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Original Article Here (Yomiuri Shinbun)

First reduction in the number of Japanese women in over 50 years - population of men follows the pattern found 4 years ago.

According to the October 2008 estimated population numbers presented by the Ministry of Internal Affair and Communications on March 23rd, the total population of Japan including both Japanese citizens and immigrants was 127,692,000 people, down 79,000 from last year and showing the first reduction in population in three years.

This time, women accounted for 65,441,000 of the total population, down 20,000 from last year, and the first of such a reduction since dating back to the earliest comparable statistics from the year 1950.

With a loss of 59,000, the total number of men was 62,251,000, following the continuing pattern of population reduction in men showed by results 4 years ago.

Including immigrants, the natural fluctuation in the number of births and deaths compared to normal standards shows that births are 34,000 less than deaths in a 2 year continuing pattern. Compared to last year at 75,000, the number of Japanese citizens leaving the country increased to 11,000 for another change seen for the first time in 3 years.

Notes: These days, people are always chatting about the male to female ratio in China and how the future looms grimly overhead. According to this article, Japan is facing a similar situation. I was aware of the older generation overshadowing the younger generation in Japan, but not of this.

A note on the translation: Long and drawn out English. I'm not familiar with the proper terms and structure for reporting statistics in a newspaper, but there has to be a standard and thus shorter way of doing it.

Original Japanese Text:



(2009年3月23日23時37分 読売新聞

Original Article Here (by Fujiyoshi, Ayako and Oogawa, Norinobu: Yomiuri Shinbun)


The ultimate lucky charm: The 20 leaf clover's secret.

A four leaf clover is said to be lucky but astonishingly, a 21 leaf clover was discovered in Iwata prefecture's Hanamaki City while a 23 leaf clover was found in Hamamatsu City.

How is such a world-record class multi-leaf clover born?

One step into Agriculture professional Kobara Shigeo's (age 83) clover field in Hanamaki City is enough to leave a person bewildered. Four to five green leaves are common and not unusual, while clovers with more than ten are far from rare. The 21 leaf clover was also found in this field, six months ago.

About sixty years ago, after the creation of city's agricultural school, a cluster of four to nine leaf clovers were found in the cultivated field where the breeding stock used to research animal fodder was grown. He knew intuitively that it was a matter of heredity. Transplanting and cross-fertilizing many times, he investigated the appearance ratio of leaves. "Multi-leaf clovers have a hereditary quality." He established this scientific proof and then in 1981 he received his Agriculture PHD from Hokkaido University and became known as a clover expert.

Since multi-leaf clovers in particular are weak, he pulled up weeds as often as possible and then chose only the strongest ones to raise and keep. After many generations, the clover began to reproduce naturally and now the leaf count has multiplied upwards of 12 and 16.

Up until that time America was in the lead with a fourteen leaf clover, but in 2002 one with eighteen leaves was found in Kobara's field and toppled the American Guiness World Record. "Theoretically 30 leaves is not an impossibility. Only, searching in the fields and counting leaves one by one is very difficult," he gave with a bitter smile.

The Japan Grassland Scientific Society President and top instructor in Iwate prefecture, Saiga Suguru explains, "In a normal three leaf clover, the hereditary nature of the clover suppresses any other leaves from appearing. In extreme conditions, though, the restraint is lifted and a multi-leaf one appears. Find that one, breed it and what is the result? The restraint was lifted to 20 leaves or more."

Hamamatsu City's East Ward's Miyaji Yoshitaka (age 67) found a 23 leaf clover in his garden at home in May of this year. Miyaji's wife, Tomiko (age 61), had a first encounter with a four leaf clover five years before on a roadside, where she pinched off the root and brought it home. She planted it in a bowl and left it alone until one day, she noticed seven leaves poking from the stem. After that, more leaves continued to appear. At that time, they divided the roots and planted it into the garden. "Nowadays, I give it more attention than I give my wife," he says with a laugh.

Given the name Clover of Limitless Happiness, people in hospitals and students preparing for exams are being presented with these good luck charms. Local Suzuki Branch sponsored Running long jumper Ikeda Kumiko, of the Beijing Olympics this year, was sent a seven leaf clover and a wish for good luck by Miyaji for the 7 meter jump. She sent a letter thanking him shortly after.

The 23 leaf clover's application for the Guiness Book of World Records is currently underway. Hamamatsu Flower Park's President, Sahara Yoshihiko gives his praise. "To find such a mutation is such an incredible rarity. With it should come equally rare luck," he states with congratulations.

Notes: I wonder just how many times I used the word "clover" in that translation. To think that this man spent over 60 years of his life researching these plants - if that isn't dedication, then what is? Ah, to be a scientist.

In any case, I hope you found it as interesting a discovery as I did. :) You can see more photographs at the following websites.

Guiness World Record Site
Asahi Paper - Kobara kneeling in his field.

中越沖地震 柏崎で「海の大花火」 20万人が復興喜ぶ

Original Article Here


An earthquake in the air and over the open sea. Kashiwazaki's big fireworks event revives and delights 200,000 spectators.

Painting the night sky, a big firework exhibition was held in celebration of Gion Kashiwazaki Festival, an event which hasn't been held for 2 years. Picture was taken from Niigata prefecture in Kashiwazaki City at 8:58pm on July 26th, 2008 by photographer Takeshi Takayoshi(?).

Notes: Japan has never disappointed me with its large scale firework displays. It's really a sight to behold. Here is some video footage from the event.

Original Article Here


A bolt of lightning? JR Nara Train line comes to a hault

At around 8:10am on July 8th in Kizugawa City's Tanakura Trainstation, a part of Kyoto, all four train signal lights flashed red and refused to change. A single part of burned out machinery was discovered, and was reported to be the fault of a direct hit from lightning.

Both Tamamizu and Kizu train lines were suspended for 3 hours, while another 26 tracks suspended operations permanently for the day. Three tracks remained operational, suffering a 1 hour and 55 minute delay at the most. The entire incident affected around 3700 people. 

It's a good thing the signals didn't freeze on Green. I wonder if this is thanks to a safety measure by JR, or if they just got lucky. Then again, anything is possible when it comes to "a lightning bolt". Nice save, JR.

07 July 2008 @ 04:45 am
See the picture here!

Original Text:




Deep sea fish balloon called 「Fu-senuo」, a popular item at Shinagawa Aqua-stadium

Not only is it a balloon with deep sea fish stuck to it, but with an airy movement they swim around~

Just a first article. Some of the photos on this site are great.
The fish look almost real. I was a bit confused at first.