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  • Friday, 22nd May 2015
    In 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 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 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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  • Tuesday, 19th May 2015
    In Events In Japan, Japan Entertainment News, Japan Travel News, Japan Travel News,

    Japan to install high-tech toilets at tourist sites

    Visitors to Japan could soon be enjoying the most up-to-date toilet technology, after the country's government made the decision to install high-tech lavatories at a number of tourist sites.

    The authorities plan to position the toilets in places such as airports that tourists are likely to encounter, along with promotional videos instructing the visitor on their use.

    Features of the lavatories will include heated seats, bidet jets, odour neutralisers, noise-masking melodies and seats that lift or descend automatically.

    While many tourists often shy away from using toilets in public spaces outside of their hotels, these new innovations are likely to have the opposite effect.

    When entering the cubicle, visitors will be met with a panel of buttons and lights to operate the lavatory and get the most of the technology.

    The Japanese government is so keen to highlight the benefits of the toilets that it is launching a worldwide drive to promote them, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reports.

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