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

Watch dad’s hilarious interpretations of Smash Bros characters 【Video】

Nothing can enhance the mood of a party quite like a raring round of Super Smash Bros. The chaos that breaks out in these free-for-all battles is bound to bring out the competitiveness in anyone, and there are dozens of characters to choose from, each with their own unique strengths and special attacks.

Those of you who own the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros have probably seen each character’s own taunting animation, but seeing a grown man perform them is nothing short of magical. While not as synchronized as this little Bruce Lee‘s nunchaku mimicry, this dad’s Smash Bros imitations are arguably better than the actual thing!

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Mizupica, the flashlight that runs on… water?

With recent fears that Japan might be due another sizeable earthquake in the coming months, it’s little wonder that people have been checking that their emergency kits are properly stocked, just in case. Even without these supposed warning signs of an upcoming disaster, in a country like Japan where earthquakes are common, it’s always a smart idea to be prepared and keep an emergency stock of food, water, and other necessities.

A flashlight and spare batteries are often recommended items to keep in an emergency kit, but what if you could have a light source that doesn’t even need batteries? That’s where the Mizupica comes in – a flashlight that can last up to a week on only a small amount of water.

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Animated short sends a strong message about our smartphone addiction 【Video】

How many of you are guilty of walking around outdoors with your eyes glued to your phone as you check your email and social networks? Playing games when you should be focusing in class? What about texting one-handed while driving? For all the positive advancements smartphones have brought to our society, it’s impossible to deny that they’ve also brought with them a slew of new problems.

Students at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts have created a short, satirical cartoon depicting modern society’s smartphone addiction. There is no dialogue, but the video voices its message very clearly.

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What’s the best way to market sea food? Why, dress a mannequin in it, of course!

Advertising is a big part of any business. In order to sell your product, you have to make it look appealing to customers in order to tempt them into making a purchase, and thinking of new, creative ways to advertise your goods can get pretty tricky.

However, we’re quite torn over whether this Seaweed Mandiscovered at a grocery store in China – is a stroke of advertising genius, or just a creepy, half-assed attempt at it.

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Prepare for battle? Colonel Sanders across Japan found decked out in samurai armor 【Photos】

Kentucky Fried Chicken – American fast food chain and purveyor of greasy, finger-lickin’ goodness – has firmly established itself in the Japanese landscape ever since the first store opened in the 1970s, and has been a Christmas-dinner staple in Japanese homes since. At pretty much any location you stop by, Colonel Sanders will be there to greet you in his signature white suit, his plastic-y smile welcoming you inside.

In the past few days, however, Colonels across the nation have been spotted in full samurai garb. What is the meaning of all this? Is KFC about ready to wage a Last Samurai-esque battle of the fast foodies? Unfortunately the truth is not that epic, but all these Samurai Sanders still look pretty cool as they get ready to celebrate the upcoming Japanese holiday Boys’ Day.

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Guests at Taiwanese hotel leave a really crappy surprise for housekeeping 【Video】

When we’re on vacation and staying in a hotel, it’s easy to get lazy and stop cleaning up after ourselves like we normally would in our own homes. We leave the beds unmade, towels and clothes on the floor, empty drink bottles on the bedside table… After all, housekeeping will come and clean everything up for us anyway, right?

But some guests who stayed at a hotel in Taiwan left the room in such a state of disarray that it made local news after photos of the catastrophe were posted of Facebook – poo-stained sheets and all.

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These Japanese cat masks both enchant and terrify

Cats have been our free-willed companions for centuries, even revered as gods in some cultures, and in modern times still have our hearts (and the internet) wrapped around their little kitty toes. But despite their closeness to our hearts, there is still so much about them that remains mysterious, and it is this mystery that captured the imagination of Japanese artist Junko Koguchi as she rendered these gorgeously enchanting cat masks.

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Actress’ incredible swing in new Toyota commercial has people talking 【Video】

In Toyota’s newest commercial, the downtown area of a small city is turned into a massive baseball arena, where manholes are bases, the simple push of a button brings anyone into play, and pretty much anything goes. It’s a really fun watch, to say the least, and has already been viewed over six million times on YouTube.

Being a commercial, obviously most of what you see is fabricated by the film crew and enhanced with “movie magic”, but there is still a lot of raw talent to be seen, most notably from the actress in the final scene, whose killer swing has gotten her a lot of attention.

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Pro announcers have hilarious conversation over unfortunately named sausage snack

I’m sure most of you are aware that Japan is full of awesomely terrible Engrish. Some of it may be cringe-worthy, but the child in us can’t help but snicker as we tell our friends we just had a cup of Calpis, that we bought our new outfit at titty&Co., or spent the evening at Pink Pussy.

However, the humor of such unfortunately-named products, brands and spectacularly named bars is not completely lost upon the Japanese themselves. Take, for example, these two professional announcers, who had a hilarious back-and-forth on Twitter over some Homo Sausage.

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Driver struck by another vehicle in the wrong lane, still ordered to pay 40 million yen

Driving is dangerous business – tons of metal and motors on wheels, whizzing around at high speeds past other vehicles and pedestrians, which is why you never want to throw alcohol into that mix. What a lot of people don’t realize, though, is that driving while you’re sleepy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. You become less attentive, your reaction time slows, and drowsiness can also affect your decision-making.

Three years ago, a tragic accident occurred in Fukui Prefecture, Japan, in which a sleepy driver drifted into the opposite lane, causing a fatal accident. The case went to court, and the court’s decision was announced last Monday. Many were shocked to hear the results: that the judge placed fault on the driver of the car that was struck, ordering them to pay 40 million yen (over US$336,000) in damages.

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What happens when this adorable Shiba’s travel box gets smaller and smaller? 【Video】

Koharu is a sweet Shiba Inu from Japan who loves going for car rides. She even has a special bed in the back seat of the car where she cozies up for the ride. But what happens when her bed gets smaller and smaller each time she hops in the car, ready to go? We’re sure Koharu will squeeze her way into your heart as she tries to squeeze her way into these bitty boxes!

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The reason those “how not to use this toilet” signs exist in Asia…

Did you ever hear stories about people in horribly embarrassing or awkward situations and thank whatever deity you believe in that it didn’t happen to you? Well you can say your thanks again that you weren’t the man who had to be taken to the hospital for injuries sustained after the toilet he decided to stand on as he… did his business… collapsed underneath him.

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I can’t believe it’s not cake! Bakery’s newest creation looks just like tuna-sashimi bowl

Is it just me, or are cakes these days starting to look less and less… cakey? With all sorts of techniques, tools, and ingredients at their fingertips, it seems like bakers can now turn cake into pretty much anything, as we’ve seen before from this cake shop in Shinjuku, that sells cakes disguised as Chinese food (you can even learn to make a bowl-of-ramen cake yourself here).

Now, that same shop, called Maplies, has come out with yet another tricky treat that looks exactly like maguro-don, a rice bowl with slices of tuna sashimi on top!

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Perfect Mother’s Day gift: My Neighbor Totoro-inspired “corn gift set”

Moms are awesome, there’s no denying it. Not only did they bring us into this world, for most of us, they made sure we were clothed and fed, bought us all sorts of unnecessary junk that we wanted just to make us happy, put up with all of our whining, cleaned up after us when we got sick, and lost countless amounts of money, hair, sleep, and probably even their sanity to make sure we led a happy life. That’s why there’s Mother’s Day (May 10 in Japan and the US), to celebrate all the great mums out there – be they birth mothers, adoptive mothers, or any other mother-figure in your life.

Hoping to find something a little different this year than the usual bouquet of flowers or fancy chocolates? We’ve found just the thing- a “toumorokoshi (corn)” gift set inspired by the Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro. It’s too cute to pass up!

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Who was voted the world’s most influential person? The results may surprise you

Every year TIME magazine releases a list of 100 of the world’s most influential people. While 99 of those will be chosen by TIME editors, only one individual will make the list based on the results of an online poll. This year, a total of 158 influential figures were nominated, and the results are finally in! Who did the voters choose? First place ended up as a tie between two unlikely contestants.

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Website under investigation for selling fake diplomas

With the price of higher education skyrocketing in the west, student debt a growing problem for new graduates, and the increase of well-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, many people are finding that going to university just isn’t really worth it these days. But what if you could still get a degree without devoting all that time and effort, and without coming out of it with a lifetime’s worth of debt?

As it turns out, a website in China has been offering fake diplomas for a number of well-respected universities around the world, for only a fraction of the cost of four years of tuition!

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“Sandwich rice ball”? We give convenience store chain’s new concoction a taste

Rice balls, called onigiri or omusubi in Japanese, are a quintessential staple of Japanese lunches for people of any age. Convenience store shelves are always stocked full of many different varieties, and there are even specialty shops that sell nothing but rice balls for take-away. They can be as simple as rice flavored lightly with salt, but are more commonly found with some sort of filling like konbu (kelp with a salty-sweet soy sauce flavoring) or salmon, and wrapped with a sheet of nori seaweed.

Convenience store chain FamilyMart recently released what they call a “sando omusubi“, or a sandwich rice ball, though it doesn’t quite seem to make it to the rice-ball level…

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Eight video games get awesome Disney-esque makeovers

Adapting video game stories into live-action feature films is a really hit-or-miss business, and while we all have our own movie preferences, I think the majority would be in agreement that many game-gone-movie titles ended up as a bust. In fact, most of those titles listed over at IMDb barely squeak past a five- out of ten-star rating.

But the success of Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph (while not a movie adaptation of a video game per se), got us wondering, what with those pretty cool character cameos, why not ditch the live-action remakes and go animated instead? Some really amazing artists also seemed to have that idea in mind when they created their own character renditions of some of their favorite video game heroes (and villains)!

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These gravity-defying coin towers have left us in awe 【Video】

We all have our special talents–whether you’re that really quiet person who happens to have an amazing singing voice, or you can write beautiful calligraphy with your toes, we all have that one thing that we excel at without hardly trying. It doesn’t even have to be anything particularly “useful” to be awesome. Take this person, for example, who can build incredible towers made of coins that almost seem to defy gravity.

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Man fed up with Love Live fans at subway station in China, pours water on them

The popular anime series Love Live has won itself diehard fans, both within Japan and throughout the world. You might remember the subway cars in Shanghai last year decorated with Love Live idols that literally brought fans to their knees. Well, Chinese fans are at it again, as the idols have made a reappearance on subway cars in the city of Chongqing.

One commuter, however, seemed to have had enough of the homage-paying fans as he rained his watery wrath down over their heads.

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