Saturday, October 6, 2012

Restarting the blog again

I have decided to restart the blog again. All this time I was posting content from other sites. I will continue with that. However, I will also post original content of my own too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

JAPAN HERITAGE Matsushima: A seascape that left poet Basho at a loss for words


Legend has it that even Matsuo Basho, the celebrated 17th-century haikuist and travel writer, was at a loss for words when he first gazed at Matsushima.
The locale that so moved the man who perfected the art of haiku is about 14 kilometers from east to west, and 12 kilometers north to south. It encompasses a scenic coastline and 270 or so islets, all covered in pine trees, in Matsushima Bay, in Miyagi Prefecture.
photoAn aerial view of Matsushima Bay off Miyagi Prefecture (ASAHI SHIMBUN FILE PHOTO)
Matsushima is considered one of the country's top three coastal scenic spots, along with Amanohashidate in Kyoto Prefecture and Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture. Since the Edo Period (1603-1867), Matsushima has been a favorite theme of both writers and artists.
It is within easy access of Sendai, the capital of the prefecture--less than a half-hour train ride.
Matsushima's charms are not seasonally challenged. It is a destination for all seasons--cherry blossoms in spring, beautiful leaves changing colors in fall, swimming and fishing in summer and a crystal view of the bay in winter. And regardless of the time of year, history fans will find much to see, do and learn.
Of course, Matsushima is noted for its seafood, including "anago" sea eels in summer and oysters in winter. There is no reason a visitor cannot try them at various restaurants, many of which offer great views of the bay.
After lunch you might want to hop aboard a tour boat for a bay trip. The boats follow predetermined times and routes to see the best the bay has to offer at just the right times of the day.
Hot tip: The lookout point at Otakamori on Miyatojima island in eastern Matsushima is considered the best spot to watch the sun go down.
For early risers, people say the best place to view the sun making its appearance is Saigyomodoshi no Matsu Park on the coast near Matsushima-Kaigan Station.
The station also provides access to Zuiganji temple, the most famous Zen temple of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism in the Tohoku region. It is believed to have been built in 828 and reconstructed in 1609 by warrior lord Date Masamune (1567-1636). Its main hall, corridors and even its Zen kitchen are designated national treasures.
Nearby is the small island of Ojima, once a training center for different Buddhist sects. It all began, so they say, when the ascetic Kenbutsu took up residence in the 12th century and spent the next dozen years reciting sutras all day long. Naturally, this much effort was rewarded with great spiritual power.
For those seeking more earthly pleasures, there is aquarium Marine Pia, noted for its waddling penguins, and a music box museum, Matsushima Orgel Museum. Both are within walking distance of Matsushima-Kaigan Station.
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Take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen to Sendai Station and transfer to JR Senseki Line. It's a 25-minute ride to Matsushima-Kaigan Station.
From Sendai Station, the JR Tohoku Line is also available. Get off at Matsushima Station.
Sightseeing boats are available from a pier near Matsushima-Kaigan Station.
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Monkeys ecstatic as hot spring opens


About 100 Japanese monkeys eagerly clambered into a hot spring, stretching their limbs and getting loose on Wednesday, the first day their pool was filled at Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden in Hokkaido.
The primates chattered appreciatively--especially the creaky oldsters--as they slipped into the soothing water. The day was a cold one, with temperatures sliding below zero.
The primates will be able to loll about in the bath until the season ends in early May.
According to garden officials, Japanese monkeys, much like Japanese themselves, tend to be fussy about water temperature.
The monkeys demand the water be heated to 41 degrees and won't get in the pool if it isn't, the officials said.
photoJapanese monkeys relax in a hot spring bath at Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden in Hokkaido on Wednesday. (Yasuhiro Sugimoto)

Mario 25th Anniversary Book Coming To Japan [Amazon Japan Listing Mario Anniversary Book For $10, Features Mario Soundtrack, Manga & Stickers]


Posted December 4th 2010 by Kevin Schram

This year is the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros’ first gracing our Nintendo NES consoles all those years ago. Nintendo hasn’t passed up the chance for a celebration, and they’ve released special game consolesheld parties and decorated buses. Now in Japan, they’re selling a special book that looks back on the 25 years of Mario.
Mario 25th Anniversarg Commerative Book
A ‘commemorative book’ was included with the purchase of “Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition”, but this looks to be one of those collectible one-off magazine deals. It’s being published by Enterbrain and Amazon Japan is asking just ¥840 ($11) for the magazine.
What does it include? An interview with Shigeru Miyamoto (we suspect it will be the same Miyamoto-Itoi interview that Nintendo published in October on their website – still a great read), some Mario manga, stickers, a poster, and a CD containing Mario music from the Press Start Symphony of Games. All-in-all, this tome comes to about 144-pages long.
The special 25th anniversary edition gear that was released in Japan also eventually made its way to Europe and North America – but that being said, I don’t know if this will make it out of Japan. Some folks have announced that they’ll be importing it from Japan via Amazon Japan. Expect to pay about $30 in shipping, the little birdies say.

Read: Mario 25th Anniversary Book Coming To Japan [Amazon Japan Listing Mario Anniversary Book For $10, Features Mario Soundtrack, Manga & Stickers] » TFTS – Technology, Gadgets & Curiosities 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Satellite to launch with air of intrigue about true mission


By Pam Benson, CNN National Security Producer
September 24, 2010 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT

  • New satellite will detect and track man-made objects in space
  • Of about 21,000 objects in space, most are debris
  • In space, even small pieces of debris can cause serious damage
  • Some suspect satellite will spy on other country's satellites
Washington (CNN) -- Getting around town with your GPS, watching your favorite program on satellite TV, tracking hurricanes in real time, communicating with the warfighter on the battlefield -- any one of those activities could be in jeopardy if a piece of the growing mass of orbital junk traveling through space at supersonic speeds smashes into a satellite.
That's why the Air Force is launching a new satellite Saturday night that officials say will have the capacity to better detect and track the more than 20,000 man-made objects in space, most of which is debris.
The managers of the Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) program said the satellite will help make U.S. space assets safer and more secure. SBSS commander Col. J.R. Jordan told reporters that "this satellite is going to revolutionize how we track objects in space by not being constrained by weather, the atmosphere or the time of day."
The heart of the satellite is a camera with an unobstructed view of three quarters of the sky, a valuable wide angle that avoids having to expend the time and fuel to reposition the spacecraft.
Currently, space objects are tracked by ground based systems -- radars and optical telescopes -- which can be blinded by adverse weather conditions, clouds and daylight.
The new satellite has other potential missions. It can provide a closer eye on the satellites and space objects of other nations. The Air Force officials participating in the news briefing would not discuss missions or priorities.
"There are a lot of objects out there that we have lost track on, and there are a lot of objects we think we can observe that we haven't been able to observe previously," Jordan said.
"We're going to improve the actual tracking on a daily basis," he added.
"SBSS will track the relative position of satellites and debris to enable the Joint Space Operations Center to protect the nation's assets in space," a spokesman for the Air Force Space and Missile Center said.
Brian Weeden, a former Air Force officer who worked on space operations, said the new satellite makes it feasible to observe and collect information on objects at much higher altitudes in deep space. The satellite "may very well have imagery capabilities" beyond what has been made public, said Weeden, who now is an analyst for the Secure World Foundation.
"Think Hubble," said Weeden, a reference to the space telescope which provided more detailed images of the universe at greater distances.
John Pike, who follows satellite developments for, is more conspiratorial about the satellite's mission. He maintains one of the key purposes of the new satellite is to learn more about the characteristics of debris fields in order to make satellites more stealth -- n other words, to disguise top secret U.S. satellites as debris. Pike said space junk is a concern, but ground systems are able to keep track of most of the space clutter that could impact key U.S. assets.
Weeden disagreed. He is skeptical of the feasibility of developing stealth technology based on observing debris.
Although Weeden acknowledged there may be some elements in the U.S. intelligence and military who want such research, he believes the physics is too hard. Unlike debris, satellites give off a physical signature -- heat, light and other indicators.
"If a satellite is stealth, how do you know where it is, especially if you should lose contact with it?" Weeden posited.
He said the new tracking satellite does provide a far better ability to detect, track and inspect objects in space. One of the motivations for the tracking satellite, Weeden said, is the fear that another nation might have a dormant anti-satellite device in orbit, waiting to be turned on. Although there is no indication such a device exists, Weeden said the new satellite will give the United States better situational awareness in space.
Michael Krepon, a space expert for the Stimson Center, said the new satellite provides needed additional capacity.
Within the past few years, he said, there have been "three wake up calls to say there is a huge problem," with space clutter.
Thousands of pieces of debris were generated when, in 2007, the Chinese intentionally destroyed one of its own satellites with a ballistic missile. In early 2009, a Russian satellite and a U.S. satellite collided in space, and later that year a Russian intercontinental missile blew up during a test flight.
Krepon pointed out that even a marble sized piece of debris "travels with the energy of a one-ton safe dropped from a five story building. If you get hit with that marble, you're having a really bad day," said Krepon.
The Air Force Space Command's mission is to track and chart the path of anything orbiting the earth that is 10 centimeters -- approximately the size of a baseball -- or larger. Of the approximately 21,000 objects currently being followed, 1,000 are active satellites or other payloads such as the international space station and the shuttle.
The Air Force has spent $858 million on the development and production of the new tracking satellite, which is expected to be operational for five and a half years.