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

Photo By YUYA SHINO/REUTERS

Japanese women in kimonos walk during heavy snowfall at Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo, as they attend a ceremony celebrating Coming of Age Day, January 14, 2013. Youths across Japan are honoured with special coming-of-age ceremonies when they reach the age of 20. The Tokyo metropolitan area had its first snowfall this season on Monday, which affected transportation as some flights to and from the the capital’s Haneda airport had to be cancelled, parts of expressways temporarily closed and local train services delayed. REUTERS/Yuya Shino (JAPAN – Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

NBC – Rock Center – Richard Engel Journeys to Fukushima Evacuation zone
Nearly a year after a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan swallowed whole towns and left more than 15,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of people displaced, the nuclear town of Okuma is eerily empty.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake led to a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Plant and led to mandatory evacuations 12 miles around the power plant. NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel journeyed to the exclusion zone and discovered a ghost town. Restaurants, grocery stores, factories remained as they were left on Mar. 11, 2011.

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Making a packed lunch for your children to take to school is a chore performed by parents around the world.

But in Japan, it is not just the taste and healthiness of the meal that is important – but how it looks.

The country’s ancient emphasis on food presentation has been transformed into a trend for character bento – packed lunches made to look like pandas, teddy bears or even real people.

The BBC’s Tokyo correspondent Roland Buerk has been finding out more.

The Close-up series focuses on aspects of life in countries and cities around the world. What may seem ordinary and familiar to the people who live there can be surprising to those who do not.

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Last week, Google Japan took its popular Street View in a new direction: underground. The search giant commissioned a photography crew to explore a centuries-old mine and popular limestone cave in Japan. The result is a stunning 360-degree photo tour that gives people around the world the opportunity to visit sites they probably wouldn’t see otherwise.

This is the entrance to the Okubo-mabu mineshaft at Omori, Ota City in the Shimane Prefecture of Japan. The Iwami Ginzan silver mines, one of the largest in the world during the 16th and 17th centuries, officially became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

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To pay homage to the notorious instant noodles industry, Japanese food company Nissin Foods has opened a new museum in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

Celebrating 40 years since the creation of the first snack, the museum displays the history of the noodle, taking visitors on a journey from its invention to its cultural influence within Japan and the rest of the world.

Up to 10,000sq m covers the museum grounds with visitors given the chance to create their own instant recipe from thousands of combinations at the My Cup Noodle Factory. Inside, visitors can get a taste of the restaurants that serve a variety of noodles.
instant noodles, Japan Ramen chicken noodles A young fan of the noodles gets stuck in at the museum’s noodle factory (Picture: Reuters)

During the opening of the museum, 500 people queued up to enter, including the former Japanese premier, Junichiro Koizumi.

The attraction has been aimed at both adults and children, with giant instant noodle play areas built inside the complex.

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Waves generated by the massive March 2011 undersea earthquake off Japan traveled 8000 mi. to chop 50 sq. mi. of ice off the Sulzberger Ice Shelf. NASA and ESA satellites captured imagery of the break. Ice may have been weakened by climate change.

Credit: NASA/GSFC