| News from Japan that may raise an eyebrow, or indeed both eyebrows ...
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They made their money with sex, drugs and gambling but then invested much of it in high finance. Now Japan's yakuza have their back to the wall as the economic crisis takes aim.
Japan's first Western geisha, Sayuki, has revealed she is taking up a new role: lecturing on Japanese cultural studies at Keio University. Australian-born Sayuki will teach local and foreign students about traditional culture from a foreign perspective and provide foreign perceptions of Japan.
Dog-crazy Americans will soon be able to buy a pet-friendly car with a cushioned dog bed in the trunk, fitted with a built-in water bowl and fan and a ramp to help less agile dogs climb in. With the help of a rescue dog named Sammy, Japanese car maker Honda Motor Co unveiled the pet friendly version of its Element utility vehicle at the New York Auto Show.
SHIGEO Tokuda, 74, might look like an average Japanese grandfather, but appearances can be deceiving — he is the country's king of elderly porn, a fast growing niche market in this greying society.
More than 100 Buddhist temples in Shiga Prefecture of various sizes and sects are cooperating to establish a pilgrimage route around Lake Biwa in September. Famous temples as well as smaller, locally run ones are taking part in the endeavor, which involves 108 temples in all. The organizing body hopes the participants will gain a sense of peace by enjoying the area's scenic beauty and history. According to the organizer's plan, the religious tour will begin at Ishiyamadera temple in Otsu, where Murasaki Shikibu is said to have gained inspiration for "The Tale of Genji" in the mid-Heian period (794-1192).
Nearly 90 percent of koalas in Japan are infected with koala retrovirus (KoRV), a virus similar to HIV in humans, according to the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA). KoRV is spreading throughout wild koala populations in northeastern Australia, and there are concerns that it could be killing many koalas in Japan.
The National Police Agency released a set of safety standards Thursday for bicycles on which riding with two children is allowed. A report an NPA task force compiled said the ban on riding with two children should be lifted if bicycles meet certain safety standards. Major bicycle makers are developing a prototype model with enhanced safety features. If things go smoothly, the ban will be lifted possibly in July. The report said bicycles are an indispensable means of transportation for parents with two or more children and the rule banning riding with two children has not at all been observed.
A 91-year-old woman, who spent her early years in the United States, is giving English lessons at her home in Kagoshima, which is gaining popularity among people who feel that regular English schools are difficult to follow. Hatsune Honda started the Grandma's English Salon in June 2004. She was born in Taiwan on Dec. 15, 1917 but grew up in Los Angeles until she turned 13 years old. Honda was once an interpreter for Sean Connery when the Scottish actor was filming in Kagoshima in 1966 for the movie, "You Only Live Twice." For her, English is easier to speak than Japanese.