Mysterious sport “speed ball” causes chuckles in Japan

Mysterious sport “speed ball” causes chuckles in Japan

Speed ball, the competitive racquet sport. Not to be confused with the narcotic, boxing, paintball or video game varieties of “speed ball”, this mysterious sport involves one, two, or four players frantically swatting the air as if chasing mosquitoes. In fact, if you live in a country where flies and mosquitoes abound, you probably have a natural advantage and could be the next world champion. Similar to squash in speed and intensity, a latex ball is attached to a nylon thread and swings around a pole. Players take turns smashing the living daylights out of the ball, causing it to spin wildly—this sport is not for the fainthearted or slow-moving.

Invented in Egypt in 1961 by Mohamed Lotfy, speed ball was first designed as a way to train tennis players. Now a sport in its own right, the International Federation of Speed-Ball (FISB) was founded in 1984 by Egypt, France, and of course Japan.

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Now trending in Japan: Lint rolling your cat【Photo Album】

Now trending in Japan: Lint rolling your cat【Photo Album】

If you have a cat, you probably also have a lint roller or ten lying around. In order to avoid appearing in public with a thick veneer of crazy cat lady, you’ve got to apply that sticky tape to the furniture, the rugs, your sheets and blankets, your clothes and sometimes even your own body, but have you ever thought of just taking that roller straight to the source?

Apparently, lint rolling cats is trending in Japan at the moment, and the really surprising thing is that the cats seem to enjoy it!

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Fake news site issues statement that its story about UNICEF developing invisible park toilet is fake (for real)

Fake news site issues statement that its story about UNICEF developing invisible park toilet is fake (for real)

While there are genuine differences between Japan and the West, oftentimes you can find cultural equivalents with just a little searching. Japan may not have ice cream trucks, for example, but mobile food exists in the form of sweet potato vendors who cruise the streets of residential areas. Christmas is Japan is usually spent on a romantic date or partying with friends, but then everyone goes back home to spend time with the family over New Year’s.

Likewise, satirical website Kyoko News exists as Japan’s counterpart to The Onion, running stories that almost seem plausible, but never actually happened. Nonetheless, it seems the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) either didn’t get or didn’t appreciate being the subject of one of Kyoko News’ recent jokes. The organization eventually got the retraction it was seeking, but not without seeing the complications involved in asking for one from a website that states upfront that what it’s saying isn’t true.

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Sweater-wearing tortoises capture Japanese netizens’ hearts, leave them squealing with delight

Sweater-wearing tortoises capture Japanese netizens’ hearts, leave them squealing with delight

As the weather gets colder, we’re all bundling up with new sweaters from grandma. They may be a little dorky looking, and they’re almost certainly itchy…but they keep us warm! And that’s the main point, right?

But while people are lucky to have such warm clothes, our animal friends have to make do with their birthday suits. While cats and dogs might not mind, we feel awfully sorry for our poor reptilian friends, like tortoises and lizards. We bet they wish they had some nice fluffy sweaters to snuggle up in this winter…

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“Utsubusene Cushion” lets you keep your chin up while your face is down

“Utsubusene Cushion” lets you keep your chin up while your face is down

The art of home furnishings is still struggling to keep up with the advent of smartphones and tablets. We’ve seen advances in upside-down racks but they can be large and unwieldy for everyday use. Enter Utsubusene Cushion (Face-down Sleep Cushion).

The idea of such a chest-rest is not new. The makers, Thanko Co. Ltd. say that this kind of chair-thingy has been around since ancient times in Japan. However, Thanko is hoping this ultra old-school technology will be the savior of sleepy portable device users everywhere.

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Run, fat boy, run! Moe cuties return to help men shed pounds in running app Burn Your Fat With Me 2

Run, fat boy, run! Moe cuties return to help men shed pounds in running app Burn Your Fat With Me 2

With Thanksgiving looming over our North American readers and the eatathon that is Christmas not far behind it, the folks at Creative Freaks are clearly worried about our waistlines. Following on from the success of last year’s Nenshou: Burn Your Fat with Me!! and July’s insult-you-until-you’re-slim-’em-up Nenshou for Girls, the developer has just released a true sequel to the fitness app-cum-dating sim, taking a slightly different approach this time around.

If having abs of steel and not breaking into a sweat halfway through your evening meal aren’t incentive enough for you, perhaps dating a moe-style cutie and having her be your personal trainer each day will be enough to get you off your couch and into your running shoes?

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Boys’ love manga company now raising funds to make a Japanese textbook

Boys’ love manga company now raising funds to make a Japanese textbook

Anyone who has ever studied Japanese as a second language can tell you that it’s a difficult language to learn, and the textbooks currently available on the market don’t make it any easier. Japanese textbooks are largely outdated, not to mention sleep inducing. Not even the most dedicated language students find joy in flipping open the dry and uninteresting pages of their workbooks or assaulting their ears with the drone of their practice CDs.

Luckily, that could all change, thanks to the ingenious writing of Yumiko Akeba and the online manga distributer, Otome’s Way. This start-up company specializes in “boys’ love” manga and is hoping to bring the appeal of Asian pretty boys to the learning field by creating a series of Japanese textbooks that use everyone’s favorite manga tropes as effective teaching tools. They call it A Fujoshi’s Guide to Japanese.

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Amazing video wows viewers — see the fascinating world created with a single piece of tissue paper!

Amazing video wows viewers — see the fascinating world created with a single piece of tissue paper!

What do you normally see in a piece of tissue paper? Is tissue something that’s useful but to be casually discarded without much thought once it’s been used? That may often be the case, but Japanese tissue maker Nepia has created a video which can hopefully change that and raise consumers’ appreciation for this ubiquitous paper product by showing how a piece of tissue can be changed into works of art. Viewers of the video from around the world have apparently been seriously impressed, giving the video a definite two-thumbs up, and we just had to share it with you, since we thought it looked … well, simply awesome!

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Reports of PlayStation 4 “red line of death” appear online 【Videos】UPDATED

Reports of PlayStation 4 “red line of death” appear online 【Videos】UPDATED

Just four days after the launch of the Sony PlayStation 4, and barely 24 hours after we brought you news that over a million units of the console had been sold on its very first day in stores, reports are appearing online of a “Red Line of Death” – believed to be caused by overheating – with brand new PlayStation 4 consoles locking up completely.

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Catch some Zs in the big city: Nap cafe for women opens in Tokyo

Catch some Zs in the big city: Nap cafe for women opens in Tokyo

There have been some questionable cafes popping up in Japan, like one where men pay women to sleep next to them, but the newest specialty sleeping shop to make the rounds on the internet has a pure and innocent motive.

Nap Cafe Corne is a quaint little shop in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo where patrons are invited to take a load off and get some shut-eye for a small fee. It isn’t the only place in Tokyo where you can pay to take a snooze, but Nap Cafe Corne is getting a lot of attention for its cheap prices, attention to detail, and women-only policy.

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Google ad wins praise for touching on troubled history of India and Pakistan

Google ad wins praise for touching on troubled history of India and Pakistan

On 13 November, Google India posted a three-minute advertisement on YouTube titled Google Search: Reunion. In the span of only two days it reached nearly one and a half million views and as of this writing is swiftly approaching four million.

All along the way, it’s received overwhelmingly positive reviews such as “NOT just an ad”; “This little 3 minute video is better than all the movies I have seen this past year”; and  “I am not from India, but I still appear to have something in my eye that is making it water.”

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Visually stimulating Japanese variety show pushes the limits of TV censorship

Visually stimulating Japanese variety show pushes the limits of TV censorship

Japan is one of the few countries in the world with TV channels spending a big cut of their broadcasting budget on a wide range of variety shows, providing tons of entertainment even way after midnight.

The magic ends for Cinderella when the clock strikes 12, but that is when the magic starts on Japanese TV, with broadcasting companies forsaking their wholesome image and dishing out entertainment for mature audiences, often featuring topics and themes bordering on risqué and pushing the limits of censorship laws. Sexy girls prancing around in skimpy outfits is the least you can expect!

Note: Pictures after the jump are most definitely not safe for work, and should definitely be kept out of sight of children!

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Researchers find oldest living animal on earth, accidentally kill it

Researchers find oldest living animal on earth, accidentally kill it

We all make mistakes–that’s just how things go. The sun is hot, water is wet, and people, inevitably, screw stuff up. Fortunately, we all usually get chances to fix our mistakes, so in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t that big of a deal.

Unless your mistake ends up killing the oldest living animal on the planet. Can’t really smooth that one over with a home-cooked casserole.

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Why do otaku walk so fast? “They are bound for the future!”

Why do otaku walk so fast? “They are bound for the future!”

The Japanese stereotype for otaku is far from pretty. Hardcore fans of anime and video games are largely regarded as social outcasts and are characterized as unkempt men in button-up plaid shirts, high-waisted pants and running shoes, carrying around backpacks and shuffling quickly through the streets of Akihabara on the hunt for the latest game, hardware or erotic 2-D merchandise.

The Japanese text board 2channel appears very well acquainted with this skittish sub-section of society, so when someone asked why it is that otaku walk so fast, the anonymous responders had a lot to say, and it certainly opened our eyes!

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Girls und Panzer video game adaptation to be released next year

Girls und Panzer video game adaptation to be released next year

Girls und Panzer is a popular anime, manga and light novel series following a group of girls who live in an alternate universe where women participate in “the art of battling tanks” and young girls attend schools where they learn to operate WWII-era tanks as a martial art. The series is extremely popular in Japan as well as abroad and will soon be turned into a video game for PS Vita.

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Cats in tights are taking over the Internet

Cats in tights are taking over the Internet

Who needs puss in boots when you can have puss in tights? Hot on the heels of the dogs in pantyhose sensation, cats are hitting back with a new fashion statement of their own: long, lean legs in tights. Prepare to be creeped out.

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We pick up a new good luck charm at the Tori no Ichi Festival in Shinjuku

We pick up a new good luck charm at the Tori no Ichi Festival in Shinjuku

Japan’s urban and rural areas alike are dotted with temples and shrines, but there’s no practice of attending regular services at them. Instead, visitors primarily come to offer a few yen as a donation, say a quick prayer, and pick up one of the plethora of good luck charms and amulets sold there, many of which have specific purposes such as passing an important exam or finding a new love.

But every member of our team is already out of college, and so popular with the opposite sex that we’re starting to feel bad about not leaving any for the rest of the populace. Looking further down our to-do list, we noticed that “build mansion with supermodel grotto” was preceded by “achieve economic success,” so we decided to head to our local Shinto shrine for Tori no Ichi, Japan’s annual festival for buying good luck charms for success in business.

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We visit a Japanese convenience store in Hawaii, recommend the Spam

We visit a Japanese convenience store in Hawaii, recommend the Spam

Convenience stores play an integral part of life in Japan. The various chains themselves appear to have a life and ecosystem of their own sprouting up and dying off all over the urban landscape in fierce competition. Regardless of which one you choose, be it Lawson, Family Mart, 7-Eleven, Mini-Stop or one of the other countless chains, you can always expect to find some high quality stuff.

No one knows this better than our food reporter Kuzo who has sampled every form of junk food the nation’s convenience stores have to offer. This time, however, he leaves the shores of Japan to test the wares of a remote branch of the famous Lawson Station chain in Hawaii.

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Osaka’s number one!!… for purse snatching

Osaka’s number one!!… for purse snatching

As a proud resident of Osaka Prefecture it’s always nice to see the place excel at something. Even for something as nefarious as purse snatching, it seems that the Osaka way is to go big or go home.

So let’s all give Osaka a big round of applause for being number one in incidents of purse snatching for the third year in a row! Even though stats are only available up until October, so many cases of people grabbing women’s bags and running away – or riding away as is often the case – have occurred that we have officially clinched the standings for 2013.

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Reading books makes you aware we live in the Matrix, artist depicts

Reading books makes you aware we live in the Matrix, artist depicts

We were all pretty sure we live in the Matrix anyway. Doesn’t that explain deja vu and rainbows or whatever?

Now we have definitive artistic proof that the Matrix is real, and only those that read tons of books ever get it. As this artist rendition shows, reading books makes you more knowledgeable about the world around you in the form of a giant book ladder that lets you climb up and see the real world outside of our digitized quasi-reality.

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