Archive for October 2011

Longest-Range Headed Goal Ever (58m) Scored in Japanese Second Division

October 31, 2011

Longest-Range Headed Goal Ever (58m) Scored in Japanese Second Division

YouTube User FootballTsubu: J2ファジアーノ岡山 世界最長級58mヘディングシュート, October 30, 2011

Title: J2 Fagiano Okayama: Longest-Range Headed Goal Ever
Corner Display: J2 Week 33, Yokohama FC vs. Okayama
Transcript: Okay! Yokohama FC and Okayama, the 14th minute of the second half. FC’s keeper makes a goal kick. Okayama’s Ueda (first name Ryūjirō, age 23) heads it…and…somehow…JUST LIKE THAT…GOAL! (Color Man: “Now that’s unusual! That’s surprising.)

Please take another look at it. There. Now, people were saying the field was slippery because it had been raining since before the game started that day, but… After the game, Yokohama FC measured the distance on this über-lucky ball… So, how many meters did it travel?

(Yokohama FC Member Shin Nagamine: “57 meters, 80 centimeters.”) That’s 50 centimeters longer than the 57.30-meter goal made in the Norwegian league this September, considered the longest header on record [currently a Guinness World Applicant]. But it hasn’t yet been decided whether a Guinness application will be made on behalf of this goal.

Underwater Eruption Covers Unique Area with Great Biodiversity

October 30, 2011

Video: Volcanic Eruption in El Hierro
El Hierro Underwater Eruption

Underwater Eruption Covers Unique Area with Great Biodiversity
The marine reserve in La Restinga has allowed excellent conservation of the area
El País: La erupción submarina cubre una zona única de gran biodiversidad
Bernardo Marín reporting from Valverde, Canary Islands October 14, 2011

Disquieting stains on the sea are evidence of an underwater eruption which close to the Sea of Calm in the southeast of El Hierro (Canary Islands). A place of enormous ecological interest, with “a very high level of biodiversity in an excellent state of conservation,”in the words of Alberto Brito, professor of Zoology and Oceanography at the University of La Laguna. A unique place where tropical species live together with others more characteristic to temperate waters. “There are populations of cetaceans living here permanently, like the bottlenose dolphin, two stable populations of beaked whales, Hierran lobsters, sometimes whale sharks, and a beautiful, little-eroded sea floor of black coral,” he says.

For the moment, Brito is not too worried about the health of this rich ecosystem and says that, if there is damage, it should recuperate as normal when the eruptions cease. “Today we were able to begin work with the beaked whale population in El Hierro, and everything was normal,” he assured. But he also says there is risk for species that live deeper down and the threat would increase if there is another eruption closer to the coast, where the reserve is located and where there is greater biodiversity, a possibility which scientists have not yet ruled out.

Santiago Hernández, Professor of Zoology at the University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, doesn’t want to be an alarmist, either. In his statements to [press agency] Efe, he has stressed that there is no need to fear the gas emanating from the sea, which only affects fauna in a transitory and momentary way. Previous experience indicates to him that recovery will be rapid.

The secret to conserving the area is the creation, after a petition by fishermen, of the marine reserve in 1996. Fernando Gutiérrez, president of the fishermen’s association of La Restinga and one of the driving forces of that campaign, said the reserve was created to safeguard the sea. “We have eradicated longline fishing, fish traps, kites, and this has assured exemplary fishing which is totally sustainable,” he affirms. But the value of the reserve is not just piscatorial.

The marine reserve is 7.5 square kilometers. Only scientific diving can be done within its heart, called the integral reserve. Outside that is a so-called buffer, where fishing is restricted to catching tuna with hooks and live bait. Finally, there is the normal reserve, where several kinds of fishing can be practiced. The extreme southeast of the island has permanently good weather, without even wind, hence the water there is named the Sea of Calm. This circumstance encourages overfishing, which is why the reserve was created.

In addition to the piscatorial and ecological interest of the area, the south of the island is crucial to the economy of El Hierro, as it is an all-world mecca of diving. Before transit was canceled on Saturday, boats set out for Photo Sub, a photography contest of global reach. The divers enjoyed a bed of corals. Scientists of the National Geographic Institute showed a fractured black coral as evidence of the eruption.

This afternoon, this natural paradise appeared to be covered by a dark green and brown stain only a mile from the coast. It was much closer than the two made out yesterday. The Government of the Canary Islands has assured that this is not evidence of a new eruptive focus; it is merely a “fumaroliana emission” (of gas) and an evolution of the previous stains. While lacking analysis, the experts explained that volcanoes expel carbon dioxide composed of sulfur, nitrogen, fluorine, and chlorine in distinct proportions.

CSIC scientist Ramón Ortiz explained on the island that the stain “is anecdotal”, that there is a crevice, and that magma flows to one place in some cases and another place in others, and that one cannot predict whether it will advance toward the coast or the sea. He added that precautions can only be taken in a matter of hours.

Madrid Reinvents Sushi

October 29, 2011

Madrid Kabuki Sushi
Three pieces created in Kabuki mark the different paths of Madrileño sushi’s creative development. Photo by Joaquín Secall.

Madrid Reinvents Sushi
It all began seven years ago in Kabuki. A daring chef put truffle pâté and scallion in a nigiri of Atlantic halibut. He unwittingly began a revolution which has turned Madrid into a capital of Japanese fusion.
El País: Madrid reinventa el ‘sushi’
Carmen Pérez-Lanzac reporting from Madrid October 28, 2011

In the summer of 2010, Luis Arévalo locked himself up for three months in a local restaurant in Fuenlabrada and set about the difficult task of starting a luxury restaurant from scratch, the first to be 100% under his control. After his professional formation in Japanese restaurants in Peru, Chile, and Spain, the sushiman had realized the dream of every aspiring chef: two investors had offered to help him open a local restaurant. “The only thing that matters to us is the bottom line,” they said. Arévalo, a 42-year old who hails from Iquitos in the Peruvian jungle, now remembers those days while cleaning an enormous piece of fish belly (the prized toro) behind the bar of Nikei 225, his luxury restaurant (15 Castellana Street). “The first two weeks, my creativity was blocked. Then I realized that the key was my memories of what I had eaten during my life.”

Arévalo took typically Peruvian flavors – kebabs and heart brochettes, yellow pepper, Huancaína sauce – and began to combine them with sushi. “With the help of a table, I crossed different sauces with different seafood. That’s how I learned that Huancaína sauce doesn’t go with salmon, but it does go with scallops, and Atlantic halibut was perfect for marinated kebabs.” From the luck of the laboratory came, among other discoveries, a dozen nigiris which have contributed to the success of the restaurant. This chef who arrived in Spain by bus from France to get around customs and who worked without papers (“until Saint Zapatero gave them to me”) behind the bars of various Japanese restaurants is now “one of the best nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian fusion) cooks in the world,” according to gastronomic critic José Carlos Capel.

Every day more palates know the pleasure of a traditional nigiri (literally “fistfuls”), the bite-sized combination of a piece of raw fish (or seafood) on a ball of rice (prepared with vinegar, sugar, and salt) which when eaten provokes an explosion of contrasts that forces a diner to close his eyes in pure delight. In Madrid, in addition to the widespread popularity of traditional sushi, which is at an all-time high, there is a second generation of creative chefs that would scandalize many Japanese. Recognized sushimen who were born far from Asia are reinventing the product here in their own fashion. “They don’t have any mental barriers; they are more free and adventurous,” says Roger Ortuño, publicist and author of the web site comerjapones.com (“Eat Japanese”), which receives more than 56,000 unique visitors per month.

In addition to restaurants where one can find sushi with touches of fusion, like the U.S.-inspired makis (rolls) at Miyama (5 Flor Baja and 45 Castellana), the temaki (hand-rolled sushi) with Mexican spice at Minabo (8 Caracas), one must add another group of restaurants that have converted the city into a paradise for diners who like to experiment: the two Kabuki (2 Presidente Carmona and 6 Velázquez), the two 99 Sushi Bars (4 Hermosilla and 99 Ponzano), Nikkei 225 (15 Castellana), and Soy (58 Viriato). They are first class restaurants at which, even if one shows great self-control, it’s difficult to spend less than 50 euros per head.

To understand this trend, one must return to 2003, to the Kabuki on Presidente Carmona Street. There, the sushiman Ricardo Sanz, who had already added touches of olive oil and Maldon salt to sashimi (raw fish), made a leap of faith. Inspired by the classic rusk canapé with butter and imitation caviar, he created a nigiri of Atlantic halibut with truffle pâté and scallion. “It was a bombshell,” recalls Chef David Arauz, who then worked for Kabuki, “a novel nigiri that has now gone worldwide.”

After this success, Sanz continued inventing. Inspired by the cojonudos of Burgos (a tapa with quail egg and chorizo) and the huevo roto with truffle which his friend Abraham García was serving in Viridiana, he created a nigiri with fried quail egg and truffle pâté. After that, in self-homage (he’d run a hamburger shop for 22 years), he invented a nigiri using wagyu (Japanese beef) hamburger with tomato and onion.

Eight years have passed, and the creations of this restaurant have been shamelessly copied in dozens of restaurants. Sanz, for his part, has not stopped innovating with his favorite dishes as reference. He has turned the grouper with suckling pig typical to Mallorca into a nigiri of grouper with Iberian bacon. Madrileño stew inspired gunkan (nigiri wrapped in seaweed) with bone marrow and huevos rotos with ham, bull tartar, quail egg, and Canary potato.

All this experimentation is not unanimously approved of. Pedro Espina of Soy, the only one of the aforementioned chefs to train in Japan, has a more traditional perspective. His story is worth telling. He hails from a town in Murcia and competed in martial arts in the smallest weight class, which obligated him to stay under 58 kilograms. “I suffered much – like anorexics, poor things – everywhere but Japan, where I ate and didn’t gain weight. That ended my depression. I was amazed, and I became an apprentice at a local restaurant.”

Espina does not consider himself a sushiman but rather an itamae. It’s something different. Each nigiri should have its reiki (spirit). You should live in an almost spiritual state,” he explained. “The ingredients have a cycle of life, and you take them in your hand and take them to the next cycle.” Espina tries to make the most of the best Spanish resources in order to realize his creations, but he is not in favor of certain mixes: “cooking is like music. Before composing, you must master the theory. A nigiri is a fusion of ingredients, a fiesta of feelings, but there had to be a harmony. I hope my companions forgive me, but I don’t agree with certain mixes which are bad for the body. We’ve run a lot.”

In addition to Ricardo Sanz of Kabuki, others who trained with him have put their own stamps on the nigiri: in addition to Arévalo, there is the Madrileño David Arauz (age 34), who began to create his own as manager of the 99 Sushi Bar in Hermosilla. Among other creations, he made a gunkan of salt cod brandade and kaffir lime on a wafer of yolk and sesame. “We all like to add our own personal touch, to make one more,” he says in defense of his desire to experiment. “Sushi is being reinvented everywhere, but for some reason not at the same pace as in Madrid. Here we’re more perseverant.”

Sanz’s latest creations (which netted the Kabuki Wellington the first Michelin star for a Spanish Japanese restaurant) give the lie to the impulsiveness of his mind: for example nigiris of barbecued organic vegetables and of bull with grated tomato and crunchy rice bathed in coffee and milk, an homage to the pa amb tomàquet which he likes to dip in his coffee cup at breakfast. Albert Raurich, a disciple of Ferran Adrià and the only Spaniard who runs a luxury Japanese restaurant in Barcelona (Dos Palillos), broke into laughter when he heard of Sanz’s latest invention: “Ricardo is going to the madhouse!” he says. “[But seriously,] he’s a great sushiman who’s very level-headed. If anyone else made it, it would be a catastrophe, but I trust his judgment,” he concedes. Sanz, for his part, struggles to theorize about his success: “When I spend a day behind the bar, it’s difficult to have a sense of perspective. The reality is that I’m basically alone,” he says. “There isn’t a road to tell me which way to go. I believe in my instinct. What I see is that Madrid is one of the European cities with the highest quality Japanese cuisine. It’s astonishing. And it’s such a curious touristic draw that I don’t understand why it hasn’t been exploited more.”

Grand Steward of Imperial Household Agency Says Need to Settle Rule of Succession “Becoming Urgent”

October 28, 2011

Grand Steward of Imperial Household Agency Says Need to Settle Rule of Succession “Becoming Urgent”
Yomiuri Shimbun: 皇位継承見直し「緊急性高まる」…宮内庁長官
October 27, 2011

The Grand Steward of the Imperial Household Agency, Shingo Haketa, said the following about the current succession system, under which women in the royal family must leave the imperial household if they marry, during a regular press conference on the 27th: “The princesses are approaching marriageable age. The succession laws regarding their ability to participate in the official activities of the royal family [after marriage] should be settled.”

As for taking another look at the Imperial Household Law, which holds that only male descendants of male heirs can be considered for the throne, he said “matters of state must be debated in the Diet, but the urgency of the issue is increasing. This isn’t something we can take our time on.” He has communicated the same message to the Noda Cabinet.

He also answered questions about imperial succession. Prince Akishino’s eldest daughter Mako turned 20 [the age of majority] on the 23rd, increasing the number of unmarried royal adults with official responsibilities to six, but if she married, she would become a commoner. In addition, if the current Imperial Household Law holds force, allowing only male descendants of male heirs to inherit could become problematic [the emperor has 8 granddaughters and 1 grandson].

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Why Has the Thai Flood Lasted So Long?

October 27, 2011

NASA Photo Comparing Thai Floods of 2008 and 2011
NASA Image comparing the flood zones of Oct. 25, 2011 (top) and Nov. 11, 2008 (bottom). Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River are marked to the south.

Why Has the Thai Flood Lasted So Long?
Yomiuri Shimbun: タイ大洪水、なぜ長期化?
Mashi Arai reporting from Bangkok October 27, 2011

The submerged land area in Thailand is still expanding, and the flooding is becoming a long term problem, because the amount of rain is unprecedented and the affected area has gentle terrain.

According to the Thai Weather Bureau, this year’s rainy season (May to October) there was 50% more precipitation than usual in the area of the Chao Phraya River, which connects the north and south of the country. It was the most rain in 60 years.

According to Mr. Akira Terakawa’s analysis of the river environment for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, the industrial parks which host several Japanese businesses in the Ayutthaya Region and surrounding environs, now in the center of the flood zone, were designed to handle one big rainfall every ten years; this year’s mass precipitation was unexpected.

As opposed to Japan, whose steep terrain causes water to flow away quickly, Thailand has gentle terrain and slow-flowing rivers.

This weekend, a high tide is expected in the Gulf of Thailand, which will make it more difficult for river water to approach the sea.

If floodwater were to breach Bangkok for the first time, it would arrive in a calm flow, not a quick push.

Once the water arrived, however, removing it would take time. Rangsit University Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Seri Supharatid predicts that “if there were full-scale flooding in Bangkok, it would take more than a month to remove the water.”

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National Personnel Authority Proposes 0.23% Pay Cut for Japanese National Public Servants; Government Proposes 7.8% Cut; NPA and LDP Call Gov’t Plan Unconstitutional

October 26, 2011

National Personnel Authority Proposes 0.23% Pay Cut for Japanese National Public Servants; Government Proposes 7.8% Cut; NPA and LDP Call Gov’t Plan Unconstitutional
Yomiuri Shimbun: 公務員給与削減に自民反発…人勧見送り「違憲」
October 26, 2011

On the 25th, the National Personnel Authority set its fiscal policy recomendations for 2011, which include decreasing public employees’ average salaries by 0.23%.

In order to secure funding for the Great Tōhoku Earthquake recovery effort, a proposal to cut the average national public servant’s salary by 7.8% has been given priority for the current Diet session, but the opposition Liberal Democratic Party sees the recommendation as problematic, so its passage is not expected.

On the night of the 25th, Prime Minister Noda met Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura, Minister of Internal Affairs and Comunications Minister Kawabata, and Democratic Party of Japan Policy Chief Maehara at Noda’s official residence. They agreed to pursue a swift ratification of the salary decrease plan.

According to this revision, by the end of fiscal 2013, national public servants’ monthly salaries would decrease by 10%, 8%, or 5% in comparison to the current plan. Including cuts in bonuses, ¥290 billion in personnel costs would be saved. The plan was proposed at the last Diet session and is still being deliberated in the Lower House.

Regardless, on the recommendation of the National Personnel Authority, the average national public servant’s salary would decrease 0.23%, saving an estimated ¥12 billion in fiscal 2011. Because the volume of salary reductions in the government plan is much greater than that, “passing the government plan would be in keeping with the spirit of the National Personal Authority’s recommendation” (in the words of the Internal Affairs and Comunications leadership) so it would be unnecessary to carry out the latter plan as well.

According to the National Personal Authority, however, since the goverment requests recommendations from the National Personnel Authority out of respect for labor and as a substitute for collective bargaining (Japan’s national public servants are restricted by law from bargaining with the government over their salaries), ignoring the NPA’s recommendations would be “constitutionally problematic.” Liberal Democratic Party Chief Secretary Ishihara is also critical, saying “in a sense, it’s unconstitutional. The argument that the salary reduction follows the NPA’s recommendation doesn’t hold up.”

Gov't Public Employee Salary Cut Proposal

Outline of Salary Reduction-Related Proposals for National Public Servants
Government Salary Reduction Plan
In order to secure funds for the Great Tōhoku Earthquake Recovery, decrease the monthly salary of national public servants by an average of 7.8%: 10% for department and office heads, 8% for assistants to department heads and subsection chiefs, and 5% for regular staff. Cut bonuses by 10%.

National Public Servant System
In order to establish a self-regulating relationship with labor, expand the rights in the basic labor law. This would include granting national public servants the right to conclude their own contracts, abolishing the National Personnel Authority and its recommendation system, and establishing a Public Servants’ Agency to lead collective bargaining over these servants’ wages. This proposal would be passed in tandem with the salary reduction above.

National Personnel Authority Recommendation
In order to correlate national public servants’ salaries with those of the general population, decrease the former’s salary by an average of 0.23%, or ¥15,000 ($200) per person, by reducing salaries for those in their 50s by 0.5% and for those in their 40s by 0.4%. Salaries for those in their 30s or below would not be changed. Bonuses would remain as they are. The government would have to carry this recommendation out.

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Emperor Congratulates Women’s World Cup Team, Says He Was “Surprised” by Kaihori’s PK Save

October 25, 2011

Japanese Emperor, Coach Sasaki, and Captain Sawa
Coach Sasaki (center) and Captain Sawa (right) of “Nadeshiko Japan”, the Women’s World Cup Champions, have a pleasant chat with the Emperor during a party at the Akasaka Imperial Garden the afternoon of the 13th. Photo by Hidetoshi Nakata.

Emperor Congratulates Women’s World Cup Team, Says He Was “Surprised” by Kaihori’s PK Save
Yomiuri Shimbun: 陛下「びっくりしました」…海堀のPK足止め
October 13, 2011

The Emperor and Empress hosted an autumnal party at the Akasaka Imperial Gardens on the 13th. 1980 people attended, including Coach Sasaki and the rest of the Japanese women’s soccer team, nicknamed “Nadeshiko Japan”, which won the Women’s World Cup this summer.

The Emperor said to Coach Sasaki that when keeper Ayumi Kaihori blocked a penalty kick with her legs in the championship game, “I was surprised that such a thing was possible.” Coach Sasaki jokingly replied, “She was possessed by a spirit.

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