Taxi top lights, called andon (行灯) in Japanese after the Edo-era wood & paper lanterns, come in a variety of shapes and colors. Although originally used in the mid-1950s to discourage robberies, andon are now used as company logos or to advertise.
Japan -- Media Environment Open; State Looms Large (August 2009, PDF) [more inside]
Yamashita Kogyosho (jp) is a small manufacturer of about 30 people based in Kudamatsu, a city in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan. Like many small urban factories (so-called "machikoba"), they specialize in precision metalwork under contract to major corporations. But Yamashita Kogyosho is special: they create the noses for bullet trains. By hand. [more inside]
The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a not-for-profit company sponsored by the UK government, urges you to cut down on waste paper this holiday season and wrap your presents with furoshiki, the traditional Japanese wrapping cloth. [more inside]
Full of slurs and racist depictions of foreigners, the "Foreigner Underground Crime File" has been causing a stir in Japan. Under threat of boycott, many convenience store chains and online retailers have apologized and withdrawn the magazine. However, author Shigeki Sakai has not. Activist and naturalized Japanese citizen Arudou Debito and website Japan Probe respond. Though now out of stock, you can read the publication for yourself.