Japan: 6.3-magnitude earthquake hits northeastern Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDIAN NEWS AGENCY THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

6.3-magnitude earthquake hits northeastern Japan, no tsunami threat

The quake jolted large areas in the region at 7:23 pm (1023 GMT) with its epicentre located 54 kilometres (34 miles) east of Namie, eastern Fukushima, according to the US Geological Survey said.

WORLD Updated: Aug 04, 2019 19:20 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Tokyo
A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the Pacific off Fukushima, northeastern Japan, on Sunday, but there was no tsunami threat
A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the Pacific off Fukushima, northeastern Japan, on Sunday, but there was no tsunami threat(HT Photo)

A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the Pacific off Fukushima, northeastern Japan, on Sunday, but there was no tsunami threat, US and Japanese authorities said.

The quake jolted large areas in the region at 7:23 pm (1023 GMT) with its epicentre located 54 kilometres (34 miles) east of Namie, eastern Fukushima, according to the US Geological Survey said.

The quake was also felt in Tokyo.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said there were no worries about tsunami damage.

The weather agency issued an emergency warning when the quake hit, but there was no immediate report of injuries or damage.

Shinkansen bullet train services were temporarily suspended in the region, public broadcaster NHK said.

No abnormality was detected at nuclear plants in the region, including the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, NHK said.

More than 18,000 were killed after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a massive tsunami on March 11, 2011, leading to the meltdown of reactors at the Fukushima plant.

Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent quakes every year.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Aug 04, 2019 17:30 IST

The Busiest Intersections in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Busiest Intersections in the World

What’s more fun than crossing the street? Crossing the street with thousands of your closest friends, of course! Throughout the world, there are certain notorious intersections that raise the simple act of crossing the street to the level of competitive sport. Crowded, noisy, and full of visual stimulation, these congested spots offer thoroughly urban experiences that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.

From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the constant hustle of Times Square in New York and several spots in between, here are four of the busiest intersections in the world.

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

Credit: Nikada / iStock

If you Google “busiest intersection in the world,” you’ll find pages and pages of text dedicated to this notorious crossing — and it’s not just hype. Located outside of the Shibuya subway station in Tokyo, some reports state that 1 million pedestrians traverse this intersection… per day.

But perhaps the most fascinating thing is how the crossing unfolds. All of the traffic lights turn red at the same time in all directions, signaling to pedestrians that it’s go time. Pedestrians — as many as 2,500 per crossing cycle — jostle into the intersection from all directions in what has lovingly been dubbed “the scramble.”

Curious? Insiders say that one of the best viewing points is the second story window of the Shibuya Crossing Starbucks, which also happens to be one of the coffee giant’s busiest outlets in the world.

Times Square, New York City

Credit: ozgurdonmaz / iStock

If New York is the City that Never Sleeps, then Times Square is the endless jolt of espresso that keeps it wired. Originally known as Longacre Square, it was re-dubbed Times Square after “The New York Times” moved its headquarters to the bow-tie-shaped crossing, which is not actually a square at all.

Festooned with blaring advertisements and lighted signs from all angles, this is certainly a well-trafficked crossing. According to the Times Square automated counting system (18 cameras located on six different buildings, monitoring 35 unique locations in the area), there can be between 380,000 and 450,000 pedestrians in the heart of the square each day.

On New Year’s Eve, with the famous ball dropping ceremony, the traffic surges to a million or more.

Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris

Credit: Orbon Alija / iStock

This massive junction was originally named Place de l’Étoile, or “Star Plaza” or “Square of the Star.”

That name makes sense when you view the intersection on a map — a staggering 12 avenues that all converge to meet in a starburst formation. And at the center, its pinnacle is the famed Arc de Triomphe.

With 12 avenues meeting in one place and automobiles, scooters, and trucks whizzing by, you’d be a fool to try to dash across this intersection. Happily, the city has made it easy, offering underground pedestrian access to the square.

Piccadilly Circus, London

Credit: marcduf / iStock

Sorry, but you won’t find elephants or a trapeze here. In the context of this interchange, “circus” refers to the circular shape of the intersection rather than the presence of a big top.

Nevertheless, London’s Piccadilly Circus is quite a spectacle to behold. In fact, this intersection, which sees as many as 100 million tourists per year, is so busy that the term “Piccadilly Circus” is used in the vernacular to refer to any number of convoluted or crowded settings.

Located in close proximity to the theater district, several major shopping streets, and the London Underground, there’s plenty to see and do in this bustling area. If you’re sensitive to bright lights, bring shades: The brightly lighted signs are turned off only for special occasions or for maintenance work.

The Most Congested Urban Intersections

Credit: _curly_ / iStockPhoto

Did you look both ways? Crossing the street is far from an average experience at these internationally infamous crossings. Once you’ve visited these busy intersections, you may never look at a walk sign the same way!

10 Most Populated Cities in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Most Populated Cities in the World

Earth is home to more than 7.7 billion people and we have to put them somewhere. For millions of people, cities are that somewhere, with everyone existing next to each other with varying degrees of comfort. These are the 10 most populated cities in the world, according to the World Population Review.

Osaka, Japan | 19.2 Million

Credit: xavierarnau/iStock

For tourists, Osaka is about two things. The first is eating. The Japanese term “kuidaore,” which translates to “eat yourself broke” or “eat until you drop,” is frequently used to describe the city. The second is shopping. The city is full of stores, outlets, malls, bodegas, stalls and vendors. Between those two, you should have a pretty good idea of what your itinerary will be full of in Osaka.

Beijing, China | 20 Million

Credit: SeanPavonePhoto/iStock

There’s some irony in the fact that 20 million people have such ready access to the Forbidden City, a palace that traditionally carried strict, and often fatal, punishment for unauthorized visitors. Though not ironic is the fact that Beijing remains the seat of the Chinese government. That was the original point of the Forbidden City, after all.

Mumbai, India | 20.2 Million

Credit: saiko3p/Shutterstock

Mumbai is another one of those old cities that was renamed by the British empire, and has made the modern decision to change back. That’s why some readers may recognize the name Bombay, which was the name of the city up until 1995, when the political party Shiv Sena came to power in the city. Whatever you call it, there are a lot of people living in the city.

Dhaka, Bangladesh | 20.3 Million

Credit: travelview/Shutterstock

For a city with so many people, we haven’t heard a whole lot about Dhaka. It’s the capital of Bangladesh, so that’s something. It kind of makes it seem like a city of more than 20 million people is some kind of well-kept secret. Not to Bangladeshis, obviously, but to the rest of us.

Cairo, Egypt | 20.5 Million

Credit: Prin Adulyatham/Shutterstock

Unlike the other cities on this list, Cairo’s population growth is apparently on track for disaster. Just 11 years from now, in 2030, the city’s projected to hit 119 million and the government’s scrambling for solutions. Hopefully they figure something out quickly because 11 years is pretty much the blink of an eye when it comes to city planning.

Mexico City, Mexico | 21.7 Million

Credit: DC_Colombia/iStock

Mexico City’s origins are in some very cool terraforming done by the Aztecs. They expanded a small natural island in Lake Texcoco into an island large enough to house their fortified city, Tenochtitlán, by dumping dirt into the lake until the island was big enough. Today, the sprawl of Mexico City has far exceeded what the island could have held.

São Paulo, Brazil | 21.8 Million

Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock

São Paulo’s size caught us a little off guard. Rio de Janeiro is in the news so often that it’s almost like the default Brazilian city. But São Paulo’s population beats Rio’s by millions. It’s a financial center for Brazil but doesn’t sacrifice culture to achieve it. Case in point, São Paulo’s ethnic diversity is huge, with reasonably large Jewish, Japanese, Italian and Arab populations, among others.

Shanghai, China | 26.3 Million

Credit: Sven Hansche/Shutterstock

The fact that Beijing wasn’t the most populous city in China was a little surprising, though we’d say Shanghai would have been our second guess for “largest Chinese city.” Shanghai’s a great place to experience the convergence of old and new Chinese culture and certainly has enough going on that you won’t be bored. Lost maybe, but not bored.

Delhi, India | 29.4 Million

Credit: hadynyah/iStock

Delhi is expanding so much that it’s approaching the next step in the development of cities, where the word city may not even apply anymore. Megacity gets closer, but we’re almost thinking that a modernized form of city-state might be more appropriate. City will work for now, but we imagine there’s going to be an etymologically significant conversation happening in the Indian government soon.

Tokyo, Japan | 37.4 Million

Credit: yongyuan/iStock

Tokyo was the only city that could possibly be expected to top this list, even if you didn’t know the exact population. It’s huge and full of people, two things that seem like simple statements until you actually put them in context. It’s constantly brought up in conversations about population density, city planning and the psychology of living in a huge modern city and is the place to watch if humanity’s going to understand its urban future.

The Most Populous Cities Throughout History

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Most Populous Cities Throughout History

Over the course of human history, the ranking of the most populous cities has changed many times over. Jericho was the most populous city back in 9000 BCE. Now it is Tokyo, thousands of miles away. Population growth, climate change, and political shifts are largely responsible for moving the world’s biggest urban centers, but there are truly countless reasons as to why populations move and fluctuate.

When evaluating the most populous cities throughout history, archaeologists look at the total estimated global population to determine the cultural hubs of the period. Before the widespread use of recorded history, many cultures relied on oral traditions to help keep their chronicles alive. Because of this, it is challenging to calculate how many people lived in cities before recorded history.

But historians have done their best to determine where populations converged throughout history. These cities were at one point considered to be the biggest in the world.

Jericho, West Bank

Credit: Gosiek-B / iStock

Population in 9000 BCE: 2,000; current population: 14,674

Most academics agree that Jericho is among the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places, as settlements have been uncovered dating back to 9000 BCE. Jericho is considered the oldest and most populous city throughout history. It is located near Mt. Nebo and the Dead Sea in what is now the West Bank. The plentiful natural irrigation from the Jordan River makes it an ideal ancient city for long-term habitation.

Uruk, Iraq

Credit: Marcus Cyron / Wikimedia

Population in 3500 BCE: 4,000; current population: Uninhabited

Uruk was once an agricultural hub that lay the foundation of Mesopotamia. However, Uruk is no longer inhabited. Nestled between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, Uruk was once a thriving trade center that specializes in local crafts, writing, and grain.

Mari, Syria

Credit: Heretiq / Wikimedia

Population in 2400 BCE: 50,000; current population: Uninhabited

Researchers discovered a large population migration from Uruk to Mari, indicating a flourishing trade and livelihood in that region of Mesopotamia. Estimates place the population of Mari, which is located in what is now Syria, at 50,000 people in 2400 BCE. It was the trade capital of the region and had a fully functioning government and recorded history.

Ur, Iraq

Credit: M.Lubinski / Wikimedia

Population in 2100 BCE: 100,000; current population: Uninhabited

Ur was a very rich city in 2100 BCE, with a huge amount of luxury items made from precious metal and semi precious stones. After 500 BCE, Ur was no longer inhabited due to drought and changing river patterns. Today, the Iraqi city of Tell el-Muqayyar is at the site of Ur.

Yinxu, China

Credit: tak.wing / flickr

Population in 1300 BCE: 120,000; current population: uninhabited

Eventually, the world’s biggest population centers shifted away from the Middle East. The earliest forms of Chinese writing can be found in the modern day ruins at Yinxu, sometimes written as two words (Yin Xu). At its height, this city was the academic center of the Chinese world.

Carthage, Tunisia

Credit: CJ_Romas / iStock

Population in 300 BCE: 500,000; current population: 20,715

Located in present-day Tunisia, Carthage was an enlightened civilization until drought and famine sped up the decline of this ancient city. It was not until 1985 that the mayors of Carthage and Rome officially ended their 2,000-year-old conflict.

Rome, Italy

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Population in 200 CE: 1,200,000; current population: 2,754,440

What started as a small village a thousand years ago is now a bustling metropolis. In 200 CE, Rome was the most populated city in the world. It is no secret that Rome has been one of the longest occupied settlements and for a good reason. As a center for government, politics, religion, fashion, ancient history, archaeological sites and culture, it is still a top travel destination for millions of people.

Beijing, China

Credit: Sean Pavone / iStock

Population in 1500: 1,000,000; current population: 22,000,000

Still one of the world’s most populous cities, Beijing broke out around 1500, when it relied on grain and monetary taxes from the population to feed and supply the city. However, that was not enough. The population was so large that commerce destroyed all of the forests in the region. This irrevocably changed the ecosystem in the area.

London, England

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Population in 1825: 1,335,000; current population: 13,945,000

During the pinnacle of the British Empire, crime and terror in London ran rampant. The city was considered unsafe. However, this did not stop people from finding their way in the Empire’s capital. Today, it remains a global capital that welcomes millions of visitors every year.

Tokyo, Japan

Credit: yongyuan / iStock

Population in 2000: 20,500,000; current population: 36,000,000

After this trip through history, we arrive at the present day. Tokyo is the most populous city in the modern world, home to an astounding 36 million people in its metropolitan area. There was a brief interlude following World War II until Tokyo recovered economically. Prosperity and a strong bond to Japanese tradition, family, and history maintain Tokyo’s high population today.

The draw and allure of cities continue to bring human civilization closer and closer together. Currently, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban centers, and this number is expected to climb. The current practice of census-taking will undoubtedly help future historians.

Many Are Feared Dead in Suspected Arson at Japanese Anime Studio

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Many Are Feared Dead in Suspected Arson at Japanese Anime Studio

ImageSmoke billowed from Kyoto Animation’s building in the Japanese city of Kyoto on Thursday.
Credit Kyodo News, via Associated Press

TOKYO — A man ignited a flammable liquid around a Japanese animation studio in Kyoto on Thursday, the police said, killing at least seven people — with many more feared dead — in a devastating morning blaze.

About 70 people were inside the offices of Kyoto Animation when the blaze started at about 10:30 a.m., Japan’s NHK public broadcaster reported, citing the police and rescuers.

The Kyoto Fire Department confirmed that seven had died in the blaze and that as many as 17 more were feared to have been killed. At least two dozen others were injured and several people remained missing on Thursday.

The police arrested a 41-year-old man who was suspected to have set the fire after spreading a liquid, according to news reports. The man was under treatment at a hospital.

Kyoto Animation is best known for producing shows and movies including “Full Metal Panic,” “K-On” and “Clannad,” among other works. It was founded by Yoko Hatta and her husband, Hideaki Hatta, in 1981, and most of the studio’s production takes place in the building that was the site of Thursday’s fire.

The blaze came less than two months after a man went on a stabbing rampage in a suburb outside Tokyo, attacking 17 schoolgirls, killing one of them as well as an adult. The rampage by the 51-year-old man cast attention to the phenomenon of Japan’s “hikikomori,” adults who are extreme recluses, and their psychological issues.

Footage of Thursday’s attack from a local TV station showed black smoke rippling out of windows of the three-story building, with one side of the building mostly charred black.

Credit Video by FNN.jp

Citing the Kyoto police, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest mainstream dailies, reported that the suspect had entered the building screaming, “Die!” The newspaper reported that the suspect had tried to escape, but collapsed on the street outside and was captured by members of the studio’s staff.

The shows and movies that Kyoto Animation produces fall into the category of Japanese cartooning known as anime. It is a backbone of Japan’s popular culture and one of the country’s major soft-power exports. With roots going back to the early 20th century, anime has found an international following through artists like Hayao Miyazaki, whose animated feature “Spirited Away” won an Oscar in 2003, and Makoto Shinkai, whose movie “Your Name” was a global phenomenon, particularly in China.

On Twitter, Mr. Shinkai showed his support. “Everyone at Kyoto Animation, please please stay safe,” he said, in a message that was recirculated almost 19,000 times.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also expressed sympathy on Twitter for the victims of the fire.

安倍晋三

@AbeShinzo

本日、京都で発生した放火殺人事件では、多数の死傷者が出ており、あまりの凄惨さに言葉を失います。お亡くなりになられた方のご冥福をお祈りいたします。負傷された皆様にお見舞いを申し上げるとともに、一日も早い回復をお祈りしています。

32.9K people are talking about this

“Today, we had many casualties in a fatal arson attack that happened in Kyoto,” Mr. Abe wrote. “It is so horrifying that I am at a loss for words. I’d like to express my deepest condolences to the victims. I offer my thoughts to those who have been wounded and pray for their recovery, by even one day.”

Witnesses who spoke to other Japanese news outlets described grim scenes near the studio. According to the Mainichi Shimbun, another large daily, a woman in her 60s living near the building said she saw a young woman, her entire body burned, screaming and running into a nearby shop begging for help.

The witness said the woman was bleeding, her clothing torn and her feet bare. “It took a long time until the ambulance arrived,” the witness told the Mainichi. “All I could do was to spray water over her under the fire department’s instruction. She was eventually transferred to an ambulance.”

Another witness who was working near the studio on Thursday when the fire broke out told the Sankei Shimbun that he saw flames coming from the first and second floor of the building and heard screaming. The unnamed witness said he saw a man hanging onto the wall outside the building, and another trying to escape from a first-floor window after breaking it.

If the authorities’ fears about the death toll are proven correct, the fire would be one of the worst in Japan’s recent history. In 2008, 16 people were killed when a video store burned down in Osaka. In 2001, 44 people died after a fire broke out at a crowded gambling club in Tokyo’s busiest entertainment district.

Hisako Ueno, Makiko Inoue and Eimi Yamamitsu contributed reporting.

4 iconic pop culture sites (and where to see them)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

Entertainment

4 iconic pop culture sites (and where to see them)

When you go on vacation do you stick to classic attractions like museums and castles? Or would you rather do a bit of sleuthing to find eye-catching places you saw in a movie or television show? If that’s you, this means that pop culture has played a major influence on your travel decisions. And if you’re in need of a bit more inspiration to decide where to go next, these four iconic pop culture sites should help make up your mind.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing, Tokyo

Credit: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock

Made famous by: Lost in Translation

If you’ve seen this award-winning flick that starred Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, you know that Lost in Translation was as much an “advertorial” for visiting Tokyo as it was about two people awkwardly trying to manage the culture shock and discomfort of adjusting to life in an entirely new country. Shibuya is a very popular district in Tokyo that’s known as a nexus of entertainment fashion, and the site of the infamous Shibuya Scramble Crossing.

This is literally an intersection right in front of one of Tokyo’s busy JR East train line stations and between massive multi-level department stores. While you can certainly enjoy the experience of doing the scramble by crossing back and forth across the three intersecting streets, you can also visit the Starbucks in the Q-Front building that overlooks the crosswalk from up high.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Credit: Siegfriend Schnepf / iStock

Made famous by: Game of Thrones

If you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, you probably know Dubrovnik as a gorgeous seaside town in Croatia that’s perfect for summer vacations and music festivals. That is certainly true, but if you did watch the popular HBO show, you’re well aware that Dubrovnik also serves as the filming location for the fictional King’s Landing. Pretty much any place that has been used as a backdrop in the show is now a popular tourist destination.

But Dubrovnik has doubled down on their new-found interest. If you plan on visiting here, visit the city museum that doubled as Littlefinger’s brothel, then stop by the Trsteno Arboretum, which is where Lady Olenna Tyrell stayed during her visits to King’s Landing. After all of that Game of Thrones sightseeing, just enjoy the architecture of this historic medieval town. And if you visit Dubrovnik in the summer, time it right so you can experience the nation’s largest festival, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado

Credit: gregobagel / iStock

Made famous by: The Shining

You may have read one (or several) of Stephen King’s many books or watched the accompanying movies. Well, it turns out that King was inspired to write The Shining after he visited this hotel. The Stanley Hotel is a turn-of-the-century establishment located in Estes Park, Colorado, near Rocky Mountain National Park. Apparently, even the literal King of horror (pun intended) was so spooked by his stay at this hotel that he wrote The Shining.

If you’ve never read the book or watched the movie directed by Stanley Kubrick, it’s the story of a man (infamously played by Jack Nicholson) who is hired to be the on-site groundskeeper/maintenance man for a hotel during the offseason. But shortly after his arrival with his family, spooky things begin to happen. And in real life, this gorgeous architectural gem that debuted in 1909 is said to be haunted. Rather than downplay this rumor, the hotel embraces it by acknowledging that The Shining renewed interest and investments in the space. If you’re up to the challenge, the Stanley Hotel even offers a night tour.

The Painted Ladies, San Francisco

Credit: MasterLu / iStock

Made famous by: Full House

San Francisco is an iconic and historic town in its own right. From the TransAmerica Building to its cable cars traveling up and down Powell Street, the city is a photographer’s dream. But if you grew up watching TGIF on ABC or you’re getting your nostalgia kicks from Netflix’s Fuller House, you’re probably familiar with this particular pop culture location. The Painted Ladies are Victorian-style homes that sit across from Alamo Square. Each of the homes is painted in three colors to help them stand out.

While this tourist attraction has continued to rise in appeal, you might be a bit bummed to realize that very little Full House filming took place in San Francisco. These iconic homes were used in the opening credits and in establishing shots of the show. In truth, only one episode, “Comet’s Excellent Adventure,”was shot in the city.

So do you have your bags packed yet? The next time you’re planning a vacation, definitely check out the “traditional” attractions. But also be sure to do a bit of Googling and find the pop culture sites that will take your trip to the next level.

The five Richest Cities In The World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Although money isn’t the most important thing in the world, we know that when it comes to picking stellar travel destinations, some of the best spots are cities that have the money. They tend to invest in attracting you there and making sure you have a good time.

To figure out which are the richest in the world, we looked at cities with the highest gross domestic product — basically, the strongest economies. Here’s a look at the cities that top the list.

London, England

London, England

Credit: IakovKalinin/iStock

GDP: $731.2 billion

Those bright red telephone booths that provide the perfect photo op on your visit can’t come cheap. Fortunately, London can afford it. If it’s good enough for the Queen of England’s home at Buckingham Palace, it’s good enough for us to visit. But even though the city has a reputation for being an expensive travel destination, there’s still plenty to do on a budget, from incredible food to free museums. We can’t recommend the Victoria and Albert Museum or the Tate Modern enough. Allow those generous donors in the fifth wealthiest city to bankroll your cultural education!

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Credit: Sean Pavone/iStock

GDP: $779.3 billion

This massive metropolis is where modern meets tradition, and luxury meets low-fi. Thanks to amazing food from street vendors, an emphasis on technology and Buddhist influence, there are countless reasons to love the city — including these 50. Stay in a luxury, futuristic hotel or in a hostel close to universities and nightlife. You want this city on your list of places to travel to in 2019.

Los Angeles, U.S.A.

Los Angeles, U.S.A.

Credit: choness/iStock

GDP: $789.7 billion

It makes sense that the city a bunch of movie stars call home would be one of the richest, right? It’s not all movie stars, of course, but Hollywood has no shortage of movie studios and glitz and glamour. Be sure to swing by luxurious Beverly Hills and shop (or at least window shop) on Rodeo Drive. And Venice Beach, on top of having the draw of the Pacific Ocean, boasts some of the most interesting people watching in the U.S. You definitely wouldn’t be bored in the City of Angels.

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New York, U.S.A.

New York, U.S.A.

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GDP: $1,210 billion

Home of Wall Street, New York City is the second wealthiest city in the world and the wealthiest in the U.S. We could tell you about all the things you can do there (from major attractions like Times Square and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to more subtle scenes like Brooklyn art galleries and hole-in-the-wall Manhattan restaurants), but odds are you already have a mental list of what you want to check out based on every movie and TV show you’ve ever seen. There’s no wrong way to do New York City.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Credit: yongyuan/iStock

GDP: $1,520 billion

The richest city in the world is also one of the most crowded, with a population of about 10 million. Japan’s capital combines the ancient and the brand new. You can do or see pretty much anything you could want to in the city. There are ancient temples and beautiful gardens. You can enjoy glittering nightlife and incredible technology. Stop in an exceptional, affordable restaurant or take in the quaint homes. The city is an international mecca. Don’t miss out on a chance to see what it has to offer.

Japan: Truth, Knowledge, History Of The East Asian Power House Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Japan

Introduction In 1603, a Tokugawa shogunate (military dictatorship) ushered in a long period of isolation from foreign influence in order to secure its power. For more than two centuries this policy enabled Japan to enjoy stability and a flowering of its indigenous culture. Following the Treaty of Kanagawa with the US in 1854, Japan opened its ports and began to intensively modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin Island. In 1931-32 Japan occupied Manchuria, and in 1937 it launched a full-scale invasion of China. Japan attacked US forces in 1941 – triggering America’s entry into World War II – and soon occupied much of East and Southeast Asia. After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power and a staunch ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, elected politicians – with heavy input from bureaucrats and business executives – wield actual decision-making power. The economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth, but Japan still remains a major economic power, both in Asia and globally.
History The first signs of occupation on the Japanese Archipelago appeared with a Paleolithic culture around 30,000 BC, followed from around 14,000 BC by the Jōmon period, a Mesolithic to Neolithic semi-sedentary hunter-gatherer culture of pit dwelling and a rudimentary form of agriculture. Decorated clay vessels from this period, often with plaited patterns, are some of the oldest surviving examples of pottery in the world.

The Yayoi period, starting around the third century BC, introduced new practices, such as wet-rice farming, iron and bronze-making and a new style of pottery, brought by migrants from China or Korea. With the development of Yayoi culture, a predominantly agricultural society emerged in Japan.

The Japanese first appear in written history in China’s Book of Han. According to the Chinese Records of Three Kingdoms, the most powerful kingdom on the archipelago during the third century was called Yamataikoku.

Buddhism was first introduced to Japan from Baekje of the Korean Peninsula, but the subsequent development of Japanese Buddhism and Buddhist sculptures were primarily influenced by China.[15] Despite early resistance, Buddhism was promoted by the ruling class and eventually gained growing acceptance since the Asuka period.[16]

The Nara period of the eighth century marked the first emergence of a strong central Japanese state, centered around an imperial court in the city of Heijō-kyō, or modern-day Nara. In addition to the continuing adoption of Chinese administrative practices, the Nara period is characterized by the appearance of a nascent written literature with the completion of the massive chronicles Kojiki (712) and Nihon Shoki (720).[17] (Nara was not the first capital city in Japan, though. Before Nara, Fujiwara-kyō and Asuka served as capitals of the Yamato state.)

In 784, Emperor Kammu moved the capital from Nara to Nagaoka-kyō for a brief ten-year period, before relocating it to Heian-kyō (modern-day Kyoto) in 794, where it remained for more than a millennium.[18] This marked the beginning of the Heian period, during which time a distinctly indigenous Japanese culture emerged, noted for its art, poetry and literature. Lady Murasaki’s The Tale of Genji and the lyrics of modern Japan’s national anthem, Kimi ga Yo were written during this time.

Japan’s feudal era was characterized by the emergence of a ruling class of warriors, the samurai. In 1185, following the defeat of the rival Taira clan, Minamoto no Yoritomo was appointed Shogun and established a base of power in Kamakura. After Yoritomo’s death, the Hōjō clan came to rule as regents for the shoguns. Zen Buddhism was introduced from China in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and became popular among the samurai class. The Kamakura shogunate managed to repel Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281, aided by a storm that the Japanese interpreted as a kamikaze, or Divine Wind. The Kamakura shogunate was eventually overthrown by Emperor Go-Daigo, who was soon himself defeated by Ashikaga Takauji in 1336.[20] The succeeding Ashikaga shogunate failed to control the feudal warlords (daimyo), and a civil war erupted (the Ōnin War) in 1467 which opened a century-long Sengoku period.

During the sixteenth century, traders and Jesuit missionaries from Portugal reached Japan for the first time, initiating active commercial and cultural exchange between Japan and the West (Nanban trade).

Oda Nobunaga conquered numerous other daimyo by using European technology and firearms and had almost unified the nation when he was assassinated in 1582. Toyotomi Hideyoshi succeeded Nobunaga and united the nation in 1590. Hideyoshi invaded Korea twice, but following several defeats by Korean and Ming China forces and Hideyoshi’s death, Japanese troops were withdrawn in 1598.

After Hideyoshi’s death, Tokugawa Ieyasu utilized his position as regent for Hideyoshi’s son Toyotomi Hideyori to gain political and military support. When open war broke out, he defeated rival clans in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Ieyasu was appointed shōgun in 1603 and established the Tokugawa shogunate at Edo (modern Tokyo). The Tokugawa shogunate enacted a variety of measures such as Buke shohatto to control the autonomous daimyo. In 1639, the shogunate began the isolationist sakoku (“closed country”) policy that spanned the two and a half centuries of tenuous political unity known as the Edo period. The study of Western sciences, known as rangaku, continued during this period through contacts with the Dutch enclave at Dejima in Nagasaki. The Edo period also gave rise to kokugaku, or literally “national studies”, the study of Japan by the Japanese themselves.

On March 31, 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry and the “Black Ships” of the United States Navy forced the opening of Japan to the outside world with the Convention of Kanagawa. Subsequent similar treaties with the Western countries in the Bakumatsu period brought Japan into economic and political crises. The abundance of the prerogative and the resignation of the shogunate led to the Boshin War and the establishment of a centralized state unified under the name of the Emperor (Meiji Restoration). Adopting Western political, judicial and military institutions, the Cabinet organized the Privy Council, introduced the Meiji Constitution, and assembled the Imperial Diet. The Meiji Restoration transformed the Empire of Japan into an industrialized world power that embarked on a number of military conflicts to expand the nation’s sphere of influence. After victories in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), Japan gained control of Taiwan, Korea, and the southern half of Sakhalin.[24]

The early twentieth century saw a brief period of “Taisho democracy” overshadowed by the rise of expansionism and militarization. World War I enabled Japan, which joined the side of the victorious Allies, to expand its influence and territorial holdings. Japan continued its expansionist policy by occupying Manchuria in 1931. As a result of international condemnation for this occupation, Japan resigned from the League of Nations two years later. In 1936, Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Nazi Germany, joining the Axis powers in 1941.

In 1937, Japan invaded other parts of China, precipitating the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), after which the United States placed an oil embargo on Japan.[26] On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States naval base in Pearl Harbor and declared war on the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. This act brought the United States into World War II. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, along with the Soviet Union joining the war against it, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender on August 15 (Victory over Japan Day).[27] The war cost Japan millions of lives and left much of the country’s industry and infrastructure destroyed. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, was convened by the Allies (on May 3, 1946) to prosecute Japanese leaders for war crimes such as the Nanking Massacre.

In 1947, Japan adopted a new pacifist constitution emphasizing liberal democratic practices. The Allied occupation ended by the Treaty of San Francisco in 1952[29] and Japan was granted membership in the United Nations in 1956. Japan later achieved spectacular growth to become the second largest economy in the world, with an annual growth rate averaging 10% for four decades. This ended in the mid-1990’s when Japan suffered a major recession. Positive growth in the early twenty-first century has signaled a gradual recovery.

Geography Location: Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula
Geographic coordinates: 36 00 N, 138 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 377,835 sq km
land: 374,744 sq km
water: 3,091 sq km
note: includes Bonin Islands (Ogasawara-gunto), Daito-shoto, Minami-jima, Okino-tori-shima, Ryukyu Islands (Nansei-shoto), and Volcano Islands (Kazan-retto)
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than California
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 29,751 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the international straits – La Perouse or Soya, Tsugaru, Osumi, and Eastern and Western Channels of the Korea or Tsushima Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
Terrain: mostly rugged and mountainous
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Hachiro-gata -4 m
highest point: Mount Fuji 3,776 m
Natural resources: negligible mineral resources, fish
Land use: arable land: 11.64%
permanent crops: 0.9%
other: 87.46% (2005)
Irrigated land: 25,920 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 430 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 88.43 cu km/yr (20%/18%/62%)
per capita: 690 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: many dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors) every year; tsunamis; typhoons
Environment – current issues: air pollution from power plant emissions results in acid rain; acidification of lakes and reservoirs degrading water quality and threatening aquatic life; Japan is one of the largest consumers of fish and tropical timber, contributing to the depletion of these resources in Asia and elsewhere
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
Geography – note: strategic location in northeast Asia
Politics Japan is a constitutional monarchy where the power of the Emperor is very limited. As a ceremonial figurehead, he is defined by the constitution as “the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people”. Power is held chiefly by the Prime Minister of Japan and other elected members of the Diet, while sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people.[31] The Emperor effectively acts as the head of state on diplomatic occasions. Akihito is the current Emperor of Japan. Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, stands as next in line to the throne.

 

People Population: 127,433,494 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.8% (male 9,024,344/female 8,553,700)
15-64 years: 65.2% (male 41,841,760/female 41,253,968)
65 years and over: 21% (male 11,312,492/female 15,447,230) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 43.5 years
male: 41.7 years
female: 45.3 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.088% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 8.1 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 8.98 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.055 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.014 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.732 male(s)/female
total population: 0.953 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 2.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.59 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 82.02 years
male: 78.67 years
female: 85.56 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.23 children born/woman (2007 est.)Nationality: noun: Japanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Japanese
Ethnic groups: Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.7%
note: up to 230,000 Brazilians of Japanese origin migrated to Japan in the 1990s to work in industries; some have returned to Brazil (2004)
Religions: observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)
Languages: Japanese
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99%

Strong earthquake reportedly buries homes in Hokkaido, Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Strong earthquake reportedly buries homes in Hokkaido, Japan

Tokyo (CNN)Landslides resulting from a preliminary magnitude 6.7 earthquake early Thursday on Japan’s Hokkaido island buried a “large” number of homes at the foot of a ridge, officials said.

At least 28 people were injured in the region and 20 residents in the town of Atsuma may be unaccounted for, officials said. Twenty of those injured were in the city of Sapporo.
The earthquake was followed by multiple aftershocks, including one registered at 5.4, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing the Japan Meteorological Agency. The US Geological Survey said the earthquake registered at 6.6.
Nearly 3 million households lost power, according to the Hokkaido Electric Power Company. Officials said a main power station lost operations, affecting other sites. Independently owned power generators were assisting.
“The electric supply was stopped to Tomari nuclear plant, but it can operate without external electric supply for one week,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Residents said they awoke to a powerful earthquake that lasted 30 seconds to one minute.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said 4,000 defense forces joined rescue operations, and that number could increase to a maximum of 25,000.
A woman covers her face as she takes shelter on a road following a strong earthquake in Sapporo.

Some streets were cut off by downed trees, and additional images from the broadcaster showed crumbled buildings.
Additionally, Japan Meteorological Agency officials told NHK that risks of aftershocks are substantial for as long as the next week. They warned residents about increased risks of collapse among buildings near the epicenter.

Japan executes seven cult leaders behind Tokyo Sarin attacks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Japan executes seven cult leaders behind Tokyo Sarin attacks

Shoko AsaharaImage copyrightAFP
Image caption Shoko Asahara headed the Aum Shimrikyo cult

Seven members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult which carried out a deadly chemical attack on the Tokyo underground in 1995 have been executed, including cult leader Shoko Asahara.

The Sarin attack, Japan’s worst terror incident, killed 13 people and injured thousands more.

The executions took place at a Tokyo detention house on Friday morning.

Japan does not give prior notice of executions, but they were later confirmed by the justice ministry.

Shoko Asahara and his followers were also accused of several other murders and an earlier Sarin gas attack in 1994 which killed eight and left 600 injured.

Their execution, by hanging, had been postponed until all those convicted had completed their final appeals. That happened in January.

Another six members of the cult are still on death row.

What was the Tokyo attack?

On 20 March 1995, cult members released the Sarin on the subway in the Japanese capital. They left punctured bags filled with liquid nerve agent on train lines going through Tokyo’s political district.

Witnesses described noticing the leaking packages and soon afterwards feeling stinging fumes hitting their eyes.

The toxin struck victims down in a matter of seconds, leaving them choking and vomiting, some blinded and paralysed. Thirteen people died.

In the following months, members of the cult carried out several failed attempts at releasing hydrogen cyanide in various stations.

Media captionWitness: Tokyo attack

The attack shocked Japan, a country that prided itself on low crime rates and social cohesion.

Scores of Aum members have faced trial over the attack – 13 were sentenced to death, including Asahara.

Another six are serving life sentences.

What is the Aum Shinrikyo cult?

The cult, whose name means “supreme truth”, began in the 1980s as a spiritual group mixing Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, later working in elements of apocalyptic Christian prophesies.

The group’s founder, Shoko Asahara, also known as Chizuo Matsumoto, declared himself to be both Christ and the first “enlightened one” since Buddha.

Aum cultist in Japan - 1999 file picImage copyrightAFP
Image captionAum Shinrikyo is believed to still have thousands of followers

Aum Shinrikyo gained official status as a religious organisation in Japan in 1989 and picked up a sizeable global following. At its peak, Asahara had tens of thousands of followers worldwide.

The group gradually became a paranoid doomsday cult, convinced the world was about to end in a global war and that only they would survive.

The cult went underground after the 1995 attack, but did not disappear, eventually renaming itself Aleph or Hikari no Wa.

Aum Shinrikyo is designated a terrorist organisation in the US and many other countries, but Aleph and Hikari no Wa are both legal in Japan, although designated as “dangerous religions” subject to surveillance.

It still has followers both in Japan and also worldwide, in particular in some countries of the former Soviet Union.

In 2016, police in Russia conducted a number of raids on suspected cult members in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Why has the execution been so delayed?

In Japan, death sentences are not carried out until the verdict against all accused and accomplices are final, with no pending appeals left against any of the group.

The trials against the cult members only wrapped up in January this year after the Supreme Court upheld the verdict against one member sentenced to life in prison.

There has been strong public support for the Aum convicts to be put to death.

Since an effective moratorium ended in 2010, Japan has executed as many as eight people a year.

The death penalty is only used for serious cases of murder and is carried out by hanging.

Officials do not give advance public notification – condemned prisoners themselves are usually only told they are to die a few hours before the sentence is carried out.

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