Wednesday, May 12, 2010

News Blast

Copyright © 2010 AFP
Tokyo samurai women punish fat with sword workout

Japan's ancient samurai swords were once used to slice apart enemies, but in a new fitness craze they serve to slash away at extra pounds and cut down on modern-day stress instead. "Cut down!", a sword-wielding instructor shouted during a recent "Samurai Camp" gym session in Tokyo as a squad of sweat-drenched women warriors followed suit, slashing the air with their shiny blades. "Put your right foot forward, cut down straight, thrust out your chest, no bending of the back," the instructor yelled to the sound of a techno dance beat and swooshing weapons. "Punish the extra fat with this!" To avoid turning the health workout into a bloodbath, the swords are made of wood and urethane foam, but the determination of the participants is steely: the goal is to shed five kilograms (11 pounds) in about a month.

U.S. transport chief test-rides Japan magnetic train

The U.S. transport chief took a test ride Tuesday on Japan's super-fast magnetic train, a contender for President Barack Obama's multi-billion-dollar national high speed railway project. Japan is up against China, France, Germany and other bidders as it seeks to sell its Shinkansen bullet and magnetic train systems for the American rail plan, which is backed by 13 billion dollars in public funding. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he looked forward to "the thrill of a lifetime" as he boarded the train for a 500 kilometre (310 mile) per hour ride at the Yamanashi Maglev Test Line near Mount Fuji.

One-on-one counselors to be introduced to support jobless people  

The government decided Tuesday to introduce counselors to support those who are unemployed over a long duration one-on-one in fiscal 2011. At a meeting to tackle the unemployment issue, Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, "It is necessary to support needy persons individually and continuously." The government plans to allocate the costs for the program in the fiscal 2011 national budget. The counselors are expected to help unemployed people find jobs and accommodation.

WHO: Japan's life expectancy longest at 83 years

Japan and San Marino in Europe have the world's longest life expectancy at 83 years, according to the World Health Organization. On Monday, the U.N. body released World Health Statistics 2010, which is based on surveys conducted in 2008 and covers 193 WHO member countries. By gender, Japanese women boast the longest average life expectancy at 86 years, followed by France, Andorra and Monaco at 85 years. Japanese men were ranked 4th at 79 years, following San Marino at 81 years, and Iceland and Switzerland at 80 years.

Tokyo matchmaking services getting more diverse

Matchmaking services in Tokyo now come in a variety of forms -- even one aimed at bringing together cat lovers. So-called "cat cafe" Nyafe Melange in Tokyo's Ebisu district, where cuddly cats are on hand to be petted, is hosting lessons for singles on photographing their favorite animal. "There are many people who are getting bored of the ordinary style of matchmaking events, in which men go around the seats to talk to women," said Kazumi Nokajima, organizer of the event for cat lovers.

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