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Blog - The Amazing Japanese Culture
Blog - The Amazing Japanese Culture

The first smartphone based on the new “Mango” edition of Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform was unveiled on Wednesday in Tokyo.

The phone is the first of several handsets due over the next few months, that Microsoft hopes will signal its return to the smartphone market as a serious player. (Video of the new phone and its launch is available on YouTube.)

If that wish sounds familiar, it is. This time last year the company was hoping the first version of the Windows Phone 7 would accomplish the same thing. But that didn’t happen.

First Windows ‘Mango’ Phone UnveiledDespite getting several thousand applications and generally positive reviews, the new platform, which replaced Windows Mobile, was relegated to the sidelines by a rush of new Android devices and updates to Apple’s iPhone.

Far from boosting its market share, the introduction of the new operating system saw Microsoft lose share.

Microsoft captured 2.7 percent of the smartphone market during the first quarter of 2011, according to IDC. But a year earlier during the first quarter of 2010, its market share was 7.1 percent, the market research company said. In terms of handsets shipped, those with Windows Phone 7 or Windows Mobile fell from 3.9 million to 2.8 million phones in the two periods.

First Windows ‘Mango’ Phone Unveiled”We’ve gone from very small to….very small,” quipped Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this month on his company’s lackluster performance.

Mango, officially Windows Phone 7.5, adds some 500 improvements to the Windows Phone 7 platform, according to the company. They include an e-mail “conversation view” that is said to make long e-mail discussions more efficient, a “threads” feature that brings together text, instant messages and Facebook chat, and Internet Explorer 9 for faster Web browsing.

“Mango is a substantial improvement bringing multi-tasking and other needed features,” Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, wrote in an email. “This really begins to close the gap and in a couple of ways exceeds its competitors.”

First Windows ‘Mango’ Phone UnveiledSome of those improvements can be seen in the new handset, the IS12T, which will be available in Japan only. Built by Fujitsu Toshiba Mobile Communications, the phone will be available in September or after. No price was disclosed.

The company is one of several partners Microsoft is working with on Mango handsets. Others include Taiwan’s Acer and China’s ZTE, but perhaps the most awaited phones will be from Nokia.

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By Christopher Johnson – Special to The Washington Times
9:25 a.m., Monday, July 18, 2011

TOKYO — In one of the most dramatic victories in Japanese sports history, Japan won its first women’s World Cup on Sunday, upsetting the United States on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw.

While 50,000 spectators packed a sold-out stadium in Frankfurt, Germany, fans crammed into sports bars in Tokyo and other cities throughout the night, and many across Japan got up at 3:45 a.m. to watch the historic match live on TV at home.

Though the victory won’t solve Japan’s problems, the courage and resilience of Japan’s team will inspire many who have been laden with bad news since the March 11 disasters.

“It shows the true bravery of Japanese women,” said Kumiko Fukushi, a musician and studio owner in Tokyo who watched the game at home. “Even when we are under intense pressure, in life or on the soccer field, we don’t panic. We just think about trying our best to reach our goal.”

Many in Japan said the gods of soccer were on their side, and some even prayed for victory at a shrine in Wakayama province dedicated to birds symbolized on the Japan Football Association’s official crests and uniforms.

The top-ranked Americans dominated play for most of the match, but Japan came from behind twice against the taller opponents, who had beaten Japan 26 times in a row.

Japan’s women scored two goals with the deft touch and creative wizardry around the net that Japan’s male strikers have often lacked in World Cup matches.

“It was amazing and unbelievable,” said Akihiro Koh, a Saitama province engineer who has traveled around the world to watch Japan’s national soccer teams.

Mr. Koh noted that the Japanese women developed their toughness and technique by training together from early ages with male national team players.

“There aren’t enough young girls playing soccer at the national level, so they have to play with the boys,” he said. “The women grow up to really believe that they can beat other women and men as well. It doesn’t matter how tall they are.”

He said the goals by Aya Miyama and Homare Sawa showed skill levels beyond most male players. Ms. Miyama tied the match 1-1 by punching home a loose ball with her left foot.

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Check out the 405 Closure construction cam, with a clear shot of the Mulholland bridge. Refresh the page to obtain the latest image. The image updates once every minute.

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Jul 7, 2011 Cate Allan

The Economist Intelligence Unit has announced the World’s Expensive Cities List for 2011, with Tokyo topping the list.

The Economist Intelligence Unit announced today (7 July 2011) its list of the World’s Most Expensive Cities. According to the unit’s research, the most expensive city in the world in Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo: The World’s Most Expensive City
Tokyo has again become the world’s most expensive city to live in, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living survey. For fourteen straight years, between 1992 and 2006, Tokyo had held the dubious honour of being the world’s most expensive city. In 2006 Oslo took over the mantle, only to be topped in 2009 by Paris.

The reason for Tokyo’s number one ranking is largely due to the value of the yen, which has significantly increased over the past two years, despite poor consumer confidence. In 2011 the cost of living has increased significantly in Tokyo, despite the tragedies associated with the earthquake and tsunami which have devastated many areas of Japan.

Tokyo is joined by a second Japanese city, Osaka, in the top 3 most expensive cities in the world, with Singapore being the third Asian city ranked in the top 10.

The World’s Most Expensive Cities Top 10 List 2011
1.Tokyo, Japan
2.Oslo, Norway
3.Osaka Kobe, Japan
4.Paris, France
5.Zurich, Switzerland
6.Sydney, Australia
7.Melbourne, Australia
8.Frankfurt, Germany
9.Geneva, Switzerland
10.Singapore, Singapore

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Google is using its Street View technology in Kesennuma and elsewhere to make a record of the disaster while tracking reconstruction efforts.
By HIROKO TABUCHI
Published: July 10, 2011

See Image – Google Vehicle Recording Images

KESENNUMA, Japan — An oddly equipped car made its way last week through the rubble in this tsunami-stricken port city. On the roof: an assembly of nine cameras creating 360-degree panoramic digital images of the disaster zone to archive damage.
Enlarge This Image
Google, GeoEye, DigitalGlobe, Cnes/Spot Image, TerraMetrics

Aerial images taken of Yuriage and Yagawahama before and after the earthquake and tsunami. Both are in Miyagi Prefecture.

It is one of the newest ways that Google, a Web giant worldwide but long a mere runner-up in Japan’s online market, has harnessed its technology to raise its brand and social networking identity in this country.

Google was also quick in the early hours of the disaster to assemble a Person Finder site that helped people learn of the status of friends and relatives affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Analysts say it is too soon to tell whether Google’s efforts have translated into a larger share of search or online advertising since the quake. But in a country with the world’s second-largest online advertising market, after the United States, and where in the past the company has made serious blunders and raised privacy concerns in trying to unseat the local leader, Yahoo Japan, Google is finally winning new friends.

“I know we’d have nothing to worry about with these people,” said Shigeru Sugawara, the mayor of this northeastern city, which was ravaged by the tsunami.

“I’d like them to record Kesennuma’s streets now,” Mr. Sugawara said. “Then I’d like them to come back, when the city is like new again, and show the world the new Kesennuma.”

Another convert is Sachiko Kobayashi. She lives in Sendai, a city at the heart of the tsunami zone, and was in Kesennuma looking for a friend, a fellow student in the koto, a traditional Japanese instrument. After Ms. Kobayashi posted a query on a separate Web site, a stranger directed her to Person Finder. There, she learned that her friend was alive.

“Thank you!” Ms. Kobayashi posted. “Now I can look forward to practicing together again.”

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck off Japan’s northeast coast on March 11 was immediately evident to Japanese Google employees, who were jolted in their 26th floor Tokyo office. Engineers suspended their usual projects, and within minutes, a small group started work on what would become the first of various disaster-related services that Google has initiated in Japan.

Person Finder was originally developed after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In Japan, Google went live with its online Person Finder service less than two hours after the quake.

“Everyone started coming by with their laptops and ideas of what we could do,” said Brad Ellis, an American member of the Tokyo team that worked on the initial response.

One engineer raised the idea of making Person Finder compatible with conventional Japanese cellphones. Another suggested visual representations of train suspensions and delays, as well as data on traffic and damage to roads, on Google Maps. All these ideas were put into practice.

On Person Finder, users with information about a missing person can create an entry that other users can search. Conversely, people looking for a missing person can also create an entry in the hope that someone who has information will see it and post an update.

It is difficult to gauge just how many people found information about loved ones on Person Finder. One obvious drawback: without access to the Internet from the hundreds of evacuation centers, victims had no way to input their whereabouts on the Web site.

Much of the information on missing people was instead taking the form of handwritten posters at evacuation centers. So Google began asking users to take photos of the posters and upload them on Google’s Picasa online photo sharing service. The company put its sales team of about 100 to work transcribing names from the photos onto Person Finder.

Soon, almost 1,000 photos of names had been uploaded onto Picasa, and Google employees could not keep up. Then, in a development Google had not expected, anonymous users voluntarily started to transcribe the names on the photos, using Picasa’s interactive feature. In the weeks after the tsunami, more than 10,000 photos were transcribed by some 5,000 anonymous volunteers, adding more than 140,000 entries to Person Finder.

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BEAVERTON — Behind the taiko drummers and a troop of girls in big-bowed kimonos, in the corner booth of the Uwajimaya parking lot, Kenji Yokoy sat in the shade Saturday.

Yokoy, a 33-year-old pastor at Japanese International Baptist Church in Tigard, watched visitors revel under the summer sun.

He knew that the same sun blazed over students in Japan who sweated in classrooms without air conditioning or electricity because of the earthquake that struck in March. His church had donated supplies that would help prevent kids from getting heat stroke.

Yokoy and leaders of eight other local Japanese community groups celebrated their culture Saturday at the second annual Natsu Matsuri, or summer festival, and raised money to benefit disaster relief efforts in Japan.

By Dominique Fong, The Oregonian The Oregonian

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Japan Relief Charity Sale – Do your part to help the citizens of Japan recover from the 2011 Tsunami and Earthquake by purchasing a tour book or key chain from the Daryl Hall & John Oates Japan Relief Sale. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross Japanese Relief Fund.

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