Yamaoka Tesshu 山岡鉄舟

Yamaoka Tesshu 山岡 鉄舟(1836-1888) was an outstanding sword master in the Late Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meiji era, often considered to be the last of the great swordsmen of Japanese martial history. He was also a noted Zen master and an accomplished calligrapher. Read More »

Ajinomoto KK Supplies Most of the World’s Medical Amino Acid

In 1956 Morishita Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. launched the sale of the first amino acid crystal infusion (Moriamin,) introducing this medical treatment to the world. Now Ajinomoto KK (味の素) accounts for 60% of the world’s share of amino acid for medical treatment. Read More »

The original lyrics of “Kimigayo” were the oldest in the world

The national anthem of Japan, “Kimigayo”, is a song of celebration, expressing our wish that the Emperor’s reign would last for all the eons that it would take for tiny pebbles to mass together into a great moss-covered boulder. Read More »

World’s finest ballpoint pen

January 2005. MITSUBISHI PENCIL (三菱鉛筆). 0.18mm in ball diameter. PILOT CORPORATION (パイロット) put the finest ballpoint pen in the world, 0.13mm in width of line, on the market, in March 2004, the year before. The pen point is super-hard and 0.23mm in diameter, and super-minute-grain biotechnology Polymer ink is used. The ballpoint pens of 0.15mm in width of line were manufactured 100 million or more, and sold the most in the world.

France attracted by Japan’s National Flag ‘Hinomaru’

At the time of Japan’s modernization during the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the beautiful ‘Hinomaru’ design attracted a great deal of attention from ambassadors of many countries. France sent formal delegates of her government to Japan, and asked the new Meiji Administration to sell the ‘Hinomaru’ design to France for five million yen (equivalent to twenty billion yen at the present time). Read More »

Discovery of a primitive galaxy almost as large as the Milky Way Galaxy

The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (国立天文台) and others (Koji Ohta and others of Kyoto University, Tohoku University and the University of Tokyo) discovered a primitive galaxy almost as large as the Milky Way Galaxy, and announced it in Nature Magazine, Aug. 1. 1996. Ohta, K., Yamada, T., Nakanishi, K., Kohno, K., Akiyama, M. and Kawabe, R., “Detection of Molecular Gas in the Quasar BR1202 – 0725 at Redshift z = 4.69” , Nature 382 (1996) 426 Read More »

The Japanese who gave their lives for the independence of Indonesia

Japan supported revolutionaries in colonies around the world. President Sukarno in Indonesia was one of them. Read More »

Ukiyoe 浮世絵: Dreams of Beautiful Japan

In the mid-19th century, when the artists in Europe were exposed to the influx of the decorative artworks from Japan, they were fascinated by the unique artistic insight and imagination in them. Especially, Ukiyoe 浮世絵, the Japanese woodblock painting, became a crucial source of inspiration for many innovative artists, and exerted a considerable influence on the development of the new styles of arts including Impressionism and Art Nouveau. Read More »

Former Prime Minister Kukrit Pramoj Expressed his Admiration for Japan

In June 1955, a former Lieutenant-General, Aketo Nakamura, who had served as Commander of the troops of the Imperial Army of Japan stationed in the country, was invited to the Kingdom of Thailand under the honored title of state guest. Read More »

Sky Gate Bridge R: The longest truss bridge in the world

Construction on the access bridge to Kansai International Airport (KIX) was finished in March 1994 and was opened to traffic in September of the same year. It has a total length of 3,750m and is the longest truss bridge in the world. The bridge supports both road and rail access to the airport. Read More »

Honda’s development of the air bag system for 2-wheeled vehicles

In September 2005, Honda Motor Co. Ltd (ホンダ) was the first to develop an air bag system for 2-wheeled vehicles to be included in mass production. The air bag reduces injury to the rider in the case of a front-end collision. Read More »

Praise and regret of Japanophile, Einstein

When Einstein stayed in Japan for a lecture in 1922, he said, “During these several weeks, I have come not only to respect Japan as a scientific nation, but also love it from the standpoint of a human being. I have been in Japan for more than a month, and I have been specially impressed by how modest and sincere Japanese people are. Read More »

Minoru Saito 斉藤実

Minoru Saito (斉藤 ) completed a non-stop solo circumnavigation of the world by sail, becoming the oldest challenger at the age of 71.
In 2006 Saito was the first Asian to receive the Blue Water Medal, the greatest honor among amateur yachtsmen.
Read More »

Kanehiro Takaki: A Pioneer in the Investigation of Beriberi

Kanehiro Takaki (高木 兼寛) was a pioneer in the investigation of beriberi in the late 19 century.
He was the first to discover that beriberi was caused by nutritional deficiency.

At the time, soldiers in the Imperial Japanese Navy suffered from beriberi. Takaki, Director General of Japanese Naval Medical Services, noticed a correlation between the diet of sailors and beriberi. In the course of improving the diet, he succeeded in eradicating the disease in the Japanese Navy. Read More »

The first floating turnable bridge in the world: Yumemai-ohashi

Yumemai-ohashi was built between Maishima, the artificial island built in the Gulf of Osaka, and Yumeshima Island in the Konohana Ward of Osaka City in 2001. This was the first floating turntable bridge constructed in the world. Read More »

Torajiro Yamada devoted himself to friendly relations between Turkey and Japan all his life

In 1890, Torajiro Yamada, 24 years old at the time, felt great sympathy for the Turkish ship in distress Ertugrul. He walked throughout Japan collecting donations which he took to Turkey. Read More »

Samurai and Bushido

The samurai history is very old. It can be traced back to the ninth century, when local powerful families and influential farmers became armed in order to prevent infringements by enemies. This developed into the samurai class system before long. Read More »

The national flag of Bangladesh based on the Japanese flag of the Rising Sun

Bangladesh’s national flag was established from the model of the Japanese flag of the Rising Sun. The red circle on the flag expresses the sun that rises, while the green conveys the rich earth. Moreover, the red symbolizes the blood of those killed in the war of independence. Read More »

Toru Takemitsu 武満徹 The Giant in International Contemporary Music

Toru Takemitsu (武満 ) was a giant in international contemporary music. While writing music in the Western tradition, he preserved the legacy of Japanese cultural tradition and brought it into a remarkable synthesis with the Western and Japanese instrumentation and sounds.

Takemitsu gained the worldwide recognition as a composer when his Requiem for strings (1957) was hailed as a masterpiece by Igor Stravinsky in 1958 during his visit to Japan.

Ayako Uehara: the small but great pianist who stunned the world

In 2002, Ayako Uehara (上原 彩子) became the first woman (and Japanese citizen) to win the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. She is less than 5 feet tall, yet she played the music of Tchaikovsky with great volume and grandness. People all over the world were stunned by her performance. Read More »