Russian dolls: Artist creates beautiful anime-inspired portraits

Russian dolls: Artist creates beautiful anime-inspired portraits

As Japanese and Chinese netizens’ fervour for Prosecutor General of Crimea Natalia Poklonskaya shows no signs of abating and has inspired anime fan art that has overtaken her online presence, we bring you a selection of other beautiful digital artworks from the creator of one of the stunning anime-inspired depictions of Ms. Poklonskaya that’s been gaining so much attention.

The illustrations are the work of a mystery Russian artist, whose name is rendered in Japanese as Iira. A long-term anime fan, Iira creates new digital images every day. While Iira has yet to reach the dizzying levels of internet fandom that Natalia Poklonskaya has attained, these pics are certainly worthy of your online attention!

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Five things about male friendship that confuse Japanese women

Five things about male friendship that confuse Japanese women

Having grown up in a family of three boys, the male psyche never really seemed like such a complex thing to me. The three major pillars of proper conduct were sticking up for yourself, keeping your car clean, and watching as much football as possible, the virtues of which all seem pretty self-evident to me.

Still, from the feminine perspective, there’re a number of mysteries of the male mind, as evidenced this list of puzzling aspects of male friendship that’s been making its way around the Japanese Internet.

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Nine celebrities who speak Japanese… or some variation of it

Nine celebrities who speak Japanese… or some variation of it

It’s no surprise that in the field of entertainment many talented individuals have found work in Japan and many more have expressed an interest in Japanese culture. But beyond those who stop by Japan and utter a simple “oishi” in a beer commercial or create a music video wearing a cupcake skirt, are a select few who have learnt or are well on their way to learning the Japanese language. Here are a few of them representing the fields of film, sports, and music.

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Any volunteers to eat at this terrifying cliff-side restaurant?

Any volunteers to eat at this terrifying cliff-side restaurant?

It seems the Chinese countryside isn’t exactly a friendly place for people who are afraid of heights. We already talked about the horrifying Huashan path that winds up a cliff side and sometimes narrows to barely perceptible wooden planks hovering out of the fog, but it turns out life-endangering attractions involving great heights are all the rage in China.

This is the cliff-side Fangweng Restaurant, located just north of Yichang City.

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Miffy x Mister Donut collaboration doesn’t actually involve doughnuts, but is still super cute

Miffy x Mister Donut collaboration doesn’t actually involve doughnuts, but is still super cute

Heads up everyone, Mister Donut Japan is launching yet another cute collaboration that will have you stuffing your face with donuts in order to get your hands on some exclusive and limited merch.

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The country that sent the most foreign visitors to Japan in 2013 was…

The country that sent the most foreign visitors to Japan in 2013 was…

In 2013, a grand total of 10,363,904 foreign tourists visited Japan! That number surpasses the goal of the Visit Japan Campaign, which began in 2003 with a goal to increase the number of overseas visitors to 10 million.

The Japanese language version of popular travel planning and information website TripAdvisor was quite excited by this news, and recently produced their own visual graphic detailing some fun facts about foreign tourists in the Land of the Rising Sun during 2013. Can you guess which country most of the visitors came from, or which country had the highest percentage jump in visitors? How about the most popular tourist destinations for foreigners traveling in Japan? Find out all that and more after the jump.

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Japanese men dish on the sexy things other men do

Japanese men dish on the sexy things other men do

What is “sexy”? It’s a question that no one person can definitively answer. But in much the same way that we know “art” when we see it, we also know “sexy” when it comes our way! Even if it’s from an unexpected place.

A recent survey asked of 150 Japanese men if they had ever felt attracted to another guy. Roughly 25 percent said yes, and even offered up their reasons for these rare moments of boy-love, which were so adorable that we just had to share.

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31 German food photos that show the depressing gap between adverts and reality

31 German food photos that show the depressing gap between adverts and reality

We’ve all been there. You excitedly tear off the wrapper on the new snack you’ve been waiting to try, only to find that it’s half the size of the picture on the box, or doesn’t contain the mint leaf daintily arranged on the image on the packaging. That’s why packaging runs the line “serving suggestion”, anyway – to let the manufacturer show the food at its best without being accused of, erm, lying.

A project from the delightfully named German website PUNDO3000, werbung gegen realität (“Adverts versus reality”) attempts to stab back at food manufacturers with painfully real photos of food items. We’re always on the look out for the gap between jazzed-up photos and the real deal, so join us after the jump for 31 of the best!

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Determined Japanese artist recreates Attack on Titan opening sequence–using only pencils!

Determined Japanese artist recreates Attack on Titan opening sequence–using only pencils!

There is no doubting the popularity of Attack on Titan. Live-action movies and a video games aside, one of the best way to judge a property’s popularity is by the number and variety of fan-made projects. And in that category, we’d say that AoT is absolutely killing it! We’ve already seen two different short films created by inspired fans–one from Germany and another from Taiwan combining Attack on Titan and A Certain Scientific Railgun–as well as numerous craft projects like these “real” swords.

But this new fan-made, pencil-drawn reimagining of the Attack on Titan opening might be one of the best things we’ve ever seen! Even if you’ve never seen the show before, you won’t want to miss this incredible video–it’s equal parts beautiful and amazing.

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Japanese women reveal six pitfalls to watch out for on your ramen date

Japanese women reveal six pitfalls to watch out for on your ramen date

Up until a few years ago, ramen joints were more or less the bottom rung of the Japanese dining scenes. Sure, the food might have tasted great, but they tended to be so crowded and dirty that many women refused to set foot inside one.

Recently, though, ramen restaurants have been cleaning up their act, sprucing up their interiors, and attracting more and more female customers. With more and more women appreciating a steaming bowl of Japan’s favorite noodles, some couples are even heading out on ramen dates.

But just as ramen restaurants had to meet certain criteria before they could win over the fairer sex, so too are there missteps a ramen-loving boyfriend has to avoid to keep from spoiling the mood.

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This table tennis player shows that “nothing is impossible” 【Video】

This table tennis player shows that “nothing is impossible” 【Video】

Have you ever given up on something you wish you’d persisted with? We’ve all quit something at one point or another in our lives and there are many reasons for giving up. It sounds great to be able to play an instrument effortlessly, master a sport or become fluent in multiple languages, but once the reality of just how much work goes into a skill sinks in, it can often feel impossible.

Meet Ibrahim Hamada of Egypt, a table tennis enthusiast who says, “Nothing is impossible as long as you work hard.” That may sound like the kind of thing that can only be said by the exceptionally naive, but that is not the case here. He was involved in a train accident when he was 10 years old, and he lost most of his arms as a result. At 13, he was determined to find a way to play again.

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In the kitchen with Kiki – We whip up some Ghibli-inspired rice porridge

In the kitchen with Kiki – We whip up some Ghibli-inspired rice porridge

Recently, our Japanese-language reporter Hotaru has been a little down in the dumps. She’s not sure if she’s come down with a cold or is just feeling the doldrums of the dreaded Gogatsu-byou, but either way, she needed a boost.

Realizing that good health and a good mood starts with good food, she headed into the kitchen to whip up a batch of porridge. But not just any old porridge would do for helping Hotaru shake off her funk, she needed to recreate the porridge that picks up the heroine of classic anime Kiki’s Delivery Service.

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Husband gives wife a piece of his lung in a revolutionary transplant with the help of a 3-D printer

Husband gives wife a piece of his lung in a revolutionary transplant with the help of a 3-D printer

After having difficulty breathing, a Kansai area resident went to the hospital where she learned that she had an irreversible case of pulmonary fibrosis (firming of lung tissue). The doctors told her that if she didn’t receive a transplant for her left lung she would die. Luckily, her own husband was found to be a suitable donor. However, although his blood and tissue matched, there was a problem with the size of his lung. So a team of doctors at Kyoto University came up with a creative solution so unheard of, you’re more likely to find it in the pages of Black Jack rather than a medical journal.

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“Let it Grow?” Folically challenged dad pens his own inspirational lyrics to Frozen’s hit song

“Let it Grow?” Folically challenged dad pens his own inspirational lyrics to Frozen’s hit song

Following its rather late and unseasonal release in their home country, children everywhere across Japan can now be heard singing the catchy songs from Disney’s Frozen, or Ana and the Snow Queen as it was retitled, and the Japanese language version of the mega-hit “Let it Go” has even been covered by top singers on nationwide music variety shows (also, don’t miss this hilarious parody on a Korean variety show!).

While the official Japanese language version was performed by 36-year-old professional Takako Matsu, it seems that some new competition is popping up on the Twitterverse. A girl recently tweeted a photo of her father’s handwritten “Let it Go” parody which artfully tweaks the words of Ms. Matsu’s now-famous lyrics to give the song a very different theme.

Let’s just say things are about to get a little hairy around here… 

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New for obsessive pet owners: A wooden box to keep your cat’s whiskers and teeth in!

New for obsessive pet owners: A wooden box to keep your cat’s whiskers and teeth in!

Cat owners concerned that they might suddenly forget the existence of their pet or who wish to gross out potential lovers may be pleased to hear of the arrival of two new products on Amazon Japan. The “Cat Whisker Case” and “Cat Milk Tooth Case“, which retail for 1,580 yen (US$16) each, are the perfect way to commemorate your pet’s growth into adulthood and treat them as a true member of the family.

That’s right, you too can have a small box full of cat teeth or whiskers on your dressing table or mantlepiece, just waiting for some hapless visitor to stumble upon before suddenly remembering that they’ve left the oven on at home and have to leave.

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Need another reason to drink green tea? How about preventing dementia?

Need another reason to drink green tea? How about preventing dementia?

There’s quite a lot to be said for green tea. It has no calorific content of its own to speak of, and doesn’t need sugar or cream to taste great. A steaming cup can warm you up in winter, or you can drop a couple of ice cubes in and cool off with a glass in midsummer.

Now, new research suggests that aside from keeping your body trim and your palate pleased, a daily cup of green tea can help keep your mind sharp by warding off the onset of dementia.

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Elephant nose ice cream: The treat with a trunk

Elephant nose ice cream: The treat with a trunk

If you’re looking for a fun way to eat your dessert, look no further than Zou-No-Hana Cafe in Yokohama, Japan. The house specialty, the zou no hana (elephant nose) ice cream has been enticing regular visitors and tourists alike with its cute, albeit strange, face and oversized waffle cone ears.

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We get our hands on some “Booby Ice Cream” from Kochi Prefecture

We get our hands on some “Booby Ice Cream” from Kochi Prefecture

Aside from tasting great, ice cream conjures up all sorts of happy mental images. While it’s pleasing your taste buds, the frozen treat can bring back reminiscences of childhood family outings or innocent high school dates in the park.

Or, in the case of one brand of ice cream from Shikoku, sucking on some boobs.

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The 2,900 km/h train: China could soon have maglev faster than commercial jet

The 2,900 km/h train: China could soon have maglev faster than commercial jet

Scientists at Southwest Jiaotong University in China have built a prototype testing platform for a near-vacuum high-speed maglev train that is theoretically capable of reaching speeds up to 2900 km/h or about 1,800 mph. Currently, the fastest commercially operated maglev reaches just 431 km/h and even the world record is just 581 km/hr.

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“But we’re speaking Japanese!”: Humorous video confronts lingering stereotypes in Japan

“But we’re speaking Japanese!”: Humorous video confronts lingering stereotypes in Japan

One of the most frustrating parts about living in Japan was when I would go out to dinner with my husband. No, it wasn’t because I wasn’t able to read the menu or because I don’t like Japanese food – it was because more often than not, the server wouldn’t speak to me.

Since my Vietnamese-American husband cannot speak or read Japanese, I would always do the ordering. What the servers saw was a woman with a caucasian face speaking Japanese and what appeared to be a Japanese man not ordering for himself. After placing my order in Japanese, the server would turn to my husband (who couldn’t understand anything she was saying) and ask follow up questions about our drink order or any add ons. I would in turn, translate for my husband in English, and then answer our server in Japanese, but any remaining questions would be directed once again to my husband. This language triangle would continue until all the ordering was completed.

Of course, this didn’t happen every time, but enough for both my husband and I to take notice. When relating the story to my friends, many would confirm that they have encountered a similar situation. Some would posit that the server thought my husband was letting me practice my Japanese and was looking to him to confirm that’s actually what I wanted. But no matter the reason, I was always left a little frustrated.

A recent video on YouTube titled, “But we’re speaking Japanese!” confronts this exact situation, bringing light to a lingering stereotype in Japan.

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