Sunday, December 31, 2006

Green tea and memory

From the BBC, via Kazakhstan (!), comes an article on how drinking green tea can improve your memory.


—Mellow Monk


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Fatherhood: 72 crucial tips

From MSN comes a list of 72 tips for guys on surviving and thriving in fatherhood.


Liberal amounts of humor are injected, but for the most part the advice is dead-on.


38. Children's hobbies to nip quickly in the bud: drums, archery, matchbook collecting.


39. Beware your child's uncles, who will teach your kid dirty words, introduce him to liquor, and give him gifts of drums, archery sets, and possibly matches.


40. It is, of course, your natural right to exert the above negative influences on your siblings' offspring.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cow-pie bingo

To play cow-pie bingo, all you need is a cow, a field marked with grid lines, and cash to bet.





—Mellow Monk


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Make green tea your New Year's resolution

A lot of us make New Year's resolutions, and a lot of those resolutions involve doing something healthy for ourselves. Well, if that's the kind of resolution you had in mind, then I have just the ticket: drinking green tea.


Green tea is a New Year's resolution that is not only healthy, but unlike so many other resolutions, it's easy to keep: Each day, simply brew up some Mellow Monk green tea, kick back, relax, and enjoy the warm, tasty beverage. Make it the centerpiece of daily tea breaks. Do that each day, and you've already gone a long way to adopting a healthy, low-stress lifestyle.


Green tea—easy to brew, good for you, and an easy-to-keep New Year's resolution.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 29, 2006

Panda twins born in Japanese zoo

Mei Mei, a giant panda on loan from China as a goodwill gesture, gave birth to twins at a zoo/amusement park called Adventure World in Wakayama.



Mei Mei with her twins. (In this photo, she's being fed, not muzzled.)


—Mellow Monk


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Green tea + caffeine = negative calories?

The Coca-Cola Company is claiming that its new drink Enviga, whose main ingredients are green tea and caffeine, contains negative calories—by increasing your metabolism, it burns more calories than the drink itself contains.


Claims the company:


The effects of the green tea drinks go beyond those of caffeine-laden zero-calorie sodas, the manufacturers of Celsius and Enviga say. An antioxidant found in green tea - epigallo catechin gallate, or EGCG - significantly increases metabolism, they say. This, in turn, boosts the body's ability to burn fat.

If that's the case, you may as well just drink a lot of green tea, which will boost your metabolism and give you all of the other benefits of green tea but without all of the other chemicals found in bottled drinks like Enviga.



Negative calories? Not so fast, say nutritionists


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Find the way to de-stress that suits you best

There's no one-size-fits-all secret to relieving stress. The trick is to experiment and find what works for you. For instance:

Distraction: See a movie. Go fishing. Stop and smell the roses. Doctors aren’t sure what goes on chemically, but PET scans can measure how it moves your brainwaves into the relaxed alpha state. You’re wide awake but no longer hyper-alert, no longer obsessing about the problem at hand.


Green hair may be part of this woman's stress problems.


—Mellow Monk


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Japan's spoon-feeding robot

As Japan's elderly become a larger and larger portion of the nation's total population, the labor shortage at elder-care facilities threatens to reach a crisis. One response the country is taking is the development of robot technology designed to assist care givers. The latest such technology is a spoon-feeding robot.



The feeding robot


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Green tea and arthritis

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that green tea can help prevent and mitigate arthritis by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown.


—Mellow Monk


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Recovering from post-holiday stress

The run-up to the festivities isn't the only time that the holidays can frazzle our nerves. Post-holiday "disaster relief efforts" can also take their toll on our mental health. This article offers practical tips on how to recover quickly.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Magnet therapy exposed

Magnet therapy is only good for one thing: attracting your money.


—Mellow Monk


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Ruins of modern Japan

Here is a collection of photographs of "urban ruins" in Japan—abandoned hotels, apartment buildings, amusement parks, and whatnot.


Apparently, there are quite a few "fans" of abandoned structures out there.



Reminds me of one of those end-of-the-world movies.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 25, 2006

Man "hibernates" for 3 weeks without food or water

Talk about lucky...


Mitsutaka Uchikoshi disappeared after going to an outdoor barbecue in Japan's Rokko mountains. More than 3 weeks later he was found unconscious, having survived without food or water in what doctors are calling a hibernation-like state.


—Mellow Monk


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Take a news fast

Merry Christmas, everyone!


One stress-busting tip offered by health guru Dr. Andrew Weil is to try a one-day news fast. Take a break from murder, mayhem, and celebrities—read this blog instead!


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Slippers to fight stress

A charity in England is encouraging its employees to wear slippers to work as a way to fight stress.


—Mellow Monk


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Giant squid caught on camera

Japanese researchers have filmed a giant squid alive possibly for the first time ever.


You can view a video here.



This specimen is actually a juvenile—small by giant-squid standards.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Green tea kills bad bacteria but not good bacteria

Tea polyphenols—which green tea has in the greatest abundance—may suppress the growth of harmful bacteria in the human gut, but not the growth of "friendly" bacteria, says a new study.


—Mellow Monk


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Raising a samurai

Here is an interesting article about how Japan's samurai were raised from birth to be proud, fierce warriors.



Off to samurai kindergarten.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 22, 2006

"I'm pregnant" pins on the train

Railway operators in Japan are giving pregnant riders badges that say "I'm pregnant", hoping that this will make other riders more likely to give up their seats to expectant mothers.


There are several factors at work here. One is that pregnant women in Japan are harder to spot nowadays because unlike in the not-too-distant pass, they don't always start wearing baggy maternity outfits the minute they find they're pregnant.


Another factor is the belief that young people today are simply less willing to give up their seats for anyone, but an "I'm pregnant" pin would make the wearer harder to ignore, the logic goes.


Then there's the dietary reality that some Japanese are, ahem, heftier today than in the past thanks to the influx of western-style fast food and whatnot. How's a subway rider to know for sure that a large-bellied woman is really pregnant? A false positive in such situations is highly embarrassing, after all.


Then there's Japan's nation-wide hand-wringing over falling fertility rates. Fewer babies today means fewer workers to pay taxes 30 years from now, and the government is trying all sorts of measures to encourage couples to have more kids. Who knows—for a few women out there debating whether to have a child, improved chances of getting a seat on the train may be a deciding factor.



"Baby on board" is the rough translation.


—Mellow Monk


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Bottoms up, live longer

News that's just in time for the holidays: Italian researchers—bless their little hearts—have found that knocking back a couple of drinks a day will make you live longer. (Note that they said a couple of drinks.)



Mmm. Sure smells healthy.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rare but deadly: tornados in Japan

Tornados are a meteorological rarity in Japan, but last month, Japan's deadliest tornado on record killed nine people in Hokkaido.



A picture of the tornado that tore through the town of Saroma, Hokkaido, on November 7.


—Mellow Monk


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Avoid the stress of holiday shopping

Here is some practical advice that falls under the "holiday stress" sub-category of "how to avoid the stress of holiday shopping." (Does anyone spot a theme in the blog postings of the past few days?)


And of course, when you get home from a gruelling day at the mall, don't forget to unwind with a nice, hot cup of Mellow Monk green tea. (I had to get a plug in there somewhere.)



"Oh no! I forgot the fruitcake for Auntie Em!"


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Green tea fights acne

Forget about expensive ointments and creams: A study presented to the American Academy of Dermatologists has found that ordinary green tea applied directly to the skin works as well as benzoyl peroxide in controlling acne.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Feel better naturally

Alternatives to drugs being investigated by medical researchers include plain old chewing gum instead of antacids, hypnosis instead of anesthesia, and music instead of pain relievers.





—Mellow Monk


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Infrared cooking boosts green tea's benefits

A Korean team of researchers has shown that a tea's concentrations of antioxidants and a host of other desirable chemicals are higher when roasting is done with far-infraread heat lamps instead of using a conventional oven.


The article incorrectly states that "[l]eaves that will become green tea are first roasted to inactivate their enzymes." Actually, green tea is steamed first; roasting is the second step.


Another point requiring clarification: The number-one factor in preserving the antioxidant content of green tea is processing the tea leaves as quickly as possible after harvest. Harvested leaves must be steamed right away to inactivate enzymes (which would otherwise destroy the catechins and other antioxidants) and stop oxidation.


Small-farm green tea like Mellow Monk's is harvested in small batches. Growers harvest only as much as they can steam right away. In contrast, the massive farms that produce what's in your typical mass-market tea harvest tea in large amounts. The sheer weight of the tea alone generates heat inside the pile that speeds up enzyme activity. That, plus the time delays involved in large-scale tea farming, make for lower contents of catechins.


To summarize: The trick to assuring your green tea has lots of catechins is to buy the good stuff—like Mellow Monk Green Tea.



Tea time!


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 18, 2006

The Red Sox learn Japanese

Now that they're going to have Japanese pitching sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka as a teammate, Red Sox starter Curt Schilling and pitching coach John Farrell are learning Japanese.


—Mellow Monk


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American wife of a Japanese politician

Jane Singer Mizuguchi tells what it's like to be the American wife of a Japanese politician [registration is required but free].



"Don't blow this one, honey, or it's going to be a less-than-cheery Christmas."


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sake fights for the right to party

Japanese sake is enjoying increasing popularity outside of Japan, but in the beverage's mother country, brewers are having to fight for market share against the incursions of beer, wine, and other spirits.



Only five bottles of this special sake are allowed to be exported each year.


—Mellow Monk


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Have a green tea party

Some hints for having a green tea party.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 15, 2006

Samurai sword vs. machine gun

This video shows, in super slow motion, a Japanese sword being slowly decimated by machine-gun fire. (Ladies, it's a guy thing.)


As the film shows later on in super-duper slow motion, the first few rounds are actually sliced in half by the sword's sharp, tough edge.


The movie is in Japanese with no English subtitles, but it's pretty self-explanatory.





—Mellow Monk


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Holiday stress and work

The boss pulls you in one direction while your holiday to-do list pulls you in another. What's a dedicated employee to do? This article offers a few hints.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tatami beds

For those of you for whom even the firmest mattress isn't firm enough, you may want to try out a tatami bed.





—Mellow Monk


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Green tea popcorn

How to make green tea popcorn with matcha (powdered green tea).


Hint: To make your own matcha, just put some Mellow Monk loose-leaf green tea in a high-speed food processor and grind it to a powder. (Green tea used in making matcha is grown, harvested, and processed in essentially the same manner as ordinary loose-leaf green tea; the only difference is the powdering process.)



This could easily be Mellow Monk green tea popcorn.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Green Tea Library online

Nadine Taylor, dietitian and author of Green Tea, an excellent little book that summarizes everything you need to know about green tea, has started the website called Green Tea Library. It's chock full of information about the benefits of green tea, including links to studies published online.





—Mellow Monk


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Eating at a sushi restaurant: a how-to video

This very funny (but in a subtle way) video about all the etiquette one needs to know when dining at a traditional Japanese sushiya (sushi restaurant).


I posted this a year ago, but not only is it still funny, but last year's link is broken anyway, so here you are again. The film's in Japanese with English subtitles.


The film pokes fun at real customs, but some of the elements are just flat-out untrue, such as the part about wearing the sushi geta on your feet.





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Green tea and high-fiber cereal: a healthy, filling snack for dieters

Cynthia Herringa rises at 4:30 a.m. and starts her job as a nurse at 6:30 a.m. By 10:30 a.m., hunger starts to set in. So as a healthy but filling snack, she munches on high-fiber cereal while sipping green tea. "It really helps to fill me up," she says.


—Mellow Monk


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Nissan announces plans for hydrogen car

Japanese automaker Nissan has announced plans to market a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered car by the early 2010s.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 11, 2006

Green tea, breast cancer, and estrogen levels

In this study, a group of University of Southern California medical researchers who had previously "provided the first set of human evidence that breast cancer risk is significantly inversely associated with tea intake, largely confined to intake of green tea," investigated one possible reason for the lower incidence of breast cancer among green tea drinkers: estrogen levels in the blood.


The study found that postmenopausal women who drank green tea regularly had a statistically significant lower (13%) level of estrogen in their bloodstream than women who drank tea irregularly or not at all. (Women who drank black tea regularly had 19% higher estrogen levels.)


—Mellow Monk


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Eat slowly, lose weight

A recent study verifies that women who eat slowly tend to lose weight.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Monk is looking for affiliates

I'm looking for webmasters who'd like to become Mellow Monk affiliates. If you're interested, please drop me a line (affiliates at mellowmonk dot com).


—Mellow Monk


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Yoga to overcome stress and pain

Here is the story of a woman who experienced relief from stress and pain with yoga. After knee-replacement surgery, she switched to restorative yoga and got good results with that, too.


—Mellow Monk


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Embarrassment discourages exercise

This is news?


Fitness exports report that a major reason people put off going to the gym is embarrassment.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Green tea improves blood lipid levels

From nutraingredients-usa.com:

Regular consumption of the antioxidant-rich green tea could reduce blood lipid levels and cut the risk of developing heart disease, suggests a small trial from Portugal.

—Mellow Monk


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Tokyo subway riders get their vinegar fix

In Japan, kurozu (black vinegar) is becoming so popular among health-conscious folks that a vinegar bar has opened up in the Shimbashi subway station in Tokyo.


Here is a detailed page on the health benefits of vinegar.





—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Beatles slept here" hotel in Tokyo to be demolished

John, Paul, George, and Ringo stayed in the presidential suite of the Tokyo Hilton during their 1966 concert tour of Japan. This summer, to capitalize on the 40th anniversary of the Fab Four's only visit to Japan, the Capitol Tokyu Hotel (as it was later renamed) restored the suite to the way it looked back in '66.


But this past Wednesday was the last day of operation for the 43-year-old hotel, which is slated to be torn down to make way for a 29-story building complex.


Here is a page of pictures and information about The Beatles' 1966 Japan tour.



With the wrecking ball on its way, you can almost hear the old hotel crying "Help!"


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Don't put milk in your green tea!

...if you want to preserve your tea's antioxidant properties, that is.


A study done in Italy found that when mixed with cow's milk, both green and black tea completely lost their antioxidant effects inside the body.


The researchers theorize that this destruction of antioxidant properties is from the proteins in the milk binding to the tea's polyphenols.


Incidentally, it was also found that green tea is six times as potent as black tea when it comes to disease-fighting antioxidant effects.


—Mellow Monk


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"Last Emperor" composer's messy divorce

Ryuichi Sakamoto, called the first Japanese musician to achieve international fame (if you're not counting Kitaro, that is), is known for the soundtrack to the 1987 film The Last Emperor. Now he's making news again in Japan because of a messy divorce from actress Akiko Yano.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, December 04, 2006

Ease headaches with accupuncture and exercise

Physical therapists in Sweden claim that acupuncture, exercise, and other non-drug therapies can be used to successfuly treat chronic tension headaches.



It's really not as painful as it looks.


—Mellow Monk


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Japanese bureacrats to blog their diets

Two vice-ministers of Japan's Ministry of Health have publicly pledged to lose about 10 pounds and will even blog about their slimming efforts.





—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Japan to get a jury system

After an absence of over 60 years, Japan is planning to institute an American-style jury system to decide criminal cases in the country's courts. (Currently, verdicts are decided by three-judge panels.)


—Mellow Monk


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Green tea helps treat radiation-induced skin damage

A study published in the journal BMC Medicine has concluded that compounds found in abundance in green tea "work as an effective treatment for patients who suffer from damaged skin following radiation treatment for cancer."


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Another green tea vodka

Just in time for Saturday night: Charbay, a "family winery and micro-distillery," has released a green tea vodka.


You can read a review (and get a cocktail recipe) here.


If anyone tries it, please let me know what you think.





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, December 01, 2006

The Zuni-Japan connection

The Zuni language, spoken by a Native American people in New Mexico and Arizona, is considered a "language isolate"—a language that linguistically is completely unrelated to any other known language (or at least no general consensus exists among linguists as to which linguistic family the language in question belongs).


A common explanation for language isolates such as Zuni and Basque is that the prehistoric speakers of the language had originally colonized a much larger area but were later wiped out or assimilated—except for a small enclave—by another people who spoke a different language. In short, the speakers of the language isolate are the descendents of that small surviving enclave.


However, in her book The Zuni Enigma, anthropologist Nancy Yaw Davis proposes a much more radical theory for the Zuni people's linguistic and other differences from surrounding Native American peoples: Their language and culture are the result of a merger with a group of thirteenth-century Japanese pilgrims.


The theory is controversial to say the least, but there you are.


You can read can excerpt of The Zuni Enigma online.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sachiko's guide to cooking with a microwave oven

Sachiko Murakami has an extensive, well-organized website on cooking with a microwave oven—and not just nuking a burrito, either. Her site has recipes for full-fledged dishes, such as "spicy tofu" (see below).





—Mellow Monk


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Japanese fiddle player In Branson, MO

Shoji Tabuchi came to America from Japan 30 years ago with not much more than his fiddle and a love for country music. Now he has his own theater in Branson, Missouri, and of course a website.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Boost your energy naturally

When your energy level is low, here is a list of ways to give yourself a boost naturally.


The clearly clued-in people who put together this list include green tea, which can give your system a healthy but mellow boost.





—Mellow Monk


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Give your bedroom a sleep-inducing makeover

To get a better night's sleep, you don't need to buy an expensive bed. Instead, there are simple, easy ways to make over your bedroom into a more sleep-friendly environment.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dolls for Japan's elderly

In Japan, toymakers are scrambling to find new customers for their products in the face of falling birth rates and a shrinking population.


An important new market for toys is the elderly. For instance, a talking toy doll has become a big hit among elderly women.


Then there is elder-care technology that goes beyond the realm of mere toys.





—Mellow Monk


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Dairy industry discovers green tea's anti-browning properties

Add this to the list of uses being found for green tea polyphenols: as an additive to naturally prevent browning in dairy products.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, November 27, 2006

Relatives still hunt for Japanese war dead

A grim but engaging story:

Iwabuchi Nobuteru has visited New Guinea more than 200 times over the past 40 years -- not to relax on a tropical beach but to look for human remains.




—Mellow Monk


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Japanese archaeologists get their Mojos working

Deep the Amazonian jungle, a team of Japanese archaeologists has found a veritable treasure trove of relics of the long-lost Mojo (also spelled "Moxo") civilization.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Extreme ironing in Japan

The newest extreme sport in Japan: extreme ironing.



He must be using a veeeery long extension cord.


—Mellow Monk


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Traveling to Japan on business?

Richard Quest offers a concise list of tips for business travelers going to Japan.


What really surprised me (in a good way) the last time I was in Japan is one of the things on this list: ATMs at the Japanese Post Office now accept foreign ATM cards. Since the Post Office has more branches than all of Japan's banks put together, this is an incredibly convenient way to get cash.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Anyone for a green tea shvitz?

"Hakone Kowakien Yunessun" may be a mouthful, but it's a fairly impressive-looking spa resort. One of the dozen or so spas there is a green tea spa, pictured below.





—Mellow Monk


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Pass the cranberry sauce

Happy Thanksgiving!


Today, be sure to have an extra helping of cranberries—they're good for you!


Speaking of Thanksgiving, you know what's really nice after a big, heavy meal? A nice, warm cup of green tea.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Retired husband syndrome

In Japan, throngs of men once married to their jobs are retiring to stay home all day and drive their wives crazy.



Mrs. Terakawa deals with Retired Husband Syndrome (RHS) by collecting teddy bears (which is probably better than throttling Mr. Terakawa).


—Mellow Monk


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Tokyo's massive storm drain system

By way of Digg.com: some stunning photos of Tokyo's underground storm drain system. The photo below shows what's termed a "storm surge chamber."


On the photo page, click on the left and right arrows in the bottom corners to view other pics.



"What? A storm drain, you say? I thought this was modern art."


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, November 20, 2006

Massage away the knots

A Theracane is a great way to give yourself a massage. Even a good, old-fashioned walking cane will do if you have one.


One caveat: I've never bought from any of these Froogle.com merchants, but I can vouch for the Theracane itself—it's great.





—Mellow Monk


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Meditate the stress away

From the Miami Herald:

Before Mira Bergen starts her hectic day of meetings, phone calls and site visits, the commercial real estate broker enjoys quiet before the storm.


I could not live without meditating," said Bergen, who began in 1981 and says the 20 minutes each morning helps keep her focused. "If I miss it, it's like not brushing my teeth."

—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The fire-extinguisher jetpack

It's a universal guy thing—the desire to strap something to your back and take to the skies.


A Japanese TV show similar to America's "MythBusters" tested the idea that it might be possible to create a jetpack from multiple fire extinguishers. (You can fast-forward through the movie by click-dragging the status bar at the bottom.)


Kids, don't try this at home!


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, November 17, 2006

Japan at a crossroads

Japan is at another crossroads: The economy is finally picking up, but the population as a whole is getting older, and China is taking Japan's title as manufacturer for the world. The number-one topic among the country's pundits is what the new national identity can or should be.


Will Japan's new prime minister—the first born after World War II—help the country "find itself"?



"I have a question. Shouldn't the dark fabric be used for the underarm area?"


—Mellow Monk


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Japan's robot wine steward

The Japanese are trying to come up with a robot that can tell good wines from bad and even recommend a cheese to go with your wine selection.


(It looks like eventually, the only job left for people will be to drink the wine and eat the cheese.)


But here's the funny part: At the unveiling, a wise-alleck reporter stuck his hand into the robot, which identified the human flesh as ... bacon.





—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Green tea for your skin

Green tea is being used in more and more skin-care products.


But there's an easier, less expensive way to give your skin the benefits of green tea: Take some cooled-down green tea and splash it on your face, then pat-dry the excess. After you face dries, it will feel clean, soft, and smooth.


—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Red Sox pony up $50M for Matsuzaka

The other day I reported that the winning American bid for Japanese pitching sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka was in the $30 million range, but those rumors were off by about $20 million. The Red Sox will pay his current team $50 millionand that's just for negotiation rights.



"So, how much per pitch does that come out to?"


—Mellow Monk


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Tsunami warning in Japan

From CNN.com:

Tsunami alerts issued after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck near Japan's northern coast have been lifted, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.




These folks weren't taking any chances—they got to high ground.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A pretty pair pummel presenteeism

"Presenteeism," a play on the word "absenteeism," refers to productivity lost on the job due to stress and other health reasons. Two British consultants have made a career of helping a company's employees figure out how to reduce stress in their lives.


This shows what a huge industry the whole "stress reduction" business has become. A much less expensive alternative is drinking Mellow Monk green tea.





—Mellow Monk


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A permanent tea infuser for green tea

Amazon.com has a good selection of permanent tea filters/infusers. Click here to check out the one shown below.


Permanent infusers are about the easiest way there is to brew loose-leaf tea. (You provide the cup or mug, and no teapot is required.) You place the infuser (sometimes called a filter) into your favorite cup or mug, drop a three-fingered pinch of Mellow Monk tea inside, pour in hot (but not just-boiled) water, wait three minutes and—voila—tea time!


It's a good idea to have a saucer ready so that you can place the infuser/filter on it when you're done brewing (otherwise, it will drip on your desk or counter or wherever you are brewing tea).





—Mellow Monk


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Angel doggie

The Angel Doggie website has been redesigned.


The artist who runs the site, Galen Hazelhofer, specializes in animal portraits, including "angelized" paintings of pets who have gone on, but she paints other subjects, too.





—Mellow Monk


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Monday, November 13, 2006

Japan's ghost pitcher to come to U.S.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is one of Japan's hottest baseball pitchers. He throws a pitch known as the gyroball, also known as the "ghost pitch," which is said to be the first new pitch in baseball since the split-fingered fastball.


Tonight or tomorrow, he'll announce which U.S. team he'll be playing for. The winning bid is reportedly in the $30 million range.





—Mellow Monk


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Coping with stress uncovers a real gift

Ivabelle Bernabe, 47, took up painting as a stress-relieving activity and found she had a real gift for it.


My own father, who had always been a "shower singer," discovered amateur theater after retiring. Today, he sings in a local musical revue that raises money for charity. He loves it.


Who knows what secret skill might be lying dormant inside you?


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Maneki-neko, the beckoning cat of good fortune

Cat Fancy magazine ran an article on the origins of Japan's maneki neko, the ubiquitous beckoning-cat statue.


According to legend, the tradition dates back to a real-life cat who beckoned a famous general away from a spot where lightning struck the ground only seconds later.


I, however, had always imagined a different origin for the tradition. Anyone who knows cats know that occasionally they really do what looks like a beckoning gesture. In the Japan of old, shopkeepers often kept cats who earned their keep by catching rats. Perhaps one particular shopkeeper's cat sat in front of the store doing that cute beckoning gesture, attracting people to the shop and thereby filling up the shopkeeper's till. And the rest, as they say, is history. Perhaps.



"I swear, ma'am, 'twas not me what gone an' ate that katsuoboshi."


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The cost of talking in your sleep

Talking in one's sleep is considered medically harmless, but that depends on what you say while asleep.


—Mellow Monk


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A Japanese robot who's here to serve us

Here's a video of a creepily realistic robot speaking to a throng of reporters.


The dialog is in Japanese, without subtitles, but what "she" is essentially saying is that she's a super-realistic "actroid," how difficult she was to develop, that her realism is thanks to something called air-servo system technology, and that she's here to serve humankind.


Hey, doesn't that last line sound like something out of a "Twilight Zone" episode?





—Mellow Monk


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Friday, November 10, 2006

Procreation vacation

What with all the stress and distractions that today's couples face, many are opting for procreation vacations.


The concept has long existed in Japan, where it's called kozukuri ryoko (literally "baby-making trip"), and where the practice no doubt got started because of the small size and thin walls of the traditional Japanese home—and the tradition of eldest sons living with mom and dad after marriage.


—Mellow Monk


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Green tea is the best source of caffeine, says doctor

At AnOunceOfPrevention.org, Dr. Tony Vendryes states that green tea is the best source of caffeine.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Woman in the Dunes

I found a well-written review of the 1964 Japanese film classic, Woman in the Dunes. I've re-watched it recently and can attest that it's a unique and engaging film that still holds up today.





—Mellow Monk


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Japan's monks hustle to grow their congregations

In response to falling attendance, monks at Japan's Buddhist temples are
getting creative:

... inside the Buddhist Komyoji temple, one of many across Japan offering new services -- concerts, discos, yoga classes -- in a struggle to stay relevant despite an increasingly secular society.

By the way, although the name "Mellow Monk" is a reference to one of the first monks to bring the practice of growing and brewing green tea to Japan from China, Mellow Monk is not affiliated with any religious organization.





—Mellow Monk


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