We're creeping up on the one-year anniversary of the March 11th earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown that turned northeastern Japan upside-down.
23 million tons of debris is said to be scattered around areas hit by the tsunami. The photo on the side shows just how impossible it looked to clean the mess up – but as the before/after shot shows, some Herculean efforts have been made to successfully clean up the towns. $50 billion has already been budgeted for cleanup, and it's likely more money will come.
That doesn't mean the whole region is totally fixed. The nuclear situation, while under control, isn't resolved and won't be for a long time. More than 19,000 people lost their lives, breaking as many families. Tens of thousands of people still live in temporary housing and tens of thousands more will always be upset that they can never go home again. The Japanese people's trust in their government was broken and that wound will take a long time to heal.
Still, Japan has a long history of cleaning up after disasters. To visit Kobe today, following its huge earthquake in 1996, you wouldn't know a massive disaster had struck there.
Like the 'after' photos show, Japan will march on.
If you're a young person with one year to spare and you come from a country that allows it, it's super easy for you to spend one year working in Japan with a working holiday visa.
This type of visa is easy to get because it doesn't require a degree or significant amount of money, and you're allowed to do almost any kind of work you can get.
The visa lasts for six months with an option to renew for six more, for a grand total of one year. After one year, that's it – no renewals. If you decide to stay behind, you'll have to get someone to sponsor you for a different type of visa.
American beer commercials are known for sex and bland jokes. When Japanese beer giant Sapporo Beer wanted to make a quintessentially Japanese commercial for its beer, however, things were very different.
The result is a traipse through countless old Japanese traditions including sumo and taiko and ends on the requisite modern Japanese cityscape. The idea, though, is that it all contributes to Sapporo's product. Cool stuff.
This one's pretty fun: members of pop group Morning Musume are basically doing cool backwards throws to put everyday objects in their places.
Trash is thrown in the appropriate cans, canned drinks are shoved across tables, cell phones are thrown into bags, and that kind of thing.
The stunts get more and more complex as you go through the video. So does the number of attempts it takes to pull off each one successfully – you can see the stunt translated in the upper right along with how many tries it took.
It's recommended, of course, that you not try these stunts if you come to Japan.
Morning Musume's Guide to Japan
Aika Mitsui wrote Morning Musume's Guide to Japan in with a hand-written map of the popular Shibuya district and recommendations for the best shopping and snacks. Be sure to read it if you're a fan.
San Francisco is the world's first airport to get its own yoga space!
The space comes with low lights and blue walls, setting it apart from the otherwise bright and contrasted colors inside SFO airport.
The idea came from a passenger suggestion at an open house event, according to an airport official. The room is located inside SFO Terminal 2, the one that was just redone to support Virgin America.
The airport yoga room is after security – perfect for relaxation after suffering through the security theater. Despite yoga's Indian roots, there will be a Japanese touch to the room in the future: there are large rocks coming to create a Zen garden theme, and they'll be installed in the spring.
There's even a pictograph to join the other universal signs like passport control and restrooms, just for the yoga room.
Konnichiwhoa is proud to introduce the Mini-Shop, a small online store with travel gear and books about Japan. Here are three great things about it:
1. Travel gear that we actually use Travel products that we use ourselves, including noice-cancelling headphones and travel-size memory foam pillows, are available in the Travel Goods area. Fly like you're in first class at economy prices.
2. Only good books about Japan We've populated the Japan Books section with high-quality books on a variety of topics including design, gardens, and the yakuza.
3. Amazon security and shipping The shop is powered by Amazon.com's backbone, so we never see your address or billing info.