Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

Japanese Market Gives Up Checking Proof of Age

Japanese Market Gives Up Checking Proof of Age

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Aeon says it will no longer ask all customers to confirm they are adults

Older customers were so bothered by being asked their age that some stores have decided not to do that any more.

It’s a rare adult who is upset by being mistaken for a much younger person, but apparently enough people in Japan have been offended by being asked to confirm they are over the age of 20 that a major supermarket chain has decided to lighten up on checking proof of age.

According to Rocket News 24, Aeon Group says it will no longer automatically ask customers if they are over 20 years old when buying alcohol or cigarettes. 20 is the legal age to buy alcohol and cigarettes in Japan, and Rocket News 24 reports that customers would not have been questioned by cashiers anyway, because the proof of age system is automated.

Under the current system, the customer faces a touch screen at the point of sale. When the cashier rings up the goods, if an item is flagged as needing proof of age, the screen asks customers if they are over 20 years old. The cashier does not ask if the person is over 20 and merely says, “Please touch the panel.”

In fact, the only possible answer on the screen is “yes.” It is just assumed, perhaps correctly, that nobody intending to purchase alcohol or cigarettes would ever choose “no,” so the choice is omitted. But even that easy system was too much for some older customers, who complained that the panel asked them to confirm that they were over 20 when they obviously were older than that. So under the new system, the panel will remain silent on the matter of a customer’s age unless the cashier specifically decides to have it come up.

A few isolated opponents have suggested that this new policy could make underage drinking easier. But considering that Japan already has beer vending machines that are easily visited by young people, relaxing the proof of age system at convenience stores seems unlikely to have much ill effect.

Van Gogh Vodka started in 1997 as Luctor International with a single gin called Leyden, and within two years, it was replaced by Van Gogh Gin. This gin is based on a recipe found at the Schiedam distillery and is smooth like many of the newer generations of gins are, but clearly has those classical stylings found in dry Dutch gins. It wasn't until 2000 that Van Gogh released a vodka and, eventually, flavored vodkas. In 2008 the company changed its name to Van Gogh Imports.

Van Gogh Vodka boasts more 4- and 5-star rated vodkas than any other company and considers itself the leader of the flavored vodka movement. Their innovation and dedication to quality has never ceased and, while the clear vodka is a staple for many, 80% of the business is made up of flavors.

Today Van Gogh is sold in 37 countries, with the U.S. being the most popular market. A flavor that is hot in one part of the world may lose out to another somewhere else. Norman Bonchick says that this comparison can even be found throughout the United States. When it comes to the professional bartender, Bonchick says that the most popular "depends on the area of U.S. The East is a bigger flavor market than the Central and certainly more than the West," and explains that on the West Coast, bartenders are more inclined to make their own infusions.

The home market is a different story. Part of the Van Gogh philosophy behind flavored vodkas is to aid the novice in impressing guests with little effort. Bonchick explains: "Take a colored, flavored vodka, shake it up, pour it, and you look like a genius, a mixologist."

The Rise of Excellent Zero-Proof Concoctions: 5 of the Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Make Now

Alcohol-free cocktails, from left: Seldom in the DayLight, Matcha Mint Spritz, Shrub, and Hell in a . [+] Handbasket.

Sometimes, I just don’t feel like drinking. There, I said it.

I consume fine spirits and food for a living. That means I often go to tastings—sometimes several of them in a day. I visit distilleries. I check out bars. I asses the knowledge, service, warmth, and hospitality of the bar staff. I travel to “drinking cities” and embark on pilgrimages to legendary watering holes. I’m a card-carrying member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. I believe in being a bar regular, knowing the bartender’s name, and tipping well. I collect hard-to-find bottles. Most of my disposable income is spent on whiskey and wine—so much so that our minuscule New York City apartment now resembles a liquor store-cum-library.

And I absolutely love all of it.

But there are days—even weeks—when I simply refuse to drink. Booze is fun, delicious, and makes life worth living. Much like good food. But never in excess. Think about it: Can you actually taste how awesome Brora 35 is when you’re plastered or when your palate is completely fatigued? No. You cannot. Also, the last thing anyone needs to hear from a doctor is, “Your liver is damaged and you have to quit.”

Julia Momose’ alcohol-free orange coffee tonic was developed for Starbucks Reserve Roastery’s . [+] bar—and it’s reminiscent of an Aperol spritz, but better and more balanced.

So if you love drinking and appreciate having a dram (or three), there’s only one way to ensure that you get to do it for the rest of your life: Listen to your body and take a break when you need it. Imbibe to enjoy, not to get drunk. Feeling sluggish and mentality slow? Detox. Suffering from booze bloat? Detox. Trying to get fit? Detox. Preparing for a major meeting or presentation? Detox. Expecting? Detox—for nine months.

No matter what the reason, there’s no harm in skipping several happy hours. Forget about FOMO and don’t listen to so-called friends urging you to drink when you’re not up for it. You can always retox when you’re ready: The wonderful world of booze won’t go away just because you abstained for a few days or weeks.

So it irks me when I go to a bar that doesn’t offer zero-proof alternatives other than water or club soda. I love being in a bar—it’s the vibe, the people, the energy. I just don’t feel the need to drink all the damn time. I mean, I’m perfectly fine drinking water when I’m abstaining—in fact, I prefer it. But what New Yorker is okay with not having options?

Julia Momose—the genius cocktail creative behind Michelin-starred Oriole and a partner in Kumiko . [+] (the eight-seat, omakase-style bar with a Japanese-inspired dining room in Chicago’s West Loop)—is a fierce advocate of spiritfree drinks.

That’s why it’s refreshing to have someone like Julia Momose—the award-winning cocktail genius behind Kumiko, an eight-seat omakase-style bar with a Japanese-inspired dining room in Chicago’s West loop—to be such an outspoken advocate for non-alcoholic drinks. She believes in it so much that she’s even written a manifesto and disapproves of the term “mocktail,” which is technically pejorative. Instead, she prefers the word “spiritfree.” Without the hyphen, mind you.

“I am the only daughter of a missionary couple, who have chosen not to drink alcohol. I grew up in a country where drinking is very prevalent and people drink very openly, but my parents never did and never really talked about it. I just grew up knowing it was taboo in our household,” Momose explained. “To go from the extremes of growing up in a dry home to being the person pouring and selling alcohol set in me the desire to create drinks that people who didn't want to drink alcohol could enjoy as well. At every place I have worked since moving to America, I have developed spiritfrees in the hopes that one day my parents would be able to visit and have the full experience. Until then, I am determined to make what small difference I can, in the lives of those who have chosen not to drink alcohol and have chosen to come to my bar. I hope that they feel happy, sophisticated, and above all, special.”

Listen Bar founder Lorelei Bandrovschi started out with pop-ups. Now, she’s crowdsourcing to open a . [+] permanent alcohol-free bar in Brooklyn.

Photo: Sasha Charoensub @sashabphoto

There’s also Lorelei Bandrovschi, the founder of booze-free Listen Bar—a New York City establishment that started as a pop-up and is now crowdsourcing to fund its first permanent location. (It’s already exceeded its $25,000 goal and is now on its stretch goal of $40,000, which the bar is very close to achieving.) Part of the appeal is its inclusiveness and judgment­–free vibe. Its mission states, “We think about things that other bars don’t—like working with a nutrition expert to make sure no matter your diet and tastes, there’s something for you on our menu.”

It also aims to welcome everyone: “We’re booze-free, rather than sober—because we really don’t judge whatever you get into outside our doors. We’re a bar for everybody—everybody who’s down (or at the very least intrigued) to go out without drinking. You can be sober or hungover, and we’ll like you just as much.”

Zero-proof cocktails needn’t be boring. They can be as complex and sophisticated as their . [+] alcohol–based cousins.

Part of Bandrovschi’s plan was to get a health and wellness coach and a nutritionist to join the team. Top barkeeps are also involved—including Aaron Polsky of Los Angeles’ Harvard & Stone, Pamela Wiznitzer of New York’s Henry at Life Hotel, Thomas Henry brand ambassador Chockie Tom, and of course, Julia Momose.

“I was introduced to Lorelei over email by a friend of a friend. She and I chatted over the phone about her upcoming spiritfree pop-up bar,” Momose said. “I was thrilled to speak with someone so passionate about sharing good fun and delicious drinks in a setting where alcohol isn’t necessary. She asked me to share a recipe for an aperitivo–style bitter drink, which happened to be something that I had been developing at the time and I was happy to be involved!”

Listen Bar’s Dollar Slice drink is made with Seedlip Spice, Tabasco Sriracha, a ”pizza salt” rim, . [+] and drops of Plant People CBD tincture if you’re so inclined.

Beyond all that, in this day and age, more and more people are beginning to prize wellness and mental health over the fleeting buzz that alcohol provides. It doesn’t necessarily mean abstinence—but it’s really more about balance and moderation. It’s also about respecting the life decisions that individuals choose to make. After all, bars are supposed to be welcoming and warm and friendly.

“I believe that bartenders and bar owners are in a unique position to bring change to their communities. Inclusivity may be shown in many ways to make a bar a safe space to people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and identities,” Momose says. “As human beings, we each have moments where we want to be out and about, whether it is to taste something delicious, to meet people, or simply to have a safe place out of the house. Why should bars only be for those who are enjoying alcohol? Who said that you must be drinking alcohol to be at a bar? I believe that offering a considered selection of spiritfrees at a bar or restaurant is like a little beacon of light—that this is a place where you will not be judged for abstaining.”

Booze-free and low-proof drinks have been gaining traction in America for the past few years now.


“The cocktail is a perfectly refreshing cooler for the warmer months, thanks to the bracing combination of mint, lime, and sugarcane juice—plus icy club soda. From summer in the city to a sunny beach, this drink is sure to help beat the heat.” —Shawn Chen, beverage director


Method: Build in a Collins glass. lightly muddle lime wedges, smack mint, add lime juice, sugarcane juice, and top with Fever-Tree club soda. Garnish with sugarcane stick and mint sprig.

“This is a shandy, so it combines the bright qualities of a sour with the refreshing qualities of a lighter­­–bodied beer. The mango is a perfect summer fruit, and the tajín adds a spicy note that makes this drink pair well with grilled food at a summer cookout.” —Aaron Polsky, bar manager (recipe by Joe Bernardo, bartender)


2 tsp. mango jam (Margie’s or other brand)

Method: Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker, shake and strain over ice in a hurricane glass. Top with non-alcoholic beer (we use Old Milwaukee). And garnish with mango slice dipped in tajín (a dried chile and lime salt).

“The Shrub was borne out of the belief that this type of drink does not need to be any less complex or as satisfying as a full-proof cocktail. We are still trying to create interesting juxtapositions of flavors and textures within each drink, still trying to play with the guest’s expectation of the flavor based on the names and listed ingredients of each—and to try and make something that’s visually appealing as well.” —Lauren Corriveau and Matthew Belanger, bar collaborators at Auburn Los Angeles


Garnish with a lemon wheel and beet leather candy

Method: Combine all ingredients in a tin shaker with ice, shake for 3-4 seconds (soft shake) and put over ice in a Collins glass, top with ginger soda and garnish.

“The goal with any drink, zero-proof or otherwise, is to highlight the extraordinary ingredients used to make it. Additionally, a non-alcoholic cocktail should still make you stop and think. By using fresh mint paired with Kilogram Tea’s organic matcha and the soft aroma of Fever-Tree club soda, the Matcha Mint Spritz reminds us that sunny days are just around the corner.”—Jake Wagner, shift lead barista at Intelligentsia Coffee, Logan Square


2 tbsp. water (heated to 180°F, since matcha is more delicate than others, using water at this temperature creates a concentrate)

Method: Add one scoop of ice to the large shaker tin. Sift matcha into the small shaker tin. Add simple syrup and water heated to 180 °F . Whisk to combine. Smash 3-4 mint leaves in your hand and drop them into the tin. Pour the small tin over the ice in the large tin and give it a good hard shake. Dump contents into a 17 oz. glass. Fill the rest of the glass to the top with ice. Top with cold club soda. Garnish with a half lemon wheel on the rim of the glass, or garnish of your choice.

To Prep Half Lemon Wheel: Wash the lemons. Cut the lemon in half, vertically then again, horizontally. Cut three half wheels from the center cut out toward the ends. The wheels should be about ⅜ inches thick.

“This cocktail was inspired by its namesake, my Grandpa Irv. He was my hero, and unfortunately passed away a couple weeks before we opened our first Fairgrounds cafe so we wanted to honor him by naming one of our signature drinks after him.” —Michael Schultz, CEO of Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea, Chicago


Method: Add to shaker and top with ice. Stir and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with orange peel.

3. Pringles yakisoba

Here is another cult Japanese foodie item that has been doing the rounds on social media recently.

These are instant yakisoba noodles, flavoured as sour cream and onion Pringles!

These noodles have been super popular in Japan since they launched in Japan recently, and finally I found somewhere that will ship them overseas :). They would make a fun Japan themed stocking filler.

Prior to 1947, in an example of jus matrimonii, marrying a Japanese citizen would enter the foreign spouse into the family registry of said citizen, making them a citizen as well (or for the Japanese spouse to lose their family registry, and by extension their Japanese citizenship). [1] Yakumo Koizumi, the first-ever naturalised Japanese subject, gained Japanese citizenship in such a manner. [2]

Japan is a strict [3] jus sanguinis state as opposed to jus soli state, meaning that it attributes citizenship by blood and not by location of birth. In practice, it can be by parentage and not by descent. [4] Article 2 of the Nationality Act provides three situations in which a person can become a Japanese national at birth: [4]

  1. When either parent is a Japanese national at the time of birth. If born abroad and the child has a foreign nationality at birth, the child must be registered within three months of birth or otherwise will have to live in Japan before the age of 20 and notify the MOJ.
  2. When either parent [5] dies before the birth and is a Japanese national at the time of death (limited to fathers until 1985)
  3. When the person is born on Japanese soil and both parents are unknown or stateless

A system for acquiring nationality by birth after birth is also available. If an unmarried Japanese father and non-Japanese mother have a child, the parents later marry, and the Japanese father acknowledges paternity, the child can acquire Japanese nationality, so long as the child has not reached the age of 20. Japanese nationality law effective from 1985 has been that if the parents are not married at the time of birth and the father has not acknowledged paternity while the child was still in the womb, the child will not acquire Japanese nationality. [6] [7] However, Japan's Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that denying nationality to children born out of wedlock to foreign mothers is unconstitutional. [7]

Following this, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party and others, claiming the possibility of false recognition of paternity, suggested mandatory DNA testing. This was rejected by the Democratic Party, and instead a bill was passed in 2009 allowing photographs of the father and child and scientific testing to be requested as evidence in cases of doubt.

Naturalization in Japan requires the applicant to give up their current citizenship(s) either before or shortly after, depending on the nationality, the naturalization takes place if the loss of nationality does not occur automatically. Although there are rules in place, Japanese government does not strictly impose rules for the naturalization process, as the exact process for each specific nationality depends on Japan's international relations and agreements with the given country. Basic naturalization requirements also differ from person to person regardless of their nationality and depending on the applicant's current status in Japan. Unlike most other countries, the applicant does not have to have been a permanent resident to be eligible to apply for Japanese naturalization. [8]

The outlined criteria for naturalization are provided in Article 5 of the Nationality Act: [9]

  1. Continuous residence in Japan for 5 years
  2. At least 20 years old and otherwise legally competent
  3. History of good behavior generally, and no past history of seditious behavior
  4. Sufficient capital or skills, either personally or within family, to support oneself in Japan
  5. Stateless or willing to renounce foreign citizenship and swear allegiance to Japan

The Minister of Justice may waive the age and residence requirements if the applicant has a special relationship to Japan (for example, a Japanese parent).

The Nationality Act also provides that the Diet of Japan may confer Japanese nationality by special resolution to a person who has provided extraordinary service to Japan. However, this provision has never been invoked.

Those that naturalize must choose a legal name, like other Japanese, that consists of all or any mix of Japanese hiragana, katakana, and approved kanji (for example, Adrian Havill became Eido Inoue, 井上エイド). Sometimes applicants were given advice on Japanese names, but choosing a Japanese sounding/appearing name was never a requirement there are examples through history of naturalized Japanese choosing legal names that did not appear ethnically Japanese. However, in 1983, the Ministry of Justice revised its manuals and application guides and examples to make it clear that using names of non-Japanese origin can be acceptable. They must also choose a registered domicile.

The application has to be made in person to the Ministry of Justice branch office with responsibility for the city where the applicant lives. A booklet will be given to the applicant at the first visit which explains every needed document and processes explained in Japanese.

The naturalization process has three stages.

  • First stage: Initial application in person and gathering needed documents preparing and filling out all necessary forms in Japanese language with handwriting and submitting all prepared documents to the Ministry of Justice in person. An application number is provided to the applicant for future correspondence with the case.
  • Second stage: The Ministry of Justice checks the submitted documents. Oral and written interview are scheduled a month or two after submitting the documents.
  • Third stage: Finalization. The Ministry of Justice sends all documents to Tokyo and the applicant is requested to inform any changes of address, telephone, work, marital status, etc. while application is being reviewed.

The booklet given at the beginning of the process lists every document that the applicant needs from their home country and their country's embassy in Japan. The applicant needs to be able to speak and express himself/herself in Japanese and be able to answer the interview questions in Japanese. The interviewer will ask questions about the form applicant filled and about why applicant wants to acquire Japanese citizenship. At the end, there may be a written test at an elementary school second grade level.

After the documents are sent to Tokyo for processing at the Ministry of Justice headquarters, it can take from 8 to 10 months (or longer depending on the applicant) from the first application. The applicant will be called by their interviewer about the decision once the interviewer gets the results from Tokyo.

Loss of citizenship requires the approval of the Minister of Justice.

A Japanese national is assumed to have renounced their nationality upon naturalization in any foreign country, [8] [10] or if they otherwise acquire foreign nationality by their own choice. This is not triggered by acquisition of foreign nationality that is not by the individual's own choice, such as acquisition of foreign nationality at birth, or automatic acquisition of US citizenship due to adoption or a parent's naturalization. [11]

Under the revisions made to the Nationality Law in 1985, Articles 14 and 15 require any person who holds multiple citizenship to make a "declaration of choice" between the ages of 20 and 22, in which they choose to renounce either their Japanese nationality or their foreign citizenship(s). Failure to do so entitles the Minister of Justice to demand a declaration of choice at any time. If the required declaration is not made within one month, their Japanese nationality is automatically revoked. A renunciation of foreign citizenship made before Japanese officials may be considered by a foreign state as having no legal effect as is the case with, for example, United States citizenship. [12]

Japanese nationals who hold multiple citizenship by birth, and who do not wish to lose their Japanese citizenship, are required to declare their desire to retain Japanese citizenship by the age of 21. Part of fulfilling this requirement is to "make an effort" to renounce other citizenships once they have declared their intent to retain Japanese nationality. This may be difficult for some Japanese with foreign nationality, for example, Iranian nationals cannot renounce their Iranian nationality until age 25. [13]

A Japanese national does not lose their nationality in situations where citizenship is acquired involuntarily such as when a Japanese national marries an Iranian national. In this case they automatically acquire Iranian citizenship [13] and are permitted to be an Iranian-Japanese dual national, since the acquisition of the Iranian citizenship was involuntary.

Though it is unknown whether it has ever happened, citizenship can also be lost if a person becomes a civil servant of a foreign government, should their role be felt to contradict what it means to be a citizen of Japan.

In November 2008, Liberal Democratic Party member Tarō Kōno submitted a proposal to allow offspring of mixed-nationality couples in which one parent is Japanese to have more than one nationality. The proposal also calls for foreigners to be allowed to obtain Japanese nationality without losing their original citizenship. [14]

Dual citizenship of Japan and another country is prohibited in some cases due to the provisions for loss of Japanese nationality when a Japanese national naturalizes in another country (see "Loss of citizenship" above), and the requirement to renounce one's existing citizenships when naturalizing in Japan (see "Naturalization" above). There are still some ways in which a person may have dual citizenship of Japan and another country, including:

  • They had dual citizenship prior to January 1, 1985, when the Nationality Law was enacted
  • They acquire multiple citizenships at birth, such as being born to a non-Japanese citizen parent and acquiring that parent's citizenship as a result of that country's laws or by being born in a jus soli country. However, they must choose one citizenship/nationality before the age of 22 or within two years if the second citizenship is acquired after the age of 20, or they may lose their Japanese nationality (see "Loss of citizenship" above), [15] though this is not enforced. [16]
  • Japanese and North Korean dual nationality can be maintained in some cases because the Japanese Ministry of Justice refuses to recognize North Korean citizenship. [17]

In 2019, Japanese citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 189 countries and territories, ranking the Japanese passport as tied for first (along with Singapore) in the world according to the Henley Passport Index. [18]

In 2017, the Japanese nationality is ranked twenty-ninth in the Nationality Index (QNI). This index differs from the Visa Restrictions Index, which focuses on external factors including travel freedom. The QNI considers, in addition to travel freedom, on internal factors such as peace & stability, economic strength, and human development as well. [19]

Japanese Market Gives Up Checking Proof of Age - Recipes

A General Guide For The Non-Collector

NOTE: The following suggestions for determining whether a Japanese sword is old or new (WW II era or later) are only general guides. No single indicator alone will determine whether a sword blade is an antique or of recent vintage. The blade must be examined in its entirety and not judged solely on a single criteria. Do not undertake to dis-assemble a sword unless you know what you are doing. You may severely injure yourself and/or damage the sword. For definitions of terms, check the visual glossary page.

The first question to be answered - is it a real sword or a modern replica or an iaito (iai practice sword)? Many modern replicas and iaito have aluminum blades. When in doubt, check the blade with a magnet. Steel is magnetic - aluminum is not. If the blade is aluminum, the sword is not a "real" sword and certainly not an antique. However, just because the blade is steel does not mean it is a genuine Japanese sword as many modern replicas are made with steel blades. There are also numerous reproduction and fake Japanese swords on the market. Also many Chinese military swords are confused with Japanese swords. Be sure to read Reproductions and Fakes.

"Ninja swords" are a Hollywood fiction. There is no historical documentation that ninja used swords which were of a special design or differed from those used by other Japanese of the period. Any so called "ninja sword" is pure fantasy.

Is there visible grain (hada) in the steel of the blade? Most handmade Japanese swords will have a visible grain in the steel of the blade. This is due to the method of forging the blade using multiple folds,etc. Grain (hada) is sometimes difficult for beginners to recognize. There are old sword blades which have no visible grain (muji hada) however, the presence of grain does most certainly mean the blade is handmade. Grain does not determine age. Many of the better WW II era swords will show prominent grain (hada).

Does the blade show a true temper line (hamon)? Replica swords and many WW II era machine made swords have an etched temper line, not a true temper line (hamon) made by differential tempering of the blade. Examine the hamon with a magnifying glass. A real hamon will show tiny dots/specks (nioi and/or nie) along and between the border of the hamon and the rest of the blade. An etched temper line will be seen as a smooth cloud lacking any internal features.

If there are serial numbers stamped in the blade, it is a machine made blade - most likely a WW II NCO sword. These are all machine made and are not classified as "Nihonto". Check the military sword page for examples of WW II era swords.

Is the blade sharpened all the way to the base where it joins the hilt? Most WW II era blades are not sharpened all the down to the habaki (collar). Some older (Shinshinto) swords may likewise not be sharpened down to the habaki however, most WW II swords were not. If the blade is not sharp all the way to the habaki does not assure it is a WW II era blade, but is a good first indicator.

If the peg (mekugi) or screw holding the handle (tsuka) onto the blade can be removed and the handle safely removed (use care not to damage the handle or blade - the complete handle should slide off the end of the tang), examination of the tang (nakago) can tell much about the age of the blade. (NOTE: Some swords may have two mekugi - one near the guard and the other near the end of the hilt. Always check. Never use force to remove the handle.) Newer swords will have a grey, metallic tang perhaps with a little red rust. (Do not remove the rust). Older swords will have more rusted tangs, ranging from brown to smooth deep black rust for the oldest swords. On newer swords the file marks on the tang will be sharp and crisp. As the tang rusts and ages, these become progressively smoother and less distinct.

NEVER CLEAN THE TANG OF A JAPANESE SWORD OR TAMPER WITH IT IN ANY WAY. - it will reduce its value by at least 50 percent!! The type and color of the rust is used to help date and to authenticate the blade.

Is the tang (nakago) signed? Many people tend to believe that if a sword is signed, that it must be hand made. That is not true. During the WW II era, many machine made blades were signed simply as a way of giving more prestige to the sword even though it was machine made. The reverse is also not true - if a sword is not signed does not mean it is machine made. Many, many antique blades were left unsigned or have had their signatures (mei) lost over time. Whether a blade is signed or not has little to do with determining if it is handmade or the age of the blade.

If there is a tang stamp (see the military sword page for examples) on the nakago, up close to the blade collar (habaki), it is a WW II era sword - these are arsenal stamps. Arsenal stamps do not appear on pre-1930's blades.

There are stories that the small papers between the handle wrap (ito) and the rayskin (same') are prayer papers to protect the soldier in battle. This is pure fiction. These are simply paper spacers to aid in positioning the wrapping properly on the handle. DO NOT UNWRAP THE HANDLE! The process of tsuka-maki (handle wrapping) is quite complicated. You cannot re-wrap the hilt with the silk cord that was removed. It will have shrunk and is likely frayed and worn. Consult someone who is trained in tsuka-maki if you need to have a handle re-built.

Sword canes (Shikomi-zue) mostly have very low grade blades. Most sword canes were produced in the late 19th Century - early 20th Century. The blades are very straight and thin and often have significant flaws. The scabbards and hilts are usually designed to resemble bamboo or old wood sticks. Rarely is a high quality blade found in sword cane mounts however, some of the mounts can be interesting with hidden, spring loaded, pop out guards.

How the sword is mounted has nothing to do with its age or authenticity. Modern replicas may look like antique swords be it a tachi, katana, wakizashi or tanto. WW II military type swords are also being reproduced today. WW II era swords have been put into shirasaya or remounted in samurai type mounts by collectors. Vice versa, antique blades are occassionally found in WW II military mounts.

There are numerous varieties of items made in the 20th Century as tourist momentos that are commonly thought to be some special type of Japanese sword. These take that shape of various dragon figures, Japanese peasants, fish etc. - all carved and painted wood figures. The blades in these items are all "soft steel" and have etched temperlines (hamon). Many will have some type of engraving, usually floral, on the blade. These items are of no interest to Japanese sword collectors. Bone tanto and swords (see below) fall into this group.

Carved bone and carved ivory sword mountings almost always have untempered, soft steel blades. These were made as tourist items from the 1870's through the 1930's. These items are purchased for the quality of the carving only. The great majority of these swords are made of carved bone, not ivory. Ivory has a distinctive grain. If you cannot see this grain or do not know what to look for, assume it is carved bone, not ivory.

Swords with carved bone handles and scabbards are of no interest to Nihonto collectors other than perhaps as an example of how poorly made a blade can be. They are referred to as "hocho tetsu" (kitchen steel) - a most derogatory term in sword circles. Swords of this type were made in all sizes, from tanto to katana or tachi. Some of these bone swords will have very low grade metal mountings, commonly with the Tokugawa mon incised into or embossed on the mountings.

The above items are only a general guide. When ANY doubt exists as to the authenticity or age of a Japanese sword, seek advice from a reputable collector. There are numerous sword clubs in many cities. Contact one of them for assistance.

If you are lucky enough to be in the possession of an authentic Japanese sword,
whether it is of WW II vintage or an antique,
be sure to CARE FOR IT properly.

The 'Wuhan lab leak' theory looks more credible then ever

A Chinese virologist who has reportedly been in hiding over fear for her safety has stepped out into the public eye again to make the explosive claim that she has scientific evidence to prove that COVID-19 was human-made in a lab in China — despite American studies refuting the controversial claim.

Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a scientist who says she did some of the earliest research into COVID-19 last year, made the comments Friday during an interview on the British talk show “Loose Women.”

When asked where the deadly virus that has killed more than 900,000 around the globe comes from, Yan — speaking via video chat from a secret location — replied, “It comes from the lab — the lab in Wuhan and the lab is controlled by China’s government.”

She insisted that widespread reports that the virus originated last year from a wet market in Wuhan are “a smoke screen.”

“The first thing is the [meat] market in Wuhan … is a smoke screen and this virus is not from nature,” Yan claimed, explaining that she got “her intelligence from the CDC in China, from the local doctors.”

The virologist has previously accused Beijing of lying about when it learned of the killer bug and engaging in an extensive cover-up of her work.

She had said her former supervisors at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, a reference laboratory for the World Health Organization, silenced her when she sounded the alarm about human-to-human transmission in December last year.

In April, Yan reportedly fled Hong Kong and escaped to America to raise awareness about the pandemic.

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Supply of used cars Edit

In Japan, used cars are mainly sold at auto auctions by car owners and dealers. At auto auctions, owners are hidden from bidders while the auctioneers provide independent car evaluations called inspection sheets. [2] Exporters, acting as bidding agents for importers, use the auto auctions as their main supply. [ citation needed ] There are over 200 auto auction groups operating throughout Japan including JAA, JU Group, TAA, USS, and ZIP. [3]

Besides auto auctions, Japanese exports have access to vehicles from dealerships and private sellers.

Exporting methods Edit

Vehicles which will be exported from Japan must be prepared before shipping. This includes de-registering the vehicle with the government, getting an export certificate, and cleaning the car to remove biosecurity risks. Car cleaning is especially necessary for the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) [4] and New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) [5] agencies' clearances.

Exporters can ship the car that is ready by ro-ro or container according to customer specification, ship schedules, and the capabilities of the destination port.

Market differences Edit

The suitability of Japan's domestically sold cars for export to other countries is constrained by various factors. Vehicles in Japan have right-hand drive—the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle—in accord with Japan's left-hand traffic. Some countries with right-hand traffic permit right-hand drive vehicles, though right-traffic headlamps are generally unavailable for models exclusive to Japan. [6] Some countries with right traffic do not allow right-hand drive cars, but in some such markets the extensive labor required to convert a car to left-hand drive is economically feasible such conversions are sometimes done by the local importers. The Philippines is an example of a market where such conversion is common, until recently, when the importation of such used vehicles (except for heavy vehicles) was banned by E0 156. [7] Japan's automobile safety regulations also differ substantially from the ECE Regulations used throughout most of the world and the North American regulations that apply in the United States and Canada. [8] Vehicle components such as windows and windshields, seat belts, lamps and reflectors, and mirrors, as well as design features for crashworthiness such as bumpers, fuel tanks, and structural rigidity of vehicles meant for the Japanese market may not comply with non-Japanese standards. [9] [10] [11] They often lack structural reinforcements needed to meet side-impact crashworthiness standards in effect outside Japan. [10] Moreover, entire categories of vehicle, such as Kei cars, do not exist in regulations outside Japan. [12] [13]

Responsibilities Edit

Generally, most exporters are responsible for the organization and completion of the vehicle's transportation until it arrives at the importer's Port of Destination (POD). At the POD, possession of the vehicle, and the responsibility of possession, is laid on the importer. Financial responsibility, on the other hand, is transferred when ownership is handed over. Ownership is switched after the car has been purchased and before being exported. In the case of damage or losses occurring during shipping, the buyer bears all financial loss.

Car export companies verification Edit

Whilst the majority of websites in Japan are of genuine business companies, there are [1] scams and fraud in Japan. Foreign importers must verify each company, and transfer money only when transactions are satisfactorily completed. Verification of Japanese companies under the Japan Company Trust Organization can be helpful.

Canada Edit

Any vehicle more than 15 years old may be imported into Canada without regard to its compliance with Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Vehicles are registered at the provincial level in Canada, and increasingly stringent sub-national vehicle safety requirements make it difficult to register a Japanese-market vehicle without replacement or modifications to the headlamps and other lights and reflectors, window glass, tires, seatbelts and other equipment.

Chile Edit

In Chile, second hand imported vehicles may only be registered in the extreme regions of Arica and Parinacota, Tarapacá, Aisén and Magallanes. Japanese used vehicles must meet emission standards and be converted to left hand drive. However, a big market of non converted cars exists in the duty-free zone of Iquique, where customers from other countries buy them and sometimes drive them home.

Greece Edit

In Greece, second hand vehicles are allowed but they cannot be older than three years old (ambulance or fire engine vehicles cannot be older than six years old), have to meet emission standards and be left hand drive. Right hand drive vehicles and tourist vehicles older than six years old that enter Greece from neighboring countries are usually towed to borders where they are allowed.

Hong Kong Edit

Many used cars from Japan are registered in Hong Kong, including both Japanese makes and even European makes, since both Hong Kong and Japan are right hand drive. In order to register the car in Hong Kong, the car must be less than seven years old, gasoline powered, meet Euro V emission, and noise standard, with E-mark for all glass and safety belts, and unleaded-fuel restrictor installed (if not already present). For cars over 20 years old, they can be imported as classic cars and need not meet Euro V emission standard. In addition, Hong Kong does not accept privacy windows. If a Japanese used car is fitted with privacy windows, it must be converted to clear glass in order to register in Hong Kong.

Ireland Edit

Ireland has relatively loose vehicle importing laws for Japanese cars. To keep imports down, Irish Revenue Commissioners require all new and imported cars to pay the VRT. Also, every car, both domestic and imported over four years old must pass the stringent National Car Test (NCT) in order to be given a road worthiness certificate. In the case of cars imported from Japan, all glass, tyres, noise, must meet EU approved levels. Imported Japanese used cars are easily recognisable as their rear Irish number plates are square in form and not the rectangular regular issued plates. This is because cars for the Japanese market have square recesses in the rear to accommodate Japanese plates.

Kenya Edit

In Kenya, second-hand imported Japanese vehicles must undergo a worthiness inspection conducted by the Quality Inspection Services Japan as per mandate from the Kenya Bureau of Standards. The inspection aims to ensure that the vehicles are not more than eight years old, have genuine mileage and that the vehicles pass a safety and mechanical inspection as per the standards set by KEBS. Guide to Kenya Car Import Regulations

Macau Edit

Although Macau is right hand drive, it does not allow imports of used car from Japan or any other country, [ citation needed ] unlike Hong Kong. However, brand new parallel imported cars from Japan are allowed in Macau.

Malta Edit

In Malta, second-hand imported Japanese vehicles must comply with Road Worthiness regulations which address Emissions, Lights Operability & Mechanical Operability. Vehicles thus in compliance can be imported and registered. Some Maltese importers apply corrosion protection to these vehicles due to the hot, humid climate.

Mozambique Edit

In Mozambique, most of the cars in the roads are imported from Japan, where Toyota takes the lead in terms of brand. All cars to be imported to Mozambique must undergo a pre-inspection process in Japan performed by Intertek. The inspection will determinate the condition of the car to be imported and the right value of the car for custom clearance proposes. In Mozambique the custom clearance amount will depend on the type of car, engine size, number of seats and propose of use, and can cost up to 84% of the CIF of the Vehicle. Added to the custom clearance the importer will pay up 650 USD of port fees.

New Zealand Edit

New Zealand has stringent safety and emission standards. Besides biosecurity and customs clearances, a vehicle must be Entry Certified by a Transport Services Delivery Agent (TSDA) which includes checking that paper data and physical data meet safety, emissions, and fuel consumption standards. [14]

Pakistan Edit

Pakistan applies strict controls on imports. Imported cars must be not more than three years old. High import taxes are levied on imported vehicles. [15] Special ships are sometimes used for exporting vehicles to Pakistan to meet the rising demand. [16]

Russia Edit

While Russia has right hand traffic, it allows the importation of LHT vehicles if they pass the technical inspection. This is compulsory for all street-legal vehicles in Russia. Although a prohibitively high import tariff is levied on cars more than seven years old, to protect local industry, the oldest Japanese vehicles usually pass the inspection, if they were well maintained. Vehicles imported to Russia are sometimes exported to North Korea and Central Asia.

Saudi Arabia Edit

Unlike the UAE, Saudi Arabia does not allow imports of vehicles from Japan or any LHT country because only left hand drive vehicles are allowed. Additionally, right hand drive to left hand drive modifications as well as vehicles from Israel are not allowed due to the laws against Israeli goods.

United Arab Emirates Edit

Some vehicles like the Toyota Fortuner, Toyota Hiace, and the Nissan Skyline R34 have been imported to the UAE and are sometimes converted to left hand drive. Right hand drive vehicles are legal and sometimes remain RHD for transit or sporting purposes.

United Kingdom Edit

Importing rules for the UK are stringent. Vehicles less than 10 years old must undergo Individual Vehicle Approval to assure compliance with applicable ECE Regulations or British national equivalents. The speedometer must be converted from kilometres per hour to miles per hour, a rear fog light and unleaded-fuel restrictor installed.

Vehicles older than 10 years need only to fit a rear fog light and pass a MOT before applying for V55/5 (First vehicle tax and registration of a used motor vehicle).

United States Edit

Vehicles at least 25 years old may be imported to the US regardless of non-compliance with that country's Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. [17] Vehicles are registered at the state level in the US, and increasingly stringent sub-national vehicle safety requirements make it difficult to register a Japanese-market vehicle without replacement or modifications to the headlamps and other lights and reflectors, window glass, tires, seat belts and other equipment.

In 21 states, kei trucks less than 25 years old can be legally imported and registered as off-road utility vehicles with on-road usage and top speed restrictions varying by state, although states which allow mini trucks to be operated on public roads prohibit their operation on Interstate highways. [18]

Tip: How to Check for the Hotness of Jalapeños

Elise founded Simply Recipes in 2003 and led the site until 2019. She has an MA in Food Research from Stanford University.

Ever take home a jalapeño chile pepper from the grocery store and have it either be so lacking in heat it may just as well be a bell pepper, or so hot a speck will create a raging inferno in your mouth?

Here's a quick tip for choosing jalapeños that can help you decide which ones to pick.

As they age, some peppers develop white lines and flecks, like stretch marks running in the direction of the length of the pepper. The stretch marks are also indicative of the amount of stress the pepper plant has endured.

A pepper plant that is stressed, having the soil get dry between infrequent waterings, appears to have an impact on the the hotness of the pepper.

The older the pepper, and the more stress the plant has been under, the more white lines you'll see, and the hotter the pepper will be.

The smoother the pepper, the younger, less stressed, and milder it is.

Left on the plant (and even after picked) green jalapeños will eventually turn red. So red jalapeños are older than green jalapeños. The red ones can be pretty hot, especially if they have a lot of striations, but they are also sweeter than the green.

If you are trying to avoid the hottest jalapeños (say for a stuffed jalapeno dish), pick the chiles without any striations. If you are looking for heat, find a red or green one with plenty of white stretch marks.

Note that this is just a guideline. There is still plenty of variation among individual peppers. Make sure to taste test a chili before using it in a recipe!

The best way to taste test?

Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chiles their heat, is concentrated around the seeds and in the ribs. The flesh of the chile that is closer to the seeds will be hotter than the flesh near the tip.

So the best way to taste a potentially hot chili is to cut off a small piece at the tip and have a nibble (you'll have less chance of burning your tongue if the chili is really hot).

For cooking, if you want to lower the heat of the chiles, cut the peppers in half, scrape out and discard the seeds and inner ribs (use gloves and don't touch your eyes). If you want more heat, just add back some seeds with the rest of the jalapeño.

Watch the video: Ron Paul on Understanding Power: the Federal Reserve, Finance, Money, and the Economy (August 2022).