These days robot-loving Japanese are tinkering with screwdrivers and motors instead of heading to the beach or hot springs during the holidays. Tokyo's major store devoted to robots, Vstone Robot Center in the bustling Akihabara electronics district, sells robots of all sizes and shapes, including the tiny scuttling Robo-Q from Tomy Co. and the Pleo animatronic dinosaur toy from Ugobe Inc. of the U.S.

Tuesday marked the theatrical debut for the bot, which appeared onstage alongside real-life actors in a play that's being hailed as a first in robot-human artistic collaboration. Hataraku Watashi ("I, Worker"), by playwright Oriza Hirata, focuses on a couple who own two housekeeping robots, one of which loses its motivation to work.

A signature on a piece of paper in Japan this week means that the country can now start work on commercializing a new generation of high-tech trains that make the current bullet trains look like pedal-bikes.

Plan your travels by rail or air in Japan.

One Man’s Life With Cute Overload

Hos oss kan du hitta just det Japan som du söker. Vi visar dig vägen till smultronställena, på landsbygden såväl som mitt i jättemetropolen Tokyo.

While robots are a long way from matching human emotional complexity, the country is perhaps the closest to a future — once the stuff of science fiction — where humans and intelligent robots routinely live side by side and interact socially.

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