Many foreigners appreciate Japanese foods because of their health properties. However, few foreigners like natto, because of its sticky texture. The Ibaraki prefectural government started the “development of low sticky texture natto” project to export natto-based products to France and Germany, among other countries. The use of specially shaped packages, or edible glue lowers the stickiness of natto. However, these methods require new processing machines. Natto makers would like to produce low sticky texture natto without having to purchase new machines. To meet this challenge, we developed a new strain of bacteria from a natural mutation during subculture of Bacillus subtilis. This strain produces substances with less stickiness. We named this strain “IBARAKI ℓst-1,” and called natto products fermented by IBARAKI ℓst-1 “MAMENOKA.” MAMENOKA means fragrance of fermented soybeans. We found that the stickiness and viscosity of MAMENOKA were significantly lower than that of commonly sold natto. Firmness, color, and nutrient (polyamine) content of MAMENOKA were almost the same as commonly sold natto. We performed taste tests of MAMENOKA and commonly sold natto. The majority of the people who tested MAMENOKA reported that it was easier to swallow than commonly sold natto, because of its low viscosity. Some natto makers in Ibaraki are utilizing these properties of MAMENOKA to develop new natto-based products, such as dipping sauces, pastes, and dressings.
Huge earthquakes and tsunamis have agitated and disturbed the sea floor. Many marine geological surveys after the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake indicated large disturbances of the sea floor by the earthquake and its related tsunami across a wide area from the coastal to the Japan Trench floor. Resuspension of marine surface sediment by the earthquake and tsunami might generate turbidity currents. Deposition of turbidites, which are deposits from turbidity currents, has been recognized. Therefore, earthquake- and tsunami- induced turbidite is a potential tool for understanding the history of past huge earthquakes and tsunamis. For the estimation of the origin and evolution of earthquake- and tsunami-induced turbidity currents and the selection of suitable locations for turbidite paleoseismology, marine geological information such as samples and characteristics of surface sediments and depositional modes is useful and important.
We developed an endoscopic microscopy system with 20 nm accuracy that affords inspection through narrow gaps using a thin, 1.5 mm diameter probe. Accuracy was improved using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). The frequency modulated light source is stabilized with closed control from self-interference measurement. The probe is driven by two miniature motors, which allow three-dimensional scanning of an internal surface. Imaging performance is 60 frames per second. The high accuracy with narrow clearance capabilities of this system reduces the need for machine overhauls, which affords trustworthy daily inspections and hence greater machine reliability.
A materials recycling technology to recover green phosphor, including terbium, which is a heavy rare earth, from fluorescent powder in waste lamp sludge was realized by collaborating with researchers who specialize in materials and powder sorting. There are few cases worldwide in which materials circulation from post-consumer waste has been established in loops further inside than horizontal recycling. This is a recycling system which is described as an ideal circulation system for the near future in Europe’s circular economy (CE)/resource efficiency (RE) policies, etc. This study is a successful example of Japan leading the world in urban mine development to establish a resource circulation system of various waste products, and becoming a pioneer in near-future resource recycling.