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

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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Jerry Seinfeld Competes for a New Acura NSX

January 31, 2012, 8:56 pm : Posted by JapaneseCity in Car - (0 Comments)

Watch Jerry Seinfeld compete for the first new Acura NSX during the big game on February 5. But if you’re like Jerry, and don’t want to wait, see clip:

A virtual tour via Street View profoundly illustrates how much these natural disasters have transformed these communities. If you start inland and venture out toward the coast, you’ll see the idyllic countryside change dramatically, becoming cluttered with mountains of rubble and debris as you get closer to the ocean. In the cities, buildings that once stood proud are now empty spaces.

Click to see Japan using Street View

In the bottom left corner of each image you’ll also see a month and year that tells you when a particular photograph was taken. When looking at images of the magnificent cities side-by-side with images of the ruins left in their place, this additional context demonstrates how truly life-changing this tragedy has been for those who live there and witnessed the destruction of their homes, neighborhoods and even entire districts. This timestamp feature has been the most requested Street View feature for the last few years, and it is now available on Street View imagery worldwide. Professionals such as historians, architects, city planners and tourism boards—as well as regular users including travelers and home-buyers—can now get a sense of how fresh the online photos are for a locations that interests them.

In the case of the post-tsunami imagery of Japan, we hope this particular digital archiving project will be useful to researchers and scientists who study the effects of natural disasters. We also believe that the imagery is a useful tool for anyone around the world who wants to better understand the extent of the damage. Seeing the street-level imagery of the affected areas puts the plight of these communities into perspective and ensures that the memories of the disaster remain relevant and tangible for future generations.

TOKYO — A botched lane change led to a spectacular traffic pileup in Japan over the weekend that left a highway strewn with the smashed wreckage of eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini and three Mercedes sports cars.

The crash drew international attention not only for its stunning price — the vehicles collectively cost more than $1 million — but also for the rare glimpse of Japan’s superrich, who tend to avoid ostentatious public displays of wealth. Local police officials were quoted as saying that they had never seen so many expensive cars in one place, much less involved in a single accident.

News reports gave no names and few details about the cars’ drivers, beyond quoting police officials as saying their ages ranged from 37 to 60. But they clearly form a select group in Japan, where fewer than 500 Ferraris were sold last year.

The cars appeared to be part of an outing of luxury automobile enthusiasts, traveling north together from the island of Kyushu to a festival in the city of Hiroshima, on the southern end of the main island of Honshu. As the convoy sped through rain in the western prefecture of Yamaguchi, one of the Ferrari drivers, trying to change lanes, struck the median and spun out of control. Evasive maneuvers by other cars, which also included two Toyotas, sent them smashing into each other.

According to The Associated Press, 10 of the people involved in the wreck received treatment for minor injuries.

News reports quoted eyewitnesses as saying that at the time of the accident, the procession appeared to be traveling at 85 to 100 miles per hour, well over the speed limit of 60.

Bloomberg News quoted a traffic official, Mitsuyoshi Isejima, as saying that the driver suspected of causing the pileup, a 60-year-old self-employed man, could face up to three months in prison or a fine of 100,000 yen, about $1,300.

The police closed the highway for six hours as they cleared away the ruined vehicles. Television footage showed several red Ferraris with bumpers or engine hoods torn off, bodies crumpled. One had plowed nose-first into a guardrail.

Mr. Isejima, for one, had little sympathy.

“It was a gathering of narcissists,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying.

Read & See Picture

The Fun-Vii’s exterior surface is actually a user configurable display.

The Fun-Vii’s skin is actually a massive display that can change its color at will, and display graphics, images, and custom messages for other drivers or bystanders. Toyota gives the visual example of a business using the Fun-Vii to display advertisement livery, but I’d love to be able to quickly throw up a “Back off, chump!” to a tailgater.

The custom graphics aren’t limited to the exterior. Toyota also envisions that large interior display surfaces can add augmented reality functionality to the driving experience while allowing the vehicle’s interior to be “freely adjustable to match the mood of the moment.”

Eye-catching graphics aside, the most interesting bit about the Fun-Vii (Vehicle, Interactive, Internet) concept is that Toyota envisions it would be fully connected to the Internet and to a mobile network of other vehicles. Internet connectivity has the obvious advantages of bringing relevant information to the driver and delivering entertainment content to all of the three-seater’s passengers.

Meanwhile, intervehicle connectivity helps the Fun-Vii to be aware of, for example, a vehicle in its blind spot, the car ahead is making an emergency stop, or other potential road hazard. I’d like to see the day when vehicles could automatically exchange insurance and registration information in the event of a minor fender bender.

The entire interior can be customized to match the driver’s and passengers’ moods.
Of course, most (if not all) of this hypothetical concept car magic will be controllable from outside of the car via smartphone or tablet apps. We’ll have more details as they emerge when the Fun-Vii is unveiled at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.

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New website for is coming soon. Also a new Mobile website for phone users.

Check back for details and pictures.

Los Angeles —The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas was named the Green Car of the Year on Thursday at a ceremony at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The Civic beat out a diverse field of finalists: the Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i, Toyota Prius V and VW Passat with a diesel engine. The finalists, in conjunction with new models and concept cars shown by other automakers, represent virtually the full spectrum of green technology available on the market today.

Michael Accavitti, vice president of marketing for American Honda Motor Co., said of the honor, “This, to Honda, is everything.”

“Environmental awareness is right in our wheelhouse,” he said.

Last year’s winner was the Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid. This year, General Motors Co. had no finalists, nor did Chrysler Group LLC.

The Civic is the fifth-generation model to run on natural gas.

“There is no other vehicle like the Civic Natural Gas on American highways, and this recognition has been a long time coming for Honda,” said Rob Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal.

The Civic Natural Gas debuted in 1998 but was largely a fleet vehicle. A few years ago, Honda started selling some to retail customers in four states. But with the redesigned 2012 model that went on sale last month, the automaker is expanding distribution to 200 dealers in 36 states.

Honda is targeting 2,000 sales a year initially, but expects that to double, Accavitti said of the $26,155 car that gets 38 miles per gallon in highway driving and can be filled at home. A tank of compressed natural gas provides a range of about 240 miles.

The winner was decided by a panel of judges representing the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Futures Society and Global Green USA, as well as talk show host Jay Leno and car icon Carroll Shelby.

At the auto show, Honda showed the new 2013 Fit EV that will go on sale next year as a leased-only vehicle.

BMW AG had two electric car concepts on display: the i3 Series compact electric vehicle and the i8 Series performance coupe.

Both will go into production, said spokesman Dirk Arnold.

The i3 is a four-seater that will be sold both as a pure electric vehicle with a range of about 100 miles and as an extended-range hybrid with a small gasoline engine.

Both versions will go on sale worldwide at the end of 2013.

While the i3 will get conventional seats and doors, the production model will keep the carbon fiber body, aluminum chassis and floating instrument panel from the concept. The lighter body will save 220 to 330 pounds and compensate for the added weight of batteries, Arnold said.

The i8 is a plug-in hybrid that will go about 20 miles on battery power before the 1.5-liter, three-cylinder gas engine kicks in.

It will have the performance of an M3 but get 80 mpg, Arnold said.

It will go on sale in early 2014.

They will all be built in BMW’s Leipzig, Germany, plant.

BMW has an electric version of the 1-Series on sale now, but only 600 to 700 converted coupes will be sold in the U.S. as a field trial to gather data and feedback. The i3 and i8 will be BMW’s long-term electric vehicles.

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News

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