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Professor aspires toward the perfect prosthetic design

Aug 12, 2012

Professor aspires toward the perfect prosthetic design

by Tomoko Otake

“Functionality and aesthetics can co-exist.” That’s the idea Shunji Yamanaka is trying to express through his design of next-generation prosthetic limbs. Yamanaka, a product designer and professor of media studies at Keio University’s Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC), became interested in prosthetics after seeing South ...

Restoration of temple 'harder than building it'

Aug 5, 2012

Restoration of temple 'harder than building it'

by Tomoko Otake

The year was 1735, and on the plains of Menuma in present-day Saitama Prefecture, master builder Hayashi Masakiyo was going from village to village assembling a group of top-class carpenters, engravers, painters and other artisans. Having gathered his team together, 60-year-old Hayashi may well ...

'Taisho Democracy' pays the ultimate price

Jul 29, 2012

'Taisho Democracy' pays the ultimate price

by Michael Hoffman

Party politics seems as natural to many of us today as government itself, but imagine how it looked to the uninitiated 150 years ago. “A perplexing institution was representative government,” wrote Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901), Japan’s great popularizer of Western civilization. In England in 1862 ...

Jul 22, 2012

Taxi facts and figures to impress your driver

by Mark Schreiber

Next time you’re in the back seat and tired of watching the meter clock up, use these ice-breakers to get the conversation flowing in your driver’s language. • Tokyo’s 51,950 taxis account for 20.7 percent of the national total, with the categories broken down ...

A century of Tokyo taxis

Jul 22, 2012

A century of Tokyo taxis

by Mark Schreiber

The year 1912 is recorded in Japan both as the 45th year of Meiji Era and the first year of the Taisho Era. After a protracted illness, Emperor Mutsuhito expired, age 61, on the night of July 29 (although the official announcement came the ...

Jul 22, 2012

Talking the talk

by Mark Schreiber

Taxi-business jargon is a lingo all of its own. Here’s a sample of the way those drivers think: • Baramaki: Meaning “to spread or scatter at random,” this refers to carrying several passengers who ask to be dropped off at different places. • Genkotsu: ...

Farmers try to fence out nasty nature

| Jul 15, 2012

Farmers try to fence out nasty nature

by Winifred Bird

I once asked a professor of agriculture in the southwestern United States what sort of fence would keep a goat from escaping. “Well,” he replied, taking a long and pensive draw on his cigarette. “If it can keep out air and keep out water, ...

Life up in the treetops

| Jul 15, 2012

Life up in the treetops

by Eriko Arita

Imagine strolling through a forest and coming across a hut supported by four trees 8 meters off the ground. With its triangular roof, stained-glass door panels and timber decking, at first sight it’s like something in a fairyland. This is, however, the latest lofty ...