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  • Tuesday, 26th May 2015
    In Business In Japan,

    Could 4-hour coffee queues in Japan spell the end for green tea?

    Green tea has long been the favoured drink in Japan, but it seems the nation's taste for coffee could be posing a threat. Since Blue Bottle, a Californian coffee roasting company opened branches in the country, queues to enter the establishments have been so long that some people have waited four hours to get their hands on a cup, reports the Associated Press.

    Blue Bottle is not the first American company to have seized the imagination of the Japanese, with the likes of Taco Bell and other fastfood outlets having done well in the nation before. What is different about the artisanal roaster's approach, however, means that the initial flurry of interest could continue.

    James Freeman, the musician that founded Blue Bottle, openly admits that the concept for the brand was influenced by kissaten - the old-style tea shops of Japan. Unlike other large-scale chains, these Blue Bolt has taken this concept to provide slow coffee experiences, as opposed to sweet concoctions to go. Think dimly lit venues, with good music and real drip coffee.

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  • Friday, 22nd May 2015
    In Business In Japan, Events In Japan,

    Two melons sold for the price of luxury car in Japan

    The first Yubari melons of the season have gone on sale at the Saporro Central Wholesale Market in Japan, selling for an incredible price.

    A huge 1.5 million yen (£7,955) was spent on a pair of the fruits, which are a hybrid of two types of cantaloupe and considered a luxury item in Japan.

    The purchase was made by Kazuo Watarai, a local fruit wholesaler, who paid the equivalent sum of a new car for the melons.

    High prices are normal for the fruit, but these become astronomical for the first auction of the year, with the winner gaining much prestige from buying the beginning of the season's bounty.

    While the price fetched for this fair of melons was high, it did not reach the record sum of 2.5 million yen, which was achieved in 2014.

    Yubari melons are only grown in the small town of the same name, which is close to Sapporo and must be cultivated under exact conditions.

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  • Thursday, 21st May 2015
    In Business In Japan, Events In Japan, Japan Entertainment News,

    Japanese aquariums make ethical decision to stop buying Taiji dolphins

    A vote taken by the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) will mean its members no longer buy dolphins from the town of Taiji. The destination in Wakayama prefecture has become infamous, due to 2009 documentary The Cove, which portrayed dolphins being herded into nets by fishermen. Some were then killed with knives, while others were destined for the country's aquariums.

    This has led to widespread condemnation of the practice, which sees hundreds of dolphins being killed every year. JAZA was facing the prospect of being expelled from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) if it did not change its stance on the procurement of dolphins from Taiji.

    As a result, a vote was taken by members of the body in Japan, with 89 zoos and 63 aquariums creating a majority to ban obtaining the animals. Had the decision gone in the other direction, leaving WAZA would have made it very difficult for such attractions in Japan to gain rare species from abroad in the future.

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  • Wednesday, 20th May 2015
    In Business In Japan, Events In Japan, Japan Entertainment News, Japan Travel News,

    Scientists breed catfish that taste like eel to save popular Japanese dish

    The popularity of eating unagi, a species of freshwater eel, in Japan has led to a dramatic drop in stocks, but scientists believe they have found an answer.

    Unagi has traditionally been broiled and grilled, before being served with soy sauce and rice each summer, but this has led to overfishing and an increase in the price of the delicacy.

    Now, those keen to try the dish can opt for a more sustainable version, which is being bred by scientists of Kinki University.

    They claim to have discovered a catfish that tastes like the unagi eel, meaning that diners cannot tell the difference and stocks of the endangered species have an opportunity to replenish.

    A number of restaurants in western Japan are trialling the alternative throughout May to ensure that it meets with approval, reports Japan Real Time.

    Masahiko Ariji, associate professor at Kinki University and leader of the team of researchers, told the news provider: "You wouldn’t be able to tell they’re not unagi unless you are told so."

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