Japanese astronaut to be first non-American to set foot on Moon

By Lucie AUBOURG WASHINGTON, April 10, 2024 (AFP) – A lucky Japanese astronaut will become the first non-American to set foot on the Moon during one of NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions, US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday. The offer to Japan — an opportunity many nations have long dreamed of — came as part of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s state visit, and as Washington seeks to strengthen ties with its key Asian ally. “Two Japanese […]

Kyoto seeks to guard geishas from tourist ‘paparazzi’

By Fred Mery KYOTO, Japan, March 11, 2024 (AFP) – Kyoto is cracking down after locals complained that Instagram-obsessed tourist “paparazzi” are harassing the Japanese city’s famous, immaculately dressed geisha. Real-life geisha, or “geiko” (“women of art”) as they are known locally, work for a living — as they have for centuries — in teahouses in Kyoto’s picturesque Gion district where they perform traditional Japanese dance, music and games. However, like other major tourist attractions […]

Climbers to pay $13 fee on popular Mount Fuji trail

Hikers using the most popular route to climb Japan’s Mount Fuji will be charged $13 each from July, with numbers capped to ease congestion and improve safety, a regional official said Tuesday. Increasingly large crowds are scaling Japan’s highest mountain, which is covered in snow most of the year but draws more than 220,000 visitors each July-September climbing period. From July 1, an entry fee of 2,000 yen ($13) will be charged per person to […]

Archeologists probe mysterious Canadian shipwreck

A shipwreck believed to date from the 19th century has washed up on the snow-covered shores of Canada’s Atlantic island province of Newfoundland, attracting a bevy of looky-loos and archaeologists probing its mysterious past. Over the past weekend, a team of archaeologists and volunteers rushed to recover parts of the 30-meter (100 feet) long ship before tides take it back to the ocean depths whence it came. They managed to extract wooden planks, metal sheathing […]

AI reads ancient scroll buried by Vesuvius eruption

Three researchers on Monday won a $700,000 prize for using artificial intelligence to read a 2,000-year-old scroll that was scorched in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The Herculaneum papyri consist of about 800 rolled up Greek scrolls that were carbonized during the 79 CE volcanic eruption that buried the ancient Roman town of Pompeii, according to the organizers of the “Vesuvius Challenge.” Resembling logs of hardened ash, the scrolls, which are kept at Institut de […]

Deep sea explorer says may have found Amelia Earhart’s plane

A deep sea exploration company has released a sonar image they say may be the remains of the plane of Amelia Earhart, the famed American aviatrix who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. Deep Sea Vision (DSV), a South Carolina-based firm, said the image was captured after an extensive search in an area of the Pacific to the west of Earhart’s planned destination, remote Howland Island. Earhart went missing while on a pioneering round-the-world […]

Royal Caribbean’s ‘Icon,’ world’s largest cruise ship, sets sail

The world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, set sail from Miami on its maiden voyage Saturday, carrying what amounted to the population of a small city. The ship, built over 900 days at a shipyard in Turku, Finland, is a monument to enormity, longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, with 20 decks and room for more than 5,600 passengers (7,600 at maximum capacity) and a crew of 2,350. To ensure […]

Big in Japan: country’s tallest skyscraper opens in Tokyo

Japan’s new tallest building opened in Tokyo on Friday, taking the title from an Osaka skyscraper. The 330-metre-high Azabudai Hills Mori JP Tower is not Japan’s highest structure, which is still the Tokyo Skytree, a broadcasting and observation tower in the capital’s east, which stands at 634 metres. But it does have a 30-metre advantage over the Abeno Harukas building in Osaka, previously Japan’s tallest building. The JP Tower and its surrounding facilities have an […]

Venice to launch tourist tickets in 2024

Venice announced on Thursday that it would introduce a fee for day tourists to enter the city’s overcrowded historic centre on 29 days next year as it seeks to come to grips with overtourism. Day visitors will need to pay five euros ($5.45) to enter the city centre between 8:30 am to 4:00 pm during the peak tourist season from April 25 to May 5. The fee will also apply for the rest of the […]

120 incubator babies at risk after Israel cuts Gaza fuel: UN

By Rosie Scammell The lives of at least 120 newborn babies on incubators in war-torn Gaza’s hospitals are at risk as fuel runs out in the besieged enclave, the UN children’s agency warned Sunday. More than 1,750 children have already been killed by Israeli strikes launched against the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas attacks, according to the Palestinian territory’s health ministry. Hospitals face a dire lack of medicines, fuel and water […]

How a Bronze Age rock became a ‘treasure map’ for researchers

By Antoine AGASSE LEUHAN, France, Oct 17, 2023 (AFP) – A piece of rock with mysterious markings that lay largely unstudied for 4,000 years is now being hailed as a “treasure map” for archaeologists, who are using it to hunt for ancient sites around north-western France. The so-called Saint-Belec slab was claimed as Europe’s oldest map by researchers in 2021 and they have been working ever since to understand its etchings — both to help […]