stole millions from the baseball star after his representatives declined to give further details to ESPN .

    Ippei Mizuhara is accused of wiring huge sums from Ohtani’s accounts to cover his debts with an illegal California bookmaker, a claim the player repeated in a press conference on Monday. Ohtani’s representatives said last week that “we are turning the matter over to the authorities”.

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      Japan dietary supplement recalled amid investigation into two deaths and 100 hospitalisations / TheGuardian · Wednesday, 27 March - 06:35

    Cholesterol-lowering supplements containing ‘beni koji’ recalled by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical over possible link to kidney disease

    A nationwide recall of a dietary supplement that lowers cholesterol has been issued in Japan amid concerns it could be linked to two deaths and more than 100 hospitalisations, according to news agency Kyodo.

    Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, which sells over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements, has issued a national recall of the product, and authorities are conducting emergency checks on thousands of products that advertise their health benefits, Kyodo reported .

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      Sign of the times in Japan as nappy company switches production to adult nappies / TheGuardian · Wednesday, 27 March - 02:57

    Oji Holdings said it would stop making children’s nappies in September amid a sharp decline in demand. Japan has a rapidly ageing society

    A nappy manufacturer in Japan is to stop making the products for babies and instead raise production of adult diapers, in a reflection of the country’s rapidly ageing society .

    Oji Holdings, which specialises in paper products, said it would stop making children’s nappies in September amid a sharp decline in demand. The firm has seen sales drop from a peak of about 700m in 2001 to 400m today.

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      My long quest to revive a ’90s Windows gaming cult classic / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 30 November - 12:00 · 1 minute

    The elusive, addictive gameplay that has been haunting my dreams for years.

    As 2023 draws to a close—and as we start to finalize our Game of the Year contenders—I really should be catching up on the embarrassingly long list of great recent releases that I haven't put enough time into this year. Instead, over the last few days, I've found myself once again hooked on a simple, addictive, and utterly unique Japanese Windows freeware game from the late '90s that, until recently, I thought I had lost forever.

    Pendulumania is a cult classic in the truest sense of the word: Few people have heard of it, even in hardcore gaming circles, but those who have experienced it tend to have very fond memories of it. And while I shared those memories, it wasn't until this week that I've been able to share my effusive praise for a game whose name and playable executable had eluded me for well over a decade.

    Timeless design

    The mechanics of Pendulumania are incredibly simple. You use the computer mouse to control a metal ring, which is attached via an elastic string to a white ball. The object is to carefully move the ring so the stretchy string and gravity can nudge the ball around a 2D plane, crashing into floating scoring orbs to collect points (colored orbs that randomly appear can make the ball larger or the string stronger as well). Be careful, though; if the elastic string stretches too far, it will break and your game will be over.

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      After nearly a decade in development, Japan’s new rocket fails in debut / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 7 March, 2023 - 14:30

    The H3 rocket launches from Tanegashima, Japan, on Tuesday.

    Enlarge / The H3 rocket launches from Tanegashima, Japan, on Tuesday. (credit: JAXA)

    The launch of Japan's H3 rocket on Tuesday morning, local time in Tanegashima, failed after the vehicle's second stage engine did not ignite.

    In a terse statement on the failure, Japanese space agency JAXA said , "A destruct command has been transmitted to H3 around 10:52 a.m. (Japan Standard Time), because there was no possibility of achieving the mission. We are confirming the situation."

    The Japanese space agency, in concert with the rocket's manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has spent about $1.5 billion developing the H3 rocket over the last decade. Much of the challenge in building the new rocket involved development of a new LE-9 engine, which is fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, to power the first stage. This appeared to perform flawlessly. The second-stage engine that failed, the LE-5B, was a more established engine.

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