Finnish Deaf rap artist holds free concert in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture

Signmark (central right) meets visitors after the concert.
November 29, 2011

Signmark (real name: Marko Vuoriheimo) of Finland, internationally known as a Deaf rap artist, held a free concert on November 28 in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture to support disaster victims including disabled persons. About 60 people participated in the event.

Europe Trade Minister Alexander Stove of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, who has visited the stricken area in Japan before the performance, greeted at the event.

He announced that there was a proposal from a Finnish corporation to contribute a Moomin Park in Sendai. Seventeen playground equipments in the form of Moomin characters will be presented.

Signmark introduced himself, saying, "Even if I was not able to hear, I had strong will to do music, and realized the dream."

He showed the message song with sign language. The participants enjoyed the music with good tempo, learning how to dance with it.

Deaf judo training camp held in Okinawa

Yamada Mitsuo (left), captain of the National Team for the Deaflympics, practices with a hearing judoist.

November 25, 2011

The Japanese Deaf Martial Art League which aims at being enlisted to the Deaflympic judo match is holding the training camp from November 24 in Okinawa Prefecture. Eight Deaf judoists have participated for five days.

They aims at getting higher rank advance in the Asia-Pacific Deaf sports meet (May, 2012, South Korea) and the World Deaf Martial Art Championship (August, 2012,  Venezuela) as the standard of the national team selection.

They participated in joint exercise with the Okinawa Shogaku High School judo club on November 24. YAMADA Mitsuo from Shiga Prefecture, the gold medalist in the 100 kilogram category of the Deaflympics in 2009, is the only one who has been selected to the National Team.

A hearing judoist who practiced with Mitsuo said, "He is very good. I believe he became strong because he has had great passion for judo and worked hard."

Former teacher of Deaf children works on project for Deaf university students

November 23, 2011

After retirement, TAKADA Keiichi (63), a former teacher of the Prefecture Tottori School for the Deaf in Tottori-shi, Tottori Prefecture, had learned that some of his former students led student life in disappointment. Only a few universities offer the note-taking service by the university personnel.

Keiichi did not want these Deaf students feel miserable or frustrated with study, starting a project in October, 2008 to interview and take photos of Deaf university students to find out in order to get many people interested in their actual environment.

Keiichi has already met about 50 Deaf students at 19 universities in 15 prefectures. He will visit more Deaf students at universities in the area hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake in the near future.

He said, "there are 1000 or more Deaf students attending colleges/universities in the whole country, but their serious issues are seldom known. I hope my project will help their academic environment improve."

Japanese source:

Deaf students perform first hip-hop dance in public

Students in practice

November 11, 2010

At the Hyogo Prefecture Himeji School for the Deaf located in Himeji City, 15 high school students are shedding sweat to practice the hip-hop dance.

Although they cannot fully catch music, they have learned how to dance through memorizing the every movement that the coach showed, with the full use of the the vision.

The students are enthusiastic in "heaping up the audience by fine performance" in the upcoming school cultural festival scheduled for November 19.

The high school has performed a play, the Japanese drum performance, etc. for the cultural festival every fall. The hip-hop dance as the first trial was added to the program, and the students began practice in April this year.

Prior to the cultural festival, the group of students made the public performance at the "31st Himeji welfare festival" in the park in Himeji City, making the audience excited with their dynamic performance on November 3.

Japanese source:

Consideration for Deaf person as a supplement lay judge

November 18, 2011

A Deaf person was chosen as a supplement lay judge for the first time in Naha District Court of Okinawa Prefecture for the lay judge trial held on November 15-17 in the District Court. He participated in trial through interpreting.

According to one of four interpreters concerned, since the arrangement was done in advance by the court, the public prosecutor, and the lawyer, trial and consultation progressed duly.  The Deaf lay judge also said that he could get through.

In court, proof by the crunched intelligible data and technical term was performed in trial as agreed by the prior arrangement. At the place of consultation, each lay judge was asked to speak at a time so that the interpreting might catch up, and the use of a white board and a memo, etc. were considered for the Deaf lay judge.

HIGA Tsuyoshi, a board member of the Okinawa Association of the Deaf, watched the trial and said that although it was probably based on the Deaf person's ability, it was good for him to understand by showing intelligible data at this time.

Japanese source:

"ILY" strap presented to people in stricken area

Hiroko Noritomi and the children who wrote the message on the card attached to the strap.

The home-made "ILY" strap
November 16, 2011

NORITOMI Hiroko (68) of Obihiro City in Hokkaido who has tackled the activity to enhance an understanding of Deaf culture. She made a "ILY (I-LOVE-YOU)" strap for mobile phones to present to the stricken area of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The strap which tucked up about 800 pieces is due to be sent before Christmas.

Her Deaf son, Hideto (42), managed a shop called the Deaf Culture Village to show Deaf arts culture and history in the city for a year since July, 2004. Hiroko was not happy about the closing of his shop and began making a stuff with the ILY sign,  a symbol of the shop,  since 2005.

She tucked up about 10,000 pieces of the "ILY" stuff until now, and had presented them to schools or facilities. Her wish was people who took the strap in their hand would become gentle.

Hiroko watched the TV program on the situation of the stricken area, and instantly thought what happened to the parents without their children, and to the children without their family. She thought that she could only present something to them. So she added a heart-shaped piece to the design of the "ILY" strap.

It takes about 4 hours to make one strap. Hiroko underwent the operation for her breast cancer in June, last year, continuing to make more pieces of the strap with care for her health condition. She says with a smile, "This is a good rehabilitation for me, as well as the source of my cheerfulness."

In order to send the strap with an encouraging message, Hiroko had the elementary school children to write a message on November 14. They wrote the message each in their own way, such like "it is OK," "Your living will be certainly recovered," etc.

Church members in Obihiro City will present the first set of straps on November 20 on her behalf when they visit the stricken area, and the second by Hiroko's friend who plans a visit on December 5.

Deaf social worker insists to assist living of Deaf persons in stricken area

November 10, 2011

YANO Koji (55), vice president of the Japanese Association of Deaf Social Workers, has engaged in disaster victim support of the Great East Japan Earthquake. He explains, "The stricken areas have so few people who sign or take a note that the Deaf disaster victims have been forced to experience inconvenience. Long-term assisted living is necessary for them."

In order to investigate the situation of the Deaf suffering the calamity and their living after the earthquake, Koji and other supporting groups interviewed 125 individuals in 11 cities and 9 towns in Miyagi Prefecture from April through June.

About the mental condition, it became clear that 28 persons had amnesia, earthquake drunkenness, and insomnia temporarily, etc. Moreover, eight persons answered that they lost the job.

When Koji visited a certain shelter, a Deaf evacuee continued signing to him for 2 hours about the occurrence of the earthquake and tsunami. Koji says, "While hearing persons discuss what they have experienced immediately, the Deaf cannot, so they feel very unstable and anxious."

About the situation at the time of suffering the calamity, some Deaf persons also answered that they were unaware of the tsunami warning since disaster radio was no accessible to them, even though they knew the earthquake hit immediately."

There is also a case which Deaf individuals cannot get along in a new community well even after they move into a makeshift house. Koji says, "Deaf people may be misunderstood easily. I would like concerned persons to know the actual condition of these Deaf disaster victims."

Research: Artificial hearing without artificial power

October 25, 2011

Kyoto University press release:

Researchers find that a battery-free cochlear implant can generate auditory responses in deaf animals. Current cochlear implants partially restore hearing in people who have inner ear hair-cell damage with a series of electronic sensors, actuators, and a battery power source.

Senior Lecturer Takayuki Nakagawa at Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto University and colleagues built a membrane implant using a material that generates electricity in response to bending, and inserted the device in the cochlea of deafened guinea pigs.

Sound transmitted through the guinea pigs’ ear canals generated vibrations in the membrane, which created electrical pulses that varied with the sound frequency. The membrane’s sound tuning aligned similarly with tuning in the inner ear’s basal membrane, the researchers report. In other tests, the researchers artificially stimulated the implants and recorded auditory brain stem activity in electrodes placed under the animals’ skin.

The researchers suggest that the device could be described as the “technological regeneration of [inner ear] hair cells,” but caution that the device’s electrical output must be increased to stimulate auditory primary neurons in the ear like current implants. Together, the results suggest that one day deaf patients may be able to use small prosthetics that mimic natural cochlear function, without the need for a battery. The results were published in PNAS.

Link to the journal paper:
Inaoka T, Shintaku H, Nakagawa T, Kawano S, Ogita H, Sakamoto T, Hamanishi S, Wada H, Ito J. Piezoelectric materials mimic the function of the cochlear sensory epithelium. PNAS 2011 ; published ahead of print October 24, 2011, doi:10.1073/pnas.1110036108

English source:

YouTube: Asimo introduces itself in JSL

2011 Honda Unveils All new ASIMO - Sign Language Using Arms and Multi Fingered Hands

English Article: Robot Asimo helping, signing

Asimo shows a sign, "I love you."
(Credit: Honda)

Honda's humanoid robot Asimo can now run faster, hop around, autonomously avoid people, and communicate in sign language with its new hands.

In the first major update to the droid in four years, Asimo has improved AI skills, being able to operate continuously without human control, and also has better locomotion, and a remarkable 57 axes of movement.
English Source: 
Asimo does bottles, lovey-dovey hand gestures

First Deaf rugby international match held in Nagoya - Japan lost


November 5, 2011

The first Deaf rugby international match between the Japanese team "Quiet Typhoon" and the Australian team "Silent Knights" was held in the rugby field in Nagoya on November 5.

Although Deaf rugby has the same rule as general 15-person Rugby, the assistant referees with a red flag instead of a whistle stood near the goal of both sides to tell discontinuation of the play.

The Japanese team was beaten by 3-22. They challenged the opponents of large build with the low tackle, and endured the pinch near the goal repeatedly.
As soon as they took the penalty, they moved forward from the quick restart, but did not lead to a score.

Related link: 
Deaf Rugby team prepares for the first international match in Japan

Coffee shop in Osaka City open for the Deaf social exchange

 November 2, 2011

The coffee shop "Deaf Cafe Easy Sign Language" located in Osaka City, where Deaf persons visit freely for a chat, is popular. The shop is managed by a non-profit organization called "Deaf Support Osaka" which has offered services including counseling, sign-language interpreting dispatch, etc.

Twenty or more people per day at the most visit the coffee shop. Some persons come even from distant places, such as Ehime Prefecture and Tokyo.

The "Deaf Cafe" was opened in 2006. Many Deaf persons were denied by the general coffee coffee shop owner, because their signed communication often disturbed other hearing customers. 

The "Deaf Support Osaka" staff decided opening "to provide the place in which Deaf  persons exchange daily living information freely." Now, there are some persons who visit the Deaf Cafe almost every day.

Hearing persons are also welcome. When ordering some food or drink, they must use pointing on the menu list. A sign language lesson is available for 500 yen during the opening hours. Works by a Deaf customer are also exhibited for sale in the shop.

Japanese source:

Deaf persons trained as "trimmer" for dogs

October , 2011

Deaf persons are trained to become a "trimmer" for dogs in a facility that is managed by the Shiga Welfare Association of the Deaf.

Since the training was begun in April, 2007, regular customers who let their pet used for practice are increasing in number. It is said that ten dogs are groomed a day.

A trimmer not only does a cut, a shampoo, brushing, nail clippers, etc., but also  performs the healthy check of the skin, etc., and gives the customer a chart.

OGASAWARA Chizuru, who has instructed since  July, 2010, has a grooming history of 26 years. While teaching how to groom a dog, she learned sign language.

She says, "It isn't easy for Deaf trimmers  to deal with a pet that is sensitive to sound, but their work from hard training is very good."

A charge for pet grooming is abut 4000 yen depending on kinds of dog, and it has acquired popularity from the dog lovers.

Six persons are currently trained at the facility. One trainee has acquired qualification and found a job at the specialty store.

Japanese source:

Woman arrested by falsehood report using cellular texting service for the Deaf

October 31, 2011

The Osaka Prefecture Police Ikuno station arrested the 31-year-old hearing woman of Osaka City who notified a falsehood by cellular texting message on October 31.

Around 4:55 a.m. on October 14, she apparently notified that the apartment was burning, using the cellular texting service for the Deaf and blocking the operation of the Ikuno station and the Osaka Prefecture Police communication direction division.

According to the Ikuno station, the woman says that she has not reported" and denies suspicion. There were about 100 false text messages in her cellular phone since September.

Bandanna produced to support the Deaf at the time of disaster

The bandanna to be used by Deaf persons at the time of a disaster

October 28, 2011

Kumagaya-shi in Saitama Prefecture produced the bandanna for disaster relief of the Deaf.

Deaf person and those who sign show the bandanna to get support immediately from the surrounding person at the time of disasters, such as an earthquake.

The disaster radio broadcasting, etc. is not accessible to the Deaf. The disability of Deaf people is so invisible that it is hard to get help easily and their refuge may be overdue.

It is said that there was a request for a measure from the Deaf community in the city in response to an Great East Japan Earthquake.

Based on the donations from city financial institutions, the city manufactured the bandanna with cooperation of the Kumagaya Association of the Deaf and the Kumagaya sign language circle.

Japanese source: