Japan

Detached female hand iPhone cases are here to provide…emotional comfort?

As awesome as smartphones are, do they really help us to better communicate with one another? Sure, it’s nice to be able to instantly talk with anyone, regardless of whether you’re at home or out and about, but there are certain things we lose by doing it with the help of technology. Even as mobile phones’ audio and video capabilities continue to improve, they’re still not perfect. Without talking face-to-face, you can’t pick up on every facial expression, hear each subtle change in inflection, or reach out and hold someone’s hand should the conversation turn emotional or romantic.

Unless you’re using this iPhone case that’s an eerily detailed replica of a human hand.

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Cats trapped in circles! Japanese blogger shows the best way to outsmart your kitty【Photos】

In a documentary about the making of Spirited Away, director Hayao Miyazaki is shown in his studio explaining how he wants a certain scene to look. When the dragon’s jaws are wrenched open, he says, it should look like a dog clenching its teeth, gums bared. Faced with blank stares at this analogy, he asks the animators if any of them have a dog. “I had a cat once”, offers up one young man. “A cat!” exclaims Miyazaki in despair, before whisking the entire team off to a vet’s surgery to have a closer look at some canine mouths.

Cats and dogs, as we know, are quite different, and one thing that sets them apart is cats’ contrariness. A dog’s reward is pleasing you, while a cat’s reward is pleasing itself. Getting a cat to do what you want, therefore, can be extraordinarily difficult. Unless, that is, you can manage to convince your cat that it made the decision all by itself.

From Japanese cat blog guremike, we bring you: the power of the magical cat-attracting circle. 

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New smartphone game turns your photos of real-world cats into in-game warriors

When designing a role-playing video game, there’s a tricky balance designers have to maintain. Many of today’s gamers aren’t interested in scouring the world map and non-essential dungeons to recruit new party members, but giving the player too few characters to play with makes the game feel dull and lacking in scale.

So the question is, how do you make the process of searching for new companions fun? If you’re mobile developer GeePlus, you let them take photos of cats on their smartphones, then turn those cute snapshots into in-game warriors.

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You’ll never want to stop cleaning with this penguin mop topper

There are a lot of things in this world that are better done with a buddy – getting coffee, taking walks, watching movies…cleaning. Yes, I said cleaning! While cleaning is probably the most dreaded chore out there, with a “Penguin SuiSui” cleaning partner you might never stop polishing those floors.

The Penguin SuiSui (suisui is a mimetic word expressing smoothness or unhindered work) is not like a high-tech Roomba, who will do the cleaning for you. He is, however, a low-tech buddy that will just keep you excited for the task at hand. He’s a fabric penguin with a hole in his back so you can slip him over the stick of your sweeper and he can swivel around the floor with you as you clean.

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Omedetou! Toyama Bay is inducted into The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club

Toyama Bay (Toyama-wan, 富山湾), nestled between Toyama and Ishikawa Prefectures in the Hokuriku region of Japan, was formally inducted into the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club on October 19. The bay is only the second place in Japan following Miyagi Prefecture’s Matsushima to be officially recognized by the global association. After doing some digging, we’ve discovered the incredible charms that the bay has to offer. Love mountains? Check. Love seafood? Double check. Keep reading after the jump to fall in love with Toyama Bay for yourself!

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Sorry Bambi – Venison burgers and hot dogs coming to Japanese fast food chain

While it doesn’t have nearly as many outlets as McDonald’s, MOS Burger, or Lotteria, Japan’s Becker’s hamburger chain provides a more upscale dining experience. Sure, it’s still fast food, but Becker’s prides itself on high quality ingredients, such as its fresh-baked bread, and relaxing ambiance.

Still, without the huge advertising budget of its larger rivals, Becker’s often flies under the radar of burger fans. They’ve got our undivided attention right now, though, as the chain is about to start selling venison burgers.

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Awesome iPhone cases made with traditional Hakata textiles give your device a timeless look

Aside from some of the best tonkotsu (pork stock) ramen in Japan, Fukuoka is famous for Hakata ori textiles. The merchant Mitsuda Yazaemon returned from his travels to China in 1235 with the techniques he would put to use in making the woven patterns, which proved to be so prized that they were even given as tribute to the shogun.

Hakata ori is still popular today, and it can often be seen in the sashes Fukuoka residents use to tie their kimono. If you’re looking for a more modern use, though, you can now order elegant Hakata ori covers for your iPhone, iPad, or Kindle.

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5 powerful reasons to be a woman in Japan 【Women in Japan Series】

It’s no secret that Japan continually lands at the bottom in global gender gap reports. In 2012, the World Economic Forum ranked Japan 101 in regard to women’s participation in the economy and politics. In 2013, Japan placed 105 (out of 135 countries), putting it behind Burkina Faso in gender equality.

Based on these findings, you may think it doesn’t seem like Japan is a very good country for women, but you’d be wrong. While there are huge shortcomings in gender gaps in the workplace, economy and politics, in other sectors of Japanese society some would would argue that Japanese women have “too much” power.

Let’s take a look at five areas where women are most powerful in Japan.

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Crimson-covered Hitachi Seaside Park: Beautiful, awesome, and easy to get to from Tokyo【Photos】

Last year, we sat amazed as we looked at pictures of Hitachi Seaside Park, where every autumn a hill covered in kochia shrubs turns a dazzling shade of crimson.

Then we sat crying as a storm on the day we’d planned to visit the park washed out our travel plans.

After 12 long months of moping, this week we finally got a second chance, and this time the weather was perfect. Interested in making the trip for yourself? Read on and we’ll tell you how.

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New first-class bus seats have built-in massage functions, internet access and… dictionary

Starting soon, you’ll be able to make the journey from Fukuoka to Tokyo with about as much style as you can get while riding an excruciatingly long night bus.

The Nisshi Nippon Railroad Co., which confusingly also apparently operates a bus line or two, says it will be installing the new “Premium Seats” on a very small selection of its newest buses. While we’ll admit there’s nothing all that luxurious about a bus seat, no matter how far the seat reclines and how fancy the amenities, this one comes with a pretty extensive list of perks:

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Massive 5-CD Final Fight soundtrack set lets you hear the game’s music without the punching

It’s been 25 years since the arcade release of video game developer Capcom’s Final Fight. While it wasn’t the first side-scrolling beat ‘em up, at the time of its release it was far and away the best, and the number of sequels Final Fight spawned makes its title almost as ironic as the long-running Final Fantasy’s.

In honor of the classic hitting the quarter-century mark, Capcom’s green-lit a Final Fight CD release. No, it’s not a sequel, nor is it a reissue of the Sega CD version. Instead, it’s a soundtrack collection for practically the entire franchise.

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【TBT】The top 9 anime situations that seem likely to happen, but never do

How many times have you ever been running to school late in the morning, rushing to get to class before the bell rings, only to turn the corner and bump into someone of the opposite sex, who you consequently fall in love with?

If your answer is more than “none,” chances are you’re either an anime character or an extremely well-organized stalker. Let’s face it: while there are plenty of situations found in anime or manga that seem like they could play out in real life, most are unlikely to ever naturally occur unless by some bizarre fluke.

Niconico News recently asked 500 of their readers to brainstorm some of the most common examples of such situations. Check what they came up with below!

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Auction for “the present I was going to surprise my girlfriend with” closes with a happy ending

A curious item came up for bid on Japan’s Yahoo! Auction site, simply titled, “The present I was going to surprise my girlfriend with – 2 years and 1 month old.” The story behind the ungiven present was as emotional as it seemed and included a description that inspired netizens all over to persevere even in the face of heartbreak. The item, a modest leather pencil case, started with an opening bid of just 2,000 yen (US$18) but closed at an impressive final price of 35,853 yen ($335).

The story of this young man’s unrequited love and the steps he took to mend his broken heart up next after the break!

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Brilliant use for the almost expired milk in your fridge: It’s time for some milk jam!

Have you ever opened your fridge and were faced with just a carton of milk? How about going to the pantry and only finding a few slices of bread? What are you supposed to do for breakfast, lunch or dinner? If you thought the only thing you could do was soak the bread into the milk and call it a meal, you are in for a surprise, a sweet surprise! Turns out with just a bit of sugar and a microwave, you can turn that boring old milk into something incredibly delectable.

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Are virtual reality schools the future of education in Japan?

Don’t like going to high school? Instead of physically going to campus and dealing with other whiney teens and your annoying teachers, you could send an avatar to go to a virtual school for you! Starting next spring, a private correspondence school in Chiba Prefecture called Meisei Cyber High School is opening its virtual doors!

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Mount Ontake: some hikers “died taking photos of the erupting volcano”, pathologist says

More details have emerged about the final moments of those who died during the sudden and tragic eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan last month.

This week, pathologists confirmed that of the 56 people who died when the volcano erupted on September 27, 20 were killed instantly when they were struck in the head or neck by falling rocks and debris. One doctor involved in the case told the Mainichi Shinbun, however, that around half of the victims they saw had been taking photos of the eruption when they died.

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“2.5D Mask” lets you spend the day as an anime character, frighten pets and small children

On a budget? Stuck for a Halloween outfit? How about turning yourself into a “2.5D” hero and scaring the life out of everyone you encounter with this series of free printable masks?

Join us after the jump to find out how you can become a beautiful, yet kind of creepy, manga character without spending a penny.

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She just popped up from your toilet paper to say hello!

Usually when you walk into a public restroom and see something out of the ordinary, it’s almost always the bad sort of surprise. Dirty floors, toilet seats with an extra bit of yellow, and much, much worse are just a part of the risk you take when entering an area complete strangers use to do their business. But one Twitter user got a different sort of surprise when she walked in to a bathroom stall and saw a face staring back.

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Anger online as tweeting tech guru Takeshi Natsuno slams Sendai for rejecting IC card

You may have heard the name Takeshi Natsuno before. A Keio University professor, former Senior Vice President at NTT Docomo, Sega Sammy big-wig, and creator of i-mode, he is by all accounts an intelligent, not to mention extremely tech-savvy, dude. So you can imagine the surprise the good residents of the city of Sendai felt when he took to his Twitter account earlier this week to publicly disparage their home town as being “too lame for words”.

Just what prompted this sudden outpouring of ire? Well, it seems Mr Natsuno felt rather short-changed when he attempted to use his prepaid Suica IC Card to ride the Sendai subway. Suica is a Tokyo-based IC card system. Sendai is not in Tokyo. You can probably see where this is going.

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Adorable character hot pots are this fall’s kawaii-est foods

No country does cute food better than Japan, and the latest trend in adorable edibles is fall hot pots stuffed with cute characters that look way too good to eat!

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