Schoolkids in China receive “anti-drowning” lessons

Before you read the title of this post, was your initial reaction to the photo above? If you’re anything like us, you probably assumed that it was some quirky new trend going on at schools in China (remember those metal “vision safeguarding” bars on the desks, anyone?); perhaps some experiment in synchronised face-washing or a way of keeping sleepy students alert in the afternoon.

The truth, though, is rather more unnerving: these kids are being taught a valuable lesson about water safety.

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Man buys, gives away thousands of movie tickets to get back at girl who dumped him 7 years ago

While we’d never advocate acts of revenge as such, we have to admit that, if it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well. And this is one such example.

Dumped seven years ago because he was too poor even to take his girl to the movies, this now highly successful businessman continued to be plagued by feelings of bitterness and regret. Deciding that it was time to exorcise his love-life demons once and for all, he splashed his cash and bought up thousands of tickets for the Beijing premiere of Transformers: Age of Extinction, giving them away to those who spread the word of his tremendous wealth online.

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We attend Sailor Moon’s birthday bash — and watch a preview of Sailor Moon Crystal!

Do you know what June 30 is? Well, it may be the day where you say to yourself, “Oh my gosh, half the year is over! How could it have gone by so quickly?” but you just might find yourself being punished in the name of the moon if you don’t remember one other important event that takes place on that day. Yes, June 30 is Sailor Moon’s birthday, or Usagi Tsukino’s birthday if you prefer to call her by her “human” name.

With the new Sailor Moon Crystal anime series soon to be released, this year’s birthday was bound to be a special one for our Usagi-chan. And special it was! A huge birthday event in honor of our beloved warrior princess, including a preview screening of the first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal, was held in collaboration with fashion magazine ViVi on June 30 in the Tokyo Odaiba area. And since it was supposed to be kind of a girls’ night out, the event was apparently only open to women, or men accompanied by women.

We definitely couldn’t miss out on this party, and we promptly sent one of our reporters from our Japanese sister site — we couldn’t wait to see what the huge do would be like!

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Netizens balk at Ibaraki Prefecture town’s sea life-encrusted mascot character

Anyone who has ever visited Japan or spent any amount of time browsing our pages will know that the country is home to literally hundreds of mascot characters, or yurukyara, each weirder than the last. From developmentally challenged sushi to the nightmarish Okazaemon, there’s certainly no lack of originality and quirk to be had.

But one small Ibrakai town has a new mascot character that, according to Japanese net users and our own Japanese staff, “even a mother couldn’t love.” This, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, is Araippe, a creature with bird-like feet, a shell for a nose, and dangling locks of hair that are actually fish fry.

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Anime Expo stuffs four tons of Nature Valley granola into attendee goodie bags

As the natural culmination to a brilliant social media move by Nature Valley to endear themselves to anime fans, attendees of Anime Expo will be able to sink their teeth into some granola bars come next weekend.

The convention recently tweeted a photo of several pallets piled high with boxes of granola bars.

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China tried to build a replica of Manhattan… and it’s not looking so great

Yujiapu, in China’s Tianjin Binhai New Area, was modeled on Manhattan and expected to become the financial center of the world. But it languishes as many wasteful Chinese ghost cities have. At one point it was reported that the Juilliard School had signed an agreement to set up an institute in Yujiapu. And there were plans for a Rockefeller and Lincoln Center as well. But construction in this Manhattan hopeful has ground to a halt.

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Our Japanese reporter talks to a stranger on Skype…things get awkward

Skype is known around the world as a convenient, free video calling service and enjoys widespread popularity in Japan. As with any online communication website, you’re bound to be contacted by someone you don’t know. If you simply ignore the contact request, nothing will come of it, but what if you didn’t? What sort of mischief would come about as a result of your imprudent actions?

This brings us to the first and hopefully last installment of what our Japanese correspondent likes to call “My English battle with a foreigner who suddenly decided to contact me on Skype”.

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Bibbidi bobbidi boo, wonderful new Disney accessories for you!

Summer is here! The days are long, the evenings are muggy and we can’t wait for these hot and humid days to pass. But nothing helps get the weather off a girl’s mind more than stories of princesses. Escape to a fairy tale wonderland with the all new Disney Jewel Summer Collection!

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Homeless in Japan and still earning a decent salary

When we picture homeless people, the images that usually come to mind aren’t exactly pleasant. While the social stigma of homelessness is brutal to say the least, the fact remains that being homeless is not something most people would choose for themselves.

And while most homeless people probably haven’t “chosen” their life, they’re not all necessarily suffering either. Some homeless men in Japan have a yearly “salary” that is down-right respectable!

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Watch out for feline black magic — “supernatural” cat photographed!

Ask any cat lover and they’ll tell you cats just seem to have a mysterious magical power. Yes, it feels like you can fall under their spell simply by looking at them. And as cute as they are, cats certainly act like they know the power they have over us feeble humans, who are only too happy to be slaves to their charms.

But this particular cat whose picture has been attracting attention on the Internet, actually looks like he (or she, we unfortunately don’t know) could very well have supernatural powers — behold the “cat from the underworld” who looks like he has horns!

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South Korean government blamed for incompetent response to Sewol ferry disaster

After the initial dust settles on the scene of a tragedy there comes the more protracted, but often less news-worthy, battle for answers and accountability. From the outset Korean authorities have come under fire from the public as well as government officials who claim that the immediate response to the incident was not good enough, and the accusations of incompetence continue to mount.

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Attack on Titan star Levi graces cover of Japanese women’s magazine

Well, the public has already come forward and said that Attack on Titan‘s abrasive, but secretly caring Levi is one the most dateable anime characters of all time (the public also said they love boobs… a lot), so it’s no surprise that Levi is getting the star treatment even outside of anime circles.

On June 27, Levi graced the cover of the popular women’s magazine, FRaU, for the magazine’s book and manga special edition that included a manga awards page – several of which, no doubt, Levi is now the proud owner of.

Artist and Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama drew the cover especially for the issue, which features Levi reclining in a fancy office chair, with a manga and a pair of classy loafers; a look the youthful hero probably doesn’t get to sport too often in the world of Attack on Titan.

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Saudi Arabian TV tempts would-be thieves in Tokyo to test Japan’s honesty

Besides great sushi, great customer service and ubiquitous vending machines, another great thing about living in Japan is the relatively low crime rate there. Although the country certainly has its criminals (including very cute and cuddly ones), visitors, tourists and expats in Japan routinely extol how Japanese culture has created a society where even a wallet full of cash will be returned to its owner most of the time. After hearing about Japan’s reputation for being an honest, rule-abiding country, a Saudi Arabian TV show created a social experiment to see what would happen when they left a very conspicuous wallet on the busy streets of Tokyo.

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Pokeberu, Mr. Legs, and cho beri ba: Eight Japanese words young people can’t understand

After spending a year in college studying in Tokyo, I moved back to Los Angeles for about two years before coming back to Japan for work. Having always prided myself on my familiarity with Japanese slang (partly to distract myself from my terrible penmanship when writing kanji characters), I was surprised to find out how many new terms had sprung up in just the 22 months I’d been away.

At the same time, it turned out that a few of the vocabulary words I’d picked up while studying abroad had since passed their expiration dates and become obsolete. This wasn’t a one-time transition, either, as language is constantly evolving, and today we bring you a list of eight words that’ll at best make you sound like a senior citizen, and at worst simply won’t be understood by anyone under the age of 25.

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Japan’s most successful manga artists draw their characters for the camera 【Video】

Although most manga artists have a team of assistants backing them up, compared to live-action films, comics allow for a much more direct transmission of the creator’s vision. Movie and TV programming are by nature a collaborative effort, and you can’t really watch a scene go from concept to finished version in real-time.

With manga, though, you can give a talented artist a pen, and within minutes see him or her transform the emptiness of a blank sheet of paper into a character that will inspire and entertain countless fans, like in this video featuring some of Japan’s most popular manga artists and characters.

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Japanese Americans tell STORIES FROM TOHOKU

Filmmakers Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi are sansei (third-generation Japanese Americans) from California who met while serving on the 2009 Japanese American Leadership Delegation, a cross-cultural program sponsored by the U.S.-Japan Council. When the triple tragedy of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster hit the northeastern region of Japan on March 11, 2011, Fukami and Nakatomi decided to make a documentary that told the stories of survivors.

They met a woman who managed to recover her old kimono and makes dolls out of the fabric; a struggling organic farmer in Fukushima; a cafe owner who cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner to refugees in a shelter during the first six months after the disaster; and mothers in Fukushima who commute to a kindergarten an hour away so that their children can play outside.

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Perfect for summer! Taiwanese dad handmakes eco-friendly, extra-cooling underpants for his son

The heat of summer is gradually spreading across various parts of the world, including Taiwan. To combat it, one creative dad handmade a pair of extra cooling, all natural underpants for his five-year-old son, which quickly became a sensation among Taiwanese netizens when he uploaded the pictures on Facebook!

Check these alternative undies out after the jump!

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Behold: The world’s fastest Super Mario Bros. speed run

Truth be told, I’ve never been a huge fan of video game speed runs. All too often, recordings show players exploiting a game’s code to the point that it hardly seems like they’re playing the game any more, taking all the fun (and some would argue genuine skill) out of it.

But this new record performed by a gamer known only as ‘Blubber’ is nothing short of spectacular and deserves the attention of anyone who ever picked up an NES controller during their childhood.

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Sunburned Super Famicom catches collector’s eye

As the rainy season in Japan begins to wind down and we head into the sweet spot of midsummer, more and more people are hitting the beach and working on their tans. For followers of a certain fashion aesthetic, there’s nothing more appealing than a beautifully bronzed body, which holds true whether we’re talking about men, women, or even video game consoles, it seems.

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Felinephonic: New cat-ear headphones let you share your sound

Even if you’re more of a dog person, there’s no denying that neko-mimi have a cuteness all of their own. Knowing this, the creative folks over at Axent Wear, an independent startup now just weeks away from launching a Kickstarter campaign, are hoping to bring cat ears into consumers’ lives in a way that is both cute and functional with a product that’s sure to put a smile on your face and spring in your step.

Introducing: Axent Wear cat-ear headphones.

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