Hideo Itokawa and Hayabusa

Hayabusa is the name of the first spacecraft that was able to bring a sample of material from an asteroid to our planet. Itokawa is the name of the asteroid in which the Japanese spacecraft took the samples three years ago before coming back to Earth.

“Hayabusa” (隼) means “falcon” in Japanese language and was also the name of the jet fighter that was feared the most by the allies during Second World War. This plane was designed by Hideo Itokawa, who is considered a pioneer of Japanese aerospace research.

Itokawa designed the first Japanese rockets that were able to launch into space, designed the first three Japanese satellites and several planes. He is considered a genius: he wrote dozens of books, some of them national best-sellers and at the same time he had time for other hobbies like basketball, golf, piano, violin or even European philosophy.

Just after finishing his studies at the Tokyo Imperial University, Itokawa designed the plane Nakajima Ki-43 that would be mass produced by the Japanese air force during the war; it was considered the most agile and maneuverable jet fighter of its time. The plane gained popularity and was known as Hayabusa (“Falcon”) by both, the Japanese and the allies.

Hayabusa and Hideo Itokawa
Nakajima Ki-43 plane, also known as Hayabusa, designed by Hideo Itokawa.

Hayabusa and Hideo Itokawa
Hayabusa‘s encounter with Itokawa

At the end of the war, the speed and maneuverability of the Hayabusa fighters designed by Itokawa made them ideal to be used as kamikaze.

Most of Itokawa’s Hayabusa were destroyed in kamikaze operations. Sixty years later, the Hayabusa spacecraft met with the asteroid Itokawa 254,316,600 Km from us. After several technical problems, the Hayabusa spacecraft was able to come back to our planet, disintegrating almost completely while entering the atmosphere (except a small capsule in the interior with the Itokawa asteroid samples) as if it were a Hayabusa kamikaze fighter.

This is the last picture that Hayabusa took, after its encounter with Itokawa, before disintegrating into our atmosphere.

Hayabusa last picture

For every Hayabusa kamikaze mission at the end of the war in the summer of 1945, many tears were shed from Japanese eyes. Last summer, when Hayabusa disintegrated while coming back to Earth also many tears were shed, but this time it was quite different.

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The Evolution of Manga

I found this very interesting image at 2ch that shows in a quite extreme way the evolution of the drawing style of manga since the Edo era (last frame) until nowadays (first frame). The frame of the Edo era is not really manga but you can already see the fundamentals of what the style would be a century later in Japanese manga. The most exaggerated frame is the second one, belonging to the 90s, the golden era of shōjo manga, like for example Sailor Moon. The third one corresponds to the Dragon Ball years, and the fourth and fifth have an Osamu Tezuka and Tetsuya Chiba (Ashita no Joe) feel. On the other hand the first frame corresponds to the manga style mostly used in the last decade, maybe the most neuter and boring one.

The Evolution of Manga

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Winter in the mountains in Japan

Almost every winter it snows in Tokyo at least a couple of days, leaving some parks and temples unrecognizable. However the most beautiful winters in Japan are not in Tokyo but in the interior of the country, which is totally covered in white creating an idyllic atmosphere that makes you forget that you are in one of the most populated countries in the world. Any season is great to visit Japan, it all depends on how you want to enjoy it: hot or cold; green, white, pink or even yellow
I took these pictures in Gunma, Tochigi and Yamanashi prefectures two weeks ago:

雪灯篭
Tourou covered in snow.

Snow in Japan

Snow in Japan

Japanese winter

Japanese winter

Japan winter

Japanese winter

Snow in Japanese mountains

Snow in Japan

Snow in mountains in Japan

Snow in Japan

Japan winter far from the coast

Japan winter far from the coast

Japan winter far from the coast

Japan winter far from the coast

Japan winter far from the coast

Japan winter far from the coast

Japan snow

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Suidobashi

Suidobashi is one of the historic bridges in Japan that is still preserved nowadays. Suidobashi bridge crosses the river Kanda in downtown Tokyo; in the past it was used by merchants, travelers, warriors and samurai that followed the Tokaido route (that linked the present cities of Tokyo and Kyoto).

This is how Suidobashi bridge and some areas of downtown Tokyo looked 200 or 300 years ago as represented by ukiyo-e artists:

Suidobashi

Kanda river and Suidobashi bridge
Kanda river and Suidobashi bridge.

Suidobashi bridge and mount fuji
Suidobashi bridge and mount Fuji on the horizon.

Suidobashi

Suidobashi

And this is how Suidobashi bridge and its surroundings look nowadays:

Suidobashi

Suidobashi

Suidobashi

Suidobashi. Roller coaster through building
A roller coaster passing through a building!

Suidobashi
Google Maps view. The white thing is Tokyo Dome stadium

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More thin buildings

Lately I haven’t updated my collection of pictures of thin buildings but I’ve found this post in weburbanist with some pictures of extremely thin buildings in Japan. It is not rare to spot one of these buildings in Japan; I’m not sure but I think that the laws to partition the land are somehow special and that’s why sometimes you can find four buildings occupying the space that could be used for a single normal building.

Thin building

Thin building

Thin building

Thin building

Thin building

Thin building

Thin building

More photos and information in Weburbanist.

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Cat-friendly house by Asahi Kasei

Asahi Kasei, the company where I worked six years ago researching about speech recognition systems, also designs and builds houses. One of their latest designs is a house specially designed to live together with cats.

The cat-friendly house is designed so that humans can coexist with several cats while the cats can move in total freedom around all the house. The house includes a WC for cats, doors for cats, stairs that only cats can use…

Cat house

Cat house

Cat house in Japan

Cat house in Japan

Source: Fayerwayer

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