Welcome to 2009, The Year of the Ox
Are you the strong and silent type, seldom opening your mouth to speak but commanding attention when you do? Then you just might have been born in the Year of the Ox. Your stablemates share this easygoing attitude, but just like you, they can be stubborn and ill-tempered on those rare occasions. Notable Oxen include rocker Bruce Springsteen (1949), hope-monger Barack Obama (1961), actress-turned-musician Juliette Lewis (1973) and the human fish Michael Phelps (1985). In the spirit of the New Year, you might want to take up a Japanese hobby (see p. 14) and join this celebrated herd. But even if you don’t, we at Metropolis still wish you all the best in 2009.
Hot items from 2008 include…
• Valentine’s chocolates flavored with garlic and vinegar
• A medicine cabinet that alerts senior citizens when it’s time to take their pills
• The Nose Mask Pit, an earplug-like device that provides relief for hay fever sufferers
• A printer that can develop still images captured from high-definition video
• A breathalyzer-enabled cellphone for truck drivers
• An electric bicycle that can travel 150km on a single charge
• Miso paste featuring beans that have been serenaded with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach
• A washable business suit
• An air purifier that eliminates over 99 percent of airborne bird flu virus in ten minutes
• The world’s smallest walking robot
Women of the Year
(According to Vogue Nippon)
Actress: Aoi Miyazaki, 23, won acclaim for her performance in NHK’s historical drama Atsuhime and the films Kagehinata ni Saku (Flowers in the Shadows) and Yami no Kodomotachi (Children of the Dark)
Athlete: Pitcher Yukiko Ueno, 26, led Japan’s softball team to a surprise gold medal over the US in Beijing
Writer: Mieko Kawakami, 32, won the renowned Akutagawa Prize for her second novel, Chi Chi to Ran (“Breasts and Eggs”), which depicts the travails of a single mother
Tarento: Suzanne, 22, gained fame for her convincing act as a baka (airhead) tarento while debuting in a music group and appearing in several TV series and variety shows
Writer/Buddhist nun: Jakucho Setouchi, 86, crafted a modern take on the classic Tale of Genji and authored her own keitai shosetsu (cellphone novel). HF
How about a beat down
To bad it was all a lie
Year-end festivities not as ‘bright’ as usual
“In more ways than one,” says Shukan Bunshun (Dec 25), “this is one dark night of a Christmas season.”
It is dark in the sense of sinking hopes and rising fears as the recession deepens; dark also in the sense of the absence of light. Where are the beautiful “illumination” light shows that dazzle the eyes of evening shoppers and night-time revelers on their year-end rounds? For that matter, where are the shoppers and revelers? The lights have dimmed, and the crowds have thinned.
This year so many stores have shut down that we couldn’t raise enough money to cover the electricity costs of our usual illumination,” Shukan Bunshun hears from a Tokyo shopping center store owners’ association chairman. “So we used LED bulbs instead, which are cheaper, and also reduced the scale of the display. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do even that much next year.”
It’s the same story in Osaka. “Our best corporate clients have cut back drastically,” laments a local vendor of illumination products.
No. of foreign visitors to Japan plunges nearly 20% in November
The number of foreigners who visited Japan in November is estimated to have totaled 553,900, registering a 19.3% drop from a year earlier and a year-on-year fall for the fourth consecutive month, the Japan National Tourist Organization said Wednesday.
The government-affiliated organization attributed the decline to the global economic downturn and a nearly 50% drop in arrivals of South Koreans who have seen their travel costs surge as their currency, the won, depreciated sharply against the yen.
A drop of four months in a row was last observed in the April-July period of 2003 when a growing number of people refrained from traveling in the wake of the SARS epidemic.