FILE PHOTO: A man and his grandchild walk onva street at Tokyo’s Sugamo district, an area popular among the Japanese elderly, Wednesday. | REUTERS
A heavy snow swept across western Japan this week, causing traffic disruptions and trapping many elderlies inside a home.
Shinichi Koike is one of the elderlies. He lives with his wife in Takamatsu village of Niigata Prefecture, where most residents are in their 60s or 70s, as the youngsters have left for big cities to seek fortune.
Every winter, Koike and his wife have to be fully prepared for the heavy snow.
“It often snows near my hometown in winter, so when winter arrives every year, my house will be like this, with a special layer of protection on the outside preventing the effects of the snow,” said Shinichi Koike, a villager.
As fallen trees brought down by the heavy snow have blocked the only way out, power supply and communication were broken off from the village. After the local authority carried out rushed repairs, the power supply was resumed as of Sunday.
In most parts of Japan, elderly residents who live alone have to remove snow by themselves due to expensive snow removal services. Local governments have called on communities to provide help for each other.
There are some elderly people who live alone in my village. They will ask relevant departments for help when it snows frequently, and the staff will bring snowplows. Our village is not big, so everyone can keep on living with the help from each other,” said the villager.
Now, most regions of Niigata Prefecture are still covered with snow. The local government has warned residents to take security measures when removing snow. — Reuters
Japan engineers create robot that transforms into car with men on-board
Transformer robot “J-deite-RIDE”
Japanese engineers unveiled on Wednesday, April 25 a robot that transforms into a car that can actually carry people on board, in what they said was the first-ever such accomplishment in the history of robots.
The 3.7-metre (12.1-feet)-tall two-seater robot “J-deite RIDE” can transform into a sports car in a process that takes about a minute. It can technically walk at 30 km/h (18.6 mph) or run on its four wheels but developers said they’ve never really tested it outside the factory cargo bay area.
CEO of Brave Robotics, Kenji Ishida, who initiated the co-project with Asratec, an affiliate of the Japanese mobile phone giant SoftBank, and a roller coaster manufacturer Sansei Technologies, said he was motivated by his childhood transformer heroes in anime movies.
While admitting that it may seem like an expensive toy, Ishida said the robot is an attempt to inspire others and broaden the human imagination. Developers said they will begin with utilizing the technology in the entertainment industry, such as amusement park and street parades. — Reuters
Part of mountain in Japan collapsed, one confirmed dead
At least one person is dead and five people are missing after a landslide in southwestern Japan.
Japanese authorities are still searching for several missing persons in southern Japan.
At least one person is dead and five people are missing after part of a mountain collapsed in a landslide over three residential homes in southern Japan on Wednesday.
Heavy equipment and the military have been called to dig out possible survivors after the tragedy struck the 5,000 strong community of Yabakei located some 20 kilometers from the center of Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture.
The landslide, which happened around 3:40 in the morning while people were still asleep carved a scar 200 meters with some neighbors fleeing in the dead of the night with little more than their clothes on their back after hearing what they at first thought was an earthquake.
“I saw that (the house where my sister and her family live) was completely buried, and only a half of their shed remained,” said a family member of missing person.
About 19 neighboring residents have been forced to evacuate for fear of the mountain further collapsing.
The cause of the landslide has yet to be determined, as rains and seismic activity was immediately ruled out as a possible cause.
Some experts, however, speculated an underground water source may have triggered the mountain’s collapse. — Reuters
Hokkaido is warned of the worst blizzard in years to hit the area
A screenshot from the video of Reuters showing men walking through a snowy weather
At least one person has died as the worst blizzard in years hit Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido on Friday, causing delays in train operations and canceled flights across the region.
A man working for a roadside assistance company and who went into a forest on foot trying to help a car stuck in the snow was later found dead, according to local media.
Over 300 trains in the region were canceled due to the blizzard, leaving many passengers stranded at railway stations.
A total 110 flights scheduled to depart from Hokkaido and Northern Japan were also canceled, according to the local media.
The meteorological agency warned people to avoid going out in what it described as the ‘worst blizzard in years’. — Reuters