Japan

Japan’s pets approve of Muji bean bags, put on a masterful display of laziness 【Photos】

Japan’s pets approve of Muji bean bags, put on a masterful display of laziness 【Photos】

Last week, we brought you Japanese retail company Muji’s guide to getting nothing done thanks to the comfort and unparalleled lethargy inducing qualities of the mighty bean bag chair. Well, it seems that some of our canine and feline friends have been paying close attention, and no sooner had their owners picked one up, immediately began showing us all how to use Muji’s popular bean bag chairs properly.

Judging by these photos, these little guys are clearly the true relaxation ninjas of the land.

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Giant Patlabor robot stands tall in Tokyo even as film’s director calls it “useless” 【Photos】

Giant Patlabor robot stands tall in Tokyo even as film’s director calls it “useless” 【Photos】

When surveys are done asking people which neighborhood of Tokyo they’d like to live in, Kichijoji often tops the list. It’s not hard to see why, as it’s filled with fashionable cafes, restaurants, and bars (including one with an airsoft firing range), and nearby Inokashira Park is one of the capital’s best cherry blossom viewing spots.

Safety is also an important concern in choosing a place to live, and at least for a day, Kichijoji had this in spades, as the Ingram, the giant robot used in the Patlabor science-fiction films, showed up last weekend.

Even as the Ingram was standing tall though, the films’ director, Mamoru Oshii was tearing down the dreams if aspiring mecha pilots everywhere by firmly stating his belief that we’ll never see giant bipedal robots in any practical, real-life application.

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Monster parents evolve: The unbelievable demands and complaints made by parents in Japan

Monster parents evolve: The unbelievable demands and complaints made by parents in Japan

‘Monster parents’ aren’t anything new in Japan–the complaints by and about overbearing, demanding mothers and fathers have been on the increase for nearly a decade. But thanks to a report by the FujiTV program Nonstop, the issue has catapulted squarely back into the public conscious.

The show posted some of the crazier complaints allegedly made by these loudmouthed parents to schools and their kids’ teachers, sparking angry and bewildered comments online. We’ve collected some of the best (worst?) below.

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Bizarre Tokyo shop sells retro sunglasses by the literal bowlful

Bizarre Tokyo shop sells retro sunglasses by the literal bowlful

Before you jump directly to the comments section to scold me about the proper usage of “literal” and the dangers of hyperbole, just know first off that the long-running Ikebukuro institution Rougan Megane Hakubutsukan (老眼メガネ博物館, or literally, “Aging Glasses Museum”) actually sells bowls full of retro sunglasses. And for just 280 yen (US$2.80) at that.

And, besides enabling writers like me to use the phrase “literal bowlful” in relation to something that isn’t a food item, Rougan Megane Hakubutsukan defies expectations in a lot of other ways, too.

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Vine Boin Bounce: In which we start a new dance craze and have a punny good time

Vine Boin Bounce: In which we start a new dance craze and have a punny good time

While most of the articles you find on our lovely site are about Japanese news–be it current events in the anime world or photos a hundred years old–sometimes we like to just kick off our shoes and have some fun too.

For example, four of our colleagues from the Japanese side of the site (great for reading practice in case you’re studying the language!) decided to make these, shall we say unique Vine videos. We won’t say that they’re the weirdest thing you’ll see today…but only because we never know when some deep sea divers are going to find new, bizarre fish.

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See what 13 stuffed toys look like after a wash at the home spa

See what 13 stuffed toys look like after a wash at the home spa

People in Japan love their soft toys. And with so many cute characters to choose from, it’s easy to understand why. But with love comes a sense of responsibility, which means there will eventually come a time when your favourite stuffed character will have to face the wash. The only thing is, with their adorable, life-like expressions, a wash-and-dry for a stuffed toy ends up looking like a day at the spa followed by a visit to the amusement park!

Check out the adventures of some crazy Japanese plushies, as documented by their owners, after the jump.

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Japanese constitution nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Japanese constitution nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize has an unprecedented nomination: the Ninth Article of the Japanese constitution. The Ninth Article renounces the right to engage in war or to maintain a military. The group advocating the nomination, the “Constitution’s Ninth Article for the Nobel Peace Prize,” is based in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Housewife Naomi Takusu (37) came up with the idea. She started an online petition last May and garnered 1,500 signatures in just five days. She contacted the Nobel Committee, from whose response she learned that candidates can only be nominated through certain channels and must be individuals or groups. She changed her strategy and tried again for 2014.

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Drivers spill the beans while saving the planet with Nissan’s two-seater electric vehicle

Drivers spill the beans while saving the planet with Nissan’s two-seater electric vehicle

In October last year, Yokohama City joined forces with Japanese automobile manufacturer Nissan for a special project dubbed Choi-Mobi Yokohama. Furnishing the historic port city with a small fleet of rentable, ultra-compact electric vehicles, Nissan set out to examine the feasibility of making such modes of transport commonplace in urban centres. Allowing anyone with a valid license to zip around the city – emission free, of course – for just 20 yen (US$0.19) per minute of use, ultra-compacts like the Choi-Mobi are tipped to be a useful replacement for taxis and private vehicles in urban areas in future years.

The concept alone was enough to have tech-heads and environmentalists alike grinning from ear to ear, but on April 1 this year, Nissan asked a group of Choi-Mobi renters to use their time together inside the vehicle to convey important messages to one another, telling not April Fools but “April Truths”.

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BABYMETAL invasion of the West marches on, everyone welcomes new kawaii overlords【VIDEOS】

BABYMETAL invasion of the West marches on, everyone welcomes new kawaii overlords【VIDEOS】

It’s been less than a year since we interviewed BABYMETAL and prophesied their coming domination of the globe, and in that time they’ve released a new, full-length album, racked up over five million views on one video alone, and made plans to invade England. While the UK probably isn’t the best target for a military attack–we hear they get pretty grumpy and call the RAF on you–the country seems particularly susceptible to cultural aggressions, making the group’s British debut at Sonisphere Festival UK the perfect opening offensive!

But the group’s popularity isn’t limited to the metal community. They’ve gotten attention from major media outlets around the world–it’s only a matter of time before we see the girls jumping around on Oprah’s coach, declaring their love for chocolate.

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Hamster babies steal our hearts, leave us begging for more

Hamster babies steal our hearts, leave us begging for more

Everyone loves hamsters. From the Internet masses cooing over their adorable keisters to snakes who refuse to eat them, there’s something about their furry round bodies that reduces us to piles of squealing glee. They’re just so cuuuuuuuute!

And what’s the only thing cuter than a hamster? Well, if you said “Baby hamsters,” then you are clearly psychic! We’d tell you to get out of our heads, but we’re too busy “awww”ing over these photos.

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Calling all ladies out there: How to win the heart of a man with AB blood type

Calling all ladies out there: How to win the heart of a man with AB blood type

In many Asian cultures, blood type is said to determine one’s personality or unique characteristics. If you’re not familiar with the traits associated with each blood type, check out our handy guide here (and see if what it says about you is accurate or not!). That said, people with AB blood type are known to be slightly mysterious and the most creative thinkers of the bunch. They may engage in unique hobbies, display genius tendencies, and continually startle you with unexpected surprises the more you get to know them.

So what’s a lady to do when the object of her affections happens to be a gentleman with type AB blood? Perhaps the following handy tips will help you snag his heart if nothing else does!

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We try “Bubble Soccer,” body slam and laugh the entire time

We try “Bubble Soccer,” body slam and laugh the entire time

Bubble Soccer, as you might have guessed from the image above, is a game in which every player wears a giant plastic bubble while playing soccer. It’s like any normal soccer game, except you bounce off of your opponent and crash wildly to the floor. But it’s cool, you’re in a bubble so it doesn’t hurt too much. April 4 saw a very special event, one of only a few ever held in Japan, at the Ramos Ruy Indoor Futsol Field in Tokyo. Participants were invited to try their hand at this crazy sport and we showed up for the occasion.

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How to take a bath for only 0.0000076 yen using ordinary plastic bottles

How to take a bath for only 0.0000076 yen using ordinary plastic bottles

With Japan entering the new month with a higher sales tax, people are beginning to feel the squeeze. In addition, April is the time of year when many people make big changes in their lives such as moving out on their own. This is already an expensive time made even more so by the economic climate.

One such person is Omocoro writer ARuFa. He feels that he has successfully come up with a way to reduce your water bill drastically by taking baths that would only cost 0.0000076 yen (US$0.000000075). This is his story.

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A ribbiting new style for an age old item

A ribbiting new style for an age old item

Ask any group of Japanese people what animal they don’t like to touch, and overwhelmingly the answer you get back is going to be…frogs! Which is why it may seem very strange that costume maker @Shin_1223 has designed a unique backpack that is made to look like this wet and slimy creature.

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We try Wazen, Suntory’s new beer specially designed to drink with Japanese food

We try Wazen, Suntory’s new beer specially designed to drink with Japanese food

Eating and drinking are two of our favorite necessary life functions, since they’re both so much more fun than sleeping and breathing. So when we heard, back in January, about a new beer from Suntory that’s specially designed to go well with Japanese food, our three months of anxious waiting until it was scheduled to go on sale started right away.

Well, spring is finally here, and we’ve just recently experienced the joys of stepping outside without an overcoat and admiring the cherry blossoms, so now it’s time for the last item on our checklist of vernal pleasures, as we sample a can of Suntory’s new Japan-centric brew, the all-malt Wazen.

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Who needs a ship in a bottle when you can have a kitchen in a bottle!

Who needs a ship in a bottle when you can have a kitchen in a bottle!

That’s right, you read that title correctly. While some people enjoy constructing ships inside bottles, it seems that popular beverage company Kirin has taken up a new hobby- building unbelievably tiny kitchens inside of plastic bottles! In a new advertisement for a line of soft drinks, Kirin showcases some incredible craftsmanship at a minuscule level. You’ll be blown away by the minute details of these models!

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Sega’s video game consoles to live again as cute anime characters in Sega Hard Girls

Sega’s video game consoles to live again as cute anime characters in Sega Hard Girls

Perhaps it says something about the fundamental goodness of the human heart that once someone is no longer with us, we tend to remember the good things about him or her. Even though the memories of petty differences and irritants tend to fade with time, the happy moments often remain with us, sometimes picking up an even warmer aura as nostalgia colors them.

The phenomena doesn’t just happen with people, though, but video game hardware too. This partially explains why Sega, which discontinued its most recent console well over a decade ago, is seeing a new anime being produced in which the main characters are cute, anthropomorphized versions of the company’s defunct video game systems.

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We finally get to meet Goku’s mother — and we think she’s a real cutie!

We finally get to meet Goku’s mother — and we think she’s a real cutie!

As many of our readers are well aware, the powerful and spiky-haired Goku from Akira Toriyama’s manga and anime series Dragon Ball is one of the most recognizable icons of Japanese culture not just in Japan but across the world. Since the manga first appeared in the magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump in 1984, Goku’s entourage and family have grown to include an impressive number of unique and memorable characters. It so happens, however, that in all that time, we have never seen Goku’s mother in any of the stories — until now.

Yes, Dragon Ball fans were delighted with the news earlier this month that Goku’s mother would be making an appearance for the first time in the 30-year history of the series in the new comic by Toriyama, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. Now that the comic has been released, we’ve finally been able to come face to face with the mother of the superhero we’ve come to know so well, and we think she’s a real cutie! Ladies and gentlemen, meet Gine, wife to the Saiyan warrior Bardock, and of course, Goku’s mom.

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Hiyoriyama newly crowned as Japan’s Shortest Mountain

Hiyoriyama newly crowned as Japan’s Shortest Mountain

Osaka has many sights and attractions to boast about. To name a few, there’s the robot drummer clown, the big robot crabs here and there and of course Tenpozan, Japan’s shortest mountain. Standing at 4.53 meters above sea level, it was a tourist draw leading to the creation of an aquarium shopping complex and giant ferris wheel.

However, now it appears Tenpozan has been relegated to second place following a recent survey by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI). Hiyoriyama in Sendai is now the nation’s lowest summit at a reevaluated height of three meters. Normally, the Osaka resident in me would demand a recount and ask for a discount on it, but considering how Hiyoriyama came to be this way, I’ll humbly congratulate the new record holder and wish them all the best.

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Star Wars “Cos-Me” hangers now on sale in Japan – Turn your coat into Vader’s cloak!

Star Wars “Cos-Me” hangers now on sale in Japan – Turn your coat into Vader’s cloak!

A few weeks ago, online shopping site Run@Town began selling a series of special edition Star Wars themed notebooks. Although they were basically just a standard-issue school notebooks with jackets featuring images from the original three films, they sold out in the blink of an eye, and there are people still waiting for new stock to arrive. This week, the same online store announced another Star Wars tie-in, this time offering wooden hangers featuring busts of Yoda, C-3PO, a Stormtrooper, and smokes-20-a-day villain Darth Vader.

The best part is, by slipping them over the hanger, you can have the cast of characters wear your clothes, allowing you to create all kinds of weird mash-ups. And would you believe some of them actually look pretty cool? We have a feeling these are going to be Run@Town’s next sell-out item.

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