Table Speech

About Amino Acids

March 5, 2014

Mr. Norio Yamaguchi

1. Food and Amino Acids
 We are familiar with the five basic tastes and their physiological significance: sweetness is our source of energy, saltiness is mineral, sourness is associated with decayed or unripe food, bitterness can be poisonous, and umami is protein.

 Professor Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University discovered that glutamate produced the sensation of umami extracted from kelp. Other umami substances, including inosinic acid from bonito and guanylic acid from shiitake mushrooms, were all discovered by the Japanese.

 Tomatoes are especially rich in glutamate. Likewise the most abundant amino acid in human breast milk is glutamate. Scientific research on the correlation between five basic tastes and babies’ expressions proved that babies smiled after consuming something sweet and umami. Glutamate is the first tastiness we encounter in our life.

2. Sports and Amino Acids
 It’s not an exaggeration to say that the human body consists of amino acids, as they make up protein which accounts for 20 % of our body, while water accounts for 60%. Valine, leucine and isoleucine are called the “branched-chain amino acids (BCAA)” that have great impact on muscle building and recovering from fatigue. BCAA intake before physical exercise ensures muscle protein protection against decomposition and reduces muscular pain. BCAA poses no problems in doping tests as they are not medical substances.

3. Alcohol and Amino Acids
 Alanine is one of the nonessential amino acids, contained abundantly in freshwater clam and other seafood. Together with glutamate, it works to speed up alcohol decomposition to acetaldehyde, then finally to water and carbon dioxide. If you take these two amino acids before and during drinking or before going to bed, you will be free from a hangover.

4. Sleeping and Amino Acids
 During sleep, our body cycles between the two basic states of non-REM and REM sleep. Studies on brain waves prove that taking glycine amino acid prior to sleep will shorten sleep latency and increase slow-wave sleep (deep non-REM sleep). Glycine has natural sleep-inducing effect. I myself take glycine when I get on board for a long-distance flight to sleep well on a plane and to minimize jet lag. Glycine is also effective on sleep apnea syndrome.

5. Medical field and Amino Acids
 Studies on the different amino acid patterns observed in the blood of ill people have developed a blood test technology with high-accuracy that enables diagnosing patients with potential illness, ranging from gastric cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, bowel cancer and prostate cancer. This technology is also useful for early detection of potential patients with lifestyle-related diseases. Medical advices on diet and lifestyle modification will prevent the development of diseases. This diagnostic technology is applicable to people of different races and has the potential to contribute to healthy long lives people around the world.

 Please give some thought to amino acids when you dine, drink, play golf or go to bed. The 21st century is the “century of amino acids.”

About Aquariums

March 5, 2014

Mr. Kazuhisa Hori

 The number of aquariums in the US, Europe and Asia totals 560 today, which has increased by 100 in 14 years. Economic growth in China is the main impetus and China currently has 100 aquariums, a tremendous increase from just 10 in 2000.

 In Japan, there are about 70 aquariums affiliated to the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, of which the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is the largest. If other similar facilities are included, the number totals around 130. Aquariums are concentrated in the metropolitan areas. Kanto and Kansai areas have 24 aquariums each. Japan has an overwhelmingly high ratio of aquariums to total land area, making it the world’s best paradise for aquariums in numerical terms.

 The Ueno Zoo opened in 1882 with a small “uonozoki (fish-viewing)” room that became the first aquarium in Japan. The term “aquarium” first came into use in 1885 when the “Asakusa Aquarium” opened. Economic recovery after World War II expanded interest in leisure activities that led to the construction of dozens of aquariums. The Museum Law enacted in 1951 accelerated the construction of nearly 150 aquariums during the 1950s and 1960s.

 There are four major types of aquariums. First is the “home aquarium” that dates back to the 19th century when scientists and naturalists installed them as a hobby, supported by the advanced glass industrial art in Europe, particularly in France. The second type originates in zoos and they are constructed within the zoo. For example, the aquarium of Ueno Zoo developed into the Tokyo Sea Life Park. The third type originates in expositions, like the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium that opened after the International Marine Exposition. The fourth type serves as a research laboratory for universities. The University of Tokyo built an aquarium in the early Meiji era at its marine laboratory in Aburatsubo.

 The 21st century is said to be the century of the environment. Increasing media coverage on symbiosis with nature, adverse environmental changes and massive natural disasters has raised our interest in how to deal with nature. In Japan, the Basic Act on Ocean Policy was enacted in April 2007, which called for the enhancement of public understanding of the oceans, its conservation and utilization of ocean resources. Aquariums will play an important role. Japan is a major maritime nation with the world’s 6th largest exclusive economic zone. Oceans can cause earthquakes and tsunamis but they are also a vast treasure house with massive potential.

 Aquariums will also seek to provide an “edutainment” learning function that combines both the educational and entertaining elements to children’s future development. We are determined to strive for further development of the aquarium industry.