10 things Japan does better than anywhere else, according to the international community

Advertising agency Dentsu recently released the results of its annual Japan Brand Survey, in which it asks people from around the world for their opinion on the country. This year’s study involved 3,600 men and women living in 17 different countries, whose responses were used to compile a list of 10 things they feel Japan does better than anywhere else in the world.

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$2.34!? Cheapest bullet-train ride in Japan lasts 3 minutes, but memories are forever【Photos】

Ask anyone in Japan if they love the shinkansen, and they’ll probably say yes. Commonly known as the bullet train, it’s convenient, handsomely designed, and the train’s aerodynamic nose is surprisingly an artisanal masterpiece, carefully formed by hand out of numerous metal plates in order to achieve the perfect curves.

Becoming a conductor of one is a typical kindergarten dream, and while a lot of kids grow out of that phase, some emerge as bona fide train fanatics who go by many monikers: tetsu-ota, tetchan, tetsu-kichi (as in “crazy”), you name it. Unfortunately, travel by shinkansen may be fast and luxurious, but it’s generally not cheap—for example, a three-hour one-way ride from Tokyo to Ōsaka can cost around 14,300 yen (US $140).

So what’s this about a 240-yen ticket in Nīgata Prefecture that has train enthusiasts all abuzz? A seasonal train station that’s actually part of a ski resort? A place called “Cowabunga” 125 miles north of Tokyo? Let comedian and self-declared train otaku, Ayako Suzukawa, be your guide today!

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Find 707 animated frames in the “Haruhi Hunting” campaign to unlock a new animated clip!

Gotta find ‘em all! should be the catchphrase for the campaign attached to the new The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya animated video. Even though it’s the first new Haruhi animation in four years, its creators aren’t just screening it for free–they’re making fans actually work to see it! That said, the campaign is actually more like a treasure hunt than anything else. Introducing “Haruhi Hunting,” in which the residents of Japan must work together to unlock the new promotional video. 

Do YOU have what takes to find all 707 missing frames of the animation?

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Kit Kat aims to bring train travelers back to Tōhoku with ticket biscuit

Japan probably has the world’s largest and most bizarre selection of Kit Kat flavours on offer, but this latest release is about more than just tickling your tastebuds. Nestle Japan is offering a specially-packaged version of their classic biscuit to help recovery in areas destroyed by the devastating tsunami of March 2011.

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‘Heartbroken’ man plays semen prank on women【TomoNews Video】

You’ve been semen bombed!: 27-year-old Huang played a disgusting prank on women because he had been dumped by his girlfriend and claimed that he needed a way
“to release”.

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With Madoka Magica high heels, the choice between good and evil is always a fashionable one

The dark magical girl anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica has a release history as complicated as its title. Originating as a 12-episode TV series in 2011, the show became so popular that it was released as two compilation movies in theatres during 2012. Most recently, there was a third theatrical feature that premiered in 2013, featuring the original cast with evolved or corrupted powers and personalities.

So it’s only fitting that the fashion designer 2 PM Works’ Madoka Magica shoes, which sold out during their initial production run, are back again, this time with two new, upgraded pairs of pumps.

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Brazilian man spends over $3,000 on plastic surgery to look ‘Korean’

We’ve looked at plastic surgery in South Korea from pretty much every angle there is, but this is the first time we’ve come across something quite like this!

The Korean Wave (Hallyu) of pop culture has been steadily gaining strength around the world over the last few years as more and more people discover the infectious sounds of K-Pop and the addictive plot lines of K-dramas (seriously, I double dare you to watch only one episode before going to bed). South America is no exception to the trend, with starstruck female fans swooning over the dreamy Korean men and soaking up the trademark dances that go with each song. Which is perhaps why one 25-year-old Brazilian man decided to undergo a series of cosmetic surgeries to make himself look more Korean.

We’ve heard of Korean citizens getting work done to look more like Western models and stars, but this is a first for us. Join us after the jump for a slew of photos from this man’s amazing transformation.

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Goldfish shine in Nihonbashi Art Aquarium

Goldfish, with their long tails resembling delicate brushstrokes painted in water, look like tiny works of art on their own. But place them in uniquely shaped vessels and you truly have a beautiful piece. Patrons will be able to experience just that at the ECO EDO Nihonbashi Art Aquarium 2014.

The exhibition houses nearly 5,000 goldfish in special art exhibitions that incorporate LED lights, projection mapping, music and scents, allowing patrons to experience “refreshing coolness” and “Japanese beauty” with all five senses.

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Chinese granny and her adopted mixed-race son finally recognized as family after 15 years of care

How far are you willing to go to save a life? While some people think twice about helping a shabbily dressed man lying in the street, an elderly woman in Shanghai didn’t hesitate to bring home a baby she found abandoned in the bushes, nurse him back to health, and eventually adopt him into the family despite racial differences.

Join us after the jump to read the story of this Chinese granny’s incredible selflessness and compassion.

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You beautiful fatty! — Doraemon character teaches us to speak nicely with new smartphone app

There are days you wake up and just want to table-flip the entire world. You want to scream at the top of a mountain about how people are such dumbasses! You’re just so irritated with everything that the next person you come in contact with will feel your wrath. Your conscience kicks in (usually before anything terrible happens) and whispers that Golden Rule in your ear: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” However, sometimes the lack of face to face contact during text message conversations allows us to forget that there is a real person on the other side. Just because you can’t see the reaction of the other person, it doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want.

For Japanese speakers, the solution is here. And it comes in the form of Shizuka-chan, our favorite character from Doraemon, and a smartphone app.

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Someone in Japan just paid $150 for these Coke bottles with celebrity names on their labels

The award-winning “Share a Coke” campaign launched in Japan last year with bottles that invited consumers to share a memorable song, connected with a particular year, with a friend. Now, name-printed bottles – a part of the campaign that’s already launched in different countries around the world – have made their way to Japan. In grocery stores around the country, you can happily root to the back of the chiller cabinet looking for a Coke with you or your friend’s name on it (if you have a Japanese name, that is!).

And it seems some bright sparks have hit on a brilliant money-spinning idea off the back of this: collect the names of all the members of a pop group, and sell them on online auctions. A set of Coke bottles with the names of all five girls from idol group Momoiro Clover Z, printed complete with -Z suffixes, has sold on Yahoo Auctions for 15,000 yen (US $150).

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Remember your manners or these hip-hop cleaning ladies will bust your ass

Few would ever imagine that a pair of cleaning ladies from Japan should be something to be afraid of, but like a childhood friend’s terrifying mother busting a game of spin-the-bottle, a recent series of videos featuring two such individuals has put the fear of God into us today as well as reminding us that we’re never too big for a smack.

Going by the name Caddie Golu Golu, these middle-aged cleaning ladies are part of a campaign by entertainment company Sega Sammy ahead of its golf tournament, the Sega Sammy Cup 2014, which will be held next month. Wearing pink-and-white cleaner’s outfits and giant sun visors, these rapping ladies get up in the faces of rude and inconsiderate golfers, and have also featured in a series of videos meant for the general public, attacking people on the streets of Tokyo who smoke where they shouldn’t, fail to pick up their dog’s poop, or who walk while looking at their smartphones.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Taipei subway on high alert after police mistake an autistic man for a murderer【TomoNews Video】

An autistic man playing on a calculator was mistaken as a murderer by incompetent Taipei city straphangers who called police.

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This amazing water cake just may be the most delicate sweet ever created!

Readers of our site may be well aware that we’re very much fond of tasty sweets, and luckily for us, desserts come in all shapes and sizes. But we honestly have to say the beautiful cake in the picture above is like nothing we’ve ever seen before! This unique piece of cake is actually so fleeting that it will literally cease to exist in its intended form within 30 minutes of being presented, so this is clearly a case where you won’t want to leave the best for last. But what exactly is this cake that looks like a transparent version of Dragon Quest’s slime?

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Island-hopping by rental bike on Japan’s awesome Shimanami Kaido cycling road

The Setonaikai Inland Sea is wedged between the north coast of the island of Shikoku and the southern edge of Japan’s main island of Honshu. Particularly in the island-dotted strait that separates Ehime and Hiroshima Prefectures, you’ll find some of the country’s most beautiful views and delicious seafood.

Unfortunately, there’s no train line that runs through the area, and bus service is infrequent. Ideally, you’d get around by boat, just like the merchants and pirates who used to sail the Setonaikai did, but sadly, the RocketNews24 company schooner is currently having its hull patched.

Fortunately, there’s one more way to get around the Inland Sea: the island-hopping 70-kilometer (43.5-mile) cycling road called the Shimanami Kaido.

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Mr. Sato goes post-apocalyptic at Fist of the North Star event

Although now a man in his 40s, Mr. Sato has long held a special place in his heart for the Fist of the North Star series. He recalls picking up a copy of the manga 20 years ago and heading straight out to the gym for two sets of 18kg (40lbs) bench presses.

After two weeks of that, he felt he had reached his full potential, but was still nowhere near as cool as the series’ protagonist Kenshiro. Decades later came word of the Fist of North Star bi-weekly DVD collection beginning at Kinokuniya in Shinjuku. The first day of sale was to be rung in by a gathering of cosplay characters from the series. Mr. Sato’s mind raced at the possibility of truly becoming his long-time hero Kenshiro.

Just then Mr. Sato’s editor approached him saying, “Hey, you like North Star don’t you? How’d you like to go down there and cosplay as…”

“You’ve stood in my way long enough! I’m going to Shinjuku to become as awesome as Kenshiro is whether you like it or not!” shouted Mr. Sato snapping out of his daydream and crushing a paper cup in his mighty fist.

“Yeah, that’s what I was going to sa…”

Mr. Sato interjected, “You’re already dead.” He then flicked the paper cup at the editor’s forehead and walked determinedly out of the office without looking back.

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No, a bridge didn’t collapse – Tokyo’s crazy Hakozaki highway junction really looks like this

Being a guy who likes driving but has a pretty bad sense of direction, when I lived in Southern California I kept a copy of the local Thomas Bros. road atlas in my car. Having grown up with cheap, easy-to-use paper maps made GPS seem like a nice but exorbitant luxury, and when I first moved to Japan I couldn’t understand why navigation systems were so universally considered a must-have by drivers here.

Then I saw things like the crazy Hakozaki Junction of the Tokyo expressway, and the need for some high-technology guidance started to make sense.

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Schoolgirls’ “Frozen” lip-sync is hilarious, terrifying

Most countries in the West are finally coming to the end of their own “Let it Go” boom, with the song from Disney’s hit animation now only being played, sung, and hummed about as often as other songs at the top of the charts as opposed to on loop every single minute of the day. But due to the animated film’s late release in Japan, the craze is still going strong over here, and Frozen is still pretty much everywhere.

Thankfully, some Japanese fans are giving our ears a break by opting to sing some other songs from the film, and couples lip-syncing to “Love is an Open Door” have become an increasingly common sight on YouTube. The pair pictured above, though, took a slightly different approach and opted not for sickly-sweet smiles and acting like prim and proper princesses, but for manic hair-whipping, giant flared nostrils, rolled eyeballs and enormous mouths.

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Bluebeard!?!? Oh, blue BEER? Yeah, that’s still weird…

Green beer is a staple of St. Patrick’s Day, much to the chagrin of the Irish. White beers, amber beers and dark beers are all pretty common, but blue beer? Thought that was just a one-off kind of thing. We’ve got blueberries, blue fins, bluegills, bluegrass, blue balls, blueprints and blue men. Blue beer is not all that common, and unless you live in Hokkaido (or are a curious internet shopper) you probably haven’t tried it either. Fear not! While the Ryuhyo Draft reviews were not all that positive, a Kirin beer garden in Tokyo wants you to sample their blue beer until the end of July!

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Should you put your kid on a leash? Japanese mothers weigh in

We’re not entirely sure who invented child leashes, but they have found their way to Japan and the controversy that surrounds them has been imported right alongside. Discussed widely on Japanese online parenting forums, the disputed child gear are dubbed maigo himo (literally, “lost child cord”) and have become increasingly available at online shopping sites such as Rakuten.

But no matter what you call it – be it lost child cord, leash, harness, tether, or reins – one thing’s for sure: No one can agree if they are an embarrassment or proper parenting tool.

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