According to The Asahi Shimbun, average land prices in Japan’s regional areas rose for the first time in 31 years, thanks to thriving major cities outside the three largest metropolitan areas, according to a land ministry report released.
The average land prices across the country also rose for the second year in a row.
As of 1 July, the average price for residential, commercial and industrial land outside the areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya increased by 0.3 percent.
The increase was driven by the four metropolitan areas of Sapporo, Sendai, Hiroshima and Fukuoka, which saw an 8.1 percent increase.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, electrified chopsticks that change the taste of food extended the winning streak of Japanese researchers for a satiric Ig Nobel Prize to 17 straight years.
Hiromi Nakamura, a project associate professor at the University of Tokyo, and Homei Miyashita, a professor at Meiji University, won the Ig Nobel Prize in Nutrition for their research on augmented gustation using electricity.
In 2011, when Nakamura was a graduate student studying under Miyashita’s supervision, she conducted experiments to determine how electrification changes the taste of food.
In a trial run, Nakamura put a piece of agar on her tongue and charged it with a small amount of electricity. The taste changed instantly when she turned the switch on and off.
According to The Jiji News, Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. has unveiled to the press a demonstration line to mass-manufacture next-generation electric vehicles it hopes to release in 2026.
The automaker aims to halve the manufacturing time by combining a new technology to make the auto body frame and a new production system in which vehicle bodies travel to the next manufacturing process on their own using self-driving technology.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, home appliance maker Balmuda Inc. is developing a wind power generator combined with solar panels that is small enough to install on the yard or rooftop of an individual home.
“We hope to contribute to the way energy is produced, not just the way energy is used,” said Gen Terao, CEO of Balmuda, during an Aug. 8 news conference on the corporation’s financial results. “There would be nothing more wonderful.”
According to the company, the generator design takes advantage of specialized technology used in Balmuda’s electric Green Fan.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, hospital walls no longer have to be barriers to patients who dream of going on trips with their families or greeting visitors through a meeting app that is currently being tested.
The application, Medical Meetup, started its trial run on 1 Aug at Juntendo University Hospital in Tokyo, so users can see one another in a virtual reality space.
“Expanding the scope of visitors and the metaverse may allow hospitalized children to go on virtual school walks and trips with classmates, too,” said Junya Fujimura, an associate professor of pediatrics at the hospital’s Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, expressing high expectations.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, to address a growing labor shortage, major convenience store chain Lawson Inc. is introducing a technology that enables remote workers to serve customers using animated avatars.
Sitting in front of computer screens at their homes or offices, workers act as Lawson Avatar Operators (LAOs) to serve customers.
LAOs talk to webcams and their voices and gestures will be reflected on animated characters on screens at Lawson outlets.
According to The Jiji News, Three-dimensional printed homes are attracting attention in Japan as they can be purchased for the price of a car and be built in days.
Serendix Inc., a startup based in Nishinomiya in the western prefecture of Hyogo, will sell a 3D-printed house for a two-member household for 5.5 million yen. With a floor space of about 50 square meters, the house can be completed in only about two days.
According to The Jiji News, Sekisui House Ltd. said Monday it will launch a program in September to help industry peers build wooden houses with its advanced antiquake technologies.
The company is kicking off the first core tech-offering program in the industry to promote earthquake-resistant wooden houses in Japan, as the quake-prone country will mark on Friday the centennial of the Great Kanto Earthquake that devastated the Tokyo metropolitan area, it said.
According to The Nikkei Asia, Japanese chemical company Asahi Kasei aims to commercialize a new way to make a plastic ingredient from carbon dioxide and water using electricity, Nikkei has learned, offering a potential game changer for decarbonization in the plastics industry.
The technology can be used to produce ethylene, a material for plastics used in automobiles and home appliances that is typically derived from petroleum.
Through Asahi Kasei's process, gaseous carbon dioxide and a water-based electrolytic solution are fed into a device and separated by a membrane. Electricity is passed through them with electrodes, causing a chemical reaction that produces ethylene.
Asahi Kasei has applied know-how cultivated in hydrogen production and electrolysis technology to the development of the separation membrane. The company also has experience in the catalyst technology that promotes the chemical reactions.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, a leading Japanese distiller that became the toast of the shochu world with its Kuro Kirishima brand is hoping to repeat the feat with new products using barley and rice for the first time in more than two decades.
Potato-based shochu products like Kuro Kirishima currently account for the lion’s share of Kirishima Shuzo Co.’s output.
The company, headquartered in Miyakonojo, said barley-distilled Kirishima Hororu and rice-derived Kirishima Sururu will hit store shelves on Sept. 13.
“My hope is that new brand values will be created,” said Yoriyuki Enatsu, the president of Kirishima Shuzo, referring to his plans to make the new lineup a core part of the company’s business, along with their potato-based counterparts.
The Kirishima Hororu and Kirishima Sururu will be the company’s first bottles fashioned from barley and rice in 22 years and 23 years, respectively, according to an Aug. 2 announcement by Kirishima Shuzo.
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