Japan

Women, gamers, and foreigners all show up to be samurai for a day at Sengoku battle reenactment

Some people in Japan have no more than a passing interest in the country’s long and fascinating history, which is at least partly the fault of how the subject is taught in schools. Many history classes place a heavy emphasis on memorization of the exact dates and years of important events, leaving less time for studying the people and motivations behind them.

There’s been a recent surge in history buffs, though, especially in regards to the Sengoku, or Warring States, period which lasted from the mid 15th century until the very start of the 17th century. But it’s not crusty old historians leading this charge, as a recent samurai battle reenactment had women making up some 40 percent of the volunteers, whose ranks were also bolstered by video gamers and foreign residents of Japan.

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Japanese realtors are reaching out to customers with the most nonsensical ads ever 【Pics】

Moving house in Japan is tough business. Even to find an apartment, you need to go through a real estate agent, and all the upfront fees you have to pay to move in can cost you five times or more what your monthly rent will be.

That’s why choosing a good agency who will work with you to get the best deal is important. But with so many agencies around, how can you choose? Some realtors may offer deals like 50% off their agency fees, but others are taking a more… creative approach to draw in customers, by adding silly, ridiculous, or just plain nonsensical catchphrases on their property ads.

Join us after the jump for such advertising gold as: “You can be a big daddy too” and “Decent of the fashion monster”.

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Nintendo DS on the menu as Japanese prisons get creative to keep ageing prisoners’ brains active

As Japan’s penal system struggles to cope with a rising number of older inmates, a number of prisons are taking unusual steps to help inmates stay healthy in mind as well as body.

The number of prisoners in Japan aged 65 or over increased almost five-fold in the twenty years up to 2013. This ageing prison population means institutions are bringing in innovative programmes to slow the onset of dementia in inmates, from yoga to hand-held video games.

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Sweatshirt that gives your pet a special cuddle pouch is half cat, half kangaroo, all adorable

If you’re the doting owner of a dog or cat, odds are you think it feels pretty great when your animal companion saunters over for a snuggle. Still, there are times when you want to keep your hands free for other activities, like reading a book or surfing the Internet, and don’t want to have to worry about knocking your pet off your lap every time you shift in your seat or change your posture.

So even if your animal-loving heart only belongs to your kitty or pooch, consider taking a page from the kangaroo playbook with this hoodie that features an oversized pocket on the front perfect for letting your cat or dog cuddle up against you.

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Cheese and seaweed treats are as tasty as they are visually appealing

At first glance these might look like some kind of plastic toy, building blocks or a pile of random puzzle pieces, but what you see before you are multi-layered nori (seaweed or laver sheets) and cheese slices, and they’re are making the rounds on Twitter.

According to beer nuts, these savoury little morsels are the perfect accompaniment to beer or wine.

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Now you can be the coolest ninja on the block with these awesome origami shuriken

Origami is known worldwide as the art of paper-folding, and while most people associate it with Japanese culture, it also has history in China and Europe as well. We’re not sure what it is, but there is something strangely satisfying about turning a flat piece of paper into a three-dimensional model resembling anything from flowers to animals to vehicles.

One particularly fun shape to make are ninja throwing-stars, like the ones you see above. If you’re in the mood for some crafts and would like to give it a try, follow us after the jump to get started!

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Sushiro is making sushi so delicious that even McDonald’s should be worried

If you’ve spent much time in Japan, chances are you’ve eaten at a conveyor belt sushi (kaitenzushi in Japanese) restaurant. One nice thing about these restaurants is that they also offer many child-friendly sushi dishes on their menu. These dishes also double as foreigner-friendly, so that those who aren’t so fond of raw fish and other seafood can enjoy sushi too.

There are so many different chains in Japan, it’s often hard to figure out which one to go to, but anyone who sees the sign for Sushiro best head there soon as the chain has a new dish that is oddly satisfying.

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Plastic model based on Hayao Miyazaki’s as-yet unreleased manga “Teppo Samurai” goes on sale

Since Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame announced his retirement in September 2013, many fans worldwide were left wondering what the prolific director – known to be a notoriously hard-worker – would be doing with all his free time. If you’re one of those people, listen up, because we’ve got some good news and bad news.

First, the bad news–one of Miyazaki’s first new projects post-retirement, a manga series titled Teppō Samurai (鉄砲侍/”Matchlock Samurai”), is currently stuck in indefinite limbo. But here’s the good news–a plastic figure modeled on the titular character has already been released, even without the manga being completed.

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Comedians let strangers slap them in the face in Tokyo, unsettling number of people say “Sure!”

Right next to Tokyo’s Shibiya Station, there’s a plaza that sits between the railway hub, the statue of faithful dog Hachiko that’s one of the city’s most popular meeting spots, and the Scramble Intersection that’s become famous as one of the busiest crosswalks in the world. While empty space in the plaza is scarce, it’s still a coveted spot for street performers, vendors, and politicians to stake out a spot, since there’s a steady flow of people passing by more or less around the clock.

Often, you’ll find people with those “free hugs” signs hanging out there, but really, when you stop and think about it, isn’t it kind of weird to embrace a complete stranger? Maybe that’s why a Tokyo-based comedy troupe decided to offer an alternative in this video where they’re not giving out hugs, but instead allowing anyone who feels like it to slap them in the face as hard as they can.

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This is how Japan’s train-cleaning crews clean the Shinkansen in only seven minutes

Riding the Shinkansen in Japan is always a fun experience. Not only does it go super-fast (you can totally feel those G-forces!), it’s also guaranteed to be quiet and incredibly clean. But with 323 Shinkansen trains departing from Tokyo every day, how do they find the time to clean all those trains?

Well, it turns out that it takes a highly synchronised team of mega-efficient cleaners only seven minutes to clean each train – since that’s all the time they have!. And here’s an incredible video of how they do it!

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We tried Tokyo’s “rent a middle-aged Japanese man” service, and it was awesome!

You can rent pretty much anything in Japan. Even people, it would seem.

With so many people working long hours and not having the time to devote to cultivating real relationships, it’s just easier to hand over some cash and pay someone to act as your boyfriend, girlfriend, or just a friend to hang out with for the day.

But what about when you’re looking for something different? What if you’re in need of life advice that only a middle-aged Japanese man can provide? Well that’s where the ossan (middle-aged/old) rental service comes in!

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Buy 2,000 identical CDs to visit hot springs with this idol group, save them from disbandment

Many Japanese idol groups, such as the mega-popular AKB48, package incentives in with their CDs to get fans to buy multiple copies of the same exact thing. In AKB48’s case, the group occasionally includes voting ballots within special “election singles” that allow fans to vote for the member that will be featured most prominently on a new song.

Like AKB48, up-and-coming rock idol unit DEEP GIRL is using a system of incentives to encourage fans to buy their debut single, which will be released this summer. However, the group is taking an even more drastic approach by using a tiered system of prizes–along with the very real threat that the group will be instantly disbanded if their song doesn’t make it into the Oricon Weekly Top Ten.

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Sweet little Digimon toys will get you ready for a Digimon movie marathon

We’re super excited for the impending release of the new Digimon. Fans and artists are all speculating about the story and design for this new six-part movie series. Details suggest the original cast of “digi-destined” will be back, which means our favorite original Digimon will be back too.

Toy makers are fueling the hype machine, too, as Mega House is releasing a set of figures of your favorite season-one Digimon. These little guys are so cute, you won’t be able to stop yourself from singing that catchy theme song!

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Extra body part must be good enough for a free drink!

When you head out for a night on the town, you encounter all kinds of interesting characters. There are the people who have traveled to unimaginable places, those who know some famous person or have some incredible anecdotes to reel off, and then there are those who, without anything funny or interesting to say, can fall back on have naturally occurring weird stuff on their body.

One Twitter user’s night at a bar led to the discovery that there were three of these such things his brand new drinking buddy’s chest, and it left him totally speechless.

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All-new Dragon Ball Super isn’t just an anime – manga adaptation coming too!

If you’re reading this and were born after 1995, we strongly encourage you to make sure your diaper is firmly in place. What’s that? You say you outgrew diapers long ago? You might want to double-check anyway, because right now we’re not so sure we didn’t somehow slip back in time two decades or so.

After all, these days anime fans are being blessed with about as much new Dragon Ball content as they were during the previous peak of the martial arts franchise’s popularity in the mid ‘90s. This year has already seen the release of a new Dragon Ball Z movie, Resurrection ‘F’, which was followed by the announcement of a brand-new TV series, Dragon Ball Super.

Now, the franchise is going back to its roots by returning to the format where it all started: manga, with a new Dragon Ball serial starting in just a month!

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The Steeds of the Gods: The Shinto horses that no mortal may ride

Somewhere around the 500th step on the long approach to Kompira-san shrine in Kagawa Prefecture, you’ll find a small stable housing two special horses. They are pretty as a picture, but don’t get any ideas about hopping on for a ride, feeding them a little carrot, or even giving them a friendly pat.

These thoroughbreds are shinme, the steeds of the gods, and they are not for mere mortals like us.

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Guerrilla musicians wow YouTubers with expert playing in…electronics stores?

If you’ve ever stepped foot inside a music store, you’ve no doubt seen at least one overly-confident person wailing away at a guitar or piano, just to “test it out” with plenty of people around. While they’re usually better than the rest of us, you also can’t help feeling a bit of embarrassment for anyone who’s getting into it a just a little too much.

But a pair of videos making the rounds in Japan has won a group of three keyboardists plenty of attention — and praise — for their covers of famous Yellow Magic Orchestra songs. Partly because they were performed guerrilla-style in electronics stores!

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Starbucks comes to Tottori, local coffee chain’s poster compares it to Perry arriving in Japan

With Starbucks having won the loyalty of so many customers in so many countries, sometimes it seems like the Seattle-based coffee giant has a location in every corner of the world. There’s still at least one place that’s Starbucks-free, though, and that’s Tottori, the last prefecture in Japan without a branch of its own.

The situation is about to change, though, as Starbucks is set to open its first Tottori location this week. Local coffeehouse chain Sunaba Coffee, whose name is almost an exact copy of Starbucks’ Japanese nickname, is bracing for the impact of its new competitor by guaranteeing its product tastes just as good as Starbucks’, while making the humble request that customers get one out of every three coffee fixes at Sunaba.

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Sashimi chef mesmerizes viewers with videos of his deft preparation of various kinds of fish

A series of videos about sashimi preparation on Japanese video sharing website Niconico has completely enraptured viewers with its mouth-watering content.

Each of the videos, which are between five to ten minutes long, features a different type of fish and follows a professional chef as he deftly transforms a whole fish into slices of delectable sashimi. Don’t watch these videos on an empty stomach!

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Bizarre pun inspires “20 rules” junior high boys secretly want, according to Internet comic

While discussing health-related issues is never easy, mental health is particularly challenging. A big part of it seems to be simply considering who your audience is, as what works for one person or group won’t always work for another. So, when it comes to discussing a topic that involves everything from domestic violence to positive behavior modification, knowing your audience is a huge factor.

Fortunately, Akihabara’s Yuu Mental Clinic has a handle on knowing their audience with a series on mental health in manga form, complete with wacky hijinks and impossible science fiction scenarios. They also managed to turn a simple pun into two glorious pages detailing the most absurd day-dream ever by a fictional junior high-age boy. How many of his “20 school rules” can you guess (hint: Swimsuits are definitely involved)?

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