Meg Murphy

Born in the southwest United States, Meg exchanged eternal summers for eternal rain when she relocated to Seattle in 2007. After finishing school, she decided to try and put her degree to good use- coming to Japan in April 2011 with no solid plans, and has been here ever since. An avid traveler and adventurer, always up for a challenge. A vegetarian for most of her life, on a quest to find delicious, non-meaty eats. She'd like to think she's creative and artistic, but that's up for debate. She also enjoys normal people things too, like music, movies, and cats. Because there can never be too many cats in one's life.

All Stories by Meg Murphy

Eat for free at this restaurant in China…but only if you’re beautiful enough!

It is common for such establishments as restaurants and movie theatres to offer student discounts, senior discounts, and the like to its patrons, and one Tokyo bar even offers balding gentlemen money off their booze. But one restaurant in China has decided to offer a free meal only to those deemed beautiful enough.

Each person has their own tastes and preferences of what they find attractive, so if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how does the restaurant go about judging who gets their dinner gratis?

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Awesome carved eraser stamps are something to marvel, but leave some skeptical

The world is full of amazingly talented artists – people who can take ordinary everyday objects and make something extraordinary. Without question, Japan has its own fair share of talent, what with high school students creating beautiful murals with nothing but a stick of chalk, artists sketching insanely detailed drawings using a simple ball-point pen, and the awe-inspiring snow sculptures that are constructed at Sapporo’s snow festival each year.

Now, we have insanely detailed, hand-carved stamps made from erasers setting the internet abuzz.

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New Sailor Moon pens: “Magic not included”

The release of the reanimated Sailor Moon series has brought with it an influx of new and exciting merchandise, much to the joy of fans old and new alike. Jewelry, apparel, accessories… even pens that look like our beloved Scouts’ transformation wands.

But for those of you who were wishing to fight some evil by moonlight, you may be in for a bit of disappointment.

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Two Japanese arrested, suspected of importing forged money, sharing with friends

I’m sure I’m not the first to admit that life would be so much easier if money grew on trees, or even if earning more money were as simple as just printing it off your computer. But alas, the world does work that way, and anyone caught trying to spend counterfeit money is bound to end up in hot water, as these two Japanese suspects are sure to tell you.

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Pampered hamsters chill in tiny home, eat pies, win hearts 【Videos】

Needing some cuteness in your day? Well do we have just the thing for you! Meet hamsters Enoki and Bunapi from Singapore as they invite you into their home and go about their day, chilling in front of the TV, eating apple pies, taking a bath… you know, just normal hamster things.

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Awkward: University lecturer found naked on campus in Tokyo

Ever find yourself in a really awkward or compromising situation? The kind where you wish the earth would split open and swallow you up, or you could somehow be whisked away to some magic far-away land where you’d never have to show your face to the real world again? We’re pretty sure that’s what this 55-year-old university lecturer was feeling when he was found on campus, wearing nothing but his birthday suit. How he ended up that way is an even more interesting issue.

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Swiss man visits Japan, returns home an internet sensation 【Photos】

Lovers of Japan and Japanese pop culture the world over plan for their dream trip to the motherland of anime, delicious food, and all things cute, to experience first-hand all that this fantastic country has to offer. For those finally living the dream, social media makes it easy to share your adventures with friends, family, and others interested in Japanese culture too.

When Twitter user Swiss Ambassador Rayun (@yuzu_rayun) documented his most recent trip to the Land of the Rising Sun – posting pictures of his travels, delicious eats, and his haul of eroge (erotic game) goods – we doubt he expected the amount of fame he was about to receive, as his Twitter follower tally has grown by the thousands over the past few days.

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Pet treats from China pulled from shelves, suspected in the illness/death of thousands of dogs

Any pet owner will tell you that pets are undeniably a part of the family. Everyone wants the best for their furry four-legged friend, and it is emotionally painful to watch them when they get sick or when their lives end. Even worse is when their already too-short lives are cut even shorter due to illness caused by something that was believed to be good for them. So, in response to consumer concerns that jerky treats manufactured in China have been the cause of thousands of pet illnesses and deaths, pet-supply chain Petco has decided to stop all sales of Chinese-produced dog and cat treats.

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Some snuggly bunnies to warm your heart and soul this winter【Video】

As much as I hate being cold, I love the wintertime. There’s nothing better than coming home after being out on a blustery day to sit down under the kotatsu (those wonderful creations – low, Japanese tables fitted with a blanket and a heater underneath) and curl up with mounds of blankets and a hot cup of tea.

While rabbits can’t really curl up under a kotatsu with a cup of tea (though I’m sure they would if they were offered!), they certainly have their own way of weathering the winter chill, and these particular bunnies at a park in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture are warming the hearts of park-goers in the process.

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Japanese netizens react to other countries’ harsh punishments for drunk driving

Driving drunk is a serious matter, and no matter what country you’re in, you can be sure to expect serious consequences should you decide to take the wheel after a drink too many – or in some countries after even a single sip.

However, a photo of this chart detailing punishments by country for drunk driving, posted by Twitter user @luckyseven43, has Japanese net users discussing whether some of these punishments – like the death penalty for a first offense – are too harsh.

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Baby-daddy drama: Pair of twins in China found to have different fathers

Twins, triplets, and even more multiple births are a natural occurrence, made even more common in recent years thanks to the increasing use of fertility drugs. While I’m sure we can all think of a couple of famous identical twins, not all multiples look alike – some can even be different genders – but it’s generally expected that both (or all) of the children have the same parents. But as one daddy in China is finding out, this isn’t always the case!

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It’s the year of the sheep-dog! Introducing new clothes for your dog’s wardrobe

We have bid farewell to the year of the horse, and welcomed in the Year of the Sheep. New Year’s decorations, greeting cards, and the like are all adorned with more sweet, fluffy little lambs than you could shake one of their tails at. It almost makes you want to get an adorable little baby fleecey bundle for your own. I mean, sheep are allowed in apartments, right? Right!?

Or maybe it would just be easier to transform your dog into a sheep for the New Year instead!

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Tough lesson learned: Snowboarders safely rescued after getting lost on mountain for two days

Japan takes a lot of pride in its four distinct seasons, and everyone seems to enjoy all the changes that each new time of year brings. With winter, you’ll see people setting up their kotatsu tables at home to keep warm, convenience stores starting to sell delicious hot bowls of oden, and what seems to be just about everyone in the country gearing up to hit the slopes. With mountainous regions throughout Japan, and travel companies offering super cheap ski-tour packages, it’s hard to ignore the call to pack up your board or skis and head for the powdery slopes.

A fun weekend at the Kagura Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture is probably what 45-year-old Koju Neriko, his wife, and their friend had in mind when they set out with their snowboards last Friday, only to become terribly lost on the blustering mountain for two days.

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Schoolboy offers elderly man seat on train, gets publicly berated for doing just that

Japanese people have a reputation for being polite and well-mannered, so the frequent sight of so many people, rather than giving up their seat as they should, suddenly becoming engrossed in their smartphones or pretending to sleep when a pregnant woman or elderly person boards always comes as a bit of a surprise to me.

Of course, there are still plenty of kind and courteous people who offer up their seat without fail. On such occasions, the elderly passenger will often decline the offer, either because they will be getting off in a couple stops, or because despite appearances they still feel young and genki enough to stand for the journey. One elderly man in particular, though, took offense at a young boy who kindly offered up his seat recently.

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A different kind of golden shower: Septic tank truck explodes in China

Bad luck strikes whenever it pleases, and I’m sure that at some point or another, we’ve all had to deal with a bad day. Any number of things can happen, from spilling coffee on your clean white shirt, to dropping and breaking your phone as you rush for work or your card being inexplicably declined as you attempt to pay for dinner on your first date…

All are pretty unfortunate things to happen that can really put a damper on your day. But I can pretty much guarantee that none of those things compare to the awfulness of being an innocent bystander when a nearby septic truck decides to explode, showering all in the vicinity with a literal load of crap. Just ask those that were there in Hechi City, China, on December 26, when that very thing happened.

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Town in Hiroshima now offering exciting… snow-shovelling tours?

To someone raised in an area that receives little to no snow in the wintertime, living in a snowy region might seem like a lot of fun, what with all the sledding, snowball fights, and easy access to ski resorts. But it’s not all fun and games when you need to shovel through feet of snow just to leave your house or to get your car out of your driveway.

But maybe to someone who hasn’t grown up having to shovel heaps of snow each winter, snow-shoveling could be a fun experience too. At least, that’s what the Akiota-cho Sightseeing Association in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, seems to be hoping as they try to lure city-dwellers to their 4th annual “Heavy Snow Region Experience Tour“. However, this tour has some net-users questioning why anyone would want to pay 5,000 yen (approximately US$50) to shovel snow for someone else.

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Complaints lead to talks about whether noise from schools should be regulated

With Japan trying to figure out how to handle its issue of a declining population (predicted to decrease by one-third over the next half century if the current trend in birth rates continues), the country has been working to raise awareness of the problem and implement more resources for children and parents.

However, with a recent increase of new day cares, preschools, and kindergartens, there has also been an increase of complaints about noise, particularly from elderly residents.

Some of these cases have even gone to court, and have resulted in some schools having to restrict outdoor playtime for the children and keep their curtains closed.

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Seaweed and soy beans and mushrooms, oh my! New Japanese-style bagels coming soon

Mm, bagels. The quintessential morning staple, best hot and crunchy out of the toaster with a generous slathering of cream cheese and a nice hot cuppa.

Thankfully Japan is no stranger to these bread-y rings of goodness, so it isn’t difficult to get one’s bagel fix should the craving strike. The well-known chain BAGEL & BAGEL has been serving up the good stuff since their first store opened in Shinjuku in 1997, and now has about 70 locations open throughout Japan.

While foreign cuisine can be found in abundance here nowadays, from pizza and pasta to Indian curry and naan, creative chefs in Japan will often take these foods and make it uniquely their own. (Potato-and-mayo pizza, anyone?) Bagels are no exception, and starting December 26, BAGEL & BAGEL will be rolling out a line of very Japanese-style bagels, including such “Wa” (Japanese) ingredients as seaweed and edamame.

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New app allows commuters to share info on train delays through Twitter

While trains in Japan are revered for their reliability and punctuality, sometimes the inevitable happens, and services become delayed. If you are one of the hundreds of thousands in Japan who depend on the trains to get you to and from work each day, it can really put a damper on things to arrive at the station and find your platform crowded with other commuters, expecting a long wait.

If you had known about the delay beforehand, you could’ve planned a different route, or if that’s not an option, you could have stopped somewhere for some coffee to kill the time. It would be great if there was an app for that, you think.

Well, lucky for you there is!

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Giving basketball a bit of yin-yang: Chinese martial artist’s amazing performance 【Video】

What happens when you combine the moves of traditional Chinese martial arts with the modern sport of basketball? A whole lot of awesome, that’s what.

A particular group of basketball freestylers have been making waves recently with a video of their impressive tai chi-basketball infusion.

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