Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Video of modern geisha

Today must be geisha day.


And with Memoirs of a Geisha generating so much interest in Japan's geishas, even National Geographic is getting into the act.


Here is a short video on the not-so-glamorous life of a modern geisha.


—Mellow Monk


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Honest-to-goodness geisha photos

On his website, photographer Frantisek Staud has some very well-done photographs of real-life geishas and maikos in Kyoto, Japan.



—Mellow Monk


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Monday, January 30, 2006

Mellow Monk is officially green!

On January 18, 2006, Mellow Monk was officially certified as a green business under the San Francisco Bay Area Green Business Program.


As such, we are now listed in the program's Green Business Listing.


—Mellow Monk


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My comment on "desserts in Asia"

I'll just go ahead and paste my comment on that Marginal Revolution posting I mentioned earlier today. Here goes.
---------

Japan is another Asian country with no comparable tradition of post-dinner sweets. People there snack on a wide variety of cookies, crackers, other treats, but in general the Japanese have much less of a sweet tooth than Americans do. (I've yet to come across a Japanese who could, say, eat an entire American-sized Snickers bar.) Although every new generation of young people in Japan seems to have a higher tolerance for rich, European- or American-style sweets, this is still a recent phenomenon. Traditional Japanese candy (wagashi), with few exceptions, doesn’t even approach the sugar content of even old-fashioned (let alone modern) American sweet treats such as ice cream, cola, cakes, and pies, etc. Even Japanese versions of imported confections register lower on the sweet-o-meter. (Ever tried Japanese chocolate? Most of it tastes like soft wax with some chocolate mixed in.)


The ultimate reason could be that until recently in historical terms, the Japanese diet was high in carbs (rice) and vegetables but low in protein—fish and meat were considered the ultimate gastronomic treat, not high-sugar-content desserts. This also explains the postwar explosion in sushi shops: fish so fresh that you can eat it raw was, before that, a luxury affordable only the very well-to-do. So, after industrialization, people began eating more sushi and more beef. (But still not at American levels. Until Japan began importing more beef in the last 10-15 years, it was much more expensive than in America and at many households was—and still is—a special treat reserved for company or other special occasions.) It could be that our sweet-tooth gene kicks in only after long-term protein intake reaches a certain level. Historically, perhaps Europeans, with supplies of beef and other animal protein more ample than what was generally available to Asians, could then move on to the next step: sugar.


—Mellow Monk


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Sweets in the typical Japanese diet

Today I read a posting at Marginal Revolution (an economics-themed blog) that poses the question: Why don't Asian restaurants have good desserts?


As in the case of most such cultural differences, the answer can be found in economic realities going back far into the culture's historical past.


Anyway, here is the reply I posted on the MR website. (Do a page find for "Mellow Monk" if your browser doesn't scroll down the page to my comment.)


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Kangaroo green tea

In a previous posting I mentioned Australian-grown green tea whose peculiar taste turned out to be due to wayward eucalyptus leaves that found their way into the tea plants before harvest.


A few days after seeing the above article, I ran across an announcement in the New York Times [registration required but free] of green tea grown in Australia by Japanese beverage company Ito En and sold at its store in New York.


It's interesting that Ito En cites a "lack of arable land in Japan" as its reason for cultivating tea in Australia. But there are plenty of small tea farms in Japan, and they're having a harder and harder time finding domestic buyers for their tea. The reason is all about money: a large-scale tea operation in a country where land is cheap allows the beverage company to spend less money on the tea and more on packaging and advertising.


—Mellow Monk


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"Language Geek" blog

Tea customer and blog reader Mary has a blog about languages: Language Geek, also published at linguageek.net.


Cat fanciers should also check out her cat blog at neko.com. ("Neko" means cat in Japanese.)


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Stress kills, being mellow saves

The British Medical Journal reports the results of a study showing that employees with chronic work stress were twice as likely as their mellow coworkers to have or develop "metabolic syndrome," meaning high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other factors that increase a person's likelihood of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.


—Mellow Monk


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A blogger in Kagoshima, Japan

A reader named Mirai, who lives in Kagoshima, Japan, has her own blog about Japanese culture. The latest posting is about the modern sushi experience in Japan today. It's an interesting read and there are lots of fun links.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, January 27, 2006

Cooking with lava

This was so off the wall, I just had to post it: step-by-step instructions on how to bake a game hen with hot lava.


—Mellow Monk


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Look, ma, no cables!

Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corporation says it will construct, in an office building in Tokyo, the world's first-ever mag-lev elevator—a cable-less system that uses the power of magnetic attraction and repulsion to move an elevator car up and down.


—Mellow Monk


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Landscapes of the East and West

Leping Zha, a Ph.D. physicist, also takes photographs on the side. His online galleries include mountainscapes (top photo) and a meta-category called "Visual Symphony" (bottom photo).


So pour yourself a nice, hot cup of Mellow Monk green tea and sip away as you enjoy the mellowness-inducing photograhs.






—Mellow Monk


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A week as a waiter

It's Friday, so what the heck. Time for things amusing and frivolous.


New York Times food critic Frank Bruni spent a week waiting tables at a bustling restaurant to see what it's like "on the other side of the table" [registration required but free].


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dr. Roizen on "biological age"

Newsweek interviewed anti-aging guru Dr. Michael Roizen on biological versus chronological age, and about being a smart patient.


Dr. Roizen has built an entire industry of self-help books and whatnot centered on biological age, or RealAge, as the concept and the company built around it is known. RealAge CEO Charles Silver says one way he lowered his RealAge was by drinking green tea.


—Mellow Monk


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Beautiful China pictures

This page has about a dozen beautiful photos taken in China. This first one on the page is shown below.


There are no captions or any other accompanying text—just these amazing pictures, perfect viewing for a mellow break.





—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More on Omega-3 and smart babies

Here is a slightly more detailed article on the link between children's intelligence and their mothers' prenatal consumption of oily fish containing Omega-3 fatty acids.

[T]he finding is particularly pertinent because existing dietary advice to pregnant women, at least in America, is that they should limit their consumption of seafood in order to avoid exposing their fetuses to trace amounts of brain-damaging methyl mercury. Ironically, that means they avoid one of the richest sources of omega-3s.

—Mellow Monk


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Green tea toothpaste!?

It had to happen eventually—someone has come out with green tea toothpaste.


The toothpaste contains extracts of green tea, which contains substances shown to inhibit the bacteria that causes tooth decay.


If that's the case, you may as well drink the real thing and get all the health benefits of green tea.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, January 23, 2006

Aerial photograph or monster movie model?

"It's often hard to convince people that Olivo Barbieri's aerial photographs are real. They look uncannily like hyperdetailed models, absent the imperfections of reality."


—Mellow Monk


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Oily fish makes for smart babies?

Previous studies have suggested that kids do better in school when they've been eating more fish, especially oily fish rich in the essential fatty acid Omega-3.


Now, another study suggests that this brain-boosting effect is also conferred on children while still in the womb. In other words, pregnant mothers who eat plenty of Omega-3-rich fish give birth to babies who grow up to do better in the classroom.


—Mellow Monk


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Dear diary: Today I named a planet

This interesting story starts way back in 1930, when a bright and studious but nonetheless ordinary little girl named Venetia Phair passed on her suggestion for the name of a planet just discovered beyond Neptune. Her suggestion eventually worked its way to the men charged with deciding on the name.


Today, that planet is still known by the name Venetia suggested and the Royal Astronomical Society accepted—Pluto. And, as 87-year-old Venetia reminds us today, the name is from Greek mythology, not Disney.


I came across this article yesterday while searching the Web for Pluto-related articles for my son, who I would swear said he was doing a planet report on Pluto. But it turns out he didn't say "Pluto." He has to do a report on Venus, and "Venus" is what he said yesterday.


Back to the drawing board...


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, January 22, 2006

The future empress?

Japan moved yet another step closer to making Princess Aiko next in line for the Imperial throne after her father, the Crown Prince, gets his turn.


Aiko is the little girl in the photo below.



—Mellow Monk


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Tea cola

The Tocklai Tea Experimentation Center in Assam, India, has just released two new types of "tea cola," one made with green tea and one with black tea.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, January 20, 2006

Dr. Perricone's good news about green tea

Health and anti-aging guru Dr. Nicolas Perricone writes about green tea's ability to help prevent Alzheimer's disease. (The article, "More good news for tea drinkers," is located near the bottom of the page. Or, click here for a printer-friendly version of the article by itself.)


Dr. Perricone also writes:


Perricone readers know that I have long advocated replacing that cup of coffee with tea—especially green tea. If you have not yet introduced green tea into your daily regimen, consider the following fascinating facts:

  • Although black and green tea hail from the same plant (Latin names of the species are Camellia thea, Thea sinensis or Camellia sinesis), only green tea also obstructed the activity of beta-secretase, which plays a role in the production of protein deposits in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease.
  • The positive effects of green tea lasted for an entire week, while the enzyme-inhibiting properties of black tea only lasted for one day.
  • Coffee has no effect on these enzymes.


—Mellow Monk


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Snake befriends lunch

A zookeeper at Japan's Mutsugoro Okoku Zoo was worried about a rat snake that had lost its appetite. The snake, named Aochan, was refusing to eat the frozen mice he was giving it, so the zookeeper decided to give Aochan a special treat—a live hamster. But Aochan didn't eat the hamster. Instead, the two "developed an unusual bond" and now share a cage together.




—Mellow Monk


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Verify those homeopathic remedies

The website Homeowatch.org calls itself "Your Skeptical Guide to Homeopathic History, Theories, and Current Practices." From the site's main page:

Homeopathic "remedies" are usually harmless, but their associated misbeliefs are not. When people are healthy, it may not matter what they believe. But when serious illness strikes, false beliefs can lead to disaster. This Web site provides information about homeopathy that is difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. The bottom line is that it is senseless and does not work.

—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Comedy films are good for the heart

In a study conducted at the University of Maryland, watching comedy films was found to increase bloodflow to the heart in nearly all the participants. The effect was "equivalent to starting a course of heart treatment drugs called statins.


—Mellow Monk


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It's never too late

Research shows that exercise can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly by up to 40 percent.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

You are what your grandpa ate

Recent work in the field of epigenetics is finding that the food we eat and the air we breathe today not only affect us but could also affect the genes of our future children and even our grandchildren.


—Mellow Monk


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Downtime

Time magazine is running an article titled "Help! I've Lost by Focus!", part of a special report titled "How to Tune up Your Brain."


A couple of highlights:


When a New York Times reporter interviewed several recent winners of MacArthur "genius" grants, a striking number said they kept cell phones and iPods off or away when in transit so that they could use the downtime for thinking.

And:

Personal-finance guru Suze Orman, despite an exhausting array of media and enterpreneurial commitments, utterly refuses to check messages, answer her phone, or allow anything else to come between her and whtever she's working on. "I do one thing at a time," she says. "I do it well, and then I move on."

This reminds me of an article I linked to in a previous posting about the importance of downtime—which doesn't mean watching TV, but rather uninterrupted time alone for deep thinking or quiet contemplation.


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, January 16, 2006

The most unconventional temple in Japan?

British designer Thomas Heatherwick was asked by a Buddhist priest to design a temple for his sect. The photo below is of a model of the temple, which is being constructed in Kagoshima Prefecture, at the southern end of Japan's island of Kyushu.




—Mellow Monk


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The Japanese word "freeter"

In the Japanese language there is a category of words called Wasei Eigo—made-in-Japan English. These words seem like English but were actually coined in Japan, usually to fill some void in Japanese.


Sometimes these words even combine part of an English word with part of a word from a third language. One example is the word freeter, which was made by combining the English word "free" with the t-e-r ending from the German word Arbeiter (worker).


The word is close in meaning to "job-hopper" in that it refers to a young person who, instead of finding steady work after high school or college, bounces around from one low-paying, low-skill (and often temporary) job to the next, such as handing out pamphlets on a street corner.


According to the Japanese version of Wikipedia, the word was coined in 1987 by the editor-in-chief of a popular part-time job listing but has since entered the public lexicon. It's even used in government statistics, in which (according to Sanseido's "Daily Dictionary of New Words" at www.goo.ne.jp) a freeter is defined as "a part-time worker between 15 and 34 years old who, in the case of a man, has worked less than 5 years in continuous employment, or, in the case of a woman, is unmarried and for whom work is her primary endeavor." (It's telling that the definition distinguishes between men and women.)


Some pundits try to put a positive spin on the term, saying that the recent rise in the freeter population is a result of the "diversification" of employment, and suggesting that young people are becoming "freeters" voluntarily as a way to have more time to pursue music, art, or other interests. (Remember, the term was coined by a job-listing magazine, and the word "free" has a much rosier connotation than "dead-end job.")


But the reality is that freeters are the product of a Japanese economy that isn't nearly the powerhouse it was during the high-growth period that began shortly after the war and lasted all the way through the 1980s. (Only now is Japan's economy finally beginning to emerge from a decade of stagnation ushered in by the popping of the inflated-asset bubble in 1990.) In those heady days, not only did most graduates find work right out of school, but many of those young people would stay with their first employer for life. But the days of nearly universal lifetime employment—and finding it right out of school, yet!—are gone.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Japanese versions of American video game covers

My kids got a kick out of this one: a side-by-side comparison of the covers of the American and Japanese versions of the same PlayStation games. These games were originally developed for the American market, but the covers were redesigned as part of localization for Japan.


—Mellow Monk


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Organic: when it's worth it and when it isn't

The Consumer Reports offers recommendations about which foods are best bought organic and which ones aren't really worth the extra price.


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ford and a geisha

Speaking of Memoirs of a Geisha, here are photos of then-President Gerald Ford (and a couple of other familiar faces) being entertained by real-life geisha during a 1974 state visit to Japan.



—Mellow Monk


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Serving up delicious noodles for 300 years

In the photo below Mrs. Asaka Igata is making somen (thin Japanese noodles made from wheat flower) at her shop in the town of Nankan in Kumamoto Prefecture (where Mellow Monk green tea is from).



Notice how thin the strands are. This is why somen is often called Japanese vermicelli. Mrs. Igata says her somen is so thin that, when dry, five strands can fit through a pinhole.


The article [in Japanese only] about Mrs. Igata's shop states that the town of Nankan has been known throughout the region for its tasty somen since the days of the samurai—which is also when the Igatas' shop opened: Mrs. Igata and her husband are the 9th generation to run the shop since it first opened for business roughly 300 years ago.


Historical sites to see in Nankan include a restored teahouse originally built in 1852. The teahouse, shown in the picture below, served as a stop-over point for local daimyo (fuedal lords), samurai, and other big shots traveling to or from Edo (as Tokyo was called then).



The town's website also has a slideshow of local scenery.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, January 13, 2006

Green tea, hold the Tiger Balm, please

Taste testers in Japan trying out green tea imported from Australia noticed something strange about the tea. It just didn't taste right. The peculiar flavor in the tea was later determined to be eucalyptus.


The growers theorized that wind-blown leaves from nearby eucalyptus trees probably become lodged in the tea plants and were subsequently harvested and processed along with the tea leaves.


—Mellow Monk


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100 things we didn't know

Here's a nice distraction: the BBC's list of 100 things we didn't know at this time last year.


—Mellow Monk


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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Kumamoto City promotes local agriculture and healthy eating

With the twin goals of supporting local agriculture and promoting healthier meals at local restaurants, the city of Kumamoto, Japan, has started a "Certified Healthy Restaurant" program.

(Kumamoto City is the capital of Kumamoto Prefecture, where Mellow Monk green tea comes from.)


To quality for certification, a restaurant has to meet four requirements:


  1. Nutritional facts for each dish are printed on the menu
  2. Customers can make "healthy adjustments" to a dish, such as a smaller portion of rice
  3. Locally produced ingredients, such as vegetables and meat, are used
  4. A no-smoking section is established, or smoking is banned altogether

Certified restaurants get to display this sign:




which reads "This is a can-do restaurant" [big letters] when it comes to health [smaller letters]."


The article [in Japanese only] from which the picture was taken states that so far 65 restaurants in town have been certified. The program expects to certify roughly 100 restaurants per year and plans to expand from just restaurants to food-processing plants, convenience stores, and other food-related operations.


—Mellow Monk


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Japanese-style B&B in Virginia

At the Pembroke Springs Retreat in northern Virginia, you can soak away the stress in the large ofuro (bath) at this authentic Japanese ryokan (traditional inn).


Just looking at this photo makes me long for a nice, soothing dip in the muscle-relaxing hot water. Even in this day of high-tech gadgetry, a hot bath is still one of the best ways to relieve the day's stress.




—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Stretch your green

A blog reader asks about double-steeping. Yes, it's perfectly fine to steep green tea leaves twice. That way, you're stretching your green—squeezing out as much of the "good stuff" as possible and getting your money's worth.


In Japan, many folks, especially in the country, brew their tea "family style," making a big pot of tea and adding more hot water and tea leaves a little at a time as the pot is depleted.


When steeping your tea for the second time, try using water that's a little hotter (but not too hot), or let the leaves steep a little longer than you would the first time around. Or do both, depending on how much tea you used and whether you prefer your tea on the strong or weak side.


—Mellow Monk


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Japan's demographics

Japan's population is not only starting to shrink, but it's getting older, too: the proportion of the population over 65 years of age is now 19%, the highest in the world.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Archery festival as an offering for peace

The Fujisaki Hachiman Shrine in Kumamoto City, Japan, recently held its Izarisai, an archery festival held every year at this time as an offering for peace and bountiful crops in the new year.






In the festival, a total of eight archers shoot two arrows each. The more bull's-eyes they get, the better everyone's luck will be that year, supposedly, so you can bet these archers practice seriously in the weeks leading up to the festival.


The Izarisai is said to trace its roots back to a celebration of the driving off, in the year 935, of the rebel general Taira no Masakado, who tried (unsuccessfully) to launch an uprising against the state. (See a picture of his grave here.)


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, January 09, 2006

Ai Miyazato celebrates her 20th

Remember that previous posting about Japanese female golfer Ai Miyazato?


Well, here she is, in Okinawa with her parents, decked out in a kimono for Japan's traditional coming-of-age ceremony (seijinshiki). The ceremony is held in January for everyone turning 20 that year and marks the passage from child to adult.




Officially, the Seijin-no-Hi (Coming-of-Age Day) holiday is today (January 9), but a lot of 20-year-olds who've left the nest will celebrate it when they're already home for a visit during the New Year's holiday, so that they can celebrate with their old friends.


—Mellow Monk


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Magnetic therapy shown ineffective

A study has shown that those magnetic bracelets that some people wear to relieve pain just don't work.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Princess emerges from seclusion

Japan's Princes Masako, wife of the crown prince (i.e., the guy next in line for emperor), seems to be emerging from seclusion, judging by the appearances she's been making at official events lately.


Rumor has it that her nearly complete vanishment from the public eye over the past two years was due to depression, brought on, it was said, by the rigors and tediousness of palace life (she was a diplomat before she married) and pressure to produce a male heir. (It is this absence of a male heir that has spawned debate over the eventual succession crisis.)

The picture below shows the entire royal family, taken in December 2005.




—Mellow Monk


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Green schemes

Britain's Department of Trade and Industry has selected the Top 10 green schemes—the best "for leading the way in cutting carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy."


—Mellow Monk


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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Dangerous if true

The Edge Foundation, an out-of-the-ordinary think tank, is, as it does every year, posing a deep question to its members. For 2006, the question is, "What idea do you think would be dangerous if true?"


Here are the replies.


An idea that appealed to me is UC Davis ophthalmologist and neurobiologist Leo Chalupa's: that "what's needed to attain optimal brain performance ... is a 24-hour period of absolute solitude."


In this harried, hustle-and-bustle world of cellphones, 24-hour TV, video games, computers, long commutes, and whatnot, time spent in quiet contemplation is becoming harder to get but even more important for our emotional well-being.


Now, 24 hours is a long time, but let's remember that every little bit helps, even a 5-minute do-nothing break here and there.


—Mellow Monk


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New Year's panoramas

Here are panoramic views of New Year's Eve celebrations around the world.


—Mellow Monk


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Friday, January 06, 2006

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Praying for prosperity

At Tokyo's Kanda Shrine on January 4, businessmen flocked to receive a special blessing for prosperous business in '06.


On this day, considered the official start of business (shigotohajime) in the new year, roughly three thousand companies sent representatives to the shrine, which is located close to the business districts of Ohtemachi and Marunouchi.



—Mellow Monk


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Cellphones and stress

According to a study reported in the Journal of Marriage and Family, cellphones worsen stress, primarily by blurring the boundary between home and work.

Interviews with working couples — many with children — revealed that cellphone use tends to decrease family satisfaction and increase distress. "People felt they couldn't turn them off," says Noelle Chesley, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who conducted the study. "I couldn't find evidence of benefits."

—Mellow Monk


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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Japanese retiring to the Philippines

Many elderly Japanese are retiring to the Philippines, where their yen go further. These retirees are buying not just condos but even space in retirement homes there.


Related to this trend is a labor shortage arising from falling birth rates:folks over 60 are making up a larger and larger percentage of Japan's population as the country's baby boomers get older. As a result, there are more people in the old folks homes but a shrinking labor pool from which to hire people to work there. One solution is to "export" the aged. Another solution that Japan is pursuing is robotics.


—Mellow Monk


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Soy-sauce-dispensing chopsticks

Rakuten, Japan's equivalent of Yahoo, is selling chopsticks that dispense their own soy sauce.




—Mellow Monk


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Dieting secrets from two women who succeeded

Actually, the title of this posting should be "weight loss secrets," since the two women interviewed for this article lost weight not so much by dieting as by exercising.


They also discuss the concept of "trigger time"—the time of day when a person is most likely to succumb to the temptation to snack.


Here's a previous posting on green tea and weight loss.


—Mellow Monk


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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hot Tea Month

January is National Hot Tea Month in the U.S.


—Mellow Monk


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"Bus Man" and "Train Man"

The film Napoleon Dynamite bypassed Japan's theatrical circuit and got a straight-to-video release instead, a fact with which this critic takes issue.


The film's title in Japan is Basu Otoko, or "Bus Man." I suspect the title is a play on "Train Man" (Densha Otoko 電車男), a popular Japanese TV series, whose titular character is also a nerd like Napoleon.


In the series, Train Man gets his nickname from a woman he rescues from the unwanted advances of a lecherous drunk on a crowded subway train. (Not having seen Napoleon Dynamite, I have no idea how the bus fits in, but the Japanese distrubutors of the film obviously sought to tap into the popularity of "Train Man" by coming up with a similar title.)


The rest of the story concerns Train Man's bashful attempts to woo the young lady. For advice on how to approach her, he turns to his network of fellow otaku (nerds). As word of Train Man's brave endeavor spreads, he becomes something of a hero to the otaku community, who shower Train Man with emails and text messages of hints and encouragement.


"Train Man" is also one of the first shows to introduce Japan's TV viewers to otaku slang and the various abbreviations used by young people when text-messaging each other via cellphone. (For various reasons, text messaging is now far more popular in Japan than computer-based email.)


Incidentally, "Train Man" began as a book, which was is actually based on a true story.


—Mellow Monk


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A town's cash-for-babies program

This story has been around for a while, but it was reported by ABC or CBS news (can't remember which) on TV last night:


To combat its shrinking population, the town of Yamatsuri in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture is offering women who already have two children an incentive of almost $10,000 to have another child.


According to this article, Yamatsuri's program was based on one introduced 10 years ago by another town, Nishikata, in Tochigi Prefecture.


As I've pointed out in a previous post, declining birth rates are a serious issue in Japan. Just last year, the country's population actually began shrinking.


(Incidentally, the name "Yamatsuri" literally means "arrow festival." A Web search failed to turn up anything about the name's origins. Perhaps it goes back to some ancient festival that was held there, but many place names in Japan are so old that their origin is lost in antiquity.)


—Mellow Monk


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Monday, January 02, 2006

Park-and-walk is faster

If you have a spouse who insists on cruising busy parking lots in an intermidable search for the closest possible spot, you may wish to tell him or her that scientists have proven that the park-and-walk approach (i.e., parking in a distant but open spot) saves time in the end.


—Mellow Monk


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A "Method" for green clean

A company named Method makes biodegradable household products, like diswashing detergent, bathroom surface cleaner, and laundry detergent.


In my town, I found Method products at Target.


—Mellow Monk


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Veggies and pancreatic cancer

A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer up to 50 percent.


—Mellow Monk


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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Deadbeat bowler goes 11 hours straight

Police in Sayama City, Japan arrested a 60-year-old man at a bowling alley last Tuesday for failing to pay for 48 games that he bowled in a marathon bowling session that lasted over 11 straight hours.


Starting before noon and calling it quits at 10:50 p.m., the unemployed man told bowling alley employees that he didn't have any money on him but that a friend would be coming to pay his $200 bill. When the alley closed at 2 a.m. and the man still showed no signs of paying, employees called the police.


The man's average over the 48 games was 133, and his best game was his 44th, in which he bowled 187. The only reason he stopped when he did, apparently, is that the lanes were programmed to shut down after 48 consecutive games.


—Mellow Monk


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Royal Y chromosome

Here's a nice, in-depth article on Japan's ongoing debate over whether to allow a female emperor.




—Mellow Monk


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Firefighters' ladder stunt show

In this photo, firefighters in Hondo City, Kumamoto are practicing for their New Year's ladder stunt show, known as hashigo-nori (literally "ladder climbing").


Once common throughout Japan, ladder shows like this one are today a rarity. In fact, this particular fire department is the last one in Kumamoto Prefecture that still performs hashigo-nori.




—Mellow Monk


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