Digital | ON: TECH

Staying cool in the summer heat

by Chiho Komoriya

Cosmic noodles

If there’s one cooling summer food event in Japan, it has to be nagashi sōmen — the tradition of eating sōmen noodles by catching them with chopsticks as they swish past you in chilled water flowing along a bamboo pipe slide. It sounds daft, but it’s an event that many enjoy, especially kids. It’s also usually organized as an outdoor event and not something you can set up at home — unless you know about Takara Tomy Arts Co. (T-Arts) Big Stream Somen Sliders.

Each year since 2016, T-Arts has released a new version of its Big Stream Somen Slider, a mechanical nagashi sōmen kit that looks like a cross between a miniature waterslide and a tiny race track. The theme this year is space and the Big Stream Somen Slider Galaxy (¥10,778) does something previous versions of the contraption didn’t.

Instead of the uncaught noodles collecting in a bottom pool for easy pickings, this new Galaxy version shoots them back to the top of the slide, so you can try nabbing them again.

Calling the process “weightlessness,” the noodles are pushed back to the top of the slide via a transparent “Hyperdrive Tube.” The mechanism’s motor also ensures that the water remains chilled by running it through an adjacent ice-filled “Mars Tank.”

Yes, it’s all rather silly, but if you can’t make it to a real nagashi sōmen event, it’s great for creating your own party. The Galaxy set can also be used with additional parts, so why not use your own noodle to go big and devise a complex slide system?

bit.ly/somenslider (Japanese only)

Stop mosquitoes from bugging you

One of the downsides of summer are the insects. Though not dangerous in Japan, mosquitoes, in particular, can be a nuisance, but devices to get rid of them, such as incense coils and vapes, usually create unpleasant odors and are unattractive to have in the home.

The Minimoto No Boon Zero EX10 is a new kind of insect trap that is safe, odorless and looks quite nice. Instead of poisoning insects, the device attracts them into a trap with an LED ultraviolet lamp. Mosquitos, moths — in fact many insects — are attracted to LED lighting, but if they head for the Minimoto No Boon Zero EX10, they’ll find themselves sucked through a top grill to end their lives in a compartment at the base of the device.

No insecticide or smoke is used, so it’s safe to have in the home, and it has a safety guard to prevent children from getting fingers caught in the fan. The insects trapped inside simply dry out and die within a few days, after which all you need to do is empty them out of the base compartment.

It’ a USB-rechargeable device, so it doesn’t need to be plugged into the mains and can be used outdoors, plus the inside fan is quiet, so it won’t disturb you if you leave it in on in the bedroom while sleeping. In fact, its minimalist boxy design makes an attractive night light.

Available via the Green Funding crowdfunding site, the Mimimoto No Boon Zero EX10 is available for ¥6,500 and if ordered now, it can be shipped to you this month.

bit.ly/uvbugkiller (Japanese only)

Don’t miss the big bang

Has your summer fireworks partying been hampered by buildings and crowds getting in the way of a good view?

The free Fireworks Festival Simulator iOS app could solve the problem by helping you find a decent spot to watch from before the next event even begins.

This app uses augmented reality (AR) and firework simulations to reveal what a display would look like from wherever you happen to be standing. It uses firework event information and GPS coordinates to measure the distance and area of an upcoming fireworks display and then visually depicts it on-screen so you can work out which direction you will need to look. Since it superimposes fireworks over what you can see through the phone’s camera, you can move the device around to discover the best vantage point. You can even take photos of the AR version of fireworks.

The app is also useful for just searching for the next local firework festival, so you can ensure that you don’t miss out on upcoming events.

bit.ly/avfireworks (Japanese only)

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