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  • Wednesday, 1st July 2015
    In General Japan News,

    Smartphone app in development to help English speakers understand sake labels

    Drinking local alcoholic beverages is something of a traditional for British holidaymakers abroad, but it is not always clear exactly what is being quaffed.

    All that is about to change in Japan, as the country's trade ministry is developing a smartphone app to help English speakers decipher sake bottles.

    When it is completed, users will be able to scan the barcodes on bottles of the ubiquitous beverage and be presented with various pieces of information.

    These are set to include the alcohol content, a background on the brewery where it was made and the best ways to enjoy the drink.

    The app will be developed in conjunction with Takakuwa Art Printing, which is responsible for producing 70 per cent of the labels that appear on sake bottles in Japan.

    With somewhere in the region of 1,700 to 1,900 sake breweries in the country, that is a lot of different bottles and labels to design.

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  • Monday, 29th June 2015
    In General Japan News, Japan Entertainment News,

    Two robots marry in Japan

    The first ever robot wedding has been carried out in Japan, with the bride, groom and official overseeing the ceremony all being versions of the advanced gadgets.

    Robots Frois and Yukirin tied the knot on Saturday in front of an audience of 100 invited guests, with the newly released Softbank robot Pepper officiating the proceedings.

    Frois, the groom, was bedecked in a bow tie, while Yukirin wore a long white wedding dress, appropriate for a bride.

    The union in Tokyo was sealed with a kiss, as Frois extended a silver disk from his mouth towards his legally wedded wife.

    Once the ceremony was complete, there was a reception featuring robot dance performers, a tiered wedding cake and a buffet.

    The whole occasion was thought up by an avant-garde technology and art unit called Maywa Denki, which tapped into two of Japan's great loves - lavish weddings and robots.

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  • Thursday, 25th June 2015
    In General Japan News, Japan Entertainment News, General Japan News,

    Japan's stationmaster cat dies at 16

    A cat that transformed the fortunes of a small train station has died at the age of 16, or 80 in cat years.

    Tama became the stationmaster at the rural Kishi Station in Kinokawa in Wakayama Prefecture back in 2007 and attracted plenty of visitors in her little hat.

    The tortoiseshell rescued the station from financial ruin and closure, as prior to her appointment, there too few passengers to warrant it staying open.

    After a long time for a cat to be in the role, Tama ended one of her nine lives this week, when she died of acute heart failure at a local animal hospital.

    Yoshinobu Nisaka, governor of Wakayama, told the Japan Times that Tama was a "tourism superstar extremely popular in and out of Japan who contributed greatly to promoting tourism in our prefecture. I am filled with deep sorrow and appreciation."

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  • Wednesday, 24th June 2015
    In General Japan News, Japan Entertainment News, General Japan News, General Japan News,

    Japanese robot with emotions sells out in 1 minute

    A robot designed to detect human emotions has been released in Japan and all 1,000 units were sold within 60 seconds.

    That is according to the developer Softbank, which created the humanoid machine known as Pepper and dubbed a "robot with a heart".

    There has been much anticipation in the build-up to Pepper's release, after Softbank announced it last year and it did not take long for all of those created to sell out online.

    Consumers who were lucky enough to get their hands on one of the robots paid 198,000 yen (approximately £1,000) for the device, with monthly service and insurance fees charged on top.

    It is estimated that the cost of owning one will amount to around 1.2 million yen (£6,000) over three years.

    Pepper has been built with the ability to recognise emotions such as anger, joy and sadness when interacting with humans.

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