Trademarks in Japan are similar to Internet domain names.
Priority is granted to the person or company that applies for the trademark first, and there is nothing to stop someone not related to a name from seeking to profit from it, be it through marketing or by selling the trademark to its “rightful” owner.
Since registration only costs 66,000 yen and gives the holder exclusive rights to the name for 10 years and the option to renew, it can be quite a bargain for people looking to make a quick turnover.
Simon links to a discussion of the rivalry between Tokyo and Osaka, which led me to a string of interesting articles about manzai comedy. I’ve seen manzai in anime–notably Prince of Tennis, and perhaps Yakitate!! Japan (I’m thinking some of the things Kawachi says might fall under the tsukkomi or boke categories, but I’d have to go review the episodes to check). This is, of course, germaine to my previous post!
Finally, Mainichi’s Unseen Japan photo contest has closed, and you can view all 865 entries here. Some of these photos are really neat! Jeff from Sushicam entered; I’ll edit this post when I’ve found his photos. Good luck to him!